Friday, February 13, 2015

Why You Should Take Your Christmas Tree Down Earlier

I figured we'd take our tree down shortly after New Year's Day, so I stopped watering the tree around the 27th of December.  I didn't want it slopping all over, after all.

Instead, we waited until the 10th of January.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Caleb and I spent a few hours (yes - hours!) cleaning up the needles, and we still keep finding them all over.

It was a veritable forest floor in our house.

I hope this made you laugh. :)

Love and Vacuums,
Leah Joy

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Monthly Goals: January, Part 2

For my January house project, I didn't know if I wanted to do one bigger project, or lots of little ones.  I ended up somewhere in between.  Here's what got done:

1. Something that should have been a small project that ended up being a big project was to take down our Christmas tree.  Photos of that fiasco in a bonus post tomorrow. :)
2. I wanted to put up a small table we had lying around where the tree had been to utilize the space for puzzle-making.  This, of course, was a very small project, once we got the tree down.  Thank you, Caleb, for putting this together!
3. We went to Lowe's and purchased supplies for 4-5 different projects.
4. I had multiple piles of clothes in my bedroom needing to be sorted and I almost got them there. :)
5. Our craft-storage-yellow room!

Everyone, my husband bought me a sewing machine!

And then my parents were getting rid of a desk, so I have a sewing machine table!

I hung some artwork, and doesn't it look cute?!

The heart is a piece of melted crayon art that Chloe, Claire, and I made.

The triptych at the top is a presentation of modern art in the style of Kandinsky's "Color Study", painted by Chloe, Jacob, and myself.

I LOVE how cheerful and clean it looks.  Of course, what I carefully left out of the picture is this mess:

This needed to be fixed.  So, one of the things we purchased at Lowe's was a 12-cube organizer.  I finally put it together and set it up in the room:

So clean and pretty!

Now I just have to deal with this part:

But that, my friends, is for another day.

Love and Potatoes,
Leah Joy

Monday, February 9, 2015

5 Monthly Goals: January, Part 1

Guys, I really like my New Year's Resolution so far!  I like that I'm still doing things and working on self-improvement, but have the freedom to choose within the categories.  

My sewing project this month was really simple: a bag for my plastic bags.  I followed this tutorial:

I used the same fabric I used for my kitchen curtains.  This project was so quick and easy, but also really useful.  Since the Dastardly Mouse Invasion of December 2014, I recycled all our plastic bags that I had been saving under the sink.  Who knows what got into them?!  I really wanted a better way to store them.

I keep it in our closet, so it doesn't matter what it looks like, but it is nice to have it kind of cute.

While that was my official sewing project for the month, I also did some smaller and potentially boring projects, but ones I'm really proud of.  I had purchased a really cute, nice backpack at Salvation Army for $2.  The only thing wrong with it was one of the strap adjusters was broken, so I bought some new strap adjusters from JoAnn's and fixed it.  I also found a pair of jeans from Goodwill that fit perfectly at the waist (rare!) but were 3" too short, so I hemmed them and made shorts.  Nothing earth-shattering, but new territory for me!

For my meal or side dish, I decided to make smashed potatoes from my leftover 101 Things in 2014 list.  I tried to follow the recipe, but our local Meijer didn't have the size of potatoes called for in the recipe, so I'm quite certain that's where these went wrong.

This is what they're supposed to look like:

For potato sizes, the original recipe calls for 1.5-2" diameter potatoes.  My options were tiny potatoes the size of shooter marbles, or smallish red-skin potatoes (3" diameter-ish, but not round).  I chose the smallish red-skin potatoes.  

Now, these did not actually taste bad.  They were actually really good, other than the burned bits.  I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and Tone's Rosemary Garlic seasoning (our favorite).  They had an awesome texture and good flavor.

However, they make terrible leftovers.  Like, really, truly awful leftovers.  And that is not the original recipe's fault.  That is the fault of using the wrong potatoes. :)

I will probably not be making these again, simply because I can't find the right potatoes around these here parts.

My health goal for the month was to lose 5 pounds.  I actually lost about 7, and hopefully taking a vacation immediately after didn't ruin that progress! :)  For next month, I'll probably choose something exercise-related, like a push-up goal.

For my challenge book this month, I chose The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.  I felt like I was cheating a little bit by choosing something by J.K. Rowling, because the Harry Potter books were very easy, enjoyable reads for me.  However, I've looked at The Casual Vacancy a lot while shelving and have never read it, so I finally decided to take the plunge.  I discovered that I was definitely correct that this book would be a challenge.  You can read my review in the pin below.

The book follows the lives of 18 or so people in a small town over the course of a few weeks.  A fellow library employee put it very well when she said, "I felt like there was no one I could root for."

