Wednesday, September 18, 2013

101 Things Update - September 18

I'm afraid today's 101 Things Update is a little boring.  I completed several things, but I either took no pictures of them, or they weren't really the type of things one photographs.  But, I've still got to keep you updated, so here goes:

1. Homemade Disinfectant:

There wouldn't be any point in me sharing a picture of a bottle with clear liquid in it.  I'm pretty sure you can imagine that yourself.  And you can read what I thought of it in the Pin's description or right here: there's no way for me to test the disinfecting properties, but it did clean well.

23. Homemade Bagels:

These are the ones I actually made:

This was a great recipe and they are good versatile bagels.  They were amazing plain, with honey, with jam, with peanut butter, with peanut butter and jam, or with pizza toppings.  I have plans to try other recipes in the future now that I know how easy it is.

75. Make your own pore strips.

I've tried this one before (and I thought I reviewed it here, but now I can't find that old post), but I wanted to try it again.  I usually get pore strips when they go on mega-crazy sale, but this recipe could still be cheaper than that.  I say 'could' because she says to use a full tablespoon of both the milk and the gelatin.  A full tablespoon of gelatin is a whole packet - at least of the packets I get - and this mixture also makes way more than I need.  I spread this on my entire face, neck, and upper chest and back, and had barely made a dent in it.  Next time I'll try only using a teaspoon.

Anyway, there are pros and cons to this method.  The cons are that it is far messier than a store-bought pore strip and doesn't peel up quite as easily (it's hard to get a grip on the edge).  The pros are that it is cheaper and you can spread it over your whole face, instead of just your nose or one little area.

87. Crocheted Sock Monkey

I'm not sharing a picture of my finished one until after Christmas because it's for a friend, but let's just say that it's SUPER cute - and I'm now going to be making at least 5 more for other friends/relatives.  It was a full day's worth of work for my crocheting skill level.

So there you have it.  I also have the oatmeal-lavender face scrub (#11) mixed up and plan to use it this morning, but won't have results in time to add to this post.  I also made several steps forward on other projects this week, so hopefully I'll have some better updates soon!

Love and Gelatin,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

It occurred to me recently that I have read so many books this year, I could start including a book review portion for you.  I do get asked a lot for book recommendations, so I'm going to start sharing some here.  Today, I'm going to tell you about a fantastic series I discovered by accident.

I was at one of our local library's Spectacular Book Sales and it was the last two days, where everything you can fit in a paper grocery bag is yours for $2.  Talk about an awesome sale!  At that price, even if something just looks slightly interesting, it's worth it!  And if you don't like it - just donate it back to the library for their next sale.  But I digress.  I found Dealing with Dragons on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Table, and since I love dragon books, put it in my bag.

You can see my basic review in there, but it really is fantastic.  Princess Cimorene wants to learn magic, cooking, Latin, fencing, and the like, but her parents consider them improper subjects for a princess to study.  When Cimorene learns that her parents plan to marry her off to a boring prince, she runs away to become a dragon's princess.  There, she has to battle a plot against the King of the Dragons.

This one was so good, I immediately got the other three out of the library.

Cimorene's adventures continue in the second two, but the fourth is more about her son.  I highly recommend them all.  They're intended for grades 4-8, but of course anyone over that age will enjoy them, too.  They are very clever and enthralling.

Love and Literature.
Leah Joy

P.S. I'll be picking random books I've read this summer for book reviews every Tuesday, but if you have a particular request, please let me know!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Monday Rant: Things I'll Never Name My Children

We all know about the taboo on ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend names.  And anything that sounds similar. And we can't name our children the same thing as that annoying/mean/stupid person from our K-12 days.  Or anything that sounds similar.  And then, of course, we have to avoid anything that will give our kid weird initials or nicknames.  And anything that's too popular or the same as a celebrity.

But working as a camp registrar, I see a lot of names every day.  In fact, over the course of the summer, I've dealt with nearly 930 names of individual campers, not to mention their parents and siblings.  And this large list of names sometimes leaves me wondering why people choose the names they do.

Brailee and Raimee?  (They're sisters.)
Guinavier?  (A beautiful name, but not even spelled the 'typical' way.)
Brycen and Bryten are both boys, believe it or not.
So is Kaidence.
We have a Melissa on staff… oh sorry, it's spelled Mellyssa.
Gamiere, Demitrick, and Dalton.  Are we having an ugliest name competition?

