Pretty Lacy

After my long family overloaded weekend, I stopped by a friends house to just chill out.  Between the two of us, we are pretty obsessed with blogs like Young House Love, Apartment Therapy, and Bower Power Blog.  She is obsessed with Pinterest. I am not. Was not. So when I got there she suggested we make something crafty and I love something crafty so I was in. Then she breaks out her laptop and starts perusing her boards for some pinspiration. She pulls up this pin.

I was instantly smitten so off to Goodwill we went to get some jars/votives/glass containers. Admission time: I’m obsessed with Goodwill.  It’s like a garage sale that’s open everyday and that’s what I call fun. Finding a gem among crap, and gems I did find. Aside from my glass objectives, I got a lamp, a dress, some flower dipping bowls, and a few vases.  It was a smart $40.  We stopped off at a few more stores to get lace and flameless candles.  After seeing the price of Modge Podge, we decided to make our own.

1 part Elmer’s glue + 1 part water = homemade Modge Podge

The steps were pretty simple:

01. Wrap lace around jar and cut to size.

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02. Secure lace with little peice of tape.

03. Cover all areas of lace with Modge Podge mixture.

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04. Let dry. Depending on the lace you chose you might want to consider reinforcing it while it dries. I did this by wrapping newspaper around the jar and securing that with tape.

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05. Take tape off. Put a bird on candle in it.

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We were pretty (nerdily) excited about the result. She spent the entire night trying to convince me to join Pinterest, but I know that if I did I would never get any work done.

Do you Pinterest? Do you get peer pressured into crafts?

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Weekend Round Up

Here I am. Yes, I’m alive! I had a nice Thanksgiving that reminded me why I’m thankful for my family and thankful I moved out. We went with a non-dramatic no-one-has-to-cook option this year and headed north to this lovely resort.  After a few days of gluttony, eyeing the elliptical with rancor, and laughing it up with my fam, I was ready for a quiet few days at home to unwind before the ever-looming Monday arrived.

Then I got the itch to do something productive.  God knows why. So I snatched my boyfriend away from his precious football to go Christmas decoration shopping with me.  I prefer to not purchase new things every year for every holiday because it’s just not practical. However, we didn’t do outside decorations last year because buying our tiny tree was about all we had the money for. So this year we got lights and a wreath. We may end up getting a few more net lights to cover some naked bushes. Check it.

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We have this rickety old wooden ladder left to us by the previous tenant that my man refused to let me climb (despite the fact I’ve probably been on infinitely more ladders than he has). Adorbs. Yeah, I said adorbs, just love me.  Those are supposed to be icicle lights, but they seemed to be pretty tightly wound in the box.  We are hoping the icicles just fall after some time being hung = too lazy to break out the ladder to force them into the right shape.

Oh yeah, see my wreath?  Here’s a close up. 

Ballsy

I love this wreath so hard. We found the Christmas section at our local Target and I did briefly fall in love with a wreath of ornaments, but we couldn’t agree on which color(s) so when I saw this I tossed our compromise back to its shelf and snagged this little beaut. I’m going to try to bring in some cranberry garland to our house to pull the wreath and everything together.

My boyfriend did complain that we were decorating too early.  Then we pulled up to our house and our neighbor was stringing lights across  his garage. And our other neighbor. I don’t think it’s too early because, quite frankly, I don’t want to be out there in the snow struggling to get it done. We felt so great once it was all hung and lit.  Kind of like we were going to be good adults one day. One day.

Suburban Fervor Profile: Loki

Not to sound too hipstery but I named my dog Loki before it was cool. Just in case you were wondering, he also goes by Loks, Pupperoni, Sausage, Sauce, and my personal favorite, Saucy. He will answer to all of them usually with an exuberant look that says, “You love me! You really do love me!” Every time.

