Thursday, January 31, 2019

Create! from December

Did you know that 31 January is "Inspire Your Heart With Art" day.  It's OK... I rolled my eyes too!

But seriously, in 2019 I am going to engage in more creative projects because getting Right Brain fired up helps Left Brain get its motor running too.  Rather than have a peppering of posts through the month about things I've done (that I am willing to show 😉 ...), I'll be doing a compilation of what I've done the previous month and place it at the end of the current month.  (i.e. the below are the few things I did in December).

This is a post card for a swap.  The scene is actually a decorative napkin which I've used as my background.  I embellished it a bit by adding some fine glitter to highlight snowy areas.  The strips on either side are pieces of bark from a river birch.

Below are part of an alphabet tag series I'm working on.  The facilitator of the group doing this gives a word to go with each letter of the alphabet, then the participants create using their own take of the word.  I came in 'late to the party' so I'm playing catch-up.  I'm using a bunch of old paint sample cards as my tag base with the color of the chip as part of the design.

F was for Fairy.
I used pieces from an old puzzle and a broken off wing from a butterfly embellishment.  Oh!  My letters are from a wood chip set I bought just for this project.  It's called "typewriter".

G was for Green.
Yep... I used green stuff.  I made the flower from scraps of paper I punched out with a flower punch.

H was for Hydrangea.
I started with a photo I took and made three copies of the print.  The first was glued to the tag to give me a background.  The second and third were glued together (back to back).  Then I cut the petals so they would raise up to make a 3D image... the first and second layers gave me the depth I needed.

"I" took some time and I didn't finish it soon enough to put in this post.  You'll see it next month!

J was for Junk.
To do this one, I reached over into my trash bin and pulled out some envelopes I'd thrown away.  Just a little bit of cutting and arranging to get~ Junk MAIL!

Hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Ready to Send! (Mailing Kit)

With the cold weather firmly in place I've been working on organizing (or reorganizing) areas in our home.  One thing I've learned from the KonMari method is to keep things together in the area you use them.  My stash for mailing things was begging for help!

Because of space I organized up two areas.  The first was for letters.

We are forever looking for our address labels and/or stamps.  To put an end to that I sliced a small manila envelope down its long edge, then covered the whole thing (leaving open the slice, of course) with fancy duct tape for strength.  In this envelope is where address labels will be kept.  

A second smaller envelope was strengthened with tape to hold stamps.  This also goes into the larger envelope.  Good so far!

Then I turned my attention to the envelopes themselves.

On the right I put my envelopes of four sizes, plus the stamp holder.  The box on the left is my greeting cards and note cards~ quick to grab and use.

All that remained to be worked on were my supplies for mailing parcels.

I keep this area in the garage.  The bags are on a hanging pot rack I bought from a blacksmith friend.  There is no place in our home to use it, however it is perfect for this.  The bags contain: bubble wrap, bubble wrap sleeves, air bags, and 'peanuts'.  Below them are my stash of boxes.

I have both priority mail boxes (this woman can stuff a box full!) and non-postal boxes for other times.  Himself opens those misc boxes (shipments from Amazon, etc) so they lay flat.  I have about every size I could ever need.  

(Oh!  Did you know that you can go to the postal service web site and order Priority boxes and envelopes for free?  They ship them to you at no charge.  Or of course you can pick them up at any post office.)

So now when it is time to send something out... I'm ready for it!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bonsai 101: Soils, Top Dressing, and Making Our Own Bamboo Potting Chopsticks

This most recent Bonsai 101 class did NOT have us working on a tree.  GOOD!  Worked on trees have to be babied over the winter and I didn't want any more needing coddling.

This time we learned the what and why of bonsai soil.  We learned why to do a top dressing (moss layer) on our trees and how to make it instead of paying big money to buy.  And we made bamboo potting chopsticks in various sizes.  It was a very interesting day.

Top dressing is one half dried sphagnum moss that has been soaking in water with a touch of Sume ink (for a better color).

After the soaking, it has to be laid out to dry.

The other half is 'pillow moss' (aka driveway moss!).

You have to trim off the 'roots' and dirt...

Then grate it on a 1/4 inch mesh screen.  It then is dried.  When that is finished, it is mixed with the dried sphagnum moss.  It can be stored quite a while.  

It is spread over the top of 70% of the soil.  Just add water and you have moss!  This protects the feeder roots of the tree and in the summer helps with moisture control.

Our teacher Eileen showing how to make the chopsticks.

It starts with splitting off pieces from a large bamboo piece.

Then you use nippers to shape one end in a wedge shape (like a bullet train).  This works better than the round shape of culinary chopsticks.

After you make the basic shape, it is time to refine and smooth with a sander.

Finished (almost- could use some more sanding) chopstick and the piece of bamboo it came from.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A One Cherry Turnover...

This is the inside a cherry turnover from Publix grocery in Clarksville, TN.

ONE cherry and a smear of filling!

 The seam line was left unsealed in one spot so the filling would ooze out.  

We bought a 2 pack of these and they were exactly the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Teri's Slow Cooker Chicken Pho

Himself and I decided a fun (and tasty) thing to do this year would be to make a new soup each month.  Because one of our favorite meals out is to have Vietnamese Pho, that is what we decided to be our first soup of the year.

