Friday, August 31, 2012

31 Days

The Nester of The Nesting Place has an annual challenge to blog about a topic for 31 days in the month of October. I tried last year with a topic of 31 Projects Around the House. I lasted only a few days and ran out of energy. It's hard to do something, take pictures and then write about it every day. I guess that's why it's a challenge! I'm going to try again this year with a similar topic 31 Days of Projects Around the House. (See the difference? Not 31 projects it's 31 days of projects. I can now do projects that take longer than a day to complete either because they are time consuming or because I'm lazy. I love having a lazy factor built in!) However, I'm going to plan better. I'll actually plan out my 31 days ahead of time, line up half the posts to go during the month of September and double up on writing posts on the weekends so I'm not under pressure to do something every night. I'm excited! I also can't wait to read what everyone else blogs about. There will be a linky party for everyone to link up to. Last year there were 700 bloggers participating. Wow!

So I'm busily dreaming up my list of projects. Now to look at the list again while trying to be realistic about timing. I know I won't get 31 projects done, even if I think I will, I won't. I also want to make a cute button for the blog. And I have to get a new camera so I can actually take pictures since my camera is officially dead and my son and his iPhone have left for college. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In the Kitchen - Rice Pudding

I just love rice pudding. It's my favorite treat. I've tried making it several times with limited success. Then I found the perfect recipe. It's so easy and tastes so good. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

1 cup white rice
2 cups water
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 cup whole milk
1 cinnamon stick

In a heavy sauce pan add one cup rice, two cups water and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Drain any extra water and return the rice and cinnamon stick to the pan. Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk. Stir. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Pour into a pan or bowl. It will thicken up as it cools. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface so that a skin doesn't form. Cool and then refrigerate. Eat when cold.

I'm a purist and don't add raisins to my pudding. However I have been wondering how they would taste. So next time I make it I'll combine 3/4 cup raisins and 2 tablespoons rum into a bowl when I start cooking the rice. Then add the raisins and rum into the milk mixture after you have cooked it for 15 minutes and stir to incorporate.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear Target - I'm not pregnant

Target, the giant retailer, uses predictive modeling to deliver ads tailored to you and your life to thousands of people every week. Unfortunately they somehow think I'm pregnant based on my recent purchases or searches of their site (I'm not). Every week I receive an email touting sales on baby strollers, clothing or other baby items. I'm tired of it. Dear Target, if you must send me emails, at least send them on things I have a chance of wanting to purchase. The end. To read more about their predictive modeling go here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beautiful day

It was a beautiful sunny and 75 degrees today. My son and I went for a walk along Lake Michigan to enjoy the wonderful weather. There were a lot of people out enjoying the day.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The small things - light bulbs

So I did something simple today that had a great impact on how my living room looks and feels. I changed out a range of different colored light bulbs to all the same type/color. I had one that was "daylight" and was very blue. I had one incandescent which was very yellow. The other 2 were fluorescent and were somewhere in between blue and yellow. Nothing matched and it was very distracting and hodge-podge looking.

Now all of the lights are "bright white" which is a nice neutral glow. Granted the colors still looks a little different.  Even though all the lamps have white shades there is still some variation in the shade color and opacity which changes the color of light that the bulbs give. Another thing I unintentionally did was change the wattage. The new bulbs are all 60 watt. Most of the old ones were 75 watts. With the smaller wattage the room isn't as bright and has some mood lighting going on. We'll see if it's bright enough where I sit with my laptop or if I have to go get some 75 watt light bulbs for that area. It looks nice though. Dimable lights would be great in this area. I'm not even sure they make dimable florescent lights.

For under $5 I updated the look with uniform color and brightness and created a mellow, soothing space. I didn't purchase enough bulbs to change out the dining room fixture, but that's next. Now to find a recycling center for the bulbs I took out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Virtual Garage Sale

I'm having a virtual garage sale on Craigs List this week. I've cleared out stuff I've had crammed in my son's room (I took over a shelf in the closet while he was away at college), my bedroom and items I've been storing on the dining room table and listed them for sale. Currently I'm at 24 items for sale. I've got another round of picture taking to do this evening for about another 1/2 a dozen items. I'm not going to mess with vintage books, vintage prints (which require going to a specialty shop to see if they want to buy them), and items in the china cabinet this time or anything in the basement storage locker. I want to get the things that don't have homes out of the house! I had wanted to get everything that I wanted to sell pictures taken at least while my son was home and had a working, good, camera. He goes back to school in a little more than a week but I don't think I'll get to the basement. I'll have to wait for him to come home over winter break.

My plan is to list things for 2 weeks and then reduce the price if they don't sell. Then list them for 1 more week reduce the price the list for a final week. After 4 weeks anything priced under $20 will get donated and I'll take a two week break and then relist the other items. I have a couple nice vintage items that if they don't sell I might try eBay. I hate the thought of dealing with shipping though.

I had thought about having a real garage sale instead of a virtual one but I live on the 3rd floor and don't want to haul all my junk down the stairs and then back up again if it doesn't sell. Besides I really need one more body to make it work with setting up stuff.  I wasn't sure I had enough items to make a decent sale but once I start pulling things out it looks like I do. Oh well.

I'm obsessively checking my email to see if anyone is interested in my cast-offs. Have you sold anything lately?

Friday, August 10, 2012

A&E Hoarders

Has anyone else noticed that the much anticipated new season of Hoarders has been moved from Monday, August 13 to Sunday, August 26? I'm so disappointed that I have to wait another 15 days! Seriously this is my favorite TV show. Hoarders is gross and fascinating and makes me feel like cleaning and getting rid of things. I just love it. I watch only a few TV shows (I haven't owned a TV for years). I usually watch on but Hoarders I have to watch on They have the episode online a day or two after it airs but only for a few weeks.


