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Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekend Happenings

I hope you enjoyed your weekend.  We had a small get together for Easter brunch on Sunday.  As I mentioned on Friday, I got a free turkey last Thanksgiving for purchasing a lot of groceries.  We've had it frozen since then because I haven't had a reason nor the courage to roast a 22 lb turkey!  Well, with it being Easter and all, I decided I better tackle the thing,

It actually turned out pretty good.  Naturally, we have oodles of leftovers.  I bagged them up in small zip-lock bags and froze them.  If someone wants a turkey sandwich or quesadilla they can thaw a small bag and make one.  I'm just glad that gigantic turkey is out of my freezer!

I spent a little time Saturday painting a coffee table I had.  Now, if you don't like painted furniture, read no further!  Especially if you don't like furniture that was perfectly good and didn't need painted.

I debated a LONG time before painting this coffee table.  I tried 4 or 5 times to sell it on craigslist to no avail.  I don't know why, I thought it was beautiful, obviously, I bought it.  I just no longer have room for it and I thought it was a little formal for my living room.  Anyway, this photo (taken before I had my new camera) doesn't do it justice.

After kicking it around in my workroom/laundry room/weight room for a year or more I decided to take drastic measures.  I painted it.  Well, part of it, I still couldn't bring myself to paint the top.
I used a white milk paint similar to Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (Linen)  Anyone who's ever painted with milk paint knows that the first and sometimes second coat looks awful.  This was no exception, especially when I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing.

However, I pushed through it and after 3 - 4 coats of paint, it started looking better.

I gently buffed up the areas I was going to paint with sandpaper so the paint would adhere.

It stilled chipped nicely in spots as you can see.

I finished it with Miss Mustard Seed's Hemp Oil 250ml.

Honestly, I still wasn't sure I did the right thing by painting it but my parents came over and saw it and after I told them they could be brutally honest (which they would have been regardless) they both said they liked it.  Well, Dad said he liked it and Mom said she liked it, then she said I hadn't completely ruined it, which is a compliment!  I guess now I'll see what the great people on craigslist think.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Five Things for Friday

Another week gone and another weekend begins! Happy Friday! I had most of last week off so I got a few things done that I've been wanting to do.

One of those things, was the creation of a new soap!  Activated charcoal is excellent at detoxifying your skin and I've been wanting to make a goats' milk soap using it for a while now.  I finally got around to it last Sunday.

Charcoal has been taking the skincare industry by storm in the past several years.  Its ability to absorb 100 - 200 times it's weight in impurities means it's great at deep cleaning and purifying the skin.  My soap is scented with lemongrass and basil essential oils which make for a pleasing, natural scent.

It's curing now, but should be available in the online store in a few weeks.

Slow, but steady progress has been made on the deck as well.

All the framing is finished, now I'm waiting on the arrival of the railing and decking material.  I'm using a composite wood material from TimberTech because, yes, I'm lazy and do not want to waterproof it every year.  Since it's a relatively small deck, the price difference wasn't that great.

Did I mention it was going slowly?  I guess it doesn't matter since we haven't exactly had a string of nice days to enjoy a deck anyway.

 I got a little crafty on my days off and turned this bottle box into a herb garden for my kitchen.

I painted it and attached an extra porcelain pull I had.  Because I was setting it on my window sill, I didn't want to drill holes in the bottom for water to drain all over.  Instead, I lined the bottom of the box with sliced and broken wine corks, then added potting soil and herbs.  The idea is that the wine corks will help absorb water.  The box is the perfect size to fit on a window sill.

Keeping with the 'Man, I wish it was Summer already' theme,  I've been dreaming of sandals.  I love this pair and they're handmade!  That's right, we go straight from boots to sandals around here.

I've been wanting to take up weaving for sometime now.  A couple weeks ago when we were out and about I found this studio in SE Portland.  They offer a class on Saturdays where you can come in and work on a loom for 5 hours, make a rug, and take it home!  I've signed up for a next Saturday!  I'm really excited and if I like it, I may have to look into purchasing my own loom!!

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Easter on Sunday.  We're cooking a 22 lb turkey we got free last Thanksgiving.  My son is over-the-moon excited about all the left-overs already.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sidewalk Find!

Who are these people that leave such awesome stuff on the sidewalk for free?

This past weekend, while walking to yoga class, I came across this door.

What a beautiful door!  The thing is made of hardwood and it must weigh about 30 lbs.  Naturally, it was coming home with me.

Since I didn't have any idea what I would use it for, I did the logical thing and browsed all the "shutter door re-purposed" images on Pinterest.

My first thought was to paint it but after I looked at it again I felt the wood was too nice to paint over.
Then I thought of the perfect place for it, my bathroom.

This blank wall would be a  great spot and who needs a blank wall?   Sure there's the light switch, but I can work around that!

I needed an extra place to hang a towel.  The hook just hangs over the back of the door so I didn't even need to pick up a screw driver for this transformation.

There are some nicer hooks out there though, I think I'll pick this one up.

Now my son has a place to hang his wet towel!

As a bonus, we can still turn the lights and fan on, our hands can slide easily behind the door.

Thank you to all those anonymous people who place great stuff on the sidewalk for free!

A Weekend in Photos

Just photos and a few words for context.

All the Christmas decorations down before the official start of Spring = success!

Quick trip to the gas station and saw this little guy.

Pick up groceries.
In case you didn't know, Easter is next Sunday.
Antique mall.
Beautiful day on Saturday.
Perfect day for a barbecue.
Official start of Spring on Sunday.
Early morning walk to yoga.
Woke this guy up!
This guy announced my arrival.
Spiders in the sky.
Remember winter.

