I am to sure lots of folks had an amazingly adventurous weekend. Ours, on the otherhand, was spent packing up our current residence. Not that I wasn’t thrilled to do it, because I was- it was just one step closer to moving into our new home. The big surprise last week was that our closing date was moved up a week, meaning that we will be the new owners of our dream home in a mere few days. Joy!
Being the hormonally-driven, nesting pregnant person I am right now, I was compelled to call our realtor to show us the house one more time. The reason being I needed to take measurements of window expanses, countertops, walls, flooring, etc., so I could pre-plan the placement of every piece of furniture and accessory we own. I admit to being a tad neurotic these days, but in my defense there are only 6 weeks wait until my projected delivery date and I prefer things in the new house to be 100% settled by then. Explanations aside, let’s take a peak at a few photos of the new pad shall we?
Front Sitting Room
Dining Room/Living Room
(Not shown are the downstairs bedroom, bathrooms, front room, nursery, etc.)
So that’s it in a nutshell! Can you understand why I am so stoked about the impending move? Looks like I’ll be spending this MLK holiday packing some more, but in all honesty I couldn’t be happier about it!
I have been a little lazy on posting this week; not because I don’t have plenty to update you on, but rather because I’ve been traveling time zones for work. The good news is that I am back and relishing in sleeping in my own bed and being amongst my favorite people and I have a new product to tout. Let me first offer a disclaimer(s): 1) I did not make this product and 2) I am not receiving any compensation for this endorsement. With that aside, let’s discuss the glories of a foamer/frother wand.
Your first thoughts on what a foamer wand might be conjuring up images of princesses or some new handy dandy cleaning too, but alas neither is correct. In fact a foamer wand is an ingenious kitchen tool for whipping your milk/creamer into a frenzy so you can make the perfect cappucino, etc. I first heard of a foamer wand a few months ago (yes- I am way behind the curve for those of you already in the know!) and immediately began scouring the internet for the best price. I found this Ikea one that was only $2.50 through Amazon.
The reasons I didn’t purchase immediately was that it had terrible reviews about the motor lifespan and the shipping cost was astronomical. The flip side was that now I was fixated on owning a foamer wand and hence the search ensued, landing me at one of my favorite places: Sur La Table. This cooking store always has awesome deals, a friendly staff, and is way more approachable than Williams and Sonoma (not to say I don’t adore W & S, too).
In their Christmas display in the front of the store, do you know what they had on display? Yep. A Bodum foamer wand! For only $12.95. Vini, vidi, vici. In other words, sold!
I was anxious to use it and can attest that I had an awesome cafe au lait this morning courtesy of this wand. It took all of 40 seconds to whip my creamer into a slurry of foamy goodness.
Making me feel even more satisfied with my purchsae was Sur la Table’s guarantee. When I mentioned the reviews I read about these wand’s short motor life, the sales lady informed me that if my wand should stop functioning just bring it in and they would either give me a refund or a new wand. That’s a deal I can handle. Three cheers to a good cup of joe and merry (early) Christmas to me!
I highly recommend checking out Sweet Paul’s holiday edition digital magazine. It’s free to access and will have you star struck from the beautiful photography and ideas! For all you peeps in Charleston, you should be thrilled to know Leigh Magar is featured (an amazing hat designer originally based out of Charleston, but now in NYC). Did I mention this is free?!
Click here to access.
I love a good deal, but who doesn’t? My problem is that it’s a struggle to get out of the house in time to take advantage of the best deals at yard sales. I usually have the best intentions to be on the road at the crack of dawn, but in reality it seems I can’t get out of the house prior to 8 am. Whether you are a veteran yard saler or never been to one in your life, here’s the deal: the best finds are nabbed early. In fact, hard core treasure hunters usually arrive at these events before they even begin and use their trained eye(s) to snag the real finds. This past Saturday I was determined to be one of those folks . The reason for this motivation? Two words. Church rummage.
Here’s another inside scoop for you. Church rummage sales are the holy grail of yard/garage sales. You have a sizeable collective of folks who contribute their goods to raise money for their church and the stuff the give is typically things you just can’t buy in the store. Come Saturday morning, I was up and at ‘em and on the road by 7:30 (the sales started at 8), arriving at 7:45 to my first rummage sale destination. There was already a line, but I had a list of specific things I was looking for and was ready to get down to business.
