Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Week of Pinterest Wins and Fails: Day 3

This was a big ah-ha! moment for me. But it's probably going to be a well duh! moment for most of you.

I recently discovered a quick, cheap and easy way to make my house smell delicious. And it doesn't come in a spray can or plug in, both of which usually smell way too perfume-y for my taste.

I was browsing through the homesteading tags on Pinterest and found recipes for make-ahead jars of natural fragrance. Which lead me to my next discovery for:

Day 3: Stovetop Potpourri (say what?!)

I can tell by your stunned silence that this is not exactly news to you. But I truly did just discover it in a slap-my-forehead kind of moment.

Seriously, it's so easy and smells so much better than anything you can buy in a store. And naturally Pinterest is filled with different concoctions. I chose whatever I had lying around or in my cupboards, so here was my recipe:

2 dying cutie oranges leftover from my Xmas stocking
1 soft lemon
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract
small handful of whole cloves

I sliced the lemon and oranges, threw everything in a pot, added enough water to cover the citrus and turned the burner onto simmer.

I let it simmer for a few hours and the house smelled so lovely! You may need to add water every so often as it burns off.

At night, I turned off the stove and left the pot. The next day, I added more water and let it simmer again. After a few days, I finally added it to the compost pile.

My next batch was sliced apples with cinnamon sticks, that was lovely!

Here's the downside and possibly where you don't truly save money - leaving the stove on simmer for hours. I'm not sure how much electricity it actually uses, so it may not be the best scenario. If you have a gas stove, you can always add the mixture to a crockpot and leave on low.

But it was still fun to try. And with all of the different variations you could experiment with, I'd say it's a Win!

Tomorrow, watch me try my hand at weaving. Oh boy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pinterest Wins and Fails: Day 2

Let me preface this post by being completely honest - I do NOT spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I'm lucky enough to have landed a man who not only loves to cook, but is also very good at it.

Did I ever tell you about the time I burned water? Well, not so much burned as I let it all evaporate out of the kettle until the kettle itself had melted onto the burner. Yes, I'm that bad in the kitchen.

And that is why this next test is not so much of a Pinterest fail as it is a Tsuki fail. I fudged it big time. I truly do believe these cookies would have been fairly spectacular had I not messed with the recipe.

So without further ado, I give you the second installment of:

Day two is a recipe for the Best Sugar Cookie Ever!
[ find the recipe here ]
I'm not too horrible when I follow a recipe. But I quickly become overwhelmed in the kitchen, which then leads to frustration and impatience. This usually results in some sort of error in the execution of the recipe itself.

In this particular case, it was too much vanilla extract.

And really, I don't fully blame myself. I blame the asshole who originally opened the bottle of vanilla extract (which I'm pretty sure was me), and thought it was clever to leave half of the protective plastic covering.

So in my haste to get through the making and the baking and quickly skip ahead to the eating of the cookies, I fumbled. I poured the vanilla extract into my tiny measuring spoon. And like a complete idiot, I poured it the wrong way.

See how the plastic still covers half of the opening? I had this upside down. So when I poured it out, it basically created some sort of evil vanilla vortex that quickly gained speed. Instead of pouring out like a sweet babbling brook over the plastic, it bubbled and gushed like Niagra falls - landing everywhere but inside my tiny measuring spoon.

Did you know it's almost completely impossible to scoop liquid out of a bowl full of dry ingredients? It really is quite difficult.

But I wasn't about to scrap the ingredients and start again. This is about creating less waste, right?

So I baked the crap out of those cookies, sea-of-vanilla be damned!

And you know what? They weren't half bad! They were thinner than I would like, which led them to be more crumbly the next day. And they sure tasted like vanilla! But they also tasted like sugar and cookie, so it wasn't completely horrible.

That is why I consider this a Pinterest Win! If it hadn't been for my blunder, they may have been perfectly delicious.

Tomorrow I discover a cheaper way of making your house smell fresh!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pinterest Wins and Fails: Day 1

Welcome to day one of my blog mini-series, where I test Pinterest tutorials and recipes to find out if they really work!

Day 1 - Bacon Grease Candle

With Homesteading making a comeback, and Doomsday Prepping being a real thing, Pinterest is quickly becoming chock full of things you can make from items you already have around the house. Or simply producing less waste.

My doctor recently told me I needed to take Iron supplements and I am horrible at taking a daily dose of anything (procrastination, anyone?). As a substitution to pills, he suggested I cook in my cast iron skillet more often. What would be best cooked in cast iron? - why, bacon, of course!!

Now we've been eating a lot more bacon. And that equals a lot more cooking grease. I didn't want to dump it down the drain, so I started storing it in a can to be tossed into the trash once it congealed. Seeing it in the can I thought, "huh, why not turn that into a candle, I wonder if it's possible?"

One quick Pinterest search later, I had confirmation that a bacon grease candle was not only possible, but also very easy to make! I went to the craft store and bought some wicks, then gave it a go.

It was pretty simple, heat up the grease in my Pyrex measuring cup, strain out the food bits, put the wick in a recycled jam jar, fill with bacon grease.

It worked!



It had a very low flame.

It also, unfortunately, did NOT smell like bacon. (booooo!) In the case of a power outage, the light it produced would not be strong enough to read by. It was fine for a few minutes (like in the pictures), but then it kept getting dimmer and smaller until it was puny and pathetic.

