Taking Matters into Your Own Grinder

The Engineer and I are facing a slight crisis….our supply of ground elk and deer is dwindling dangerously low.  We have plenty of steaks and roasts, but our tubes of ground meat are quickly disappearing!

How are we supposed to make tacos without ground meat!?!

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Accurate depiction of The Engineer and I as I demand avocado on my tacos….except he is a crunchy taco and I am a soft taco!

Now I know that I could make steak tacos….pulled pork tacos…chicken tacos…fish tacos……

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ALL OF THE TACOS!

Trust me, we make tacos a ton and in a wide variety of flavors and styles.  However, some tacos require planning and forethought.  I’m not always the best at taking things out of the freezer to thaw in advance, but a pound of frozen solid ground meat is just easy to toss straight into a frying pan!  Basically, having a reliable stash of ground meat in my house is a requirement.

The Engineer bought me a grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aide for Christmas because I had grand visions of getting into sausage making.  I have yet to make a batch of sausage, and so the grinder had just been waiting patiently in a kitchen cabinet to be used for something delicious.  Last weekend we decided to test out the grinder and tackle our meat issue head on!

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First things first….thaw out a giant roast!  When The Engineer had his elk processed in Canada, it was cheaper to just get it cut into large roasts.  This makes total sense and is fine, except that the two of us don’t necessarily need to cook up a 4-5 pound roast for a nice dinner at home!  Also, don’t worry if the meat isn’t totally thawed.  The colder, even still slightly frozen, the better.  Also, if you’re going to add additional fat into your ground meat….that fat needs to be frozen!

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The little lurker quickly noticed that tasty meat scraps come out of the grinder after every round of processing….there is always a little morsel left in the auger!

 

The grinder worked great!  I had read some questionable reviews so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I had emotionally prepared to spend most of the day fighting and struggling to get the meat processed.  It was such a smooth process I wish we had thawed out more meat and we could have just done it all at once.  We ground the meat twice, once through the coarse blade, and a second time through the fine.  I’m not sure that a second grind is required if you’re just planning on tacos, chili, casseroles, and such with the meat, but it’s the typically recommended procedure.  Between the rounds of grinding I took apart the grinder and cleaned it out.  It had built up a little ring of tendon, fat, and meat right behind the grind plate, but it was easy to just clean out.  Also, once the flow of meat stops moving down the auger, a small chunk was left that couldn’t be pushed through the grind plate….no biggie and Scout really appreciated the snacks!

The only slight issue we had is that no store in town stocked the “Sausage Kit” with the filling nozzles.  Minor setback, and it worked pretty well to just hold the bags and let the ground meat sort of just fall into the bottom.  Actually, once the bags had some meat in them they sort of just sat themselves up.  Easy peasey lemon squeezey!

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4 beautiful little tubes of ground elk all ready for delicious things!

Now, if you’re looking for a tasty way to use up some ground meat….might I suggest Mexican Stuffed Peppers!

Ingredients:

  • Drizzle of olive oil (Only needed for wild game as it is super lean and sticks)
  • 1lb ground meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 can Original Rotel
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin and chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper…or to taste if your spice sensitive
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, plus 2/3 cup additional for topping
  • 3 large bell peppers

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add meat and onion.  Cook over medium until the meat is fully cooked and the onion is soft.  Add the garlic, Rotel, rice, beans, and all spices to the skillet and mix to combine.  Turn heat off and allow to sit to cool and the flavors to meld for a couple minutes.  Divide peppers in half through the stem and remove all seeds.  Immediately before “stuffing”, stir 2/3 of cheese into the meat mixture.

Divide the mixture evenly between all the peppers….don’t worry about being too neat.  They will be large and in charge!  Sprinkle the tops with the additional cheese, if desired, cover with foil, and bake at 370 for about 30-35 minutes.  I like a crispy, brown, cheesy crust so I uncovered them for an additional 5 minutes.  The cooking time will be reduced if you have smaller peppers, just cook until the peppers are soft and tender.

Serve immediately with any of your favorite taco toppings!  I did avocado….OF COURSE!…..and The Engineer likes his with taco sauce and sour cream.

