Monday, March 26, 2012

Gardening Progress 03/26/2012

In the last few weeks, we have planted some additional seeds and have watched our green onions grow a lot! Our 12 cans of herbs and (to-be-transplanted) vegetables in the windowsill:

We also planted some wheatgrass my husband's cousins gave us at a family event last year, and it has grown VERY quickly.

Our green onions have grown fast, too. We've leveled them several times for use in recipes, yet they are outgrowing the much-larger container we put them in. (Sorry for the dark image--and the background. Soon, we will be overlooking a lake rather than storage units.)

How are *your* gardens doing?

Erin

"Prodigal Son's Prayer"

Great music, awesome lyrics:

Erin

Today's Verse: March 26, 2012

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

Romans 6:3-4 (NKJV)

3 Or do you not know that as many of us are were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

How appropriate for this Easter season.

Erin

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pinterest

When I practiced law, I generally took only family law and probate cases. In the time since I've been on sabbatical, I decided to change practice areas; I intend to practice bankruptcy and foreclosure defense now. I am now learning these two entirely new areas of the law. I did not take courses in either area during law school (though I now wish I had!). So honestly, I still don't know that much about either area. Although the state bar associations frown generally prevent attorneys from claiming they specialize, we kinda do. Would you want me to handle your personal injury case? No. I worked as a legal assistant for a personal injury attorney for about five years, but trust me when I tell you that you do *NOT* want to be my guinea pig in this area--or any other area in which I have no in-depth knowledge or experience. Likewise, you probably should not ask a personal injury attorney to handle your family law matter. You wouldn't go to a urologist if you had a foot problem, right?

I say all that to say this: I have NO knowledge or experience in copyright law. I didn't take a class in copyright law; I haven't practiced in any copyright-related cases; and I don't remember covering copyright in any required class nor studying it for the Florida bar exam. But the copyright issues arising from the use of Pinterest worry me. I get that most home and craft bloggers want their pictures pinned on Pinterest. But I also know that on occasion, I have pinned items that were for sale, but that I noted one could make oneself more cheaply. If I were many crafters-for-profit, I wouldn't want someone pinning my pictures.

I'd never really thought about this until recently when I took a more in-depth look at the Pinterest terms of service. I'm not terribly thrilled with Pinterest's assertion that we should not self-promote by pinning only items we upload, but that we should pin only what we own the copyrights to or have permission to pin. I haven't pinned anything from my own blog because I am just not doing that. And I don't own the rights to any picture I have pinned. The web sites I generally pin from have Pinterest themselves and encourage pinning of their pictures. But I don't feel safe because any blogger could change her mind at any time, and what proof do I have that she previously encouraged pinning of her pictures (without jumping through a bunch of hoops to get that evidence, anyway)? And Pinterest's indemnification clause means that if Pinterest is sued for one of my pins, I am going to be in BIG trouble.

So do I leave Pinterest after bookmarking all the sites I pinned, or do I sort through each of my boards and somehow confirm and ensure proof that I have permission to pin?

Oy. Thoughts from the crowd? Am I being paranoid? Or is Pinterest the new Napster?

Erin

Organizing Accessories

One of my goals before we move into our new apartment is to organize our closet (AGAIN). This time (I have tried this "organize the clothes closet" thing before), I bought three "peg boards" (that's what they are called on our A.C. Moore receipts) for between four and five dollars each, depending on whether I had a 40% or 50% off coupon in hand. I painted all three of them with Glidden eggshell interior paint in Onyx Black. My husband put them on the wall in our walk-in closet (yes, yes, I know we're moving, but organizing things now makes it easier to move later, right?). I used the one near the ceiling to hold our hats. The one in the center holds my purses (I have only seven now!).

The one on the bottom holds belts, scarves, and oversized bags.

Crazily enough, these don't look as organized as I'd like. But I know I am WAY too OCD, so they are good enough. :) Good enough is a concept I learn more about each time I complete a DIY project.

Did I mention that my husband used this project to teach me how to use his power drill? I'm excited. I can hang things by myself now!

Erin

Ironing Board Storage

I hate ironing. And I hate our ironing board. I really need to make a new cover for it, and right now, it is stored in our closet, where it harasses me every morning to buy some fabric and put some clothes on it. :/

Again, the ironing board is in our closet. Because we have no washer or dryer and thus no laundry room. So for the longest time, the ironing board has leaned against on one of the walls in our walk-in closet. But then I saw this ironing board holder on the Blissfully Ever After blog. I was SO enchanted with it! My husband and I already had some hooks, so we decided to put those into the wall instead of doing the actual sign (at least for now--he was the one who ultimately made the decision not to make the sign, so we will likely revisit this decision when we DO have a laundry room). Thus our ironing room is now stored out of the way (behind our clothes!).

