Kitchen Cure Featured Before/After

Check out the last set of pictures in this set for another before/after of my kitchen during the cure. I also really enjoyed looking at the improvements fellow Kitchen-Cure-Takers shared. Next season it’s your turn, right?

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/kitchen-fall-cure-2009/your-kitchen-improvements-a-kitchen-cure-roundup-the-fall-2009-kitchen-cure-102272

My Feet Have Wings…

 

Salomon XT Wings, picture courtesy of Backcountry.com

For the last year, I have been running in Salomon Pro 3D Ultra GTX shoes. They have been awesome. Until a lace snapped. With no REI within distance (they are the only ones I know of who carry a lace replacement kit – these laces are fancy: you can’t just pick up a new set at Wal-Mart) I was left to debate over my next move.

For nearly two whole months I have agonized over my decision, wearing an ancient pair of Adidas shoes with zero support or cushioning left and as a result, barely running due to the havoc they were wreaking on my feet. My feet were taking a beating – a 20 minute walk produced a half dozen bizarre blisters and callouses in a variety of unattractive places. Something had to be done. Should I stick with the same brand? Try a new one? Order something? Find something in town so I could try it on?

Finally, I reached a decision and the fruits of this labor arrived in my mailbox two days ago (yes, mailbox-shoe shopping in Wichita is a bit of a grim affair). Welcome to the world of Salomon XT Wings. I went for a brief walk last night with Rory and we ended up running half a mile. She had way too much energy for 10 PM and I wanted to fix that. These shoes are awesome. Did you hear me? Awesome. They have all the features I loved about my first pair of Salomons and in addition, they make you feel like you are running on soft, spongy little clouds. The “Wings” moniker is well-deserved. Well-done, Salomon, well-done! A new pair can set you back as much as $159.99 but if you run on a regular basis, or if you just happen to love your feet – it is worth every penny.

 

Bizarre, blister-inducing shoe decay - now safely banished to the trash can

 

 

DIY Curtain Rod Finials

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If you read my blog, you will have learned several things about me. I am crafty. I am thrifty (generally). I am decorating our house on a budget. This third item allows me to apply items one and two in a real-life setting. For example, when it came time to hang curtains in the bedroom, instead of buying two new curtain rods (which were like, at least $30 each! Craziness!) I used two old curtain rods. Being recently married, my husband and I have a mish-mash of possessions from our previous abodes. I was able to find two curtain rods of the same color and the appropriate lengths and the best part was, they cost me zero dollars. However, one was missing a finial (those decorate baubles that stick off the end that look pretty and keep the curtain from sliding) and the other one had two UGLY finials. Solution? Trash those babies and make my own. Note: You can buy finials. The least expensive ones I found were $7 a pair and I’d rather put that money toward my new running shoes than some tacky curtain rod jewelry. You may have different (better?) uses for your time, but for a couple of dollars you can make your own, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of 6 wooden “dowel caps” purchased for $1.50 at Hobby Lobby. (They have all different sizes and shapes and the dowel caps are predrilled. If you are even thriftier than I am- you could actually make your entire curtain rod setup from scratch using dowel rods and caps from the craft department.)
  • Black craft paint
  • Modeling clay purchased for $1.00 at Target
  • 1 drinking straw
  • Scissors
  • For good measure, I also used glue. This is probably not necessary.

One of my curtain rods was the exact dimension of the dowel cap, so all I had to do was paint, stick a little clay inside, and jam them onto the ends of the rod. If you’ve ever inspected your curtain rods, and who doesn’t, this is basically what manufacturers do- but with classier materials.

The caps were just a pinch too small to fit over the larger curtain rod, so I adjusted accordingly.

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1.) Paint dowel caps desired color and embellish. I considered hot-gluing a mother of pearl button to the end of each cap but decided to go for a minimalist effect. This is going into a serene, stylish bedroom after all, not granny’s craft closet. You may notice that the finials I made are small. They work with the scale of our room and with our style – if you decide to try this but have a grander scale or bolder style, don’t be afraid to go bigger.

2.) Cut straws into segments (use your best judgment- the deeper your dowel, the longer the straw needs to be).

3.) Insert a drop of glue into the hollow part of the dowel cap.

4.) Fill hole with clay.

5.) Insert straw into clay.

