Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Clean a Toaster

I am so excited to share the following post with you all. I have a background in health and safety education so today I'm mixing business with pleasure with my new series on home safety.

I spent the majority of my teenage years hanging out around a firehouse where I volunteered as an EMT. I quickly learned which household items can be a fire hazard. The toaster is one of them. Today, I'm hear to teach you how to properly clean a toaster to decrease the risk of fire.
Don't believe that toaster fires are an issue? Have a looksy here.

How to Clean the Toaster

Before we get started, please unplug the toaster and place it in an area away from water.
((I'll wait until you're done)).

Thank you. Next gather your items needed for this task.
1 bath towel
1 Magic Eraser
1 teaspoon of water 
Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes or Vinegar Stainless Steel Cleaner
Paper towels

Does your toaster have a removable crumb tray? Empty tray over the trash can and wipe it off.
Fold your bath towel to the size a little larger than the toaster.

Next, tap the toaster onto the towel. This motion should be between a tap and a slam (word isn't coming to me). A forceful tap? This will loosen any crumbs from the inside of the toaster allowing them to fall onto the towel.
Tap to toaster at different angles to allow any loose crumbs to fall.
As you can see in the photo below, I didn't use a towel. It was very loud and crumbs were everywhere.
Cleaning crumbs from a toaster
This next step is VERY important.
You don't want to get water inside the toaster so read carefully.

Take 1 teaspoon of water and put it on the corner of the Magic Eraser. Then squeeze the magic eraser to ensure most of the water is out of it. You want it to be damp enough to work but not wet enough for water to drop out when you push down on it.

Use the Eraser to clean the area around the opening of the toaster
(see photo below).

Once you are done, the Magic Eraser should look something like this.

Next, I used the stainless steel wipes to clean the outside of the toaster. The vinegar solution linked above works too.

Use your vacuum cleaning with a small brush attachment and clean the inside of the toaster. This will help remove any crumbs stuck on the wire cages inside. And lastly, tap the toaster on the towel one last time to remove any crumbs unlodged by the vacuum brush.

Another toaster safety tip
Never remove anything from a toaster using a metal utensil.
Use plastic! You'd be surprised how many people use metal.

Well, that's a wrap for the first part of my new series.

If you are looking for something relating to home safety or if you have a good idea, leave a comment in the section below and I will happily consider it in the future as a part of this series. I hope you enjoyed it. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Weekend

Where did the weekend go? I feel like we haven't stopped but such is life. 
On Friday morning I took the dogs to the dog park. They really enjoyed it and it was nice to not have to walk them in the afternoon. I did have to bathe them because they both love the mud and the pond. 

That evening, Hubs and I did schoolwork and went to the gym and then ate the calories back by ordering pizza delivery. It really wasn't that good which was disappointing but at least we didn't have to cook. There's something hard about stopping studying and starting again. I also worked on finishing a brooch bouquet for a client. That should be done soon and I will share. 

I also finished some plans that I shared on Instagram. In my spare time, I'm teaching myself how to draw building plans. I really enjoy it because my drawings NEVER make sense to anyone. It's nice to have another tool to explain my thought process. If you missed them, go follow me on IG. But I'll share here, but only this time :) 

I've been having trouble sleeping at night so I started taking melatonin temporarily until my body returns to a normal sleep cycle. I have also been drinking this tea and diffusing lavender in an oil warmer when we sleep. I think it helps. Something is working....well until i slept until 1:30pm this afternoon. Should be interesting trying to get back to sleep tonight. 

On Saturday morning I woke refreshed and continued working on the brooch bouquet. Here are the majority of the brooches and the overall color of it. I think I love it more than my brooch bouquet!

Hubs and I took the dogs to the park again and bathed them AGAIN. It's worth it. I really think that it's helping with the shedding.  Saturday evening we went to the gym and I worked out with Hubs...which I NEVER do. I usually do my own thing and he does his but sometimes it's nice to workout together. I'm sore today but a good sore.

On Sunday we went to church. We haven't been in quite a while and it was nice to be back.

Well, that's all I have for you today.

Happy Monday!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Garage Progress

Hello and happy Friday. I had every intention of sitting down and completing a few blog posts in my draft folder but life happens. Right now I'm sitting here listening to classical piano music, hoping it will help me fall into slumber (at noon, yes). I am extremely exhausted; I haven't had restful sleep in about three weeks and on days that I don't exercise I will stay up completely. I'm not sure where this energy is coming from but I REALLY wish it was around when I was completing my first degree at JMU. I usually crash around this time of day. I tried melatonin last night and it helped me sleep but only from 8:45p to 1:30a. Anyways, less about that and more about other things. 

I'm working on a four part home safety series which I'm really excited about. I'll share that as soon as as I finish. :) 

I cleaned part of the garage this week. It's been on my list for quite sometime but I wanted to finish projects before working in there to make room for stuff. My goal is to get my car back in soon. HA! 

