Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pressure Cooker Hard-boiled Eggs? Who knew?

I love hard-boiled eggs.  I love to eat them with salt, I love to eat them in egg salad, I love potato salad with hard-boiled eggs included.  I love hard-boiled eggs.  Still, hard-boiled eggs can be a pain in the rear.  I've read all the tricks:  warm them to room temperature before you boil them, turn the water off as soon as it begins a rolling boil, dunk them in ice immediately after removing from heat, make sure you use older eggs, etc.  Still, I can't get any consistency when going to peel them. Is there anything more frustrating than taking half the darned egg with you as you attempt to peel your hard-boiled egg?
Perfect eggs (not-so-perfect photography!)
Imagine my surprise when I read Nom Nom Paleo's blog and she referenced making her hard-boiled eggs in her pressure cooker.  I read it twice.  What?!  I can use my pressure cooker to make hard-boiled eggs?  Seriously.  This I've got to try.  So, I followed her link to Hip Pressure Cooking .  (My pressure cooker isn't of the hip variety, is just a plain old Presto that my dad got me years ago, just like the one my parents had when I was growing up--definitely NOT hip.)  The directions were simple and the results were fabulous!  Each egg from the batch has peeled perfectly...I'm just so happy.  (Hey, it is the little things that make me happy, remember?)

It is this simple:  1 cup of water, steamer basket, and eggs.
There you have it:  Use your pressure-cooker to make hard-boiled eggs (you can make medium- or soft-boiled eggs, too). 

It is the little things, like perfectly peeling a hard-boiled egg,
that make me happy...
 Give it a'll be amazed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Happy List...

My friend, Alicia, at More Than Words, told me about this fabulous meme being hosted by Our Dandelion Wishes.  I love the idea of taking a moment to quantify the things that make you happy...take a moment to have gratitude.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of taking care of business that we forget how many things make us happy.  So many things make me happy, so it will be good to take the time to be present in my own happiness.
So, here is my happy list this week:
Last year about this time, I had the pleasure to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, who has a blog of the same name.  I got so much out of the book.  It makes me happy to read the blog and to chuckle when she posts about her "pigeons of discontent".  (Get it?  "bluebirds of happiness" have a nemesis "pigeons of discontent".) Isn't that a great way of describing them?  Reading what other people do to get the most out of their daily lives makes me happy.
Going to the gym with my kids makes me happy.  It is so cool to watch them push themselves and to celebrate their successes and commiserate with them about their defeats.  The best part?  The enthusiasm they have to do it all again the next day.  Their determination makes me smile.
I know it sounds weird, but I feel happy when I vacuum my carpet.  It is crappy carpet (I know, I should have found a better word, but that is what it is), but vacuuming it makes me happy.  Go figure.
My husband makes me happy.  It has been harder than you can imagine having him overseas for more than two years, yet he tries so hard, each and every day, to make me feel special.  Thinking of him makes me happy...I'm just so darned lucky.
So, there you have it...this is My Happy List this week.  I'm grateful for Mamarazzi for starting this meme.  Head over to her blog to see what others are finding for their Happy Lists this week.  I promise it will bring a smile to your face.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Frugal Animal Beds

With four cats and two dogs, I always have animals laying around.  Seriously.  They're just laying around all over the place.  In the past, I've spent money on animal beds, but oftentimes, they were cheap material that couldn't stand up to washing and I need to wash them...a lot.  I needed a better, but still frugal solution.  Two rag towels, an old floor pillow, and twenty minutes later, I had a fully washable dog bed.  It turned out so well that I wanted to make some more animal bed covers, so I headed to Target and bought their $3.50 bath towels and made two more.  (The rag towels worked well, but I didn't take pictures.)  Here is how I did it:

We just use old pillows for animal beds.
Lay one towel on the floor.  Lay your pillow on top of the towel, closer to one edge of the towel.  Leaving the same amount on the opposite edge, cut off the excess.  Don't discard as you'll be making an envelope closure for this pillow.  (Great tutorial on envelope closures here.)

Lay the pillow you're using on one towel.
Now, pick up the pillow, but leave the portion of the towel that had been under the pillow in place.  Take the piece that you've cut off and lay it on top of the towel, matching the cut-edge to the outside edge of your towel.

Putting the finished edge on the inside makes this a quick project.  Your
envelope folds are already finished.

Now you'll take your second towel and cut it to a length that is one half the width of your pillow and lay it on top of the other two pieces of towel that you've already cut, making sure to put the finished edge on the inside of the pillow, just like you did with the second piece.  Pin all three layers together and sew around the outside edge. 

