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Jewelry is the Icing on the Cake

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Back in February, I went on a frenzied Spring Cleaning/reorganizing of my entire house. I completely overhauled each and every room, nook, and cranny– my kitchen, my clothes, my bathroom, even the tool shed out back. After two weeks, only my jewelry was left looking for a home, and I was exhausted and content to take a break. Previously, I kept all necklaces and bracelets hung on nails in my bathroom. Rings, earrings, and anything else got tangled up in a drawer. I wanted it in my new closet/dressing/makeup room, and to display all of it on the wall. When it comes to me and jewelry, out of sight is definitely out of mind.

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For the necklaces, nails would still do. But I’ve been wanting to make a frame to hang earrings on display as well. I browsed through some frames at Hobby Lobby, but found them both gaudy and too expensive for my purpose. Then, in April, my Mom and I went to the awesome Texas treasure that is The Roundtop Antique Festival (it’s long overdue, but a post about it is coming soon!) There were frames aplenty, and I found this beautifully old, perfect wooden frame. And it was just $2. Add chicken wire and some staples, and you’ve got yourself an awesome jewelry frame. Clever repurposing and DIY are some of my favorite things in life.

Oh, Those April Showers…

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April showers… lead to May flowers! And boy did Austin get an intense few days of showers this week! Not only did rain heavily pour for a sustained period of time (very un-characteristic of Texas weather) but it also unleashed hail the size of marbles and a wind strong enough to blow them in sideways. The comforting sound of rain on my tin roof clashed with the wail of sirens off in the distance (storms have the temporary effect of rendering Austinites unable to drive). They also cause so much damage to buildings and plants. Case in point, one of my very own trees was snapped at the trunk and blown over into my neighbor’s:

Tree Snap

But there are so many positives to all this rain– after all, we have been undergoing a record-setting drought in recent years. This week’s storm helped to quench the severely parched Texas watershed. Now if only we get lucky and experience a few more of these April showers, and soon,  theres a chance that water levels may significantly rise in my beloved Lake Travis. Once the watershed is quenched, runoff quickly spills into the river basins. So even if you’re sick of the stormy weather, just reason it thusly: one more heavy storm now, a whole summer of fun frolicking in the beautiful Lake Travis later. SO worth it! 🙂

Here’s a video I took of the flood waters rushing down my sloped backyard:

And here’s an adorable video of the chickens, caught off-guard by the sudden rain and hail, huddling together as close to my porch as they can get. Bless their hearts… I led them back to their coop immediately after.

After the rain subsided I finally let them roam the backyard for the day. Wow- were they happy with all the green vegetation and loose, wet soil. I imagine the “tasty bug” payload after a storm that intense has put them in Hen Heaven right now.

foraging chickens

If you want to check out the rest of my videos (so far all are chicken or weather related) head on over to my YouTube, um… profile? Channel? Page? I’m sort of new to the ‘Tube thing. (Used it for years to watch a plethora of random vids, just never signed in or managed an account.) Anyway, you can find all of my videos right here.

Make-Ahead Breakfast Sammies

385484059610543583_30857652Mmm- who doesn’t love a good breakfast sandwich? A buttered, toasted English muffin with egg, cheese, and some type of salty, meaty goodness? When I’m in the mood for a hot and heavy breakfast, this is it. And if you’re going through the trouble to make one or two- you might as well make 6. After all, bread goes bad quickly, and who wants to wash a skillet more than once if they don’t have to? This is also an excellent way for me to use the plethora of fresh eggs piling up on me.

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My Culinary Savior, The Foodsaver

My new favorite kitchen gadget totally sucks. Haha, vacuum joke– ahem. Okay, got that out of the way. Anyway, although it took a lot of time and hefty deliberation before finally purchasing my Foodsaver, I am already in love with it. A little over a month has passed and I already can’t imagine living without one.

