Overnight Refrigerator Pickles

I figure two months was the perfect amount of time for you all to wait for this post.

Why?

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Because it’s about pickles!! And summertime is infamous for it’s fabulous farm-fresh vegetables. The problem with this is the quantity of vegetables, which is always a large quantity. You get all excited and take them home, then they start looking kind of sad in the bottom of your refrigerator, and then you start seeing your hard-earned dollars melt away into a sludgy goop in the vegetable drawer. I don’t know about you, but that makes me sad. An awesome thing about pickling, is that it preserves your beloved veggies! So, if you know that you aren’t going to use those two cucumbers before they go bad, just pickle them.

I originally found the recipe for these Overnight-Bread and Butter Pickles at The Burlap Bag blog. I liked the recipe but the thing I loved the most was the method. You’ll see what I mean once we get into it.

Not only will we be pickling cucumbers, but radishes as well. I bough a bunch at the farmer’s market the other day, and boy are they spicy. Hopefully the pickling solution will take out some of the spiciness.

*Disclaimer: radishes tend to have a funny smell once they are pickled, but otherwise they taste great. It’s not for everyone, so I understand if you don’t want to try this out.

Overnight Pickles

2 large cucumbers
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs salt + 1 tsp
1/4 tsp turmeric- this gives the pickles that yellow tint
1 tsp celery seed and/or mustard seed

1. Slice your cucumbers to the desired thickness. I have a mandolin, which makes this a lot easier.

Radishes and cucumbers with the salt soak

Radishes and cucumbers with the salt soak

2. In a large bowl, mix your cucumbers with the 1 tsp salt and let them sit for at least an hour. This is my very favorite part of the method. The salt draws moisture out of cucumber, which will then give us a crunchier pickle! It’s true. Science.

Excess water from the radishes

Excess water from the radishes

 

 

excess water from the cucumbers

excess water from the cucumbers

3. After the hour, rinse your pickles well with water. While you are rinsing, put the rest of your ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove and boil it.

pickling liquid

pickling liquid

4. Once the mixture has boiled, pour it over your rinsed pickles. Put them in a sealed container and stick them in the fridge to hang out overnight. The next day, you will have some delicious pickles.

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As always, make the recipe your own! This recipe produces a sweeter pickle, but if you don’t like sweet pickles, then cut down your sugar to equal your salt. Add some red pepper flake for spice, or garlic for a zesty flair.

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One note if you decide to add raw garlic: if you put it in your boiling liquid, then it will turn blue. There is nothing wrong with it, it is still very edible, but it will be a distinctive greenish/blue color. You can try to combat this by putting the garlic in after your solution has cooled down, but even then it is not a guarantee.

Enjoy!

How to Fail

I’m sorry this isn’t craft related. All the crafts that I have been doing are related to birthday gifts and baby gifts, so I don’t want to spoil anything!

This time, I will make it personal.

It is important to know how to fail. I don’t like to fail, you don’t like to fail, no one likes to fail.

Today, I failed at going no ‘poo. After a month of washing my hair with baking soda, rinsing with apple cider vinegar, and deep conditioning with greek yogurt, eggs and honey, I gave up and washed my hair with regular shampoo and conditioner. I really wanted to give no ‘poo a try. It was kind of exciting even, something different. And if I could get away with never buying shampoo again, I was all for it. After awhile, I was starting to have some doubts. So, Like any sane girl in her 20’s, I made a pro’s and con’s list to help me out.

*Hint: When in doubt, make a pro’s and con’s list.

Pro’s

– My usually thin hair felt thicker and stronger with more body
– I didn’t have to wash my hair as much (aka, I was washing my hair every day and it got greasy almost 12 hours later before doing this)
– My hair grew crazy fast
– My hair seemed to be darker, which I liked.
– I didn’t have crazy fly-aways all the time
– I felt like I was doing something good to my hair and me
– Super cheap.

My hair right after a baking soda rinse. Pretty great, actually.

My hair right after a baking soda rinse. Pretty great, actually.

Con’s

– My hair didn’t smell as awesome. It just smelled like hair.
– My hair would still get kind of greasy after a few days of rinsing, then I would have to spend the rest of the week wearing a ponytail.
– It didn’t work with my profession. As a cook, I am constantly around food, including a grill and a wood smoker. My head smelled like a mixture of smoked meats and roasted vegetables.
– Heavy hair was an issue. I will blame this one on the water in my shower. The minerals just built up in my hair and made it feel heavy and gunky. Not cool. I could have bought a filtered shower head, but who really wants to do that? Too much work.
– I thought my hair would get closer to its natural state, and in my case I thought it would get wavier. Instead, the heaviness just weighed it down and made it mostly straight with weird lumps.