I've actually recently heard it put that naming your children is now an extreme sport.

I'm sure I just offended some people, and sure, it's not the end of the world if your kid never gets a magnet with their name on it.  Unique names are great.  My 1-year-old nieces were named Juliana and Selah.  These aren't your Jennifer, Jessica, and Ashley names; they are unique.  But they're not weird! They're beautiful without being obnoxious and original without being ugly.

Your child has to go the rest of their life with that name.  They could be a painter or a rock star.  They might be president or CEO of a company.  They might flip burgers.  Whatever happens, they're stuck with that name on their dressing room door, their desk plate, or their name tag.

Don't give your kids stupid names.

Love and Letters,
Leah Joy

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Can't Say I Don't Win Anything Anymore!

I used to never win things.  I'd enter contests and drawings, but never ever get called.  And then last year, I won a free massage and then this year, I won this prize package:

How cool is that?  It was so exciting.  And there's no way I can use that all, so I was able to share and bless some friends.

Happy Friday!

Love and Prizes,
Leah Joy

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Celebrating Louisa May Alcott - or at least the 1800s

Why don't people go calling anymore?  No, you don't need to tell me.  I actually get it.  We're so busy.  We go to work.  We have cars, so we don't all live within 3 miles of each other.  There's not one time of day when we're all free.

But you know, I want to bring the 1800s back.  Which is why I'll soon be announcing a Calling Day.  Unfortunately, I won't be announcing it on here, because anyone can see this and I don't want just anyone showing up at my house - but I will be putting it on my Facebook page for my friends to see.  During the day, any of my friends who happen to be in the area (or want to be in the area) will be welcome to stop in for fresh-baked goodies and conversation.

I'll let you all know how it goes.  If it goes well, I'd like to try it again... and again!  :)

Love and Cookies,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

101 Things Update - Around the House

Here are a couple house projects from my 101 Things in 2013 list.

9. Towel hooks in the bathroom.

Home Depot was running a sale on items like this, so we were able to get a really nice one (with a gift card we got for our wedding).  Caleb hung it while I was in Virginia visiting some cousins (so please ignore the part where it's slightly off-center).

It's so pretty.  (Here's the link to it, in case you're interested in getting one for yourself.)  We wanted something with plenty of room for future children's towels, and this certainly has it.  

If you read the reviews, you'll notice that everyone loves it, but a few people mention something about the box it gets shipped in messing up some of the edges.  This is true.  It is not in stock in the stores - only their warehouse - so they have to ship it to the store.  For some reason, instead of just getting a bigger box, they put it crosswise in a small one, meaning that some of the edges will probably be a bit 'bruised'.  It's not a huge deal - you can hardly notice.  We might end up painting that bit so you can't tell at all, but there's fair warning if that sort of thing bothers you.  

But it holds a lot!  This is with our shower towels, our beach towels, and our swimsuits after a recent pool day.

15. Try stripping fireplace.

Can I tell you how glad I am that I made that say 'try' instead of 'do'?  This is a ridiculous project.  We borrowed a heat gun from a friend.  This took a long time and tons of effort, but at least it got the paint up.  But it also made a pretty gross smell (and my husband is allergic to gross smells - not kidding, actually).

Then we bought a low-odor paint stripper (no such thing, by the way).  After putting on several coats, the paint would only smear around, like this:

And it stunk worse than the heat gun mess.  Boo.

That's a very frustrating project.  We've kind of set it aside for now, leaving it like this:

(It's modern, right?)

But we also have a mess:

So that's that.  Any ideas on how to get that off without (1) completely redoing our budget for the next 5 years and (2) making a huge stink?

Love and Wire Brushes,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Final Earring Update - September 10

Friends, for those of you who are thoroughly sick of earrings, you will be very glad to know that my earring challenge is over at last. Actually it was over a long time ago, I just haven't updated you on it yet.  

To begin, I must tell you that there are two pairs I never wore which I will be keeping.  One of them is the double of my Rock Star earrings (see post here).  The other pair is made of small Christmas light bulbs - and they are very Christmassy, so I only wear them in December.  Trust me on this.

Also, there is one new pair of earrings I purchased after the challenge was technically over.  Aren't they fabulous?  I got them at a garage sale for $1.

This is what my earring storage looks like now:

I love having the CD rack as my dangly earrings holder!  It's perfect!  I can see exactly what I have and it's not too hard to get them off or hang them back up.

