beautiful dreamer

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The other day I got the DIY itch and headed to the craft store to get inspired. Dream Catchers just stuck in my head, so I decided to have a go at one. Usually before I try something new I will google tutorials to get an idea of what I am getting myself into, but there really were not many detailed or helpful tutorials for dream catchers. And I thought to myself, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t fix that problem? 

First a little background on dream catchers: Dream catchers originated with the Ojibwe people and slowly, through marriage, spread through other nations over time. As the stories goes, there was a Spider Woman that watched over all of the children, but as the people spread farther away, she could not longer take care of all the children. Soon the mothers and grandmothers started making dream catchers that would catch all the bad dreams and never allow them to reach the children. Children would have only good dreams and the bad dreams would vanish in the morning. I think it is an amazingly sweet and happy story.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

8′ of twine
Metal ring
Super Glue
7′ of wax cotton thread
Assorted beads, feathers, and ribbon

Step 1: Wrapping the hoop

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The first step is to wrap the hoop with twine. Begin by putting a dab of super glue (quick drying) on the hoop and giving it a moment to dry. Once it is dry you will have a foundation to begin wrapping. Once you get the hang of this, it will go pretty fast. Every several wraps, push what you’ve done so far together, so you can’t see the hoop underneath the twine.

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When you (finally) get to the end, you can either end the twine with a bit of super glue OR you can make a loop with the excess twine. This way you will have a way to hang your beautiful creation at the end.

Step 2: Making the web

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Begin by tying the end of the thread at the top of the hoop. I usually go ahead and string my beads at this point because it is easier than trying to do it in the middle of stringing the web. Use a dab of super glue on the knot, so that there isn’t a risk of it coming untied.

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Wrap the thread all the way around the loop until you come back to the top. Make sure each of the wraps are evenly spaced around the loop because this will be the base of your pattern.

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Continue making your way around the circle looping the thread through the bottom of each triangle. It is important that the thread you choose is heavy duty because you will be pulling it taut along the way.

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Drop the beads in wherever your crafty heart desires. If you went ahead and threaded them before you began, you’ll be thanking yourself right now. If you didn’t…well, you’ll be getting creative.

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You can choose how small you want the inner circle to be. If you leave it larger, you can even add a feather or something in the middle. You can also continue until the circle is almost closed. Whenever you decide you’re done, you’ll want to tie the end of the string off and use a dab of super glue to secure it.

Step 3: Embellish

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This is the fun part! You can decorate your catcher in whatever way you desire.

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Since we live by the sea, I added shells into mine. I also love a little sparkle, so I added crystal beads. Feathers are a very traditional way to go and also add the light movement that I associate with dream catchers.

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I added a feather to the web of the last one I made and I wrapped the hoop with lace ribbon.

The sky is the limit with the way you can decorate your dream catcher – you’ll never make the same one twice, which is what is so great about this project. Be creative and let your dream catcher reflect all of your favorite things. This would be a fantastic project for kids and teens. If I did it with kids I would probably pre-wrap the loops and just let them decorate.

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There you have it! I hope you enjoy your dream catcher and it serves you well to keep the bad dreams away!

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refrigerator overhaul

So, I had a bit of an OCD moment yesterday and I thought I would share it with you guys. Our fridge…it is amazing to me. There are only two of us, but it always looks like a food bomb has gone off in our ice box. I can’t imagine what it would be like with kids constantly opening the door and riffling around in there.

I want to go ahead and apologies for the lame pictures in this post, definitely not my usual quality, but I haven’t figured out refrigerator photography yet…

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Here it is in all its scary-ness… The first thing you’ll want to do is declutter and get rid of all the expired stuff in there. I think it goes without saying that you’ll want to do this quickly, so things don’t sit out at room temperature for too long.

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As you can see in these ‘before’ pictures, things were basically all over the place with no home. There were actually eggs in the door AND in the main part, all varieties of cheese (I love cheese) all over the place, leftovers just strewn about, and veggies and fruit everywhere.

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The funny thing is that the drawers at the bottom weren’t really being used at all. It is no wonder we were throwing out expired food all the time. I had no idea what was in there!

Step 1: Declutter and clean

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This part is a little sad for me, I hate throwing out food. It is so wasteful and yet we do it all the time because I have no idea what is actually in the refrigerator. I pulled everything out of the fridge and separated it by category on the counter. I then measured the shelves and made a quick trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to get these super fancy containers. I even got one for the eggs, which I always thought was pointless, until I realized I can now stack things on that container too. Brilliant.

I also went by Target and picked up some labels for each of the bins and got a dry erase board that we’ll talk about later.

TIP: This is a fantastic time to deep clean and get all the gross out. I’ve read that keeping activated carbon in your refrigerator will help if you have issues with smelly odors. Also, if you hate cleaning, put cling wrap down on all the shelves for easy clean up later. Wiping up spills when they happen will also save you a lot of heartache in the end.

Step 2: Categorize and organize

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You know your family and food needs best, so you’ll have to make the category choices for yourself. On the top shelf I went with Condiments and Milks/Juices.

