Canning 101 (and a bonus recipe)

As I type this, it’s a bit rainy, perfect for catching up on some things indoors like canning. Last week I mentioned I was going to make some tomato sauce and I did, but unlike my original intentions to make the same recipe as this one, I mixed it up a bit. Tomatoes are at their peak right about now, and I fully intend on taking advantage of the great prices that are available but once a year. 

 

CANNING TOMATOES

 

Based on some conversations I’ve had in the past, I’m convinced that most people think canning is a lot more complicated than it actually is and are intimidated by the process, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy and downright therapeutic. There’s something about seeing those sparkling jars all lined up in my pantry that gets my heart to flutter. ;)

 

CANNING 101

 Source

 

Before I get to the recipe, I’m going to share some tips which will hopefully save you some time and money should you decide to give canning a try. These are just a few of the books/magazines I have on canning. You see that one in the front by BHG?? It’s on the newsstands right now, and has tons of beautiful, easy to do recipes as well as a handy ‘how to’ guide on canning basics.  

 

CANNING 101

 

1. Can what you like to eat and know when it’s available:

 

This may sound quite simple, but I’ve been known to can many foods that were not my favorites, only to have them sit on the shelves and go to waste. I’ve also missed the boat on a few things I’ve wanted to can because the prime season was over. Since every area is different, I can’t tell what’s in season where you are, but a quick search for farms in your area will give you some ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

CANNING 101

 Source

 

2. Make sure you set aside a full day for the process:

 

I know. This is a huge time commitment, but it includes picking your fruit because it’s best to gather your fruit or veggies and can the same day. Plus, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to make sure you’re not rushed the first time around.

 

 

blueberries

 

Right now in the northeast, tons of produce are in season such as blueberries and picking them makes for a nice family activity.

 

blueberries

 

 

 

3. Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary supplies:

 

Few things are more frustrating than getting stopped in your tracks because you didn’t have the proper amount of rings and lids, pectin, jars, or whatever else you may need. This Amazon link has pretty much everything you might need and more for starters, but keep in mind you probably already have some items on hand. For one, you do NOT have to buy a canning pot. All you really need is a large pot, tall enough to hold whatever sized jars you’re using. In lieu of a rack that typically comes with ‘canning pots’, line the bottom of your pot with a clean kitchen towel to prevent the jars from direct contact with the heat and rattling around. 

 

CANNING 101

Source 

4. Start out with the easy stuff:

 

Jams are some of the easiest items to can, but if you like apricots I found this recipe to be just about the easiest I’ve ever done.

 

canned tomatos

 

canned sauce

 

5. Remember…safety first!

 

While canning is not complicated, you need to follow correct procedures to avoid spoilage. Only follow trusted sources and don’t cut corners. I recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for beginners.  It’s reasonably priced at less than $13 and you’ll use it again and again.

This recipe, like many others, can be adapted to suit your tastes. If you don’t like onions, don’t use them! Prefer more or less spice? No problem. Adjust the red pepper and/or jalapeños accordingly.

Now on to the recipe!

Spicy Tomato Sauce
A delicious tomato sauce perfect for any tomato based dish. Try it as a sauce for pizza, chicken parmigiana, or simple spaghetti and meatballs.
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 pounds of ripe, Roma tomatoes (these are best for sauces since they provide the best flavor and thickness). Before starting, peel tomatoes by cutting an 'x' in the stem end and place in boiling water until you see the skin split. Remove and set aside.
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  4. 6 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  5. 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  6. 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  7. 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 2 cups fresh basil snipped into small pieces
  10. 1 1/2 cup assorted herbs such as oregano, thyme, flat leaf parsley
  11. 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  12. 2 jalapeños, chopped finely (optional)
  13. 4 tablespoons lemon juice (to place in quart jars just prior to filling)
Instructions
  1. 1. In a large 8 quart pot over medium heat, place the onions and jalapeños and sauté lightly. Add garlic, being careful not to let it turn brown. If you have a hand held blender, place tomatoes into the pot and puree. If you don't have one, working in batches use a food processor then place in large pot with onions.
  2. 2. Add brown sugar, salt, wine, and black pepper. Bring to boiling, stirring frequently and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer, uncovered for approximately 80 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped herbs and crushed red pepper.
  3. 3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into each of 4 quart jars that have been sterilized. Ladle the hot sauce into the jars, leaving 1/4 headspace. Wipe jar lids and screw on bands lightly.
  4. 4. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes. Remove jars and let cool on wire racks.
Notes
  1. Tip: If you are able to press the center of the lid in, you do not have a proper seal. Turn over the jar and let cool. This usually does the trick. If not, refrigerate and use within one week or freeze in freezer proof containers.
  2. Before beginning, sterilize your jars in a water bath for approximately 10 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking process, I place my jars and lids in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm. This step is optional.
HouseHoneys.com http://www.househoneys.com/
 

 

In other news…the storage area under the deck is coming along. The lattice has been delivered to the store, and Fisherman will be picking it up today. We’re headed to Rhode Island this week so that project is on hold a bit, but the good news is I should have some pretty pictures to share next week of the gorgeous mansions in Newport! 

