Slow Progress

You would think that having lived in my house for several years now that I would have decorating and projects done. You would be wrong!! I’m probably one of the slowest project people that anyone has ever seen. At least The Engineer and I have taken advantage of the past few snowy weekends to get some linger projects decided on and moving on down the road to completion.

We’ve been working on getting the man loft upstairs completed for months. I do still have one cabinet to refinish, but the weather just hasn’t been cooperative for painting and staining furniture in the garage. Until the cabinet is done we can’t really put away the movies and gaming systems…or hang any of the taxidermy work on the walls, so it’s just been easy to leave the whole room a slight disaster area. We’ve made major progress this weekend though…..we’ve finally picked a paint color!

After months of collecting random paint chips and scrolling through Pinterest boards, we’ve finally nailed it down to 3 colors…..or maybe 4….it’s hard to say really.

I think we’ve decided on Olive Sprig…although all 4 are very similar..and minds could still change!

As you can tell, we pretty much have it sorted, just need to settle down on the exact shade of green we like. The Engineer would have preferred grey or blue but we had to let those colors go. None of the grey samples looked nice against the existing townhome beige. The room is so angular and open that somewhere the new wall color is going to have to butt up against the existing beige. The blues looked nice against the beige walls, but they didn’t do much to accent the dark wood, metal, and black concrete tones we have already in the room. Green is really where it’s at I think!

One loft project that we have finished up is refinishing my desk chair and mounting some floating shelves my Grandpa made. I guess at least my small corner of the loft is finished. The first step of my chair makeover was 2 coats of Annie Sloan Honfleur and some light distressing with dark wax. That was the easy part for me, just your standard rags to riches furniture rehab story! I decided to try my hand at recovering the cushion with some scrap hide, and that was really a bit of an adventure.

Happy to be reusing handmade, Peterson family heirlooms!

If your hide hasn’t been tumbled by the tannery to make it soft and pliable, you’ll have some labor to put into it. First, you’ll need to let it soak for an hour or two. I just put the hide in the bathtub with a few inches of water and let it hang out to absorb. This will make the hide seem soft, but at this point if you just let it dry it will go back to being as stiff as a board. To really help the fibers loosen up and plump, stash your wet hide in a plastic bag overnight. Get a good nights sleep, because in the morning you’ll have work to do!

Remove your hide from the bag. It will be damp, but shouldn’t be dripping. I left my bag and hide in the sink in case any water didn’t absorb and drain out….didn’t want any surprise puddles in the morning! If you need to stretch your hide to increase its size slightly, now is the time to do this. Mine was large enough already, but we did give it a bit of a stretch for good measure. Again, it was freezing in the garage and I didn’t necessarily have enough scrap wood laying around to build a large enough frame for the hide…..but I did have a rather large, and rather robust cardboard shipping box!!

Once your hide is stretched to size, you’ll need to do something to soften it. This is best done by beating or tumbling to mash and realign all the fibers. I wasn’t about the toss it into my dryer with small boulders, so I used the next best thing….a paint remover!?!? All of these tips and tricks were provided by a profession taxidermist…..so it’s gotta be the truth! I was told to just work it over the hide until it was soft. I used an African hide, and I’m here to tell you that some parts of it were so thick they never softened. We did the soak, stretch, and tenderize process twice….it’s still a very stiff hide, but it got the job done!

Beat until tender!

We decided to start the upholstry job with a slightly damp hide. The hide was never going to get evenly soft enough, especially because some portions were just so thick. This was extra unfortunate because there was no way we could align the hide on the chair cushion so that the thickest portions weren’t used. Momma Mishappenings was staying with us that night, and she has some fabric upholstery experience which was nice to have…because I had no idea what to do really!

We stapled the front side down first so that we could pull and put some tension on the hide. It quickly became clear that we needed to cut out some of the extra hide bulk in the corners so that they would lay nice. I wish I could tell you a specific shape or pattern to cut, but honestly I just sort of whacked out whatever bits and pieces we needed to make the corners lay nice as we went along. It doesn’t look overly pretty, but it fit and we did eventually get all 4 corners trimmed out and stapled down. At this point, we left the whole thing to dry out for a few days. The hide will shrink slightly as it drys, and we used that to our advantage. Some places that had seemed too big and loose tightened right up once it dried. There was one pretty bad bubble of extra hide on the front by one of the corners and I was pleasantly surprised to discovered it had totally disappeared once everything dried!

Once dried I was going to screw it back onto the chair frame, but it needed one final step. Even though we had cut the corners and tried to get them to fold nice and even, they still needed a bit of work. I used a hammer on the dry hide to beat and soften up any of the hard edges and bulk left in the corners. Anywhere the hide crossed over another piece of hide I gave it a pretty severe whacking. It really did help to form and soften up all the edges. I also added a few more staples and hammered them all in for good measure.

