Thursday, January 31, 2013

Anne of Green Gables' Lemonade

As you may know, lemon is one of my favorite flavors.  I even add lemon juice to most of my smoothies.  So, this past December, I tried this recipe I found on Pinterest:

It looks so good!  And I loved that the syrup could be made and kept in jars in the fridge.  That takes up way less space than a gallon container.  I didn't take any pictures of the final syrup in its jars, but it was very cute.  I did, however, take pictures of how I juice lemons without a citrus-juicer-thingy.  (I just purchased one this week at Salvation Army and I am so excited to make gallons and gallons of lemonade with it!)

I use:

knife and cutting board
a fork with sturdy tines
2 bowls
a small wire strainer

First, gather your supplies.  If you're zesting any lemons, first thoroughly wash the outside of the lemon.
I took no pictures of the zesting process, but this is what the lemon looked like afterwards.  I probably could have gotten more off of it, but I didn't.
Gently roll the lemon under your hand to help the juices get flowing.
Cut the lemon in half like this.  (It's really hard to take a picture with my left hand.)
Stab the lemon with the fork like this.  
Then, holding it (pointed down-ish) over a bowl, twist the lemon and the fork in opposite directions.  Lots of juice should come out.  Continue doing this until it stops being productive.  The lemon half has probably folded in on itself by now (see next picture), so use the fork like a windshield wiper inside to get some more stuff out.  Now run the side of the fork down the open side of the lemon to get the juice out of the pulpy, ragged edge. (I couldn't take pictures of this step because I only have two hands.  Sorry about that.)

A juiced half and  the next half.
This is what half a lemon produced (it wasn't a very juicy one).  Notice how it is full of pulp and seeds.  Gross, that's not what you want!
Pour the juice into another bowl through a strainer.  I'd normally be holding the strainer up, but I was taking a picture.
Continue squeezing lemons into one bowl, and then straining them into another whenever you feel like it.
The strainer will get clogged up with pulp and seeds, so I squish it with my clean fingers until I get all the juice out, then dump the pulp in the trash (or compost) and rinse the strainer out.  You'll have to do this several times if you're using multiple lemons.
Once I had the juice, I followed the instructions on the website.  Here's the final product cooling in the pot:

I promise it tasted better than it looks!  After it was cool, I transferred it to some cute Mason jars to keep in my fridge.  We really loved this lemonade, and it was great mixed with strawberry puree (as suggested on the website).  I would probably leave out the zest next time, as I didn't think it added anything to the flavor - and I'm rather anti-floaties.  (Edit - I had no idea what I was saying.  Keep the zest in there - it adds tons to the flavor.  And even little boys who turn up their noses at all things with floaties will love this lemonade.  I promise.)

Anyway, I will definitely be making this again.  I'm picky about my lemonade being the right combination of sour and sweet - and this recipe got perfect marks in my book!  In fact, one of my 101 Things in 2013 is to make this syrup and then freeze it, so I can use it in the summer.

I did have a little bit of lemon juice leftover, so come back next Thursday to see what I did with that.

Love and Sugar,
Leah Joy

P.S.  Do you have a favorite lemonade recipe?  (Or even powder brand - I do love Kool-Aid lemonade!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Off to a Good Start + A Bathroom Update

My first 101 Things in 2013 update!  (Link to finished projects board.)

I did a little math and discovered I need to average about 2-3 things a week, with an average of 8.4 every month.  Considering that I'll be working full-time this summer, and then after that I'll be working more on Christmas things, I've decided to try to crank out as much as I can early in the year.

As I look over my list and settle into the new house a little, I've realized that some things just aren't going to happen because of our budget.  For example, I would love to have roman shades in the bedroom, but it's going to cost an estimated $80!  Since we do have vinyl blinds in there right now, we can't justify it.  However, I'm rather determined that budget shall be the only thing to stand in my way.  There is certainly plenty of time in the year to accomplish everything on my list.  I know I said I'd be okay if I didn't get everything done this year, but it is a challenge and I am competitive and intrinsically motivated.