In the end, I felt guilty giving up no ‘poo. And maybe I did give up too easily. The great thing about this whole experience is that I tried something new and saw what my hair could be. Turns out, I just like it better shampooed and conditioned. I will go out of my way to buy some nicer organic shampoos next time.

I am not sorry that my hair smells like cucumbers and feels lighter than air, though. Better luck next time.

If anyone is interested in giving no ‘poo a try check out AlmostExactly’s blog and go to her no ‘poo section. She gives the best tips and tricks and warnings about this new hair care routine.

Feng Shui Attack: A Before and After Story

It’s one thing to have a craft table and a whole ‘nother thing to have a craft spaceI am on the verge of beginning a huge project but I find myself to be stuck. Very stuck. A few months ago I worked on beautifying my craft space, and it helped for a little while. But I still need more of a division between dining area and crafting nirvana. I know that with the space I have available to me, nirvana is far from being reached, but I am determined to get just a step closer.

Step 1: A hot mess.

Step 1: A hot mess.

I began with this. Clutter everywhere because I hate putting stuff away, a bookshelf in the corner that wasn’t serving much of a purpose because the shelves are a quarter of a circle, and a round table sitting in the middle of the space, thus wasting the area around it. Just, a mess.

Step 2: Getting rid of the little things.

Step 2: Getting rid of the little things.

I cleared off the table, got that big bookshelf out of the corner and swapped it with an existing nightstand that I had in my bedroom. This shelving is perfectly functional, as it holds my baskets and mini totes full of crafty odds-and-ends perfectly.

Step 3: Make the area.

Step 3: Shape the area.

Luckily, the eaves of my round table drop down to make a cute little rectangular table. Scooched that all the way over to one side of the nook so I had a raw space to work with. I used my cutting mat and ruler to determine what size of table I could work with. Thankfully, we had an existing make-shift table in our apartment that fit perfectly. (Unfortunately for the Boy, I stole his computer desk so he had to go find a new one.) I also vacuumed.

Step 5: Finishing.

Step 5: Finishing.

Once I put the table in, it all came together. Now that the table isn’t taking up the entire area, the space looks huge. I think I am as close to crafting nirvana that I can be in this space. The only thing that would make it better is if I had a comfier chair. I need to suck it up and get one.

I am tickled to start my new project in my new crafting area which is… a surprise that I will be sharing with you in the next couple blog posts.

Enjoy, everyone!

5 Favorite Household DIYs

Making common household items yourself is very satisfying. Not only do you know what is going inside of your products, giving you better control of scents, but it is often much cheaper and last longer. The key to making these things smell great is essential oil. A little goes a long way, so it is definitely worth the initial cost.

5 Favorite Household DIYs

1. Bathroom and Kitchen Cleaner

Vinegar and baking soda combine as a powerhouse cleanser for any grime. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle or old soap bottle to easily dispense the cleaner. To some, vinegar has that “ah, so clean” scent, but if that isn’t for you, feel free to add a couple of drops of essential oil into the mix.

bathroom cleaner

2. Lotion Bars

Lotion bars are a must have during this wintery time of year. It is portable, not messy and intensely moisturizing, which is something your itchy, cracked hands will thank you for. Keep it in a drawer by your desk whenever you need quick relief.

lotion bars

3. Pore Strips/Face Peel

Hands down this is my favorite face peel and you only need two inexpensive ingredients to give your face this pick-me-up. Afterwards it feels like someone took a mini vacuum and sucked out all of the gunk in your pores and shrunk them all at once. It is amazing. Plus, what girl doesn’t love peeling that nastiness off of her face? Just me? I certainly hope not because it is a very rewarding feeling.

face peel

4. Scented Stick Air Freshener 

Not only will your abode smell wonderful, but you will have a nice decoration as well. These scents can be customized to your exact preferences and lasts up to a month! Play around with different combinations to find your favorite fragrance.

air freshene

5. Laundry Detergent

I only made half a batch of this stuff, and it gave me an entire gallon of detergent for only $10. Also, it is going to last me for months and months since I only need to use 2 Tbs per load. I’m probably never going to buy conventional laundry detergent again. Bonus: the clothes smell light and fresh, not like you soaked your favorite shirt in a nasty air freshener.

laundry

These items are a gateway to getting you interested about diy household products. Whatever can get me excited about doing laundry can’t be a bad thing, right?

