Sunday, July 22, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Weekend

          Sneak peek at our bedroom colors                          Made laundry detergent last night

Cut mat as a floor plan. This room is a real puzzle. :/       Other roses may tire, but old Yeller is going strong!

Thanks for visiting! :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yes we CAN!

Just finished my first batch of Strawberry Jam! :)

I went to a canning class about a week ago. It's something I've always wanted to learn but was intimated by. But the class was very hands-on and confidence-building, so I was excited to get home and do it myself. This was my first attempt and I think it went pretty smoothly. I tried to do it without a canning pot or a rack, which was challenging but not impossible.

I started with Strawberry Jam because it seemed like the easiest and most universal recipe. I just used the Ball Recipe here because I figured they have it figured out by now and the recipe is one of the most popular ones on their website. I halved it. And, being warned that most traditional canning recipes are really sweet, I reduced the sugar in the recipe, but it still turned out a little too sweet for my taste. I might try even less next time or try to find an alternative. Besides honey. I kinda can't stand honey. Trust me, I wish I could.

Oh look! Here's a light version made with grape juice. I might try that next time. :)

A cool idea I had that I would recommend (if you are a canner and haven't tried it already) is to use an immersion hand mixer to mash the strawberries after starting them a little with a fork. I was sitting there trying to get a smoother consistency and it was taking forever. So I pulled out the immersion and it worked great! It was already on the stove by then, making the berries softer, so that might have helped too.

Have you ever canned before? If so, what are your favorite things to preserve?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Home Improvement: Vinyl Floors

Gonna keep this one short and sweet. For the both of us. :)

Most of the work was actually done about a month ago but we finally added some finishing touches to it, so I feel better sharing.  ;)

This is the kitchen floor BEFORE.
A little scary, yes? The tile was so old and bad, it was literally falling off. You could kick the tiles up. Joel wasn't even sure what they were. Not ceramic.

Unfortunately I don't have a Before of the bathroom. Don't know how I missed that one. But that is still very much a work in progress anyway, so we'll skip it for now. Sufficed to say - the process I'm showing you here was repeated in the bathroom and laundry room as well.

First, Joel tore up all the layers of flooring until he got to the very bottom. I'm not even sure what you call this layer, but it's basically part of the frame of the house.

Then he laid down underlayment in all three rooms: kitchen, laundry, and bath. It's basically a thin board.

I will spare you all the details of how I went about choosing color and type of flooring. I will say this - we decided on a vinyl tile because (a) Joel could install it himself easily enough and (b) it allowed for flexibility during later renovations. For example, later on when we are tearing out old cabinets in the bathroom, if the new cabinets take up less floor space, we can just add tiles here and there as we need to and not have to re-cut/ re-install a whole sheet of linoleum flooring!

They were self adhesive, and seemed very easy to use. I should talk - I didn't do anything! :) So, you just line them up press them down or roll them on. Of course there is cutting involved once you get to the edges and corners.

Joel found a little helper to hand him tiles as needed.

                                       Before                                                           After

                                                                          Wide shot

Done in the kitchen: installed flooring, fridge, oven, microwave, painted cabinets/new pulls.

Still to do in kitchen: New cabinets, sink and counter tops. And, since we don't have a dishwasher right now, we'll also add one (and the townspeople will rejoice).

And after we're done tearing things off the walls and putting things on the walls, only then can I justify painting the walls. :) Can't wait!

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home Improvement: The Boy's Room

It's really late and I'm really tired, but I wanted to share a few photos with you before I collapse into bed. I'm just excited because I've been waiting for a few weeks now to be able to finish this project and then share it with you. We've been living here for over a month now and we finally have one room almost done! :)

Here's a photo of my son's room before we moved in. (And my son posing in it. Hehe)

The floors look alright from far away - but they really needed refinishing. And, while were were at it, I wanted them darker, since they were kind of a honey brown. The walls were very dingy and dirty and needed paint. The windows are newer, which is good (probably one of the few things in this house that's less than 10 years old!), but the casings were unfinished.

Anyway - Joel refinished the floors before we moved in and then this is what the bedroom walls looked like for the first few weeks.

About a month ago, we finally found the time to start painting! My son was very invested in the project - he picked the color out himself, and had been looking forward to helping with painting for a long time, so we went ahead and gave him a brush. And then I realized he doesn't have any "work clothes" like mommy and daddy... so we let him paint in his chonies! He only helped for a couple of minutes. ;)

 That's the most adorable house painter I've ever seen...