Let’s just say I scored big. At both the first and second sales. Among my many treasures I found beautiful linens, which for some reason I am loving lately.
And two homemade quilts. One for Roscoe’s bed and one that is small enough to serve as a crib quilt when the newest Randall arrives.
Then there is the handhooked rooster rug that I love for its kitchy appeal.
Among my other finds were pressed glass pedestaled dessert bowls, a corduroy jacket for Aaron, a stoneware bowl, funky magazine basket, a waffle iron, race car track for Roscoe, and a random hodge podge of other finds. My total expense for all this? $50. Seriously. Again I am prompted to question why I ever buy new when I can find things gently used for a 1/6 of the price.
I hope you all had a superb weekend yourselves and enjoy your short week (if you get Veteran’s Day off). Ciao!
Part of our evening ritual as a family is to go for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up one another on our days and get some much needed exercise. During our walks, we’ve found a variety of treasure that our neighbors have deemed either no longer useful or “trash”. We’ve picked up planters, chairs, tables, and even a scooter for Roscoe that he adores…all for free!
I’m sure you can figure out the point of today’s post- we hit the motherload of roadside treasure, dumpster diving, whatever you want to call it. Before I reveal, however, here’s a little background. When we sold/moved from our old house almost two months ago, we had to leave our gas and charcoal grills since we had built them into a whole outdoor cooking island. That left us without a way to grill out which was rather devastating given that this is how we cook half our meals.
So fast forward. On our walk, we came across this bad boy.
A Vermont Castings Grill. We knew it was nice because the grill plates were cast iron and the thing was heavy! We practically ran back home to get the car and toted this sweet find home. I googled ”Vermont Castings” and found our model.
This, folks, is an $800 grill. That works perfectly. That someone was throwing out. I still can’t believe it. I guess the saying holds true once again- one person’s trash really is another’s treasure. Can’t wait to grill out tonight!
Okay folks, today is the big announcement. What have I been doing in my off time besides tending to a busy family and career? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been contemplating opening up an Etsy shop. Etsy, if you’re not familiar, is like an ebay of crafters. It’s a website that offers a virtual shop for artists and creators throughout the nation and world. In short, it’s a great source of inspiration and specialty items, gifts, flights of fancy. But back to starting my own Etsy shop. I started my virtual shop,Ramble On Crafts, back in May, but didn’t actually list anything…until now.
The name came courtesy of a Led Zeppelin song and from the suggestion of a good friend. So far I’ve only listed a couple items and will be adding loads more in the near future. Please go check it out and let me know what you think!
Last week I gave mention to the ridiculous amount of figs I have ripening in my yard. Yesterday evening alone I collected at least 3 pounds of them, which means that tonight I’ll be making a second batch of fig preserves. I am big fan of these delicious little fruits, but having to cook/prepare them every other night to circumvent over ripening is starting to become a little tedious. To keep myself motivated I just remind myself that I’ll be quite thankful come Christmas when I’ve got couple dozen jars of homemade preserves to hand out as gifts to family, friends, and co-workers. Anyhoo, today I’m recapping my effort at making homemade fig bars.
I came across a recipe sometime ago in Ready Made for Homemade Fig Bars. It met all my requirements for a feasible recipe: not that many ingredients and not that many steps. Count me in! In reality, the process to make the fig bars was tedious and not something
I plan to do again in the near future. Just in case you want to give it a whirl yourself, I’ve outlined the directions that I modified from Ready Made’s original recipe. I would recommend doubling the amount of dough you make so you can use all of the fig mixture (note: the amount in recipe is not doubled!). I had a good bit of fig mix leftover that I used to make spicy fig chutney, FYI.
- 3 c.Flour , sifted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 c. butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 c. Brown sugar – dark, firmly packed
- 1/2 c. Brown sugar – light, firmly packed
- 2 x Egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 c. figs, fresh, finely minced
- 2 Tbps. each of orange and apple juice
- 2 Tbsp. Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Sift flour with salt and cinnamon.
Cream butter and sugars till very fluffy; beat in egg whites and vanilla. Slowly work in flour; wrap dough and refrigerate 2 to 3 hrs. Meanwhile, prepare filling. Simmer the ingredients together, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 min till thick. (note: I mashed mine with a potato masher since mincing fresh figs is all but impossible). Cool the mixture, but don’t chill.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out dough, a small portion at a time, 1/4 inch thick and cut into pieces about 2 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long. Place a level tsp. of fig mix in the center of each and fold dough around filling. Flatten cookies slightly and place seam down 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets; bake about 12 min till lightly browned and just hard. Cool on racks.