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My New Fluffy

She is glorious, thick, and warm….and I took her out and about with me twice this week!  She also sheds….a ton….but that comes with the fluffy territory I suppose.  If you think I’m talking about a new puppy, sadly your wrong.  I can understand your confusion on the issue, and honestly if you follow the #adoptdontshop mantra…….you can probably get a new puppy companion for less money than I spent on my glorious new fluff!!  I would love a puppy…..but that’s something for another time!

I promised last post that once I got my new scarf completed I’d write an update post.  Well…..she’s all done, and was surprisingly easy!  I say easy like I didn’t get two dozen rows in and decide to rip it all out and start over…..minor technicality.

I can’t take credit for the pattern, all of that goes to the wonderful Knit Collage and their glorious, chunky yarns!  If you love to knit, what to learn how to knit, or want someone you know to knit you something amazing……Knit Collage is the place to go.  Cheap and easy to follow patterns paired with interesting hand spun yarns you won’t find anywhere else.  If you can’t get inspired by clicking through their website there is not a ton of hope for you.  Their yarn skeins are more expensive than what you can get at a big box store, but they are all hand made by a handful of women in India.  This creates small batches of each yarn and also means that every skein will be slightly different.  They are random in the best way possible…..lumpy, shimmery, wooly…….perfection!

First things first….you’ll need to pick your pattern!  I went with the Wildcat Fringe Scarf because it was something unlike other scarves I have hanging in my closet.   Might as well go big and step outside your comfort zone right?!  The link and picture for the scarf are below if you’re wanting to whip up your very own fringed beauty!  If fringe isn’t your cup of tea, pick out your favorite sweater, scarf, or hat and get to knitting!

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Photo and pattern by Knit Collage : https://knitcollage.com/collections/cowls-scarves/products/wild-cat-fringe-scarf-pattern

The pattern calls for 2 skeins of their shimmery Pixie Dust yarn, and one skein of Spun Cloud yarn.  There are several different color options in both yarn types, so you’ll need to start the creative juices going before you even cast on your first stitch.  I wanted my Spun Cloud skein in a grey…..specifically a light grey.  I wanted to do this project and I wanted to do it now, however the light grey was out of stock…..so I improvised!  A quick swap of a skein of Sister yarn for the Spun Cloud and I was back in business.

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Pixie Dust in the color Midnight and Sister in Soft Grey Heather

Sister yarn isn’t quite as thick as Spun Cloud which probably accounts for the reason I needed to rip everything out and start over.  I wasn’t getting nearly the length recommended in the pattern.  I’ve always been and probably always will be a very tight knitter.  Apparently I take a lot of tension out on my knitting projects.  Anyway, the scarf has recommend lengths that should be achieved at various stages of the project.  I won’t give them here as it isn’t my pattern to share.  However I will tell you that a good mantra to recite as you knit is…….just let it be loose!  I don’t think you could possibly knit this too loose, but too tight is for sure a thing and you’ll just end up with a mess.  Too tight is a bummer because you’ve spent good money on this yarn for its hand spun textures and variation, but if the stitches are too tight and small you won’t be able to see and appreciate it.

My finished scarf ended up a bit shorter than the pattern lists.  It’s still plenty long, plus I had plenty of both skeins of yarn left to make the fringe.  You’ll have enough to fringe even if you knit the full length, but you’ll end up with only a handful of fringes in Pixie Dust.  I’m moderately obsessed with it’s texture and lumpiness though so I happily sacrificed some total inches for the chance to show it off on the fringe.  Plus since I know I knit tight, sometimes guesstimating length versus yarn remaining gets tricky….I always vote better safe than sorry!  I used both skeins of Pixie Dust completely up and I have some Sister yarn left over to maybe make a pom pom or something in the future.

Overall, it was a quick and fun project.  It only took maybe 8 hours?!  It’s hard to say what with the starting over, the drinking, and Netflixing that was also occurring while I worked.  It was New Year’s Eve weekend….it was really too cold to do anything other than drink spiked hot chocolate and lounge around with a pile of thick wool yarn in your lap!

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In case you’re worried I just boozed away my whole weekend, I did not.  The Engineer and I got fancy, bundled up against the cold, and went out for a nice dinner and some fancy drinks.  We then proceeded to come home to set alarms and nap before midnight.  I think that’s adulting right?!  Can’t pop corks at midnight if you aren’t awake….so just set alarms for 11:45 and power nap your way into the New Year!  I’m not sure what 2018 has in store for me, but I promise I will bring you all along for the ride!

