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My One Seed Success

9.27.2009
Last winter I had the bright idea of starting tons of seeds indoors to get a jump start on the spring.

The bright idea failed miserably as everything died a) when I set the tray outside to "harden" the seedlings or b) when I planted them in the ground. I even followed the instructions and everything. Sigh....

When I planted my side yard I put a couple of dahlia seedlings in between the other plants just to see if they would survive. Much to my surprise this is what they look like now-

The bees even like them-
The side garden has really turned into the "cutting" garden despite the fact that it does not get tons of sun. I can't wait to plant even more flowers there next year.
And what is the point of having a cutting garden without vases of flowers?

So worth the packet of seeds that cost a dollar. Dahlias won't survive a frost, but I have read that if you dig up the tubers and store them over the winter that you can replant the same plants in the spring. Hopefully they will be as successful as the seed. Well the dahlia seed at least....

Blog Mojo

9.23.2009
I have been a bad blogger.....

2 posts in 2 weeks is pretty pathetic. I have good things to share but between craziness at work and the cooler temperatures of fall making me want to do nothing more than curl up under a blanket in the evenings with a glass of wine. And TV show premieres have not helped the cause.

But no worries....I will be back to regularly scheduled blogging next week after work settles down. We started a new room this weekend and I cannot wait to share progress of the oak getting sucked out one the last spaces. Also the craft room has been a busy spot.

See you next week!

Sweet and Spicy

9.18.2009
In my quest to preserve as many vegetables as possible I have been searching for recipes, especially for jalapenos....because honestly we can only have Mexican night so many times. Luckily my bowl full of jalapenos was saved by Derek's aunt with this recipe.


Jalapeno Jelly
3/4 cup seeded and ground green peppers
3/4 cup seeded and ground jalapeno chile peppers
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 (16 oz.) bottle liquid pectin
Green food coloring

Mix green peppers, chiles, sugar and vinegar and bring to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add pectin and 4 or 5 drops of food color. Mix well. Strain into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 6 half pints.





When I chopped the jalapenos I busted out the gloves to make sure I did not burn my skin.

I was planning on taking canning pictures step by step because it was the first time I attempted it and it was a process.

But I got so crazy between the sterilized jars, straining , and sealing that the camera sat by itself on the counter. When it was all said and done, it looked like a green gel bomb went off in the kitchen. Literally it took two loads in the dishwasher to get everything cleaned up. But that just might be because a) I am always a messy cook and b) I had no idea what I was doing.

Here is the final product-
Twelve total jars from the recipe (2 were already eaten when this pic was snapped:))

And with some cream cheese and crackers....yum.

It turned out to be the perfect mix of sweet and spicy and I cannot wait to give away the little jars to all of our friends!

Update on My Favorite Paint

9.09.2009
I seem to remember mentioning that this paint is my best friend and has made the task of de-oaking our house almost easy. I said almost.

And obviously you guys want to know more about it too this post was one of my most popular. I know when I was thinking about using it in our house I googled Ace Cabinet Door and Trim Paint to death but was frustrated with the lack of information out about it at that time. So I hope my experiences are helping someone else. I also have received a lot of emails about it as well as questions on message boards. So I wanted to answer the main question I have been receiving: dry time.

On the Ace Cabinet and Trim paint can it reports that dry time is 24 hours to recoat and longer with darker colors. This is a long time in comparison to normal paints and quite frustrating when you have something small to paint and have to wait 24 hours in between coats. I know, I have been there. But in my opinion the self-leveling properties of the paint and the hard shell like finish are worth the extra frustration (not to mention it is cheap).

When I am using the straight High Hiding White I have not had to wait more than 24 hours in between coats. (and maybe I cheated a couple of times and did more like 16 hours.....but don't tell). Twenty four hours after two coats it still felt a little "soft" and I would not go hitting it with a baseball bat or scratch it with a nail but it was definitely not sticky and able to be used. In my opinion it felt totally hardened and ready for full abuse in about a week.

The darker colors did require a little more dry time. I especially allowed more dry time with the cabinet doors since I was flipping them back and forth to paint them.

The staircase I allowed a full day and a half in between coats and tried to keep our hands off of it for a couple of days after it was finished. But considering it was a staircase and it's purpose is to be touched, again we cheated on that with no negative results.

The cabinets (painted black) I allowed two days between coats and then three days after that to totally harden before we had our hands all over them, putting up on the hinges. Again we were gentle with them a week or two after that until they totally hardened. When I added a coat of polyurethane they seemed to harden even faster.

But I have noticed the upside of longer drying time with a darker color is that you have longer to manipulate the wet paint on the surface before it starts to set on you. This is especially helpful on larger surfaces with multiple planes like cabinet doors.

All of my drying times are based on painting indoors. Most of the painting was done in the incredibly humid midwest summers but the A/C was providing some relief. I did not turn on fans to speed it up as I was concerned that it air movement would deposit dust on my newly painted surfaces.

I have had a report that people are experiencing longer drying times than what I did. Since I am not a painter and have not used this product anywhere else than my house, I have no idea why that is. But if you are thinking about using this product I wanted you to be informed of all the positives and negatives so you can make an informed decision and if you are needing a short dry time this is probably not the product for you.

I still love the paint and will use it on all my remaining de-oaking projects. In my opinion that smooth sprayed-on look is worth the inconvenience of longer drying times. And I am happy to report that only one room and one addional window still are honey oak. And that room is the future nursery. Oak is almost history at our house.

Happy Painting!!

Happy Labor Day!

