Friday, September 28, 2012

Basket Case

As renters, The Mister and I are limited in many changed we can make in areas that can easily become trashed. This makes me gravitate towards baskets and bins and boxes and other organizational tools.
Enter our closet. It's huge and I don't have tons of clothes. You can't really see it in the picture below, but the baskets I had on the shelf stuck out about an inch. And they held all of our hats, scarves, and belts. So there was much digging to find what we were looking for.

Just for kicks, here is the other side where the rest of our shoes are held. I'm still trying to figure out ways to organize them. Any tips?

So, we went to The Container Store and sought out baskets that would fit the shelves better and came across these beauties.

The Marche Baskets are wavy wired baskets (and from the pictures it seems that they would be good for the kitchen... but I'm not one for following the suggested uses) and they are awesome. They fit the dimensions of the shelf perfectly. We snagged three of them- one for belts, one for scarves, one for hats.

What do ya think?

Yes, the top shelf is still a bit of a mess and my shoes are stacked on top of each other. But the baskets are great, right? Right....?? I know it may be hard to see past the stuff, but I promise they are much better and much more functional. And they are just plain cool.

Obviously, there is much more organizing to do. And we are working on it. Not only in our closet, but in other parts of the apartment, as well! What sorts of things are you sorting and stacking and shoving in baskets?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Wreaths

The calender officially says that it is autumn. Even if this Texas weather doesn't want to cooperate, I have obeyed my calender and started decorating. I've been busy making wreaths. I made one for our door and one for some friends (and I hope they love it!).

Here is the one I made for friends- and please pardon if the color is off. Honestly, I think my computer screen resolution is off and it has been making photo editing interesting.

I love it! Personally, it seems to be missing a squirrel. Wouldn't a squirrel fit right in? For the wreath mold, I just used paper that was in my recycling bin and shaped it (with the held of tape) in to a wreath. Proved a little bit temperamental, but totally worth it in that it shaped well, was free, and my favorite part.... was free.
Here is the one hanging on our door now:

The yellow flowers were made from a brighter yellow felt. I stuck with just the two flower colors (mainly due to the fact that I was out of the cream felt... haha). And, I included the M from cardboard and a sweet paisley designed felt.

There have been many happenings around The Mister and Missus household and I'm excited to share them with you... but I have a pumpkin roll cooling on my kitchen counter top beckoning for some filling. Feel free to pop on to our Facebook fan page to see the finished product (a link is at the top of this page for your navigation convenience).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Citrus Infused Vinegar Cleaner

We've talked about ways to get money, like selling your books and clothes, and how to be more disciplined in saving spare change, but now I want to talk about ways we are trying to save money around the house.
So, The Mister and I care about the environment and this does affect the way we live. We also care about what goes in to our bodies. But, I don't think we are super gung-ho about all natural and organic and what not. We pick and choose things that really matter to us. I buy my produce following the dirty dozen and clean fifteen model and milk is ALWAYS purchased organically. I don't like cleaners that are ammonia based, and if I see an option in something that is packaged or created from recycled items, I choose it. But this post comes from something else - the desire to stop buying cleaning products to help out our wallet.
Going down the aisle at the super market with the cleaning supplies was always so overwhelming for me. I WANTED to get the ones that were natural and earth friendly, for the sake of the planet and our health, but the price tag was always daunting. Then, I would be stuck and unsure which to buy from the remaining choices as I read the labels. This led to infusing vinegar with lemon peels to add a citrus twist.


We had already stopped buying oven cleaner because it was so toxic and harsh (even the ones that claimed to have lower fumes and what not made me feel like I was killing my lung tissue, with the windows and doors open). Our apartment complex is stocked with updated appliances and our stove is stainless steel with a glass top. So, I have previously cleaned it with baking soda and vinegar. I would sprinkle the trouble some areas with baking soda, pour on the vinegar, let the bubbles do their magic, clean it off, and shine with some glass cleaner. But, I got sick of pouring and the vinegar smell is not my favorite.

My solution filling a jar 3/4 of the way with plain jane white vinegar. Then, as I used lemons to cook or bake, I would throw the peels in the jar. To top it off, I just cut a small lemon into  slices and threw that in there. This jar was sealed and stored in my jar cabinet for about 2 weeks (accumulating the lemon peels only took about a week).

The day came to strain and strain I did.

I threw my colander with the smallest holes over a bowl and dumped the jar into it (with all of these things nestled in my sink just in case of spillage).

To get out rind and seeds and floating things, I put a paper towel down and, with a new bowl underneath, emptied bowl numero uno again. I would have preferred to use cheesecloth, but alas, there was none in the house.

