Forewarning. This is sort-of a random post. I feel like the majority of my posts now are about recipes and house projects. It has been a while since I’ve posted about small little things. So here is one.

Welcome our new addition to the living room:

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We took a quick trip to TJ Maxx this weekend and I fell in love with this little inlaid wood box with a Moroccan tile pattern. I love the pattern. It looks great on our bookshelves and I think the color is a nice contrast to all the blue/teal/turquoise in the living room.

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But it serves a greater purpose. A purpose for which I have been searching for a box like this for years to fulfill.

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It holds all (four!) of our remotes (one for the cable, one for the television, one for the sound system, and one for the Roku box). Having four remotes, two of which are only normally necessary for TV watching (the cable remote and sound system remote for volume), made it a pain to find a place to keep them before. They cluttered up the coffee table, fell off the arms of the couch, and none of our side tables had drawers to keep them in. It’s so nice to have a pretty little box to keep them in now! They are close at hand but out of sight!

P.S. You can see part of a crochet project I’m currently working on in the top photo. :)

P.P.S. My sister, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, David, got me a similar box for Christmas last year that is currently in our bedroom. It is smaller, black and white, and also has a similar Moroccan tile pattern. You can see a bit of it in this post. I’m totally loving little storage boxes like these lately!

One of my favorite things to make with over-ripe bananas is banana bread. Back in my gluten-eating days, I had a delicious recipe that I always used. Now that I’m gluten-free (and cutting other things like processed oils and sugar out of my diet), this is my new go-to recipe. It is jam-packed with delicious ingredients and makes for one pretty healthy banana bread. Hope you enjoy!

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Healthy Banana Bread (gluten-free)
recipe adapted from this one

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
-1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
-3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 1/2 cup oats, ground in food processor (a little more coarse than actual oat flour)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 cup flaxseeds (whole or slightly ground)
-1/3 cup shredded coconut
-1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Grease one large 9×5″ loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350º F.
2. In a large bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients (mashed bananas, honey, applesauce, eggs and vanilla).
3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, flaxseeds, and coconut. Add to the wet ingredients.
4. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake about one hour and fifteen minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
6. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

I didn’t take any before pictures of this bulletin board (bad blogger, I know!), but it was just your average cork-covered, wood-trimmed, basic office bulletin board. Now it looks like this:

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Less than a yard of fabric (home dec from Jo-Ann’s), some brass tacks (I used ones like this that I also bought at Jo-Ann’s), and a few staples in the back and voila! A much more sophisticated office bulletin board. Seriously though, this was a super easy project. Iron your fabric, cut it about 2 1/2 inches wider on each side than your bulletin board, lay flat, space out your tacks, push them in place (as you keep the fabric taut and the pattern aligned), then use your staple gun to staple the fabric around to the backside. Add your hanging hardware to the back and you are finished.

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I love the crisp look of the tacks and the fabric stretched all the way around the frame. A high-impact look for little money!

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It looks great here in my home office, but I actually made it for my work office. It adds a little bit of interest to my otherwise boring work office!

 

These white Cheddar crackers are a nice, crisp, crumbly, buttery stack of goodness. An easy, homemade snack great with cheese, dips, or by themselves! I particularly like this recipe because it is easy and uses simple ingredients that I always have on hand in my kitchen (and can easily be tweaked to make various other flavored crackers!). These are so much cheaper to make than your typical $5 box of gluten-free crackers!

One thing to note– the texture of these crackers is a little more buttery and coarse (sort-of like shortbread without the sweetness), so it might be a little different than your gluten-containing cracker of choice. I really happen to love that crumbly texture though!

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White Cheddar Crackers (gluten-free)

makes about 50 bite-sized crackers; original recipe from this cookbook

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp Italian seasoning
-1/2 tsp salt
-6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
-3/4 cup finely grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup cold water

Directions:
1. Combine brown rice flour, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt in a food processor and process until well blended.
2. Add butter and cheese, pulse until coarse crumbs form.
3. Add water; process until dough forms.
4. Divide dough into 2 pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Place each ball of dough between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out to 1/16 inch thickness, and then refrigerate another 5 minutes.
7. Cut dough into squares and place squares onto prepared baking sheets.
8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Enjoy!

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

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