So although it technically works, based off the Pinterest tutorial, I'd consider it a fail.

Here are a couple of tips I found out later and will try next time: 
1) use two wicks, braided together for a stronger flame, or
2) mix the bacon grease with beeswax or another candle wax.

Come back tomorrow to find out if the "Best sugar cookie recipe" truly is the best!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Week of Pinterest Wins and Fails

Do you guys remember the "good ol' days of Pinterest"? You know, the ones where the photos were beautifully curated?  My how things have changed!

The other day I was scrolling through the DIY & Crafts section and landed on a Pin called "How to treat a bullet wound", complete with a close-up photo of a bloody gunshot wound and some sort of gauze.

There it sat, nestled between a tutorial on how to make a child's hair bow and a glue gun snowflake.

It was pretty nasty and certainly not your typical DIY!

Nowadays, there's a lot of bullshit on Pinterest and it can be hard to differentiate between a real, tested tutorial and a complete fake. I'm sure you've all seen the dandelion on fire, right? Total photoshop manipulation. Luckily, more and more blogs and YouTube channels are being created to help guide you through the too-good-to-be-true tutorials and help you find out if it will really work, before you waste money buying all the items needed.

Lately, I've been using Pinterest to find more recipes. When I'm in a pinch, I'll type in a couple of ingredients as keywords to try to find something quick to whip up. Sometimes I actually get better info from the comments posted, more so than in the recipe itself!

So in the spirit of tweaking tutorials and recipes to fit your own needs, or just make general improvements, I bring you: A Week of Pinterest Wins and Fails! Recipes or tutorials that I tried that were either a complete success or a major bust!

First up: Bacon Grease Candles 

Check out tomorrow's post for my attempt and find out if it was a win or a fail!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to 2015!

What is on your Crafty To-Do list for 2015?

Here are a few projects I would like to tackle:
  • Complete my burlap Xmas stockings (before Xmas 2015!)
  • Create new PDF embroidery patterns for my Etsy shop 
  • Finish decorating my craft room 
  • DIY ottoman for my reading corner
  • Paint and refinish my bookshelf
  • Get more practice with lino cut
  • Successfully complete a screen printing project

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fox In The Henhouse

Welcome back from your turkey-induced food coma. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays (if celebrating) and were able to relax after the hustle and bustle. I definitely ate too much chocolate and went back for seconds more than once!

I am not the type to make a New Year's resolution because I know I'm the type who never keeps them! So I'm not even going to try that this year. I've got more important things to focus on. We are getting serious about our future plan of owning and operating a small farm. So small, I believe you would call it a hobby farm. But it will certainly seem large to us!

Last year we had a grand plan to try some landscape design and really make this house the prettiest on the block. However, things have changed and that is no longer important to us. Since this is just a rental and we won't be here for much longer, we'd rather focus on the future.So if we have to spend money, it needs to benefit "future us" somehow.

This weekend, we dug out the old flower bed to make room for more vegetables. We've cut back the cable bill and will use that extra money for animal husbandry courses over the next two years. We joined Seattle Tilth and expect to fill 2015 with farm tours, canning classes, and organic gardening workshops, instead of an expensive vacation.

Even though my early years were spent on a small farm like we're hoping to have, we are definitely green to the farm life. But the huge learning curve isn't discouraging me just yet. I'm really excited for this new future plan, and the fact that it is just around the corner! We hope to find the perfect place to setup shop sometime in the next 3 to 4 years.

This crafty blog of mine will turn it's focus a bit more toward homesteading DIYs while I learn the ropes. I still plan to keep my Etsy shops open and continue crafting. And we're not going full "prepper" (no booby traps on the property), but we do hope to become more self-sufficient. The main goal is to live more simply and know exactly where our food is coming from.

If you've got any advice - I'm all ears! (Just like the donkey we hope to have on our future farm.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rustic Christmas

Looking back at photos of my childhood, our Christmas trees were a lovely green and full of handmade ornaments, plus bucket loads of tinsel! As I got older and the 80s went into full swing, my mom got onto her pastel kick. This lasted well into the early 90s. Gone were the days of a natural Christmas tree, we were in a new era - the flocked tree!

I remember we would pick out the tallest, most beautiful tree and then pay the extra money to have the guy on the lot spray it with fake white fluff. Barf! We did finally switch to plastic trees and even had a green one in recent years.

But over the past few years, I've been using  her hand-me-down fake white feather tree with glass, candy-colored ornaments. Don't get me wrong, the feather tree was fun and pretty! But this year I decided I wanted to get back to my roots. I ditched the fake tree and bought a cute, real-life, GREEN tree and made my own ornaments. It's not the grandest tree, but it's sweet and it's simple and it's just what I've been wanting.

I didn't go all out and I already have ideas about what I want to add to it next year (white plastic animals with gold highlights!). The materials are all natural: burlap, twine, wood and even antlers!

It's a far cry from the blue and white Christmas trees of my past!

With my busy schedule, my dreams of completing my gift shopping a week before the holiday did not pan out. And even though I spent a lot of time making the ornaments, I never quite found the time to make our stockings! *womp womp* But I've still got plenty of burlap, so I'll try to finish them up before next year!

Here are some photos of my cute little tree and it's rustic dressing. Enjoy!

And Happy Holidays to you!

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