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Showing posts from September, 2011

Decorating Canning Jars On The Cheap

Last year was the first year I canned tomatoes and I was hooked.   I loved being able to grab a jar of organic tomatoes out of my pantry in mid-winter to make soups and chili.  What I didn't love was trying to scape the labels off of my jars when I was done.  You see, canning jars and their rings are reusable (Go green!).  Only the lids must be replaced.  The labels you can buy are handy to use but are a real pain to remove from the jars.  This year, after canning tomatoes and relish ,  I decided to try to come up with something different - something less sticky. I cut up some of the abundant brown burlap left over from my daughter's wedding last fall and secured it with elastic hair bands I found at the dollar store. Then I simply printed out some labels on card stock and punched out a cute tag shape with a paper punch.  After punching a small hole in the top, I snipped from the top of the tag into the small hole and that allowed the tag to slip onto the hair band.

Wrensday: Unexpected Pop Of Color

I tend to choose neutral colors when I decorate.  I love colors, but prefer to live with a calmer backdrop.  Case in point: my kitchen island and stool with only a red dish towel and bowl to add color. Imagine my surprise when I found a bright green stool at a consignment shop and fell in love with it. I left the store without it but couldn't stop thinking about how cheerful it was and what a great shape it had. The next week, I had to go back and see if it was still there.  I had decided that if it was, it would be mine.  It was and it is.  I am loving the pop of color in my kitchen.  I don't have anything else in my home that matches it but it doesn't matter.  Every time I walk into the kitchen, it makes me smile. Have you ever bought something unexpected for your home because you fell in love with it?

Monday Motivation: Keeping Your Car Organized

If your car is a mess, start at the beginning by reading Post #1, Post #2, and Post #3. source If your car is looking good, but you need help keeping it looking nice, then keep reading. . . 1.   Keep a trash bag in your car and FILL it.  2.   Empty the trash bag every time you fill your car up with gasoline. 3.   Once a month, check over your car.       a.   check the tire pressure, windshield wiper fluid, oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid      b.   check the paperwork in your car to make sure it is current - insurance, registration, and inspection       c.   vacuum carpets and seats, wipe down dashboard and console, clean windows 4.   Remove extra items from your car whenever you arrive home.  Don't leave extra clothing, toys, or supplies in the car.   Doing so only welcomes more items to pile up. 5.   Keep containers in your cargo or trunk area to keep items from rolling around while driving. One reader, Robin, had a great addition to last wee

Spending Your Time

Here's a thought that's been rolling around in my head lately. . . How much time does a certain activity take up in my life? How much time do I spend: on the computer? watching TV? praying for others? talking on the phone? reading my Bible? helping others? exercising? shopping? For the past several weeks I've been casually keeping track of how I've been spending my time.  Here are a few things I learned about myself. I spend more time on the computer than in The Word. I spend more time doing laundry than helping others. I spend more time watching TV than praying.  Hmmm. . . time for a change. Can I challenge you to keep track of how you spend your time?  I must warn you  - it's a real eye opener.  Try it if you dare. 

Wrensday: Mushroom Parade

With all of the rain and moisture we've had lately, the mushrooms are really having a party. I don't think I've ever seen such a variety of mushrooms in my yard before. This one was huge.  It showed up overnight. White ones with curled up edges. Pretty red ones growing in clusters. Large ones, so heavy that they tilt to the side.  I'm sure there's a frog under there somewhere! These remind me of miniature bird baths. I'm linking to:  

Monday Motivation: 20 Important Items To Keep In Your Vehicle So You're Always Prepared

I'm on the road a lot. Between work, church, errands, and fun (shopping) I'm quite friendly with my car.  It's my "home away from home".   I've found that it's important to have a number of items stored in the car in case of emergency, or just to make my life easier.  source 1.   The most important item you can have with you in an emergency is your cell phone.  This is your connection to help.  Keep a charger in the car too. 2.   3 Hazard triangles (or flares) 3.   Jumper cables - Consumer reports recommends 6 gauge rating for most cars. 4.   Flashlight - check batteries every few months 5.   Rope and or bungee cords for securing items 6.   Duct tape 7.   Bottled water - keep a bottle in the trunk for your overheated car. Bring a fresh bottle with you each time you travel for drinking.  8.   Blanket - I like my waterproof, heavy duty picnic blanket.  We can use it to keep dry, keep warm, or have a picnic. 9.   Rain poncho 10.   Fi

How To Keep Your Slipcovers Looking Neat

If you are the proud owner of an ugly sofa, then you know how important slipcovers are. Problem is, whenever you sit on your slipcover, it gets all catywhompus.  (Apparently spell check doesn't acknowledge catywhompus as a word, but I use it all the time, so it must be a word) Well, thanks to one of my readers, Tiffany, I now have a solution.  Pool noodles!  Pick one up now while they're on summer clearance. Tuck it in the crevice between the sofa back and the seat. The foam holds the fabric securely. Because I'm short, I need pillows to help support my back while watching television.  I decided to use two bed pillow shams with bed pillows in them to brighten up the sofa, add some interest, and be handy to grab for comfortable sitting.  A red check pillow adds a punch of color and makes me happy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pool noodle holds the slipcover in place through several sitting sessions.  Before this little trick, I was CONSTANTLY tuc

Wrensday: Those Marauding Chickens

Not only have the marauding chickens ventured too far into the neighbor's yard, they have tried to take over the back deck.  I took this picture from the safety of the dinning room. 

