Thursday, December 29, 2011

Got Extra Mardi Gras Beads?

The Peanut had a pretty boring vanity (actually, it's not a vanity, it's a side table w/ matching mirror my friend was getting rid of, whatever, it works). 

I had a bucket worth of Mardi Gras beads from my youthful days of bar hopping.  For the record, I never flashed anyone for them. 

Almost everyone single strand was broken so I sat down with a pair of scissors one night and cut them into beads.  Then me and my trusty hot glue gun glued them to her mirror.


Pretty cute, right?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Five DIY Book Rails for Under $10


I usually keep the Peanut's library books on a table in the living room, but it's hard for her to go through the stack to find a book for bedtime that she hasn't read yet.  So I decided to use the less than 2 1/2" inches of space behind her bedroom door to put up book rails. 

My initial thought was to use furring strips which are very economical, but came across 2x2x36 balusters for .89 cents each.  They were the perfect length and depth for what I wanted.  (Keep in mind when buying wood, it's never the size it says.  It's almost always smaller, so measure it before you lug it home.) 

Then I thought I'd get some pretty trim to make the front part of the rail, but trim is surprisingly expensive.  It gives me sticker shock everytime I try to buy it.  So I went back to find the furring strips and stumbled upon these fill strips for .97 cents a piece.

I hate pre-drilling, but wound up needing to pre-drill the holes in the fill strips or they split.  I should've pre-drilled holes in the balusters too, but I was lazy.  Then I screwed the fill strips and balusters to the wall with 3" screws at both ends.  I used a tapping block from my laminate floor installation to keep the fill strip at the same distance from the bottom of the baluster on each rail.  It was tricky holding everything together, making sure it was level and screwing it in by myself, but it was obviously doable. 


In the end I needed 5 balusters and 3 fill strips, totaling $7.36 (not counting tax).  I'm not counting the price of the 3" screws since I bought a 5 pound box ($4.37) and only used ten of them.  And I wasn't going to paint them, but I painted the trim around my front door and used the leftover paint from that.  Since I'm not going to bother figuring out how much the nails and paint added to the total, let's just round up to about $10 for the five.  Pretty good, right?

I don't think it took me more than an hour to put this together.  She loves being able to see all her books without trying to maneuver through a heavy stack, and I love not having to search the house for her books when they're due.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cooking Spaghetti in a Frying Pan with Cold Water?

We go through a ton of spaghetti in this house.  It's one of the Peanut's favorites, and I get to scrub down the whole kitchen in the time it takes to boil a pot of water.  Then I saw this. 

Holy crap.

Maybe other people knew about this and won't be so excited, but I didn't. Honestly, I thought if you didn't boil a huge pot of water, you'd wind up with a big clump of spaghetti; but, that's apparently, that's not the case.  I didn't time it, but she barely had time to get settled in with her art supplies at the kitchen table before it was done. 

Maybe it's sad, but I feel like this video just changed me life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't Give Me Crap for Not Weeding

Honestly, I have no idea why I've been so crappy about weeding.  I'm home and I have my action hoe.  It's just been so hot.  Whatever.  I'm just saying, don't give me crap because I don't want to hear it.  So blah. 

I already harvested a the potato plants I was growing in pots.  They didn't produce as much as I hoped, probably due to uneven watering.  But there were several pounds of potatoes.  And let me say, so much more delicious than the ones from the store.  Definitely growing them next year.  Here is one of the five I have in the garden.  I wanted to see which did better, pots or in the ground.

Despite being eaten, the cauliflower continues to grow.  I don't know when it'll start looking like an actual cauliflower, but I'm happy it made a come back.

I did a lot of heirloom tomatoes this year.  Here's a beefsteak.  The other plants are doing okay...couple of tomatoes here and there.  They are moving much slower than...

...the tomato plants that I started from seeds I saved from gardens of previous years.  The Roma tomatoes are bigger then ever and I don't know that I've ever had as many as there are on this one plant.

Oh, btw, the corn is over six feet tall.  None of the ears seem very full. So I haven't picked any yet.

Back to the tomatoes.  Remember last year, I grew way too many cherry tomatoes.  This year I planted just one plant from the seeds I saved.  Holy crap.  It's gotten so big, we're up to three cages and these two stakes the Hubby haphazardly threw together just to get the plant of the ground.  It's a monster sized.  I guess even with one plant, I'm going to have to spend hours harvesting cherry tomatoes.
I've been sending the hubby to work with handfuls of cherry tomatoes in his lunchbox. 

I'm not sure what's up with the cucumbers.  They grow, then they get misshapen.  Maybe I'm not watering enough, but I really think it's these seeds.  I'm going to try different ones next year.

The cucumbers like the trellis, the cantaloupe absolutely loves it.  I can't believe how these two plants are halfway to completely covering it.
We have four cantaloupes growing, but I bet there are more in there.