Sew all around the some places you'll be going through three layers
of towel...just be sure to catch those inside edge.

Flip your pillow cover right side out and insert your pillow.  Lay it on the floor and see who gets it first.

Cat bed?

Dog bed?  Either way, this one is in Buttercup's room now.

Well, either way, cat or dog, it is an animal bed that cost $7 and twenty minutes to make.  It is oh-so-washable.  Just what we need in this menagerie!

If you don't have a serger, you can just zig zag the edges.
Oh, and you'll have extra toweling.  I cut mine into squares, serged the edges, and got myself a bunch of new washcloths.  Not bad for $7!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food for Thought

(Picture credit:

Attitudes are contagious.  Is yours worth catching?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Erin Go Bragh!

Ireland forever!  We're all a little Irish today, right?

Being blessed to have Irish ancestors and to be named Erin, I've always had a special place in my heart for St. Patrick's day.   We don't try to trap the little people at our house and there is no green beer filling our mugs.  My kids aren't fans of corned beef and cabbage, either, but my house definitly participates in the wearin' o' the green.  Hope you all have a fabulous day. 

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise to mee you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow if His hand.

(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today is International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and, in honor of this day, I wanted to share with you The Nake Face Project.  In a nutshell, the founder of Girls on The Run, Molly Barker, and one of the coaches of the same project, Caitlin Boyle, were struck by the irony of their attempts to encourage girls to love their genuine selves even as they, as the mentors, were adherents of modern beauty habits all designed to camouflage them in some way:  Coloring their hair, wearing high heels, uncomfortable clothes, wearing make-up, using anti-wrinkle creams, etc.  They decided to go 60 days without any embellishments to their natural beauty.  After all, if they couldn't convince themselves they were beautiful "as is", then how could they have credibility with the girls they work with.  What makes this project unique is that they are not anti-make-up, anti-hair color, anti-high heels.  They are just trying to figure out why they find these things to be "necessary".   Each of them is blogging about her experience, with jarringly sincere posts about facing the world without the armor of cosmetics and potions...I guarantee that they will strike a nerve.   Youth, beauty, style...why are they so important and how much are we buying into external definitions of our worthiness.

This project got me thinking in a bigger way.  We are all wasting too much energy trying to impress other people.  Yes, all of us.  In some way.

Yesterday, as I was in my car listening to Dave Ramsey discuss the definition of "normal" and why he wouldn't want to be it, I was struck by his criticism of people buying cars they can't afford to impress people they DON'T KNOW on the road next to them. 

It occurred to me then, and was reinforced by the posts of The Naked Face Project, that we are all spending energy and emotion trying to gain approval from people WE DON'T KNOW.   (Read this post in which Molly explains dealing with the mortification she feels when she realizes the TSA agent will see her now-hairy armpits.)  Haven't you ever felt exactly the same way about the checker at the grocery store, a person at your gym, etc?

The question that I've been thinking about ever since: 

Why are we giving perfect strangers the thumbs up/thumbs down power? 

I suspect it has something to do with be social creatures and struggling to find our place in the world, but I wonder how many of us are living in a place that pinches and binds in an effort to have membership in a community, all the while understanding that the fit isn't quite right.  Even more importantly, why don't we understand that everyone is doing the same thing?   Could it be that this reliance on superficial judgments to determine value is why character seems to count so little?

A couple years ago, I started participating in a weekly photo project.  The goal was to simply put yourself in the picture once a week.  We women don't do that.  Somehow, when we see pictures of ourselves, we find that image lacking and we hide from it.  We never stop to realize that everyone around us sees that person every day and finds her lovable, despite the wrinkles, the acne, the gray hair, the "extra" weight, the "small" boobs,  the "too-big" nose, the "inadequate" lashes (man, the advertisement for Lastisse cracks me up!), etc.  Despite all of our "glaringly obvious flaws", they love us.   The real me.  The quirky me.  The imperfect me.  Don't we love the same way?  Since they love us for who we really are and we love them for who they reall are, the question remains:  Who are we camouflaging for?  Whose approval, no, whose LOVE are we trying to earn?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Doctor Who Backpack and Pouch

Normally, I wouldn't show you another backpack made from the same pattern I used to make this cutie, but the fabric for this project was so cool, I just couldn't resist bragging a little.  A friend of our was turning 18 in February and I really couldn't think of what to give her.  She's away at college and I didn't want to give her something that would just be in the way in her dorm room.    I thought the backpack I made Buttercup would be perfect for my friend, but I wanted to come up with amazing fabric (the kitty fabric I used for Buttercup's bag was far too young for this bag).  A quick search at Spoonflower provided the perfect fabric:  Doctor Who fabric!  In case you didn't know it, the Nagle5 are total geeks!  Serious geeks.  As such, I happened to know that my young friend is a huge Doctor Who fan.   Honestly, the most difficult decision at this point was figuring out which fabric to pick!

