What do you think? I just got this from 20×200.
It’s a little brash, but I like the colors.
What do you think? I just got this from 20×200.
It’s a little brash, but I like the colors.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll be out celebrating with my sweetheart at one of my favorite restaurants tonight.
I hope you can celebrate love in all of its many forms somehow today. I’m lucky to have a lot of it in my life now and always, and I hope you are too.
My favorite pans to cook in are my cast iron skillets. I use them everyday. They are the most versatile and indestructible cookware that I know of. They are the best non stick type of pan as well…better than any of the most expensive teflon type pans in fact. They also add a bit of iron to our food which is something I’d prefer over adding a bit of aluminum.
They need to be seasoned to create the wonderful non stick effect. This is really easy to do and nothing to be afraid of.
First, I’ll address seasoning a new cast iron pan, then I will talk about cleaning and caring for older pans.
1. Congratulations, you bought a beautiful brand new cast iron pan! You are so smart! The manufacturer has coated the pan with a coating to keep it from rusting in the store. This needs to be scrubbed off before you first use the pan. So, squirt some soap in the pan and scrub it with a scrubby. Now, add a little water to the pan, just a 1/4 inch and put it on the burner to boil the water. After it is boiling, dump out the water and watch the remaining water evaporate.
2. Next, add a generous dollop of vegetable oil to the hot pan. Wipe it around with a paper towel. Wipe the inside and outside of the pan.
3. Put the oiled pan into a hot 350 degree oven. “Cook” the pan for a 1/2 hour or so then take it out. It is now seasoned and ready to be put to use…for the next 100 years or so!
Every time we use a cast iron pan, we add a bit of oil and heat it up so we are in a sense, seasoning it. The best way to maintain and season a pan is to cook in it, a lot!
Now, here is what you need to know about caring for an older pan.
Some people say that we should never use soap in a cast iron pan and we should never scrub it. They advocate a little salt to swish around and wipe it ‘clean’. Some people say that it is a crime to use water at all and all you should do is wipe the pan out with a paper towel and not wash it at all! Yuck! I have always use soap, a scrubby and lots of hot water. After, time and many family dinners, a fully seasoned pan will be simple to maintain.
1. First thing to do is to wash the pan just as you would wash any pan…with soap and water.
2. Now, scrub it well.
3. Next, add a bit of water to the pan, just a 1/4 inch will do. Put it on the stove and turn the burner to high.
4. Dump the boiling water into the sink and watch the remaining water evaporate.
5. Finally, after the water has evaporated, put a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the hot pan and wipe it with a paper towel. Truth be told, if you use your pan everyday, this step can be skipped more often than not. I do it about once every few weeks. But then again, I am seasoning my pan every time I cook so I guess that I am not really skipping this step.
Take care to never put a damp pan or dish nested inside a cast iron pan. It will rust and make a mess. If this happens, simply scrub off the rust and season it again with a little oil.
One more tip: To make the pan work like non-stick cookware, heat up the oil (and pan) before adding other ingredients. Food will stick to a cold pot but not to a hot one.
Done! Now get cooking! Try this wonderful corn bread recipe…I changed it a bit by putting the batter into my cast iron pan and popping it into the oven. The crust comes out golden and crispy. Yum!!
Enjoy the day! -Peg
This picture from Potterybarn made me gasp yesterday. “Eureka!” I said to myself and ran to my basement to fetch a brass hook that I bought at an estate sale last summer. I liked the hook but I wasn’t too fond of the brass finish. I had it slated as a door or robe hook but this bathroom photo made me think that it might work in my newly updated upstairs bath. I have been looking for something to hang a hand towel near the sink. I purchased a round ring type towel holder but have not put it up yet; I’m glad I waited. Look at the little hook that is next to the sink in the potterybarn photo – that is my inspiration for this post!
image from Potterybarn
I have been seeing some lovely photos on Pinterest (follow me!) of painted brass candlesticks and lamps.
As a matter of fact, I have painted a number of chandeliers including these two that I painted for Liz and Brentan’s country wedding.
So here is what I did:
1. I used #0000 steel wool to clean and scruff up the brass hook so the paint could adhere to the metal.
2. I next sprayed on a coat of primer that is made for metal. I let it dry for 1 hour.
3. Since I wanted my hook to match the bathroom mirror frame, I could not use spray paint. I used the same yellow latex enamel from the mirror and my floor cloth projects to paint my little duck. I was careful to paint a number of thin coats to avoid lumps and drips. I also lightly sanded with my #0000 steel wool between coats. I let the brass show through a bit because I wanted it to keep it’s vintage look.
