Around the House

Creating A Creative Space

Happy to catch Morgan Donner’s latest YouTube video where she brings us along as she and Mr. Morgan Donner create her new sewing room. Check it out:

Moving into a new home always brings some creativity to bear. Where does the furniture go? How to access all the ‘stuff’? Do I really want to use this room as it was labelled or can I just make it what I want it to be?

Having watched Morgan’s sewing room update in her old home (check her channel to find that video), I have an idea of what she needs and wants to be able to do the projects she works on. Seeing how she applies the wants and needs to her new space just makes the entire process more interesting. And thought provoking.

If you are developing a room in your home – and it can be for any purpose, not just crafting – are you including in your design things that not only provide the needs (shelving and window coverings) but also the things that make you smile?

This could be anything from more plant shelves to a place to display collectibles to room to hang artwork.

Have you spent time seeing how the room flows and what the light patterns are (or aren’t)? All of us who have put things down when we moved in because it was open space and it ‘fit’ only to shift things around later because traffic patterns or the morning/evening sun blinded us or made watching TV impossible know how frustrating living in such a space can be until things are rearranged a bit. 🙂

I recently watched an interior designer walk us through her home where she stated that it took a few years of living in the home before she knew it well enough to start in on the projects that transformed it from a place she lived in to her Home.

Creative spaces cover a wide variety. They can be sewing rooms, craft rooms, writing rooms, offices, to name but a few. When you combine some (or all) of these into one space, it can be a bit tricky. When you leave out the things that inspire you to actually perform those functions (sew, craft, write, etc.) you tend to have spaces that aren’t used as much.

It really doesn’t matter if you are renting, either. There are lots of creative ways to make your space work better for you that are renter friendly, easy on the budget and inspire you to do your best work.

There’s a reason folks love book cases. 🙂

Looking for ideas or inspiration to make the most of your spaces? Check out The Crafty Organizer. Lots of thoughtful projects to organize your home and work space with an emphasis on budget friendly.

Sometimes thinking outside the box gives us the freedom to create spaces that work better for us in ways that we never expected. Trying new designs or learning new skills helps when we need to add more form and function, too.

Happy creating!

Food

Are You A Supertaster?

Several years ago I was part of a group who visited a food testing site that was geared toward deciding which products would be added to a grocer’s shelves. It was quite an interesting event; we participated in a taste testing of a full meal complete with testing materials used by the facility and we met one of the managers who explained that the products that appear on their shelves were carefully chosen to meet particular standards. It was a joint effort between the product producer and the grocer to determine if the product met standards, and, if not, what needed to be done to make the product interesting to the consumer.

The most interesting part of the visit, in my mind at least, was meeting with one of the managers who explained how the impact of taste and appearance effected the success or failure of a food product. It was the first time I’d heard of a ‘supertaster’ and it was fascinating to see how many in our group were classified as such.

A supertaster is a person who tastes certain flavors and foods more strongly than other people. Feb 21, 2019

Healthline.com

We all know of a picky eater – we might be considered picky ourselves – but do we really understand why that individual might be one? Healthline.com has an interesting article explaining this phenomenon. Check it out HERE.

Some folks have issues with texture, others with heat (which, by the way isn’t a ‘flavor’ but a ‘sensation’) while others are particular about certain flavors.

Personally, I don’t like heat. For me, chili is made with 1/4 teaspoon (yes, you read that correctly) or less of chili powder. Any more than that and the dish is not tasty it is actually an irritant. I’m also the person who uses half the can of chopped green chili in my chili.

I realize there are fans of heat that would find this sacrilege but for many of my family and friends, even this might be too much. 🙂

What I find interesting with this situation is that the foods we do, or don’t, eat have great impact on our health and well being. Food itself has become weaponized. Food = The Enemy, as it were. This creates additional issues when we look at things like roller coaster dieting or bulimia.

Teaching a youngster to eat healthy foods can be tricky if that individual has issues with strong flavors like broccoli or spinach.