I received Loki as a gift last Christmas from my boyfriend. He got me in the car and said he couldn’t tell me where we were going. It was a surprise. Then he pulls into a shelter and I basically lost it. He told me that he and my roommates decided we could get a cat, so I could choose whichever cat I wanted. Silly boys.

We went to the cat room and they had a pair of all black kittens, which my boyfriend and I are both suckers for because our childhood cats were all black. I was overwhelmed by the cats. I can’t tell what makes a good cat from just seeing for a few moments. They all want to get out of their cages so they all pander to you. I don’t blame them.

I asked my boyfriend if we could just take a look at the dogs. He reluctantly agreed and off we went. At this point I burst into tears. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a crier. I was just so sad for these dogs that wanted to come home with me and be in our family. ALL OF THEM. So we walked down the cages and this face looked up at me.

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What was I supposed to do? You can’t say no to that. I asked a shelter person if I could take him for a walk to the dog run and see how he liked us. We were instantly smitten. He was a good walker and gentle and the perfect size for us.

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Next came telling the roommates that I had my heart set on a dog. The word traitor was thrown around. There was much grumbling and resistance. Then they set eyes on him and they were ready to dash out the door, dog in hand. You think I am exaggerating, but I assure you it was love at first sight. So we took him to the dog run again to they could interact with him and the practically admonished me for making them wait any longer to take him home.

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He came home with us that night and has been our perfect match ever since. He takes treats so gently, he rarely barks, he cuddles, he likes kids, he never has accidents, and I’m fairly certain he thinks he is human. He is my baby Loks.

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Where’s That Duct?

Blog post title brought to you by a crude joke my brother makes.

A Brief History of My House:

  • Built in 1976
  • Not sure who the first owner was.
  • First occupant I know of was my boyfriend’s Grandmother. Apparently a sweet woman with a smoking habit. And 2 cats.
  • After she passed, a friend of my boyfriend’s family moved in. Hoarder with a cat. I can not make this up. I’m not sure how long he lived there, maybe about 5 years, but it was long enough to completely ruin the house.

Fun Facts:

  • When I first saw the inside of the house, the tenant said he had “cleaned out half of his stuff” but I could barely walk through it.
  • There is a corner of our living room we don’t go near. It’s called Cat Pee Corner.
  • You can see where the steam from my shower has steamed off nicotine stains from my bedroom ceiling.
  • The light covers in the basement shown a dim yellow color from all the mouse waste.

These are all fun facts about what you can see and smell my lovely home. What about what you are breathing? Kind of a big deal. I vacuum and air it out as best I can, but I can’t climb into the ducts like a ninja and clean them. So we called some professionals.  I found a deal on Groupon for a company called Green Heat.  There were two options and, feeling ritzy/terrified of our air, we chose the expensive $69 option.  My boyfriend bought the Groupon, called the company and scheduled a visit. 

Apparently, our filthy ducts were too much for their normal tools so they had to bring out the big guns, so to speak.

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They also inspected and cleaned our furnace and oiled it or something. I wasn’t there so I’m going by my boyfriend’s account of things. Then they offered to kill the bacteria in our ducts with some organic spray or something. My boyfriend also purchased a new reuseable filter from them.

They also broke one of our light fixtures for which they discounted the price by $50. I told my boyfriend to see if they could do better, and another $50 was taken off. They also almost left without cleaning our dryer vent, which is the only difference in the Groupon options. Total cost of our $69 ($518 value) Groupon?

$650

Evidentally, they had to do a “deep clean” as opposed to the normal cleaning they do. Also, whatever work they did on the furnace costs extra as does the new filter. The real killer is that they took off $100 from the original bill because we bought the Groupon. I’m sorry, but these numbers just aren’t lining up. I paid $69 for them to clean my vents, deodorize the air, clean my dryer vent and inspect my furnace. Plus $75 for a new filter. I should be paying $144. Was my boyfriend duped? Did they upsell the original upseller?