It looks like the season premier has been delayed until October now. Nooooooo!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Prints in the Living Room Update

Do you remember what the living room looked like? I went through this stage where I was trying out no rug in the living room. It felt more expansive since there were no lines breaking up the space. However it felt cold and unfinished. Not too long after this picture was taken I put the rug back.

The art on the walls is my sons. They are several paintings from when he was in summer art school at the Art Institute of Chicago. They were colorful and made by my son so I loved them. I've been ready for a change for awhile but didn't know what to put in their place. I wanted something bigger. The prints are hung too high in relationship to the couch. I have plaster walls and didn't want to move and patch and paint for new screws on the walls. And it had to be pretty inexpensive.

Back in December I found a couple pictures on clearance at Bed Bath and Beyond. I don't even have a picture of them. The frames were black and nice and thick. They were plastic but you couldn't tell until you touched them. They were huge at 41" x 29". The pictures were a poster of the Beatles. I didn't care about the poster. Only about the frames and the price - on clearance for $10.99. I bought 3. But they sat and sat for months. I wanted my son to find some of his black and white photography and enlarge it for the frames. It never happened however much I nagged.

Several weeks ago my son's girlfriend Liz was visiting. I mentioned to her that I had been nagging Forrest about finding some prints so I can finish my project. Liz thought it would be fun and helped him look through his pictures until he found this large piece of the Chicago skyline at sunset taken from a boat he was sailing on. Forrest used Photoshop to cut it into 3 pieces and resized them for printing. We used a gift card to Wolf Camera to have the pictures printed. They turned out spectacular. They weren't the abstract black and white pictures I thought I wanted. They were better. Here they are together so you get a better idea of the print.

I had to glue on some new hangers to hang the pictures portrait instead of landscape. I used d-rings from Home Depot and E6000 glue and some new picture wire. Here they are hanging on the wall. Again with the bad iPhone pictures until I can get a new camera.

You might also notice that I put the black slipcover back on the couch instead of the brown one. Here is a picture straight on but with worse night lighting and shadows. I really need a new camera instead of using my son's iPhone. I finally have something the correct scale for the space. Bad pictures notwithstanding, I'm very happy with the way the prints turned out. I spent $33 + tax for the frames, the prints were free with a gift card but would have cost $20 each without, we had 3 sheets of white paper from the art supply store and used some double sided tape to hold the photos in place. I used some d-rings, E6000 glue and picture wire to hang them. So for under $50 I got the large update I had been wanting for several months.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shelves in the bedroom

Today we hung some shelves in my son's room. I also touched up the paint around the ceiling. When I painted last year I must have been drunk! The lines were so crooked. A little ceiling paint and a steady hand made a world of differences today. My camera is still dead so I only have iPhone pictures to show, which were taken at night so the light is bad. I just knew if I waited for better pictures that I would get busy with something else and actually never get around to positing something.

In the space between the desk and the lower shelf I want to hang either a pin board or a piece of art. It definitely needs something there. I had fun pulling stuff from a box of misc. decorating items to place on the shelves. Its nice to have things out and my books off the floor of my bedroom. The empty frame hanging on the wall is just temporary. It already fell down with the command hooks holding it. I like how it fills the space so I'll hammer in a nail to be more permanent. Speaking of hanging. Oh boy were the shelves hard to hang. I have plaster walls. It took FOREVER to drill thru them to use the super duty screws to hang them.

I'm happy to have this project done except for a few tweaks to the decorative items.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Painting the beam

So today I took care of a little painting chore that's been nagging at me since December. Yes 8 months. I painted over an accent wall in the living room in December, returning it to the same color as the other 3 walls. I guess I'm not an accent wall kind of girl. Painting the wall also entailed painting the bottom of a beam separating my living room and dining room to the wall color. I could have painted it the white ceiling color but didn't want to mess with getting more paint out. What I didn't realize at the time is that the beam continues into the hallway and also needed the bottom painted the wall color. In the hallway the bottom is white.

Now I must explain that the distance from the beam in the living room to the beam in the hallway is about 2-3 feet, so its pretty noticeable that it's different. Today I painted the bottom of the beam in the hallway. It was about 2 feet long by about a foot wide. And I managed to drip turquoise paint (2 drops!) onto my beige carpeting even though I put down a drop cloth. I'm talented that way. Oh and by the way, if you drip paint on the carpet, blot don't rub. Ask me how I know. So now I have a turquoise smear on my carpeting instead of a drop. I'm currently waiting for the paint to dry to see if it requires a second coat.

Pictures? You want pictures? It's really boring and dark in the hallway. And really it's just the bottom of the beam. And I'm being lazy. And my camera is somehow broken and eats batteries in about 15 minutes. So no pictures for you. The other annoying part of this project or rather the 8 months that this project wasn't done is that my tub full of painting supplies and the gallon of turquoise paint sat out all this time. I didn't want to take it down the 3.5 flights of stairs into the basement when I knew I was going to use it again. For awhile it was in the corner of my dining room. Then I got tired of looking at it all the time. So I moved it into my son's room while he was away at college. Then he came home in June and it got moved into my bedroom. Really, it would have been easier to take the 15 minutes and get the job done. But no. 

So what prompted this little chore getting done? I'm moving up some chest of drawers that I purchased in December that I had stored in the basement into my bedroom (that I'm currently, slowly redoing). The tub of painting supplies was in the way. As you can probably tell things happen slowly around my house. I'm a bit of a procrastinator.

But, the beam is painted! My black dressers are finally moving into my bedroom! I'm on a roll. (I even scrubbed the stove and the microwave this morning). Maybe I'm sick.

Before pictures of my bedroom and of the new (actually vintage but new to me) black chests in their place coming soon.