Proper cooking techniques also impact the way food is, or is not, eaten. There is nothing more detrimental to teaching good eating habits that constantly producing overcooked vegetables. The idea is to provide foods that encourage consumption rather than discourage it.

When I was a kid, salmon came in a can. We lived in the middle of the country and fresh salmon, not to mention fresh seafood, was unheard of then. Now, it can be found in pretty much any major grocery store. The cooking methods have upgraded, too, so preparation isn’t as daunting as it might have been for those weren’t used to regularly seeing it at the grocer’s.

Julia Child brought an awareness of different methods of preparing a variety of foods and was careful – not to mention diligent – to teach viewers that there were options that provided tasty results with little effort.

I’m inclined to think that one of the reasons we have so much spicy food now is because for many decades farm animals have been raised to reduce fat. Consumers went on a ‘health bend’ requiring less fat on meats and poultry which required farmers to raise stock with less fat. The problem is that fat = flavor. When you reduce or remove the flavor you have to find something to replace it with to encourage folks to actually eat it. Suddenly, spicy foods started showing up in areas where they weren’t a staple.

A similar situation arose with fruits and vegetables. The consumer wanted large, beautiful produce. They weren’t interested in anything that might be oddly shaped. The first, and last, time I tried one of those California strawberries that were roughly the size of a toddler’s fist, the main thing that stood out is that while it was a beautiful shade of red, it had absolutely no flavor.

You see, I was raised in the Midwest where strawberries were raised every year and while they weren’t gigantic, they had a beautiful flavor. So much so that sugar wasn’t really needed.

Speaking of sugar and salt, these preservatives began to be added in what seems like bulk because even though we’ve managed to breed the flavor out of food, the major producers needed to find ways to entice folks to buy their products. Both sugar and salt are addictive. No brainer there, right?

Back to Basics

I’ll share a secret with you. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to prepare. It doesn’t need to come from mass producers if you have access to a farmer’s market. It doesn’t need to be expensive, either.

Good food can be as easy as roasted chicken and vegetables on a sheet pan. As simple as tuna noodle casserole. How about salmon patties served with a great salad? Hamburger Tater To Hot Dish or meatloaf? Macaroni and cheese – without the box or the fancy sauce.

A few years ago I came across some material put out by one of the major weight loss chains. They had collected nutrition and calorie counts of food found at a variety of fast food outlets. Turns out that some of those foods were actually quite healthy when eaten in certain combination.

What this meant to me was the necessity of reviewing what I’d been told for decades about ‘healthy eating’ and the reality of what was available. Earlier this year I took part in Mind Over Munch’s Food Freedom course. It was eye opening!

When you tie all of this together with the supertaster you come away with tools, tips and tricks to help you eat better, build more interesting meals and stop the fight with food. Or your kids. Or both. 🙂

To me ‘diet’ is a constant no win situation. It is non-sustainable. When I look at lifestyle changes; like focusing on less processed foods, drinking more water and less sugary drinks, I see a more sustainable collection of habits that encourage a healthier lifestyle.

What seems to be overlooked in all the hype for the ‘healthier lifestyle’ is that our ancestors lived for many, many years eating foods that weren’t over processed or full of chemicals. They didn’t get boxes or meal plans every month, either.

At the end of the day it is our choices that will help or hinder our success. One step at a time, right?

Food · Musings

Coffee And A Treat

I’m fascinated by all sorts of things. I love a good cup of coffee and a tasty treat. I enjoy the idea of a mystery gift in the mail. I like to experiment a bit to see if I can find just the right roast and blend of a cup of coffee. When all of these things come together, it really is a Win/Win!

I happened across the Match Made Coffee subscription box thanks to an Amazon.com notification. At the time, there was a sale on a variety of subscription boxes and I decided to check them out.

The service is quite simple: each month I get a box in the mail with two cookies paired with a bag of ground coffee – each has been hand picked and paired for maximum enjoyment.

