Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Removing Water Spots From Wood Furniture

Our dining room table has had a busy summer.   It was humid (for us) this year, and there were times when a glass of water overstayed its welcome on the wood, leaving a water spot.  These don't ever seem to go away on their own, but there is a fast and easy way to get rid them.

All you need is an iron, a thin piece of fabric, and a clean, dry table.  For my fabric, I chose a flour sack cloth, that, once I unfolded it, was a bit raggedy for blog photo purposes, but in reality, this is the cloth I use to iron out these water stains, so I decided to keep it real.

The cloth lets the heat pass through but keeps the iron gliding smoothly over the table.  I've always used a flour sack towel because it's thin and doesn't have it's cotton, rather than a synthetic blend.  A synthetic blend would be a poor choice - do not use!

You need to set your iron for the hottest setting, but with no steam or water.  None.  Water or steam would defeat the purpose.

Open up your towel to a single layer, and if you're blogging, photograph the part of it that doesn't have purple flecks from a dye project, or an entire un-raveled hem.

Keep the iron moving, passing it over the water marks that are visible on the surface.  Take a photo that, later, reminds you that hand lotion really needs to become a habit.

You can lift the cloth and check the spots, re-ironing as necessary.  Here are before and after photos of one of the most obvious water stains:



Once the surface is sufficiently treated, you can oil or polish it (I did neither, because I had other things on my to-do list) for an even nicer shine.  Maybe I can get to that next week!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Goals and Dinner Menu for the Week

We are on a school break this next week (we were last week as well).  We were out of town part of last week, but this week, we will be home.  I'm really looking forward to a week when we are mostly at home, and I can go through my housekeeping routine, do some autumn/winter planning and read a book I checked out from the library!  In addition to my weekly routine, I have some 'bonus' things I'd like to get done.  Here are my goals for the week:

House & Home:
finish thank-you gifts for pet sitters
can apple butter
make corn bread mix
make kimchee
shampoo carpet (stairs)
sweep down cobwebs/dust - ceiling and walls
list items (already photographed) to sell on local facebook page
restore finish on kitchen table (photograph and blog about technique)
send photos to family
print photos from trip
blog (here!) about our trip

sweep chimney
pick up 'garden art' outside, put into shed for winter
put cover over bunny barn window
set up bird feeding station for winter feeding

That looks like a lot...we'll see how far I get!

I'm finding myself in that place where I have a full freezer and pantry, but I'm struggling to put together a supper menu.  If you have a family favorite or two that you're willing to share with me, I'd appreciate it!  You don't even have to share the recipe - I have lots of recipes, but I'm just not feeling terribly inspired when it comes to planning and ideas.  My family and I appreciate your suggestions!

I thought about the menu all day today, and after consulting Daughter and Husband, this is our list.  These are not in order yet, but we will be eating:

grilled chicken, fall harvest salad, garlic toast
vegetable soup, bacon-cheese corn muffins, apples
ham slices, macaroni & cheese, cole slaw, pineapple
king ranch chicken, garden salad, green beans, pears
mini meatloaves, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, apples
barbecue bacon-chicken pizzas, carrot & celery sticks, pineapple
tongkatsu chicken, rice w/nori & furikake, kimchee, slaw

What's your plan for the coming week?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Home-Made Autumn

I've found a little time to do some crafting these past few weeks.  I made these with supplies I already had on hand.  Take a look!

These aren't really fall decorations, but they are fall-inspired.  Daughter's birthday is soon, and she will need thank-you cards, so I got out a few stamps, her favorite yellow card stock and made some notes she can use to write her thank-yous.

I used a rainbow stamp pad in autumn colors, so these were really quick and easy to stamp and put together.  I like them!

A couple of weeks ago, Daughter and I did some painting together.  I had these wood forms in a drawer - I had gotten them on super-duper clearance one year (I think at Valentine's day, hee hee) for a quarter each.  We had the same form, but different ideas for them.

I love them both!  Finally, I have these two pillows that live on our couch.  I don't want to buy seasonal pillows, so I made pillow covers for them.  On the back, there is an opening - you just slip the pillow inside and then flip the flap (like most any removable pillow cover).  I had all the fabric on hand, as well as the fusible webbing and applique thread (thanks, Mom!).  I printed some templates from the internet and then whipped these up!  They are not exactly what I thought I was going to do when I started (I was going to have all the leaves clustered in the center, but it was too busy and a bit confusing), but I am happy with how they turned out.

