Snowy Wonders

Its Friday and I have to say I’m happy it is. Its been a long, cold week here in NEPA.  Freezing temps, lots of ice, but more than that, snow devils have been dancing in the fields.  000snow devilsI didn’t take this picture, but it explains what I’m talking about for those who may not know the term “snow devils”.  The snow devils dancing at my house were much daintier than those pictured here, and they were legion…graceful, and skidding across the snow topped hay fields like so many ballerinas.  They twirled and bent in sync with the music of the ages playing in their ears, so that I could almost hear it myself as I watched them move.  In their wake, they left drifts two, three, and five feet high.  Gorgeous to look at, but treacherous to drive through.

Have you ever been stuck in a snow drift?

I have been stuck deep inside a snow drift and it was not fun getting out.  It took one very large tractor to extricate me, and I had a bent car bumper when it was all said and done.  Worst of all, the car I was driving at the time wasn’t mine.  😦

Yeah, that cost me some money.

I can’t say this winter has been without its beauty, even though I regularly complain about its chilling effect on us all in NEPA.  A week or so ago the neighbors five, count them, five, horses broke loose and came to visit.  We were getting ready to leave the house when they ran at a full gallop across the frozen, snow-capped fields in front of our house, and around the back hillside.  We felt blessed to have a front row seat for this incredible equine action.

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What a sight! 

Horses are scary creatures in my opinion, so I never ride.  I rarely get close to them either (despite the fact we own a horse and a donkey), but as they moved across that snowy field, with their hooves kicking up puffs of snow behind them and following one another gleefully, rejoicing in their freedom to do what God intended them to do, we all stood slack-jawed and amazed at their beauty.  My son got his cell out and video taped them, but watching the tape is nothing compared to standing there in real-time watching them move. They are powerful animals.

You had to be there!

I wanted to share these reflections from life on a snowy Friday as a reminder to myself and anyone reading along with me today that God is good, that He made a beautiful world for us to enjoy, that He meant for us to stop and stare, and that His purpose has always been for us to seek Him, find Strength, be Beautiful in our own way, and dazzle the world with the grace He provides.

When has the beauty of the world captivated you?  How have you used inner strength to meet a goal in your life?

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New Life for an Old Lamp

DSC_0470Today’s picture features some old and new items from around the house, but is really all about the lamp.

This floor lamp is a used-but-new-to-me recent addition to our living room. 

Side bar:  Have you priced lighting options lately?  Wow, I was shocked to find that a small lamp at a discount store runs about $45, and a floor lamp: $125 to $200! And that’s not even for quality stuff.  What?  I wasn’t paying that much, since the lamp I wanted was going to be a second lamp for the living room, and not our primary lighting source.

Enter Volunteers of America.

Someone mention to me recently that the VOA in our area had some nice stuff and I should check it out.  Since I’m embracing my country roots of late and looking for more country/cottage/bungalow type furnishings for my redo of the house, I thought a visit to the VOA was a good idea.  Turns out it was!

I bought that lamp in the photo for $5.  That’s right: FIVE BUCKS! Shade and all.  What a find.  It was in great shape, but it had one defect that I was hoping my hubs could heal.  It did not have a three-way switch.

I luvs my mood lighting, what more can I say.

I thought hubs could fix this lamp for me, and I was right.  He’s not very mechanical, usually, but he’s done work with electrical dohickys in the past, so off to Lowe’s we went to get the three-way switch and the new three-way light bulb we would need to get this lamp humming.

In this picture you’re seeing the lamp before the new switch was installed.  I don’t have a picture of the lamp after installation, but have found that squinting as I look at this picture makes it possible to imagine the reduction in glare-value the three-way switch provided.  Is that what you call it when a lamp no longer gives off as much glare as it one did–“glare-value”? I dunno, but that’s what I’m going to call it.

Mind you, before the switch was replaced, that baby was beacon light in the harbor bright.  Whoa, so bright! Burn your retinas out bright. No kidding!

After the installation of that three-way switch, I was one happy camper, but there is one more thing I want to do with this lamp before I’m finished with it and that’s going to be my next DIY project.  I’m going to tear pages out of one of my books at home. I’ve pretty much decided which book it will be.  I’m going to take some of my favorite passages and paste them to the shade that came with this lamp.  I’m hoping it turns out the way I want it to, since the shade that is on it now is a nice one, but not something that I would say I am in love with, if you know what I mean.

