I Love Spam

Not the fake meat stuff, no I love spam comments. They honestly crack me up! So I went through a few hundred comments and created a fun round up of the ones that made me laugh from this site and my business blog (my notes in italics and should all be read with a sarcastic tone):

  • i don’t get what you’ve said, but i always appreciate different points of views (you must be in politics)
  • i just wanted to say good job. i really enjoy reading your posts. thumb up. (just one?)
  • i don’t know how you can write so well, your articles are excellent. (best backhanded compliment ever?)
  • if you explain it better i would thank you so much (No.)
  • this is very educative (I do strive for good edumacation)
  • You wanna make an excellent moment. Got some excellent facts here. I feel that in case more people thought about it doing this, they’d possess a better time period get the hold ofing the issue. (I love moments. And facts. And ofing?)
  • the arm of these glasses is a bit too wide and if you intend to wear them quite often under the sun, you have to count with a thick white stripe above your ear up to yor eye. Despite the fact that the frame is made of plastic most of the opticians refuse to warm them in order to readjust them on your face. Be aware. (except that I’m not wearing glasses in any pictures. thanks for the concern for ‘yor’ eyes)
  • your work’s fine (how you doin’? wink wink)
  • Can’t say enough about this website – its alot better than mine. (well I do know how to spell a lot. And relevant post.)
  • your post is really good and informative. i’m surprised that your post has not gotten any. good quality, genuine comments. you have done a great job by posting this article. (actually there were several great comments but yours was not one of them.)
  • I am writing a paper on romoba vacuum cleaners and I found this post to be very helpful and informative. (what the….. just what?)
  • Hi generally there , really wanted with tell you, I loved this blog post. It was actually useful . (hello generally not so aware, I just wanted to tell you I love this comment. It was actually amusing. Not that you intended it to be.)
  • I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already (my mother will be so proud)
  • The first of four stages of the flea’s life would be ova. (I’m gonna stop right there because honestly, the comment just gets gross after that.)
  • good encouraging comment (Still waiting for one….)
  • I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it just me or do some of these remarks appear like they are left by brain dead people? (This brain dead generator left this same comment on 5 different posts. Thanks.)

Always fun, spambots.

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Spring Time

Okay peoples, get ready.

It’s spring. We are ridiculously blessed. Most of us have camera.

Today a picture and a challenge: Get out of your house, walk outside and take a picture of something pretty or interesting. Anything. Get down on the grass and photograph a ladybug on a weed, or the bark of a tree, or the way the gutter water gushes into the drainage pipe.

Enjoy something small and share it with friends – link it here, add to Pinterest, post on Facebook, whatever floats your boat.

Here’s mine (straight out of the camera, no editing except rotating):

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This picture isn’t perfect. My flower bed isn’t perfect. In fact I have to shoot around the piles of shit from the stray cats whom I can neither scare away or catch and donate to the animal shelter. I did get this shot crouching in the bushes next to my neighbor’s house looking a lot like a felon and I have the muddy knees as proof.

Don’t overthink, don’t worry about editing, just go find something pretty.

And if you’re hiding in the bushes make sure you tone down the creepy. No need to get arrested.

Lentil Soup

Okay, after 4 batches now I am confident to post my version of this lentil soup recipe (found here) with my step by step pics.

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 8 cups or 2 qts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cups of diced carrots
  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic

I pick up the lentils at my co-op in a bag, one bag fills up three of these glass gars (about 6 cups): Photobucket

If you haven’t started yet go ahead and put the onions in the fridge so you don’t end up blubbering.

Here’s the full group of ingredients:

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Place 4 tbs of oil in a large stock pot and prepare your onions and garlic. The jars in the back there are my homemade chicken stock and since mine was frozen I started defrosting that while the onion and garlic was cooking.

For the onion cut it root to tip (see the half one in the pic above) and peel the skin back and cut the end:

PhotobucketI kept the other end in tact for this next part and sliced down to the root to make chopping into small pieces easier:

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then chop it into small pieces. Don’t worry too much if the chunks are large because you’re going to resolve that later. I ended up using the half an onion and the large one above:

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set the onion aside and, you know, wipe your eyes.

