Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sneak Peek

This weekend had a lot of painting. We primed all day yesterday and painted all afternoon today. We might need a second coat on the accent wall though... We'll have to pick up another quart of paint though, 100 ft. my tush.

Colors? Main color is Dust Bunnies (hot chocolate colored) and  the accent wall is Classic Violet. I finally got my purple wall, Mom.

Once I get it cleaned up I'll have sweet daytime photos.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Before and after shots of caulked molding. The app for posting isn't wonderful, so it won't let me type text in to label them. You'll just have to decide what's before and what's after. Priming tonight, painting tomorrow. There's some of the new molding in there as well.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Night Painting Party

... Okay so it was just me, but I'm so much fun it was like a party. Sooo tired, but I was productive!

Though I washed the walls thoroughly, I had some adhesion problems. Will probably need a second coat. I think it's because of the previous owner's smoking.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Update: Ready to Paint

Spackled, washed, and sanded. Priming coming to a pink room near you soon.

Current Colors:

I Felt It Move Me

For my birthday K+R gave me some yummy cranberry bread and a mason jar full of felt samples. Last night I was feeling the creative vibe so I decided to try and make a wall hanging out of them. I poured out my squares and did my darnedest to arrange them into a geometric rainbow pattern.

Katie says-- "I help?"

Eventually I realized that the combination of colors, rectangles and squares weren't going to arrange into anything attractive--symmetrical or asymmetrical. I decided to cut them up into random shapes to make purple, orange, red, and yellow flowers.

After I laid them out I glued 'em down. I think I'm going to make a vase out of the bluish squares at some point. We'll see though. They look pretty nice without one right now!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Relaxing vista for a shower

Super Soups

I have been all about the homemade soup lately. My soup pot is hardly getting cleaned before I make another soup. Canned stuff just isn't cutting it. This all started because I kept wanting tomato soup at home, but didn't have any in the cupboard. I'd just take a can of diced tomatoes and put it in the blender then heat it up. Not perfect, but I felt like it was a lot more simple and a lot less processed. That being said, making real soup is mind-numbingly simple.

Here a couple of my favorites/creations/permutations.

Fast Pumpkin Soup
At a friend's birthday someone made some savory pumpkin soup and I thought it had major potential. I was too shy to ask her for the recipe... so I just scoured the internet until I found a savory pumpkin soup with ham. The recipe comes from a diabetic cookbook, but it's truly amazing. Ask my skeptical coworkers--they're believers now too.

Originally by LeeAnn Smith, MPH, RD
Be sure to buy unsweetened and unflavored pumpkin so that you don't end up with soup tasting like pumpkin pie!

1 teaspoon butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sage leaves, dried, or 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon oregano, dried
2 cups canned pumpkin (unflavored)
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ cup heavy cream
Garnish with ⅛ pound smoked ham, chopped
Garnish of chopped fresh chives
  • Melt the butter in a soup kettle and sauté the onion over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in all but the heavy cream and ham.
  • Simmer the soup, covered, for 10 minutes. Add heavy cream and serve hot with ham and chives sprinkled on top.
TIP: Substitute olive oil for butter and whole milk for heavy cream.
PER SERVING: Calories: 166 | GI: Low | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g

* My changes? I cut up my three slices of chopped ham and put them in after the onion cooks. The ham and onion meld flavors beautifully and it feels really hardy.
If you want to make it vegetarian you can use mushrooms to sub for the ham and vegetable broth instead.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Ridiculously easy. All my own too. I literally just found all the vegetables I had in the fridge that weren't going to be used elsewhere and threw them into the pot. When the recipe says things like "5 stalks of celery" you can read it as "as much celery as you feel like putting in."

1 whole yellow onion
5 stalks of celery  
Half a bag of baby carrots, chopped up (these were kinda old and we didn't want to eat them by themselves anymore)
1 thawed, cooked rotiserrie chicken-picked (Our grocery store has those AWESOME chickens that are like ready take-home dinners. When they aren't sold them put them in the fridge and sell them for $3 the next day. You can put them in your freezer for a significant amount of time if you don't want to use/eat them right away. You can also reheat them in the microwave. This works great for those of us who don't have a working oven...) 
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
6 cans of water (I didn't measure, I just refilled the can of chicken broth until the pot looked full)
1 tbsp of salt
Half a bag of egg noodles.
Saute onions in bottom of pan. When they're translucent add all of the other ingredients EXCEPT the egg noodles. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook until they're soft. Eat.