The “Let’s Take a Nice Picture” process…..

 

 

Christmas Break Activities

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  I’ve obviously been slacking a little bit this week on getting a blog posted, but better late than never I suppose.  The Engineer and I travelled all around and had several different Christmas dinners and festivities with our families.  I’m thankful that we had good weather all weekend, but I’m also glad that we finally got a nice snow right before Christmas.  It wasn’t feeling very festive looking out the window at mostly dead grass….

It was my intention last week to write a last update about my holiday prepping, but I didn’t quite get it done.  I did quick whip up something fun and tasty last Friday morning though….MARSHMALLOWS!  I didn’t even get a picture taken of my project, and I intended to get one when I got home from our Christmas’s travels, but the marshmallows didn’t manage to make the trip back home from Nebraska!  I’ve never made a candy for Christmas, but this was actually easy to accomplish.  The worst part is that it’s a bit of a sugary mess, but yea know…..that’s what makes them delicious!  Thanks Alton Brown for the recipe inspiration!  Good science will never fail you in the kitchen!!  I just made plain, vanilla flavored shmallows, but based on your projected used feel free to jazz them up with other flavors.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with these at all….I’ll link the recipe below!

(Side note—-I just used my meat thermometer to cook the sugar and it worked fine, but PLEASE make sure your meat thermometer is capable of going to 240 Fahrenheit!!)

While I was busy working on Christmas craft projects for gifts it occurred to me that I haven’t crafted anything fun for myself in quite awhile.  That’s this week’s plan of attack. The Engineer and I both took the whole week between the holidays off so we’ve been lounging, running errands, and doing some odds and ends that we just never seem to have time to get done….including my crafts!

First up on the crafts to do list this week is a snuggle mat for my Scout-a-Roo girl!  If you don’t know what a snuffle mat is, it’s basically a strategic tangle of fleece that is excellent for hiding treats.  To assemble a snuffle mat for the treat hunter in your life you need 4 supplies.

  • Rubber sink mat with grid holes
  • About 2 yards of fleece…..doesn’t need to be exact or pretty….get the cheap stuff
  • Scissors
  • TIME

You’ll cut the fleece into strips and then loop them through the grid…..that’s really all there is to it!  Based on the current progress I’ve made, I project using about half of the sink mat.  I left my fleece folded, just like it comes off the fabric bolt, and cut approximately 1 inch strips from the fold end through both layers.  I then cut each folded strip into 4 equal-ish length pieces.  Precision isn’t a required trait for this. Fill the grid horizontally and then go back through and fill in the grid vertically.  This will create a nice little puff mat for your pup-a-roo to dig and snort around in after crunches or other small snackies.  The Engineer and I are curled up on the couch watching hunting videos….and I’m slowly working my way through my massive pile of fleece strips!!

My “Just for Me” craft this week is going to be a new scarf!  I found a pattern on Knit Collage, ordered myself some expensive, fun yarns, and I’m getting ready to whip myself up something cozy to start the New Year!  I’ll update you on that next week once I get it done, but I’m pretty excited about it honestly.  With the recent temperature dip into the negatives around here, you simply can not go wrong with a new fluffy scarf!

 

Making a To Do List Your Bitch

I’m tired, sore, and don’t feel like leaving my couch for a few days…BUT WE GOT SO MUCH DONE THIS WEEKEND!

Momma MisHappenings came up Friday morning and we started the crown molding project in my bedroom.  We decided to put in a three piece crown, because Momma MisHappenings really likes molding and feels like you can’t ever over do the molding.  I also like molding, probably because I grew up in a house filled with nice, homemade moldings.

I don’t have the skills required to create molding from scratch.  I have just enough talent to run a miter saw and a nail gun.  Momma did all the coping…..which is really an advanced maneuver.  The Engineer and I did most of the cutting and installing, atleast on Saturday and Sunday.  Momma and I did all the wall pieces on Friday while The Engineer worked.  Almost none of my home improvement projects have gone as smoothly as this molding did!  All three pieces were cut, coped, and install by noon today!  I originally had visions of getting the bathroom all done too, but A. I didn’t buy enough of the first two pieces of trim and B. There are way too many corners in my bathroom and they take a decent amount of time to get fit nicely!