Carefully screw it back into the chair frame, and you’re ready to get stuff done behind your desk! You’ll have to screw up through the hide, so just proceed slowly and cross your fingers you don’t hit a staple. I didn’t, but that’s maybe just beginners luck. The hide was a bit stiff and crunchy the first couple times I used the chair, but it has broken in nicely. Also, I was worried about sitting on the hair, but it doesn’t seem to be shedding and doesn’t get misaligned if you’re moving around in the chair. Even if hair does start shedding, it should just add to the aged and distressed look!

Ireland or Bust

We went to Dublin!

When your coworker finds super cheap tickets to Dublin…..talking about $304 per person round trip….you can’t really say no to going abroad. Momma Mishappenings, my sister, The Engineer, and I all loaded up and flew over for a quick 4 day adventure in Dublin and the surrounding country side.

We arrived in the city around 8am on Thursday, basically 20 hours after we boarded our first flight out of Minneapolis. After a very brief…..frankly too brief….power nap at our Airbnb, we ventured out into the city. Our house was down in Dublin 8, a quiet district a bit south of the downtown area and several of the popular destinations. It was sometimes nice to be a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but if you’re going to Dublin mostly to party and enjoy the bar area, I would stay closer to the River Liffy.

I didn’t get a ton of photos taken the first day, I was mostly too tired to think to take any pictures. We did visit St. Patricks Cathedral as well as the original fortress of the city, Dublin Castle. The original castle was almost entirely destroyed in a fire, but they do have an interesting exhibit which allows you to see the ancient foundations. It was an odd fact to learn, but St. Patricks Cathedral was actually build outside of the walls that protected the medieval city of Dublin. There was a cathedral built inside of the city walls, but because of the supposed historical significance of a bubble spring well that St. Patrick might have used for baptisms, the second cathedral was built outside of the safety the walls could provide.

Seems like a very risky thing to do when the threat of invasions and war is lurking every time people sailed up to your shores, but I guess they didn’t pick where St. Patrick chose to perform his baptisms. Also, they built the cathedral on top of some marshy river land. It means that there is not a crypt below the church, and also the walls of the church have shifted and bowed as the soft, wet ground moves beneath it. Another strange choice the way I see it, but the church has stood for hundreds of years so what do I know about it.

The next morning we were well rested and headed off to tour the Guinness Brewery. It’s self guided and ends with beer and food, so you’re free to spend a few hours soaking up as much or as little information as you would like. The gravity bar at the top was very crowded and overly warm when we got up there….it was a surprisingly sunny day….but there are plenty of other places to explore and sip your pint in. Also, do yourself a favor and get a bag of the spicy chips….so spicy and savory! I need to find a reliable supplier of those chips in my life!

The Guinness tastes different in Dublin. They say it tastes different everywhere in the world, but the best obviously can only be had in Dublin. I will drink a Guinness anytime anywhere, but The Engineer and Momma Mishappenings aren’t huge fans of the Guinness we can get here in the States. Even they liked the Guinness fresh from the source! It’s smoother, a bit easier to drink, and doesn’t have the bitterness people typically comment about. If you’ve only had Guinness at bars in the USA it can be hard to imagine spending a whole night powering down pints of the black stuff….I mean I’ve done it….but it’s defiantly a commitment. In Dublin, it’s so smooth and easy to drink it’s like drinking any basic lager here.

We saw an Irish rainbow on the way to lunch and our visit to the other medieval cathedral in town! We stopped in a small chip shop near the cathedral and had a nice alfresco lunch of fish and chips in the cathedral yard. Note to your American taste buds…when they ask if you want salt and vinegar on your fish and chips, maybe request extra salt! Also, as you widdle down the huge filet and the mass of chips that come wrapped in newspaper….hold on to the paper. One brisk wind gust might send the whole thing flying off your lap as you consume the deliciousness!

Christ Church Cathedral was built inside of the original city walls, and is just down the street from Dublin Castle. Speaking of streets, Dublin streets are a bit confusing as they don’t form blocks at all. You often have to walk out of the way of where you want to go because nothing connects! Apparently they follow the original streets and paths of the medieval city, but I can’t imagine how people drive and live in them now.

The crypt of Christ Church is open to visitors, although it was under renovation during our visit so it was a little crowded. Also, their restroom was out of commission which lead us to run across the street and break into the fancy hotel bathroom! Much like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the walls of Christ Church have a slight visible bend to them. This was caused in part by the collapse of one side of the cathedral in 1562. Much of the cathedral was destroyed in the collapse, but they do have one small area of original tile flooring that was saved. That isn’t what is pictured, the original tiles are very worn and weathered, and had almost no color left. Replica tiles now align the floor of both historic cathedrals.