Take the garlic cloves and remove the peel. The easiest way is to lay your knife blade flat and smash it good:

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Remove the peel and chop finely:

PhotobucketHeat the oil in the pot and when it’s warm add the onion and garlic, stir until it’s soft and looks like this:

PhotobucketWhen done add the tomato paste, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and stir until coated over low heat for 2 more minutes:

PhotobucketThen peel your carrots. Feed the peels to your dogs if they are so inclined.

PhotobucketChop the carrot into small pieces and remember larger chunks are okay.

PhotobucketHere’s the carrots ready to be added.

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When the onion/garlic/spices/tomato paste is done add the chicken stock, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of lentils, the carrots and bring it to a simmer:

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Once it begins to simmer lower the heat and cover for 30 minutes.

When the lentils are soft and the soup is ready it’s time to break up those bigger chunks. I use a slotted spoon to pull out the large pieces. Throw them in the food processor or blender:

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I don’t process all of the soup, usually 2-3 small batches like this. Here it is going back into the pot:

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The good thing is that you don’t get a lot of chunks this way and the texture is not like baby food. Before you disassemble the blender ad some water and soap and replace the lid and turn it on. This helps clean up the blender before it gets scrubbed.

Here’s the final:
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And I dish it up with a little bit of cheese and lemon:

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Remember to dish up the soup in smaller containers for easy lunches. I froze four servings and left 4 in the fridge for the week ahead.

Oh, Pinterest

Thanks to Pinterest I’ve found I am getting more done with projects around the house. As per usual, I can’t choose just one to do at a time so suffice it to say I’m working on my jewelry storage, making covers for the dog crates, refinishing a step stool, covering boxes and making pillows.

I’m working on plans to remodel the master bathroom and that means organizing the cabinets so that I can tear out my main source of storage and still keep everything looking good.

This can so count as my William Morris challenge for the last week since I’ve been cleaning up the bathroom and this organizer below has been emptied entirely!

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In cleaning the bathroom I’ve noticed how much of everything I have… this definitely traces back to college when I tried, unsuccessfully, to duplicate my “basics” so I wouldn’t have to haul things from college to home every 6 months. But still, who needs 8 bottles of lotion? Or 3 big bottles of mouth wash? And so much lip gloss.

This was of course compounded when I moved in with Grandma and Grandpa and, when they went to assisted living full time, I inherited all of their half finished bottles of things. The frugal side of me wants to keep stuff and “use it up” but the practical side of me knows I could gloss up my lips for the next 10 years and not run out of this stuff!

Some things I’m able to upcycle/recycle and that’s good. Like soap. I hate bar soap but have a good 20 bars. So in small batches I’m turning my bar soap into liquid soap. I just refilled the soap pump in my shower and I’m still not done using soap I made in August. I mentioned in the post linked above that I can make over 800 cups of liquid soap and since it doesn’t go bad it’ll be awhile before I run out. Each bar has already been opened/handled so I wouldn’t feel comfortable donating it.

I already donated the unopened boxes of floss, toothpaste, mouthwash and anything else I could find. Now I’m just steadily using up everything else in a maddeningly slow fashion since I am trying to use fewer products and less of in each case.

For example, the small floss tool I have means not using a foot of floss every night but now it’s taking forever to finish a container! (see how great this is for frugal me and maddening for organizer me?)

So upcoming posts include:

  • new jewelry storage
  • cleaning out makeup
  • remodeled step stool
  • new covers for the dog crates
  • more glass jar projects
  • organizing tupperware

And next up, the recipe and step by step directions for my lentil soup recipe. So good!

Pinterest Throwdown 2012

That’s right, this time I’m ready for ya. Once again I decided to tackle a few smaller, more manageable, projects in order to keep the inspiration going and look more accomplished.

Mission Accomplished.

Also, I’m up to my elbows in dust from the ceiling project so I had to plan ahead to keep this from preventing my participation.

Project #1 – Chalkboard Rules

Here’s the inspiration pin (source):

PhotobucketI’m not really big on chalkboard paint for drinking glasses. Feels a bit… chalky when you’re trying to get your party on. So instead I worked on the glass jars from my cabinet and used them to label all the dry goods I have in my china cabinet.