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The nail holes all still need to be filled and touch up paint needs to happen in several places, but all in all the whole project went pretty well.  Molding is a fairly complicated process, and there are plenty of old world technical skills required.  Most of our issues revolved around the fact that the actual crown pieces came from two different production lots.  They were just slightly different in their angle and profile.  However, slightly different is one thing when the pieces are laying flat.  When you are trying to cope and fit corners evenly and with no gaps…..slightly different quickly changes to a huge pain in the ass.  With some extra sanding and filing we got pretty decent corners all around and I can touch up the small gaps with caulk or spackle before I retouch the paint.

I won’t explain in detail how to do the crown…..mostly because other people can do it much better than me.  Again, I’m rolling with just enough skill to get things done, but my teaching abilities are not really up to par.  If you’re interested in installing molding I’d recommend The Joy of Moldings.  He has an excellent blog that will teach you how to cope corners and how to layout the pattern for your crown.

I’m not as glue happy as The Joy of Moldings guy.  My Dad only ever glued scarf joints….never coped corners and never ever did he use glue to attach moldings to walls and ceilings.  I don’t have the advantage of knowing how my townhouse is constructed, and because I didn’t buy a stud finder until we were 2/3 of the way done with the molding, I did end up adding some panel adhesive onto the cornice pieces on the ceiling.

My Dad also never used a nail gun, but he was faster and more skilled.  I need to make up time somewhere, and shooting in nails works fine in that capacity.  Plus, since I didn’t originally know where the studs were, after we bought the stud finder at Cosco I went around and shot in a bunch of extra nails actually into the studs.  More holes to fill I suppose, but when the nails are that easy to install I suppose you get a bit liberal with them!  However, shooting nails around willy nilly has it’s downfalls, and just like every other time we’ve attempted a project pieces had to be ripped down and nails pulled out.  Nothing has been as bad as the time I nailed my pocket door open…..but still……struggles were had.  It was nice to get the project wrapped up this weekend.  Today is my parent’s wedding anniversary, so it was nice to spend the weekend with my Momma doing something my Dad was so skilled at.

It actually worked out really well having a tube of panel adhesive open.  Saturday morning, the guest bed upstairs broke.  The frame itself was purchased by my Grandma when she was still living at home with my Great Grandama.  So I’m sure it predates her marrying my Grandpa.  My Uncle had added a couple pieces of wood to act as risers for the box spring supports, and one of those old pieces shattered.  Luckily we were able to cut some scraps into new risers and glued the whole thing back into place.  I also used a small amount to reinstall a loose kick plate in the kitchen.  One bedroom of crown molding, a kitchen reinstall, and a bed repair…..not a bad day in the life of a $3 tube of adhesive!

Another item that got checked off the to do list that has been looming for years is the gallery wall in my dining room.  The Bitch Faced Bestie will be so proud!  The frames themselves have only been stacked up on the dining room floor for 3 years…..better late than never I guess.  Realistically I had been waiting to find all the pictures I want for the frames, but I think having them up will remind me to actually look for art to put in them.  I have a general idea of the pictures I want to hang, I’m just having a problem finding what I want.  So, I’m sure I will slowly start collecting art for my gallery, but even just having the frames up is making my dining room area feel much fancier!

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There is one frame missing still from the upper right hand corner, so don’t mind that hole!

Paint and Pie

IT’S FINALLY FALL!

It seemed like cooler, sweater weather would never arrive, but I guess good things come to those who are patient!  With the changing of the seasons comes my deep burning desire to spend time cleaning, organizing, and crafting in my garage.  Things that have been laying around all summer I suddenly have a burning need to organize.

The first craft of the fall was trying out chalk paint on some metal decor.  A few months ago I purchased a metal candle holder from Hobby Lobby.  While I do like the original color of the candle holder, it wasn’t really the right shade of blue for my house.  What better to do than throw some chalk paint on it and see what happens?!

Overall, I would say the mini project went well.  The only thing I would change was maybe the amount of distressing I did before I waxed the piece.  The paint chips off rather easy, so in buffing in the dark wax, several extra chunks of paint went flying off.  I’m not sure that in this case the candle holder could be “over” distressed, and since I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind….all is good in the chalk painting hood!  If you were going for a lighter distressed look, I might actually skip the initial distressing step.  Apply your wax, and then if you feel like you need a little extra maybe distress with sandpaper as a final step.

