Saturday, July 4, 2015

more card catalogs...this time for a kiosk

I've really enjoyed refinishing the card catalogs for the library.  I swear I'm a closet engineer/carpenter.  This time I was going for a computer kiosk, so I had three of them stacked together (pictured here after sanding before staining):

It's amazing how these look very different and uncoordinated before staining.  Although the entire thing is not sanded down to bare wood, the stain goes a long way toward smoothing out the differences.  Plus some of them remain different which just gives it more character!

This kiosk is for the library catalog computer, so when patrons are on the third floor (which is the floor that has most of our collection) they can search the catalog easily:

You see it from the top of the stairs:

Total we will end up with two kiosks and three coffee tables!  That's better than scrapping it or sending it to surplus for auction so we can reuse our own things!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

my first brisket

I had never cooked a brisket before and actually had troubles finding one at WalMart.  So I bought one at Food Lion and lucky me they were on sale.  That was my first lesson in that beef briskets are expensive!  But it sure looked good out of the oven:

I served them up as sliders on Hawaiian buns with some cheddar cheese and a little extra sauce:

Man they were tasty!  We both really liked it!  I did decide not to keep the recipe though because when comparing amount of work/maintenance and cost, I'd do a bbq pork or beef shredded and sauced in the crockpot.  But for those of you looking for a brisket recipe, I recommend this one!

Barbecue Brisket
4 pound brisket (not corned) (trim the fat away)
3 tbsp Liquid Smoke
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp onion salt
(Can use garlic powder or onion powder)
1 tbsp celery seed
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Put meat on heavy foil and cover with the above ingredients. Seal and refrigerate at least 12 hours.

Open foil and add 1 cup barbecue sauce, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste.
Reseal foil and roast at 300 degrees for 3 ½ hours.
Open foil and roast for another hour uncovered.
Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Slice against the grain of the meat for tendered slices. Great with rolls for small sandwiches. I usually fix this the night before and start roasting about 5 hours before I intend to serve it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

a new purpose for the birdbath

So in my previous post about the plants and mulch of the landscaping, you'll notice that only the base of the birdbath was out.  Well we never get any birds and it gets very messy with the water, so we decided to do something a little different with our birdbath....before:


We painted the top the same red as the front door:

Then made it like a little mushroom!

Isn't that just adorable?

We had stored it upside down like that so water wouldn't gather in it and I thought it looked like a mushroom!  Since we had the red and white paint already, I gave it a shot.  I think it's adorable and now we just need to find a gnome or bunny or something to live beneath it :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

loc lac (cambodian steak)

Andy's brother and his family came back from mission work in Cambodia right before we started dating, so some of their recipes in the cookbook are Cambodian in nature - fun!  This recipe is a steak recipe that is like beef stir fry with a tasty sauce:

I made it with veggies and rice to go along with it like a Japanese hibachi meal. Instead of soy sauce, I did use afree sample of Kikkoman's Ponzu sauce we had recieved:
Overall this was really good and I would definitely make it again - delicious!

Cambodian Fried Beef Steak (Loc Lac)
1 lb. tender beef (steak or roast) sliced thin in small strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
Marinate for several hours.

Stir-fry in several tablespoons of hot oil just enough to take the blood out of the meat.
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
Mix together for a sauce to pour over meat at the very end of cooking time.

Serve on a platter of lettuce leaves, thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, and thinly sliced and fried potatoes. Arrange in the order listed keeping to the sides of the platter. Place fried meat in the center of the platter. Beautiful! Serve with hot cooked jasmine rice. Put the meat over the rice and the vegetables to the side as a sort of salad when eating.

Friday, June 26, 2015

addressing the plants and mulch

As we were moving along in our landscaping redesign, once the gutters were tied together, it was time to figure out the plants and mulch.  So here is our before picture again:

The plants were all builder-planted and some of them died this winter with the ice storms.  So when Andy pulled them out, each one took about 3 seconds after about two shovels.  Obviously they never really rooted in there.  So we first bought two big red planters and put in daisy gardenias while we were working on other things:

Then we placed the landscape fabric and put the pots where we wanted them.  The plant on the right is our new hydrangea, which we decided needed another red pot.  We also put down our brick edging:

A word about the edging....It's actually fake brick - a product we bought from Home Depot.  Each brick has two spikes to put in the ground and they snap together with beige fake mortar joints.  all the comments on the product said it looked real and so nice for what it is and how cheap it is.  So we figured we'd try it for a few years and see.  It does look really nice and it was super easy to install (so Andy tells me, I never did any of that...he did it really fast)!

We also removed all the gray gravel the builder installed in the little island bed between our driveway and sidewalk:

We opted for egg rock as our mulch.  It's like river rock but actually a little bigger stones:

The brick edging holds it in real nice.  So we positioned our plants that we had got in pots:

You'll notice our bird bath is missing the top on the left of the picture below...more on that in a future post:

We bought two longer planters and made a stair step for them so they would go up to the window without having to get another big bush or plant.

The bottom planter has plants that we got from some we have no idea what they will look like but can't wait!  Here is the "final" picture:

I put "final" in quotation marks because obviously the birdbath isn't fully together, plus the daisy gardenia in the two original planters died (started dying from the moment we planted them) so we took them back and bought some perennial flowers instead.  Plus two of the free cousin plants died, but the remaining two are growing nice, so we got some annuals to fill in the gaps in that planter.  Always changing!