Below it, I have my baskets/containers for post earrings and extra backs.  I don't really like this system for my smaller posts because it makes it harder to find a match, but this is what I have for now.

Next organizational project will be my bracelets....

Oh yeah, and see my cute inspirational sticky notes?  Those were from my sister and the girl I used to nanny.  I saved a couple of them, like this gem from my sister:

It's actually extremely accurate.  At least the hungry part. :)

So, final count for earrings?  96.  And did I get rid of any?  Yes.  19 pairs, actually.  Here they are:

The very far left pair is something I tried to make with Shrinky Dinks.  It was supposed to be a small frond of leaves on one earring and a big leaf on the other, but the green gets really dark when it shrinks, so they look really stupid.  Then of course lots of pop tab earrings and a couple random studs that have corroded or something.  The set of 9 colorful studs was from when I got my cartilage pierced.  I was going to wear one of these cute ones every day to match my outfit, but then my cartilage was infected pretty much all the time for 2 years straight, so I couldn't wear cheap earrings anyway (believe me, they're not 'sensitive solutions' like they say!).  I eventually let it heal over and have never really worn these since.  They're also really crappy quality, as you can tell on the black one, where the side is grey because the paint wore off.

And that's all, folks.

Love and USB ports,
Leah Joy

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Monday Rant: No Explanations Needed

Today I am annoyed by:

  • Sentences ending in prepositions.
  • Endless, obnoxious self-promotion. 
  • Pumpkin recipes EVERYWHERE.
  • Excessive exclamation points.
  • People who refuse to use any punctuation whatsoever.
  • General happiness.
  • Basically everything.
I think I need an attitude check.  Or some chocolate.

I hope your Monday is better than mine!

Love and Annoyance,
Leah Joy

Friday, September 6, 2013

Kitchen Crafts

Henceforth, Fridays shall have a new tag.  (Ooh, thrilling.)  Around Christmas, I don't struggle to find a craft to share, but the rest of the year, I'm not always crafting.  So Friday Surprise means anything.  It could be a craft, another recipe, an update on our house, or a personal post.  (Or I might take the day off.)

Today, I'm going to share a couple of kitchen updates we did over the summer.  My sister and friend came over one Saturday this summer and we had a girl day and did crafts all day, pretty much.  These first pictures are of our new kitchen clock.  We have the clocks on the oven and the microwave, but I really wanted one over the door.  I found the clock at Salvation Army for $2, but it was really beat up and a nasty off-white.  However, I decided we could probably paint it, and I was right.  We even used free paint (a Lowe's Valspar promotion a few months ago).  It took a coat of primer first and then this beautiful green:

It's above our pretty arched doorway like this:

 Later that same day, we were looking for another craft, and so I looked through the Pinterest board I created for my sister.  We found this pin and decided to give it a go:

Except, of course, we couldn't pick just one shape.  I got hippos, Claire got unicorns and butterflies, and Chloe got various dinosaurs.  We used old calendar pages, an atlas, and various magazines.  I taped mine to a braided strand of yarn and then hung them up in my kitchen:

Aren't they so cute?!  I love them - and they're perfect for the space.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love and Lollipops,
Leah Joy

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Leah Stamp of Approval

The theme of this week seems to be summing up what I did over the summer.  It is the first week back to school for most of the kids around here - so I guess a "What I Did This Summer" essay isn't a completely awful idea. :)  I made several new recipes this summer and wanted to share them with you.  Today, I have 5 recipes I made from Pinterest.  I'm only sharing the pins because I never took pictures.  But you can rest assured that these recipes all have the Leah Stamp of Approval.

These no-bake bars are a pretty good alternative to no-bake cookies.  I made these for a church potluck and they were well received.  

I used butter instead of coconut oil because I don't have any coconut oil.

I skipped the nuts mix-ins part.  Because I don't have any of those things.  Or like any of those things.  

These muffins are phenomenal.  No other words.  

I highly recommend using baking cups, because these will want to stick to the muffin pan and then you'll have broken muffins.  They're still delicious, but not as pretty. 

I have never purchased buttermilk in my life but you can always substitute either an equal amount of plain yogurt, or an equal amount of milk with a splash of lemon juice thrown in (let it sit for 10 minutes before you use it).  

And also, frozen blueberries work just fine and you don't need to thaw them first.  I promise.

And finally, what is with recipes calling for unsalted butter and then a small amount of salt?  