 

 

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Bears, Painting, and Tomatoes

It’s barely past mid August, but the chill of Autumn is already in the air. The gentle night breezes are slowly but surely bringing autumn to us, easing us ever so gently into cooler weather.

We are already seeing Halloween candy in the stores. Soon, Christmas decorations shall follow suit. I sometimes wonder why retailers seem to rush the seasons. I don’t think it’s just my imagination that each year the onslaught of bags of Almond Joy and Reeses arrives earlier and earlier. I suppose they wouldn’t do it if people didn’t buy their products.

We should all try to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Here in New England, summer is all too fleeting not to be savored. We spent the weekend exploring some local farms, listening to country music at outdoor concerts, shopping for treasures at tag sales and cooking s’mores over a bonfire. Much better than visiting Walmart to buy some Halloween candy, don’t you agree?

But it hasn’t been all play and no work, and we haven’t been without our share of mishaps. Our local bear in residence made sure of that.

We’ve been working on building the storage area beneath the deck for several days and one of the many reasons we need this space is to store our garbage. We don’t have a garage or a shed, and now that we are at the cabin full time, the garbage is vulnerable to the bears that have made our community their home.

The other night Fisherman and I were watching House of Cards downstairs (don’t even get me started on how much I love it!). It was around midnight, and we heard a suspicious bang. We immediately ran upstairs, turned on the porch light and were immediately confronted by the scene below. We then saw a bear running away in our driveway, but not before he had the opportunity to enter our porch by ripping the screen, waddling over the porch sofa (and I’ve got the dirty paw prints to prove it), opening up the garbage can and taking out the bag. Apparently, he dropped it when he heard us coming because that’s the bag to the left of the table on the floor. 

porch break in

 

porch scrfeen

We spent a good part of the day Thursday replacing the screen, which is a lot more time consuming than I ever imagined. We still have one more to do, but now that we are pros it should go faster. ;)

Here’s what we’ve done so far under the deck. We purchased inexpensive OSB board, which is about 1/3 the price of plywood. We built a basic frame, using the existing posts as support and painted the OSB with some leftover paint from when our house was done a few years ago.  This weekend we’ve ordered some vinyl lattice in tan to place over the boards to dress it up a bit and so it won’t look so boxy.

 

Deck Storage

Here’s a picture of the inside. The downside of doing this project is we had to block off a window in the downstairs bedroom. Most of the time that room is only used when we have guests and then they’re really just there when they’re sleeping. There’s another window so it’s not completely dark anyway. When we’re done, we will be gaining approximately 375 sq. ft of storage space, so it’s well worth it. I’ll post about it again when it’s completed.

deck storage

Beside painting the OSB, I’ve been doing some painting on a couple of projects. My friend gave me this cute tote that I decided to use for some kitchen gadgets that I use frequently. It was a lovely shade of sage green and I would have loved to leave it that way, but it didn’t look quite right in the kitchen so I dry brushed it with some ASCP in Emperor’s Red which had been toned down a bit with some black paint, and I let a little of the green show through.

wood tote

Wood Tote

I’ve also been painting some inexpensive particleboard shelves which I hope to turn into a hall table. It’s turned into a larger project than anticipated because it seems to need several layers of paint, but I’m just working on it when/if I feel like it and not stressing out about the end result. If it works, fine. If not, that’s fine too!  

hall table

It’s been several years since I’ve done any kind of vegetable gardening, but this year I bought two small tomato plants and they seem to be thriving. I was thrilled when I saw these two ripe tomatoes the other day! The containers are too small so I’m thinking the yield will suffer as a result. I’ll use bigger containers next year.

tomatoes

 

tomatoes

I moved them yesterday from the side of the house to the deck. They get more sun here and the deck rails work to give the plants some support which they could use.

tomatoes

I didn’t get any treasure at any tag sales this weekend, but I did get some flowers, plants and veggies. 

veggies

 

I’ve been eating these blackberries while writing this post. Love them! Tomorrow I’ll be planting the flowers and making some tomato sauce (I posted the recipe two years ago and it’s one of my favorite sauces so be sure to check it out) and summer squash soup and maybe some of this soup which is also one of my favorites.  I love soup! Stay tuned for the easy and delish recipes.

 

In other news…looks like my name wasn’t spelled Dor_en on my BC after all, but rather Dorien, which I actually do seem to remember seeing that. I spoke with a different representative who is the one that told me that. I won’t get into too many details, but suffice it to say I’ve concluded if you talk to 10 different government workers, you will get 10 different opinions and instructions. I’m still working on getting a new BC, but in the meantime I’ve received a new passport which is a relief!

 

 

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EASY PRESERVED APRICOTS!

Apricots have never been my fruit of choice. They can disappoint you big time. What appears to be a pretty, plump orange globe of goodness is all too often mushy and mealy, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a mealy fruit. Another tidbit you may not know about me is I will buy fruit simply because they would look pretty preserved, and that includes apricots. Oh yes I do. The soft orange color speaks to me in a way that says ‘put me in some glass jars so your pantry can look pretty Ms. Househoney’, and who am I to ignore a pleading fruit?