TIP: Apparently, milk shouldn’t be kept in the door because the temperature fluctuates too much. This is also true about eggs. They should both be on the inside of the fridge.

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The next level consisted of another Condiments bin and a Snacks bin. The cool thing about these bins is that you can take them out and put them back in, all in one little neat package.

TIP: Make sandwiches a lot? Make a bin for sandwiches and keep all the sandwich fixin’s in it. That way you can grab it out of the fridge, make those sandwiches and then just return it.

Next is a drawer that is now dedicated to cheese. Yup. Cheese. I think there might be a roll of croissant rolls in there too. But mostly cheese.

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We have an obscene amount of jelly, jams and butters. Obscene. So the next level has a bin dedicated just to those. The eggs are also on this level, now inside the fridge and not in the door.

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Next are the sodas, teas, and leftovers. There are two levels of soda holders, but it is hard to see that in this picture, since I need to go and buy some more. The teas in the back are sitting on a lazy susan (where did that name even come from?), so we can turn it around and find what we want. I also left some room for leftovers on this shelf.

TIP: If you have raw meat in your refrigerator, this is where it should to go. You always want raw meats and seafood to be on the bottom shelf to avoid contamination.

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Now the drawers are actually being used – the top for fruit and the bottom for vegetables.

TIP: The vegetable drawer should be humid. News to me. Also, I found a really helpful article about keeping your fruits and veggies fresh for longer.

Step 3: The door

So, you’ve moved all your milk and eggs out of the door…what goes there now? Well, I added another Snacks shelf and a Misc. shelf for all that random stuff that shows up from time to time. It is currently holding a pitcher of lemon-infused water. Yum. The last two shelves house Wine and Beer because they need their own space too. Remember all that butter I was mentioning? Well I have a separate place for the butter I use specifically for baking. It now lives in what was once the egg holder in the door. Genius, I know.

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And there it is, in all its organized glory. Kind of nice, huh? And it really didn’t take that long from start to finish. Maybe a couple of hours, tops. Looks like I need to go grocery stopping…

Step 4: The dry erase board

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Now, for all of you fellow OCDers out there, I present to you (dramatic pause) the dry erase board. Whether or not this will stay updated at our house is questionable, but it is a great idea in theory. This way I can keep track of what’s in the fridge, what’s going to expire soon, what leftovers we need to consume, and what I desperately need to purchase on my next trip to the grocer. I’m also going to try and plan weekly meals ahead of time… try.

So there you have it, a nice organized fridge in only a few hours. Definitely an afternoon well spent!

 

book club

Last night a lovely group of excited ladies descended upon our house for book club. In my usual over-the-top fashion, I went all out for the evening. I felt like I needed to make it worth the drive for them since they all had to pile in a car and come all the way out to the beach. So far. I’m so mean.

the book was an obvious choice for the center piece

the book was an obvious choice for the center piece

We read The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – which, incidentally, was the first book that I successfully finished before the book club meeting. Go me! If you click the link to the book synopsis the theme choices will make more sense. (I think?)

I'm so glad we decided on this large table for the dining room.

I’m so glad we decided on this large table for the dining room.

I sort of latched onto nature (bird’s nests and botany, specifically) and the color green as loose inspirations for the decor. Luckily our design esthetic in our house is already nature-y and natural, so I could pull a lot from what we already had for the table decorations.

I'm a little obsessed with blue right now...

I’m a little obsessed with blue right now…

I already had the cork placemats (that I’m COMPLETELY in love with) from Thanksgiving. I bought the green napkins from Pier 1 Imports to bring in the green color and I’m a big fan of cloth napkins for dinners. It makes in me feel classy. You are clearly at a grown up dinner party if there are cloth napkins. (in case the booze wasn’t enough of an indication)

love the opportunity for the silver to come out

love the opportunity for the silver to come out

I love mixing and matching plates for settings, which is good because I only have 6 place settings of both of the plate sets. I also bring the silver out at any chance that I get because, well, why not. Interesting fact from last night, I put out the glasses for water and/or other dinner beverages, but the wine glasses were the only things I had to wash at the end of the night. This is a very good sign for a stellar book club. Win.

strawberry jam, win

strawberry jam, win

Remember that post about jam? Well, we have a suplus of jam, so what better way to give out jam than to make it a place card/favor?! I think it was an innovative place card choice, if I may say so myself. Added bonus, it brings in a nice pop of color to the table. I even dressed it up with a cute little green hat with a ribbon.

fun fact: the tea started as virgin, it did not remain as such

fun fact: the tea started as virgin, it did not remain as such

Now the important stuff, FOOD. Okay… tea isn’t really food, but with a southern food theme, if may as well be. And boy was it sweet, my grandmother would have been proud. I found the dispenser at Pier 1 Imports when I went to get the napkins. Oops. At least it was on sale. Which is good, because it was totally begging to come home with me and I was powerless. I was also powerless when it came to buying the pedestal that it is sitting on. PSA: Before filling one of these to the brim with liquid, make sure the spout is screwed on reallllly tight. I would show you a picture of the aftermath of that mistake, but I was too busy putting tea in every available container to keep it from spilling onto the counter. Lesson learned. Don’t make my same mistakes people.

best appetizers EVER.

best appetizers EVER.

