Thursday, June 14, 2012


Have you seen all of the pallet craze out in blogland?  Or on Pinterest?  It's one of the new things I think to upcycle, repurpose pallets!  It's been all around and loving to surf the web for ways to craft, save cash, and help the environment the way I do, I've been feeling the need to try one out.  Then two weeks ago my dear hubby comes home from a landscaping job and what do I spy with my little eye on the back of his work truck? 

Me, "Whatcha' gonna do with those pallets, babe?"
Dh, "NO!"
Me, "I didn't ask you a yes or no question, babe, I asked what you were doing with those pallets!"
DH, "NO!"
Me, "No, really!"
DH, "I'm taking them to the dump, I"m throwing them away, we do NOT need anything else you are thinking of doing something with sitting around here, so NO you can't have them for any crazy idea you found."
Me, "That wasn't nice! I simply asked what you were doing with them!  Why would you react that way?"
DH, "What do you want them for?"
Me, "I don't know but I've seen lots of cool stuff out there I want to try."
DH, "Are you going to let this go?"
Me, "No, babe.  But I'll be super happy if you just let me have them since they WERE free."
DH, "Get C (our 10 year old) to help you with them and I don't want them sitting around! And nothing off the wall crazy, okay?"
Me, "Okay babe, I love you so much! Thanks!"
DH, "Mmmhmm.  Love you too but please, Tiff, don't leave them all sitting around."
Me, "I'm not babe! Thank you! :) :)"

Hee hee! ;) It always goes like that ;).  That's why we are 15 years married and happily counting ha ha!  Now, here's my problem, I haven't done anything with them!! They are still in the back with some free landscaping rock I also talked him out of later that week because I HATE to be so careless and wasteful.  I think that's a wise and noble way to be, DH on the other hand doesn't like to come home and see things I'm going to "one day use" sitting around.  Respectful opinion I must admit.

I'm all over the net today looking for pallet ideas and feeling completely overwhelmed.  Man!  There are some amazing ideas out there!! I'm so happy that I'm being sustainable and not clogging the landfill but feeling I need to keep my word to my sweetie and move on with doing something with them.  What do you think?  Have you done any of these awesome pallet projects?

I must decide - preferably even get started- soon- today would be must be easy enough for me to handle without bothering him (it's our busy season for landscaping so working two jobs like the knight in shining armor he is I don't want to harp on him for a LOT of help) and something useful, pretty, awesome enough he will agree it was a good idea to save them lol! 

Here's some of what I found online in case you, like me, happen to have some pallets laying around or maybe you are going dumpster diving soon to look for some!  I will update you as soon as I decide what I'm doing!  Or he kills me first! :) <3 nah...then who would cook and homeschool the kids? :)

Little Lucy Lu has a great idea for creating bookshelves for her little one out of pallets- I must admit this one looks pretty simple- I can even use the saw myself although I think I'll sneak and use his power tool instead of a handsaw. It's adorable- it involves painting for pretty which I LOVE. I think this is top on my list right now to try!

Backwoods Home Magazine has cute birdhouse ideas to make from pallets,  I love the ideas but the directions are a bit lengthy lol- sad I know, but for this I want in and out instructions with some good DIY photos of the steps and be done. :)  We'll see on this one.

Compost bin from This Garden is Illegal for $15 using pallets! LOVE this idea! Not sure I want to take this on first but it's awesome!

Here's a great idea for building almost free planters with pallets - another non-photo tutorial though so it's not my pick but for the less visual learners , there are great instructions!

My Pet Chicken has building plans for a chicken coop using wooden pallets.  The plans are $15, not for me, I don't want to purchase plans and if I get any more chicks anytime soon I'll have a lot more to worry about with DH than these pallets! :)

OH! This pallet plate rack is so shabby chic! I LoVe it! This idea is from Apartment Therapy.

I'm also totally infatuated with this modern coffee table made with a pallet by papernstitch - the blog!   

The DIY Pallet sign at Blue Eyed Yonder is super doable- that's going to be #2 on my list next to the bookshelves. I have two coastal themed rooms in my home that I LOVE for relaxing and this would be perfect for either of them!

Hmmm... speaking of DIY pallet beach signs... I think I could easily make the pallet pieces work for ANY of the beach signs shown here at Completely Coastal.  This is a great little montage of beach signs from recycled wood.  This could keep the kids and I busy for some time. I love things they can be involved in also...maybe my first pallet will be broken up into several pieces for these so we can have some summer fun.  The weather here is perfect today :)

Oh by after reviewing my Pinterst Pallet Reuse Ideas board, I can't forget about using at least one for the Pallet garden.  I love the sustainable idea of this and the simple directions.  I am a great gardener (humbly stated) so I know I can accomplish this and DH will love it! <3 Great idea and clear directions on this one from Life on the Balcony!

And of course, I can always rely on my good stand by website, Better Homes & Gardens for ideas for just about anything!  I should have known they would have a photo slide show for pallet ideas.  I probably should have went there before google! Loving the Make your own potting bench idea.  The directions look fairly simple but I'm a bit scared of all of the power drill action!  My 10 year old is pretty good at using it alread- chip off the 'ole block of my DH for sure!  Thank the Lord for His blessings!

I'm now going to do the unthinkable- get off my bum and actually GO outdoors and GET to working on a project and inspect these pallets instead of just pinning, blogging, and dreaming of what could be!  Making life happen, folks!  I will update on which project I actually try/accomplish and how it goes! 