This one with the Tardis by Studio Fibonacci was my ultimate choice.  I liked the color and the subject is just so cool.   (It is okay if you're not a Doctor Who fan and you just don't get it.  Just work with me here.)

After the fabric arrived, I headed to Hancock Fabric to find a suitable fabric for the lining.  I think the one I found matched beautifully and "girled" up the entire project.

Since I planned to include a check, I sewed this little zipper pouch to go with the backpack and put the card and the check in the little pouch.  All in all, I was thrilled with how it turned out.

Best of all, the recipient loved it (she actually called me to thank me!) and the bag is currently enjoying winter break in the U.K.   Taking the Doctor Who bag to the land of its origin!  How cool is that?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is Coming!

While most of the winter, our view has looked like this,

 a few days ago, the view out my kitchen window looked like this.  Unseasonably warm weather had melted most of the snow and visitors flocked to our yard.  (Can you see them?)

The apple tree was obviously open for business. 

The apples I hadn't harvested seemed to excite the robins...I'd never seen so many of them before.

Weren't they beautiful?  Look at the bright red chests.  (The photos aren't great...they're taken through glass and plastic insulator.)

The robins obviously knew what they were about picking the apple tree clean, because the next day the yard looked like this again.

Still, I wasn't feathered friends let me know spring is definitely right around the corner.

If I need a reminder that the snow is not forever, I'll just look at these photos.  They definitely make me smile.  Any signs of spring in your neck of the woods?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Birthday Cake!

Our Prince Valiant turned 16 a few weeks ago.  Poor guy, however, can't have wheat or dairy without really paying the price.   That made birthday cake a challenge.

Still, we came up with a solution...rice crispie bar birthday cake!  Ta da!  I even used our three round cake pans.  The only problem?  The candles actually burned the cake in places where the flame got a little close.  Still, it was a hoot and he loved it.   Anybody have any other birthday cake alternatives?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just in Time for her Birthday...

I thought I'd show you Buttercup's Christmas present.  It all started with this bathroom makeover.  Buttercup fell in love with the paint color I'd chosen: Water Sprout.  After that, she was convinced her life would be perfect if only her bedroom was painted Water Sprout.  Well, I've been down this road a few times with my beloved daughter, so I made her a deal.  If she still wanted her room done over, we'd do it for her in January.  That gave her four months to mull it over and four months to convince me this wasn't a whim.

Once she'd convinced me, I talked it over with Superman.  While he was a bit dumbfounded when I told him her dearest wish was to have her bedroom done in Water Sprout, he was all for it when I suggested that rather than making her wait until after "Daddy went back to work after Christmas break", we surprised her with Daddy and Mommy doing it for her as her Christmas gift from us.

 With a little help from Santa in the form of a new dresser, Daddy and Mommy redid Buttercup's room to her exact specifications.  (And yes, it was done in January before Superman headed back to work, I just haven't found the time to write a post about it.)

So, this is what it looked like before:

And this is what it looks like now:

We removed the shelving in the niche under the window and, instead, put her bed in the niche.  (Interestingly, we offered the girl a double bed, and she turned it, this is the same bed.)  She wanted to be part of her project, so she used her own money to buy the comforter and pillow sham (clearance at JC Penney - she got a steal).

Superman made a padded headboard and added these little corner shelves on each side of the bed to serve as a bedside table.  I had the extra-long sheer curtains from our California house and they worked beautifully here...just used a shower curtain rod to hang them.

With leftover fabric from the headboard project, Superman cut down an old bulletin board we had, covered it in the fabric, and added some decorative moulding to make it tie in with the rest of the room.

Finally, I used another scrap of the fabric to cover a cork board that Buttercup uses for her jewelry, bringing the fabric all throughout the room and tying it all together.  (A totally simple project with fabulous results.)

So, there you have it Buttercup's Christmas present...pretty cute for an almost 13-year old, isn't it?

PS.  Green really has taken over our house, hasn't it?