Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Project - FREE Washi Storage

Just finished off a roll of this Press'n Seal Glad plastic wrap last night and just as I was about to toss it in the recycler I noticed that it had one unusual feature (vs Aluminum Foil boxes) a center core roll which looked like it might fit at least some of my washi tapes 
and it did! Easy Peasy steps below 
Each side has a plastic stopper that is not glued down, pop it out 
Tip up one end of the interior roll and slide on the rolls of washi tape in your preferred direction - over or under dispensing (the old TP debate...) 
This particular tube will fit washi tapes with a 1 1/4 center or larger 
Replace the plastic stopper and use 
I pulled a bit of each tape and stuck it on the box edge for easy access. This box will fit approximately 20 - 1/2 inch washi tapes side by side with room to dispense.

The cutting teeth on this packaging are on the lid rather than the base of the box. I will live with it as is for a while to see how it works for me, otherwise I can relocate it to the base when the tape ends are at the moment. Since it's just glued on, I can remove it gently with a sharp knife/blade edge and re-glue it to the box itself but time will tell if that is necessary
The best part is in this packaging/storage the tapes stay dust free, the ends don't get ratty and it only takes up a 2 inch square of space on my tiny work surface or can be tucked away in a desk drawer.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Dinner

Cured Spiral ham, trimmed of skin and extra fat 

Oven pre-heated at 350° F, cup of water added to the bottom of the pan 

Foil and pop in the over for 12-15 minutes per lb, it's only to reheat rather than cook 

Potatoes - peeled, sliced and soaking in cold water for Scalloped potatoes 

Moses sticking by very close in case there is anything for him, our sweet veggie loving dog 

Basic bashemel sauce with a combination of several cheeses and fresh parsley cover two layers of potatoes in each pan - one for each family - Mom and Dad, Irene and her family and Paulie and me 

Last but not least, broccoli and crasins ready for the oven to roast up with crispy bits 

So beautiful

Ham, several hours later, foil removed, pineapple and honey/brown sugar glaze added 

Broccoli out of the oven 

Scalloped potatoes resting 

Happy Easter!

Oddly Sentimental

Tonight, as I was reaching into the freezer to put ice into one of my favorite blue glasses, an IKEA Kitchen rail that has been resting on top of the fridge fell on my arm holding the glass. You can guess what happened next, shattered glass everywhere, banged up arm and for a split second I thought the scalpel sharm glass severed something on me. Either I have the reflexes of a frightened squirrel or dumb luck but no cut. I am now down to the last glass that I've had since my Freshmen year in college, trust me that was not recent. I can't quite explain why these silly glasses are so sentimental for me but all I can think of is that these lasted with me for over two decades.  Moves from state to state, house to house and not a crack but in the last few weeks I've lost 3 of 4 glasses. Is it Karma telling me to let go of the old? Makes you think, doesn't it. I acted like a child and broke down to a point where Paulie thought something was seriously wrong with me. There are no marks on the bottom of the last glass so I have no way of searching for them online but you never know, maybe I'll come across them at some point in my travels or never see another one again.  Perhaps this is an exercise in patience and acceptance of what can happen in life and learning to move on without regret and looking backwards.  For now I am drinking out of plastic! lol

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nutella Orange Zest Macaroons

I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few substitutions and one addition:
Instead of the 1/3 melted chocolate, I used 1/3 cup Nutella (microwaved for 25 seconds to remove from jar and for easy mixing in)
I added zest of one orange, about a tablespoon
Cut down the 2/3 cup sugar to 1/2 cup because I used Nutella instead of Dark Unsweetened Chocolate

Going into the 325° F oven for 15 minutes (shiny before cooking)

Out of the oven, matte once baked

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Small Craft Supplies Organization - Sequins

Petaloo Dazzlers are adorable and like eye candy but not in exactly user friendly packaging 
These Dollar Tree food grade storage containers that come 10 to a pack in either rectangle or round are the perfect solution 
Each 80 gr bag's content fits into 3 of these little containers 
Pink Poodle Dazzlers 
Citranelle Dazzlers 
Go Green Dazzlers
Tutti Fruitti Dazzlers 
Funky Monkey Dazzlers 
Now stored away in easy to use containers, divided into stacks for me, my friend and a future giveaway