I started by using painter’s tape on the bottom of the jars around a natural lip and then pulled out the chalkboard paint. It took a few coats to get the paint even and thick but they were quick to dry.

Painted and dried, filled with lentils, popcorn seeds and beans:

PhotobucketAnd, because I like to try new things, I also painted the glass on these bottles that began as Italian soda from the grocery store and now hold my laundry soap & softener:

PhotobucketI like these smaller bottles better for my soap because it’s easier to pour and stays a lot cleaner than the giant bottles from Costco. The glass has a natural depression where the label was and with a little painters tape I was able to make these really easily:

PhotobucketOf course the chalkboard paint means it’s easy to relabel these for use with dishwasher soap or anything else when they’re re-purposed. And yes, the big jug from Costco really does fill up 4-6 of these taller bottles.

Project #2 Paint Chip Art

This is such a Pinterest project… it’s free, comes from the hardware store and is endlessly customizable.  Here’s the inspiration pin (source):

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But I liked the style of this one more (source): Photobucketand of course I loved Sherry’s version here: Young House Love

I grabbed a boatload of paint chips during a going out of business sale. The location was closing and they had already closed the paint center so I just swept through and found a bunch of paint swatches in similar hues. Not knowing how big my piece would be I found out I needed a few more yellow which I picked up later at Home Depot.

Using a small candle jar seal (the plastic piece that fits on the lid of the glass jar) I traced two sizes of circles on the paint chips. Of course if you have a fancy puncher or cutter thingy it would be easier but I’m low tech. Trace in pencil, cut, clean up with an eraser. Easy peasy.

I decided to pop this project into a frame I bought some time ago for the guest room and it took me just about an hour to layer the circles how I wanted them. I worked my way in from the corners, overlapping as I went and used double sided tape to secure.

PhotobucketAfter it was done I trimmed the edges so it would fit back in the frame and popped it under the glass. The middle is quite a bit thicker than the edges but I like the effect. It’s a little like fish scales.

Now, what project should I tackle next? Here are the contenders:

a) my antique step stool which needs a fresh coat of paint
Photobucketb) covering the dog crates with cute covers

Photobucket  c) Continue knocking out 2-3 smaller projects each time with the items I have on hand

Vote and let me know what you want to see next!

Clean Sinks

Typically I am not the gal you want to go to for cleaning tutorials.

*glaces at the lump of dog hair dancing down the hallway like a little tumbleweed*

Ever.

But I do have two short tutorials on how I keep my sink clean and free of stains, despite the fact I’m always pouring coffee or cleaning paint brushes.

First, the bathroom sink. It’s the one that gets a lot of my paint splatter, including chalk board paint and the blue of my guest room walls. The absolute best tool I’ve found is the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers which I buy in bulk from Amazon. Here’s the before (right side) and after (left side):

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Nice, right? The eraser picks up all those stains and doesn’t take much effort. A few minutes and it’s as clean as it’s going to get!

Next up is the kitchen sink which picks up stains from food, from dirty pans and liquids.

A few before pics:

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Ick:

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Here’s a close up of the divider:

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The first step is always to clean the dishes and set them aside to dry. Then I use the nozzle sprayer to get any lingering food or dirt down the drain. Then I cover the sink with a thin layer of Comet, doing my best to get it on the bottom as well as the sides of the sink:

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I grab one of these old dish scrubbers and wet it, turning the Comet into a paste so it coats and covers the entire sink. You won’t need to really scrub yet, just make circular motions to get any stains out.

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Once you’ve lightly scrubbed the sink wash it off again with the nozzle and use the scrubber on any more stubborn spots.
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Here’s what I was left with:
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Now, that’s where I usually stop. If your sink is particularly stained you may want to stopper the sink and fill it with hot water and a cup of bleach. Be careful when draining, remember that the bleach is active and use a glove to protect your skin.

I didn’t take pictures of this step but here are the supplies:

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Start with a half cup of baking soda and pour it in and around the drains. While that settles down in the drain, turn on kettle and let the water come to a boil.

When the water starts to boil pour some vinegar down the drain and watch it foam. This goes down and helps clear out the gunk that gets stuck in the pipes. Pour the hot water down to flush it out and you’re done!