Enjoy!

 

 

Weaving With Leftovers

A few weeks ago I celebrated a mini early Christmas. My sister brought me a large tote filled to the brim with yarn of all kinds. Bamboo, alpaca, wool and even a bit of angora. Some of the most fine yarns came in small spools, not nearly enough to make into any large project.

Whats the best thing to do with such odds and ends?

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Weave.

I used flat bamboo coffee stirrers and yarn to create a small mat. You could also use round skewers to create the same effect.

To create a makeshift loom, I used  the large cardboard flat of a cereal box and cut slits at the top and bottom for the yarn to be strung though.

To create a makeshift loom, I used the large cardboard flat of a cereal box and cut slits at the top and bottom for the yarn to be strung though.

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It's important to keep the yarn as taught as possible without bending the cardboard.

It’s important to keep the yarn as taught as possible without bending the cardboard.

The loom before the skewers have been woven through.

The loom before the skewers have been woven through.

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The skewers being woven through the yarn.

The skewers being woven through the yarn.

As they are woven in, I pushed them close together.

As they are woven in, I pushed them close together.

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The finished product still on the loom. At this point, I used glue to fix the yarn to the bamboo skewers.

The finished product still on the loom. At this point, I used glue to fix the yarn to the bamboo skewers.

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Once the glue has dried overnight, I cut the mat from the loom using an exacto knife.

Once the glue has dried overnight, I cut the mat from the loom using an exacto knife.

At this point the mat is ready to be edged and finished!

At this point the mat is ready to be edged and finished!

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If you don’t have any skewers, you could do this with other scraps of yarn, or even t-shirt yarn to make a thicker trivet.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potstickers. Need I say more?

Let’s make some Asian dumplings because everybody loves them!
Plus, they are actually very easy to make and cost efficient. And though they are slightly time consuming, they are worth it.

Asian Turkey Dumplings with Ginger Dipping Sauce

Yield 40-50 dumplings

10 oz ground turkey
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs scallions, diced
1 tsp grated ginger, fresh
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp sesame oil
Wonton wrappers, square or round

Combine all ingredients together and marinade at least 30 minutes before folding the dumplings.
If you don’t have ground turkey use whatever you have on hand. Ground chicken, ground pork, even finely diced shrimp will work perfectly in this recipe.

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
2 Tbs grated ginger, fresh
2 Tbs scallions
1 Tbs vinegar
¼ tsp red chili flakes
¼ tsp sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together and marinate while the dumplings are being folded. You can keep any leftovers in the fridge. I highly urge you to to buy fresh cilantro and fresh ginger. It really makes all the difference!

I’m not joking.

Do it.

Now that you have the ingredients, let’s assemble. All you’ll need is your filling, a small bowl of water and the wonton wrappers.

Step 1: Take your wonton wrapper and put a teaspoon of your filling in the center. If you overfill it, you won't be able to fold it.

Step 1: Take your wonton wrapper and put a teaspoon of your filling in the center. If you overfill it, you won’t be able to fold it.

Step 2: Dip your fingers in the water bowl and wet the edge of your wrapper.

Step 2: Dip your fingers in the water bowl and wet the edge of your wrapper. You’ll want to work quickly. The water acts as glue to keep the folds sealed.

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Step 3: Fold your wrapper over your filling, and starting on one side, seal the corner by pressing lightly.

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Step 4: Once one corner is pressed down, it is time for the first pleat (or fold). Make it small because you will be doing three folds on your dumpling.

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Step 5: Your second pleat will be made immediately after the first, pressing them down along the way to seal the dumpling well.

Step 6: The third and final fold.

Step 6: The third and final fold.

Step 7: Seal it completely by pressing the last open edge together, just like the beginning.

Step 7: Seal it completely by pressing the last open edge together, just like the beginning.

Step 8: Stand the dumpling up and smoosh the bottom down a bit so it can stand on its own.

Step 8: Stand the dumpling up and smoosh the bottom down a bit so it can stand on its own.

As you can see, one side will be flat and the other will have the pleats. Don't freak out if your pleats are not evenly spaced. It's not a big deal because they will taste delicious anyway!

As you can see, one side will be flat and the other will have the pleats. Don’t freak out if your pleats are not evenly spaced. It’s not a big deal because the dumplings will taste delicious anyway!

Eventually, you will have a lot of dumplings.