Both cathedrals were preserved and renovated with the donation of millions of dollars earned from alcohol! The Guinness family and and another prominent whiskey distiller in the area took the restorations of the cathedrals into their own hands in the 1800’s. It’s a shame to know that such gorgeous historical places could have been allowed to fall into such disrepair over the years, but I think that is just the way of history. Often times things teeter on the edge of disappearing forever before people realize their importance.

Fish and chips kinda view.
Notice the slight sway in the walls?!

Jameson is one of The Engineer’s favorite, so I took him on an early Valentine’s Day date night to a special tasting at the distillery while Momma MisHappenings and my sister hit up the shopping on Grafton Street.

A Tale of Four Whiskeys

We met for dinner at a pub I found through Instagram called the Hairy Lemon. It was small, crowded, and loud….but in a good way. The downstairs was just seating for dinner, but upstairs was just standing crowds of people drinking pints and having a Friday night at a pub. I had coddle, which is a traditional veggie and sausage stew. Momma had bangers and mash….hold the mash add extra roasted veggies. My Sis had fish and chips…..for the second time that day….but it was her birthday so that’s allowed!! The Engineer had shepherd’s pie which he informed me was better mine. :/

Saturday we headed back to Jameson Distillery to take the “official” tour as a family. Nothing like a bit of morning whiskey drinking to bring a family together! After some whiskey sampling and sipping we headed for lunch. Along the way we stopped in an area that started out a Georgian mansions, and eventually transitioned into tenement housing until almost 1980. It’s sometimes easy to forget that most of Ireland’s history has been tumultuous. We also like to think of European countries as these old, well established countries. Ireland is relatively new, having only gained their independence in the 1920’s.

While we were looking at the large, brick homes that became tenements, The Engineer and I had a nice chat with a local man. He thought a car near us that was booted belonged to us and we stopped on the side of the road to bust it off for us. He showed us his busting tools, and told us all about his previous car troubles and gave us a citizens view of the Irish economy…..it wasn’t a good view to be honest. He’d let the cops take his previous car because he owed taxes on it, but he had only paid 300 Euro to begin with for the car. It was also alarming to find out that parking can cost nearly 3 Euro an hour….no wonder cars and parking were such a hot issue for him. It was an entertaining chat for sure!

Lunch was at Nando’s, a chain chicken restaurant, and if you’re ever near one I would definitely recommend it! I mostly wanted to go because I watch some trashy, English reality TV shows, and they are always talking about going to Nando’s. Also, I think there is some lingering debates about whether or not its acceptable to take a date to Nando’s….I vote yes! Get your girl some spicy chicken and some sweet potato fries!

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Seriously….go grab yourself a cheeky Nando’s!

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After lunch we wandered down to Trinity College to see the library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a spectacular ancient book containing the 4 gospel books of the bible. It’s hard to describe if you aren’t there to see it in person. The fact that it is preserved in the condition it is even after being stolen and lost in the bogs for years is amazing. The long library….it’s amazing! It’s the way you imagine all college libraries should be. It’s volumes and volumes of books and knowledge lined up all neat and tidy and just waiting for you to dig in an discover something. It looks like it should just be a movie set, but this is an actual working library….on an actual college campus! If it doesn’t look like the library at your college, don’t feel bad…..mine looked nothing like it either! Maybe only the ancient libraries of Europe are allowed to look this good.

Sunday morning we boarded a tour bus and headed out into the countryside. We met farmers, sheep, and walked through the ruins of a church that stopped being used in 1214! It had gone through it’s life all before 1214!! That just amazes me. I love being American, but there is just something so impressive about the history that surrounds you in Europe that nothing in America will ever match. It’s the deep, robust, slow cooked kind of history you just can’t find over here in the New World!

First stop was to see a farmer named Rich and his herding dog Bruce. We learned a bit about the traditional way he and his family have been raising sheep in the mountains for generations.

There were even a few early lambs for cuddling!

After a visit will the lambs and an impressive herding demo from Bruce, we were off to the ancient monastic site and lakes of Glendalough. I’m not sure if Glendalough is technically a town anymore, but at one time it was a thriving center of religion nestled in a valley abutting the Wicklow mountains. Our guide pointed out several churches around the area, I think she said there were 6 or 7 in the immediate area. All are in ruins, although the largest one, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, is mostly intact except for it’s roof. It was built in the 10th century and abandoned in 1214 because of the Norman invasion. Instead of being sprinkled around the countryside, religious leaders of the time were called back to the safety of Dublin….remember the wall around the city?!

There are two lakes near the monastic site, the Upper and Lower lake. To be honest, the Lower lake isn’t much to write home about. Actually it took me a while to even realize we were walking past the Lower lake. The Upper lake was amazing though, and totally worth the cold, windy hike. A word to the wise about traveling to Ireland. Even though the temperature might be projected to be in the mid to upper 40’s, you’ll need to pack like it’s a Midwest winter. I packed jackets and my raincoat, the things I would wear when it’s 50ish degrees here at home. While I was there I ended up buying mittens, an additional sweatshirt, and a scarf. Granted, I would have bought those things anyway, but it certainly helped with the temperature and wind.