Imagine my surprise when after making these I came to realize that the process of preserving apricots changes their texture! Instead of mealy, mushy fruit, I was happy to discover the texture was somewhat closer to that of canned peaches. Although I’m not typically a fan of canned anything, canned peaches have somehow managed to pass the taste test.

These preserved apricots are somewhat sweet in flavor, but not too sweet, and providing you don’t choose mushy apricots to begin with, their texture is anything but mealy. They’re perfect as an amuse-bouche, appetizer or even a savory dessert. What more could you want??

 

preserved apricots

I made these last week and Friday my friend and her hubby came over to stay the night. As is often the case, the conversation turned toward food and coincidentally my friend mentioned that although apricots were in season, she didn’t like their texture, so I brought these out on some crackers and goat cheese and I think I can say I converted her. 

The process of canning can be intimidating for some people, but since you don’t have to peel the apricots, and the pits practically fall out on their own, they truly couldn’t be easier to prepare. Just make certain the apricots are not at all green and not overly ripe and you’re guaranteed positive results.

apricots

apricots

apricots

Easy Preserved Apricots
Serves 12
Apricots are fabulous candidates for canning. The process changes their texture in a way that is sure to please, and the end result is a somewhat sweet, versatile concoction perfect for an appetizer, amuse-bouche or savory, sophisticated dessert.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups plus 1 quart water
  2. 1 cup sugar (I used superfine but regular is ok)
  3. 1/2 vanilla bean, 3 fresh peeled ginger root coins or 3 wide lemon zest strips (optional)
  4. 1 Tablespoon Fruit Fresh OR juice from three lemons (I used lemon juice)
  5. 3 pounds medium apricots
Instructions
  1. Begin by combining the 1 3/4 cups water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add one of the optional flavorings if using and turn off the heat and cover.
  2. To keep the fruit from browning as you prepare it, combine the remaining 1 quart of cold water and the lemon or Fruit Fresh in a large bowl and stir to dissolve.
  3. Cut the apricots in half, using the dimple as a guide. Remove the pit and place the apricot halves into the prepared water. If there are any brown spots or rotten parts of the apricots, remove them.
  4. Line up the sanitized jars and tuck the apricots inside. You should get about 12 halves in each jar.
  5. Remove the optional flavoring from the syrup and reserve for a garnish. If you're using the vanilla bean, snip into 3 pieces.
  6. Return the syrup to a boil and pour it over the fruit, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. If you see any bubbles inside any of the jars, run a chopstick or plastic knife along the sides to dislodge any air bubbles.
  7. Clean jar rims, close and place in a boiling water bath for approximately 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water bath for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Remove with a jar lifter, label and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. After opening, refrigerate.
Notes
  1. *Jars should be sanitized and ready to go before starting the canning process. They can be placed in a dishwasher and run through the cycle, or in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes*
HouseHoneys.com http://www.househoneys.com/

apricots with cheese

 

In other news…

Fisherman and I have been busy the last few days working on the storage area under our deck. When we’re finished, we will have more than 350 sq feet of much needed storage space, and we should be finished by next week! I can’t wait!!

 

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DIY FRUIT INSPIRED UMBRELLAS!

 

FRUIT INSPIRED UMBRELLAS 

 

In the cute factor scale of 1-10, this project is off the charts! I had so much fun making these umbrellas, I was kinda bummed when I was finished! 

The folks at ScotchBlue™contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in making these umbrellas using, you guessed it, ScotchBlue Painters Tape™.

Really? Who wouldn’t be?? I mean, who doesn’t love a project that’s easy, cute, and inexpensive to pull off?

They sent me the tape, and since I had the paint on hand, I just needed the umbrellas. I found red and green umbrellas at Job Lot for just $5.00 each and I was good to go. 

 

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

 

Umbrellas (Red for the Watermelon and Lime Green for the Kiwi)

Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape Original Multi-Use™

Fabric Safe Craft Paint

Black Permanent Marker (This is completely optional. I used permanent marker for the ‘seeds’, but the original instructions, which you can find here, used black paint).

Xacto Knife 

The original post, done over at StudioDIY for ScotchBlue™, has the complete, super-professional step-by-step instructions, so head on over there if you think you’d like to give this project a try. 

The first umbrella I tackled was the kiwi. Out of the two, this one was the fastest. I pumped this cutie out in about an hour!

 

Kiwi

 

 kiwi umbrella

 

1 – Paint a circle at the top of the umbrella either in light green or white. You can use a paper plate to guide you or just freehand.

 

*Tip* The little ‘bumps’ in the spokes of the umbrella are great guides.

 

2 – Make some stencils with the ScotchBlue tape for the seeds. Since you will need a few, layer three or four pieces of tape on top of each other and cut through them using your Xacto knife, then carefully separate.

3 – Place three stencils in each umbrella section and using either your permanent marker or paint, paint your seeds.

4 – Now you’re almost done! Place a piece of tape around one inch from the bottom of each umbrellas section and paint brown below the tape line. Remove tape and let dry.

