The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

26 Apr

Stairway to Heaven…er, bedrooms

Posted in General on 26.04.15 by Octopi

There are new adventures at The Mess Hall! Starting now, I’m coming to you live in Season 3ish of The Mess Hall: The Burbs Edition.  Yes, you read that right!  The Next Great Adventure brings me and Parsley with my love in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  Goodbye City House, Hello Country House! 

New house means new projects <sinisterly rubs hands while cackling like a mad scientist>.  This place has stairs INSIDE (sooooo fancy compared to my sweet little condo).  That said, the stairs have seen better days, so time for a spring fresh-up!

Pulling out the Paint from Projects Past, I was able to concoct a fun ombré vision.  A perfect project for a rainy, spring day.  Enjoy!  

Ombre Stairs

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03 Mar


Posted in Dog on 03.03.14 by Octopi

Nothing like coming home to a room it appears an exorcism occurred in! Apparently Parsley, the Amazing Bovine Canine, got into something “interesting.” Alas, such is a day in the Mess Hall! When life gives you puke on a rug, make a semi-tasteful drawing of the aftermath.


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02 Mar

Surviving the polar vortex of my discontent

Posted in Craftin' on 02.03.14 by Octopi

Winter is tough, but we’re tougher! Hang in there fellow Snowbelters. We can do this! I’ve needed a bit of extra inspiration myself getting through these polar vortexes, so I thought I’d share some of the little things I make to cheer me up.


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17 Apr

Thinking outside the box, er, round pie pan

Posted in Makin' Food on 17.04.13 by Octopi

Mom and I spent some quality time in the kitchen today. We were focusing outside the box round pie pan and reinterpreted the traditional pie presentation.


Of course we had to bake one traditional-looking pie, though we made one we hadn’t baked before “in the round”: date cream pie.

We also pulled out a bunch of raspberries from the freezer, mixed them up with rhubarb and tried two personal pie iterations. The first was a pasty-style (see the flower-shaped pies in the photo) and the second was a mini-pie in muffin tins.

And finally, we made a family tradition – “apple slices” which is basically apple pie bars.

Yum, all around! Will post other recipes later, but here’s the apple slice recipe we started with because we couldn’t readily find Grandma’s. We used regular old bread crumbs and made our own crust. Also recommend mixing the sugar mix in with the apples rather than just sprinkling on top of the apples.

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23 Mar

Mess Hall Mascot

Posted in General on 23.03.13 by Octopi


Today’s a big day in the Mess Hall. I brought home Parsley, a rescue dog I adopted from Found (located in North Center neighborhood). !!!

Parsley was a stray that dropped by an outdoor training class at Found. She was really underweight but they got her healthy again and also did some great training with her as they prepared her for a forever home.

As you can see, in just a short time I think she already feels at home. She’s already adopted her crate as her safe zone, she’s made friends with her hedgehog toy, and she appears to enjoy a good road trip, so be prepared for human and furry visitors!

I know she’s really feeling at home because she’s been dropping some monster dog farts…I personally wasn’t going to do that to her until we had been living together a bit longer, but to each her own. I think that’s also a sign I’ll be modifying her diet!!

She is currently snoring softly in her crate and I love her all the more with every snort and sigh. I’m not sure who will be rescuing who in the end – I think it’s a bit of both.

Viva Parsley!

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05 Mar

Through the Stained Glass

Posted in Craftin' on 05.03.13 by Octopi

Through the Looking Stained Glass

This winter’s art project is also functional. The windows in the living room overlook a beautiful expanse of the neighboring building’s brick facade (to be read sarcastically). I can’t move the mountains of Colorado or the farm fields of Wisconsin next door, but I can still change that view.

Enter stained glass! Or not-quite-real stained glass. The finished product is a combination of Gallery Glass paint, a vision of a tree outside the window, and several weekends with a brush and some Netflix.

Behold: a sight for sore eyes!


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03 Jan

Magic World of Magnets

Posted in General on 03.01.13 by Octopi

In the course of my little kitchen revolution, here and here, I added a handy little feature to free up a bit more counter space: a magnetic strip on the wall for cutlery.

I found a 2 foot long metal strip in the lumber section of Home Depot for $1.50. I believe its original purpose is to provide bracing/fastening to wood beams/pieces for decking, etc. I painted it the same color as the wall and slapped some super-strong ceramic magnetics on it. Voila!

Next time I will put some kind of metal paint primer before the main paint job because I think it will have a tendency for the paint to get scratched as is.


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31 Dec

Pegboard: Channeling Julia

Posted in Build or Fix, Craftin', organization on 31.12.12 by Octopi

This is Pegboard Project #2. With Julia Child’s famous pegboard kitchen for inspiration, I spent a bit more quality time with the Dremel, local home improvement store, and the land of misfit projects that is my storage room to cobble this one together.

This type of organization works so well for my lifestyle I am now in danger of pegboarding my entire house. “Step away from the Dremel, Melissa….put that drill DOWN.”


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30 Dec

Bi-fold Pegboard

Posted in Build or Fix, Craftin', organization on 30.12.12 by Octopi

A man, a plan, a canal: bi-fold pegboard.

I have this bi-fold door separating the laundry room from the kitchen. Rather than continue to use the kitchen table as a landing pad for the mail, keys, and other daily crap, I ripped out the top bi-fold slats and replaced with pegboard! Behold organization!

I’ve got some pegboard left over that will at some point be painted and added to the kitchen wall, Julia-Child-style. To be continued…


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25 Nov

2D Christmas Tree

Posted in Craftin', Small Space on 25.11.12 by Octopi

As much as I love a real Christmas tree in the house, some years I don’t want to give up the space in my little condo for a fir-ry friend. This year I’ve decided to work in 2-D with some wall space.

The nice thing is that I still have a tree from “the woods” (a little spread of forested land that’s been in my family for several generations) because that’s where the birch tree branches are from.

The “tree” is ornamented with lace doilies crocheted by my Grandma, a gift from a good friend, and some simple hand-made ornaments out of felt and ribbon. It’s a bit more shabby chic than I typically prefer, but sometimes sentiment over-rides style!

Happy Holidays from the Mess Hall!


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