How about you?? Anyone up for trying some recycled pallet projects?  Have better ideas or already completed one? I'd so love to hear about it!  If you are interested in trying, I've pinned all of these ideas and any new ones I find/come up with on my Pinterest board, Pallet Reuse Ideas!  Happy upcycling~!!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Homemade & Fresh! Farmer's Market Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade & Fresh! 
My Farmer's Market Spaghetti Sauce!

I've been wanting to make fresh pasta sauce for my family for what seems like forever!  I was intimidated by it, my husband LOVES his Ragu but I'm trying to cut out as much of the processed food as I can from our family's diet (without him killing me!)  The way to do this in MY family with my dear hubby and with my homeschooling schedule is to keep moderation in mind!  One step at a time is key here!  I use to have the "all or nothing" approach to our meals.  I would have a few days of healthy meals then we'd run late to a martial arts class or from piano or have a doctor's appointment and be forced to stop for fast food.  That one trip would totally throw me off my my game and I'd give up and just go right back to the same old same old. 

It's so important when making these lifestyle changes and transitions to remember everything in moderation!  Life happens, folks!  If I must get fast food on Tuesday, then I'm still doing a better service to my family by serving them unprocessed whole foods on Wednesday and Thursday than by giving up the cause altogether.  This was difficult for me at first.  It seems silly but I felt a bit like a hypocrite, talking up whole food eating and then hitting McDonald's the first time a child was sick.  Then I realized I'm not a hypocrite but HUMAN!  We are human ladies (and gents if you do the cooking and shopping;))

I'm a chicken farming, gardening, landscaping, homeschooling, blogging, taxi-driving, doctors appointment attending, housekeeping, cooking, hugging, loving, praying, dog and cat feeding & cleaning, turtle care giving, sewing, decorating, upcycling, walking, cardiac patient, medical decision making, martial arts and piano helper practicing, party organizing and giving, shopping for the whole house, God loving, Christian wife and mom!  Oh, and in my spare time I also enjoy chatting with my friends, dating my husband, crafting, reading, spending time with my extended family, target practice, walks with my dogs, and pinning on Pinterest!
Come on! What was I thinking?  So I finally gave myself a good smack, pulled my head out of the sand and hit this whole foods eating thing head on!!  That's how it's done sister! <3

So, after trying several recipes from books, blogs, pins, and magazines, I THINK I've come up with a recipe that works for our family.  It's fresh and I purchase all of the vegetables from the LOCAL farmer's market other than my onion which I am super proud to say came from our garden!  Having any part of a recipe or meal come from our little garden excites my kids and gives me a headstart on them liking something! hee hee ;)  I'm HOPING by mid summer all of the veggies will come from our backyard but so far we have an onion or two and strawberries good enough for our chickens.
 Please feel free to use this recipe to make homemade sauce for your family, tweek it, add to it, take away from it, whatever makes it work for you and your family.  It's sustainable and whole foods friendly and buying local not only helps the environment, small mom and pop businesses, and local farms but it also makes it much more nutritious for you and your lovely families!  If you happen to like it enough (I'm humbly stating this TRUST ME ) to want to use it or even blog or pin about it yay! That makes my day but please just note the source :) :) We all need to share the love, right?

Farmer's Market Pasta Sauce

1 green pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 cups chopped mushrooms
4 large chopped tomatoes (I like mine really red and ripe from the market)
2 cans (6oz.) tomato paste
1/1/2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup + 1 tsp. raw, organic honey
3 TBL of parsley
 2 TBL fresh basil (or 1 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 TBL fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp rosemary

Saute veggies with about 3 TBL of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over medium heat until cooked well.  I usually put my mushrooms in last and put my peppers and onions in a bit before until the onions are soft.  Add your chopped tomatoes and stir and cook about 20-30 min gently until the tomatoes liquify.  I like to continue stirring often.  Add in your tomato paste and water and stir.  Add in the remaining ingredients and stir.  Cover up your sauce and simmer it over lowered heat for about an hour, sometimes if I'm gardening I'll even simmer mine up to two hours but come in and check and stir it. 

For meat sauce,
Brown 1 pound of organic ground turkey (or beef depending on your preference) in a skillet.  Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.  I like good seasoning, it brings the flavors together!  Drain the fat from the meat and add the ground cooked meat to your pot of sauce.  Stir well, cover and heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

For spaghetti,
I simply boil whole wheat spaghetti noodles with a bit of EVOO and sea salt according to the package directions, drain, and then serve to my family topped with the sauce and organic parmesean cheese (local if possible.) 

For an entire meal,
I throw this spaghetti with some boiled farmer's market broccolli (add a bit of fresh garlic to your water when boiling the broccolli and it's YUMMY) , some homemade bread, a spinach salad and we are done! Easy, peasy weeknight meal full of healthful flavor and energy!  I LOVE summer ripe tomatoes and this is just one easy way to take advantage of them!

That's it, you're done!  It seems pretty easy, doesn't it?  I know, it surprised me too! The trick for me was simply adjusting the spices and seasoning.  Most all of the recipes I found contained sugar and I wanted to avoid the white, processed sugar but my dear hubby prefers a little underlying sweetness to his sauce.  The honey did just trick for us.  If it's not your perfect sauce, start with the honey and/or salt.

For Later,
This sauce also works deliciously with my homemade lasagna!  I'll post that recipe later this week so while you're at it, double the recipe (it works I do it all of the time) and put 1/2 in a jar for lasagna later in the week or freeze in a freezer bag for a healthy fast food night!!

For the whole foods cooking ideal, fresh herbs are best, especially those grown in your own backyard or on your windowsill.  These are something anyone can grow, even in a city apartment and the flavor can't be beat!  My kids LOVE to go pick herbs for dinner :)

I hope you try it and love it, or at least like it! If you try this recipe leave me some comments below! I'd truly love to hear from you!