If you want a stronger broth flavor use two cans of chicken broth. Both Jeremy and I agreed that one can with the cooked chicken was great.

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
I really enjoy roasted Red Pepper soup. V8 makes it in a box, but that's the only kind I can find at the grocery store! That's why I decided to make it myself. I also had a find a recipe that didn't involve me roasting peppers in an oven... HERE'S ONE! I made it today with grilled cheese. Adds more body and a tiny bit of heat. Divine :-)

1 – 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 – 12 oz jar roasted red peppers
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Italian blend dried herbs (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, and sage)
1 tablespoon honey
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
a drizzle of olive oil

1. Preheat a large soup pot. Drizzle with olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes more. Add tomatoes, roasted red peppers and their juice, chicken or vegetable stock, herbs and honey. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.
2. Cook over medium for 30 – 30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. When soup is done, use a submersible blender, or a regular blender, in batches, to puree the soup until very smooth. Serve with a little cream for garnish.
Recipe found here:

 French Onion Soup 
Future plans... meaning tomorrow? I don't know... I'm running out of freezer containers. 

Serves 6.
3 pounds yellow onions, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more as needed
1 pinch sugar
8 cups water , plus more as needed
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 baguette , crusty
8 ounces Gruyère cheese-I sliced it thick and placed it over the top of the crock…..the cheese melted mostly into the soup and a little off to the sides, but it created a thick, even layer this way.


  1. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Toss to evenly coat.
  3. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Take the cover off, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned.  I cooked mine for a little less than 90 minutes.
  5. At this point, stir every 5 minutes and add water (a tablespoon at a time to loosen up the dark brown stuff that forms on the bottom of the pan).
  6. Continue to cook until the onions are an even dark brown color, an additional 30 minutes longer or so.
  7. Add the flour and stir for two minutes.
  8. Add 8 cups water and thyme to the onions and bring to a boil.
  9. Lower heat  and simmer for 20 minutes.
  10. Add white wine and simmer 10 minutes longer.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees and adjust a rack to the upper middle position.
  13. Cut the baguette into 3/4 inch slices and arrange on a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  14. Bake until the bread is dry, about 10 minutes. Remove bread slices and set aside.
  15. Heat broiler and place 6 heatproof bowls in a baking sheet. Fill each bowl with about 2 cups soup. Top each with two baguette slices and evenly distribute cheese slices over the bread. Broil until well browned and bubbly, about ten minutes. Cool for five minutes before serving.                          

Click the link... it's worth it for the picture.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Completely Unscientific Test of Laundry Detergents

I needed to see if my detergent was working as well as the stuff that I get from the store. I set up a pseudo-scientific study to test it out.

I took 2 pieces of the same type of white, cotton material and stained them with mouthwash, burner gunk, red wine, and ketchup.

I washed one with regular detergent and one with my homemade

*sidestory about the homemade detergent*
Much to my chagrin, by the next morning it had solidified into a gelatinous mass. I mean, when I tipped it on it's side the mold of the handle and spout were sculpted in beautifully. I shook it up to break up the mass and added a tea kettle of boiling water. It's still a little goopy (instead of perfectly smooth) but it works just fine now. I'm certain this is a creator problem and not a problem with the recipe itself.

Anyway, here are the results.

I've excluded the mouthwash from the photos because both detergents took it out no problem.

Burner Gunk


  Verdict: The regular did a slightly better job. I failed to photograph the "regular" stain beforehand, so I can't be sure, but I think it looks a little lighter. Who knows? Grease can be a little inconsistent.

Red Wine

 Both had a tiny outline where the red wine had been. I think you can see it better on the homemade picture. Neither of the stains are visible when they're not backlit. Verdict: Tie.


 I think there's a clear winner on this one. The regular detergent didn't remove the color as effectively.
Verdict: Homemade.