Yes, yes. Ugly, I know. I'll get around to it.

Erin

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I Received for Valentine's Day, Part II

My husband gave me shutters for Valentine's Day. Even more romantic, he actually helped me paint them!

We painted these in the brightest white we could find in an eggshell interior paint.

I'm not sure these are finished. We painted them with paintbrushes. I think a coat of spray paint might help them look a little better. I thought about stenciling some words on them like these shutters at the Ode to Inspiration blog. I ultimately decided not to do so. Did I make the right choice?

Erin

Wooden Desk Tray

A month or so ago, I bought a wooden (dovetailed!) desk tray at the thrift store for the whopping total of about $2. The wood was not that pretty, but nothing that a bit five coats of eggshell interior paint in Onyx Black couldn't fix, right?

Paint can fix just about anything!

More later on what I'm using this tray for.

Erin

Laptop Storage

A few months ago, my husband and I found an old (broken) magazine holder at the thrift store. I had recently seen this blog post about turning a magazine holder into laptop storage at the You Are Talking Too Much blog. So we bought the magazine holder and some Glidden eggshell interior paint in the brightest white we could find. We painted. We painted it a lot. Like ten coats. But we love the result!

Why, yes, that is burlap lining the bottom! I thought it made a nice touch.

I love taking something old and ugly and making it gorgeous and functional again!

Erin

Chest of Drawers

Remember when I asked what I should do with the chest of drawers I received for Christmas years ago?

Well, in my blogging hiatus, I worked on that thing. I took some 180 grit sandpaper and sanded it and then stained the drawer faces with Minwax in dark walnut. Finally, I used some Behr eggshell paint in Onyx Black on the rest of the dresser, including the drawer knobs. The result? We decided not to poly it or do anything else to it. No, we didn't stain the insides because we want the clothing that goes in the drawers to continue to smell like clothing. :)

Yeah, I'm loving it. The only thing left is to line the drawers with fabric. I found some fabric at JoAnn, but I have to have a good coupon before I will buy it because it's a little spendy.

Tip: Don't paint in the same room you are doing burlap crafts in. The burlap threads will get caught in the paint. (Fortunately, you can't see these flaws, but I know they are there!)

Erin

Downsizing

As I said earlier this week, my husband and I will soon be moving. So we are downsizing, getting rid of things we do not need and do not use. I cannot stand clutter, and the little bit we have needs to go!

So I discarded items I was saving for crafts: cereal boxes, taco boxes, cans, and glass jars to begin. I also took some things to the thrift store: miscellaneous cords, an inkjet printer, some candle jars, and a BUNCH of VHS tapes that I can no longer watch because my VCR's died. Then I listed 50 items (books and old dishware and decor/collectibles) on eBay, the maximum number of items I can list in a month without paying insertion fees in addition to commissions. (We have sold around ten items in the past day. I know God answers prayer because I honestly thought none of the items would sell!)

Yes, we are getting rid of a lot of stuff. I am SO excited! I am also looking forward to listing more items on eBay at the beginning of April. In fact, as I type this blog post, I am converting vinyl records to mp3 so that I can burn them onto CD's; then I will sell the albums!

Why, yes, I'm a cleaning geek! Don't you like cleaning and getting rid of things you don't use, too?!

Erin

"How Do I Love Her"

Earlier this week marked the fourth anniversary of my first date with my husband. I was in my second semester of law school when he and I met. Around that time, I was listening to Stephen Curtis Chapman's All About Love CD a lot--especially this song. Listening to it still reminds me of that time in my life.

Erin

Today's Verse: March 22, 2012

I haven't posted my daily verses in a while! Back to it today--and what a great verse for me right now!

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV)

Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.

Erin

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moving

As I have mentioned, my husband and I have to move so that the property management company can renovate our apartment. (New hardwood floors, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a built-in microwave, Energy Star appliances, and granite counters apparently mean a $200 rent increase for them.) Initially, we were not supposed to move until the end of May. Now, we are moving sometime in April. Fortunately, though, this expedited move-out date means that my husband and I (finally) figured out what apartment we are moving to. Although we are downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment, we will now have a porch! I am sad about leaving this apartment (I am very sentimental and unfortunately get easily attached to things and even spaces), but I am excited about the prospect of having an outdoor area.