Now I’m not a fanatic about cleaning, especially when the house is a disaster with the ceiling project going on. But the sink is usually one place that when it looks bad, the whole kitchen looks bad. And my dad always notices when the kitchen sink is dirty so I do this every time he visits.

Chicken Little

In other words, the sky is falling.

Yes, I have been working diligently on the scaffold o doom to get off the popcorn texture ceiling crap in the master bedroom, a room which has 12′ vaulted ceilings and a fan that hates me.

Here’s what you saw the last time I updated:

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Approximately 700 hours atop that scaffold later and here’s what the room looks like today:

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Yes, the ceiling is 95% done, just needs some sanding, some patching, more sanding and then, the lovely paint!

so I suppose now is a good time to give a tutorial, right? Right.

First the supplies:

  • plastic drop cloth
  • spray bottle
  • 4″ and 1″ metal joint knife (aka putty knife)
  • trash can
  • scary tall scaffold

You’ll want a good amount of plastic to cover the floor of the area you’re working in. You may also use gaffers or painter’s tape to secure it a few inches up the wall so no dust settles in by the carpet.

The spray bottle can be any size, just make sure the nozzle is adjustable so that you spray, not squirt, at the ceiling.

I like using two types of joint knives, the smaller one is handy for getting into corners, around the edges and in tight spaces, like this space between the wall and air filter in the hallway:

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The larger joint knife is amazing for those larger space when the ceiling is sufficiently wet and you can scrape off large chunks in one sweep.

The basic rule of thumb for me is that if you have to push too hard then it’s not prepared. Wet it again and try again. The metal knife is easier for me to handle than the plastic ones and the metal is sufficiently flexible.

The trash can I use is small and I will hold it up under the section I’m working on. It works to capture 90% of the gunk and the plastic catches the rest.

To give you an idea, I did my first room with no plastic and yeah, the clean up was disgusting. In my second room I laid down plastic and let it all fall. Great for easy clean up but I had to throw away all of the plastic. I find this catch and dump method works best.

Of course the scaffold is optional, a ladder or step ladder would work just as well, as long as you can reach the ceiling and you don’t lose your balance. I like the scaffold because I’m able to cover a larger area without climbing up and down and up and down. But it’s all relative.

The next space to get the scaffold treatment is the living/dining area and you can bet that I’ll hate it once again when I have to do that space which is about double the square footage of the bedroom.

Ready for more pictures?

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I’m well aware that it looks like shit right now. There are plenty of spots that need additional sanding or fill to make it a nice, flat surface ready for painting.
(by the way, see what I mean about the ceiling fan? it’s off center and without a cover the bulb is just too bright most of the time.)

And so I’ll soon be back to the scaffold to do finishing work and prepare for painting. Once the ceiling is painted I’ll still need to:

  • temporarily remove the Ikea shelf & wall lights
  • prime the walls
  • paint the walls
  • paint the closet header
  • paint the closet
  • paint new baseboards
  • remove old baseboards
  • install new baseboards
  • touch up paint on the door frames
  • replace 2 outlets & cable port with white covers
  • replace the overhead light
  • reinstall wall lights around wall o frames
  • reinstall Ikea shelf

Here’s a (very) rough vision board of the room when it’s done (hardwood floors included) Photobucket

Since the room will be dark enough with the walls going from white to not-white and I’d eventually like to add dark hardwood floors, the rest of the furniture needs to lighten up.

I can prime and paint my Ikea bookshelf and dresser white, and I’d like to add a paisley design to the bookshelf to incorporate some color. I’ll likely also make the headboard white with accent colors.

The picture frames will remain black because it’s uniform and I want the colors of the pictures to stand out but with the white lamps, new overhead fixture and shelves it should not be dark & dreary.

I’ll keep the closet curtains for now (looking for hold backs) but I am wholly undecided on the issue of the sliding glass door curtains. On one hand I love the blackout curtain effect and it allows me to sleep in regularly on weekends. But it’s a large chunk of wall space and I may decide to lighten it up with a lighter fabric. Of course keeping that fabric clean when you have 3 dogs is a whole other story.