Other things to consider: Neither piece of cloth smelled the staining item at all after washing. The regular detergent left a light lily smell, while the homemade didn't have a scent at all. I hear you can add a little bit of tea tree oil to fix the "no scent" issue if you need that smell to verify cleanliness.

Guess I'll stick with this detergent for a little while!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Unable to resist the adorable

1980s "ghosted" pictures. Really it's Katie and Jonas... but their similarities give it that delightfully ridiculous air.

Yeah. That was an entire post of pictures of my cats. It's fine if you don't want to read my blog anymore. I understand.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spare Room Wall Damage

Like our brethren elsewhere, our house also needs a quality spare room for guests. We had to replace some bad drywall for that to happen. Before we lived in the house there was a leak near the chimney. The leak has been long repaired, as was the damaged beam because of it. However, the old beam shifted and pushed through the ceiling. We couldn't really tell that when we bought the house--the drywall just looked like it needed to be replace.

For the past month and a half I've been working s-l-o-w-l-y working on this problem. I removed the drywall myself. You can kinda see where the damage is on the wall in the picture below.

Then Jeremy cut the beam with a borrowed reciprocating saw so that we could lay the drywall flat against the ceiling. Without doing this laying the drywall would've been a no-go.

All of the work in the rest of this post requires a great deal of talent and skill that I do not possess. I cut and put the drywall up myself. I just used a little utility knife--so that's why the edges of the drywall aren't perfect. The wood behind the drywall is also not perfect, so one of the panels sits 1/4 back from where it's supposed to. I probably should have purchased one piece of thicker drywall, but I didn't think about that until I was spackling.

So, you can see that my spackling/mudding/ick it not as smooth as it could be. I'm going to let this muck dry and then put a smoother coat on top before I prime.

 It looks a bit better now--but still not wonderful.

Door Deco

Being as it's three weeks past Christmas, I thought it was time for the wreath to come down. I was a little sad about the blank door, so I decided to make my own wreath.

I went out back and grabbed some pliable sticks out of the pile of yard waste. I trimmed them down to about 2 feet each.

Then I took some twine and tied the sticks at the top and the bottom. It kinda looks a little like two strung bows.

I found some paper ribbon I had laying around and made a bow. Hung it up. Pretty simple, but I like it. Better than spending $10! Good all the way through the month of February.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Clean Clothes

Alright. I give up. I'll try it. I've seen DIY laundry detergent online before, but thought that it was silly and probably not as good... I mean does homemade laundry detergent have convincing commercials with grass stain removal and fields of good-smelling flowers? NO.

However, a couple things started to change my mind.
1. When Jeremy and I go to the grocery store and need laundry detergent we stand and stare at all the bottles. We usually both end up smelling five before we give up and get the same stuff we usually do.
2. I used our favorite detergent (Purex Linen and Lilies) to strip wallpaper and now I am reminded of wallpaper everytime I do wash.
3. I really like the smell of lavender and it's tough to find in a reasonable quantity for a reasonable price.

So I found a tutorial for making soap here.

Here's what carrying it out looked like.

First I grated 7/8 of a bar of soap and diluted it in water.

Added the cup of borax and the cup of washing powder, brought it to a boil. Then I filled half of the final container with cold water and mixed in the hot mixture.

Is my laundry going to be clean? I don't know yet. I have a load washing right now... we'll see! Hopefully it smells like that lovely lavender I want.

Is this cost effective? Here's how it works out.

1 bar Tom's all natural soap: $2.50
Borax: $4.39
Arm and Hammer Washing Powder: $3.15

Total Cost (2 loads/batch): $10.04
Purex: 12.50 for two bottles (to equal 64 loads)

At this first load I save $2.64 cents... Now that I have the materials...

For our purposes let's say that I have 7 cups left in each of the boxes (just an estimate, I definitely have more than that in the borax). Since now I know that I am doing this let's say I look for soap on sale for $2--I like ritzy, natural soap.

So that's $2 for 64 loads.
$2 x 7 = $14
$12.50 x 7 = $87.50

$87.50-$14= $73.50

Alright, saving $73 dollars with this strategy? If it works well and smells good I can imagine this is a practice I'll continue.