6.) Insert clay into hollow part of curtain rod.

7.) Jam dowel cap and straw into clay- sealing the two objects together.

8.) Let dry.

Not bad for $2.50, eh?

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The Kitchen Cure – final post!

Sweet! My special project was featured on a post about the Kitchen Cure on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn.

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/kitchen-cure-wrap-up-happy-graduation-the-fall-2009-kitchen-cure-101389

 

I was surprised to find it there, since I hadn’t submitted any photos, but I guess those bloggers are pretty smart and managed to track me down anyway. It makes me wish my special project had been more special, but even small projects can make life more beautiful. Don’t let limited time or resources keep you from injecting a little more beauty into your own life!

 

Kitchen Cure Week 3 – Deep Cleaning Cont.

I wrote yesterday about the list of deep cleaning chores I had prepared in order to complete the Week 3 assignment for the Kitchen Cure. I am proud and somewhat surprised to report: THEY ARE FINISHED.

Kitchen Deep Cleaning

  • Clean outside of mixer, toaster, knife block
  • Clean coffee maker inside + out
  • Clean microwave inside + out
  • Wipe down exterior of refrigerator + stove/oven
  • Wipe down exterior of kitchen trash can
  • Clean burners and pans of stove
  • Clean/degrease hood
  • Move refrigerator and clean gross stuff off floor between refrigerator and stove
  • Scrub down outside of kitchen cabinets (upper and lower)
  • Scrub down kitchen walls
  • Clean windows
  • Deep clean floor – that means hands + knees scrubbing
  • Remove floor mat and clean before replacing
I also had to add a few to the list, things I had forgotten:
  • Clean outside of dishwasher
  • Clean light switches and electrical outlet covers
I never would have made it to the end of the list without Tyler’s help. I finished everything except the walls, the floor, and the gross hidden spaces of the floor. I was exhausted and had to leave for my second job of the day. He had just woken up from a nap (he works those early morning shifts now) and swooped in, spending several icky hours scrubbing those forlorn places.
So, our kitchen is sparkling, making this yet another week I somehow managed to finish on time. There would have been no shame in breaking up the tasks into two days but I’m glad we are done!
I decided the new, clean kitchen deserved a treat, so after work I went out and bought one of those fancy-schmancy stainless steel lidded trashcans.

Focaccia for the Masses

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This recipe was fast and delicious. The entire loaf was demolished within 24 hours. I served the bread at a tres petite dinner party but couldn’t help thinking how delicious it would be for sandwiches. This is an excellent bread for parties or social gatherings and has a lot of potential applications (bread, of course, sandwiches, appetizer ingredient). If you are afraid of yeast, this is a nice recipe to ease you into the bread making process and if you have a stand-mixer, there is virtually no work involved. Try it! You’ll like it. : )

I replaced the chopped onion in the original recipe with garlic powder and parmesan. There are a number of variations you could try if neither of those flavors appeals to you.

Garlic Herb Focaccia – Adapted from the Onion Focaccia Recipe in The Williams Sonoma Cookbook

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (105*-115*)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 1/2 tsp. table salt
4-4 1/4 c. bread flour, plus extra as needed
1/2 cup dried parmesan
1 Tbsp. garlic powder

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Italian Seasoning (or other herbs) for sprinkling

In a heavy duty mixer with the paddle attachment sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over 1/2 cup of the water and stir to dissolve. Let stand at room temp. until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining water and sugar, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the table salt, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the flour and beat on medium low speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion. Switch to the dough hook. On low speed, beat in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough forms that starts to pull away from the bowl sides. Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until moist, soft, and slightly sticky, about 6 min. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper lightly with oil. Turn the dough out onto prepared sheet. With oiled fingers, press and flatten the dough into an oval 1 inch thick. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour. It will be at least 2 inches thick.

With your fingertips, make deep indentations 1 inch apart all over the surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place a baking stone on the bottom oven rack and preheat to 425*. Sprinkle the bread lightly with the sea salt and italian seasoning. Place the pan on the stone and bake until the bread is lightly browned, 20-25 minutes (20 minutes exactly and my loaf was PERFECT). Check the bottom and bake for a few extra minutes if it is pale. Slide the bread onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, in squares or wedges.

 

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A delicious lunch

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