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Slowly But Surely

March 29th, 2014

We’re still not quite finished painting the one bedroom, crazy I know. I was telling Mr Chiots that we added two bedrooms, a sitting room and a bathroom in our old house way less time than it’s taken us to simply paint one room here.
Painting bedroom
painting brick 1
I just finished painting the chimney in this room, which was tedious to say the least. The worst part was that one side of it was only three inches away from another wall. I ended up taking the top off of one of my big artist brushes, it took a while.
painting brick 2
Hopefully this weekend I start prepping another room for painting!

Any home improvement projects on your weekend to-do list?

Friday Favorite: Working With What You Have

March 28th, 2014

I’m not sure why mattresses have to have the ugliest fabric one them, it doesn’t matter for the mattress, but the box springs can be seen. In our guest bedroom, we have no beds so the mattresses are simply on the floor. Hopefully Mr Chiots will be building a few beds soon, but until them we’ll make do. The box springs were hideous! Generally, I cover them with fitted sheets, but I didn’t have any extra twin sized sheets laying around and I didn’t want to buy any.
coffee bag covered box spring 1
I though about covering them with classic blue ticking, but it was too expensive. I was considering burlap until I remembered I had some empty coffee bags (you can buy these for $2 each from Sweet Maria’s). We received ours for free with coffee purchases.
coffee bag covered box spring 2
I pulled out my scissors, staple gun, yarn needle and my hot glue gun and got cracking!  It took me one bag and a half of another one to cover each twin sized mattress. That means it was only about $3 per mattress, not bad!
coffee bag covered box spring 3
I wanted to add a little interest to the top of the box spring, so I whipstitched it around the top. It took extra time, but I love the result and am super happy I did it!
coffee bag covered box spring 5
coffee bag covered box spring 6
coffee bag covered box spring 4
Our guest room is starting to come together, the quilts are finished, the box springs are covered, I’m making a rug – all I have left to do it start painting the walls!

Do you cover your box spring? Is it an ugly design?

Maximizing

March 27th, 2014

I love making the most of everything.  There’s nothing better than eking something else out of something others might throw away or think was past it’s usefulness. Cheese is something I make occasionally, when I do, we end up with loads of whey.
maximizing 1
I use some of it for soaking grains and other things, but there’s simply no way we can use all the whey. On occasion it’s fed to the dogs or the chickens, but it’s much better for pigs. So I put it into gallon milk jugs and put it in the freezer in anticipation for our pigs. Another benefit is that is takes up space in the freezer as I take out meat and makes my freezer work more efficiently (I use jugs of water when I have no whey).
maximizing 2
I love finding ways to make the most of what we have. Making my own cheese saves me money not just in the price of cheese but also because I end up with some pig food as a result. I’m certain my grandmothers would be proud!

What are some ways you maximize things you buy or make the most of what you have?

Cottage Pie

March 20th, 2014

Yesterday, I made cottage pie. It’s a humble meal, one that can be adapted to whatever you have left in the root cellar and freezer. It could easily be made vegetarian or with any kind of ground meat you have on hand. Choose your spices according to the meat and vegetables. I don’t use a recipe, but if you want one this one is good. I always double the vegetables because it’s a good way to eat more of those in a meal!
Making Shepherds pie 1
Since we have an abundance of pork, that was the source of meat I decided to use.  I used sage breakfast sausage, because the spices already mixed in sounded wonderful! There were onions, garlic and potatoes in the root cellar and I also had garden peas and sweet corn in the freezer.
Making Shepherds pie 8
Making Shepherds pie 2
Making Shepherds pie 3
To the mashed potatoes I added homemade butter and fresh cream from the local farm, along with a healthy dose of Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese, and of course you can’t forget the freshly ground salt and pepper.
Making Shepherds pie 4
Instead of adding flour as many recipes call for to thicken the juices, I added a cooked and mashed potato to the vegetables and meat.
Making Shepherds pie 5
After putting the meat and vegetables in a cast iron skillet, mashed potatoes are slathered on top. Then it’s baked in the oven for about 30 minutes and turns out quite lovely.
Making Shepherds pie 6
Making Shepherds pie 7
What I love about recipes like these is that they’re so easy and they can be adapted to whatever you have on hand or whatever your family likes. You could easily make a Thanksgiving themed one with ground turkey, green beans, sage and mashed sweet potatoes on top. Or how about a spicy one with ground beef, taco seasoning, tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn and mashed potatoes with monterey jack cheese on top. Of course vegetarian is always an option, any mix of vegetables would work with your favorite spices mixed in. The possibilities are endless!

If you were making Cottage Pie – what mix of ingredients would be your favorite?

The Final Product

March 10th, 2014

People keep asking to see photos of the quilt I’ve been working on. Now that it’s finished. I wanted this quilt to have a really old feel, which it ended up having because the fabric was all old. I cut each piece out by hand with scissors, no rotary cutter involved. Precision was not in the game plan for this quilt, I wanted it to be imperfect.
Quilt 1
This quilt was made out of old pjs. Some of them are very old, old enough that I wore them in college 18 years ago. Some of them are mine, some belonged to Mr Chiots. In fact he still has a pair of flannel pants that is a different color but the same pattern as one of the fabrics used in the quilt. I kept threatening to steal his pants to incorporate the fabric in the quilt. In end, I let him keep his comfy pants, they will make it into another quilt in the future. The fabric is a mix of cotton flannel and regular cotton which gives it a great textural quality.
Quilt 2
I used an old flannel sheet as the batting and an old duvet cover for the back. The only thing I had to purchase for the quilt was thread and a half yard of blue fabric for the binding. Now that’s what I call a deal!
Quilt 3
I purchased a lovely variegated thread to use for the quilting, I love how the colors show through on the red background.
Quilt 4
All-in-all I’m very happy with this quilt. It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be. After being washed it will grace one of the twin beds in our guest bedroom. Which Dexter found right away. We don’t let the cats in that room, I’m not quite sure how he managed to get in there!
New Quilt
Now on to the next quilt for the other bed!

Do you save old clothing for future sewing projects?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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