It just needs a lil somethin’, somethin’ to make it perfect.

Other items in the picture are an old beat up chair I am planning to recover (DIY No. 3), my Valentine’s Day potted plant that I bought at Wegman’s for $3.99, and an old wooden hound that hubs bought when we were just pups ourselves.  He’s ugly, but loveable.  No, I’m not talking about hubs. He’s a lion in winter, but sexy as all get out.  Raaar!

Oh, and the throw my sister gave me for a Christmas gift.

Sooo warm on these bone-chilling nights in NEPA.

I’ve been loving the time I’ve spent thinking about decorating and DIY projects the last few weeks, and I’ve been less obsessed with food because of all the planning I’m doing.  I’ve lost 3 lbs in the last month, but probably 1 of those lbs was water weight.  Oh, well, I’ll take it!

Spring is only a few weeks away, and then we can all get outside and take a walk or hike a bit.  That will make a difference in my weight, I know, but for now I’m going to keep looking at my old worn out stuff as if it has potential, and keep dreaming about my next DIY project.

In other news:  I also bought two old Pyrex cooking dishes at the VOA. They are painted apple red on the outside.  Red is my favorite color.  I’ll have to share a picture here soon.  $3 for both of them. What a steal!!!

What have you found in unexpected places lately, and how did it make you feel to hold that treasure in your hands?  When did you come across a deal that you couldn’t resist?

 

 

DIY Erasable Board

Last week I mentioned that I step on the scale every day first thing in the morning, to weigh myself.  Afterward, I write the number that represents my current weight on an erasable board in my bathroom.  I have done this for a while now.  The board that I was using for this purpose is actually a plastic summertime serving tray for on the patio.  It looks like this:

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This board works great with dry erase markers, because the surface is slick and glossy, so the words erase easily, but there was no way to hang it on the wall. For many months it has hung from a hook meant for a robe, while the robe got tossed to the side.  You’ll see what I mean later in this post.  This was how things were with my dry erase board until I saw this sweet burlap and picture frame Do It Yourself project.  I was intrigued.  Having grown up on a dairy farm, I’m familiar with burlap.  Oh, how I wish now that I had saved all the feed bags we threw away or burned as a kid.  I would be rich!

But back to my project:

Lately I’ve been looking at home fashion blogs (and pinterest). I guess you could say I’m feeling pulled back to my farm house/cottage roots. Never would have thunk it five years ago. I won’t lie, I’ve also thought it was time for another NSV (non-scale victory) for me.  This weight plateau continues unabated and I need something to keep my attention focused on something other than food.

All it took to make my new board was a cheap picture frame, a half yard of burlap, a pencil, some tape, and some scissors.  I started with the picture frame $3, the burlap $.79 and the scissors I already owned.

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The burlap is light beige in color, so the dark markers will show up on the board nicely, I think.

First, I took the picture frame apart, and laid the backing on the burlap as a pattern. Then, I cut the burlap to size.

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This was sooo easy.

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Once everything was cut, I just tucked the burlap into the picture compartment for the frame and voila, DIY dry erase board is born.

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Back side.

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Doesn’t it look great?!

I love the texture the burlap provides, and the color is great for my bathroom. Plus, I love, LOVE the black frame.  I’ve pretty much decided that black is going to be my contrast color when I decorate the house this spring. It makes accent pieces pop!

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My first DIY in a long, long time!

But how would I get it on the wall?

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Hmm, a puzzle.  Then I thought…

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…what if I make a template out of paper?  I thought I was so smart and it was going to work great, but somehow it didn’t.  The template helped to know how far apart the nails needed to be for hanging, but it was all wrong with regards to balance (getting it level on the wall). I still don’t know what I did wrong, but here are a few pictures to explain what I attempted.

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These Phantom Hook hooks work great for securing frames or other artwork to drywall. They hold up to 50 lbs of pressure.  We love them!

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I tried really hard to get the paper template level, but no luck.  Like I said, I don’t know where I failed in this attempt, but I did. The frame wasn’t level when the nails were done being driven in to the wall.

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Our house is stud-poor, which is why we often use these hooks. They really do work great with drywall, but don’t help at all with leveling your work. Hee, Hee.

Here’s how it looked after my first attempt at installation.

