Friday, November 30, 2012

Kitchen Store Love

I laugh at myself because I have always been one to say that I don't need a lot of kitchen gadgets. Why do I need a garlic peeler when I have two hands? Why do I need a fancy press when I have a rolling pin and pastry mat? I have given in to some things, but still do others the hard way.

That fascination with doing things the hard, old fashioned, by hand way doesn't stop me from drooling over the Sur la table catalog when it appears mistakenly in my mailbox. By mistakenly, I mean our street is #_______Run, My Township we get mail for #_______Lane, Their Township. Most of the time I put it back in the mailbox to be delivered to them. I even called them once to come pick up a rather large box the FedEx guy delivered here instead. The fact that our townships share the same zip code does nothing for the confusion of mail. The Sur la table catalogs say "Or Current Resident" so I've decided it's not a Federal Crime to keep those for myself. I am the current resident at MY address, street and township, the catalog could be mine.

I decided this week when I was out and about that I wanted to actually go in the store and see what they had to offer. I spent a great deal of time in there and walked out thinking I missed seeing something. I'll have to go back! I snapped some photos with my phone (explains their quality) during my visit to share with you.
I have always wanted a flat whisk! In all those whisks, I only found one flat one and I didn't like it! LOL
I was surprised to find these canning jar gaskets. They would be perfect for some vintage jars I bought recently if I ever decide to use those for anything other than decoration. Look at those beautiful jars though. Sigh... I had to walk away.
I picked out a Christmas Wish List item in case you get the notion to buy me something for Christmas. ;)
I did buy something, just not a kitchen gadget! I picked up a beautiful RED kitchen towel and a jug of Wild Maine Blueberry Syrup.
Normally, I would baulk at the idea of spending more than $15 on syrup, but I really wanted this cool jug to re-purpose later, so I bit the bullet! If I bought a cool stoneware jug like that AND a bottle of syrup, I'd have spent the same. This was two for one! ;)
I made my own chocolate syrup recently and think that once the blueberry syrup is gone, the jug will hold chocolate syrup. ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chalkboard Christmas Banner

For the past couple of years, I've wanted to make a Christmas banner. I just didn't have it in me to make a large one. I wanted something simple and quick, but I wasn't sure where I'd put a simple and quick one. A few days ago as I walked past the chalkboard in the entry hallway, I decided it might be time to erase the turkey and thankful message. The revelation came to me that a small banner would be perfect for the chalkboard! I decided to use shipping tags and see where that led.

Again, I wanted it to be very simple. I thought sheet music would be a neat backdrop for stamped letters. But, I don't have any sheet music. I remembered that a few years ago (eight to be exact), the girls at the scrapbook forum and I went in together on a Group Buy of pages from a 1897 Sear & Roebuck catalog. I thought back to the days when I was younger and would pour over the JCPenney Christmas Wish Catalog before the holiday, taking note of all the cool things inside. I decided the vintage catalog pages would be perfect for the Christmas banner. I loved those pages, but I had never done anything with them. Amazingly, they've survived three moves and double the number of purgings. I used those as backdrops on the tags then stamped a simple letter to spell out "Merry Christmas."
I thought that just one string of jute wouldn't be as substantial, so I used three to string the tags. I had to knot each area so that the tags would lie flat.
I then contemplated leaving the chalkboard blank behind the banner, but that didn't seem fitting. No quote was fitting either. I had to decide what to put on the chalkboard that I wouldn't mind covering with the banner! A snowy scene seemed to be the perfect answer.

Monday, November 26, 2012

December Front Porch

Remember back in May when I posted about the Vintage Sled that I found at a yard sale for the whopping price of $1? Read about it here. I've been waiting patiently for the nearing of Christmas and winter to display my sled on the front porch! I decided this past week that we were close enough! So, I got to work. I never got lucky enough to pick up a pair of ice skates at a yard sale. (Well, I found some, but they were too new and too pretty and too costly!) So, a ribbon will have to do on my sled.
I wasn't sure what else I wanted out on the porch. The spikes and Dusty Miller were still thriving in my pots from the summer, so I felt rather guilty pulling them up to toss them. I wanted something green. We are in the middle of the Pine Barrens, so I decided pine boughs would be the ticket! We had a branch fall during the recent snow/nor'easter so I went to work salvaging some greenery from it. Now, I have found myself watering pine straw to keep it green through the holidays. LOL (The things you do for decorating!) I picked up a couple of large ornaments at The Christmas Tree Shop and they were perfect for the center of the greenery.
The Santa sign is something I've had for years. MIL gave it to me and I have always had a love hate relationship with it. I LOVE Santa things. But, this sign was pink. Yeah... When it came to mind in decorating the porch, I almost shunned the idea because it's pink. Then it hit me that I could easily just transform it with paint. So, that's just what I did!
I snapped a photo of the back that I left pink just to show you! Eek! Can you imagine the front like that? You'll have to imagine it because I forgot a before photo.
Why pink? I love it so much more after I revamped it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More goodies

I found this photo on my flash card as I was uploading some others recently. I snapped it of my "cranberry goodie bag" that I was given when I went out to the BOGS to visit my friend last month.
I love Craisins. And I love cranberry juice. I've been making my own version of Sonic's Cranberry Limeade with a little sparkling water added to a tall glass of crushed ice and cranberry juice. YUM!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love with Food

A while back when I started really thinking about the foods we eat and reading labels more, I realized that one area I would need to completely change was our snacks. I have two boys. No snacking isn't an option for growing boys, especially since one is a teenage boy and the other is a preteen. Um, no, not fighting that battle.

