Monday, April 27, 2009

Cream of Chicken

Overview: I was making my Chicken Cordon Bleu today for my Wife and Mother-in-Law and was trying out a new sauce for it that Leesha suggested I use. Her recipe called for a can of Cream of Chicken which we frantically searched for with 14 minutes to spare but could not find. My Mother-in-Law suggested that I "google" it and we actually found a recipe! You can find it here or look below. It was very fast, easy, inexpensive, and healthy. YUM!

Introducing the "Life Saver." This stuff is great and costs $5 at WalMart and will save you lots of money over its lifetime. It makes broth that tastes better/is healthier for you than buying the actual canned broth. All you do is mix this with hot water and you have chicken broth. On the back it tells you how much to use for a canned serving or more. Amazing!

Once you have made 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth from the above, in a sauce pan pour:

1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Butter

Warm these up on Medium Heat

Then add 2 Tablespoons Flour

Stir all of these until there are no more clumps.

To Make the Sauce for Chicken Cordon Bleu which Leesha gave to me add:

A little less than 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
Up to 1/2 Cup Milk or less if you want a thicker sauce
1/2 Cup Cheese

Bring these to a boil and then simmer for 3 - 5 Minutes

Proceed to pour over chicken and amaze your family or guests!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Mighty Couch

Overview: This was by far the biggest, most expensive, and most time consuming project that I have done thus far. I had a total blast. My wife and I needed a new couch because our futon from WalMart that was only 7 months old was curved where you sit instead of flat. I did not make for a comfortable sit. We also didn't want to buy a nice couch yet so I set out to solve the problem. For all of the wood and hardware, I spent $88 at home depot and then we bought a new futon mattress at Big Lots for $100. Not bad for being married college students I say. Plus, this couch that I built I think will last a lot longer than any that we would've bought with our price range. It took me between 15 -20 hours to build it but I learned a lot about wood working. My goal was to build it using common construction products i.e. 2x4's, 2x6's, 2x10's, 4x4's, and even some carriage bolts. The downside is that you have to look for a while to find some good straight pieces of lumber and you have to do more sanding than usual. I hope you enjoy.

Lime Light: I have to give a special thanks to Jeff A. for letting me use his shop and some of his tools. Really without his facility, I don't think this couch would've even been a possibility.

I started out building the legs. I know it looks like there are six legs here but I only used the four in the middle. The outer two were used to help stabilize my router and aid in measuring the three grooves I wanted to put onto each leg.

These legs I sanded first with a 22o grit, 150, and then a 100 grit before I used the router. If I would've used my router first, then the grooves might have had varying depths which nobody likes. So sand first then use your router.

I did the same with the front and side fascia pieces by rough sanding them first and then using my router to make a 1/2" curved groove along the top and bottom of each piece.

I used the 3/4" bit to cut out a 3/4" on the ends of each piece so that I could make a tighter fit. I applied glue and put a lot of clamps on all areas to let it dry. After I clamped it down, I hammered in some nails.

While that was drying I started on the part that would hold the people sitting on the couch. I measured the inside of the base and took off 3 1/2" on all sides for the legs to fit in.

All at the same time, I attached the legs and the framed piece to the base with 5/16" carriage bolts. I did two bolts per leg and notice that I put two smaller 4x4 pieces in the middle to attach the frame to so that the middle wouldn't sag over the years.

Next I worked on the back rest. I cut two pieces of wood which act as the visible side piece and then two smaller pieces which act as the support that I bolt to the base later on. I cut all four pieces at the bottom at a 15 degree angle which is the angle that the back rest will be from straight up.

I then laid out the spacing for my dowel rod top. The dowel rods are connected at their top and bottom. To make sure they are straight, I clamped the top and bottom pieces together and drilled the 1" holes at the same time. The middle marking is where the point of my drill bit goes and the outer two markings are for how wide my bit will be.

I cut the dowel rods long so that they stick out above the top piece. This is so that I can sand them down later and have a uniform flat finish at the top. Make sure and add glue to the tops and bottoms of the rods because I didn't be using any nails to attach them.

The base was then dry after a day of being clamped and I flipped it over. I made sure to have about a 3 - 4 inch drop from the top of the base to the top of the posts and framing so that I can put more padding underneath the cushion.

I then tested out the back rest. It fit perfectly but needed some additional support.

I matched the layout from the base to the back rest. I then cut the pieces at a 15 degree angle. I then added two more pieces that went from the bottom of the dowel rods to the bottom of the base that I then bolted down for the real strength. On the otherside of this 2x10 I attached a piece of 2x4 because my bolts were too long.

This is the couch before the final sanding.

I added some arm rests on both sides with two dowel rods each and then a bolt at the end for extra strength. I made sure to sand the arm rests before I attached them to minimize strength loss do to the sanders vibrating. I then cut out some 3/8" plywood to put where people sit. This makes a uniform seating area that will stay flat over the years. Don't worry the plywood will be covered with the mattress.

It is now ready for the stain. Before staining make sure to get all of the saw dust off of the couch and around it. I used an air compressor with a spray tip to spray off the entire couch.

I used a Pecan colored Polyurethane stain and stain conditioner for this project. I applied three coats total of the stain. I used the stain conditioner because it helps the wood to absorb the stain evenly so as get blotches. Since I used different types of soft woods, the stain might have been darker on some of the woods but the conditioner helps the whole project to be uniform in color.

It's done! The mattress is a little bigger than I thought so you can't really see the decorative top but it is great for giving your head a rest on a nice soft surface. Overall I had a great time trying new bits on my router and really understanding how many pieces can come together to make one masterpiece. This couch is very sturdy and makes me think I am in a log cabin. It has also inspired me to make some more furniture the same color.