 

fruit umbrella

 

umbrella

 

 Watermelon

 

1 – For the watermelon, working in separate sections, run a piece of tape around 3″ from the bottom. Paint this area green. (You may find you will need to do two or three coats since the red umbrella background is a bit dark.) Let dry thoroughly.

2 – For the white, place a piece of tape along the top edge of the green section, just below the edge of the top, making sure no red is showing.

 

*Bonus* This step will also help to hide any potential bleeding you might have gotten from the green paint.

 

Place a second piece of tape about an inch above it. Paint this section white.

 

watermelon umbrella

3 – Now for the seeds! Place the stencils in each section, working one section at a time. I followed the original instructions and painted five and then four on top as illustrated. 

fruit umbrella

watermelon umbrella

watermelon umbrella

 

 

umbrella

 

I love, love, love these umbrellas! I’m keeping my eyes open for a yellow or white one so I can make a couple of others that I’m thinking about.

Two important tips:

1 – To prevent potential bleeding, make sure your tape is flat against the umbrella, and don’t overload your brush.

2 – Make sure the umbrella is dry before closing!

 

Disclosure: Aside from the tape, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

 

In other news…I’m still having challenges regarding my name and Birth Certificate (remember…Dor_en?), but hopeful that I finally have gotten in touch with someone who is willing to help. Fingers crossed!

 

 

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A ‘Day of Days’! The Wedding Photos Are Here!

 

 

Since I’ve always believed a picture is worth a thousand words, I will remain uncharacteristically quiet. Enjoy!

 

 

If you’d like to hear Sarissa & Josh’s Wedding Song while viewing, just click on the left arrow.

 

 

 

That Love is all there is,

Is all we know of Love.

-Emily Dickinson

 

elegant wedding

 

If my love were an ocean,
there would be no more land.
If my love were a desert,
you would see only sand.
If my love were a star-
late at night, only light.
And if my love could grow wings,
I’d be soaring in flight.

- Jay Asher

 

elegant wedding

 

I knew the second I met you that there was something about you I needed.

Turns out it wasn’t something about you at all.

It was just you.

-Jamie McGuire

 

elegant wedding

 

 Living in love is the highest octave of the miracle of our life.

-Peter Megargee Brown 

 

wedding pics

 

There is nothing holier, in this life of ours, than the first consciousness of love

- the first fluttering of its silken wings.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

elegant wedding

 

There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing

moment.

– Sarah Dessen
 

june wedding

 

And I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need—love is all there is.

– Morgan Matson
  

brooch bouquet

 

Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.

– Hilary T. Smith

 

elegant wedding

 

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time

Like dew on the tip of a leaf.

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

elegant june wedding

 

No matter where I went, I always knew my way back to you.

You are my compass star.

–Diana Peterfreund

 

 first look

 

I love you
Not only for what you are
But for what I am
When I am with you

-Roy Croft

 

first look

 

Explaining love is like explaining poetry.

-Michael Drury

 

first look

 

Where there is love, there is life.

-Mahatma Gandhi

 

elegant wedding

  

Life is the first gift,

love is the second,

and understanding the third.

-Marge Piercy

 

elegant wedding

 

And in her smile I see something more beautiful than the stars.

–Beth Revis

 

wedding

 

Love is a force more formidable than any other.

It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured,

yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment,

and offer you more joy than any material possession could.

-Barbara de Angelis

 

wedding

 

We do not know where we are going,

but we are on our way.

-Stephen Vincent Benet

 

wedding in ny

 

I never loved you any more than I do, right this second.

And I’ll never love you any less than I do, right this second.

 –Margaret Stohl

 

wedding in ny

 

Love and light cannot be hid.

-James Kelly

 

elegant bride

 

Love is the only gold.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

june wedding in ny

 

It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.

-Thomas Mann

 

elegant ny wedding

 

Speak to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine. 

-Ben Jonson

 

elegant wedding

 

For love is heaven,

and heaven is love. 

-Sir Walter Scott

 

elegant wedding

 

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made.

-Robert Browning

 

elegant wedding

 

Those who love deeply never grow old; 

they may die of old age, but they die young.

 -Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

 

elegant wedding

 

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breath and height 

My soul can reach 

-Elizabeth Barrrett Browning

 

new york wedding

 

To Teach Our Children

To Love Life

To Love Themselves

To Love Others

Is a Gift.

And Although It Is Bittersweet

To Teach Them To Live, and Love, Without Us

Is The Greatest Gift of All

 

Want to see more wedding loveliness? Here’s a slideshow I put together :)

 

All Photos Courtesy of Joshua Zuckerman Photography 

 

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Have You Seen My Sidebar?

Psssst…right there. On the right. Just scroll down a tiny bit.

See it? That cute little illustration of a chair?

I know. Adorableness.

You know how when you see something…or meet someone…you immediately feel a connection? 

As bloggers, I’m pretty sure most of you know exactly what I mean.

Maybe the connection isn’t in a ‘this is life-changing’ kind of way, but more of an ‘I’m inspired’ kind of way.

Or in a ‘I wish I could do that!’ kind of way.

Oh yeah. You know what I mean. ;)

Enter Beth Briggs, an unbelievably talented illustrator whom I crossed paths with when she commented on my brooch bouquet post. When I returned the favor and visited her blog, I was blown away by her talent.

