June 23, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam

I ran across this recipe for homemade strawberry freezer jam (yum!) and just had to give it a whirl. I'm taking a gamble by posting this, since the jam hasn't gone in the freezer and has yet to set. But my hopes are high! :)

I followed the recipe, but did a thing or two differently.
Strawberry Freezer Jam
  •  Approximately 3 cups strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar (this amount was staggering to me; I put slightly less in and it still tastes great).
  • 3 tablespoons Real Fruit Pectin*
  • 3/4 cup water
*This is the part I'm a little iffy about. I used Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin. And I bought it by mistake... since I obviously like my jam sugary. After much panicked web research, I think it'll turn out okay. There are a lot of other brands/amounts of pectin- just follow the amount on the label.

1. Wash and hull your strawberries.

2. Mash the strawberries into fine chunks.

3. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and the strawberries together and let them sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Mix the pectin and water together and bring to a boil. Boil one minute, stirring constantly.

5. Mix the pectin mixture into the strawberries and sugar. Stir 2-3 minutes, until well combined.

6. Ladle into jars and store in the freezer. You're done! :)

Enjoy your yummy homemade jam!

June 21, 2011

Light and Airy Kitchens

I love white kitchens. Which is why I painted mine white almost two years ago. I also went ahead and painted the walls a yummy chocolate brown- it sounded so cozy at the time. I'm realizing that since we got married in July of '09, my decorating tastes have shifted a bit. Generally, they're the same. But since I've spent compulsively too much a lot of time reading design blogs, watching design shows, and thinking more on how I want our home to feel, I'm not as crazy about some of the color/design choices I made back then. Which is okay, I think. It's a good thing for tastes to develop and change.

I've been thinking about how I can update and change things about our home to fit my current tastes without breaking the bank (and my husband's back, who tends to do all of the handyman components). I'm telling ya, people, paint really is the miracle make-over drug. It's fast, inexpensive, and even dummies can use it (which is me at times).

Though chocolate brown is fine (and I still LOVE it in other people's homes and kitchens), I'm feeling the "light and airy" kitchen vibe a lot more. So next up on my docket is to re-paint the kitchen a fresh, grayish blue. Any color suggestions? Martha Stewart seems to have some good options. Also, this blog has been helpful to see how colors look in other people's homes.

Enough talk, here's some inspirational pictures:

Notice a theme? And aren't these kitchens beautiful?

June 16, 2011

The Adventure of a Pepper Mill

Once upon a time there was a pepper mill.

He was a very nice pepper mill, but his owner rarely used him because he was red. And so she made him live inside the cupboard, and brought him out from time to time to add freshly cracked flavor to her cooking.

The pepper mill was sad. Why couldn't he live on the counter with some of his owner's other more "decor/color appropriate" kitchenware?

"Aha," he mused, "maybe if I spray paint myself yellow, she will want to put me on display." And so he did.

"My, what a beauitful little pepper mill that is," sighed his owner. "Since he now matches my kitchen, I can put him on display." The pepper mill was thrilled!

He quickly made friends with his new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Canister.

And they all lived happily ever after.

June 13, 2011

Another Backwards Before and After

We seem to be having a lot of these lately. It's been two years, and we're just starting to tackle the outside of our home. Here it is:

The combination of arborvitae, juniper (aka snaggle bush), and spirea (which my mother-in-law calls a trash bush), wasn't making any impressions. (However, isn't the grass nice and green?) So we ripped out the bushes. Okay, it's more like we hacked at them with a hand saw, and huffed and puffed as we pried them out with a shovel. Sadly, this is what we'd thought would be the hardest part. No way. Instead of mulch around the base of the bushes, there's rock. We've spent our last three weekends shoveling, raking, and piling rock and dirt into a dumpster (two, actually... not enough room in the first). Fun times! Here we are as off this afternoon:

The arborvitae on the corner also got a hair cut. We're making progress!

Pardon the crappy pictures. I'm exhausted after hanging out with and cleaning this:

But at least he had fun and got exercise at the dog park! :)

June 7, 2011

It must be summer...

This is where I spent my morning. At work. And it was 100% okay! :)

It was also 102 out. But after this looooong last winter, I'm loving it!

June 5, 2011

New Office Preview

I didn't die or fall off the face of the earth- I just haven't posted for a while. I'm one of those people who doesn't much like to give sneak peaks at projects until they're done. It's like it ruins the surprise or something. I love a good before and after, but a before, during, and after seems less climactic for some reason. We've got a couple of other projects that will make good before and afters [ :) ] but this one has been in the works for some time and deserves some recognition. I don't mean that I deserve recognition... I mean the room does. It morphed from an ugly duckling into a swan, and changed from the armpit of the house into a pair of nicely manicured nails. Want a look?

We've got one of those awkward basement ledges. My husband had the great idea to put up more board and batten to make it look intentional. I love how it turned out! (Note: Yes, I see that strange bubble to the left of the outlet. We don't know either. The more projects we do, the more weird construction issues we find. Anyone else?)

I found this guy on clearance at Target. Isn't he cute?

Bethel would be appalled: three years as an English major, and I still buy books based on their covers. Or at least the color of them. And their titles.

One of my favorite things about the new office is how much natural light there is. And it's in the basement!

We also (okay, not me, my husband) took down the icky ceiling fan and put in a swanky new light fixture.

Leo's got a new hang out, too. Here he is in his new dog cave:

That's all for now! Enjoy this BEAUTIFUL weekend!