Anyway, I'm sure you'd rather hear about what I've accomplished so far.  I have completed 9, and have started several others.

Here's what I've done so far:

8. Ring Hanger for the kitchen.  My mom loved it so much, she wants me to make one for her.  (I'll share pictures later, probably next week.)

30. Slippers for myself.  I actually finished these, took pictures, and was all ready to post the pattern.  I was quite sure they were perfect unembellished.  Then my sister made a pair for herself and added an adorable strap.  So mine aren't finished now, and I'll have to take some pictures when I add a strap!

Adorable unembellished slippers!

31. Mason Jar To-Go Cup.  Cutest project ever.  Tutorial on Friday!

44. Homemade Apple Chips with cinnamon and sugar.  Total apple massacre.  I don't have a mandoline, so I just sliced the apples as thinly as I could, which apparently wasn't thin enough.  After two and a half hours they weren't even close to dry and crispy, so I turned on the broiler, for apparently too long.  On the plus side, my house smelled absolutely fantastic for two and a half hours before it smelled like burning things.

49.  Lava Cookies.  Very delicious, but the insides weren't really molten.  And honestly looking at the pictures on the original site, I'd say hers weren't really molten either, so I don't feel so awful about it.

88. Read Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.  Fantastic book, but definitely for mature readers.  I'm so excited to watch the movie with my mom!

93. Read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  This was the final book of Jane Austen's Six that I've read.  It took me a bit longer to get into than her other books, but once I did, I loved it.

99. No-Sew T-Shirt Bag.  Caleb has a pile of t-shirts he was getting rid of (I know, right?), and I picked out a cool Mario one.  I think I cut the top part a little wide, because it's not as cute as it should be.  When you hold it with the handles together (as you normally would), you can't see the design.  It now holds our rags, which is a fantastic purpose for it.

101. Read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  Quick read, good story.  Can't believe I've never read it before now!

If you started a 101 Things in 2013 project on Pinterest, too, please share the link in the comments so I can follow you!

I'm also going to start sharing the "after" pictures of our house.  I'll probably only be sharing them one room at a time, because we're still working our way through piles of boxes and clutter.  Today, here are some bathroom pictures. :)

Classy pillowcase as a "cafe curtain".

Dutch bathroom calendar from Mom!  The pictures are from Friesland! (Still working on  b-days.)

You may remember seeing some scum on the shower head in the before pictures.  I tried the Pinterest trick of wrapping a baggy of vinegar around it for a few hours, and it worked like a charm!  It's so clean now!

Love and Orange,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Have a Problem

I admit it.  I have a lot of earrings.  I won't say too many, but I do have many earrings.  The last time I counted, I had just over 100.  Since then I've received a few pairs and gotten rid of a few pairs (yes, I do occasionally get rid of them, Caleb), so I'm guessing the count still comes in around 100.

You might be thinking, "Good gravy, who needs that many earrings?  Do you ever actually wear them all?"

Not all at once, no. :)  And of course, I don't need that many earrings.  I don't need any.  But I like them, and Caleb doesn't mind because they don't take up as much space as, say, collectible tea cups or salt-and-pepper shakers.

But when it comes to storing them, that's my problem.  I used to keep them in this box:

This photo is from when I lived at my parents' house.  Dang, I was super organized.

This box worked at the apartment, too, but at the new house, it's not working.  I started out by keeping it on one of the built-in bookshelves in the bedroom: 

But to have it straight on, it wouldn't open all the way, so the stuff in the bottom was hard to reach, plus it's in a rather precarious half-open, half-shut position (which is why it looks like everything is dumped in there.  It fell off the shelf, and I scooped everything up and dumped it back in.).  So I tried turning it sideways:

But it's not very accessible because of the shelf above, and I feel like I'm wasting most of the great container.    