I love, love, love her work! Her colors, her style, her passion…all come through in each and every one of her gorgeous illustrations.

As soon as I saw her work, I immediately knew I wanted to share it with you all, so I asked her for permission to use some of her illustrations in a blog post. I was delighted when she not only agreed, but asked me to send her a couple of photos that I liked of the cabin so that she could draw up some illustrations for my use. 

Oh Happy Dance!

I knew immediately the picture I would use. It’s a picture that exemplifies life at the cabin. Relaxed, rustic and colorful :).

rustic porch

And here is what Beth came up with! How cute is this?? 

 

rustic porch

 

I threw another picture in the mix for good measure…

rustic vase peonies

 

Be still my heart!

 

rustic vase

 

From time to time, I think about changing my header. Unlike my current header, I am drawn to headers that don’t have defined beginnings and endings. Headings that are simple, but not boring. Elegant, but not fussy. Maybe the above chair, blog name and my tag line (‘inspiring ideas for creative living’) and not much else.

But Beth convinced me to keep my header as is. If she thinks it’s cute, that’s good enough for me. Still, when I am ready for a change, Beth will be the first person I contact. 

Her niche is fashion and bridal illustrations, but you can see she’s multi-talented.

 

beth briggs illustrations

 

Mucho multi-talented.

beth briggs illustrations

 

Check out her Etsy shop here or her blog here for some serious gorgeousness.

And did I mention Beth sent me the hard copies of these illustrations? She’s not only an amazing artist, but a generous one as well. 

Here’s a picture of the hard copies as well as a small watercolor I did in a class a couple of weeks ago. The instructor outlined the flower and we basically painted inside the lines, but it was a lot of fun and I learned some cool techniques!

illustrations

Beth, if you’re reading this, thank you for sharing your talents with me! I will forever cherish the beautiful illustrations you generously sent me. They’re perfect!

 

In other news…

 

I’m going to end each post with ‘in other news’ going forward. Sometimes I find that even though I may want to tell you all about a project in a post, there may be other random things that I want to write about that may not exactly fit in, like I did here, so this is how I’m getting around that challenge ;). 

So for today’s ‘other news’ I wanted to let you know yesterday I received the digital copies of the wedding photos. All 848 of them! Took a while to download (an hour) and longer to sift through them, but it was time well spent. They’re stunningly gorgeous and I can’t wait to share them with you!

 

 

 

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Revived Primitive Console

PRIMITIVE DRESSER

Calling this console ‘primitive’ is a bit of an understatement. No, it’s a HUGE understatement.

It was a hot mess.

It had decades of dirt embedded in both the exterior and interior and the wood was gouged in so many places it made my head hurt just thinking about how I was going to tackle this.

BUT…it was only $20, has great storage potential, and I knew I had the perfect spot for it. 

I found it a few months ago and since then it just sat waiting patiently while I moved on to FAR easier projects like this milk paint cabinet and my jewelry organizer (which, btw, I LOVE!).

 

dresser for storage

 

I really liked the color, and although the chippy finish was a bit extreme, I didn’t hate it. Not at all. In fact, I was tempted to just give it a good cleaning and call it a day. I was putting it in our basement which is decorated in a rustic cowboy/cowgirl theme so it would have been fine as is.

 

rustic dresser

 

The problem, or one of them, was the right side wasn’t painted in the same color as the rest of it.  I guess that side was up against a wall in its former life and whoever painted it turquoise didn’t think it was worth the trouble to move it. 

 

rustic dresser

So…since I knew I had to paint the side I decided to just give the entire piece a good cleaning and a new coat of turquoise paint. I got some TSP, a scrub brush and a toothbrush and got to work. I didn’t want to overwork this piece, though. As the title of this post implies, I just wanted to revive it.

Think a little botox, not a full on face lift.

mod podge dresser

 Notice the stellar paint job?

rustic console

The other issue with this piece was the condition of the top. When I found it, it had some metal shelving that was piled on top of it, and from the looks of it it was probably like that for years. Cleaning it only made a slight dent in the appearance, so I knew it was time to bring out the big guns. 

rustic dresser

So…I sprayed some paint stripper and left it overnight and this is what it looked like after I scraped off not one, not two, not three,

but four layers of paint.

 

Oh, and there was also some paper that had been glued on at some point and painted over. 

rustic console

I filled in some of the gouges with wood filler, put two coats of stain (Ipswich Pine) and two coats of Hemp Oil. The resulting finish is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, BUT, it’s very appropriate for the piece itself as well as the room it will be in. I wasn’t going for perfection. I wanted to clean it up and make it the best it could be under the circumstances.

Remember…botox, not surgery.

rustic dresser top 

For the outside I just gave it a quick coat of some turquoise paint and scruffed it up just a bit, but I was struggling with what I should do with the inside. I didn’t want to paint it the same as the outside but I didn’t want too much of a contrast. I looked at the painting that it would eventually be sitting under for inspiration and decided on blue. Then I remembered I had some wallpaper that I had gotten for free at a church sale last year which had shades of turquoise, some blue and lime green, so I cut it to size and used some Mod Podge to line the shelves.