 Taking his work very seriously.

 Oh yeah, and Joel helped a little too. :0)


Here's what the old door casing looked like before Joel tore it all out. And there was no baseboard at all. So, after we painted, we waited a few more weeks to acquire the tools needed for Joel to install baseboards and new door casings. And I got to be helpful and paint those myself while Joel was at work (I was pretty proud of me). :P Anyway, here's detail of the new casings and baseboards. 


So today we finally unpacked all his toys! When we got to his boxes of books, he ended up spending a few hours looking at all the books he forgot he had and 'reading' to himself.  ^_^

And here, my friends, is our somewhat finished product! Tada!

What I'm not gonna tell you is how big the mountain of his toys is that stands behind me as I take this photo. ;) Funny side note: I told him maybe it was time to sort through his things and see if there was anything he wanted to give away to kids less fortunate. We do that from time to time when he has gotten to a point where he's accumulated a lot. After sorting through a few hundred guys and cars are other little toys with him, there were exactly three items in his giveaway bag: a broken plastic Easter egg, a sticker dispenser with no more stickers and a pair of 'disguise' glasses. It was so pathetic, I just stood there laughing at the sad little bag. Ha. Oh well! Guess he wasn't in a very giving mood. Maybe we'll try again later.
So I say it's 'almost' done because the only thing we have left to do in this room is to install a new light fixture (the one in there now is blah... and broken actually, so he just has a lamp right now) and we'd also like new blinds eventually. Maybe some window treatments... but for a little boy's room sometimes I think that's over the top. We'll probably hang some of my son's art work on the walls. That will really make it homey :) Then I think we'll be finished here!

Anyway... no sooner are we done with it than I am left wondering how we will rearrange it in a few months, when it goes from being a boy's room to a boys' room!! ;) That will be interesting.

Tomorrow we hope to paint our room and maybe I'll blog about our new vinyl flooring.
Thanks for visiting. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Humble beginnings

These are the cheery faces I greeted as I went to water my veggies today.


Bell Pepper

Let's not discuss what number 'attempt' this is for me. Haha. These ones were doing great until we moved and the day after we moved, I found them crusty and mostly dead. I assume I made the mistake of taking the flats outside too early for the little guys, since it was about 1000° that day. Anyway, I picked these up during one of our many recent trips to the home improvement store. They were about 12" when I got them a couple weeks ago and I made sure to enrich they're soil and find a good sun spot for them. They've grown really well (about twice as big as they were) and I am so pleased to see flowers on them. ^_^

"Energy and persistence conquer all things." ~ Ben Franklin

Although  I'm not sure I've conquered anything just yet. I suppose I shouldn't count my tomatoes before they... hatch.

Since I was taking photos of our hap-hazard "garden" - or the beginnings thereof - anyway...

This is Joel's baby. It's a Satsuma Mandarin tree. He has a thing for citrus and we have already talked about wanting to get fruit trees in the future. But this is our first one. If you look closely, there is one fruit on the top! But it's still really young so I don't expect too much this year.

Satsuma Mandarin

The fig tree was here when we moved in (obviously - it's huge!) For some reason it has been trimmed very lopsidedly. That bushy area to the lower right is actually the main trunk with a bunch of new suckers on it and then the huge branches reach way out to the left. Weird! We will let it give fruit this year before we take all those left-side branches down. And at that point we'll decide whether to keep the tree and just cultivate the new growth on the trunk or take the whole thing down as well. It's not a bad tree, but I'm not a huge fig fan. I guess it's fun to give them away though. Anyway - this is the meat bees' favorite place to hang out! I think they like the sweet fruit.

Fig Tree

And here are just some little annuals I planted in front of the house, just to have something cheerful to greet our visitors. The dirt here is VERY hard and has lots of clay in it. I mixed in a little compost blend but I'm not sure how some of the petunias (purple) are fairing. We'll see. I just have to remember to water! Water water water.

Being busy with the move and remodel right now, and expecting the Little One in a few months, I've decided to mostly wait until next spring to start a serious garden (raised beds and irrigation and all). So for now we just have some potted things here and there.

Thanks for visiting!

Baby Update

This was taken about 2 weeks ago. Everything checked out OK. Saw the heart beating and baby kicking. And we found out we're having another boy! :)

And here is a 'bump' photo,  for those who are interested. :P
I was 20 weeks along here (about a week ago).

Can't believe we're already half way there!

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