So now we prepare to move. Accordingly, I have instructed myself not to buy anything that does not involve redoing furniture, organizing, finishing a started-but-not-yet-finished project, or baking and definitely not to buy anything we do not need. Except for Easter decor. Oh, and since we are indeed downsizing and I will no longer have a spare bedroom in which to craft, I am going to be weeding out my huge collection of items that I eventually intended to use.

What this means is that for the next few weeks, my blogs are likely going to be focused on organizing things and will perhaps even include a (exhaustive, I hope) moving checklist. I am going to post the recipes for muffins that I promised. I am also going to post about some easy DIY Easter decor I have made or am currently working on.

This move is not my first, and thank God we are moving just across the apartment complex parking lot for now, but because we have a bigger move to make at the end of the year, I want this move to be a dry run. In other words, I want everything as organized as possible, but I want to be prepared to make changes for the end of the year. So if you have any tips on how I can make this move proceed as smoothly as possible, please post them! I am all ears. :)

I hope you have beautiful weather this first day of spring and that the last week or so has been good for you.

Erin

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cheddar Biscuits

Today is the last day of the series on biscuits. I hope you've enjoyed this recipes as much as I loved them!

A few months ago, I made a batch of these cheddar biscuits using the recipe on AllRecipes.com. My husband *loved* them! He says they are very similar to the ones at Red Lobster. I have no idea since I do not care for seafood and have thus never been to Red Lobster. But I like these--a lot.

I did not make any modifications to this recipe either time I have made them. Eventually, I am going to try it with homemade baking mix when my current box of Bisquick is depleted.

Again, I hope you've enjoyed this series. Stay tuned for next week, when I post a few recipes for muffins.

Erin

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Onion Cheese Biscuits

As I mentioned yesterday, this week I am posting a few good (and relatively easy) recipes for biscuits. The second batch of biscuits I made last week were these: onion cheddar biscuits from AllRecipes.com. These, too, were delish!

I did not have any poppy seeds on hand, so I simply spread the remaining cheddar on tops of these biscuits. Still, they were excellent. Even my husband thought so!

I said yesterday that I have not been a big fan of biscuits in the past. My mom always served them with jelly and syrup. I like sweets, but I like jelly and syrup in small doses, and not very often. I love onions and cheese and could eat both in every meal of every day. Perhaps that is why I love these so much!

Do you prefer your biscuits with ingredients like those in this recipe, or do you prefer yours with honey, jelly, and syrup?

Erin

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Potato Flake Chicken

We eat more chicken in this household than any other meat. (This fact is a testament to how much we have changed because when we first married, we ate a LOT of red meat.) Because we do eat a lot of chicken, I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.

I found this recipe for potato flake chicken at the Gluesticks blog a few weeks ago. I bought a box of mashed potato flakes for this purpose (I make my own mashed potatoes from scratch) and tried the recipe this past weekend. I enjoyed it.

I frequently coat our chicken in breadcrumbs. Now I've tried coating chicken in potato flakes. Corn flakes are next!

Erin

Brown Sugar

I published a post about how to make homemade powdered sugar last week. I have since learned how to make brown sugar at home, too.

You can find the recipe for homemade brown sugar at Joy the Baker's blog. I did not make any modifications to her recipe, and my brown sugar turned out perfectly (I turned on my KitchenAid stand mixer and left her on until the brown sugar was ready). Note that you make light brown sugar by adding one tablespoon of the molasses to the cup of granulated sugar but that dark brown sugar requires two tablespoons of molasses per cup of granulated sugar.

For now, I am storing mine in a little Mason jar.

Do you enjoy making your own pantry staples at home? I love it! I know what's in what I make, and it's generally cheaper, too!

Erin

Buttered Biscuits

Last week was biscuit week at our house. So you will be seeing a few biscuit recipes from me this week. (If you like muffins, stick around; I will be posting some good recipes for those next week.)

I have recently developed a fondness for butter biscuits, but I absolutely abhor the whole "turn out the dough on a floured surface" thing. I am just as good with drop biscuits. When I get up in the morning, I want something good *and* simple. Fortunately, this recipe for buttered biscuits at AllRecipes.com is perfect.

I did modify the recipe a bit. I use unsalted butter, so I added some salt to the dough. I also melted some more butter and brushed it on the tops of the biscuits about two minutes before I pulled them out of the oven. Yes, I like butter.

Here's the kicker: I used to hate biscuits unless they were from the Loveless Cafe. (Note: If you have not had biscuits from the Loveless Cafe, get yourself to Nashville ASAP.) But these (and the ones I will post about for the next couple of days) are good enough to get me to eat a few more than I should have.

Do you have a favorite biscuit recipe?

