Friend your Mr. Furley

This time last year when I stepped out onto our back patio this is what I saw:

A real eyesore.  Who wants to spend a pretty afternoon looking at this mess?  I’m not quite sure what was behind the thinking of the original design of the concrete walkway.  Or that funky fire pit.  The fire pit was probably another renter’s classy addition.  Anyway, since we rent this little house, unfortunately we are pretty limited with what we can do to make our little home truly feel like our own. We have however managed to do some minor tweaking here and there to pretty the place up a bit.

With the back patio we actually got permission from our landlord to get rid of the strip of concrete in the back along with that funky fire pit of sorts.  We couldn’t really do anything permanent like poor concrete.  We also didn’t want to spend much money on the project either.

I was pretty stumped with what to do with this area.  Then I did some research online and found some inspiration from this photo:

enclosed patio with square pavers and gravel floor

I thought using concrete pavers like this might “flow” nicely with the existing concrete patio next to it.

If you are a true DIY’er you could easily complete this project in a weekend.  With a new(ish) baby at the time we didn’t really have the energy to tackle a project like this.  Luckily we have a friend who owns a landscaping company and he sent a couple of guys over with a sledgehammer, gravel, and pavers.  They also brought some plants too to soften it up a bit.

A year later the plants have grown in (finally!) and the pavers were a really good choice.  What a difference a little spiffing up can make!

Here’s what we see now:

And some side by sides:

So if you rent, don’t be afraid to have a friendly conversation with your landlord about making some minor updates to the place.  You’d be surprised how agreeable they might be, especially if you’re improving the overall look of the place.  They may even agree to give you a small break in rent to cover some out-of-pocket expenses.  Or they may not which is a bummer.  But if you know you’ll be renting for a few years, you want to actually feel happy in the place where you hang your hat, right?   So go ahead, take a deep breath and give a call to your friendly Mr. Furley . . . (or grumpy Mr. Roper).

Until next Monday!

jennifer

Hands down, sweetest Mother’s Day gift

My inspiration for this post is a sweet little gift that my daughter made for me this mother’s day . . . well, with a lot of daddy’s help (she’s only one and a half.)

I instantly knew that I would frame the little hand print cutely and add it to Lily’s photo wall in her room.  Her photo wall was much inspired by several cute things I found on pinterest a while back like this framed birthday details collage and yarn wrapped letters:

Here are my versions:

Here is her photo gallery before the framed hand print was added:

Thankfully this framing project was something I could whip up with things I already had on hand.  I do have a stash of frames in the garage.  Most are filled with pictures from eons ago that I need to update.  I found a white frame at the bottom of the bin.   YAY!  I just used some scrapbook paper from another project, trimmed it with some scallop shears and popped it into the frame.

Here is a closer look at the scallop detail.  Just a cheapie pack of scallop scissors from Michael’s that I got a while back.

Here is the hand print framed and joining the photo gallery:

I needed to balance the wall out a bit so I added a little bird house that I made from scratch.  Just kidding.  It was a pre-made one from Michael’s that I painted a while back while I was pregnant.

Anyway, so I used my trusty Command adhesive strips to mount the bird house and the framed hand print. . . and I think the wall is finally complete.  By the way, Command strips are a must when you are a renter.

So there you have it.  What an inspiring Mother’s Day gift. 🙂

Until next Monday,

jennifer

(Easy) Rustic Baked Fish

Seems like I always get pretty intimidated when I walk up to a fish counter.  Partially because I’m not always sure what to ask for, and partially because it can get pricey.  On this particular night I thought I would try for a more affordable fish, Alaskan cod.

I wanted to make a baked fish dish of some sort.  Something that I could pile in a baking dish with a few other (easy) ingredients and just throw in the oven to bake.  This is such a simple recipe.  Way too easy for step-by-step photos.  I serve it over brown rice.  Costco sells an organic pre-cooked brown rice that is surprisingly very good!  And makes weeknight cooking a little easier for me.

Ingredients

  • 1 pd of fresh fish (check for bones)
  • 1 1/2 cans garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained.  A full two cans might be too garbanzo-ee)
  • 2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes (fire roasted has more flavor)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • store-bought pesto
  • two teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • olive oil to finish

Serves four

Preheat the oven to 425.  In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish poor one can of diced tomatoes.  Place fish on top.  Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.  Spread a layer of pesto over each piece of fish.  Add garbanzo beans.  Cover with second can of diced tomatoes.  Sprinkle capers on top.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling.   Serve over rice, pasta, or  veggies.  Don’t forget to ladle some of the broth over top.  A drizzle of olive oil to finish and maybe another dollop of the pesto or torn fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Until next week 🙂

jennifer