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Friday, September 30, 2016

Zucchini Pasta

I bought a Spiralizer. Don't know what that is?  That's ok, up until a couple weeks ago neither did I. Needless to say, it's only the most awesome kitchen appliance EVER!

Ok, maybe not, but it is pretty cool and if you're harvesting your garden about now, you may find it useful.

Last week I picked the last zucchini from our garden just in time for my Spiralizor to arrive!

The Spiralizor is made of plastic and comes unassembled however it's really easy to set up.
I attached my zucchini to it then just cranked the knob and suddenly I had noodles!  I know! How did you ever live with out that?!

To our zucchini noodles we added some diced hot peppers from the yard, tons of garlic (6-8 cloves), green onions, 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 teaspoons lemon juice and mixed really well.

We added about 1/2 lb of cooked linguine noodles, tossed really well, and dinner was done!

Top with Parmesan cheese and you've got the perfect meal if you're short on time and if you're lucky enough to have lots of fresh vegetables on hand.

I'm now dreaming up other things I can use my new Spiralizer for!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Etsy Stores I Love

These days "window shopping" to me means browsing Etsy.  I love to randomly peruse what people have made and get ideas.  Of course there are many items I could never make and there are many stores I seem to visit the most; some I've ordered from.  Here are a few of my favorites.

MyDearLinen has beautiful and well made table linens.

Some of the sweaters from this shop look fun to wear now that Fall is here.

Did someone say cashmere tights!? Wouldn't these be great for winter?

Want a statement piece for your home? The lights in this store would fit the bill!

I've ordered a couple slips from this shop before. They're an inexpensive way to change up a dress or skirt.

I love the work this jewelry maker does.  Aren't these earrings so delicate and beautiful?

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Thing About Handcrafted Soap

A person could spend a lot on luxury items.

A new phone? $700
A day at the spa? $200
A new car?
An exotic trip?

When it comes to luxury though, there are few things that can rival handcrafted soap. I've written a post about this before. When it comes to the most bang for your buck, handcrafted soap can't be beat.

There's something about opening a fresh bar made with the best butters, oils, organic herbs, and aromatic essential oils; it's luxury in it's purest form.

That's what I want Lora's Beauty to convey, that handcrafted soap is an affordable luxury. That's why "An Affordable Luxury" is Lora's Beauty's new slogan and manifesto.

Take a look at Lora's Beauty's online store and try a bar for yourself, I think you'll see what I mean.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

I'm going to try something new. My Thoughts for Friday post will no longer be a collection of things I've done, read, seen, bought, or tried over the past week.  Instead, I'm going to spread those thoughts and objects out over individual posts during the week.

The idea is to create more content in smaller posts which will provide a quick way to get DIY ideas, recipes, and see furniture redoes and pretty pictures.

You may have noticed a change this week as I've posted several things; one about freezing herbs,

a Fall DIY project, and a post about visiting Portland.

The best way to stay current and not miss a post is to subscribe to Simply Lora's Beauty by submitting your email address on the sidebar!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Plan an Autumn Escape to Portland!

On this first day of Autumn, I'd like to invite you to visit Portland.

Fall is a great time to visit, we usually have good weather up until mid-October. In fact, usually September and early October are the most dependable weather time of year with average high temperatures ranging from 63 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you can visit, I've put together a list of things you might enjoy. This isn't the list you'll find on a travel blog as I'm not going to include the obvious things like visit Powell Books (which you probably should do). This is a list of lesser known things; places that I enjoy to go to and things I enjoy to do.

One disclaimer, because Portland is very much a city of neighborhoods, this list is slanted towards my neighborhood and it's surrounding areas (actually, everything on it is in NE Portland). Because of this, all of the places are easily accessible by foot or bike and no two places are more than 5 miles apart.

Let's start this list with a Local-NE Portland neighborhood secret. I don't usually give away these types of secrets because I don't want them overwhelmed but I'm going to make an exception for this one.  If you visit Portland on a weekend, by all means go to Helen Bernhard Bakery Sunday morning. Helen Bernhard has been a neighborhood bakery since 1924. Sunday is the one day of the week they don't bake anything and therefore just about everything in the store is half off! Forget Voodoo Donuts and head to Helen's for donuts, muffins, pastries, cakes and pies at half price!