I painted the back with two coats of blue paint I custom mixed, and the insides of the doors lime green and blue. (This picture was taken after one coat.)

rustic console

 There…isn’t she starting to look a little better?

rustic console

 

One of my favorite parts of this piece is the hardware. Rusty, but charming ;).

  

 dresser hardware

 

 dresserhardware

 

dresser-10

Here she is in her new home, which is actually our basement, aka Fisherman’s man cave. It’s a walk out, but this spot is tucked in a corner with very little natural light.  (It’s hard to tell but the sexy cowgirl’s vest is dark blue.) 

I think I’ll be putting photo albums inside, if I ever get around to sorting through the thousands of photos we have and organizing them! 

 rustic dresser

 

In ‘other news’, apparently my name isn’t ‘Doreen’. It’s Dor_ne. At least according to the Department of Health.  Remember when we moved and our important documents were stolen? Well, I ordered a new Birth Certificate and they told me their records show my name is spelled ‘Dor_ne’ and unless I give them certain obscure documents, i.e., a letter from the hospital where I was born, immunization records, a school admission form, etc. I will need to go to court to have my name legally changed to ‘Doreen’ if I want a Birth Certificate! Isn’t it bad enough everything was stolen, now this??! The hospital doesn’t keep records longer than 15 years (I called).

I don’t remember my name being spelled that way on my Birth Certificate, and I have been able to get a passport and driver’s license with my correct spelling, so WTH? I’ve requested they show me what their records look like, so we’ll see.

Thank goodness I have an expired Passport (the new one was stolen) so I can get another one using that and my driver’s license. We’re not planning on any overseas trips soon, but I think I better get on it nonetheless.

Then I can start organizing my photos…

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A Tour Through Blogland

  

WRITING 101-3 

I think I take the expression ‘better late than never’ a little too far. As always, I’m late to the blog tour party, but I’ve been having fun learning about new blogs and getting to know a bit more about bloggers I already know as well. I was invited by Tammy who blogs over at One More Time Events. Tammy and I cyber-met when we started doing weekly blog hops over a year ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. Tammy has super creative ideas that she loves to share with her readers, so be sure to check her out.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to ask, aren’t these ‘feet’ adorable? This picture was taken last September while staying with a friend in Montauk. We took the rocks home and I’ve recreated it on our deck (sorry, I don’t have a picture at the moment. Just trust me).

 

20130921_180036

 

You know the drill, so here goes!

      Tag Sale Chair Update

1) What are you working on right now?

 

I think it would be easier to answer the question, what am I NOT working on right now!

I’m always working on a something. Sometimes it could be something small, like organizing the pantry, trying something new like this bowl, or sewing some easy pillows. Other times it could be a more time consuming project like this plaid, painted dresser or my favorite project so far, this brooch bouquet. Right now I’m focused on getting the space under our deck enclosed so it can be used for much needed storage, and I’m excited that this past weekend we started the process of having the area leveled.  Since we retired in April and essentially had to combine two households into one, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with organizing and getting the most out of the space I have and I’ll be sharing what I learned in upcoming posts.

When I’m not working on a house project, lately you can find me glued to the computer trying to learn as much as possible about LightRoom. It’s a huge learning curve for me! I’m convinced the technology Gods have it in for me. It’s like they all got together and said ‘what can we do to make Doreen’s life more frustrating?’ But I’m gonna keep on truckin!

 

unique planter

2) How does my work differ from others in this genre?

 

Is it any wonder this question was a tough one for a lot of bloggers? I don’t ‘work’, at least not in the traditional sense, and I don’t consider my blog ‘work’.  My blog is a crafts/home decorating/lifestyle blog. We all know there are thousands, no, actually tens of thousands of blogs that fall into that category so let’s face it, the only thing any blogger can claim is different about his/her blog is that it’s a reflection of them and their personal style. I enjoy sharing my life and my projects with my readers and can only hope it inspires some of my readers to stop thinking about doing projects and ‘just do it’, because as cliche as it sounds, if I can do it, anyone can!

 

april things to do

3) Why do I write/create what I do?

 

I started the blog as a hobby in the spring of 2012. It has since grown into something that means much more to me than just a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed writing as well as decorating. Blogging gives me the opportunity to combine the two, and as a huge added bonus I get to meet like minded people out in cyber space that I never in a million years would ever have come to know. I love sharing my life at our little cabin and diy adventures with all of you, and really, are there any nicer people out there than bloggers? I think not!

spring tables

 

4) How does your writing/creating process work?

 

When I first started blogging two years ago, I was far more regimented and organized about the blogging process. I wanted to make sure I was posting at least 2-3 times a week because that’s what the ‘experts’ recommended, but that started to feel more like a job and was getting, well, old.

I’m not monetized nor do I necessarily have the desire to go in that direction so I’ve become much more relaxed about what I blog about and how often. Sometimes I will know what I will blog about if there’s a particular project I’m working on, but oftentimes I blog spontaneously. That’s actually counter intuitive for me because I’m typically a huge list maker and planner but when it comes to blogging I think it would take a lot of the fun out of it if I over planned things or worse, was pressured to pump out a certain number of posts a week. I know if I ever want to make money off of blogging that mindset will have to change, but for now, especially in the good ol’ summertime, I’m taking it nice and easy.