Aaron and Roscoe loved the cookies so I suppose this effort wasn’t a total waste of time. They weren’t necessarily my tastes, but I swear that’s all Aaron ate for dinner that night. I guess everyone’s allowed a cheat night now and again!
There are many reasons to be thankful this Monday, one of which is that yesterday’s monsoon finally broke the treacherous heat. I could go on and name a thousand more
reasons for thanks, but instead I’ll move on to today’s topic: making the best out of what you’ve got. An example of this is a lighting fixture that came courtesy of my MIL and originally intended to put on sale at our recent yard sale. When I saw it I knew I could use it.
It wasn’t one of those love-at-first-sight moments, but rather “it at least looks better than something already in place”. What I already had in place was a standard and boring flush mount. Some might call it settling to use a light fixture simply because it’s available and they would be absolutely right! In all reality, I would much rather have a funky light fixture like this to brighten my kitchen cooking adventures:
I could probably make my own version of the above fixture easily enough. However, the light fixture I had was presently available and, most importantly, free. The first order of business was to modify the brass arms with a little spray paint remedy. I wanted to keep the rusted brass center in tact and hence had to cover it up from any wayward spray paint.
Given the awkwardness of the body, I figured tin foil and painter’s tape were my best options given their flexibility.
Once ensconced in foil I made quick work of my spraying and gave the piece
ample dry time. After a little snafu when installing (no need to rehash that
business), it was up. I still felt it was a little plain so I decided to finish it off with chandelier shades with a purchase price of 6 for $12 (obviously not well-made or high quality, but…eh). The end result? An improvement from what was there before and
a price point my wallet could handle.
I have a soft spot for storage containers. Not your run of the mill plastic bin containers, but more along the lines of cute baskets of weird shapes, fun prints, and/or special utility. Of course, purchasing baskets and bins to organize all my items can get particularly pricy and some of the items that need storing can ruin the baskets in a heartbeat. Take for instance my craft supplies; between sharp blades on some of my tools to the hodgepodge of paints, my collection of creative instruments can effectively ruin containers. With my art supplies starting to get out of control, I knew I needed another option. My solution came in the form of free roadside treasure (are you even surprised?).
My “solution” was to use discarded wooden drawers to hold my supplies. They are heavy duty and I could care less if their insides get marred, nicked, and otherwise defaced. The first step of course was to stealthily load the drawers into my car’s trunk and haul my treasure home. They weren’t the most aesthetically pleasing drawers in the world, but I figured they would do.
My process was to clean, prime, paint, and then stripe each of the drawers using latex paint leftover from other projects.
After the necessary cure time, I filled my bins with art supplies and identified their contents with homemade chalkboard tags. The end result? Successful organization that was both free and quirky. Can I get a “woot woot” please?
So today’s topic is an issue that has become increasingly bothersome to me: the volume of chemicals and unpronounceable substances that comprise our hygiene products, permeate our foods, and likely contribute to a ridiculous cancer rate. I’ve grown disenchanted
with looking at an ingredient list and not knowing what 2/3 of the items are. Take something as simple as body lotion. Most of us ladies use this every day and will absorb 3 liters of lotion through our skin a lifetime. (Exhibit A).
That means that all those alcohols, dyes, and preservatives are leaching into your bloodstream. Disturbing.
While reading an older issue of my favorite mag Ready Made (it’s amazing and inspiring), I came across a recipe to make my own organic, chemical free body lotion. After reading the directions I had a total “whoa” moment and realized that I could be slathering Grade A product on myself as opposed to whatever the manufacturing conglomerates make available.
I bee lined on over to Michael’s and picked up the only ingredient I didn’t already have on hand: beeswax. The other ingredients are simply filter water and quality organic oil
like olive, almond, sesame, etc. I’m not going to reiterate the directions as you can simply go here to get them, but I can attest that the lotion turned out phenomenal and it couldn’t have been easier. It also keeps for up to 3 months; longer if kept in the fridge.
With my 1 lb. block of beeswax (purchased for $10), I can make enough batches of body lotion to last at least a year or more. So not only I am being more health conscious, I’m actually being economical, too. Score 1 for Team Randall!