DIY vs. Don't Bother

Monday, March 30, 2015

2010, when we first bought our house and painting and DIYs still felt like fun. 
Back when I first discovered Pinterest, I couldn't pin enough pallet furniture. You know what I'm talking about: patio tables made out of wooden pallets, shelving units made out of pallets, ottomans made out of pallets. And there's the famous Michael's wooden crate coffee table. Pinned 'em all. All you need is four crates, some castors, a little elbow grease and voila, a handmade coffee table that stores things, too! Genius!

Except: by the time you've bought all your supplies and actually put the thing together, you've likely spent more money and definitely more hours than if you were to just go to the furniture store and buy a coffee table. They do make tables, you know.

And so I un-pinned all my pallet furniture and vowed to get realistic about what I will DIY and what I'll leave to the experts.

I may be uninspired to build a coffee table but there are some things I much prefer to create from scratch, mostly in the kitchen. Here are a few examples of things I'll forever do myself.

Tortillas - If you haven't made your own tortillas yet, DO IT DO IT DO IT. They are SO easy and taste so much better than those flattened circles of cardboard Dempster's is peddling. I've made these flour ones many times (most recently I made them tonight for fish tacos!) The biggest challenge is getting them perfectly round, but if you're OK with imperfectly shaped tortillas, just roll with it (I'm sure you could also use a bowl to help you press out the shape if you must have circular torts.) The biggest problem is we eat these way faster than packaged ones, so they don't last as long.

Granola - I love a little homemade granola and some sliced-up fruit on top of a bowl of Greek yogurt - it's one of my favourite quick weekday breakfasts. Fortunately, you can easily whip up a big batch of granola on the weekend that tastes amazing and doesn't contain any weird ingredients. My favourite homemade granola is just rolled oats, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla. I've added in extra stuff, like coconut and cinnamon. I suspect raisins, dried fruit, or nuts would be good too. Maybe even chocolate chips. Go nuts. It's just granola.

Cookies - I love to bake so this is a no-brainer for me. Freshly baked cookies are just so much better than cookies from a box! Again, you get to skip out on all the wack ingredients, which is a bonus (not that butter, sugar, and flour are healthy per se, but at least you can pronounce the names). I've posted my all-time favourite cookies here many times.

Whipped Cream - Cool-Whip from a can or a tub makes me cringe. Just get a carton of whipping cream and do it properly!

Guacamole - Guacamole squeezed out of a tube or scooped out of a container is always too thin and runny for my liking. I love chunky guac, and mashing up an avocado is really not that much work. Add a little lime juice and sea salt and you're good to go. Sometimes I'll chop up red onion and tomato and throw that in too. I'm really the only person in my house that likes guacamole, so buying a big container and having it turn brown before I get a chance to finish it doesn't seem like a great idea.

Here's where I let someone else do the work:

Precut Butternut Squash - Recently we were at the market and bought a 1-pound bag of peeled, precut butternut squash for $3.50 right next to the whole squash for $1.00 a pound. Every time I try to peel and cut a squash I'm holding my breath waiting to chop off a limb. To me it's worth it to pay an astronomical price so I can avoid losing a finger taking a chunk out of my countertop.

Pesto - Making your own pesto is apparently easy if you have a food processor but in between the fresh herbs, the walnuts and whatever else goes in there, it just feels easier and cheaper to pick up one of the yummy premade varieties. Same goes for hummus.

Spaghetti Sauce - I don't have any Italian in me so I have no guilt about buying bottled marinara instead of making my own. I know homemade sauce tastes so much better and fresher, but when we eat spaghetti, it's usually meant to be a quick weeknight meal so making sauce from scratch kind of negates the appeal. However, sometimes I'll pump up bottled sauce a little by adding some greens, chopped peppers and mushrooms, or extra spices.

Ground Coffee - I know freshly ground coffee tastes better, but I don't have a grinder and I can't bear to have one more appliance in my kitchen, no matter how small and sleek and useful it is. I'll probably always be a ground coffee person.

Face and Hair Masks - I've seen so many recipes for great oatmeal-and-honey face masks and avocado hair moisturizers, yet I haven't been able to bring myself to slather my bod with pantry contents just yet.

Pie Crust - I hate making pie crust from scratch. I did it once and swore never again! I usually get the 'just add water' dry mix, or sometimes I'll cheat completely and buy frozen pie crust or no-bake graham crusts, which come in a tin foil pie pan. No mess AND no pie plate to clean up: double win.

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  1. I haven't tackled granola, fresh tortillas or these cookies you rave about - but I will! They sound great and my cookie jar needs a little lovin'. I have to say I have a great sweet and spicy meat sauce recipe that is a must for any Italian dish and I love grinding my coffee beans, but other than that I'm right there with you! I can't see me ever making my own pasta either. As for DIY projects.... I am officially all for DDIY (Don't do it yourself) after a long winter of home projects. Headache city.

    1. We're starting to plan a kitchen reno and it's sooo tempting to try to save a few bucks by doing things ourselves, but scary too!

  2. My friend makes her own tortillas too since she pulled a very long hair (not hers) from her mouth whilst enjoying a Dempsters one and nearly threw up. Hers are delish, I can attest to that!

    If you add to bottled spaghetti sauce why not just add those same things to a can of crushed tomatoes with some water and some garlic? Its tres delish!

    I am totally with you on the pre-cut squash and not being able to wear pantry items on my face too! ugh!