Eventually, you will have a lot of dumplings.

 

I made all of mine ahead of time and kept them in the fridge until later that night. You can also freeze them on a sheet tray, then put them into freezer bags for storage for a couple of weeks. They are great for dinner parties and even better when your guests help you make them. Once you get into the rhythm of folding, the work will go by very quickly.

When it comes to cooking these beauties you have many options. Steaming, frying, poaching, etc. My favorite way is to pan fry them first, then steam them in the same pot to finish cooking them off. Hence the name “potsticker”.

It goes a little something like this.

1. Get a large nonstick pot or saute pan and put a couple of Tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom, heated to medium high heat. You want enough oil to completely cover the bottom, but not so much that your potstickers are drowning in the stuff.

2. Put the dumplings in, but do not try to crowd them all in at once. I do mine in two batches, and keep the first batch in the oven to keep warm at the lowest setting.

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3. Fry the dumplings until the bottoms are golden brown, then add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and immediately cover the pan with a lid. It is best to do this quickly, otherwise you will have hot oil flying everywhere. Have that lid ready!

4. Steam the dumplings for 5-7 minutes or until the water is all gone. Take the lid off and leave on for one more minute to achieve optimum browning.

Then, take them out and share with people you care about.

Because, really, you went through all of that folding, so whoever is eating them better appreciate it.

Enjoy your dumpling feast!

 

 

 

 

 

Old Things, New Wall

After moving into my downtown Kansas City apartment, I finally gave in to decorating.

You know, the real kind of decorating where you try to make things match and nails are pounded into the walls because the landlord allows it. Maybe not even that. It is the fact that there is no expiration date on this apartment yet, unlike the last five years of my college life. It is a new start, with new walls.

I’ve always been a big fan of collages. The organized chaos is attractive. What is fun about one wall with one piece of art on it?

I have many walls in my apartment, and my favorite one is in this little nook where the dining room/craft table is. It is a quaint little space, and it deserves to have an equally quaint wall. The nook first had a triptych of Moulin Rouge dance posters from France, and it was OK. Not the best, but OK.

Nook Before (Forgive me for the photo quality.)

Nook Before
(Forgive me for the photo quality.)

I’ve been collecting hanging pieces for the past couple of months, and I can safely say that each piece in my collage means something special to me. Here are all of my treasures in their final glory.

Nook After

Nook After

How about a closer look?

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Top: A portrait of Mary Lynn, my cat, done by my lovely friend MacKenzie Bottom: A needlepoint of a hummingbird and my most recent craft project completion

Top: A portrait of Mary Lynn, my cat, done by my lovely friend MacKenzie
Bottom: A needlepoint of a hummingbird and my most recent craft project completion

A half-completed paining done by my late Grandma Wright. She was a very talented lady, and I love this.

A half-completed paining done by my late Grandma Wright. She was a very talented lady.

This group of pears was painted by my Grandma Beisker. And I just happen to love pears. I'm lucky to have two very talented women as my grandmothers.

This group of pears was painted by my Grandma Beisker. And I just happen to love pears. I’m lucky to have two very talented women as my grandmothers.

Top Left: A watercolor of imaginary wild flowers. Top Right: An embroidery project of a diatom done by my dear friend Erica. Bottom Left: A cross stitch that reads 'Be Calm', which is something that needs to be remembered. Bottom Right: Various embroidery stitches.

Top Left: A watercolor of imaginary wild flowers.
Top Right: An embroidery project of a diatom done by my dear friend Erica.
Bottom Left: A cross stitch that reads ‘Be Calm’, which is something I that needs to be remembered.
Bottom Right: Various embroidery stitches.

A soft crochet sculpture that I recently finished. I found my inspiration from Cornflower Blue Studios- check them out!

A soft crochet sculpture that I recently finished. I found my inspiration from Cornflower Blue Studios- check them out!

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Now, go put some stuff on your walls and decorate! It will feel good.

A Little Extra Cushion

I recently inherited a sewing machine from my Mom, which really opened up my options as far as crafting goes. Alas, once I got the sewing machine propped up on my little kitchen table I realized that I possessed none of the materials needed to actually create stuff. My Mom’s entire sewing room always overflowed with sewing materials, and it never occurred to me that I’d someday have to buy my own stuff. It never occurred to me how expensive it would be either- Yikes!