We are more minimalist when it comes to landscaping, and we are very anti-weeding which is why all our landscaping is in pots!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

peaches and chicken?

I've never been big on fruit and meat (like orange chicken) and the link because it just seems odd to me.  But baking chicken and throwing in a can of peach halves...that's easy and should be tasty enough!  So that's what I did with an oven fried chicken recipe from my cookbook:

I made creamed potatoes with it (with the skin on but we realized we prefer it skin off). 

Overall it was a tasty chicken, but I'm not sure the peaches added a whole lot of flavor.  But they were tasty to eat as hot peaches, and added a fruit to supper, which was nice!

Oven Fried Chicken
Chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
½ cup Flour
2 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 stick butter
1 large can drained peach halves
Coat chicken with seasoned flour (Flour, paprika, salt and pepper combined). Bake at 425. Melt butter in pan, arrange chicken with skin side down. Bake 30 minutes, turn and cook 20 minutes longer. Add drained peach halves last 20 minutes. You can add boiled cubed potatoes to butter drippings.

Monday, June 22, 2015

a wrap for my sister

As part of our family Christmas gifts in June, I crocheted my sister's present.  She emailed me months prior saying she should learn how to crochet, and sent me a link to a cute wrap that she would like to learn to make.  Well, I stole the idea and decided I should just make the wrap for her present!

So Andy helped me pick out yarn to get a pretty color, and I spent most of my spare time on my Chicago trip in January/February (including flight times) making her wrap.  So here are some in-progress pictures:

That backdrop is the bedspread in the Chicago hotel!  I made less progress than I could have because I messed up in one place and found it rows later.  Had it been just for me, I would have left it, but I tore out what I had done to go back to the mistake so I could fix it.  I love my sister that much :)

Trying to make something to fit someone else can be iffy.  So I used my own body as a ROUGH estimate (we both have broad-ish shoulders but she is smaller than me) and stopped when I got to the end of my next to last skein of yarn.  It was unfinished when I wrapped it and gave it to her, so then she could try it on and I could either finish it off or make it bigger.  I did also wrap up the extra skein of yarn and remembered to bring my hook so I could fit it accordingly if she wanted it looser.

Turns out she wanted it we pulled some out and then I sewed it closed (had to wrap it around her then pin it together because there is a twist in it...can't just sew it closed regular-like).  Then she wanted the top and bottom pieces attached in the back, which was an option suggested in the original pattern I found:

My seaming is not perfect by any means...I did better with the horizontal one but you can definitely see the vertical one on the bottom.  Luckily it's in the back and it isn't bulky or uncomfortable...just sort of noticeable.

Isn't she cute?

She was definitely surprised, which is always fun for gift giving.  Andy did a great job picking the yarn color (even if it didn't really go with the shirt she happened to be wearing).  Success!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

grandma's banana nut bread

I love flavored dessert/snack breads, but I don't make them that often.  I usually go with zucchini bread, apple bread, carrot bread, or the Amish friendship bread, but not sure why I don't really make banana nut bread!  So I made my grandma's recipe from my wedding cookbook...and all was shaping up nicely:

I had to bake it longer than it said in order to get it done, and I was getting worried because it was so much darker than I thought it should be:

However, it was very delicious!

I would definitely make this again.  The recipe had a little discrepancy, which I will note below.  But I loved making it and thinking of my Grandma Jean!

Banana Nut Bread
2 large Bananas
1.5 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Soda*
1/2 Tsp Salt*
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
¼ Cup Milk
½ Cup Chopped nuts
Mash Bananas. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add bananas, milk, flour mixture, stir until well blended. Add nuts.
Bake in 9x5-3 pan for 1 hour or until done at 350

*These were capitalized teaspoon abbreviations, which was a little confusing because you usually only capitalized Tablespoons (Tbsp), and the vanilla was lowercase.  So I split the difference and put in the amount between the tsp and Tbsp measurement, and it came out just fine!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

my first doily

I'd never made a doily before or worked with really thin yarn, or in this case, "thread".  But I found a free pattern online, and once I finally figured out what a magic circle was and how to make it, I could make the doily because I didn't like how the ch 6 start looked.

Starting out I was not impressed with how it looked...not very elegant:

Then I blocked it and pinned it out to get all the spacing even and highlight the stitching.  I use my ironing board for pinning since it has some padding to put the pins in:

And the final product looked shockingly like a doily!  It's very pretty and seems dainty and cute.  I gave it to my mom for Christmas (we do our Christmas in June) and thought she could put it under something fancy in her house. 

The final size is 9.5 inches in diameter.  I am not a huge fan of working with thread - it's harder on my hands trying to keep it tight and consistent.  So I'm not sure I'll be making lots of doilies, but this is a good pattern for a beginner!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

my windspinner copper anniversary present

Our seventh anniversary of wool or copper led to Andy giving me a copper wind spinner and a hook to hang it on:

Here is a video in action of it spinning:

The inner circle spins the opposite direction of the outer circle. Here is a video of it spinning slower where you can see the opposite directions easier:

It looks nice in our front yard, and we placed it so I can see it spinning while I lie in bed - yay!

My honey is a great gift giver...thank you so much - I absolutely love it!