Another glorious part of the shift in the weather is a change in nightly meal choices!  I’m not one of those people who can eat soup and casseroles with its 100 degrees outside, so as the temperatures have been cooling I’ve been ramping up the oven!  Last night I tried out a new recipe…..shepherd’s pie!  I had never had a shepherd’s pie before, but The Engineer has had them and was having a craving.  Coupled with the fact that we watched Gordon Ramsey make some on Kitchen Nightmare meant that I needed to try my hand.  All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!  Used up a bunch of leftover veggies, and anything with cheesy mashed potatoes is a good life decision!!

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • Onion, chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1ish glass of red wine
  • 6 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-12 oz of water
  • 3 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

While I do understand that this isn’t a traditional shepherd’s pie as it doesn’t contain lamb, I’m pretty confident that this recipe would work with any red meat.  The most important quality of the meat, according to Gordon, is that it’s well drained and free of grease.  Elk, for all intensive purposes, is basically grease free and I have a freezer full of it now, so that’s what I used.  If using any wild game meat, remember that you will probably need to add some olive oil to your pan before adding in the meat.  Brown the meat and toss in all the fresh veggies, onion, and the garlic.  Continue cooking until you’re sure the meat is completely cooked, and the onions have gone slightly translucent.

Dump in the worcestershire, tomato paste, wine, bouillon and water.  You could also use any stock you have laying around the house, I just had the cubes to use.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme.  I used several fresh sprigs from my garden, but dried would also work just fine.

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When you use fresh herbs and your fancy starts showing!

Simmer your meat mixture until the carrots and celery become tender and the mixture thickens….about 45 mins.  Stir often so that the bottom of the mixture doesn’t scorch to the pan.  While that’s simmering, rough cube the potatoes and add them to a pan and boil until fork tender.  Drain and add to a mixing bowl with the butter, cheese, and milk. Basically, just make mashed potatoes the way you always would….only with the addition of cheese.  Maybe you make them with cheese all the time…..I don’t, so that was a little upgrade!

Add your frozen veggies and just let them warm up a couple minutes.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan.  The entire mixture didn’t all fit in my pan, in hindsight it would have, but I made a small, additional baking dish and threw it into the freezer for later.  Top the mixture with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn the broiler on and babysit your pie carefully until the desired level of golden brown is achieved.  Dish up and enjoy your meat, potatoes, and veggies!!

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I raked my potatoes with a fork before baking and topped them with extra black pepper because it’s The Engineer’s favorite!

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PIE!

Throwback and New School

The Engineer is at a work sponsored golf event for the night, so the lil Scout-a-Roo and I are blogging together on the couch old school style.  Throwing it back to our single girl days!  Not that we both don’t love having The Engineer around, but sometimes it’s nice to throw on some Sex and the City, pour some wine, and have yourself a nice girl’s night.  I have no idea what The Engineer is eating, but I had sushi and Roo had her regular crunchies with the added bonus of some leftover elk steak chunks and leftover elk burger.  Everyone was eating really good tonight at Casa (Mis)Happenings

Alrighty….down to business!  Technical errors from last week mean that I owe you a double blog of sorts.  It’s been a busy few weekends around here.  House projects, gardening, trips home and shopping with Momma…..so many things to do, so little time!

Slowly but surely I’ve been working on improving my backyard and patio situation.  It isn’t that my yard is bad, it’s well maintained, but I’m on a fairly busy corner and my yard is lacking in privacy and shade.  I want to extend my little patio pad, probably with some sample slabs from The Engineer’s company, but that seems like a lot of work…..especially when it’s still so hot out!  I don’t really need the shade, but on days when I want to be out reading, tanning, and enjoying a beer it would be nice for Scout to have a place out of the sun. Cue…..

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It provides plenty of shade, but is out of the way when it needs to be.  I got the umbrella stick part and the canopy from Cost Plus World Market, and the stand came from Menards.  I really only got the umbrella because it was on super sale one weekend, but I’m glad that I finally pulled the trigger on buying one!  I saved like $70 on the whole thing!!!  If you’ve never been to the World Market, you really need to find your nearest one and scope the scene!  I’ve bought a ton of stuff there…..jewelry, furniture, pillows, rugs, and food.  Everything is a bit in the style of Anthropologie or Restoration Hardware……but WAY CHEAPER!