 We have never planted pumpkins before.  I assumed this was going to be a spaghetti squash.  Nope...it's pumpkin.  It's taking over the corner of the yard. 
The Hubby has taken it on as his own special plant.  Here's the first pumpkin we found.

Here's another little one just starting out.

Not counting the little ones that may or may not make it, we have four that we are aware of.  I guess I won't have to spend thirty plus dollars at the pumpkin patch this year, we can pick our own in our yard!

The carrots in and beets in the pots are taking forever to be edible.  Makes me crazy.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Can't Wait for the IKEA 2012 Catalog?

I can't either. It's like porn for me. Sad, right?
Whatever. I haven't gotten it in the mail.
And I guess as little as I've been blogging, I'm no longer cool enough to get the catalog early.
But here it is online! Just found it and wanted to share.
xo

IKEA Catalog 2012

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Fix Hard as a Rock DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Remember when I wrote this post about making your own dishwasher detergent?  I said I wasn't having clumping problems.  Yeah, well, within a day or two or writing that post the whole thing turned rock hard.  I thought, there has to be a way to fix this, so I searched the comments at Jabs.  Most people either said suck it up or add the citric acid to each load w/o mixing it in w/ the rest of the recipe.  Yeah...I'm not doing that.  I'll forget for sure. 

Ever hear of Occam's Razor?  That sometimes the simplest solution is the best one?  Well, I dumped the contents of my very airtight Tupperware container into the food processor (I thought airtight would mean no clumping, obviously I was wrong) and ground the stuff back up to a powder.  Then I dumped it all back into the container and it's been a few weeks and so far, it's not re-clumping.

So, yes, extra step.  You know I hate those.  But whatever, consider it an easy solution that will help you keep making your own dishwasher detergent and a way to really clean your food processor.

My only other problem is that the glassware is not always crystal clean...that's kind of hit or miss.  Sometimes it's a little cloudy, but I think more citric acid would probably fix that.  And seriously people w/ the vintage stuff getting etched...don't put vintage anything in the dishwasher!  If it's valuable, hand wash it always and you won't have to worry about it scratching...Yeesh. 

And for the record, I'm using a very rounded heaping tablespoon of it since I use an old scoop from one of the Hubby's powdered sports drinks.  So, I don't know how that's affecting the cost breakdown.  But all in all, I like this stuff.  I think making dishwasher detergent yourself is too easy not to do.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our New Cucumber and Cantaloupe Trellises

I was searching for a better way to trellis our cucumbers and cantaloupes when I came across this as well as some others that were very tall, similar to a pergola.  I was inspired!
 
Using some deck wood we picked up from Craigslist's free section, the Hubby built me these. 

They're about 4x5 feet and 2 feet tall.  I only planted two regular cucumbers and two pickler cucumbers, but next year, I'll definitely start more.  I took these pics the day he built it...it's been a week or so since they went up and the cucumbers seem much happier than before and are slowly creeping along the top.
Even the cantaloupes which were looking a little downtrodden are perking up.  Although, I think I need new seeds, only two out of the eight I planted actually sprouted.


I'll keep you posted on how well they work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Garden Update

I'm suppose to be studying for my LSW exam.  I thought I'd slack and post some pics.
I don't know what's up with the strawberries but so far they're not doing so great.

 
The peas have been doing awesome.  But they're competing for space with the asparagus.  I didn't realize how tall the asparagus got or how much space the peas need.  We're going to have to move the trellis to the strawberry box next season.
 
How cool are the asparagus!  I'm so glad I finally planted some.

 
Do you remember the great seed experiment?  Probably not, that's okay.  But here are some random lettuce that popped up.  Love when the garden does it's thing w/o me.
 
Carrots in pots.  I have to.  My soil is too dense and rocky, the carrots just grow into these weird mangled looking things that no one wants to eat.
 
I know, I need to weed.  It's been raining a lot, so whatever.  But for my first attempt at onions and shallots, they look pretty good.  I love that I caught the Peanut in the back chasing after Big Head Pete.
 
Potatoes in the ground.
 
I had a ton of spaghetti squash pop up.  I gave most of them away.  I was going to give this one away, but by the time we came home for our honeymoon, it was too big.  So I moved it away from the tomatoes and over to the corner.  Turns out there were four or five of them, not one.  It looks very sad now, but it seems to be making a slow but steady come back.  We'll see.
 
Summer squash and zucchini are doing great.
 
Corn!  Hopefully this year will be more successful than last.  If it's not, then I officially give up on growing it.
 
I have tons of tomatoes.  But unlike last year when I wound up with 5000 cherry tomatoes, I planted a ton of heirloom tomatoes.  I do have a lot of tomato plants that popped up on their own.  I'm guessing either cherry or yellow bell...I guess we'll have to wait and see.