Our last stop on the bus tour was Kilkenny. We had a cozy pub lunch next to a crackling fire, watched a rugby game with some locals, and saw the historic Smithwick’s brewery. Turns out we know nothing about rugby…even when trying to google the rules, but no one in the pub really seemed to notice or mind. Kilkenny is also home to a massive castle and it’s expansive ground. Thousands of acres belong to Kilkenny castle and the surrounding grounds. The castle itself looks almost modern from the outside, and served as a private residence for most of it’s existence. The carriage house and grounds across the street from the main castle have been converted into cute little shops and a restaurant. It was an impressive end to a day spent winding around small country roads watching sheep graze on hills in the distance.

Monday morning we said a very early morning goodbye to our lovely little Airbnb and took our final double decker bus ride back to the airport. For being a short trip, I feel like we really got in some activities. Granted, there are dozens of additional things to see and do in Dublin, but you can’t do everything and I feel like we got a good sampling of the city and surrounding countryside.

Since we’ve gotten home everyone has been asking if it was a good trip. I think it was, and I’m glad we went but I’m not sure I would return specifically to Dublin. It gave me a bit of the same impression I had when we went to New Orleans. I enjoyed it while I was there, but the reality of French Quarter doesn’t really live up to what you imagine it will be like. Dublin felt a bit the same to me. It was nice, we saw some lovely things, and had great experiences, but I had a much different idea of the city before I went. In my mind it had always seemed more quaint….less like the bustling metropolis that it is in real life.

If I go to Ireland again, which I wouldn’t turn down a few years in the future, I would like to adventure over to the other side of the island to see the cliffs and the small surrounding villages. Try something a little less city and a bit more country!

The Long Hunt

Bedside tables don’t necessarily come to mind as one of the more hard to find pieces of furniture for you home….but let me tell you….I’ve been on a journey to find something!

When I first moved to town, I decided I needed up advance my furniture situation. I needed a bedside table….among other things. I had been using a “standard height” bedside table that I snagged for cheap at Walmart when I was in college, but it looked really awkward. The height difference was really the issue. A standard height bedside table comes maybe halfway up my bed?! Halfway might only be generous to the standard height table. It really created the need to dangle off the side of the bed every morning to shut off the alarm clock, and there was no way to scroll through your phone comfortably while ensuring it was plugged in and charging. Ya know…..the things that early 20 somethings care about! The size of bedroom in my first rental townhouse really dictated the width and depth restrictions of a new replacement table, and I found one at the World Market. It was on that day….approximately 8 years ago that I made a fateful error….I only bought one table!

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The OG….the table all other tables have been compared too

It’s maybe important to clarify why even finding that first table was such a struggle. I have my bed mounted on legs, it isn’t sitting on any sort of frame. The legs screw directly into brackets that are mounted to the bottom of my box spring. You’re probably thinking to yourself, just put shorter legs on your bed….problem solved. The issue with dropping my bed back down to a “normal” height is that Madam Scout a Roo prefers to sleep and hide under the bed. It’s become her safe space over the years, and watching her try and hide herself under a bed of regular height is just very sad. She usually just ends up wedging herself in up to her shoulders and then just crying and shaking cuz her lil booty remains exposed to the terrors of the world….usually thunderstorms.

Once I purchased and moved into Casa MisHappenings I suddenly had so much more bedroom space to be taken up! I’ve been on the hunt for a table with varying degrees of intensity for at least 4 YEARS! In the meantime I was using a piece of painted press board on top of a luggage trunk flipped on end. It was functional, but small and a bit ugly in the far corner. It was semi easy to ignore because my tall bed obscured the view of it for the most part. Tall beds….hiding ugly things in the corner and allowing for safe pupper caves….two birds one stone!

After looking at several dud tables that were too tall, too small, too wide, or the worst…..too expensive…Momma MisHappenings came through with an epic Facebook Market find!

It was the wrong color, and sitting right on the knife edge of being too wide….but otherwise it was perfect! You’ll notice it has a small front drawer …much like my round vanity stand. It has long, spindly little legs…oddly similar to my vanity stand. It struck me as enough similar to seem complimentary, but enough different to still pull off the difference between His and Her sides. And…the price was pretty decent. It wasn’t great especially because I needed to repaint it, and the build of the table isn’t the highest quality, but it was too good to let slide.