Pickled Green Tomatoes In The Fridge

I've still got green tomatoes hanging out at my house and I decided to make one of my Hubs favorite pickles.  He came home from work one day with a recipe in his hand.  A co-worker had brought in these pickles and it was love at first bite. The recipe is very easy to follow but it does have a lot of ingredients. First, fill a large glass jar with sliced green tomatoes.  It try to cut all the pieces the same size.  In a saucepan, mix 1 1/4 oz. (1 whole bottle) of pickling spice with 1 quart of water.  Simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 pint white vinegar, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1tsp. dill weed, 6 hot cherry peppers - diced, and 1/2 tsp. cherry pepper seeds (optional).  Pour this mixture over your green tomatoes. Screw on the lid and keep refrigerated.  Pickles are ready to eat after 3 weeks.  Note:  If jug is not filled to 1/4 inch from top, add boiled water. The original recipe was called Brodsky's Pickled Green Tomatoes.  It came from a websit

Monday Motivation: Organizing Your Vehicle's Paperwork

Need help decluttering your vehicle?  Read this post first. Now that you've decluttered, you will want to organize your vehicle's paperwork so you can find it quickly.  If you are pulled over by a police officer or involved in an accident, you will need updated information.  The most important information will be your vehicle registration, state inspection, and proof of insurance.  Your driver's license will also be necessary but it should be in your wallet or purse.  One piece of paper you definitely don't want to have in your vehicle is the title.  If your car is ever stolen (God forbid) the thief can us that title to easily sell your vehicle.  Bummer. These important papers can be kept in a small folder made to fit in the glove compartment.  Some vehicles come with a very nice leather or vinyl portfolio that holds the owner's manual.  It usually has a small pocket on the inside to hold the important papers.  Other papers you might want to keep han

New Projects I've Been Working On

I've been working on a few projects during the past few weeks.  So far, these are the projects I actually finished.  Here's a full size, adjustable utility apron.  I made it from an upcycled dress. I love this fun evening bag.  Who says formal should be stuffy?  Formal should be fun! I found this sweet little felt purse and had to do something to add personality to it.  I added vintage buttons from Oma's button box.  I think the maroon, gray, and brown buttons add a fun, Autumn touch. I'm linking to:

Wrensday: Late Summer Antics At The Wren

It never ceases to amaze me how many interesting things there are to see around Brown Wren Acres. Butterflies all over the place! Papa and grandson driving the lawn tractor around the yard, picking up sticks. Hubs checking on the bee hives.  So far, so good.  Goldfinches enjoying the sunflower seeds. Chickens.   Well chickens getting into mischief.  It seems they have been visiting the neighbors and the neighbors don't enjoy the chickens as much as we do.  So, we'll be building a fence to keep them on the property.  Yup, mischief makers, all of them. Never a dull moment at Brown Wren Acres. Linking to:

Yummy Green Tomato Relish

I've had a lot of green tomatoes to deal with, thanks to Hurricane Irene.  She blew the green tomatoes right off my plants.  I picked them up off the ground, brought them into the kitchen and got to work making a yummy green tomato relish.  I'm generally not a pickle or relish eater, but this is one relish I will eat.  In fact, during my third pregnancy (many moons ago), I craved it so much I ate it by the spoonful right out of the jar.  Weird, I know.  The process is pretty simple:  Wash your tomatoes and  finely dice them.  You don't need to worry about taking the skin off.  You'll need 2 quarts of diced tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup of salt to the bowl and let sit over night and then drain off the liquid. The next morning, combine:  1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 2 tsp. celery seed, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 cup mustard seed, and 2 cups apple cider vinegar.  Bring to a boil. Add 2 diced sweet red peppers, 2 cups chop

Monday Motivation: Decluttering and Organizing Your Car

source Has your vehicle become the latest site for an archaeological dig? Are you missing some items and you suspect they could possibly be in your car but you're too afraid to look? Is there a strange odor coming from somewhere in your car? Do you always ride with friends because you're too afraid to sit in your own vehicle? It's time.  It's time to declutter and organize your car. 1.   Grab a trash bag/can and some boxes/bins and take them out to your vehicle. 2.   Take everything out of the car, sorting as you go (see step #3).  Check every nook and cranny.  Remove items from the glove compartment and every other storage compartment.  Don't forget to check under the seats and the built-in ash trays.  Remove your children's car seats and booster seats.  Remove all items from the trunk/cargo area as well. 3.   Sort the items as you remove them.  Trash goes in the trash bag/can.  Items that must stay in the vehicle go

How To Can Tomatoes

So, you've been growing tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. What to do with them? How about canning them? To get started, you'll need a few things: 1.  A large cutting board - I like to use one with a "drip catcher" all around because the tomatoes are very juicy.  I also put a kitchen towel under the cutting board to catch any overflow. 2.  Jars (we'll talk about them next), jar lids, and bands.  3.  A sharp knife 4.  Canning funnel 5.  Jar lifter 6.  Ladle 7.  Lemon juice and measuring spoon 8.  Small pan with simmering water to heat jar lids in. I clean and sterilize my jars in my dishwasher.  When they're done washing, and before the go to the dry cycle, I put them on a cookie sheet in my oven and set it on 170 degrees. I fill my large canning pot up with water (it's so big that I have to set it on the stove and fill it with pitchers full of water).  I set the heat to high right at the beginning because it takes awhile to bring that much wate