Erin

"Yes, I Know"

After this month, you probably will not forget that I am a fan of the Gaithers. Interestingly, once upon a time, I tired of my mother's constant listening to this music. Today, I listen to it frequently.

This is one of my favorites--even if David Phelps was not with the Gaither Vocal Band at this time. =) I love David Phelps!

Erin

Today's Verse: March 6, 2012

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

John 11:40 (NKJV)

Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"

Erin

Monday, March 5, 2012

"The Great Divide"

This song was on a compilation I received from Heartdance (a Christian music store) when I was in my last year of high school or the first year of college. I loved it then, and I love it now.

Erin

Today's Verse: March 5, 2012

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Erin

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Holiday Cookie Frosting

As I said earlier today, I am a stockpiler. Sometime early last year, I bought a lot of Betty Crocker products for almost nothing at Harris Teeter by using coupons when they were on sale. (This stockpiling trip was before I learned how to make cookies and cakes from scratch.)

I ran across that stash last weekend and ended up making sugar cookies (from a mix). But to make them better, I decided to frost them with homemade frosting! The recipe I used is this one (I generally try to give credit where credit is due, but I clipped this recipe from a coupon insert and now have NO idea who published it!):


Ingredients
2/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
2-2/3 c. confectioner's sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Food coloring (if you desire)

Directions
Beat butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla in a mixer until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add more milk.

If you want to color the frosting, divide it into several small bowls, and add a different color of food coloring to each bowl. Mix.


I just put globs of the frosting on my (drop) cookies, but they were yummy anyway.

What's your favorite cookie frosting recipe?

Erin

Orange Julius

I saw this recipe for an Orange Julius on The Farmer's Wife blog. I had never even heard of Orange Julius! But the recipe sounded good, so I tried it.

YUM! And my husband loved it, too. So we have a new drink to add to our recipe binder!

Have you had a real Orange Julius? If so and if you try this recipe, let us know how this one compares.

Erin

Onion-Baked Chicken

I found the recipe for onion-baked chicken on the side of my onion powder bottle and later on McCormick's web site. My husband made this dish the first time we tried it. It was good, but missing something. The second time, I adapted the recipe. After I put the oil on the chicken as directed, I rubbed the chicken with a bit of salt and black pepper before rubbing--not sprinkling!--the seasoning mixture on the chicken. The result?

This stuff is GOOD. So good that I am thinking about making the seasoning mixture into some kind of marinade. Yes, it's that good.

Erin

Handling Household Tasks: Maintaining a Food Inventory

I'm a stockpiler. When I see items on sale, I try to use coupons to get a "super sale" on the items, and I buy lots of them (not as many as the folks on "Extreme Couponing," but you get the picture). When I am blessed with a food storage room or area (other than a pantry), I am going to have canisters filled with flour and sugar and tons of Mason jars of canned foods, too.

So that I know what I have--and what I need when I go shopping--I keep a food inventory. This is the document in its current form.

Food Inventory

I did keep this food inventory taped to my pantry door along with my menu plan. I was even going to laminate it. But since I revise it quite a bit, I decided to store the menu plan inside my recipe binder and this inventory in my coupon organizer. I put the pages inside page protectors, and then I can write on them with wet erase markers and erase with a damped cloth when I need to update the inventory.

Not everyone needs a food inventory. But since I have amassed quite a bit of food, I like to know that I still have a couple of cans of, say, green beans somewhere rather than buying some and then finding the cans after the "best by" date has passed.

And that's the end of the Handling Household Tasks series that I started last month. You thought I wasn't going to finish it, didn't you? :) I update the food inventory at the beginning of each month, so I wanted to wait until the beginning of March.

Next up? Organizing finances . . . next week.

Erin

Oil Bottles

A LONG time ago, I returned something to Kmart and received a gift card worth about six bucks. I have not used it previously because I think that the stuff in Kmart is frequently ridiculously overpriced when compared to other stores. But then I saw some oil bottles that I absolutely loved! So I took my Sears Shop Your Way rewards card and my gift card and bought two of them. I brought them home and labeled them with some vinyl before pouring oil in them.

The vinyl isn't perfectly placed, but these labels are just temporary anyway; I am eventually going to etch the bottles when I buy enough for ALL of the oils we use (vegetable, olive, canola, and peanut). In the meantime, I think the bottles look cute sitting on the counter--much better than the huge plastic oil bottles (I buy in bulk)!

Oh, and did I mention that I received an e-mail from Shop Your Way Rewards yesterday that my points are being tripled this weekend? I bought yet another oil bottle with my points (free to me!). My husband will pick it up from the local store when he heads home from work. :)

Free = good. (But I still subtract the total amount from my monthly budget. More on that later.)