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Why all the hesitation before buying one, you ask? Well here’s my deal: I have to put on metaphorical horse blinders when I walk through the kitchen department at Bed Bath & Beyond. As a person who loves spending time in her kitchen, the best analogy to this experience I can draw is of a kid at a toy store. All the innovative things they think of! All the novel devices and gadgets and gizmos and super specialty tools for this n’ that! Of course the kid in me “wants” all of these things, which I theoretically could use but don’t really need. Ergo the hesitation– unused, unnecessary items simply create clutter. And who wants clutter? Not me. I like my kitchen (ie., life) to be as clutter-free, simple, and well-organized as possible. And so I ask myself, “is this item worth the kitchen space it will take up?” More often than not the answer is no. Continue reading

Marshmallows

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Marshmallows. For some reason, I always assumed they were made out of egg whites. While egg whites are an ingredient in the  recipe I used, they are neither the base of marshmallows nor are they used at all in the commercial variety. After a bit of light research (wikipedia) I learned that there is an actual marshmallow plant that, while not used any more, was the origin of this fluffy confection. The sap was used as a sweetener and a cough medicine as far back as ancient Egypt- imagine that! It was the French who, after the industrial revolution, used machines to whip up gelatin into its modern incarnation we love today. They flavored them not with vanilla but with rose extract. I had been majorly craving rose lately and was about to make Turkish Delights, when the idea came to try a new recipe and make rose flavored ‘mallows instead.

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Glowing: My Newly Organized Bedroom

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Each year, like clockwork, I go into “spring cleaning” mode. This typically happens in the dead of winter, not the spring, and I absolutely cannot be stopped until I’m done. It’s like a craze- sorting, organizing, throwing away, rearranging, making new. And like I said, every year. Only this year was different– it was major. Epic. It took about 10 days total and I feel like my house is finally arranged as it always should have been. Everything has it’s place. Everything belongs.

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Above is what used to be my closet– yup, my entire closet. Now it is my office closet, which is a much better fit. I moved all my clothes into a spare room which will now actually be used every day– giving me a total DREAM closet:

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I love it !

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Rest In Peace, Lucille

Death is just another (inseparable and unavoidable) part of life. A fact which, in relation to myself, I prefer not to even think about. But as far as my chickens go, the possibility of death has been lurking in my mind since I brought home the cardboard box of peepers. Online hatcheries advise ordering at least “25% more” chicks than you actually want, to accommodate for the poor things’ ephemerality. A friend who grew up on a ranch with hundreds of hens smartly advised, “don’t get too attached”. I brushed off the advise not because I discounted it, but because I felt like, “I know, I know, chickens die I get it”. In other words, I thought I was prepared.

RIP Lucille

I might have been prepared for the death of one of my hens, but I wasn’t prepared to kill her myself. I should have realized this would be the case, but the predator only severely wounded her and when I found her, she was still alive. I found no wounds or blood save for a tiny spec on her crown, but one of her legs was limp and her soft clucking gave away her pain. I immediately knew it would be far more cruel to leave her in that state, but it was still difficult to end her life with my own hands.

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I do feel comforted in knowing that, at the very least, her short life here on earth was as high-quality as a hen’s can be. She had a name, for gods sake. Never once caged or confined. Her last meal was avocado spring rolls from Central Market. She was a good bird, and a lucky one too.

I am now on a warpath against the predators in my yard. I can never be sure what did it, as I wasn’t witness, but I’m willing to put money on the cats that live under my deck. I hate cats. So very, very much. I already tried the city of Austin and they won’t help me, so today I’m going to call the humane society. If that’s a dead end too, I’m just going to have to go Texan on them and sit out back with a shotgun.

Rest in Peace, Lucille.

Zero Waste Austin

The city of Austin recently sent out a calendar/booklet to educate residents on our trash + recycling pickup days and policies. They also gently reminded us how far apart we should space our trash cans on the streets, what not to put in our recycling bins, et cetera, et cetera.

Apparently the city is embarking on an ambitious adventure they call “Zero Waste Austin”. The “zero” is a metaphor for the 10% waste goal the city has for the future. Count me in, I am all about less trash. Curious me decided to read more online, and I’m actually pretty glad I did. I learned a few things, especially on their itemized list of what-to-put-where.

One of my goals/resolutions for the new year is to make my house “zero waste”, or at least cut it down to 10% of what it is now/could be. It’s not like I don’t already recycle, and compost, but I feel with a bit of organization I could push myself to complete both tasks way more efficiently.