A few hours in the garage, 2 coats of chalk paint and some waxing elbow grease later, and The Engineer has a new, spacious bedside table. I wasn’t sure about the color I put on it…it was just so I had leftover from a previous project. Once it’s all in and finished I actually really like it. I think I might repaint mine to match this Spring. My vanity started out a sort of distressed mint green. I repainted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White a couple years ago…and I’ve always hated it! I feel like I can still see the green peaking through for whatever reason and I’ve just never liked it. My stash of Old White had gone bad, so I used French Linen on The Engineer’s. It’s so much better! I was worried it would clash with the paint colors in the bedroom, but it blends nicely I think! Repainting mine to match would really help pull the room together. Different tables in the same color seems better than different tables in different colors.

The next project is to remember to stain The Engineer’s table organizer next time I have the stain open. I just keep forgetting, but if you ever feel like you need a way to wrangle up and contain your pocket contents, chargers, and other miscellaneous items I would totally recommend one of these. I snagged this one off Amazon.  It’s really helped keep his side looking neat and tidy…it might honestly be neater than my side. I should maybe work on that!

Here’s a lovely little photo outtake courtesy of Madam Scout-a-Roo!

Ol’ Fashioned Apple Goodness

Have you ever made a recipe that is easy, yet at the same time awkwardly hard?! For me that would be my Grandma Peterson’s Apple Pie Bars. Maybe I just went into the first round of creating the recipe with perceived notions of how it would be. Momma MisHappenings had really talked up the ease with which Grandma used to just whip these all together….it’s so easy…. Let me tell you, that wasn’t my experience but I’ve adapted, concurred, and overcome!

Momma sent me the recipe that Grandma had submitted to the church cookbook, or the county cookbook or some other small town cookbook collaboration. I submit it here as evidence that what my Momma and Aunt remember her doing maybe isn’t correct. They both claim that instead of rolling the first layer of dough, Grandma simply smeared it into the pan with a spoon. I just don’t see how it can work the way they remember! I tried it once and couldn’t at all get it to work for me at all. I’ll guide you through my “new” way, and it comes together fairly easily once you know what you’re in for.

In a mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and mix on low. Slowly add the margarine, or butter, in small cubes to the mixer. The fat should be cool but not cold. If it’s soft enough to smear on bread that’s too soft. I’ve made the recipe with both butter and margarine and I don’t see a marked difference between the two…..just use what you have on hand.

Let the fat combine with the flour and sugar until it reaches a grainy, small pebble consistency. While that works away in the mixer, separate your egg. Add the yolk to a measuring cup and save the white for later. Break up the yolk a bit, then add milk up to 2/3 of a cup. Add the yolk and milk mixture to the mixer and let it work until it comes together as a dough. Shouldn’t take long. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and give it a knead or two to just ensure it’s all together.

I would recommend splitting your dough in half, and then steal some from one half and give it to the other. The bottom crust liner needs to come up and a bit over the sides of the cookie sheet, so give that ball a little bit extra dough to get the job done. Grandma calls for using an 11×15 cookie sheet. I don’t have one of those. I have 2 different sized cookie sheets, a 10×15 and a 12×18. I used the large 12×18 for my first batch because I was afraid of overflowing the pan. This created very thin bars and really there wasn’t enough dough to make it work. This week I used the smaller pan and everything came together much better.

Roll out your bottom dough to the approximate size of the pan, and carefully transfer into the bottom of the cookie sheet. I find that using the rolling pin to help pick up the dough and move it. This bottom crust, according to my Momma, Grandma used to use a spoon to just spread the dough into the pan. I tried this once, but for the life of me I can’t get it to spread. The dough isn’t sticky like a cake batter, it’s stiff like pie dough. If you try this and figure out the secret for spreading the dough be sure you let me know!

I don’t measure out the cornflakes, but just do 3-4 handfuls of cereal and crunch it up a bit in your fist before you add it to the top of the rolled dough. I’m not sure the function of the cornflakes. You can’t taste them, but maybe they help absorb liquid from the apples and keep it from soaking into the crust?! Who knows….I just do it cuz Grandma says you need to. I’ve attempted changing Grandma’s recipes enough to know that they only work the way she says they work…..so I just do what I’m directed now!

You’ll add your apples in on top of the cornflakes. The recipe calls for fresh, but if you’re like me and went a little overkill at the apple orchards this fall….you can also use frozen. I have several quart sized bags of prepped apple pie filling in the freezer so that’s what I use for this recipe. You’ll need 1.5 quart bags for this recipe so just be sure you have the bags thawed in advance. You might notice some liquid at the bottom of your thawed bags, just carefully add that to the apples….don’t worry it won’t make the bottom crust soggy. If you’re not using pre-spiced apple filling, you’ll need to sprinkle a layer of cinnamon over the top of the apples at this point.