Not to mention, apparently, when my sister and I traded for this purple box, she thought she was being cheated.  She never mentioned it to me before now, and at the time, she seemed so excited that I assumed she truly was.  She got two smaller boxes, and she told me she liked them better.  However, apparently she's been harboring a grudge ever since!  Therefore, if I can find a better solution for me, she can have this box back!

I've looked on Pinterest to get some ideas, and here is some of my inspiration:

Except I'd put the sticks on a board to make fewer holes in the wall.

I'm thinking a combination of hooks for earrings and necklaces, and then a shelf with bowls for bracelets.

The problem is most of the jewelry organizers I've seen are for people who have many necklaces and about 8 pairs of earrings.  I have 100 pairs of earrings and very few necklaces, plus a couple dozen bracelets.  

So, I have a quest to find the perfect solution for organizing my jewelry.  It needs to be cheap and DIY, because my budget is incredibly low.  As to where I'll put it, I have two walls I'm thinking about.  One, next to the bookshelves, and one above the dresser.  Or, if it's not wall storage, it could sit on a bookshelf.

Very messy right now, but I'm hoping I can help Caleb learn to be a teensy bit more tidy here at least.
Any incredible ideas from my lovely readers?  I'd love to hear your input.

The second part of my challenge involves sorting out my earrings.  I've decided to do that by the following rules:

1. I can't wear a pair of earrings twice until I've worn them all.  I don't have to wear earrings every day, though.
2. If I refuse to wear a pair of earrings, I must get rid of them.
3. The only pairs that can be repeated are the studs I usually wear in my 2nd piercing.  

It might sound strange and pointless to you, but I think it sounds fun.  And so I'm going to take a picture as proof of every new pair I wear.  Assuming I wear them every day, it should only take me a few months.  I think it'll be fun to share with you the pictures and the stories of how I got a lot of them.  I'll be updating this feature every Tuesday.  My challenge started yesterday, so you'll get pictures of Monday-Monday every Tuesday.

Love and Earrings,
Leah Joy

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Rant: The Chalkboard Trend

I try so hard not to be a hipster.  I can't help that I love scarves and sweaters.  And I had plastic, dark-rimmed, Rob Bell glasses before they were popular - but of course, insisting that "I had them before they were cool" just makes me more of a hipster!  It's a vicious cycle.  Therefore, anytime I truly hate something that hipsters love (and not something I just pretend to hate), I'm thrilled and relieved.

Which is why I will spend my post today ranting about this super-trendy chalkboard stuff.

First of all, chalkboards are messy.  They are so hard to clean and get all that chalky dust off of.  I would know because I had to clean one in college (yes, just one.  The rest of the classrooms were wisely updated to dry erase.) and it was torture.  To get it perfect, we had to wipe it down three times, each time with a fresh microfiber cloth, all of which had to be washed before we cleaned it the next day, or they'd smear the dust all around.  And the dust is still everywhere, choking the asthmatics of the world (like my husband).  And the erasers that you have to clap out - again, so much dust.

Secondly, chalk is annoying.  It gets all over your fingers, and then you wipe it on your pants, and then you look ridiculous.  Now, if you're playing out on the sidewalk, this is to be expected, but for indoor use, it's just annoying.  And the noise chalk makes writing on a chalkboard!  It makes me cringe!  And just how it feels holding a piece of chalk and writing on a chalkboard makes me shudder.

Third, and this is a personal opinion, I really don't think it's that cute.

And finally, chalk does not stay, but rather wipes off incredibly easily.  This is my largest bone of contention with this trend.  Bring all the mess and obnoxious things into your home that you want, but it's not remotely practical for most of the "cute" ideas all over Pinterest.  Let me share a few lot with you:

Aww, a sweet love note in your kid's lunch box, which will now get rubbed off onto his banana and carrot sticks as he swings his lunchbox around on the way to school, and be illegible by lunchtime.

Okay, so this way you can switch around what you keep in the drawers, and just change the label, but that works with metal bookplates, too, and those don't rub off when you accidentally brush against the dresser in your little black dress just before your hot Valentine's Day date.

