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Archive for the ‘Housewifery’ Category

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Farewell, Hamilton Beach Brewstation. You served us very well, lasting longer than any other coffee maker (it helped that you didn’t have a carafe for Craig to break); I couldn’t have gotten through Saturday mornings or my summer of waking up at 4am without you. You were quite possibly the best $7-at-a-thirft-store we ever spent.

(It finally started leaking after almost 2 years of good use. Craig found a brand-new one coffeemaker for $10; crossing my fingers it will hold up just as long!)

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After seeing numerous quaint pictures of them on the internet, I decided to build our Christmas tree out of books this year.

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I’d been a little slow on the uptake of decorating this year– while I decorated the living room the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it was an entire week before I did anything else (like hang lights, or wreaths, or decorate any other part of the apartment), and I’d been slowly getting out decorations as I went. This past Monday, with Craig gone most of the day, I decided it was the perfect time to tackle the “tree.”

 

First I re-arranged the living room, gave it a good vaccuuming, and started lugging books out of the bedroom. I used the same pattern as Mary Murtz— I started with a circle of seven larger books, arranged spine out in a flower-petal shape, then began stacking and overlapping; using some flimsy pillows in the center to keep the books from sliding in. Most of the books I used were hardcover and/or at least 1″ thick; but in a few places where they didn’t stack up just right I used some smaller, flimsier paperbacks to take up the extra space (those guilty-pleasure/nostalgic Fear Street books I picked up a church rummage sale last year worked great for that).

Instead of making a taller, skinnier cone, I opted for a shorter, stubbier one– namely because I thought a tall, skinny book tree would be too easily knocked over by cats; but also because it was my first try at a book tree and I wanted to play it safe. I guess you could say it’s more of a shrub than a tree, but whatever. It still makes me smile. 🙂

I wrapped it with some of those big old-fashioned Christmas lights and placed an angel on the top. When Craig got home I told him “Look, I got us a Christmas tree;” and he laughed and clapped. He loves it!

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A few words about fire safety: We only leave the lights plugged in for a few hours at a time; always when both of us are home. Every so often I will walk by and check to make sure the books aren’t getting too hot; or to gently move the light string. I think next year I’ll use the tiny lights, since they don’t seem to get as hot.

The whole project took about an hour to complete, and it is such a joy to look at. Happy holidays!

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My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was to get organized. Our home appeared quite tidy to the naked eye, but beneath the painted closet doors lay a dark, shameful secret: Our storage spaces are disoraganized as all hell. Many a time I’d reach for an object on a shelf, only to be pelted with some other object that was in its way. It was frustrating, but I only had myself to blame.

January started off strong, overhauling our closets and cabinets (and patio!), sorting and donating/tossing whatever was taking up space. The project was shelved for a few months (no pun intended) while I worked on my certificate; by the time I was done, spring had sprung and I couldn’t be bothered to stay inside. I kept telling myself I’d organize as a “rainy day project,” but there was one flaw: every time a rainy day rolled around, I’d declare it “movie weather” and spend the afternoon on my couch with a cat and a bowl of popcorn. Ooops!

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We’re having some serious storms today, on the back of the horrific winds that caused several tornados up north. I told myself no more excuses: I finally cleaned out several cabinets that were beginning to drive me insane and got to work on the armoir in the spare room.

Speaking of which, said room is getting a HUGE re-doing this weekend or next (either way, not soon enough). We’re finally going to turn it onto a real-live guest room, instead of a pile of haphazardly-arranged Random Crap! It’s going to be a lot of grunt work (probably some mild cussing and sore muscles, too), but I don’t care. Bring it! Just bring me some coffee first.

Reason for that re-doing? Besides the fact that I was tired of the room being a place where junk goes to die? My mother is coming to visit in a few weeks!  Isn’t that exciting? Also, I think you have an idea of why I’m trying to get this place in shape. 🙂

I’m off to fix myself some lunch and take a short break before I go back to de-junking our apartment. If you don’t hear from me in a few days, there’s a good chance a Closet Avalanche got me. Send help.

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It’s 72 degrees here in Houston today, so the cats and I spent the morning on the back patio, cleaning it up and getting the containers ready for planting next month (well…I did, anyway. The cats just ran around in Holy crap, the human actually let us OUTSIDE! jubilation. Can’t say I blame them).

I can’t believe it’s almost garden time again!

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(We’ve been without internet for a week. I’m now writing posts in a word processor and saving them to post when I have the opportunity. This entry was written August 5th, 2011.)

I’m sure you’re wondering what we did with all that okra.

Most of it was blanched and then frozen (about 7 of the 9 pounds my husband brought home). Here’s what we did with the rest:

– Sliced up several okra and put them in a bottle with extra virgin olive oil, plus some black peppercorns and a piece of green garlic. It’s made a great dressing for roasted vegetables and warm bread– so great, in fact, that most of it is gone already!
– Reserved a bunch of okra seeds for planting
– Made a big batch of stewed okra with tomatoes.

The stewed okra was a big hit with my husband– he raved about it! This is a fast, easy dish to make and it freezes well.

Stewed Okra with Tomatoes
Ingredients (in order of appearance):
– 1 Cup celery, sliced
– 1/2 cup carrots, sliced
– 1/2 cup onion, chopped
– 1/2 large red papper, chopped
– 1/4 cup tomato juice
– 1 pound fresh okra, sliced ;engthwise with tops removed
– 4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
– 1/3 cup white wine
– 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp rosemary
– 1/2 tsp oregano
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1/4 tsp garlic pepper
– fresh black papper, to taste.

1. Spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil & heat over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, & onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, adding the tomato juice about halfway through.
2. Add the okra and garlic and cook, stirring, for another 9-10 minutes; stirring in the white wine about halfway through
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Serve alone, with garlic bred, or over basmati rice. Enjoy!

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Every so often, one of us has to go away for a day or two for work– my husband for signing new business deals; me for dance performances or competitions. We’re pretty used to it, and it’s a nice break from our routine– whoever travels enjoys a hotel room with cable and room service; whoever stays home enjoys having the freedom to drink wine and watch whatever movies (or sports) they want. It’s one of those things that will never be the same once our children are born, so we’re enjoying it while we still can.

My husband returned to work this week, and yesterday he left for an overnight trip. I had thought about driving into Houston to take a dance class or visit some friends, but in the end I opted to stay home & watch space movies & go to bed early (Dear God. I’ve been married three weeks and I’m already getting boring). Today I did a bunch of baking and began writing wedding thank-you cards. Hubby finally arrived home after 5; we went for a swim together and visited with our neighbors by the pool. Hubby and I were so happy to see each other, and I was so happy to have him home. The apartment felt empty without him.

We had a late, huge, delicious dinner (roasted vegetables and homemade cornbread, plus corn chowder and shrimp for H). Our weekend begins tomorrow, since Hubby does not work on Fridays. We’re hoping to do some boating and fishing this weekend, before the big Fourth of July celebration (we have better sense than to try and take the boat out on July 4th).

What are your plans for the holiday weekend?

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