You’ll now roll out the top crust for the bars. This needs to join with the overhang of the bottom crust, so you can make it a bit smaller than you did the bottom. You want enough to join the two crusts, but you can’t want too much crust piled up along the edges. Again I find it helpful to use the rolling pin to pick up and move the crust onto the top of your apples. Then just carefully work your way around and pinch the edges together till the whole thing is sealed up. You might get a leak or two, but you don’t need to worry about that too much.

You’ll need to find your egg white at this point….hopefully you still have it sitting there! Add a small splash of water to the white and whip it up a bit using a fork. You don’t have to whip it into stiff peaked merengue, just till it gets a bit frothy. If you have a pastry brush, use it to brush the white across the crust to help create a golden crust. I don’t have a pastry brush, so I just drizzle the froth across the top and then use my fingers to carefully spread it evenly over the crust.

Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until it’s golden brown. The top crust might have puffed up a bit at this point, it will be fine you don’t need to worry about it too much. You don’t need to glaze the bars if you don’t want to, but if you’re going to you need to do it when they are fresh out of the oven. You’ll need to add a bit more lemon juice or water to the powdered sugar than Grandma says to make a glaze. I find it easiest to use a large spoon and do several haphazard passes of glaze drizzle across the top of the bars. Then, gently use the back of the spoon to spread the glaze….or leave the messy drizzle if that’s more your style. You’ll need to let the bars too before you cut into them, otherwise the apple filling won’t set and you’ll end up with a little bit of a mess. True life story….the slight messiness is totally worth it to eat one of these babies warm!

The Christmas Come Down

Now that most of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season is behind us, I thought I’d share some of my favorite gift items from this year! I know it’s maybe a little late to be giving you gift ideas, but I can’t be spilling the beans to my family and friends! 🙂 Plus, some people are really organized and are probably already starting to shop for Christmas 2019!

My big crafting project of the season…..which I didn’t even get finished until the last moment….was a set of decorative pillows for my Sister’s condo. The pattern came from the lovely ladies at Knit Collage, although I did make some modifications. I decided to do both sides of the pillow in the herringbone pattern, it just seemed fancier and more inline with my Sister’s decorating style.

I ordered 4 skeins of Sister Yarn in Dusty Pink and got to knitting. Apparently I can’t read a pattern correctly, it turns out that 4 skeins of yarn is not enough yarn to make both the 18×18 pillows I had planned on. Alls well that ends well though, it turns out that rectangular pillows were on the list of home decor things my Sister was looking for. So, 4 skeins of yarn turned into a pair of 12×18 inch pillows with some decorative pom poms! I had a little tiny bit of grey sister yarn left over from a previously project, so that’s where the grey in the poms came from. The pattern doesn’t call for pom poms, but if you’ve got the yarn you might as well pom it!

Since I planned on doing both sides of the pillow in the herringbone pattern, I just knit one large rectangle instead of 2 separate 12×18 pieces. So I ended up only having to stitch 3 sides together, and the top of the pillow is nice and seamless. If you’re looking to modify the pattern to make the 12×18 pillows I will tell you it took me 54 rows not counting the cast on and bind off. For the rest of the pattern you’ll have to snag yourself the pattern….it’s not mine to share.

My favorite purchased gift is a handmade knife for The Engineer. It was made by David Maple of Tuckamore Custom Knives, and then I had it sent off for a custom sheath from J Sylvia Handcrafted Leather. It’s beautiful, feels good in your hand, and it’s truly a one of a kind piece. If you ever have a chance to get your hands on a Tuckamore knife, I would 100% recommend it. They are great knives, he’s very responsive to any questions you have, and I’m constantly drooling over all of his designs on Instagram. Give him a follow…you’ll be totally in awe!

Totally snagged this picture off the Tuckamore Custom Instagram page, but he takes better pictures than me. I snagged one of the black handle beauties in the middle!

The custom sheath totally pulls the whole thing together. Now the knife is all set for hunting or camping….wherever our journeys take us the knife will be set to go. I also snagged a leather stroping block from Tuckamore. It’s useful and so much more beautiful than anything you can buy in store for the same purpose. All we need now is some good knife oil and a sharpening stone and we will be good to go for a long time to come.

If you need some other gift ideas but knitting and handmade knives aren’t really doing it for you I have a few more ideas to toss at you.

  • O-Venture Key Rings – One of Oprah’s favorite things, and so handy for any busy women on the go who are on your nice list!
  • Souped Up Fleece Robe – Zips from the top or the bottom to keep you cozy while also letting you move around. Momma Mishappenings even started wearing hers as daywear around the house. Long and cozy!!
  • PooPourri – Truly a gift for everyone on your list! Smells for you, your girlfriends, the men in your life, and even special Holiday season smells! Remember to use it before you go!!

Maybe this will give you some shopping ideas for the loved ones in your life….but don’t forget that sometimes you just have to love yourself too.

No shame at all if you pick of some of these awesome products for yourself!