For one more good strain, I put a sifter in to my funnel (which fit quite nicely, may I add) before the cleaner went in to the empty spray bottle I saved.

I topped off the bottle with water and voila! Citrus infused vinegar cleaner. I love it. I love that it is in a spray bottle so I don't just pour vinegar on things to clean. I love that it has a slight lemony scent and has the additional cleaning power of the citrus. I also love that it was made from scraps of lemon peel that would have just been thrown in the garbage, vinegar I already had (a gallon I bought for like 2 bucks), and an empty spray bottle I would have just recycled in a different way. I clean almost everything with this and it works beautifully. You could use any citrus, too, which makes for fun scent combos.

Anyone else have panic attacks when shopping for cleaning supplies? What other natural cleaning products do you diy?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ukulele #2

He has done it again! Another beautiful (even more beautiful than the first, in my opinion) ukulele has come out of The Mister's shop. This one has mother of pearl inlays and accents - remember the first one? I told you guys about it and its paduke inlays (very, very pretty wood) here.

I managed to snap some shots of Chris using his magnifying glass and jewelers saw on his custom inlay for the headstock that marks it as his own.

The random black marks on that board he is using to make the fine cuts are burn marks where he was practicing with his burning tool (I'm pretty positive there is another name for it, but I'm having a brain fart and can't think of it right now). Anywho, don't let those black marks distract from the work The Mister is doing.

Doesn't he look intense? That mother of pearl signature "M" for his products is perfection. On this particular uku, the fret board markers are diamond mother of pearl inlays, the heel cap is mother of pearl, and the bridge accents are mother of pearl.

Isn't it beautiful? Those inlays really add something to the instrument. And look at this binding.

See that grain in the binding? Such a nice, sophisticated touch, if I say so myself.

Goodness me, my husband has talent. This particular uku has upgraded strings, too. Chris chose Martin's ukulele strings. They hold their tune well, and produce a nicer sound. 

There are a few other projects coming out soon... Labor day weekend took The Mister away from me and to the coast with his family while I worked (boo!) so some things slowed down. But, rumor has it some wooden picks and custom pick making kits will be listed in the shop soon. Get excited!

Visit The Mister's shop by clicking here, or by clicking on the tab at the top of the blog.

Chocolate-y, Nutty, Coconut Cracker Treats

Snacks are a big deal in our household. We try to avoid eating out and having the urge to just "grab shopping" when we are running errands by grabbing a snack for on the go snackage. But, we recently had an issue... we had 2 weeks left in the month and all of the snacks were out. People had come to visit and had eaten more of the snacks than anticipated, so The Mister had few things to round out his work day and lunch snacking. The evidence was clear - we were in need of snacks and fast!

Above is a picture of the inside of our pantry door - you see where the seasonings go, where the supply of things like zip lock bags, foil, parchment paper, etc hang out, and where snacks are for easy access. Only in the above picture is 1 granola bar and a box of fruit strips that contained 1 fruit strip. heartbreaking. So I remembered a Christmas Cookie swap where a friend made these cracker treats that Chris loved and was inspired to rummage and grab things out of the pantry.

I ended up pulling out walnuts and pecans (that I store in jars), coconut flakes, saltine crackers, and chocolate. This is chocolate that I had on hand for a while. The process after that was easy as pie (the layering and filling part of the pie, not the making of the crust as that part can be tricky).

After layering saltines on some foil on a baking sheet, I squeezed and smoothed chocolate over them until they were nice and covered.

I mixed the pecans and walnuts in my hand chopper and chopped to my hearts content. Then, I sprinkled the lovely things atop the chocolate covered crackers.

I laid the crackers out in a 6x4 arrangement, just to keep you in the loop.

Then, flakes of coconut were sprinkled all over - no measurements were used. I just put how ever much I knew the husband liked the ingredient and would be able to stick to the chocolate.

Then, I squeezed more chocolate on top of that. And tucked the pan in the oven on low (200) just long enough to toast the coconut.

I was afraid the chocolate wouldn't be sweet enough for Chris, so some powdered sugar was sifted on top for good measure.

And boom. But, I must be honest. These were not the Mister's favorite thing. His complaint was the chocolate not being sweet enough (didn't I know it!). So, I recommend having whom ever you are making this for do a taste test of the ingredients before you use them if they are something new. Otherwise, a nice, portable treat was made.

I will definitely make them again with different chocolate. Look how perfect they look? The little sweet and salties were packaged 2-3 in snack size zip locks and placed in our snack spot.

Doesn't that look better?? What do you think? Should this be considered a flub or failure?? I think it was a partial success... next time I will use a sweeter chocolate. maybe even some almond bark. Suggestions?