The bag contains enough coffee to make a couple of pots of coffee – figuring 2 cups or so per pot. Just enough to try it out but not so much that it stays on hand.

The price is just right, too. If you have a habit of hitting the local coffee shop, you can expect the box to cost around two visits. 🙂

My First Box

So far I’ve been pleased with what I’ve received. I’m on my second month and each delivery has been well packaged.

Hey, this is such a nice treat I’ve dug out my tried and true faithful Melitta pot!

If you are looking for a nice treat, a way to experiment with different coffees, or just a break in the daily routine, check them out. You don’t have to use the amazon.com sign up, either.

Cooking · Food

Had To Try This!

I don’t know about you but I’m always looking to change up my menu rotation. Boring is boring after all, right?

Yesterday I came across the latest from Mandy In The Making over on YouTube where she shared three favorites and, while I think all three are interesting, it was the ‘Hamburger Goo’ that caught my attention. Perfect timing, too since I had a pound of ground beef in the fridge.

Now, I don’t eat green peppers because they don’t particularly set well with my tummy, but after reading the comments in her vlog post, I decided to try my spin on the recipe.

See what I did and then check out the video. Her recipe links are in the description box below the video over on YouTube.

Hamburger Goo (OPC Version)

Found this over on Mandy In The Making and had to try it. I adjusted it for our preferences so check out her video for the original recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground chuck
  • Onion Powder To Taste
  • garlic powder To Taste
  • salt To Taste
  • ground black pepper To Taste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ½ cup ketchup

Instructions

  • Sauté ground beef with the next four ingredients.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup cream of mushroom soup and mix together. I used about 1/2 can of water to rinse the soup can and added it to the pot
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes, but you can let it simmer for at least an hour to to 1 1/2 hours, stirring to avoid sticking.

Notes

I don’t use green pepper and I rarely have fresh onion in the house.  I do, however, keep powdered garlic and onion on hand, so I used that.  If you read the comments under the original video, there are lots of options and alternatives.
I served mine with mashed potatoes, but I would love to try it over baked potatoes or buttered pasta.
https://youtu.be/vRhLjtyH2NI
Musings

Happy Fall!

This morning I got up and turned on the heater. Hooray! That might not sounds like such a big deal, but around here we’ve been living with temps in the low to mid 90s with humidity to match. I’m tired of my a/c – and I love my a/c.

Now, I know that we have a few more days when temps will rise to the 80s again, but at this moment I’m enjoying what I can.

I’ve been dreaming of casseroles lately. In celebration of weather cool enough to have the oven on, it headed to the kitchen and raided my pantry.

I heard about Rao’s fantastic sauces and decided to give them a try. I enjoy a good spaghetti or lasagna, not to mention pizza, but tomato sauce and I are not good friends. The acidity is a game stopper for me.

Doing some research, I found suggestions to add butter and baking soda (in small amounts) to resolve that issue, so I decided to try it.

The Rao’s sauce is scrumptious! I had to stop myself from eating it out of the jar. Yes, it is pricey, but I think it is worth it when you have a meal you actually want to eat.

Check out lunch:

Quick & Easy Baked Pasta

Pantry staples make a tasty quick fix for any night of the week.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Cheese, Marinara Sauce, Pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 13 x 9-inch baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce box penne pasta
  • 1 24 ounce jar Rao's Marinara Sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 – 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray
  • Prepare pasta to package directions. Drain reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  • In the empty pot used to cook pasta, combine the sauce, butter, and baking soda. Mix until butter is melted. Use the pasta cooking water to rinse the sauce jar and add to the pot. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat.
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Top with 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheese. Bake until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

I did not put foil over the top of the dish when it went into the oven.  It came out a little dry – which was fine by me.  If you want yours a little wetter, put the foil on for the majority of the bake time, take it off to finish melting the cheese.
To keep the cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil, spray the foil with nonstick spray.
I am sensitive to acidity in tomatoes.  The baking soda and butter were used to combat that.