Old Enough to Know Better, Too Diva to Care

Yesterday, The Engineer and I spent most of the day at the emergency vet clinic with Scout….it was not necessarily how I had planned to spend the 2nd to last Saturday before Christmas.  Not that any weekend is a good weekend to take your fur baby to the vet, but I was already feeling slightly stressed on the Christmas project time line.

The morning started out normally enough.  I got up and went to the gym while Roo and The Engineer napped.  I got home, showered, and had a coffee FaceTime date with Lil B.  The Engineer finally dragged himself out of bed after nursing his first hangover as a 29 year old.  We were just getting dressed to go run some errands and grab lunch when I spotted it……..a large section of torn up carpet next to the bathroom.

Exhibit A…..the carpet

Now…..Scout-a-Roo has a long. lengthy, and impressive history of eating things she isn’t supposed to, but carpet has never been one of those things.  While I was attempting to google how we might go about fixing the carpet, we discovered something else.  She had eaten the wings and legs off her beloved duck toy.

Now, her beloved duck is several years old, and he’s needed some emergency surgeries of his own.  I’ve repaired and patched several holes but mostly they have all been due to use and abuse…..and the occasional severe whipping around.  Scout likes to make sure he’s dead before she gives him to you, she’s considerate like that.  I had recently just had to apply a large patch to his whole abdominal area, but he was living to see more play days.

It seemed like 2 wings, 2 legs, and all that carpet was too much for Scout’s tummy.  Occasionally when she was little and would get into something I would induce vomiting at home.  I was hoping I could do that now and I could get the bulk of the material out of her before it started into her little intestines.  Normally, we wouldn’t know she’s eaten something until she either decides to puke on her own….or we find bright decorative chunks of fabric around the backyard. :/  If it had maybe been one thing or the other I might have just left her to her own devices….she is semi professional in this capacity after all.

We dosed her will a round of hydrogen peroxide and then we waited.  We waited through the loud tummy gurgles, and I sat near by with a garbage bag and hoped for the best.  Sadly, the best never came.  The gurgles came and went but no wings or carpet ever arrived.  I couldn’t find anything online about what to do if you attempt to induce vomiting but it doesn’t work, so I finally caved and called the vet.

We ended up needing to take her in to the vet, initially because hydrogen peroxide can cause ulcers if it isn’t treated and neutralized.  The vet took some X-rays, I think mostly because they didn’t believe me when I told them that these random things she eat tend to hang out in her tummy for really extended amounts of time.  Sure enough, a whole little puppy tummy full of “stuff”.  We were assured that one round of nausea inducing medicine ought to do the trick, so we waited and sorta listened while they worked on her in the back.  At one point I think they sort of inverted her to try and get gravity on their side….the force was not with them.

When the vet is scary, you feel pukey, and you’ve brought great shame on the family.

15 minutes later they came back to inform us the medication hadn’t had a strong effect on her, but that they would try it again.  Apparently a single dose of the medicine is suppose to make them vomit until they dry heave…..Scout was having no part of that.  They can only dose the medicine once an hour….and we still hadn’t eaten…..it was around 4pm by this time so we left to come home and eat and then said they would call.

About an hour later they called…..tummy still had something in it, but they had gotten “a large amount of carpet”.  “I’ve never seen a dog with this level of iron stomach, but I think we should try one more round again in an hour”.  Clearly this guy has never met my dog….she’s the pukiest dog I’ve ever had, but she never pukes multiple rounds in a sitting.  So, we sat at home another hour, and waited for a good phone call.  Finally, they called and said they thought they got everything out and the x-rays were clear.

The list of items they got out of her stomach–

  • A large amount of carpet
  • A sock……that we didn’t know was missing
  • Maybe 10……1x6inch rag stripes from my entry rug….that we didn’t know were missing
  • 2 duck wings
  • Anything else potentially wrapped up in the carpet ball

Several hundred dollars and some hours later, she came home and is generally fine.  I’m hoping that she’s learned her lesson, but honestly that seems unlikely.  We did leave her for a few hours today with the torn up carpet and rug booby trapped….everything was undisturbed when we got home.  Hopefully she ate something and it didn’t feel good, so she kept eating things to try and fix the first thing but who even knows with dogs.

Winter Has Arrived

It’s officially that time of year!!

  The wind, freezing rain, and snow have arrived and brought with them a sense of winter and Christmas.  The Engineer and I weren’t even planning on being home this weekend, we were hoping to go down to Momma MisHappening’s to spend the weekend trying to fill my turkey tag.  That just isn’t going to happen.  Nothing about sliding down an ice coated interstate for 80 miles and then sitting in a blizzard waiting for a turkey to waddle on by sounds like a good time.  So instead…..I shall be catching up on laundry and crafting!  I’ve got several craft projects I’m working on, and some I can’t share until after the holiday….but there is one I can share and maybe you can use for some Christmas decorating!

