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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Swing Arm Vanity Makeover

Here's hoping everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a great one!  Before I get started on my latest sidewalk find, I want to re-share an article I read this morning that once again explains how everyday  products, including skincare products, are contaminating our bodies.  Many chemicals found in these products have been linked to cancer and birth defects.  On that note, all of Lora's Beauty soaps and skincare products are free from toxic chemicals.  They are made the old-fashion way, by hand and with ingredients you can pronounce.  I've just replenished the Patchouli Cedar Sage Bar in the online store as well.

Now, on to another furniture redo.

This little table I saw on the sidewalk on my way home from work a couple weeks ago.  I liked the shape of it and the fact that it had drawers and stood on skinny legs.  I had no idea why it had  arms that swung out from each side, however.  When I explained my find to my mom, she knew instantly what it was, a swing arm vanity.

Apparently, back in the day when multiple people shared a bathroom in a house, women used these tables to apply and store makeup.  From the swinging arms a skirt would be hung which would conceal a stool for sitting and the drawers when not in use.

Here's the vanity after I re-glued the top, repainted it and added new pulls.

I used milk paint and distressed the legs and the edges of the piece.

The arms still swing readily and will soon sport a new skirt.

It's always nice to give an old, discarded piece new life and learn something new at the same time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blackberry Jam No Pectin

I tried something new this weekend.  Last summer was the best summer EVER for blackberry picking.  We went 4 or 5 times and came home with at least 3 pounds of berries each time.  I ended up freezing almost all of them, except the ones I pickled or made into jam using pectin.  Well this weekend I ran out of jam AND I had no more pectin!  I really didn't want to go to the store (it's kinda cold outside) so I started researching how to make blackberry freezer jam with out pectin.  Come to find out, it's not that hard at all; it's also better as in you don't need as much sugar.  Pectin imparts a sour taste in your jam, to get around that people add more sugar, twice as much as you'd need if you didn't use it.

To begin with, gather up 9-11 1/2 pint sized jars and lids.  I used glass jars although you might want to use the plastic ones if you have them since you will be freezing the jam.

Next heat 1 pound of blackerries over medium hear until they are soupy.

Once soupy, add 2-3 cups of sugar (or honey if you'd prefer).  Bring this mixture to boil and continue to stir for 20 minutes while berries are boiling.  This release the natural pectin all berries have.

Allow the berries to cool slightly before transferring them to your containers.  You should notice the berries have thickened.
Once completely cool, add lids and freeze!

It's really that simple.  You can do this with any berry really.  There is no need to add pectin or unnecessary sugar.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gift Ideas

Every Christmas my son asks me what I would like for a gift.  Once put on the spot, my mind goes blank; so this year I'm going to try something different and make a blog post of what I consider to be AWESOME gifts for anyone (and if, by chance, anyone I know looks at it....all the better!)

*Warning*  This list is weighted with food and drinks, books about food and drinks, and gadgets to help eat  or make food and drink;  because well, food and drinks are AWESOME.  Also, *Warning* I'm going to practice using semicolons in this post because I read this recently on how to use them and  I'm all now like, why didn't I use this awesome punctuation before!?

Ok, so let's begin; in no particular order here are some FABULOUS gifts:

  1. Pizza Rocker -- This gets bonus points because it's also a really cool knife and I have this soft spot for knives and that does NOT make me weird, thank you.  Lately, we've been making homemade pizza every week and this cutter would be just the item to make our pizza experience even better!
  2. Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again
  3.  Ok, I'm a little late to this fan club but I read this article about Ina Garten (THE Barefoot Contessa) and thought, hmmm, she's kinda awesome; so naturally, I need a book of hers!
  4. Plant Hanger  This isn't technically food or drink related on the surface; look a little deeper though.  Can't you picture a couple or three bowls of herbs growing on it?  I thought so.
  5. Chocolate Whiskey; enough said.
  6. IMUSA, A417-82501, Electric Pressure Cooker, 5-Quart
  7.  This was on my Amazon wish list and I don't remember exactly why.  I'm going to trust my instinct and figure I had a good reason for putting it there and it probably had to do with chocolate cake.  Speaking of which, I overheard this conversation at work about someone making chocolate cake in a slow cooker!  Seriously!  Well, I'm not putting slow cooker on the list this year.
  8. Wine from Shallon Winery in Astoria, Oregon.  Unfortunately the only way to get this wine is to visit the winery, but lucky for you, the trip is so worth it!  This winery is a one man operation and he's about 80 years old.  The first thing he'll do when you walk in is lock the door.  Don't be alarmed, he just wants to devote all his attention to you and not be bothered by any other pesky customers.  Allow at least 30 minutes to listen to his spiel and taste his wines.  This will not be a quick 'run in for some chocolate wine' kind of trip.  WHOA!  Did she just say CHOLOCOLATE WINE!?  Yes I did and it is fabulous!!!
Here's a picture of my bottle from my last trip (in the pretty blue wrapping) and my bottle of spiced apple wine which I'll be serving with Thanksgiving dinner, thank you.
  1. 9. Soap from Lora's Beauty -- Ok, this is just obvious promotion of my wonderful, artisan soaps and no, I don't expect my son to give me these for a gift as I have all I want!  However, for those of you who haven't tried the awesomeness that is artisan soap, may I recommend a few.  My favorite is probably the Cocoa Butter Cream and you can't go wrong with tossing in a Mug-o-Beer Bar with your gift and a couple bars of Himalayan Salt Soap would round out a perfect gift to be loved and used by anyone!
Well, that's all I have for now but I think this may be the best gift guide this year as well as the best post with semi colons!