We had done a class at Whole Foods where a local chef made her pho recipe.  Very good but a ton of seasonings I don't regularly use... like fish sauce.  And it was on the stove simmering for a really long time.

So I did a search of various pho recipes that were made in a slow cooker.  One that did not use fish sauce used dark brown sugar to get that umami flavor.  That worked for me!  After that I basically winged it with ingredients.

Here's my version of chicken pho:

Teri’s Slow Cooker Chicken Pho

3 packages (32 oz each) chicken broth
3 T packed dark brown sugar
3 cloves garlic (good sized ones)
5 whole cloves
3 whole star anise
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 inch long piece of young lemon grass
2 inch stick of cinnamon
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
1 T whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ of a small onion
*2 pounds bone in chicken
**1 package thin dry rice noodles

Bean sprouts
Sliced green onion
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Sliced jalapeno
Lime wedges

Sriracha hot sauce and/or hoisin sauce

In slow cooker, combine first eleven ingredients.  Mix well.  Then add chicken and onion.  (For more flavor depth, lightly sauté onion in a separate pan.  Then add a bit of the broth, stir, and add to slow cooker broth.)

Cover and cook on HIGH for about 3 hours or LOW for about 5 hours... or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken from slow cooker, set aside to cool.

Strain broth either in a colander lined with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.

For quicker eating, I poured the broth into a pot and heated to a boil on the stove top.  Then as per directions, I added the rice noodles and cooked according to package time (about 5 minutes).  HOWEVER, next time I will cook the noodles in separate chicken broth.  The noodles clouded the beautiful chicken stock.

Slice chicken into bite size pieces for soup. 

To serve: First put noodles into bowl, and then add broth.  Add sliced chicken on top.  Then let each person garnish their soup from the accompaniments you have prepared.

*Chicken – I used thighs because it is what I had.  Best would be half white and half dark.

** Amount of rice noodles you cook is purely personal.  However~ only cook enough for one meal.  They don’t do well as leftovers.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Christmas at Federal Grove, Auburn KY

 One of my clubs returned for Christmas lunch at Federal Grove Restaurant and B&B in Auburn, KY.  This year Himself and I arrived early so I could take photos of the restaurant without disturbing people.

During the Christmas season they serve their well-known "family style" meal all day.  An all-you-can-eat meal served to your table in platters and bowls... if you run out, just ask for more.  Our meal had: fried chicken, country ham, turkey & dressing, green beans, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, baked apples, and rolls.

So many pretty Christmas plate sets!  My favorite is the evergreen trees.

Head up either of these stairways and you are in the B&B area.  No one was staying the day we were there, so we were invited to explore the rooms.

Very nice spacious rooms!

Any information you'd want about the restaurant or the B&B can be found on their web site:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Calcified Sink Like New Now

Cleaning testimonial! We have hard water and it is a battle to keep our glass bathroom sink in the hall bathroom calcium free. I haven't been paying attention and noticed recently how BAD it had gotten. In fact, felt a little sick about it as I thought it was ruined.

Then I remembered a tip on a FB group. A woman said she cleaned a badly calcified sink with a lime remover product she got at the Dollar Tree, and it worked where several spendy name brands had not.

So I got a bottle and tried it. $1... what's there to lose?

I poured it all around (it's like unset jello) and it sat for 15 mins. Gave it a quick scrub with an old nail brush. Rinsed.

Oh my goodness! I didn't take 'before' pictures but I did miss a couple little places so you can see it.

An area I missed under the controller. The sink bottom didn't look quite that bad but close enough.

The sink after.

The controller. You can see the place I missed and how good the rest of it is.

Lime-A-Way from the Dollar Tree.  Worth all one hundred pennies!

Keeping that sink calcium-free will be so easy from now on.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Review: KRUPS Belgian Waffle Maker

Late 2017 our much beloved and VERY old (like it belonged to my grandmother in her early marriage!) waffle maker finally gave it up.  It was a sad day indeed.

And so the search for a new one started.  I looked and looked and looked.  Either they had terrible ratings, were those 'flip' waffle makers (ugh, let's just feel like we're in a motel), or they were tiny and usually cutesie (I don't need a single heart shaped waffle~ I need breakfast!)  The few I did find that met our needs were almost $200.  Ummm... No.

In June of 2018 another search brought up the KRUPS waffle maker.  It seemed to check all the blocks and was only $40.  Sold!  By the beginning of July we were having waffles.

The machine.  A bit of reality here; it is not a shiny display piece.  It gets used as it is here.

Putting the batter in.  It's very important to have a recipe that you like.  Not all recipes are equal!

Part way through the cooking process.  I like my waffles very light and only have one square.  So Himself sets it on a lower temps and pulls out one square for me.  He then closes the lid and turns the dial up one level to get the browning he wants for his waffles.

(The waffles are stuck [but only lightly] to the lid because Himself didn't get the top rack oiled well enough.  Yes, even with nonstick coating you still have to oil.  By the time his were done, they popped right out.)

The finished waffles.

I waited several months before writing this review because I wanted to see how we really liked the machine and how well it really worked.

We like it and would definitely buy another.