4. When it was thoroughly dry, I sprayed a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to add more protection.
5. I also painted the heads of 2 screws that I used to attach it to the wall.
I like to have a little project to work on in the evening while I sit watching TV. We are currently watching ‘Damages’ with Glenn Close on Netflix. While it is a compelling drama, I need something more to keep me from falling asleep. So while rummaging around, I found this hand spun wool that I have had in my closet for the past 20 years or so. I decided to make a pair of felted wool slippers. Since I want to keep track of the complex story line of the show, I did not want a complicated pattern. In fact, the pattern that I chose is so simple that I first learned to knit these slippers when I was 8 years old. I used size US #13 needles and a double strand of yarn. These are so easy that all you need to know is how to knit and how to purl. If you can cast on and cast off too, you can make a slipper in an hour or so.
Yes, the slippers went fast. I was able to pay more attention to the show than to what I was making. I made the Men’s size L so that I could shrink them and make them felted. They were pretty ugly but I soldiered on thinking that once they were fulled, they would magically become charming and beautiful. Next day, I dumped them in with the wash and put them in the dryer with some towels. They shrank but I had to wash them 2 more times to get them to fit. They looked a little better but not much…
Ugly or not, I rarely give up on a project. I am stubborn that way. The slippers were very thick and warm but also very slippery. I now needed to figure out a way to make them less dangerous. I decided to put a leather sole on their bottoms. I had some deer skin and spent the next 2 evenings sewing the leather by hand onto each slipper. They were becoming uglier by the day. I snaked a lace around their tops to make them stay on my feet. I thought about making some felted flowers or something to try to cute them up but well, I think I’m better off letting well enough alone. They are warm and they are comfortable but not much else. Sometimes, things can get ugly. Happy knitting! – Peg
Happy 2012 you guys!
I spent the New Year with friends on an island eating crabs, drinking champagne and watching fireworks!
Last year I wrote about a few goals I had for my house for 2011. I have a few new goals for 2012, and thought I’d write about them again, because it’s always good to be accountable to someone if you want to get things done!
My goals and their current status for 2011 were :
Interestingly, all the stuff I got done and wrote about ended up on the hot project list of 2011! I should do more stuff.
So for 2012, I would like to:
That’s a short but intense list! Wish me luck!
What are your goals for 2012?
I am about to head off to work at our garden center to sell Christmas trees. We sell 500 or so trees every year. Fraser Fir, Scotch pine, Balsam Fir, White Pine are some of the varieties. The Balsam Fir smells the most ‘Christmasy’ and the Fraser Fir is the most expensive. I love them all. I love the tradition of bringing a tree indoors at Christmas. I love the fact that we make a tree the centerpiece of our holidays. Trees have been a huge part of my life beginning in 1984 when my husband and I went to live high (12,00ft) in the Andes mountains of Ecuador to start a tree nursery to help with the de-forestation in that area. I often wonder how many of the thousands of tree seedlings that we helped get started are still standing today.
Trees continue to play a central role in my life; Jay and I came to MN to start a tree and shrub garden center when the kids were little. We have been selling and planting trees ever since. It feels good to know that we have made a small impact on the planet. Henry, our youngest son is pictured here with some giant redwoods in Yosemite national park in CA. This picture was taken last year when we were just about to drop him off at school in San Luis Obispo for his freshman year. I call it, ‘You Think You are So Big’. It is a reminder of how small we are in this big wonderful world.
In anticipation of Thanksgiving and the onslaught of weekend guests, I feverishly worked to finish the guest bathroom remodel that I began last summer. I accomplished my goal of learning to use our power tools. The first few cuts with the table saw scared me so much that I had to sit down to calm my shaking hands. But the more I use it, the more confident I become. I now know how to make mitered cuts with the chop saw, curved cuts with the jig saw and finished edges with the router. I can say that I have been on one long power trip since last summer. I am very very slow but I still have all my fingers and a new bathroom. I sing a little mantra to myself every time I approach an electric saw “eyes, ears, fingers are they all okay?” I wear earplugs and safety glasses without fail. I really really respect those tools.
Here are some photos of the bathroom before the remodel:
I knocked down the plaster wall behind the pedestal sink and toilet and discovered a brick wall! I wish that the brick was in better shape so that I could have exposed it but in the end I covered it back up with drywall.
Here is the cabinet that I bought on craigslist for $25
I refinished it and added some trim on the bottom and sides to make it look more like a piece of furniture.
Here is the finished bathroom!
The entire remodel cost about $1700. About half that amount was for the marble counter top. I did not re-do any tile…I did that about 8 years ago. I did add bead board wainscoting new lighting, a new vanity and sink and built in shelves for towels. We hired a plumber to move the plumbing over about 18 inches but I connected the faucet and sink. I have a few tweaks to make before I am satisfied but overall, I can say that I’m very happy! I’ve been living in this bathroom for many weeks and I’m ready to get out of the house and on with my life…Peg
Did you know that we’ve been blogging on here for over a year? (I can’t believe that I missed our Blogiversary!) Take a look back at some posts from last October when we first started.
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