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review - Stamping Techniques for Solid Stamps

I picked up this beautiful stamp set by Chapel Road Artstamps from Blitsy.com 
Using a Fiskars Compact Stamp press produces the best results but ink makes a difference too  
VersaFine in Onyx Black varies depending on the pressure applied, left more while the one on the right less pressure 
Using a brayer and the same VeraFine ink gives the best overall result in details and on larger solid surfaces 
Lastly, the Indian Ink in black with the stamp press gave an aged effect

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Chicks!

All of these are Auricanas, 'Easter Egg Layers', but as you can see they vary in plumage from light buff like this one 

To tan and brown  

Brown and buff 

This one totally looks like she's posing 

I'm really hoping that at least some of these new chicks have those cute tufts of feathers on the side of their face 

I will try to post pictures regularly so we can see the progress of their growth, Paulie even suggested a live feed web cam on their cage...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dinner - Steak Au Poivre with Roasted Potatoes & Beets

I used the recipe from Alton Brown with one substitution - Cognac subbed with Wild Turkey Honey Liqueur
Medium rare = 4 minutes on each side for a 3/4 to 1 inch thick steak
Since I was out running errands after work, I didn't slow roast the potatoes but shortcut it with 8 minutes in the microwave first (whole potatoes) then cut them in the 6 pieces each, added grapeseed oil, salt and black pepper and popped them in the oven at 425° F for 40-45 minutes
A simple can of beets can be turned into a lovely little side, sauted in a pan with salt, black pepper and a pat of butter

Homemade Marinara

I have mentioned before Paulie's strange obsession with GIANT cans of veggies, there was a 6 lb can of San Marzano tomatoes that he probably got for a steal at Restaurant Depot that has been moved from one shelf to another in out pantry, that is until today.  I finally busted into that behemoth and made homemade Marinara sauce.  The following are all the ingredients:
  • 6 lb of San Marzano tomatoes (whole and peeled)
  • 2 - 6 oz cans of tomato paste, try using sugar free to control the sweetness
  • 1-2 large onions, chopped
  • 1-2 heads of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbsp dry parsley flakes (I used dry parsley from my garden)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil (I used frozen cubes of basil from our summer garden) 
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar, to taste (optional, helps to cut down on the acidity of tomatoes)
Stovetop Method:
In a heavy bottom Dutch oven, I used an 8 quart Le Creuset pot, add olive oil, onions and garlic, saute till translucent but not brown.  If you are using whole tomatoes, place them in a bowl and squish them into pieces or if you prefer not to get messy use them whole and pulse them in the pan with an immersion blender as I did. With burner set to low heat (2-3 on US electric stoves) add remaining ingredients.  Mix till the tomato paste is incorporated. Keep checking and mixing periodically, 15-20 minutes, to prevent scorching on the bottom. Simmer on low for 2.5-3 hours or until the desired thickness.  Cool and transfer to glass containers to use in the next 2 weeks if stored in the fridge or can for shelf stable storage.  You can also freeze but in plastic rather than glass to prevent cracking of the container.  Do not overfill if freezing as it will expand.

Oven Method:
Follow all the steps above until the mixture reaches a simmer on the stovetop then place it in a 300° F oven for 1.5-2 hours, checking every 45 minutes or so.  To further cut down on the possibility of scorching, place the dutch oven on a cookie sheet.

Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Method:
Saute onions and garlic, transfer to the crock pot, add remaining ingredients and set to 6-8 hours.
All the ingredients in the pot before being mixed or blended
Cooked for 10 minutes and blended, still remaining rather chinky
3 hours later on low, the sauce has visibly intensified in color, flavor and diminished in volume by about 10%
This, flavorful and best homemade without preservatives and ready to use in our favorite meals (pizza, spaghetti, lasagna... the possibilities are endless).