Another major house update I accomplished recently was finally settling on a rug!  Momma has thought that my living room as always needed a rug.  Partly I’m sure to break the space up a little since I have a fairly open concept living room, kitchen, and dining room.  Secondly, to lighten up the super dark wood flooring the previous owners picked.

I’ve had a couple problems picking a rug.  First, most rugs in the size I need for my living room, at least 8×10, fall no where near the price point I’m willing to spend on a chunk of carpet.  Secondly, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed…..but there are way more ugly rugs than good looking rugs!

The colors I chose for the living room also didn’t help the rug hunt.  I have very dark floors, a metallic pearl couch, turquoise accent chairs and secretary, and a dark plum reading chair.  I wanted a traditional feel, but in modern colors.  Sort of like if Marie Antionette owned a townhome, simplified her need to gold, and embraced a modern color pallet.  Finding a traditional rug in those colors was a bit of a struggle.  Most were the wrong shade of blue, had weird pops of orange…….which why though……., or they were too dark to contrast with my floor.  Enter the Anastasia Collection by Loloi Rugs…..

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Stock photo from loloi.com because I’m bad at taking decent pictures.

The only name  can find for this rug is AF-05 Silver and Plum.  The base of the rug is a very light, slightly metallic silver, but against my floor it takes on a warmer shade of taupe-y silver.  I’m not sure that taupe-y silver is an actual color, but it is what it is I guess.  The turquoise in the rug perfectly matches my accent chairs, and the various shades of plum and eggplant coordinate nicely with my reading chair.  The only thing I don’t love with it is my little ottoman puff thing, but I could easily recover that.  It’s a pale cream floral print, and I’ve never been a huge fan of layering prints.  I know it’s a thing, but it just always seems weird to me.

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Laying out the monster rug, and someone wanted to help press out the wrinkles…….

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Wrinkle squishing was a serious job….but someone had to do it!

As you maybe can tell from the pictures, the rug looks darker in any light other than direct sunlight.  It also depends a little bit on which direction you brush the rug.  All in all, I really like it.  It keeps my couch from sliding backwards into the wall shelf, and it’s thin enough that it doesn’t feel like a chunk of shag carpet laying on my floor.  Momma keeps asking if I need a rug pad…..I’m not sure what that would accomplish, but the rug isn’t sliding around or moving so I’m leaning towards the not needing one side.

I’m not quite sure that we threw the rug down in the right location.  I mean, it’s underneath all the living room furniture which I know is important, but I’m still not super sure.  I’m sure that the next time Momma MisHappenings comes to the house we will fidget it around some.  I feel like that’s the sort of information Mommas are suppose to know…..how to connect a room with an area rug and how long to boil corn for.  Yes, I had to text and ask how long to boil corn for…..I cook a lot but every once in awhile you come upon something you took from granted and never had to make.  Apparently corn on the cob was that thing for me.

Besides moving furniture and laying out rugs, The Engineer and I also canned last weekend.  Well……mostly I canned and he watched.  He did help prep ingredients and wash green beans, but he decided he couldn’t stuff jars because his hands didn’t fit.  Dilly bean jar stuffing is a bit of an acquired art, so I guess I can’t really blame him.  He did take plenty of pictures, but please ignore the mess in my kitchen.  Between biking, breakfast smoothie making, canning, and just my regular messiness……my kitchen and I were disasters by the end of the day.  All in all we made 9 quart jars of dilly beans, and 7 jars of banana pepper rings.  Most of the banana peppers are in pints, but I had some random jelly jars laying around so I filled those up too.  Some of the jars even contain beans and peppers from my little garden plot.  It’s been nice to get veggies in quantities you can actually do something with, although I did still buy 8 pounds of green beans and a bucket of banana peppers from my favorite supplier at the farmer’s market.

Seasonal Hobby Disorder

Do you ever find that are certain things you only do during certain times of the year?  Maybe it’s just me, but there are plenty of activities I only find to be tolerable if done at the “proper” time.  I hadn’t ever really stopped to give this much thought until now.  I suddenly have a mildly overwhelming desire to refinish a piece of furniture, and it occurs to me that I always do that kind of activity in the Fall.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that the seasons control my general life productivity probably much more than they should.  However, I’m not really sure that I’m willing to change this particular quirk because I think doing so would feel unnatural.