On my trek to Hobby Lobby I picked up the very basics: pins, thread, rotary cutter, cloth measuring tape and a seam ripper. A pin cushion was one thing that I desperately wanted to make for myself and there are a ton of cute options out there. I did a search on Pinterest and discovered a no-sew pin cushion. I realize how silly this is since I now HAVE a sewing machine, but it still appealed to me because the cushion is meant to go in a cute little tea cup for the base.

No-Sew Teacup Pin Cushion

You can see the outline around the green hoop. I just took a small plate used it as a template. I hate measuring, so this method was the best for me. I chose some blue material that I had in my stash, but it was a little bland for me.

 

hoop1

I decided to dress it up with some embroidery.

hoop2

Actually, it kind of looks like the embroidery monster threw up on it.

hoop4

 

hoop3

I like it, though.

It was very important to iron it out after it got out of the hoop. I didn’t want a weird, wrinkled pin cushion.
hoop5

I followed my guide and cut the circle out. Then, I took a sharp needle and some thread and followed the edge of the circle, weaving the needle in and out as I went. I kept the stitches far apart from one another, so I could easily pull the string to gather the material and make a little poof.

hoop6

I filled the cushion with standard poly-fiber stuffing, then closed it up for good.

hoop7

The only step left was finding a little cup to put it in! Really, very simple.

hoop8

 

This entire project made me excited to use my sewing machine! I can’t wait to find a new project to work with.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Work in Progress

I swear I’m not being lazy. I know I kind of promised last time that I would write more blog posts, and it is true. I’m working on it.

In fact, I’ve been working on a new crocheting project. The unfortunate thing is that it is taking me awhile because it is an actual garment. The first one that I’v ever attempted to make.

It is a cute little shrug that I found on Lion Brand Yarn’s website.

shrug

It is appealing to me because there are only two major parts to the pattern, and they are basically rectangles. A lot of repetition. I have the first part done completely, and I’m about halfway done with the second. As long as I am diligent I figure I can get it done within a week.

Top portion

Top Portion

Bottom Portion

Bottom Portion

I’m still not sure how it is going to come together, even with the pattern in front of my face. However, I am confident that it will work out somehow. Also, I ran out of white yarn, so I switched to the blue for the back of the shrug. I will also probably run out of this color of blue and will switch to a lighter shade. I have so much yarn it makes no sense to go buy more just to finish one beginner project.

Cool thing about the Lion Brand Yarn website, if you create a free account you get all of these free patterns, which include cute little stuffed animal patterns! I made this little octopus years and years ago, but I still keep him around.

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Dye Lot

Sorry for such a long hiatus! I’ve been very busy with moving to a new city, beginning my externship and generally living.

I’ve been working on a lot of crafty projects lately, but one that I am the most excited about is natural onion dyes. I originally found a tutorial for it at Folk Fibers Blog. First I used all yellow skins, luckily I work at a restaurant and a pot full of skins was not difficult to find.

I chose to dye Sugar & Cream 100% cotton white yarn and I had enough onion skins to dye two skeins.

Yellow Onion Skins

I was expecting it to be very yellow, but it turned out to be this soft pink hue, which I love!

Let’s make some dye.

1. a

Get all of your onion skins and put them into a large pot. Red onion skins were everywhere, so I just rolled with it. Fill the pot up until the skins are completely submerged. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer for an hour. I let the onion skins cool in the water for a couple of hours or overnight if you have the time. The longer they sit, the stronger the dye.

2. b

Once you’ve let the skins sit, drain the liquid into another pot. Make sure you squeeze all the liquid out of the onion skins that you can. While you are draining the skins out, take your yarn or whatever material you are dyeing and soak them for a few minutes in hot water.

3.

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Put the yarn into the dye bath and bring to a boil, then to a simmer for an hour. Here is the yarn right after I put it in the bath.

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And here it is after I let it sit overnight. You can actually let it sit for a few days. Once again, the longer it sits, the stronger it is. At this point I was getting really excited because the color was such a deep purple/red color.

4.

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Then, I rinsed it. You need to rinse out all of the dye, until the water runs clear. The yarn begins to change color a lot. I’m not totally thrilled with the red onion skin dye. I thought the color would be a darker red color, and it turned more into a weird brown.

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I dry the yarn on a clothes rack in my bathtub. I put a small fan on it to help it along because by this time by patience was killing me.

6. brown

 

The yarn definitely looks very natural, but not at all red. Pretty tan, actually.

It is nice, but not what I thought would come out of it. However, that is the joy of crafting. Surprises.

Hopefully I can make blogging more of a weekly occurrence, so stay tuned!