The enclosed porch, pictured below, is one of my favorite spaces at the cabin. It’s while hanging out here that I get much of my inspiration, read and comment on other blogs, check my email and maybe Facebook. I’ve pretty much given up on Twitter (never could quite ‘get it’) and Google+ is a bit of a puzzle that’s missing a few pieces to me so I’ve moved on and rarely post there or interact. It was actually liberating! At other times sometimes I’ll watch some tv, read or talk on the phone in this space and with the possible exception of my craft room, it’s what I cherish most about living at the cabin.

 

screened in porch

So, now that I’ve shared a little bit about myself. It’s time to make room for two of the loveliest bloggers I know. They will participate in this tour next Monday, July 21st. These are blogs that I love to visit and I know you will too.

orange tulips

Jane, who blogs over at ‘Blondie’s Journals’ is a a Midwestern sweetheart of a lady, who now lives in a quiet & beautiful neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. She loves to garden, read, try new recipes, go antiquing, decorating, and needlework crafts. Jane has a year round home in the country on a huge lake in Southwest Michigan where you will find her doing all these things and more, and telling her readers all about it as only ‘Blondie’ can do!

peonies

Cindy, who blogs over at Cloches and Lavender, grew up and lives in New Jersey. She’s been happily married for 24 years and is a Momma to two miniature dachshunds, Peanut and Reeses, which are the love of her life.

Cindy and her husband recently built their dream home, and she’s thrilled to have a blank slate to decorate, and from what I’ve seen so far, she’s doing a fabulous job! I’m sooooooo jealous!

mason jar

 

I hope you enjoyed the tour everyone, and don’t forget to check out Cynthia’s and ‘Blondie’s’ tours next Monday, the 21st!

Till  next time… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Make Your Photos Pop Using a Lightbox

 

 

 

lightbox

 

I’ve been a bit frustrated with my food photos from time to time. I look at the beautiful, tempting food photos in magazines and Pinterest and wondered what the secret was. But it really isn’t a secret.

When it comes to photography, lighting is everything, and that’s never more true than in food photography. While some of my photos have been ok, more often than not they looked like this:

 

 

cassata pie

 

This picture was taken a little more than a year ago, just before I purchased a DSLR. While my current camera makes it a little easier to get good photos, it can’t compensate for poor lighting. If your lighting is poor, your pictures will be as well.  In the above picture the lighting is flat and lacks depth, and it certainly doesn’t make you want to try this recipe. (In case I’m wrong and you do, you can find it here. It’s DELICIOUS!)

I did some research and quickly learned that a lightbox is single handledly the most important tool to help you achieve optimal light conditions and found a pretty good tutorial on how to make one. Unfortunately, the blog where I found the tutorial is closing soon but for now at least you can go here to get the precise details on how to make one if you think you’d like to give this project a try.

Professional food photographers use fancy, expensive lightboxes, that can easily cost upwards of $100, and if you’re a professional photographer that would be money well spent. But I’m not and it’s a safe bet I never will be. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want my pictures to be the best they can, and I’m willing to bet you feel the same way.

With just a little bit of effort and not much expense, you can put together a lightbox that will improve your photos dramatically, and as an added bonus it won’t take up much space because when you’re done you just fold it up and it stores flat. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 pieces of foam board (I used 24″ x 18″)

A Pencil

A Carpenter’s Square or Ruler and Measuring Tape

A Sharp Cutting Knife

A Cutting Mat

lightbox

 

Get yourself a nice large surface and place the boards flat, marking each one board so you will know where it goes, i.e., Left, Right, Back, Top and Bottom. (These marks will ultimately face the outside of the lightbox, NOT the inside.) Put the bottom board away for now since it doesn’t need to be marked or modified in any way.

With your ruler mark your boards as shown below. The lines should be approximately 1 inch from the edges. I apologize for the small illustrations, but hopefully you can see that the one on the bottom left will be the left board, the one in the middle will be the back, the one on the right will be the right side of the box and the top illustration represents the top board. So in essence the top and back get lines on three sides while the left and right on two sides. 

 

Untitled-6

Source 

 

After you’re finished with your lines, in two inch increments, starting at the bottom or corner of each of the boards, make a mark and then shade every other ‘box’ as shown. Next, you should cut out the shaded notches. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’re basically making a puzzle. 