Brace yourself for the following photos. Just keeping it real people. The garage has been the catch all. You can see the entry table in there that still needs to be finished. It needs another coat of paint but I'm waiting for the temperature outside to increase a bit more. 


And After (but still not complete)

The plan is to make a shelf for the bins on the left similar to THIS

Here are the contents in the bins:
Offshore Gear--for when Hubs goes to oil platforms off the coast of Africa to check project progress
Pool supplies--filter stuff, chlorine tablets
Pest Control--bug spray, citronella candles, oil, and bug fogger. Texas bugs are bigger. 
Gardening--flower pots, watering cans, garden snippers
Christmas lights
Sports--life jackets, softball stuff, boxing punch pads, etc. I think we need another bin for this stuff because I still have stuff that wouldn't fit. 
Paint Supplies--brushes, paint trays, rollers, sponges. Basically anything that I need to keep sawdust off of. :)
Beer Making Supplies--bits and bobs that are used to make beer. Hopefully someone picks that hobby up again soon. It takes up a lot of space and the end product was really tasty and I don't even like beer. 

And if you look closely you can see our pegboard wall inspired by the lovely Creativity Exchange! I still need to paint it (story of my life and the project I put off the most because I don't really like painting) and share that process on here.  This weekend I plan on adding wheels to the work bench to make it easier to move. I like the idea of having everything in the garage movable (with lockable wheels) since our garage is smaller. AND it will help keep sawdust out of the garage because it would allow me to move the saw table outside into the driveway.

I'm still debating on a color to paint the walls are pegboard but once I do, I'll share.

Garage To Do List
Decide paint color
Paint garage
Organize pegboard
Add Shelf above work bench
add wheels to work bench
Decide what to do with power washer, push mower, seed spreader
Reorganize yard tool wall.
Paint garage floor
Add more electrical outlets (we only have ONE!)

Are you up to anything fun this weekend? I'm going to study and watch the Oscars. And hopefully sleep. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

The weekend of love is upon us. These two insisted on making a very special card for each of you. 

And a few outtakes. 

Despite their miserable looks, they were very happy to get lots of treats during this process.
Happy Valentine's Day


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY Love Heart Embroidery Valentine's Garland

Before I share our decor for this year, let's take a look at how I decorated a few years ago. You can read that post HERE
I didn't decorate my mantle this year but I did add the garland upstairs on our media unit since that is where we spend most of our time. It's not much but I love it. I love it mostly because it's something that I've made. I'm slowly learning how to use my machine (Brother SE400) and I'm not as scared as I used to be :) 

This project used two pieces of felt, a yard of red yarn, and white pom balls.
The whole project takes about an hour.

The letter hearts were made using the heart embroidery design that is standard on the Brother SE400. I framed tearaway stabilizer in the hoop and cut 4"x4" square of felt and laid that on top of the stabilizer. After the heart was stitched, I stitched the letter (keeping the heart on the frame). 4x (for each letter L O V E). Once those were done, I cut them out using scissors. 
I made the small xox hearts using my sewing machine with a digital file from GG Designs Embroidery . I think it's about $4.00 for the file. I was able to print four of these onto one 4"x4" felt. Frame the stabilizer in the hoop like before and lay the felt on top of it. Do this until you have enough for your desired length.

I used a large needle to thread the hearts, poms and letters onto the yarn. Note: You will have to use the need to make holes in the letters and xox hearts because they don't have holes.

The pom poms and felt are from Michael's (used a 40% off coupon).


Saturday, February 7, 2015

DIY Embroidery Be Merry Banner

I've been slowly learning how to use my Brother SE400 and this time I used it to make a banner for Christmas. I love it so much that I made another one to give a girlfriend for Christmas. I thought I would share it here and offer a tutorial in case you wanted to make it yourself. If you don't have an embroidery sewing machine and you want one, please contact me via email. 

Hoop tearaway stabilizer. If needed, gently pull tight to get the wrinkles out. 
Cut a square of felt to fit inside the hoop. You want this piece to be big enough for the chosen design. Note: Don't put the felt under the hoop. Just lay it on the stabilizer. Next, lay a square of fabric scrap on top of the felt square. I chose a piece of flannel but you can use knit even.  After this, thread your machine with the desired color. I chose red in this case. Load the file onto the embroidery machine. I used this file from Etsy. 

After the machine is done stitching, rehoop another piece of stabilizer and move to the next letter. Carefully cut away any extra fabric and use a seam ripper to cut a slit for the string or ribbon. I crocheted a quick chain using red yarn I had leftover from another project and strung the letters. 

The length of the ribbon or string will depend on how long you want it or how you want it to hang. Play around with it until you find what looks the best. 