I wanted to prove to myself and others that common materials can be made to look great and be strong. This project has also given me the confidence to tackle more difficult projects and when we save up some more money, being able to buy nice hardwoods.

I hope you liked it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pillows......Say What??!!

Overview: Well, I really wanted to learn how to sew and we were able to get this fabric at a pretty great price. i also didn't want to spend a lot of money so this ended up saving us a lot of $$$. For the two pillows and batting we spent $12-$15.

I made these pillows without a pattern but for some people it may be harder to visualize how the piece will turn out so a pattern is very helpful. Either or, if it is your first time, it might be a little challenging so it is nice to have someone there to show/coach you. Patience will be a great quality too look for in whomever you choose to teach you. Mothers are especially great.

Lime Light: I would like to thank Jenny B. for teaching me how to sew and also for letting me use her sewing machine. She was wonderfully patient with me as well. I would also like to say that my wife was the one who picked out this really cool fabric.

Start out by cutting your fabric to the desired lengths and widths. We chose a square pattern of 22" on both sides. Make sure and have some sort of cutting board underneath if you are using anything that can scratch the surfaces.

While we were at the fabric store we also got a product called "Interfacing" which you iron on and adds a lot of strength to the fabric.

I didn't want to have flat square pillows so I sewed a strip of fabric 3" wide along all edges to give it a nicer big feel.

This is Jenny helping me iron on the Interfacing while I sew.

Start out by turning all of your fabric inside out and pinning them so that as you sew, the fabric won't move causing you to mess up.

This is me sewing the 3" pieces onto the front piece.

Once you sew all of the sides, front, back, you need to leave a little gap to pull all of the fabric through so that it is right side out and also to use as an access spot to fill your pillow with batting.

We then bought some batting at Walmart for $3.00 a bag and used one bag per pillow. Be careful because the bags are very deceiving in their content. We bought four of them for two pillows and only used two for both pillows. You then stitch the holes up and there you have it.

Ta-Da! Now you are ready to really Relax on your couch or bed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Garden Planter Box

Overview: This is a pretty simple and fun little project if you have a saw and a router. We live in an apartment with no land for ourselves so I decided to make a big box that I could still grow veggies in without having a million jars full of dirt around the house. This only cost me $20 to make because I only needed two pieces of wood. I bought two 1" x 8" x 10' pieces of wood.

First cut the wood into 2 parts. Cut the two sides of the box the same length which I cut 4' long. Then cut the four other pieces all the same length. I cut them 2' long.

Then I used my router with a 3/4" bit to make a groove for the 2 foot length pieces to fit into. I used the 3/4" bit because it was the same thickness as my wood. So I made 4 cuts all together. One cut on each end and two in the middle.

Time Saving Tip: Clamp your two pieces of wood together width wise. By doing this, you can make one long cut with the router making both pieces of wood look the exact same. If you don't then you have to measure both pieces of wood separately and make twice as many cuts.

Then apply glue into the slots made by the router and fit the pieces of wood into those slots. You made need a mallet or a hammer to help you fit the pieces into the slots.

This is a close up picture of a router joint. Try and make them as tight as possible and as flush as possible. In the instance that they aren't flush you can either hammer it until they are or sand it down. I didn't think I needed it to look pristine because it is just a planter box and my vegetables won't care how well the box looks.

Use clamps to tighten everything together and while the glue is drying, put some nails into the joints to strengthen the whole box. Wood glue is not very strong enough by itself.

I then cut some pieces to fit into the top to act as dividers and to strengthen the box. No glue was used.

I cut 2" x 4" pieces of wood to fit into the bottom so that I would have somewhere to screw the screen onto.

I then screwed a screen onto the bottom so as to hold all of the dirt in and to let the water drain from it. To see more pictures of the plants in it go to my older post about gardening and you will see it in all its glory.

Now you didn't have to use a router to make the joints. It would've been just as easy to not use it and simply glue/nail the pieces together. I used a router because 1) I just barely got my new bits and I wanted to try them out and 2) by having the wood be in joints, the whole box is a lot stronger than if nails and glue were only holding it. I was able to stand up the box like a book shelf, climb it and sit on the top and it didn't break/collapse. If I didn't use a router, I may not have been able to do that without it breaking.

If you would like to see the garden planter box in action with all of the plants in it click here and scroll down.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Delicious Waffles

Overview: These waffles are absolutely delicious! I usually make waffles from the box mixes but then I got this recipe to make them from scratch and they are a cinch! Please do not be fooled. I did not make the waffles pictured below but simply "googled" a picture of waffles. Thank you internet! They take a few minutes more that using the waffle mix from boxes.

Lime Light: This waffle recipe was given to me from my sister Jessica. She always has really great recipes! I am thinking I may start up a marketing business since I am showing off everyone's wonderful creations.

Mix together in a medium size bowl:

1 3/4 Cup flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Pinch salt
1/8 Teaspoon baking soda

Then add and mix in:

1 Stick of melted butter
1 1/2 Cup buttermilk
3 eggs

Pour the mix into the waffle iron and you are one step closer to one or more very satisfied tummies.

Tip: Something that my wife has taught me is to warm up your syrup before using it. It makes the waffles even more tasty. Other items to add to your waffles may be: butter, homemade jam, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and any fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.

More Lime Light: So I just found out that the warming up the syrup idea came down the family tree from Jamie's Grandma, to Jamie's Mom, down to Jamie. Lets give a round of applause to all of our Mothers. Without them, we might be eating cereal and Pop Tarts for every meal.

Please Enjoy!