Although the tutorial I followed was a good one, it wasn’t perfect and to help make your lives a little easier, I strongly suggest you make certain the notches are as they should be with each step. In other words, after you cut out the notches on your first board, make sure BEFORE you cut your second that the notches will line up with it.

lightbox

The box will look something like this when you’re done. In case you’re wondering, I decided to cut out the sides and taped some vellum to allow for more light to come in. This is totally optional. Notice the shadows? That’s exactly what you DON’T want! I didn’t have portable lights to shine into the box which would have helped tremendously with this issue so I got creative and removed the top, turned off the lights and changed the settings on my camera to compensate and I was good to go.

lightbox 

lightbox

 Here’s a photo taken without the lightbox. 

lightbox

And here’s a photo with it using the same lighting conditions, same camera settings and same post processing edits. Pretty impressive, right? 

lightbox

 

And here’s the lightbox being stored under my work table, and yes, I know it’s a mess. That’s why I cover it when not in use ;).   

lightbox

 

You don’t necessarily need a lightbox just for photos of food. It would work nicely for small craft projects too! If you’re in the business of selling items like jewelry and you have an Etsy shop, this would come in super handy!

lightbox

 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how was your holiday weekend? Did you have good weather? We are starting the process of looking for RV’s and saw one we liked but we’re not ready to pull the trigger yet.  On the 4th we went to Tanglewood to see James Taylor. It had been raining all day so we weren’t able to picnic on the grounds as planned, and they cancelled the fireworks which was disappointing, but he was great. At 66, he still sounds just like he did when he was 25. 

Today and yesterday we had beautiful weather and took advantage of it. We saw an outdoor concert with a large lake as the backdrop and it was beautiful!  I rarely take my camera when we go anywhere. I figure I can use my cell phone, but one of the bad things that happened was my cell phone got wet and died. I tried keeping it in rice but it didn’t work, so we’re off to get a new phone tomorrow. I’ve been wanting to get an iPhone for a while. I have a Samsung Android and can’t say I’m a fan and luckily my phone is insured so it’s time for an upgrade :). 

Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’m posting less these days. Once a week seems to be a good pace for me, at least for now. I want to enjoy the weather and not spend my time in front of a keyboard. How often do you post? Whatever it is, would you like to post more or less? Do you slow things down a bit in the summer?

 

Metamorphosis Monday

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How I Organized My Jewelry

I’m not a huge jewelry person.

Not by any means. 

But you wouldn’t know it by looking at my stash of necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Yet…I pretty much wear the same necklace and earrings 90% of the time.

HOMASOTE JEWELRY BOARD

 

I started to think that maybe that’s because the majority of my jewelry was buried. Most of it was in a drawer in individual small boxes and I didn’t know what was inside unless I opened the box, which I never did so the jewelry just sat there unused year after year.

My closet is a small walk in, and the wall that faces you when you enter wasn’t being put to good use. I did some research and realized that homasote would be a great material to use as a board to store my jewelry. It’s not too heavy, you can easily poke holes in it, and it’s relatively inexpensive.  We ended up paying around $28 for a 4×8 board at Home Depot and had them cut it for us. I ended up with two 2×6 pieces and one 2×4. I used the smaller piece for this project and that worked out perfectly for my needs.

I began by cutting the burlap a few inches larger than the homasote on each side and stapling in place.

 

jewelry storage

 

For the actual jewelry holders, I wanted to use something that was somewhat decorative, so I used up almost all my stash of cabinet hardware for this project, as well as some burlap that I got on sale last year. (I still have about 18 yards left!). I used an owl and mallet to make holes in the homasote in random places. You can also use hook eyes to hold your jewelry in which case you can put them on once the homasote is on your wall, but since the knobs needed to be screwed in from behind I didn’t have that option.

jewelry storage

 

 I even used a door stop! The good thing about that is it works well for holding bracelets or even rings. (I took off the ugly rubber end and glued a pretty button on instead). Think outside the box. Anything that can be screwed in can work.

 

homosote jewelry storage

 

After I was finished with the knobs, Fisherman screwed the homasote into the wall studs on all four corners so it’s nice and secure.

You see those two ‘birds’? I was thinking of using those on the cabinet I showed you last week which you can see here, but quickly realized they wouldn’t be facing each other and that would look weird, besides, I really like the white ones better anyway.

 

jewelry storage

 

Knobs work great for necklaces, but earrings, not so much. I had this silver horizontal piece that you see which previously was used in the kitchen to hold utensils near the stove top, and it works nicely for earrings that have hoops. For post earrings you can simply stick them in the homasote, but consider giving them a quick wipe with alcohol before placing them in your ear. 

 

jewelry storage

 

I’ve already worn a couple of necklaces that I never wore before simply because they were right in front of my face, demanding my attention. I love being able to see everything at a glance, and although not ALL my jewelry is here (I still have lots of things housed in ‘the little black dress‘ from The Container Store and my dressier pieces are in the boxes I mentioned, but this time they’re labeled!), most of my everyday stuff is out and in plain view. 

Pins and brooches can easily just be pinned onto the fabric too! That brooch on the top left belongs to my daughter’s MIL. She gave that to me to potentially use it in the brooch bouquet but I didn’t end up using it. I need to give that back to her!

 

jewelry storage

 

All in, this project cost less than $30 because I had everything except the homasote. If you don’t have anything to start with, you can get around 50 hook eyes for less than $5.00 and probably pick up some fabric inexpensively too (or just come over…I have burlap!) and still do this project really inexpensively.

So what’s YOUR jewelry story? Do you like to wear different pieces often, or do you stick with the tried and true? How about storing jewelry? Any tips you can share?

 

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