Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Love My Roof

After living in several houses with less than adequate roofs, I'm really appreciating this one. What I mean is, our last two houses had roofs that lacked good drainage. One was very flat and one had poorly designed gutters. The result was that at least once each winter we had to go up on the roof and knock down some of the snow. Now we have a wonderfully slanted roof with excellent drainage. For the past week I've been watching giant icicles form around the house. Now that the snow is starting to melt our fabulous roof is encouraging those giant icicles to come crashing down, a few at a time, sending me to jump several feet in the air each time. I don't mind, though, because there'll be no climbing on the roof this year! :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ziplock Clothesline

I use Ziplocks often, and reuse them as many times as possible. I used to become so frustrated about how to dry them after washing them. I would precariously balance them over other drying dishes and they were never dry when it came time to put the dishes away. I came up with this idea: I have a small shelf hanging on the wall above my kitchen sink. (I keep sponges and dish soap on it.) I took a piece of yarn and attached it to either end of the shelf. I clipped as many clothespins as would fit on it. Now when I wash Ziplocks I immediately hang them up. (I wash and dry them inside out so the insides don't get moldy.) I can let them dry for as long as necessary. Very useful!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fabric Gift Wrapping

Every holiday season I become frustrated by the amount of wasted paper that goes into gift wrapping. (I get particularly frustrated by the number of people who don't even bother recycling all of that wrapping paper!) For birthdays I usually put gifts in reusable bags, but during the holidays there's that whole wrapped-presents-under-the-tree tradition. I have previously used fabric in creative ways, tying it with ribbon and twine. I recently came across this incredibly useful tutorial on how to wrap gifts in fabric without using anything but the fabric to hold itself together! I'm so excited to try all the different methods! (Unfortunately I don't have gifts to wrap that match all of the shapes...) Anyhow, I'll let you know how things go once I actually start my wrapping.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Winter Composting, Anyone?

I'm curious about what other people in cold climates do about composting in the winter. We don't have any kind of fancy composting system - just a compost pile surrounded by a mesh fence. During nicer weather composting is easy - we just make sure everything eventually breaks down. I always get frustrated during the winter because we can't use the compost pile when the ground is frozen. I know there are churning barrels and similar appliances designed for year-round composting, but I would love to hear other ideas. What works for you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Quiche Kit

I love making quiche, but it can be very time-consuming. Usually when I take the time to make one I prepare ingredients for several more just to save prep time later. I generally don't share recipes because I don't follow them - I tend to eyeball rather than measure ingredients and I regularly change ingredients, seasonings and portions. That being said, here's (approximately) what you need to make one quiche kit.

  • sliced mushrooms (2 cups)
  • butter or olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • wheat germ (3/4 cup)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • basil
Layer 1
  • sausage-style veggie crumbles (1/2 package)
  • diced onions (1/2 cup)
Layer 2
  • peas (3/4 cup)
  • corn (3/4 cup)
  • diced carrots (3/4 cup)
Layer 3
  • shredded cheese (1 cup)
Layer 4
  • 4 eggs
  • milk (3/4 cup)

Freezing Directions
  • put mushrooms in small ziplock
  • mix wheat germ and seasoning in small ziplock
  • if using butter cut 1/4 cup to freeze
  • put veggie crumbles and onions in small ziplock
  • put peas, corn and carrots in small ziplock
  • put cheese in small ziplock
  • put your 5 small ziplocks and butter in a 1 gallon ziplock and freeze
Cooking Directions
  • saute mushrooms with butter or oil in skillet
  • remove mushrooms (leaving the skillet oiled) and put in pie plate
  • mix wheat germ and seasoning into mushrooms and press into pie plate
  • saute veggies crumbles and onions
  • layer veggies crumbles and onions over mushroom crust
  • thaw peas, corn and carrots in skillet with lid
  • layer peas, corn and carrots over veggies crumbles and onions
  • layers cheese over peas, corn and carrots
  • whisk eggs and milk together and pour over quiche
  • bake at 450 degrees for about 35 minutes
  • let sit until firm, cut and eat!
If you plan ahead and thaw your kit you'll be able to prepare this quickly. If you're thawing as you go, it adds a little extra cooking time. Enjoy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gift Lists

I have two notebooks that keep me gift-organized. These are not specific to the holiday season, but include any gift-giving time throughout the year. In addition to the actual notebooks I keep the same information on spreadsheets because who doesn't love a handy spreadsheet? :)
  • Gift Notebook 1 - I keep gift ideas in this notebook. I have a different name on each page and any time I come up with a gift idea I write it down. When I actually give one of the gifts on a person's page I cross it off. This is great for friends and relatives who I don't see very often. I like gifts to be both meaningful and practical, so sometimes coming up with ideas can be tough!
  • Gift Notebook 2 - I keep gifts I've given in this notebook. Each time I give a gift I write down the date, what the gift was and who I gave it to. (See how the spreadsheet can come in handy?)
I'm sure many of you have similar systems, but I just thought I would share mine. I'll save my thoughts on gift-giving being overrun by money-making corporations for another time!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cat Induced Scare

Our cats are not allowed in our bedroom. This has not always been the case, but the rule was created for several reasons. My husband is mildly allergic and cat hair on the bedding is problematic. The odder reason is that Brogan has the unfortunate tendency of sleeping on our faces. Wake up with cat hair in your mouth one too many times and you'll kick them out of your room, too. I'd like to avoid the nightmare scenario of being suffocated by my cat.

Anyhow, this evening I had the bedroom door open while I was putting away clean laundry. Brogan boldly ventured in, as usual, and I shooed him away. Charlie and Nola were nowhere to be seen. A little later I got in bed. I was in the room for quite awhile, typing on my computer. Suddenly a ball of fur came flying through the air and landed on the bed, nearly giving me a heart attack! Sneaky Nola had been hiding behind the window curtain the entire time! She casually sauntered to the door as if she had done nothing wrong. This from the cat who usually scurries from the room if I catch her even peeking in! That's right, my fuzzy little cat sent my heart racing. Cats crack me up.