Erin

Gardening Progress

Some of our plants have begun growing! Our marjoram and oregano:

Our (not-yet-sprouted) parsley and grape tomatoes:

Remember that I harvested chives a little over a week ago? Look at them now!

And after seeing this page at the Life Hacker web site, I decided to try growing green onions in a glass of water. Day 1:

I have my doubts about the parsley, but other than that, our gardening is going okay so far! How is your gardening going this season?

Erin

Apple Bowl

I eat a lot of apples. I try to eat at least one every day because I have a bit of a cholesterol issue, and an apple a day is supposedly helpful in lowering cholesterol levels. (We'll see!)

At any rate, I found this glorious bowl at Second Chance Thrift (my favorite thrift store in this area).

I decided that her current role in this house is to hold all of my apples.

Isn't she gorgeous? I'm pretty sure she's real milk glass, but even if not, I love her anyway. Either way, I got her for a great price, and she looks elegant in my kitchen. :)

Erin

Powdered Sugar

Some of you know that I use chalkboard paint and vinyl to upcycle old pickle jars into food canisters. Over time, I have developed a method for getting rid of the pickle smell. Sometimes, though, I don't succeed as well as I'd like. A good example is the powdered sugar jar. Have you ever made a glaze with powdered sugar that had a hint of pickle in it? NOT GOOD!

I actually think I may have found a use for that sugar so that it does not have to be thrown away. But in the meantime, using it for anything other than that particular recipe is just not going to work. But instead of buying another box or bag of powdered sugar, I decided to make it.

Using this recipe, I simply took a cup of granulated sugar and poured it in my blender with a glass jar and turned on the blender for a minute or so. The result: powdered sugar.

If you intend to use your powdered sugar to make frosting, you really should add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch to it. Otherwise, you can leave it as it is. Oh, and if you have a plastic jar on your blender, you might want to avoid trying this at home: The sugar will scratch your jar.

Skeptical? Check the ingredients on your powdered sugar bag or box. It likely contains just sugar and cornstarch! And granulated sugar is cheaper than powdered sugar in the store. So why not at least try this method?

Next up: homemade brown sugar!

Erin

"This is the guy who wrote 'He Touched Me.'"

As I said a few days ago, I enjoy listening to the Gaithers. Bill Gaither wrote "He Touched Me," you know! Watch this. It's funny.

And on that note, here is my favorite rendition of "He Touched Me."

Erin

Today's Verse: March 3, 2012

I usually don't blog on Saturdays or Sundays, but since my husband is working today, I figured I'd try catching up here a bit. Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

Proverbs 28:6 (NKJV)

Better is the poor who walks in hs integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Erin

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Jeep Has New Shoes!

I have not blogged a lot this week. I took my 2004 Jeep Liberty to the mechanic for an oil change on Monday, and he said it needed new tires. So I had new tires put on it on Wednesday! Yay for new tires! Boo for spending almost $1K to buy them and have them installed. But yay for a rebate that will be returned to us.

Oh, and yay for Yokohama tires. Our usual mechanic would sell and install only Kumho tires, so I went to another mechanic. I have nothing against Kumho tires, but my previous tires were Yokohamas, and they lasted for 90,000 miles. 90,000 miles! And they weren't even bald when I changed them! Too, I survived a ride through the I-65 median at 65 miles per hour on those tires, and they simply had to be aligned and balanced when it was over. So I bought duplicate tires this week. If it's not broke, don't fix it, right?

By the way, the 2004 Jeep Liberty? She's a keeper, too. I've never loved a vehicle as much as I love this one. I can't fathom trading her. Whenever anyone near me talks about buying a new vehicle, I always speak up and recommend a Jeep. :)

Erin

Big House

Although, as I noted yesterday, I am not a huge fan of contemporary Christian music, I have listened to it from time to time since I first learned of the genre in high school. This is one of those songs that I loved way back when I was in high school--and I still listen to it on occasion today.

Erin

Today's Verse: March 2, 2012

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light[.]

Erin

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This Is My Father's World

I prefer traditional worship hymns to praise music. I was raised in an American Baptist Association church, so I never knew what praise music and Christian contemporary Christian music were until I was in high school. Even today, I would sooner watch a Bill Gaither infomercial than listen to K-Love. To each her own, right?

But I listen to Christian music frequently, especially in the morning while I am doing my morning tasks. One of my favorites is this version of one of my favorite hymns.

Erin

Today's Verse: March 1, 2012

Today's verse of the day from the YouVersion phone app:

Psalm 143:6 (NKJV)

I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.

Erin