Friday, February 24, 2012

fuzzy friday: house guest

One of the dogs that I walk daily slept over at my house last weekend.  She's a six-month-old Golden Retriever named Molly.  She is the most mellow puppy that I know.  Unless there's another dog present that she could potentially make friends with.  Or she's playing tug-of-war.  Or you have food in your hand.    

Wishing you a mellow Molly sort of weekend.  I'll be back early next week with pictures of the mountains.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

how to reuse beer bottles for your home brew

We're heading to the mountains tomorrow for a little weekend getaway with friends.  I'm packing the essentials: flannels, boots and home brews.  Since Beau moved to kegging instead of bottling, there's a real shortage of bottles around the house.  So how are we going to get the beer up north?  Per usual, I raided the recycling bin.

I started by soaking the bottles for about half an hour.  The labels will become waterlogged and be easier to rip off.  Return them to their kiddie pool for awhile and the adhesive will get easier to scratch off.  I used a leftover bread clip to spare my nails.

Eventually, the labels will come off with a bit of scrubbing (OK - some will require a LOT of scrubbing).  The labels on the brown bottles above were made of metallic paper and the adhesive was apparently super glue.  A little vegetable oil helped convince them to leave.  I used to swear by Goo Gone, but now I'm inclined to think it makes Al Gore and the polar bears cry.

Next up, the bottles went into a sink full of scorching hot water and dish soap.  They soaked for awhile before I scrubbed the residual cooties off of them.

Once they'd been rinsed and dried, Beau filled them up with home brew.  He used a bottle capper and some fresh caps to close them up.

Lastly, I slapped on some labels made by the Beer Labelizer to distinguish between the IPAs and the ales.  

Thanks to the scavenged bottles, we pulled together enough containers to have a proper taste test this weekend.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

spring wardrobe

I'm not a fan of shopping for clothes anymore.  I used to be.  My wayward teen years were spent as a mall rat in New Jersey, mostly rummaging around in Wet Seal and Hot Topic.  Sometime during college, this hobby began to lose it's luster.  Now, my personal vision of hell is the mall on a Saturday afternoon: competing with other women for the last jeans in my size, waiting 10 minutes for a dressing room, paying full retail for anything.  No thank you.  

My closet has gotten harder to ignore lately as my wardrobe began to dwindle from weight loss and irreparable wear.  Add together my frugality, impatience with stores, and the strong desire not to support retailers who abuse foreign garment workers' rights, and you're left with few options for replacing things.  To begin supplementing before I reach the barrel-as-outfit level of clothing poverty, I ordered some new patterns during McCalls $1.99 Sale (going on till tomorrow).

1: M4769 2: M6396 3: M6506 4: M6167

First up will be #4 in (what else) plaid followed by #1 in blue chambray.  Stay tuned!

P.S. If anyone knows a good source of organic, discount fabrics made by fairly treated workers or cheap upcycled/vintage fabric, I'd love to hear about it.

Linked to GNOWFGLIN's Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

Friday, February 17, 2012

fuzzy friday: funny face edition

Bruce's mug makes me smile every afternoon.  I hope you're smiling now, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

something from nothing

I find two things VERY  exciting in the picture below.  Can you spot them? 
First, the most obvious thing is that Beau rigged up a makeshift grow light for me!  It's just an old fluorescent light fixture that used to be above his father's work bench.  Now it's hovering over my seed starting trays, just waiting for the broccoli that I'll be planting in a few weeks.

The second bit of upcycled excitement in that photo is a little harder to spot than the light.  Here's a hint.
The weird boards that used to box in the space over my cabinets were never thrown away when the kitchen was renovated.  They sat patiently in the basement until Beau had time to turn them into badly needed shelves - one for the brewery, one in the garage for gardening supplies.
As you can see, this one is approximately a mile long and has already been filled with all manner of man space paraphernalia.  

P.S. This entry is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

my first purse

I finished upcycling my old purse into a new one this weekend!

I adapted a tutorial from Obsessive Crafting Disorder to create the perfect size for dog walking.  Big enough to fit what I need but compact enough to stay out of my way.  I also used a tutorial from U Handbag to learn how to insert the zippers on the front.       

The hardware, bright pink lining, and zippers were poached from my beloved old purse which had seen better days.  The button has been sitting in my stash for ages.  It probably popped off of some fancy winter coat once upon a time but since I didn't remember it, I consider it free game.  Really sorry if any of my house guests DO recognize it.  I promise to give it a good home.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Like many other gardeners, my January was about planning for springtime.  A slightly obscene variety of organic heirloom seeds were ordered.  A garden plan was drawn.  Some seed starting equipment was purchased to make sure my frequent weekends away don't kill the tender little guys.  But still, there was a major hole in my plan: containers.  My garden is an 80 square foot cement slab so, yeah, containers should be a priority.  

Per usual, the Internet, sweet mistress of inspiration, suggested a frugal, greener option than going to Home Depot to fill a cart with brand new plastic: check your local grocery store.  It took me two tries at customer service, lots of polite smiles and a little hutzpah, but after my weekly visit to Shaw's on Monday, I walked out with a lot more than food.  Behold my haul!  

They gave me 16 food-grade 5-gallon buckets from their bakery.  I'm going to use this tutorial to turn them into self-watering pots (which, by the way, usually start at $50 a pop).  These ones were free, upcycled, and best of all, they smell like heavenly buttercream frosting.  I'm in little gardener heaven. 

P.S. This is my weekly entry at the Barn Hop.  I get tons of ideas from there. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

superbowl defeat eats

On Sunday morning, I woke up early, painted on my eye black, and got to work in the kitchen.  We spent all day prepping our Superbowl snacks just like last year, the main difference being that I made little food labels this time around.  Beau just sorta shook his head.  He does that sometimes.   
Bill presented the artichoke dip

Buffalo Boston Wings in Beau's own teriyaki glaze

Gisele shivered on the chili that our guests brought (WELL, I CRACK MYSELF UP)

Ever popular fried pickle chips

Addictive baked onion rings (I made these twice last week)

And my personal favorite: Brady jalapeno poppers

Things didn't turn out quite as planned for the Patriots but it didn't really matter in our living room where everyone was knee deep in snack food, beer, and good times.

Monday, February 6, 2012

weekend highlights: not all was lost

Like most other New Englanders, Sunday was consumed by the Super Bowl.  But Saturday saw some excellent crafting that made me even more eager for a spring garden.
Foster pup Jesse got in on the crafting action before his new family picked him up

Beau finished my new vertical gutter garden!
I can't wait to fill it with lettuce and radishes.

Got into football for the first time in my life

I'll be back tomorrow with the many snacks we made for the game.  Naturally, I found a way to girl up the manliest event of the year.

Friday, February 3, 2012

fuzzy friday: too much of a good thing

I'm exhausted.  The type of exhausted that makes you shuffle around with stiff limbs and fall asleep on the couch at 8 pm.  Part of that is due to a lovely boom in business (YAY!). The other part is due to the foster pup I picked up from Forever Home New England on Monday.  His name is Jesse and he is supremely adoptable.       
Jesse enjoys ice cubes, destroying raw hides, long walks in the park, and snuggling.  He also worships Beau.
Hope there's something as enjoyable as ice cubes planned for your weekend.