Happy eating!

Around the House · YouTube

Inspiration: Engineer Your Space

I came across Engineer Your Space on YouTube several years ago. I love finding creative folks who are courageous and willing to think out of the box when it comes to making use of small spaces. At the time, Isabelle LaRue was living in a small apartment in New York City. I thought her ideas and designs were interesting and doable by most folks.

It wasn’t long that she moved to Los Angeles and once again created a living space that is warm, comfortable, useful, and, most importantly, doable by the average renter.

Granted, she has experience with tools, but that is something that anyone can learn. They can also rent tools if necessary, so that shouldn’t be an impediment.

What I can appreciate the most is the way Isabelle tackles problems, areas, projects in ways that are creative and affordable. They are all Renter Friendly and geared toward small spaces, but that doesn’t mean that the average homeowner can’t make use of her ideas, too.

I recently revisited the YouTube channel to find updates on her apartment. I love the way living in a space gives you opportunity to find out how it works best for you and what you can do to make use of all the features.

Check out her website here: Engineer Your Space, but don’t forget to check out her other media outlets.

Around the House · Shopping · YouTube

Inspiration: Mr. Carrington & Luke Catleugh

My discovery of Mr. Carrington has led to a lot of ideas, inspiration, fun and, my particular favorite, arm chair travel.

Mr. C, as he is known in my home, lives in London, England. His channel focuses on DIY around the house, decor, shopping excursions, cleaning and easy recipes. Among a few other things. LOL

Frankly, he is one of the very few Appointment TV (aka: YouTube) I have. Every Sunday morning I sit back with my coffee and breakfast watching to see what he’s been up to lately.

My other Appointment TV is with Luke Catleugh. Both of these guys are friends and occasional coworkers. They share a love of shopping, DIY, decor, travel, etc. Luke is also quite an interesting and inspiring home cook.

Each of these guys bring a relaxing vibe as they share their latest projects, shopping hauls, excursions into the garden, not to mention those rare but thoroughly enjoyable meet ups.

Watching them has stretched my imagination when it comes to decor and DIY projects. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed their travel experiences, too.

If you are interested, go to YouTube and search for Mr. Carrington and Luke Catleugh.

Musings

I Don’t Know About You But

Here we are in the middle of September with Pumpkin Whatever Season either upon us or fast approaching. Am I the only one not really ready to think about Fall?

We’ve had such <cough> warm (i.e.: HOT) weather that lately, as the weather is cooling a bit, I take notice when the a/c doesn’t run all the time. In fact, it has cooled enough that I can leave the door open to the screen until almost Noon before the a/c kicks in. Amazing! Dare I admit it is a bit disconcerting?

I’ve spent the last month or so dreaming about casseroles and roasts. Both of which tend to heat up the kitchen in addition to adding some wonderful scents in the air. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the salads and sandwiches that I indulged in all Summer. Frankly, they hit the spot because nothing else appealed. But now…I’m thinking pot roast.

Speaking of daydreaming, I recently picked up a really cute stamp and punch set for making Halloween cards. I’ve been dreaming about how I want to use them, but it seems just a bit too early to start in. And don’t get me started about creating Christmas cards! My designs have changed at least four times in the last month!

I don’t know about you but I feel like I’m not quite ready to move forward yet, even though I am really not interested in staying put.

On the plus side, I have several TV shows that will be returning with the new season – which is coming up sooner than I expected. Several of my regular authors will be publishing soon and at least one has branched off into new territory.

Many of my regular YouTubers are undergoing Change. One is expecting. One is on the road to completing some renovations in his home. One has added a fur baby to his family. One has lost a family member. Several are undergoing the process of re-evaluating their content and what they want to continue to work on.

Odd that all this seems to be coming to a head during Fall, but the reality is that most have been In Progress for most of the year – or at least the Summer. Fall tends to be the time to prepare for Winter’s sleep. The time for Nature to rejuvenate.