9.07.2009
Derek and I had a very relaxing weekend which was perfect because he has been working insane hours ans we have not had an entire day without one of us working in months. I could go back in the blog and tell you when that weekend was because I know I mentioned it, but that date will be too painful since it was so long ago. So trust me...it has been awhile.

We even swore off home projects this weekend. I know, I was surprised too. We almost caved on Sunday when we talked about finishing up the laundry room but we stayed strong (too bad for the blog). Instead we spent the day going to the art museum and a rose garden in a park we used to frequent when we lived at our old house. It was perfect.

No pics of the art museum because of that pesky no cameras rule, but I did snap tons of photos of the rose garden. I will spare you the million closeups of different color roses, but here is a sampling-


Since we moved out of the city and into the 'burbs we have not visited the park and I have really missed it. Especially the roses. The entire garden smells amazing and there are beautiful blooms everywhere. I told Derek that if we were not planning on having children someday and therefore needed a yard, I would cover ours with roses. But since that also would not be awesome for resale I will have to be satisfied with our 4 roses and try to make the trek back to the city more often.

We drove by the old house....which was bittersweet. Of course there were a couple of new cool bars and restaurants that have opened right there since we moved and all the pretty old houses made us miss the city. But we kept saying to ourselves...garages, closets, yards, and not having to pay for private elementary educations for future children. We absolutely love our new house and the location, but there is just something about huge trees and gorgeous old homes.

Our old house itself was also bittersweet. The lawn was overgrown, weeds were growing in all the perennial beds and the evergreen bushes on the sides were brown and dead. The screen door was also missing. And that was just the front yard that we could see.... Sigh.....

On another totally different note, I have another love in my life that was a Saturday purchase-
Wallpaper compliments of the rose garden

Not an Iphone, but the Sprint version- the Palm Pre. My previous phone was over two years old and only held a battery charge for an hour or two so it was not very functional. I am so excited and have been playing on it constantly.


I have literally not put it down as evidenced by the pics being snapped at the desk next to the computer.

Hope you have a relaxing Labor Day!

"Secret" Family Recipe

9.03.2009
Conversation at Home Depot last May-

J: Should we put a tomato plant in the garden since we aren't big tomato eaters?
D: Let's just get one and that way we will have just a couple for some salsa

Guess I need to stop fertilizing.......

Last weekend this was our "bounty" with still tons of green tomatoes still on the single plant. So we either needed to find a way to preserve them or set up a road side stand.

Derek's family is Italian and they love to make their own sauce so we had the idea to use the family recipe and all the tomatoes to make some homemade pasta sauce to freeze for nights we don't feel like cooking.

Some background on and Derek and my cooking styles- Derek is not a big recipe follower. A little bit of this, toss in some of that etc. No measuring cups or spoons are needed when Derek is cooking. I, on the other hand, like to follow recipes closely. I like to have them come out the same way every time and have been described by my husband as a "chemist" in the kitchen with all the measuring I do.

OK now that you have background, I bet you can guess how the family recipe was given to us. Yep totally in Derek's style.

J- How much onion should I chop?
D- I dunno....my mom said a lot
J- How much is a lot? Like how many cups? Or even how many onions?
D- Don't know....chop up one more and that looks right.
J- What do you mean it looks right....how do you know that your definition of "a lot" and your moms is the same?
D- Trust me

So we boiled, chopped, smushed, mixed and simmered. The house smelled awesome all day. And I have to admit it tasted awesome too. Which works out well considering this is what our beer fridge freezer now contains-

No more Ragu for us! I would post the recipe but as you can see from above it probably would not do you much good. I am sure there are tons of awesome ones online and overall this was a great way to spend some time on a Sunday preserving food.

But as of tonight here is our counter again-



Maybe salsa next???

Putting the Craft Room to Use

9.02.2009
It's official.... the new craft room has produced one completed project (and 14 works in progress but we don't need to dwell on that)

Tah Dah!
The lines on the stripes are straight, it is just the way it is hanging....I swear

....a cute baby blanket for the future son of the girl who cuts my hair. So why did this get done when everything else is stranded "in progress". Uh, mostly because I had a deadline since I had a hair appointment. Sadly I was not able to wash it to give it crinkly look before I gave it to her, but honestly I was lucky to snap a couple of pics of it before heading to work that day.

This blanket was super easy to make and only took me a couple of hours to construct. I used this tutorial at My Spare Time as general guidance especially on the binding since it was the first time I had used it.

If you want specific instructions especially about things like pressing open seams, basting and what stitch to use, refer to her tutorial, but here is my quick and dirty version. I planned on taking pics documenting my steps but I was in too big of hurry to get it done.

I used 3/4 yard of the white fabric (did not use it all though), 1/2 yard flowered fabric for the front and 1 yard cozy flannel for the back. I cut the fabrics for the top in strips of random lengths. Then I laid them in out in a pleasing design and sewed them together. Next I quilted the top with the flannel back using straight lines like you see here (again in a random pattern)-
To make sure the lines stayed straight I used an old DIY standby- blue painters tape. In my world blue painters tape is the new duct tape.

Finally I added binding to the edges. I admit, this step involved some cursing and having to rip some seams at the corners. Fortunately I think I finally got the hang of it by the last corner. We will see if that skill sticks for the next blanket I make.

Here it is all ready to be tied with a bow and given to the mom-to-be.

While I was sewing, Derek dared to venture in the room once and made the comment "When you are pregnant you are never going to leave this room are you?." Nope.....well I guess maybe to sleep.