Sticking with the bargain theme, if you like thrift stores Albertina Kerr in NE Portland can't be beat! There is a used clothing store where you can find like-new designer clothing and shoes for cheap, and there's an antique shop that has vintage jewelry, linens, dishes, and furniture. Visit during the week at lunch time and pop into the dining room for a light, fresh lunch. All proceeds from their shops and dining room go to benefit children and adults with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.

If you're still in the shopping mood, a great place to wander is Mississippi Avenue and a unique store to visit is Half Pint. It's locally owned and they carry vintage boots, belts, and bags. It's the best place I've found to find a $200 pair of boots for $40!

Getting thirsty?  Lucky for you there are about a million (only a slight exaggeration) bars in town! However, visiting in September and October means you can pick up a fresh hopped beer at the over 100 brew pubs in the metro area. Oregon grows over 5% of the world's hop harvest and Fall is harvest time which means fresh hopped beers!  Almost all the pubs make great beer but I'm fond of Culmination Brewing and with 25 taps you're sure to find something you like.

How about a little exercise before dinner?  A neighborhood stroll around Alameda and Irvington neighborhoods will offer nice views of classic old Portland.  One hundred year old homes well maintained with beautiful yards as well as a nice view of the city from the top of Alameda Ridge await!

What's a trip to Portland without a vegan dinner? Make your way over to Alberta Street and pop into the Bye and Bye for some filling, tasty tofu bowls. They're all good but my favorite is the BBQ Brussel Bowl.

End your day (and stay the night) with a movie and or a dip at the outdoor soaking pool at the Kennedy School. This old Portland Public Elementary School, built in 1915, has been renovated into a wonderful hotel complete with a restaurant, bar, soaking pool and movie theater.

Last time I checked, plane tickets were cheap so plan your autumn escape to Portland!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall Decor--DIY

Do you decorate for Fall? I've never liked the thought of decorations that come out once a year for a few weeks then are stored away. I think it's because I've been to too many estate sales where the basement is full of old, dusty Christmas decorations (so sad). Consequently, if I buy something for decoration, I leave it out all year long.

If you come to my house anytime of year, you'll see this Santa in the living room
and these pumpkins on the mantle.

I also like to use natural decorations and about this time of year I cut all the blooms off my hydrangeas to dry in vases. In the winter I love to pick up evergreen boughs for the mantle after a winter storm.

Then I saw this little pumpkin do-it-yourself and thought they'd make great outdoor decorations! They're waterproof and you could replace the cinnamon stick with a plain old stick!

This Etsy store sells the colored jar lids but you could easily spray paintsome jar lids you may already have!

Just punch a hole in the middle of the lids, or use mason jar rings, and string them together shaping them into a circle.  Here are better instructions.

Wouldn't a group of them in a basket on the porch make a fun Fall decoration?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Frozen Herbs? Yes!

As the summer is winding down, I find myself wanting to hoard all my fresh herbs.  We've dried quite a bit but I have never thought of freezing them until my mom bought me these Herb Freezing Tray Sets from my niece's Pampered Chef store.

To be honest, I initially didn't think I'd use them much, but then I got an idea...I love fresh mint in smoothies and I happened to have a lot of it in the yard. With mint, you either grow none or you have a lot; this plant doesn't do anything in between.

Anyway, I also add ice to my smoothies to thicken them.  My brainstorm was to freeze some mint in my new trays with a little water so I could have mint ice cubes!

The best part about these trays is the lid. They keep the water and herbs locked in place so you don't spill moving the trays from the sink to the freezer.

After the cubes are frozen, I pop them out of the trays and store them in a zip-lock bag. The trays are now ready to fill again so I can stock up on fresh mint ice cubes for winter smoothies when I want a little taste of summer.