So, those are our home-made autumn decorations.  Do you sew, paint, craft?  What have you been making lately?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stay Safe with Bright Lights!

I love our car.  It gets great mileage, it has been very reliable, and it is just the right size for our family.

Every now and then, though, the hard, clear covering over the headlights gets a bit yellowed and cloudy.  I suspect that has an effect on how well the head lamps can shine into the darkness, and I'm certain it makes our car look a little older than it has to look. So...this is how I fix it!

I got this at our county's household cleaners/hazardous materials drop-off site.  When people drop off items that are in the original container and still use-able, they put them on a shelf, off to the side, free for the taking, and so, when I saw this can of Brasso, I took it!  I start with clean headlights and just rub some Brasso on with an old rag, let it dry, and then buff it off.  It's just like waxing a car, but smaller and faster.

The results:

And...because I'm silly...both photos together, for comparison:

before (I know, you knew that!)

after (taa-daa!!)

I am really happy with the results, and it is a quick and easy fix!  If you don't have Brasso, there are other products that people have reported to work well, or there are kits you can buy in the automotive section of the store.  Have you polished your headlight covers?  What worked for you?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Give New Life to (Slightly) Old Produce

Have you ever opened the crisper drawer and found something that was fresh and lovely has become a bit shriveled and far less appetizing?

Me too.

I'm talking about produce that is still apple that could go into a salad, celery that could be chopped into soup, but sometimes, I need these as a side with lunch or for an afternoon snack.  I found an easy way to help some of these slightly shriveled fruits and veggies re-hydrate!

This is so cool.

Here's my story:  We live in a really dry climate.  Sometimes, my potatoes in the bin in the basement get a little soft...a little wrinkly...a little dried out.  When this happens, I peel them and make mashed potatoes.

A while back, I was working on dinner a little early in the day, and I peeled the potatoes some time after breakfast.  I didn't want to cook them until about 5, so put them in a bowl and covered them completely with water (that keeps them from browning).  When I went to put them into the saucepan, they were sticking out quite a bit from the top of the water (and the tips were browning just a bit, argh).

Water wouldn't evaporate that quickly, especially in the fridge.  It took me a while to realize that my slightly shriveled potatoes had absorbed water from the bowl and rehydrated.  Sure enough, they were no longer soft, but firm and 'crisp', in the way that raw potatoes are crisp.

Last Sunday, I was preparing sides for Daughter's lunches and came upon some grapes that were a bit shriveled.  I decided to see if they would rehydrate, so I washed them and put them in some water (still on the stem) for about an hour.  They plumped back up, and when I tasted them, they did not taste watery at all.

That got me excited.  What else will refresh and rehydrate in water?  I've been experimenting a little.  In every case, I wash the item first, then put it in water.  When it has rehydrated (or when I realized nothing was happening), I removed them from the water.  Keeping fresh produce submerged in water long-term seems like a bad idea that could promote spoilage and leaching of nutrients.  I do not recommend it. 

But...a bit of a soak?  Sometimes, yes.

Apples.  That apple in the photo up above was my test apple.  It had a bit of a wrinkly appearance all over.  After some time in clean, cool water, the lower half was not wrinkled, but the upper shoulder remained about the same.  I sliced it up, Daughter and I shared it.  It was tasty and crispy inside.

Carrots.  If they are 'bendy', I put them in a glass of water with the root end (pointy tip) down.  I check after an hour, though they may need more time.  Once they are rehydrated, I remove them, dry gently and use soon.

Celery.  I decided to trim the base so the cut was new and fresh, and put that end in water (return to the fridge).  This seems to work sometimes, but not always.  It may depend on how wilted they have gotten.

Asian Pears.  We have two trees, so we had more than we managed to eat quickly, and - silly me - they were out on the counter and got a bit shriveled.  I washed them, then I soaked (and soaked, and soaked some more).  No change.  It might work if I sliced them and returned them to the water, but I have not tried that yet.

Grapes.  I just wash them like I plan to eat them, but put them in some water and return them to the fridge for about half an hour or so.  Mine lost their shriveled appearance and tasted great!

These are the fruits and vegetables I have tried.  I am only using this on small amounts of produce that were misplaced or forgotten in the crisper drawer (it happens to everyone sometimes!), and not as a regular, everyday practice.  Once I have soaked something, I use it soon - for the next meal, generally.  So far, it has been a great way to salvage a few items and make them more appetizing.  If you find something that was forgotten, you can always give it a soak and see if it helps.  If you discover additional produce items that rehydrate successfully, please leave a comment.  Thanks!