Now I understand that some activities can only be performed during a certain time of year.  But let’s be realistic, I could put paint on furniture at anytime…..so why does it only feel okay to do so once the leaves begin to change.  In case you think I’m kidding, I’ll list out my seasonal specifics…..

Fall–

  • Furniture refinishing – I had always had really good feelings about all the pieces of furniture I had refinished, until the last one.  I recently redid my nightstand, and I don’t like it at all…..PROBABLY BECAUSE I DID IT IN THE SUMMER……STUPID.
  • Decorating – Maybe this goes along with having new pieces of furniture to put in the house that then need to be styled, but it just seems like I do more like more decor shopping as the weather starts to cool.  Also, prepping for Christmas decorating becomes a bit of an obsession…..like is it too early for me to put up garland now!?

Winter–

  • Crafting – Unless I need to craft something specific for someone, I’m generally drawn to doing all my crafting in Winter.  This might be because during other times of the year I can be outside doing other things, but it just seems most natural to be to do it then.  Anything else feels forced, but let’s be honest….there shouldn’t feel like there’s a difference between scrapbooking in the Summer or doing it in the snow.  Additionally, I find the idea of knitting anything while it’s hot and humid outside to be about as off-putting as it gets.  Who wants a pile of knit in their lap when it’s hot out?!
  • Baking – As a life rule, I try and always avoid baking, but sometimes in the Winter I feel compelled to do it.  It starts to feel like a compulsion or a void that needs to be filled.

Spring–

  • Nothing?! – Specifically around here, Spring is more of a general suggestion than an actual thing.  To paraphrase Forrest Gump,”Momma always said Spring is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  You can’t plan anything in Spring around here because it might be sunny and nice, it might blizzard, or everything might be covered in a thick, death like layer of freezing drizzle…..it’s just hopeless.  No one knows when it might start, how long it might last, or if you’ll even make it through.  Probably I don’t know what I do during Spring because it’s generally horrible and stress inducing so my brain blocks it from memory for self protection.

Summer–

  • Reading – I am usually religious about going to the gym, but Summer rolls around and I become more prone to skipping it favor of sitting on my patio reading…..until it get’s dark and buggy, and then I just move the reading indoors.  Don’t ask me why I don’t read year round, I try occasionally, I just never seem to get very far or even manage to find a book that will capture my interest.  Summertime….I’ll read anything I can get my hands on.
  • Watching Westerns – Possibly because I used to always spend the end of Summer vacation at the farm with my grandparent’s, or possibly because the end of Summer is when I can things, obviously, and canning reminds me of making salsa and pickles at the farm, the end of Summer seems like the only acceptable time of year to watch classic western movies.  It just isn’t the end of summer otherwise.  Case in point, currently watching Jane Got a Gun, granted this isn’t a classic western, but it is set in that time period, and I’ve already rematched all of Lonesome Dove this season.  I’d venture to say even Grandpa got sick of the classics sometimes.

Does any of this make any sense?!

In other less random news, Momma came up for part of the long weekend and we got the baseboard installed in my bedroom and some artwork re-matted and hung.  It really sorta looks like it’s coming together now!  It’s amazing what some 1x4s and paint will add.  We pulled up the existing baseboard, which was just door trim, painting it all, installed the 1x4s and then stacked the old trim on top.  You get way more bang for your buck if you reuse the old trim.

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Ignore the unfilled nail holes, but you get the general idea!

I also started working on refinishing the door that will be turned into my full length mirror.  I’m probably the worst girl on the planet because I don’t currently, and haven’t since my senior year of college, have a mirror that I can see my full self in at one time.  My current options are:

  1. Try and take a selfie to make sure my outfits look alright
  2. Assess the top half of myself in my bathroom mirror, then run upstairs and stand on the bathtub wall to see the bottom half of myself in the upstairs mirror
  3. Just say fuck it and hope for the best

So…..hopefully the door will do the trick nicely.  It’s in a bit of rough shape, so for now it’s gotten a coat of Annie Sloan dark wax to try and deepen the color and add some much needed moisture back into the wood.  One coat wasn’t really enough, but it’s a starting place anyway.  We shall see where it goes from here.  Only makes sense that I’ve started working on it now after having had it for almost a year……FALL IS COMING!