This trick also works to freeze herbs in olive oil for cooking!  I've got a stock of frozen rosemary in olive oil I've already done.  I use olive oil to freeze my herbs in as I've found it freezes better and I prefer to cook with it.

When I'm in need of a little oil for cooking, I now reach for my freezer door and pull out a couple cubes of rosemary infused olive oil!

Some tips for freezing herbs that I've found are:

  • Use firm, fresh herbs.
  • Herbs can either be chopped fine or left in sprigs.
  • Mix herbs for a medley to use in winter soups.
  • Pack the tray cubes as full as you can.
  • Melted butter or broth could be used as a substitute for olive oil if you're so inclined.

Enjoy your summer herbs all winter long!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

Another week comes to a close and we're staring the weekend in the face!  I've got a few shameless promotions and a great online store I've found to share with you this week.

First up, I'm excited to debut new labeling for Lora's Beauty Soaps! Autumn is in the air and I've added a black background wrapper to the soaps with a small leaf punched into the foreground label.  It's not much but it looks o-so-sophisticated!

Also for Autumn; a new scent!  The Honey Ginger goats' milk soap is a seasonal special only!  Need a gift for someone with an Autumn birthday?  This soap paired with some Warm Cinnamon Honey soap all decked out in the new labeling would make a beautiful and useful gift or pick some up for yourself!

Several years ago I purchased a waxed canvas backpack with leather straps from an Etsy store.  I use it mainly for a camera case and every time I use it I get compliments on it.  It's well made and looks like it.  I've also seen similar bags in stores selling for upwards of $300.  I paid around $60 for mine.  I was going to send the website to a friend who asked for it a couple years ago, but the Etsy store was no longer in business.  Well, just this week I got an email from the store saying they have a new website!  Check it out if you're in need of a new bag.  Their prices are great (the bag pictured sells for $55!) and I've been very pleased with my backpack!

Got a beard?  I have it on good authority that the Kent Beard/Mustache Comb is #thebomb! It's handmade with each tooth cut by special circular saws, profiled, beveled and hand-polished on pumice wheels.  This is done to eliminate razor sharp teeth which can damage hair and cause split ends.

Use it with LB Equipment's Beard Oil for a soft, glistening, tangle free beard!

Get out there and enjoy your last summer weekend! We're going to try to make it to the Polish Festival for some great food!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Primitive Buffet Redo

This buffet has history.  It's hard to call it a family heirloom but, it's got history.

It was built by Jeff's great grandfather when he was about 20 years old.  It was a wedding gift to his sister and her new husband and they used it for decades.  It came into Jeff's possession roughly 15 years ago.

It's been painted more times than one could count.  I've painted it myself twice now.  Prior to me though, someone painted the tops of the drawers which made them sticky and unable to move smoothly in and out. Because of it's age, the drawers move in and out on wooden runners, which don't make for a smooth movement anyway.  Add paint to the tops of the drawers and you could barely open them so it sat empty in the basement.

This redo then had more to do with getting the drawers moving as smoothly as possible than anything else. However, since I was going to be working on it, I might as well repaint it!  The last time I painted it, I used a latex off white paint as you can see. Now, I wanted to milk paint it.

I created a custom mix of Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Tricycleand Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Curio for the drawers and sides.  On the top of the buffet and on the pulls, I used Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Curio.

I then used Dover's Dark Chalk Paint Wax. This is now my favorite wax!  I love how it deepens the color and makes it look richer. You can see from this picture the difference.  On the darker side I've applied the wax.

It adds a little bit of shine as well.

Naturally, I added casters to the piece.  These are antique and I spent about a half an hour digging through tubs of old casters at Hippo Hardware in Portland to find four matching ones (*worth it*).

The finished product still sits in the basement but it's now functional as I sanded the paint off the tops of the drawers and rubbed the runners with beeswax.  The drawers now open without an act of God!

There is a variance in the color as I had to remix more paint and I wasn't perfect about the portions of my mix.  The picture shows more color variance than there actually is though. I think it adds character.  More than anything else, I'm glad we can now use it for storage!