Completely overhauling our diets is hard when it comes the convenience of snacks. I haven't done it all for none. I've made sure to cut out certain things here and there. I'm taking baby steps and progressing a little at a time. It's hard enough convincing the boys that my "healthy food" isn't just a kick I'm on for me! I didn't want to just start buying new stuff because of labels and ingredients though. You can spend a lot of money on "good for you stuff" that tastes like a cardboard box. Boxed foods are what I'm trying to avoid anyway - whether it is in a box or tastes like one! LOL There are things out there that are more convenient and that do come prepackaged that are good for you! It's scary buying them though because of the unknown. I was sharing this new revelation with a friend of mine at church. She introduced me to Love With Food.

Here's how it works. I sign up for either monthly membership or I can sign up for more. With this being new, I am just doing month to month for now. Each month, I'll receive a Love with Food box in the mail with samples of yummy gourmet food. Food with REAL ingredients - none of the bad stuff. For each box I purchase, LWF will donate a meal to a needy family. Also, with giving reviews and such for items found in my box, I earn points toward purchases of items from the website.

Yesterday, I received my first box.
Right after snapping the photo, I tore open the Mini Crunch Strawberry Almond Bite Sized Snacks. They are something I've wanted to try (not particularly this brand name) but haven't for fear I wouldn't like them. Report: They were so delish! I emptied the package! The only ingredient on the package that catches my eye as a bad one is "natural flavors". Sure there is sugar, but it's cane sugar so that is a little more helpful than white processed sugar or worse yet, HFCS. The Fruit-O mango pear sauce is also something I have been wanting to try because it would be a good thing for lunch boxes. But, I have been leary. Now, I get to see what this is all about. As with anything I do, I question the price. $10 for the box plus $2 shipping. But, what if I spent $4 on a package of the Strawberry Almond Bites and absolutely hated them? I did that recently with a Pumpkin Spice tea now I'm stuck with the whole box. I'm interested in trying this Stash brand to see if it's better. With the first box, I'm pleased. I'll look forward to my next box and seeing what it has to offer. Will I continue with the membership? Who knows, but for now, I'm happy with it!
If you're interested in signing up for yourself, you can help me earn a couple of points by following this referral link and signing up to see what goodies appear in your mailbox. Gwen's Love With Food Personal Referral Link (click)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lessons learned the hard way

Oh sure, I already knew it, but was ignoring this all important fact.

Winter clothes including heavy shirts and jeans should probably NOT be hung on the same shelf/rack in your closet.

I walked out of the bathroom last night and heard a crash behind me. (My closet is accessed from the master bath.) I thought maybe something had fallen, but needed to get downstairs so I ignored it. A little while later when I went back upstairs, I noticed a sweater lying on the floor of the bathroom just outside the closet door. Hmmm...... I turned on the light and this is what met my eyes.
Yikes! If only turning the light off and ignoring it would fix it! This moved right to the top of my to-do list today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


When G-Dub was flying helicopters for the Army, he went many places. Some cool. Some not so great. He's really loving flying airplanes for the Army and visiting even more places. The thing about airplanes as many of you know, they can't land just anywhere like a helicopter can. So, he's visited some more "uppity" airports and not just airfields. He's flown into International Airports such as Pittsburgh, Myrtle Beach, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Ashville, Nashville, Guantanamo Bay, Anchorage, Lexington and the list goes on and on. You don't land in those places in an Army Chinook. He is enjoying the experience and the fact that overnights involve sleeping in a hotel rather than how they often slept in the back of the helicopter. Yikes! He jokes and says he's roughing it at the Marriott with points.

One of OUR benefits for his no longer roughing it is that he often brings us goodies back from places he's visited. When he spent two weeks in Alaska earlier in the year, he brought the boys back Deadliest Catch t-shirts. They also received Guantanamo Bay t-shirts from the US military operations there. He brought me Almond biscotti from some bakery in an airport in the Carolinas.

This past week, he flew to Colorado as part of his check ride for PC - Pilot in Command. (That's a status he obtained a several years ago in the Chinook world, but he had to start all over as the new guy when he transitioned to fixed wing.) They arranged for him to do maneuvers at the highest airport in the US. He was a little stressed by it all, but I wasn't worried. He puts his heart and soul into flying and .... oh pardon the pun in advance..... being ALL that he can be! The good news from that trip is that he passed his evaluation and is the company's newest Pilot in Command. The better news from that trip is that he brought ME back a present this time.
Almond Toffee. I'm seeing an almond trend here. ;)
It was so yummy. It had no yucky additives as it was made by a local company in Colorado, so that was a bonus! I've tried to slowly enjoy every last morsel of it, a little bit at a time. I have been nice and shared a few bites. I'm almost to the end of it though. Egads! So, I put it away in my stash cabinet to make its sweetness last a little longer.

Link to Enstrom to view more of their delights: Enstrom Toffee

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday (Snow) Photos

(taken Thursday)

What a crazy couple of weeks New Jersey has had in the weather department. Thankfully, our section of the state fared well during the storm. It's so sad that so many areas are devastated.

We experienced another storm this week and again, we were spared from the severity of it. We received snow, but not as much as northern parts of the state. Our yard had about three and a half inches of yesterday morning. My snow photos were fancy. Not. I leaned out the back door and shot a couple of photos with the zoom lens. Daring winter photography, right? Well, it's because they are actually still fall photos. ;)

My favorite red maple tree was weighted down with snow.
Still being fall, I wasn't quite ready for snow. You can see the waterhose still out from use in this photo.
My neighbor's yard looked rather enchanting in the snow. This was my favorite of the three.
Another favorite photo was one that Teen snapped with his phone on the way home from church Wednesday night. I love how the light from the street light was shining down on the snow covering the tree.