Rejuvenation

Perhaps that is what is happening around here. Most of the major projects are completed or at a point where it is not feasible to move forward until next year.

Somehow it just doesn’t feel quite like the right time yet. Maybe I’m just not ready to tuck in just yet?

Around the House · YouTube

Inspiration: DIY Danie

I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure where I originally came across Danie Berger’s work on YouTube. I’m pretty sure it could have been while watching Alexandra Gater or Buy or DIY. What I am sure about is how much I enjoy her creativity, her willingness to be silly, her fearlessness when it comes to projects.

Note: I’m pretty sure Danie would not agree to the ‘fearless’ adjective, but there you go. 🙂

As I’ve discovered during the more than a year of following along, Danie has a love of a variety of things that often inspires her to make some amazing projects. She has allowed herself to think outside the box and create projects, and rooms, that appeal to the fan in all of us

One of my favorite projects is her Harry Potter Inspired Adult Bedroom. Check it out:

For those of us who love Potter, this room is an eye opening comfort space that gives all of us permission to play and explore a bit while not diving into any kind of ‘kid zone’.

This past year, Danie embarked on making magic in her very own first home. Check out her videos as she upgraded the decor in the living room, bathroom and bedrooms. Don’t overlook the back patio or garden upgrades, either. And, I have to be honest, I’m loving the She Shed. 🙂

I have to say that after watching her, I don’t look at things in quite the same way. Is there a DIY potential? What if…?

If you are interesting in checking out Danie’s work, go over to her website diyinprogress to see what she has been up to. She’s also on YouTube and Instagram and probably a few more spots – you can find all the info on YouTube, too.

Audiobooks · Books

On the Reading Table: Marcus Didius Falco

I love a book series that is so compelling, captures so much interest, evolves into that rare realm titled “Can’t Put It Down!” that I literally can’t stop. Lucky for me, I discovered Falco thanks to Audible.com

I recently found myself stuck in a rut while waiting for other series to update via newer additions. Thanks to Audible, I have access to a very large and varied collection of books as part of their Audible Plus offering. What started as a test run with book one evolved into a marathon download and listen to each book in turn – some of the books listened to/read multiple times before moving on.

Make no mistake, I’ve inhaled this series.

After finishing the last book in the series, ‘Nemesis’, I can honestly say that this particular odyssey was worth every single minute. Each individual book stands on its own but taken together create a tapestry that is both complicated and cohesive. Davis is an author who is willing and able to connect the dots for both history and crime fiction.

Check out the author’s website: Lindsey Davis. You can also find more by going to Goodreads.com and Amazon.com. You can also check out this entry for a broader overview.

Falco is a first century Roman citizen who is a private investigator. Between his family, his friends, and his clients (Roman Emperor Vespasian, for example), Falco encounters some complicated mysteries and family dynamics that would make any modern protagonist wonder if there was benefit to moving elsewhere and starting a new career.

Personally, I am constantly amazed at how astute Falco can be while being determinedly obtuse when it comes to certain family truths.

Historical novels can often suffer due to the research ability of their author. Some choose to avoid details that could be questionable while others dive in so deep the reader can lose track of the story altogether. Davis has provided a balanced combination of information about the Roman Empire with enough nuts and bolts operation of the private detective. We aren’t stuck in one location throughout the series, either. Starting in Britiania we visit a wide array of locations within the empire, but it is Rome itself that shines in the books. Falco loves Rome. It is his home city and he knows it like the back of his hand.

While the books themselves are true gems, don’t overlook the Official Companion. There Lindsey has gathered maps of the city and the empire along with information on all the main characters without overstepping and giving spoilers.

Speaking of spoilers…

The series has several story arcs. Some carry through several books, some carry through the entire series. Everyone evolves throughout the series, some in unexpected ways.

Once this series is completed, I plan on continuing with the second series set in Rome. It will be a welcome addition to my Reading Table. 🙂