 
This is a pepper.  I don't know what kind, but a pepper.  The eggplants all died.  And I forgot to take a pic of the only surviving cauliflower.
 
Cucumbers, both pickling and regular.  More on that large wood trellis later.
 
The cantaloupe is looking kinda sad.  It did last year too.  I think I need new seeds.

 
The chive flowers have all dried out.  I keep forgetting to get them and make chive vinegar before it happens.

 
Potatoes in pots.  We'll see which do better.
 
We are guessing this is a spaghetti squash, but I don't really know...and no, it's not growing anywhere near the garden.

 
Now that the garden is bigger, I didn't plant as much stuff because I'm attempting to space the plants out properly instead of just cramming stuff in.  I'm curious to see if they produce more.  So far it's just been nice to be able to walk around the garden w/o worrying about stepping on stuff!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Great Baby Bird Rescue!

The day after we came back from the Family Honeymoon, we found three baby birds on the ground next to our neighbor's tree.  After we all freaked out a bit about what to do, we (now, when I say we, I actually mean the Hubby under my "supervision") put them in a t-shirt lined box.  I did some googling and found out that if we tried to take care of them ourselves, they'd only have a 5% chance of survival.  I did not like those odds.  So we hatched a plan to get them back in the tree.

Their original nest was destroyed, so we took an old nest that we found on a bush we just trimmed.  It was too small, so we placed it in this Easter basket, broke it up a bit so they'd all fit, then wire tied it to the tree.  This pic is from a few days later.  It's amazing how they went from small and scrawny to almost full sized so quickly.



Here's a pic I caught of them being fed.  We were worried they're parents wouldn't come back.  Apparently it's a myth that they won't come back to their babies if humans touch them. Birds don't have a great sense of smell, so don't be scared to don some gloves in put them in their nest if need be.



Maybe three days later, we noticed only two birds in the nest.



This one was on the ground now, bigger and healthier looking and not interested in being picked up.  I read that birds will spend 7-10 days on the ground when its learning to fly.
 
Here's a video from the cell phone of the bird trying to fly.

video

It took about two days, but eventually he took off.  One of his siblings flew away too; we never even saw him on the ground.  Unfortunately, the third one that the Hubby was calling the Runt, didn't make it.  We're going to bury him tomorrow.  I know I'm crazy.  What an adventure. 

We also have love birds in my pear tree who've been sitting on a nest.  I hope all their babies manage to stay put.  Lesson to be learned...always check the ground before you mow and look where you're walking.

Monday, May 23, 2011

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Remember way back when, I wrote a post about Jabs Homemade Laundry Detergent?  Well, I decided to give their dishwasher detergent a go and after using a full batch, I have to say it totally works! 

Jabs Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Mix together:

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Citric Acid

It may clump over time, but that's just the citric acid.  No big deal.  And use vinegar as a rinse agent.  I was leery about that, but it works great.  He says to use a tablespoon per load, but I use an old ice tea scoop...about 2 1/2 tablespoons.  I'm going to have to try using a tablespoon and I'll let you know how that goes.  I use a 1:3 ratio per load...2/3 in the main section and 1/3 in the pre-wash.
A note on Citric Acid...you can buy this stuff online or at a place they sell beer making supplies.  I am too lazy to do that.  So instead I picked up Lemi-Shine at Target.  It was roughly $3 (if I remember correctly) for a 12 oz. container.  Some people reported in the comments section on his page that they were getting a white film on their glasses. I haven't had that problem.

The cost savings is astronomical, but more importantly, when you're out of it, it takes too seconds to whip up a batch instead of having to run to the store.  This definitely gets my stamp of approval!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Garden: DIY Compost Bins and Pre-Soaked Peas

The garden is officially expanded.  Sod turned.  Garden soil dumped and raked through.  About 500 square feet.  I think this is going to be the perfect size.

I set up a make-shift greenhouse by the sliding door.  They are coming up way faster than they normally do.  I think the IKEA shoe rack/fish tank set up will need to be improved for next year.



Let's see...there's tomatoes in the bottom tank, summer squash, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, cantaloupe....I have more stuff I haven't gotten around to starting yet.


The summer squash is definitely doing the best.
My first asparagus!  It shot up out of nowhere. 
Too bad the rest of the roots don't seem to be doing anything.



Look at the peas!  I soaked 40 for an hour or so, and left the other 40 unsoaked.  The soaked ones all came up, and most of the unsoaked ones did.  I think the soaking helped.


I am still working on painting the fort/swingset.  I painted the inside white and let the Peanut paint whatever she wanted.  Then I tiled the floor w/ vinyl tiles.  I'll take more pics later.


I can't have open compost bins.  There are too many rats around.  Yes, rats.  Ugh.  I had compost bins that looked like upside down garbage cans that did not work.  Got rid of them and bought a garbage can, drilled some holes in it and voila!  Instant and super cheap compost bin!  I'll let you know how it goes.
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