Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This is one of my favorites. It's a straight blade pizza knife, but it's good for so much more than pizza. It's great for cutting bar cookies and other square treats and getting them all the same size. It's not something I use on a daily basis, but when I need it, it's great to have. I made cereal bars today and it was so much easier to cut them into squares using this knife than a regular knife.
I could go on and on and on........
Monday, January 19, 2009
As soon as I hit the cleaning aisle in the store, I fell in love! I found out that Libman makes a product that is a sponge mop on one side and a scrub brush on the other. Just the idea of a scrub brush at the end of a handle long enough to reach the corners and ceiling of the shower had me giddy! Add the ability to scrub floors without getting on my knees.......that baby practically jumped into my cart!
Back to the laundry room. I opened the drier and pulled out the almost dry shower liner. All traces of soap scum are gone, it looks clean but I have a rusty spot in the drier (only several years old, by the way, and leaving spots on our clothes from time to time!) that has made a rust pattern all over the white curtain. Nice, it looks like an abstract orange fern pattern that you might have seen in the 70's. I don't have another liner so I'm stuck putting this monstrosity back up. It's an extra long liner that I can't get a replacement for at any store in town. I've had it! Enough for one day.
My husband picked up a new showerhead that's even better than what we had. It's got the regular wall mounted head and a hand-held spray unit. They can be used simultaneously or separately. Both have multiple spray and massage settings and they produce a lot more water pressure than what we had.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The grapes don't impress me as much as the lilac. It might make a nice print for the kitchen or an attractive wine label, though.
I had to see what I could do with an old black and white photo, too. I used an effect that was supposed to resemble a pencil sketch. I think it looks a bit more like a painting, but I still like it. This is my husband and his two brothers when they were children.
The whole idea, really, is to use the photographs of the people, places and objects you love to create artwork that you will enjoy. I should add that all of these pictures look better when viewed larger. I think they lose some of the paint and pencil detail at this size. Even so, you get the "picture"!One final note: If you're feeling especially "artsy" and want to create digital paintings and drawings without using photograph, click here and explore your inner Rembrandt.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
There are plenty of places that will turn your photos into magazine covers, but you don't need to pay anyone to do it for you. It's pretty easy to do it yourself. I don't have any fancy schmancy photo editing software, either. I'm still using the software that came with our first desktop computer. It's antiquated, but I know how to use it. The computer itself melted one day a few years ago, but that's another story. If you have software that will let you add text to pictures, you're good to go. Because I don't know what editing package you'll be using, I can't give you any specific instructions, but I can give you some examples of what I've done.
I took this picture of the frozen shore of Lake Huron in Lexington, Michigan. You can't even imagine the temperature with the wind coming off the lake.
I love this one! Thanks to my father in law, I have some wonderful old family pictures. I wasn't sure how I would feel about a project done solely in black and white, but I'm so glad I tried it.
Ok, I may have gotten a little carried away with this one, but what else can you do with pictures like this? I took this picture at an outdoor summer concert. Nice view, eh?
Now, what do you do with the magazine covers that you've created? You could, of course, print them on photo paper and frame them. My favorite way to use them is to print them on magnetic sheets (available at craft stores) and make refrigerator magnets. If you scale down your creations, you can get six smaller magnets or four larger ones per sheet. Whatever you do, have fun!
One last bit of Willoughby wisdom - Take a lesson from me and be sure to back up all of your digital photos on a flash drive or a disc. We lost several years of precious family photos because of a crashed computer.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
And while I'm waiting, I would like to thank my son's girlfriend for demonstrating this technique for me. I could hardly cut an onion and take pictures at the same time, so I really appreciate her help. She took her ring off for the demo, but I wanted you all to see it. No, it's not an engagement ring, they're only teenagers!!
Start by placing the onion on the cutting board so that the root is on one side and the stem end is on the other.
Place one half on the board, cut side down (set the other half aside). Holding the top firmly, place the tip of your knife close to the center and cut downward. Rotate the onion slightly and repeat. Continue cutting all the way around the onion. Basically, you want cuts radiating out from the center all the way around the onion.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I'll admit, I don't have much of a green thumb. Or maybe I do. I just get lazy about taking care of my plants once the novelty of them has worn off. I had some beautiful flowers, herbs and tomatoes last year. I sort of let them go by the end of summer, though.