CRAFTING TIME IS HERE!  

(Best said in the Charlie Brown sing-song style) 

So, let’s say that hypothetically you’ve been hunting , and that those hunting trips have been successful.  Let’s also assume that you’d like to take a more nose to tail…I prefer snoot to toes….approach to using the animals you bring home.  Top that all off with seeing some expensive feather spheres and wreaths in shops about town (Here’s looking at your $70 foam wreath at Scheel’s :/ )….and you’ve got yourself a full blown holiday crafting project on your hands!

You may or may not have noticed, but pheasant feathers are frequently used in boujee arts and crafts.  I happened upon some expensive pheasant feather spheres while we were on vacation in Virginia, and instead of paying I decided I could make my own.  Nothing like some feather decorations for The Engineer’s upstairs man loft!  Sadly, the only pheasants that have made it home to me have already been cleaned and vacuumed packed breasts.  While delicious, pheasant breast doesn’t contribute a ton in the crafting department.  So, I used the next best option….duck feathers!  The ducks have been arriving at a fairly steady rate, so I’ve had my choice of some nice feathers.  They are a little bit more work then pheasant feathers, but they get the job done nicely.

To start, you’ll need to prep your feathers.  I plucked the bellies of 2 gadwalls and 1 northern shoveler specifically, but any variety you have that you think looks nice will work just fine.  I kept the species separate as they are slightly different colored, but feel free to mix if you like that look.  It would be better if you have some early season ducks before they become fully plumed and downy soft for winter.  

Duck feathers are very oily, and that oil can slowly degrade the feathers once they are removed from the ducks, so you’ll need to clean the feathers.  This is the hardest part of the project honestly.  I filled the kitchen sink with some warm water with a few drops of regular Dawn dish soap.  Place a colander down into the water, and slowly and carefully add handfuls of feathers and swish to clean.  Pull the colander up and rinse the feathers well with clean water.  

Now…..to dry the feathers……ugh.  I placed the feathers into grocery bags and then used my hair drying to blow the feathers dry.  You’ll need to maintain a firm….but not too tight so the air can’t escape…..grasp of bag around the neck of the dryer.  Also, make sure that the air hole you leave isn’t too large.  If it’s too large, the feathers will shoot up and out of the bag as they dry….which will lead to feathers floating all around you bathroom…….been there done that!  Honestly, this isn’t a great method for drying feathers, but it got the job done.  It’s annoying and VERY time consuming, but it works.  You’ll probably want to leave the feathers sit for a couple days and stir them occasionally to make sure they dry completely.

So fresh and so clean clean!

Now that everything is clean and dry, we can officially get crafting.  You’ll need to pick up a few supplies from your local craft shop.  Some good craft glue, tan or brown paint, a cheap foam brush or two, and some floral foam spheres of whatever size looks good to you.

Start by painting your foam.  If you can happen to find foam that is already dirt colored feel free to skip this.  I didn’t want to risk any of the green foam poking through so I gave them all a rough coat of paint.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or even, we are just looking for some camouflage here.

I recommend using a good tacky craft glue to place the feathers.  There are some cons to such a thick glue, but the pros greatly outweigh them.  You’ll want to start placing feathers from the center top and work down.  Begin by smearing a layer of glue on about the top third of the sphere.  Start layering on the feathers working in concentric circles around the sphere.  If you find that your feathers aren’t sticking, or if portions seem to be lifting, it might be helpful to put a tiny amount of glue on each feather before you place it.  I found that putting some glue on a foam brush and dragging the feathers carefully across it worked to smear on a very thin layer.

If the bases of your feathers are especially downy…or quill-y….you might want to gently trim them.  I ended up having to trim every single one of the gadwall feathers, they were just too fluffy.  It can be hard to cover up all the downy fluff, although if you don’t mind some fandom fluffy tuffs then just glue the feathers as they come.  

Every 3 circles around the sphere you’ll want to apply another ring of glue.  Use the foam brush to carefully dab on the glue.  You’ll want to be carful not to get too close to the previous row of feathers.  If you snag one it’ll pull bits of feather in weird directions, or maybe even pull the feather off depending on how recently it was placed.  Just use your finger or a toothpick to smooth the feathers back down, and if that doesn’t work just layer another feather or two on top.

Continue until you reach the bottom of the sphere.  You’ll end up with a quill end or two visible at the bottom of the sphere, but it’ll be alright….no one but you will ever even know.  Plus, just put that side down!  Let your spheres dry and then use them however the wind takes you.  Mine are destined to be nestled into a garland upstairs in the man loft!  I didn’t apply any sealant to mine, but depending on your intended use you might want to hit them with a thin spray coat of a sealant.  I wouldn’t recommend anything you’d need to brush on, it will just disturb the flow of the feathers.