Christmas 2014

This year we had Christmas dinner at our house. It was my first time cooking a traditional Christmas meal and I was VERY nervous about the turkey. What I discovered is that I've been eating dry turkey my entire life. Yes, sorry family. Our turkey was so moist and delicious.  To prep the turkey I separated the skin from the muscle (do turkeys have muscle?) and inserted a table spoon of butter under the skin in three spots. Keeping the skin also helps the turkey maintain its moisture. We stuffed the turkey with bread cubes and a handful of rosemary up its butt. Thanks to my curiosity of turkey anatomy I discovered the bag of giblets before baking it. Who knew? No where on the package did it say anything about them. Before tossing it into the oven, we added a  bacon jacket for good measure.

We had two of our friends stay with us Christmas Eve to wake up and celebrate Christmas with us. It was really nice waking up to a house of people since all of our families live outside of the Houston area. We all helped prepare dinner by taking turns in my small kitchen. We were having so much fun that we forgot to take a photo of the four of us. I did manage to snap a few photos of the table setting before we ate. 
Grainy iPhone photo.

I wanted a natural feel for our table decor so I used a faux wreath, cranberries (because they float), and greenery from a tree in our neighborhood. I added water to the vase to help reflect the candle light. Our dinner was a bit early so it wasn't as dark as I'd hoped but the ambiance was still really nice.
The table setting with the champagne and the cellphone may or may not be mine. :)

I made boxwood initials using wire and boxwood stems instead of using a paper place setting card at each seat. It was a big hit and super easy to do. Just take 20-22 gauge wire and shape it into the initial and then wrap the boxwood stems around the wire. Fresh boxwood works best because it's more flexible. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

DIY Nativity Stable for Willow Tree Nativiy

I've had my Willow Tree Nativity for a few years now. Each year I consider buying the Willow Tree Creche but I can't bring myself to spend $100+ on it. I like it but I don't love it because that's not how I envision the stable of the Holy family. I see it as an imperfect barn-like structure. Hobby Lobby had a few that I liked but they were a little small for the size of the Willow Tree so I passed on those. 

If you saw my Christmas Home Tour, you probably noticed the stable for my nativity scene. I ended up making one from my scraps of wood in my garage. Here is my scrap pile. Hubs wanted to throw it out a few months ago but I whined like a baby and PROMISED I'd make something from it. It takes up a lot of room in the garage but it's getting smaller with each project that I complete. 

Can you believe I built something so pretty out of this heap? I honestly think I may keep it up all year. I was hoping to have the plans for this on this post but I am still learning how to use SketchUp. It's a bit too complicated for me but I will get it eventually. So if you see a post for a nativity plan in July, that's why :)

Okay. Here are some close ups of the nativity. 
It lives on the stairs right now but will eventually be displayed on our entry table (still a work in progress).

The lighter color that you see on the inside is primed white quarter round moulding from a previous project. Stain doesn't penetrate primer so the quarter round doesn't have the same, rich walnut wood color. I could have sanded it but opted not to because I want the barn to look thrown together and imperfect. I left all of the nail holes unfilled for the same reason. The nail poking out of the roof, that was a mistake but I love how it looks.

For the building process I really didn't have a plan. 
I started this project by stacking a few scrap wood pieces and when I liked where it was going I used the air nailer to secure it. I initially made the structure too tall  so I had to cut the side pieces. I used my Willow Tree Nativity Joseph for scale since he was the tallest figure. 

Note: Engineer husbands and imperfect building structures don't mix. I knew the look I was going for but failed to convey that message to him when I asked his opinion about securing the roof. I WISH I HAD A CAMERA. I could tell it was bothering him because:

A. there was no plan "I don't know what you are doing so how am I supposed to know what to do with the roof?" Me: "I want it to go like this" ((motioning with my hand))
B. The roof was crooked. "The roof angle is off. You shouldn't have nailed it yet." Me: It's perfect. 
C. The white quarter round. "Are you going to sand that?" Me: "no"
D. The moulding in the corners were not flush.  "What is your plan for the corner gaps?" 

After that conversation he left me alone (ie I wanted until he went out of town to finish it). 

Opposites attract. Okay back to the project.

The side supports and roof are made from paint sticks. Apparently I'm a paint stick hoarder because I still have quite a few. Stay tuned :) 
Do it yourself Nativity Stable

Below you can see some nails that didn't make it all the way in. Those I fixed by tapping them in with a hammer and nail setter (one of my favorite tools).

To keep the backing secured, I nailed a paint stick vertically making sure to nail each horizontal piece to the vertical strip. Hubs made the vertical stick have a peak like the roof by cutting the top into a point.

I used Miniwax Wood Finish Stain in DARK WALNUT 2716. I used a microfiber cloth to wipe the stain onto the piece and used the clean side to wipe
 off any excess after a few minutes. I didn't use a wood conditioner prior to staining and I let some stain stay on longer 
than over areas to give it the "imperfect look."


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