I might call them to have the charges explained to me because I’m insane like that. I don’t think $650 is too much to pay to breath a little easier, especially after the horrendous air history this house has had. It’s the principle of the thing. Saving $200 (partly because of their mistake) is not the same as saving $499. 

I’m a little torn. From what my boyfriend describes, they pulled a wildebeast out of our vents.  They also changed the charges A LOT.

What would you do?

Jelly Jam

More than a year ago, my friend was engaged (now married) decided that she and I were going to make jam for her wedding favors. Neither of us had ever made jam, nor did we know where to start. It just happened to be around the time my cousin started her wonderful blog sharing traditional skills.  She gave me a simple recipe with advice based on her own experiences. Then my friend decided we would do cupcakes in jars instead. Sooooo…..I kind of put canning out of my mind.

Until yesterday. I just woke up and decided, “Today is the day!”  I went out and scooped up a few supplies.

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Then I just followed my cousin’s simple instructions.

8 cups strawberries (4 lbs)
6 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon (my secret ingredient)

INSTRUCTIONS:

01.  Sanitize jars, lids and rings in the dishwasher.  Keep the dishwasher closed until it’s time to fill so they stay warm. Otherwise the hot jam will cause the cold jar to crack.

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02.  Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved.  Keep stirring regularly until mixture thickens. This could take up to an hour.

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03.  Using a candy thermometer, watch the mixture until it reaches 220 F.  Keep heat on medium, it’ll get there.

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04.  Fill jars to below the threads. One recipe I found said 1/4 in below.

05.  Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp towel, and place the warm lids and rings on snugly.

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06.  Bring water to a boil in a water bath canner or large stock pot.

07.  Once boiling, place jars on rack in the water canner or on kitchen towels (make sure these are level) with a jar holder so the jars are not touching each other with the water level about 2 in. above the tops of the jars.

image08.  Bring water back to a boil.  Once the water is boiling again, leave jars for as long as the recipe instructs (mine said 10 mins, it varies depending on your elevation).

09.  My cousin suggests turning the heat off and taking the lid off the pot and leaving the jars for 5-10 mins before removing them to avoid the jam rushing out of the jars. Gotta love life experience.

10.  Let the jars cool completely somewhere without a draft.

11.  Do NOT press the lids down. While they are cooling, you will hear little pings when the cool jam pulls the lid down, thus sealing the jar.

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I bought a water bath canning kit, which ran me about $25.  It came with the pot, rack, funnel, rim cleaner (dirrty), jar grabber, and magnetic lid picker upper. These are all technical terms I made up because walking to the recycle bin is too much work. My grocery store and some big box stores carry a pretty good selection of canning supplies.  For something that doesn’t require a huge start-up cost, I’m surprised more people don’t do this. Canning isn’t limited to jams.  You can make your own pasta sauce, pickles, pie fillings. Basically anything you can find in a can can be canned (lo siento if that was confusing).

By making these things yourself, you can save money. You can  avoid preservatives and fake dyes and generally the crap that’s in processed foods that you would be smart to avoid. You can have a real choice in the quality of foods that go into your canning. Not to mention that what you can will stay unrefrigerated for up to year unopened. (Maybe something to have on hand as a part of being prepared for an emergency)

Please do not think this was all sunshine and roses. I did it right…sorta.  When I finished the jam and it had cooled it was very runny. In my disappointment, I posted a status on Facebook about how I had failed at jam and my cousin told me that this recipe isn’t supposed to set like I was expecting. Basically I just have to cook it down to a thicker consistency. She told me this after I had already reprocessed the jam with store-bought pectin. Which didn’t work like I expected either.  Anyway, I’m lucky to have someone so knowledgeable who can explain to me how/what/why I did wrong (or sorta right) and she has some great tips.  Seriously, check her blog out. Seriously inspirational. Seriously.

So tonight I’ll be cooking the jam down again. I might also try another flavor because I like to torture myself.