For my dad's birthday, I made him a Variety Box of Scones.  They included blueberry scones, these strawberry ones, and the next recipe (for nectarine scones).  These strawberry ones were super delicious.  I must say, though, that without the glaze (I used the strawberry glaze variation), they're really not that strawberry-y.

Salt thing again.  Seriously.

I did not have any heavy cream, so I found a substitution online involving melted butter and milk.  It will not whip like heavy cream, but seems to do the trick in baking, because they turned out just fine.

I also do not have any turbinado or raw sugar.  I brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled regular sugar on top.

After first tasting these scones, Caleb's first reaction was "They're really good, but it tastes like a biscuit with a teeny bit of jam and nutmeg on top."  Which is fairly accurate.  But I wanted these to be desserty, not something you'd use to mop up your leftover spaghetti sauce.  I had a lemon glaze prepared from the blueberry scones, so I applied just a dab of it to each scone.  This made all the difference!  The nutmeg is delicious, so don't skip that part!

Again, I had no heavy cream, so I used the melted butter and milk substitution. 

I'm also not sure how she only made 14 scones if she made them in 2 inch rounds.  I used a floured jar to punch out rounds about 2 inches each, and I made at least 30 of these!

These are the piece de resistance of this post.  These were so fabulous they changed my life.  You think I'm kidding, but these are life-changing muffins.  I made them with raspberries and black raspberries we found in our backyard.  The combination is so so so so perfect.  Please just make them!

Again, I don't really buy buttermilk ever, so I used milk + lemon juice as a substitute.

I added extra lemon zest to the muffins because I love lemon.  And I've spent the last several years building up an immunity to lemon.

I also added a little lemon zest to the glaze.

So there you have it.  The 5 recipes I tried from Pinterest this summer to which I give the Leah Stamp of Approval.

I'd love to know which recipes you tried from Pinterest this summer.  And if you try any of these and love them, let me know!  (If you hate them, I don't want to hear about it.) :)

Love and Lemon,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

101 Things Update - Over the Summer

Today, I'll be sharing all but two of the projects I/we did over the summer.  It's really not a lot, but then again, I wasn't expecting it to be.  

77. Strawberrying.  I went with my mom and sister and the three of us picked 75 pounds.  We made jam (see next one) and then split the rest between our two families.  We had a couple bowls for eating fresh and froze the rest to use the rest of the year (I love them for smoothies and pies!).

35. We made 5 batches of strawberry freezer jam - which we also split between our two families.  Mmmmm....

78. Blueberrying.  This time I went with my mom, sister, brother, and husband.  Caleb and I picked about 13.5 pounds, and this year froze them in quart bags instead of gallon bags.  Why?  Well, last year, we (I) only picked enough for one gallon bag because I happened to go on the hottest day of the year and had to leave the patch early, and they were gone in two months (and that was with Caleb holding himself back).  So this year, we froze them in quart bags so that most of them are in parents' freezer and we can better pace ourselves. :)

79.  Pen Cap Vase.  The more I thought about this project, the more I was certain I couldn't make it as cute as the original.

And then, I made it cuter.  Check it out:

And it's even cuter filled with flowers:

It now sits on my desk at work for when people bring me flowers (which only happens in the summer because it's part of a camper scavenger hunt).

96. Nail Art with Tape.  

Of course, I figured I'd do this on Chloe, since I do most nail art on her, but she happened to be gone one week, and my mom came over, so I did my toes, her toes, and my fingers with this!

Here are my toes.  My mom's were the same but with bright pink instead of teal.  Sorry it's a blurry picture.

And then I had a hay-day on my finger nails!

They're not all perfect, but I got really impatient with some parts.  And I still got asked where I got my nails done!  ("Um... my living room?")  What fun!

I hope to get a little more done now that summer is unofficially over, but now I have to go to work, so until tomorrow (hopefully)!

Love and Rainbows,
Leah Joy

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day!  I hope you all get to enjoy your day, even if you don't have time off from work.  I know I had to work on Labor Day at Salvation Army - which is incidentally one of the places I am going to today for their Labor Day Sale.

We'll also be celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday today - and our 2nd anniversary tomorrow!  My Dad's birthday was on Saturday, so we're having quite the weekend!

Do you have a favorite Labor Day memory?  Or any cool plans for today?  Please share in the comments!

Love and Leisure,
Leah Joy