My house project update is a bit lengthier, so I'll be sharing it in a separate post later this week.

Love and Plaid,
Leah Joy

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Final 101 Things in 2014 Update, Part 2

What things on my list didn't get done?  Actually only 20 of them, which I think is pretty awesome!  Here's a list of them, in case you care.

First up, some of the projects were things I thought I liked at the beginning of the year, but gradually realized that I'd never actually do.  These are:

65. Dr. Pepper cupcakes - because they don't even sound that good
75. Padded steering wheel cover for Caleb - because he doesn't care
84. Host a Calling Day a la Little Women - because I don't actually like people

Some of the projects I'd still like to do; I just never got around to doing them.  These are:

1. Rainbow Jell-O
14. Tissue paper Christmas tree
16. Book Page Origami Dress
17. 8-Bit Mario Blanket
31. Apple Streusel Bagels
66. Guitar shelf
70. Tile above shower
85. Lose 10 pounds
93. Smashed potatoes
97. Ninja cookies

I may yet do these projects and share the results here.

Other projects, I bought the supplies for, but just haven't started yet:
30. Paint entryway grey
41. Sew a bag
63. Dream-catcher earrings

The other various projects are as follows:

I started reading Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (Number 3 on the list), but I could not make heads or tails of it.  I'll try again in a few years.

Number 39 was to re-do my bracelet storage.  Since I got rid of a lot of my bracelets in the Great Earring Purge of 2014, it's not as urgent as it used to be.  I have a few ideas, but it's not pressing.

Number 71 was to tile our kitchen backsplash and we were actually totally going to do this this year, until we realized that since we eventually plan on replacing our counters, it would be pretty silly to do a backsplash without changing the counters first, and then it would be silly to change the counters without replacing those old lower cabinets, so our $500 project turned into a $5,000 project, and we decided to wait on that one.

Number 86 was to find 3 juicer recipes that I like, and I did find two (grapefruit + mint, and then an orange-apple-lemon-celery-carrot one I made up), but then I got tired of cleaning the pulp from my juicer and took a break from juicing.  For the rest of the year.

And that's all folks.  I can finally move on to this year, and I have some really exciting projects planned!

Come back next week for my January Monthly Project updates!

Love and Lists,
Leah Joy

Monday, February 2, 2015

Final 101 Things in 2014 Update, Part 1

Well, I'm afraid the end of this project got a bit sloppy picture-wise.  I have a handful of projects that probably deserved pictures that didn't get any, and then not great pictures for the rest.  So here are the things I finished with pictures.  I'll post another day about the items that didn't get finished.  If you're really curious about what I did finish, you can check out the Completed Projects board, and if you have any questions, leave a comment and ask me!  Right now, though, I feel like we need to move on and get to this year already. :)

First up is Number 27 on the list: homemade fudgsicles.  I followed this recipe (instead of the one I have pinned) and it was divine!  I used vanilla extract, not peppermint, because I wanted to make traditional fudgsicles.  They were so perfect and I can't wait to make them again!  Unfortunately, I ate them too fast to get a picture. :)  They look like fudgsicles. :)

Number 32 was Apple Honey Challah bread.  Chloe and I made this for our parents' New Year's Eve party and it was a huge hit!  It took several hours to make (granted, most of that was rising), and the rolls of apple-filled dough kept splitting, but in the end, this bread was totally worth all the work!  It is amazingly delicious.  I snapped a few photos with Caleb's cell phone, but they totally don't do it justice.

You can find the original recipe here, and it is a very thorough and helpful tutorial.

Number 87 was Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade.  Because of last year's Raspberry Peach Lemonade fiasco, I halved this recipe, in case I hated it.  Wrong choice.  This stuff is delicious.  It's a bit thicker than lemonade, but not in a gross way, and it tastes like someone mixed the drainings from a Strawberry Rhubarb pie into lemonade.  I want to drink this always!

91. Honey Wheat Bagels.  Blech.  These didn't really taste bad, but they also didn't taste good.  You know how you used to expect something whole wheat to taste - you know, before you found out whole wheat doesn't have to mean tough and bland?  Yep, these are tough and bland.  Plus, because I didn't devour them within two days, the last 3 ended up sprouting mold after only a few days.  Sad.  I'll stick to my other bagel recipes.

92. Make homemade bread bowls.  

They turned out alright:

And the taste was fine, but then when I added soup, the flavor combo got a little weird.

Also, I am excellent at ladling soup into bread bowls.  :)

And that's all!  Look for another post later this week with the list of things I didn't finish and my lame excuses.

Love and Dolphins,
Leah Joy

P.S. Yes, I am on vacation as this is being posted, but I scheduled it ahead of time so that you could actually get updated! :)