Seriously?  How do you store your Christmas ornaments?  Because I'm pretty sure if the chalk doesn't rub off on the tree, it will when you store it.

Let's wipe all labels off our spice jars and then play a guessing game!

And this one drives me nuts!  If you do this for all your presents, and a few get erased, you might still be able to tell what name it said, but what if you can't?  "Oh, sorry, Abe, that's Agatha's gift.  We'd never get you pink & sparkly ponies from Spain."

And now you get to wipe the chalk all over your shirt, 'cause nothing says cute and classy like stains on your blouse.  (In their defense, they used black paper and a white gel pen, and then covered it in nail polish so it would seal, but still.)

Am I just being cynical?  Of course I am.  Have you seen the title of my blog?

I must admit, though, that I have seen one good use of chalkboard paint:

Since our driveway is not paved, and is not likely to ever be, if I hope to instill the same love for chalk in my future children that still lives in me, this is probably what we'll do.

And now I bid you adieu until tomorrow, when I reveal another new series for part of this year.

Love and Chalkboards,
Leah Joy

Friday, January 25, 2013

House Pictures v 1.3

Welcome back to our new home for the final part of the house.  We'll start at the beginning of the hall.

The first door leads to what we're calling the 2nd bedroom.  It will serve as a guest room/craft room, and eventual nursery.
The door to the hall is open, but behind it is a closet door.
I love these cool light fixtures!
 The next room is the bathroom, featuring a laundry chute!

Also featuring this disgusting fan.

This cool cupboard came semi-built-in.
We have a tub!  I can't wait until it's fixed so I can take long, luxurious baths, while reading romance novels and eating bon-bons.
Above the bath, however, I believe the previous owners decided to quit painting when they realized their color of choice was "Fresh Morning Urine".
 Moving on to the master bedroom: 

Love this built-in bookshelf!  And it looks miles better now, I promise!
Bedroom closet.  It extends to the bookshelf on the right, and to the wall on the left!
And again, great light fixtures!
 Thank you so much for looking through our new home pictures.  I'd like to remind you again that these were taken before ownership and any cleaning had taken place.  It's really amazing, actually, to look at these and see what a difference we've already made.

I'm looking forward to posting pictures of the house now - once I find the camera!

Love and Light Bulbs.
Leah Joy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

House Pictures v 1.2

Welcome back to my home!  Today, I'd like to share with you some photos of our kitchen, "entryway", and living room.

Through the door you can see the stairs and then the breezeway.  We're now in the kitchen.

Moving clockwise around the room: the future home of the stove, the cupboards, and the future home of the fridge.  The upper cupboards have been torn down and replaced, but the lower ones will wait until we can afford them.
Here's the entrance to the living room, but we'll keep moving with the kitchen for now.
Another section of counter and cabinets, plus the entrance to the "entryway".
The empty corner will be where our kitchen table will go.

The final section of cupboards/counter and the kitchen sink.  The bottom part of this area is infested with mice!  Oh boy!
 Moving on, let's visit the "entryway".  I type that sarcastically (yes, it's possible) because it goes to the "front porch", which is nowhere near the driveway, and has no walkway to the driveway, nor any evidence of the existence of one ever.  So, we don't really enter the house through this door, but it's there, and it has a nice closet.  It opens to the living room and the kitchen.

Kitchen into entryway.
Living room into entryway.
Giant closet!!!
And finally, entryway into living room.
We have these fantastic ceilings!
A great big window!
And a super-ugly fireplace.  :)
 Off of the far end of the living room is the technical 3rd bedroom, henceforth referred to as the office.  We'll be using it as an office/music room until further notice.

It has this great door...
...and beautiful flooring!
The rest of the room is pretty standard.
Back on the other side of the living room is the entrance to the hallway.  (The kitchen is just visible through the right arch.)
  Tomorrow, we'll venture down the hallway for the last three rooms of our new home!  

Love and Archways,
Leah Joy