How was your weekend?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five Things for Friday

I hope your week was worthwhile and you're as glad as I am to see Friday.  It started as another rainy week but finished pretty nice.  As you can see the sun was actually shining on my beer!

We did manage to get some work done on the deck.
Remember my picture from last week? This was the starting point.

Monday the contractor showed up and got the framing started.

They also found this little gem.

Dry rot.

The contractor felt it was limited to that one spot and most likely caused from the kitchen sink since the rotten spot is right where the sink is.  It's also no longer leaking because it dry and crumbly instead of spongy (yes, I've been googling 'dry rot' and I now know more than I ever cared to.)   Now that I know about it, it needs fixed.  Wouldn't that be a fun DIY project for the blog!!? *sigh*.

In between the excitement of the new deck and the unfortunate dry rot, I did manage to find this cool website.  Many times when you are in the market for an everyday item you are presented with a choice to either buy something cheap or buy something more expensive but better made.  Often, it's easy to grab the cheap item and in some cases that's a good idea.  However, there are times when you can get the better made item and it may be more expensive, maybe even double what the cheap item is, but if you're talking about an inexpensive item to begin with (like kitchen utensils for example) double the price is still not a lot to get something a lot better that will last a lot longer.

Along that same vein, umbrellas are an item that are relatively cheap, but just spending a little more can get a way better umbrella.  So if you're in the market for an umbrella (or planning to visit Portland anytime before July) here are 10 great looking, well made ones, a couple of which are less than $40.
I'm partial to this one:

This is an interesting read about, of all things, the rise and fall of bumper stickers.  I remember years ago (decades actually...) visiting the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence, Oregon.  When you were in the caves someone from the gift shop would affix bumper stickers to all the cars in the parking lot advertising that you had visited The Sea Lion Caves!  I thought it was awesome but my dad didn't and our car rarely made it out of the parking lot sporting the bumper sticker.  In my opinion, the travel bumper sticker is just retro enough that it's ripe for a comeback!  I think I'll order a few hundred for Lora's Beauty right now!  Order from Lora's Beauty and you get a free bumper sticker! Well, maybe, I'm still thinking about it.  In the meantime here's a fun read on how bumper stickers (particularly the Sea Lion Caves one) marked the beginning of summer.  Looks like I'm not the only one who thought those Sea Lion Caves bumper stickers were awesome.  This one sold on ebay for $35.99!

Since the new seasons of all our Netflix shows are coming out next week, we've been on the hunt for shows to watch in the meantime.  I stumbled on Bored to Death: Season 1last week on Amazon.  We've watched all of Season 1 and I highly recommend it!  Really funny!

I don't know about your part of the world but it's Spring Break here, baby!  Enjoy your weekend and Happy Vernal Equinox on Sunday!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A New Cookbook!

Back in 2012 I heard an interview with Jennifer Reese, the author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, on NPR.  I remember at the time thinking that sounded like a great book and I should get it.  Then I forgot about it.  Fast forward four years and I remembered and ordered the book!

The author takes 120 things we eat commonly and makes them from scratch to conclude whether the cost and hassle are worth the outcome.  Everything from bacon to wiener wraps are made and reviewed.

Last weekend I got around to trying a few recipes from the book.   I've been in the bread making mood so naturally I started off by making the Everyday Bread.

I was pleasantly surprised how well this bread turned out.  Not only that, I loved the flavor and texture of it.  The crust on it was perfect; a little crisp.

The inside was slightly chewy.  It's made with flax seed and may be the reason for the chewiness.

I said I was pleasantly surprised because the dough was quite sticky and not fun to work with.

When it rose, it actually stuck to the top of the plastic wrap.  That was a bit of a mess but definitely worth it on taste and texture.  Oh, and it's ready to eat in a few hours after starting it!  Can't beat that.  I'll definitely be making this bread again.

**UPDATE***  I did make this bread again and I changed it up a little.  I think it came out better this time.
I added about a quarter cup less water and sprayed the top of the loaves with oil before I covered with plastic to rise.  This time the plastic didn't stick to the dough and a much more uniform loaf resulted.

It still tastes just as good and the crust still is nice and crunchy but not hard.

I think it's a better looking loaf and it's easier to work with than the sticky dough.

We spend a lot on yogurt.  In fact, I added it up and between my yogurt (less sweet) and everyone else's yogurt (more sugary) we spend about $10-$12 a week on yogurt!  Needless to say, I've been thinking about making yogurt for some time.

I seriously had no idea how easy it was!

The easy way is to start with some good store-bought plain yogurt.  You'll need a quart of your favorite milk, a quart size jar and a candy thermometer.  That's it.

Sterilize your jar with hot water for 5 minutes.  In the meantime heat your milk in a sauce pan to 180 degrees (just before it boils).

Remove the milk from heat and let it cool to 115 degrees.  Then add 1/4 cup plain yogurt and mix it in.
Pour the yogurt and milk mixture in a jar with a lid, wrap in a towel, and let sit for 8 -15 hours then refrigerate.  Apparently, the longer it sits the thicker it gets. I let my sit for 15 hours and it was a nice consistency but not the consistency of Greek yogurt.  Some people strain the yogurt to make it thicker.  That was more work then I wanted to do.
I ended up with five 1/2 cup servings.  The flavor was really quite good and add a little granola and berries (or your favorite topping) and it's great!

I would definitely recommend Make the Bread, Buy the Butter Cookbook.  It's fun to read and so far I'm pleased with the recipes.  I'm going to try making bagels AND lox for my next go!