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Just a tad crooked, right?

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Not good enough, so I tried again.

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This was three attempts later and the wall now has several pock marks.  Oh, well, they’re covered by one fantastic looking DIY dry erase board, people, so who cares, right?!

At this point, I said…

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That picture is blurry because I used two markers in tandem to write the message, but it made my head feel funny reading it–like I used a shaky cam to film my DIY.  It adds an unnerving queasiness to the project, so I changed the message to this…

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I was…

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Well, with the exception of a bit of red, in honor of St. Valentine.  🙂

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I used a couple different camera settings to take these pictures. I’m trying to find out what works best in which light. Sorry for the blurry images at some points.

I like my new dry erase board with the light beige burlap texture.  I think it is going to be much more soothing in the bathroom than the patio tray.  This project took me maybe an hour to complete and I didn’t eat that whole time.

Woohoo, double NSV for me!!

I am so proud of myself for finishing this.  I’m the queen of half done projects, so it felt good to get ‘er done and have a beautiful piece for my bathroom when I was finished.

If you will indulge me…

One more picture, please!

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What home projects have you enjoyed doing?  Which ones did you hate?

Beets. Dirty, Dirty Beets!

It’s Meatless Monday again, and I’m here to share a recent experiment with you. A meat-free experiment in cooking.

Last Tuesday I tried a new recipe for harvard beets.

I love beets, but I rarely buy them raw.  I did last week (or was it the week before)? Regardless, I needed to use them up before they went bad.  The recipe for the harvard sauce was easy to make and left me wondering why I hadn’t tried homemade harvard beets before now.  They are so pretty and so good for you.

Tons of fiber in those ruby red spheres.

If you’ve ever cooked raw beets still on the greens, you know they are DIRTY!

Green Gloves to the rescue.

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I got these gloves two years ago for Christmas. They work wonderfully to rub away dirt from raw produce.  I use them from time to time with dirty potatoes, but these beets were really soil soaked, so I got them out again the other night.

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Note: These are labeled as veggie gloves, lest you forget they are for cleaning up dirty beets and not for making snow forts or castles in the sand.

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The outside of these gloves (inside too), are nubby, with lil scrubbies in the fabric.  They are also porous, so the water goes in and the water comes out.  They did not stain when cleaning the beets, although you can see that the beets did bleed on them.  After I was done cleaning those dirty, dirty beets, I simply rinsed the gloves and left them on the sink to dry.

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I love my veggie gloves. They make cleaning dirty vegetables a quick and easy process.  I recommend them to anyone who wants to clean up their dirty beets.

Disclaimer:  These gloves will not work to clean potatoes growing behind lil boys ears.

Just sos you knows.  😉

To make my harvard sauce, I did the following:

First, put your beets on to boil. I cut up three raw beets for my dish, cuz it was just me and hubs eating them and we had veggie stuffed peppers to get through, too.  You can cook your beets like you would potatoes you boil on the range top, beets in the pan, water to cover, and a dash of salt if you like.

In a second pan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup water (I filled a quarter cup measure half way with vinegar and the rest of the way with water, cuz I don’t have a 1/8th cup measure), and finally, 1T Cornstarch.  Once the sauce is done cooking you can add butter to finish, if desired (maybe 1 T, maybe less or more, I didn’t add any).  Heat beet sauce to boiling (say that 3x fast), but just until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let beets continue to boil on their own in separate pan until done.  Beets take 15-20 min of boiling to get tender enough to eat.  When beets are done boiling, drain them, then add them to pan with harvard sauce.  Mix and you’re done.

Beets, anyone?

Note:  Do not drain the beets too long, you want a few drops of hot juice to mingle with the harvard sauce, making it thin a bit, which I found good.  Also, I used raw sugar, instead of white, and I used cider vinegar instead of white vinegar.  Gotta keep it healthy, right? Finally, I used non-GMO cornstarch, which I recommend to you.  Why put genetically modified corn in your body is you don’t have to, I ask?  No reason, whatsoever, you reply.  Good, then we have that settled. Use non-GMO cornstarch for all your cornstarchy needs.

If you like your beets a lil sweeter, you can add more sugar, but in my opinion it is unnecessary. I’m a sugar addict and even for me these beets were plenty sweet.

Enjoy your beets.  Eat the rainbow, everyday!