See how pretty they looked early in the season?
This year, I'm turning over a new leaf (pun most definitely intended)! I'm going to try to keep my plants looking beautiful all summer long. In fact, my daughter and I have decided to make a project out of it, complete with photo journal. We had a long talk about it while sitting in the parking lot before school this morning, figuring out what sort of flowers and vegetables we want to grow. The minute I got home I went to the Burpee website to look at vegetable seeds. The choices are overwhelming! I haven't placed an order yet, I need to consult with my assistant before I do that.
I have a few easy garden projects in mind that will be fun for both us. I'll be sharing them here, too. I'm also planning to find some new recipes for the vegetables and herbs we'll be growing. I can hardly wait!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Today was also the day we officially said farewell to Christmas at the "Willoughby" house! The Christmas tree has been down since December 27th, but today was the day I took down the wreaths on the windows and doors. I love Christmas, but I was ready to pack it all away until next year. How long until I stop finding pine needles on the floor? I'll have to get back to you on that one!
Friday, January 2, 2009
- Extra special gift giving - Store your tissue paper in a plastic storage container with a tight fitting lid along with a few scented votive candles. Be sure there is a layer of plastic wrap or foil between the candles and tissue so you don't end up with stains. After a week or so, the tissue paper will take on the smell of the candles. Use your scented paper in gift bags or boxes (not recommended for food gifts).
- Having a party or an open house - You can't use this tip to disguise a dirty bathroom, but you can make a clean bathroom seem extra fresh before company arrives. Fill the bathroom sink with water and about a half cup of liquid cleaner. Let it sit until just before your guests arrive, then drain and rinse the sink (this works to make toilets fresh, too. It may take a few flushes to get rid of the bubbles.). Realtors use this trick when showing a house. FYI - I've read that lemon is the most universally enjoyed scent of cleaners.
We're going to make scented tarts for wax tart burners. It doesn't matter if you have an electric model or one that uses a candle to melt the wax. The tarts we are going to make will work in either style.
To begin, preheat your oven to 450 degress. I know, you're wondering why we need the oven and why it has to be so hot. We are going to use the oven to melt the wax, and the reason it has to be so hot.....well, it probably doesn't need to be quite that hot but I said this was going to be a fast project and heat equals speed!
Ok, now you'll need scented candle remnants. You can use stubs of votives, pillars, or my favorite, jar candles that still have an inch or so of wax in the bottom but won't burn anymore.
Cover your work surface with several layers of newspaper. Using a blunt tipped knife, gently cut or break the candles into small chunks. If you are using a jar candle, gently push the tip of knife into the wax and twist slightly (see bad picture below!). Be extremely careful not to break the jar. And please, please, please don't cut yourself! Discard all wicks and wick bases.
Now comes the fun part! You'll need your wax chunks, a muffin pan and foil baking cups (I call them cupcake liners). Do not use the paper ones! Separate the foil baking cups from their paper dividers and add a small handful of wax chunks to each cup. Place the cups into the wells of the muffin pan. Why didn't we fill the cups after putting them in the wells? Because then we might get little bits of wax on the muffin pan and we don't want to do that! In my example photos I'm only making four tarts because that was all the wax I had chopped up.
Now, turn the oven off. That's right, turn it off. It's plenty hot and I think it's safer that way. Using oven mitts, place your muffin pan in the oven and close the oven door. Leave it alone for about 5 minutes, then take a peek. Is the wax melted? If it is, remove the pan carefully (again, using oven mitts) and set it aside to cool. If not, shut the door and continue checking every minute or so until the wax is completely melted. Never leave the kitchen while the wax is in the oven. Safety first, ok?
Leave the pan undisturbed for about 40 minutes. Once the wax has become completely opaque, it's set. Remove the baking cups from the wells and peel them off of the wax. There you have it! Perfect wax tarts to use in your burner!
**Variations - This project can also be done using a mini-muffin pan. Again, be sure to use foil liners, not the paper ones.
For a really fun twist, you can use the mini tarts with the full sized tarts to mix scents. Cinnamon with vanilla would be nice or blueberry and apple. Just press a finished mini tart into a full sized tart as it's beginning to set. When it has fully cooled, the mini tart will be set in the middle. The scents will mingle as they melt in the tart burner!