What southern food theme is complete without pimento cheese and pepper jelly with cream cheese? None. That’s how many. Here is where this entry gets less picture-y…I got distracted by the food… Here is list: Fried Chicken, Corn Pudding, Deviled Egg Dip, Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, Pecan Pie, various other desserts… now do you see why I didn’t have my camera in my hands? I was too busy stuffing my face.

full view of the table

full view of the table

Overall, the meeting was a big hit. The wine (and bourbon) flowed and we actually talked about the book for about 15 minutes. If there is a theme I was totally equipped to handle, it was a southern theme. Glad it was a hit and I will leave you with this picture of Zoey reading a book:

Heather said: Zoey thought the book lacked focus, but the food was great!

Heather said: Zoey thought the book lacked focus, but the food was great!

Can you can-can?

So the other day (okay, more like a month-ish ago) I decided to try canning …because apparently I’m 85 years old – more on that later. I was sitting on the sofa watching Pioneer Woman on TV and she convinced me that I could make some strawberry jam – she has a way of doing that to me…

So on a Saturday afternoon I set out on my canning adventure. First the materials, because why use things you already own to try something you may or may not ever want to do again? A couple of stores later and having acquired a very large pot with canning rack (which incidentally, is an excellent low-country boil pot), several randomly important tools, including a magnet on a stick, some cans and WAY too many strawberries, I ventured into the world of mashed berries.

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Canning is surprisingly easy and, once I got past the fear of potentially sharing botulism all that tried my jam, it was a very relaxing evening. You get to mash lots of strawberries, which is good for aggression, and it is just repetitive enough to lull you into jamming bliss. After I mashed more strawberries than I’d like to admit, into the pot they went! Add some pectin and lemon juice, for acid, then…a little…sugar.

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Nah, a lot – no reason pretending on this one…like 7 cups. Exactly 7 cups actually – to the 5 cups of strawberries. Mmmmmmm, no wonder jam is so delicious!

From there it is all about adding some heat and waiting for the boil. Meanwhile the lovely jars are taking a little hot bath to ready themselves for the jam – don’t want shattered glass in the kitchen.

After filling all the jars with the delicious, crazy hot, liquid – they go for a dip together in the boiling pot for heat-processing – around 10 minutes. This kills the bacteria in them and seals the top making it last for a year. (sweet!)

hot tub of death party - everyone join in!

I had no idea how satisfying the popping sound of jar lids could be – it really made me feel like I had accomplished something. I made that and it is going to be delectable!

Next is the hardest part of the entire process – seriously. The jars then have to sit on the counter untouched for 24 full hours. (this helps to make sure that the seal solid and there won’t be any botulism shared with the deliciousness of the jam)

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SO WORTH THE WAIT! Once you’ve tried homemade jam you will never go back!

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Seriously – everyone should try this…and here is a link to The Pioneer Woman’s blog about canning – Part 1 and Part 2

And, by the way, I have made more jam since the first  experience – it was so good I had to make some more and it was easier the second time too. The materials have already paid for themselves in saved money on store bought jam.

BAM!

pantry

I decided to do a little pantry reorganization yesterday, nothing earth shattering, just a little tidying up. It is surprisingly difficult to find shelves to put in the bottom of a pantry and I’m not totally happy with the one that I finally settled on. And, as usual, organizing anything makes me want to make a trip to IKEA – which is always dangerous. We spent some time working on the garage recently and I don’t even want to talk about what it looks like now… hopefully this will stay organized a little longer.

It is so important to have an organized pantry, it is such a high traffic area that, if not maintained constantly, if can go to hell pretty quickly. Exhibit A:

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Look at all that crap crammed in there! The pink container used to hold the dog food, but we have a different tin for that now and we rarely buy in bulk anymore, unless there’s a really great sale. Getting that container out of there really helped a lot – throwing away empty (or stale) boxes of cereal also helped… I now have two shelves that hold the baking/raw ingredient stuff and another for just cans and more perishable items.

bottom shelf
bottom shelf

This the shelf I ultimately decided on, I figured when I find on that works better for us it can go under the sink or in the garage for more storage. I took one of the shelf parts from it and use it in the top of the pantry, so I could add a level up there without it falling through those holey white shelves that comprise our pantry right now.

clear container
clear container

I love the idea of using these clear drawers – not only do they corral smaller things in the pantry, but if you group items together you can just grab the container when you’re ready to bake, cook, etc. I have 3 right now – baking, cooking and pet food – and they serve us really well.

stadium seating
stadium seating

There is so much wasted space in the top of the pantry! This shelf helps some and I plan on getting another one eventually for the other side of that top shelf. I also love storing all of my dry ingredients in clear containers, not only does it help preserve them better than the bags they come in, but is also makes it quick to look in and grab what you need to make dinner. It also looks cooler. 🙂

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So there it is – phase one of the pantry redo. Next is to replace those white shelves with some solid, more substancial shelves. I would also like to try and utilize the back of the door for hanging things and use some of that wasted space up in the top of the pantry. Nothing glamorous, but it makes getting food out of the pantry a whole lot better!

BAM.