7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge

A lot of my friends were tagging each other on Facebook to encourage them to participate in the “7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge”.  The idea was to post a random black and white photo to their Facebook timeline every day for seven days. The catch was that it couldn’t include people or an explanation as to what the photo was about.

Quite a few people were annoyed by it and ignored the challenge. When a friend finally included me, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get started. My inner photography nerd was beating its chest and rearing to go.

I’m a big liar. I took my seven photographs but they were hardly random. I already knew what I wanted to capture and share to my Facebook. Then I spent probably fifteen minutes on each photo carefully crafting the right shades of black and white in Photoshop Express on my iPhone.

I blame it on that inner photography nerd that was beating its chest. It was a total out of body experience and I have no control over that guy or gal. Whatever that inner photography nerd identifies with. Believe me, I just rolled my eyes as hard as you did.

The challenge is still active on social media. If you get tagged to participate, I hope that you’ll embrace the idea and take part. I thought it was a lot of fun.  If you’re friends are lame and won’t tag you or are ignoring the challenge, then I challenge you.

My submissions are below. They are set to appear in random order so they are not in order.  I didn’t add any explanations but I will gladly explain if anyone has a question in the comments.

I’m considering having prints made.  *looks away*

 

 

 

 

 

Skunk! Lu Gets Sprayed

In case you weren’t aware, skunks literally live everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

Even in the city.

About three years ago, I was enjoying an evening outside in one of my Adirondack chairs in the front yard. I was sitting in the dark just enjoying the weather when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.

I sat in silent horror as the biggest skunk I had ever seen in my life, waddled across the yard in front of me. I do not know if it knew that I was there. I would assume that it did, but I did not introduce myself.

I tried to stay perfectly still, and not breathe, as I watched the skunk sniff around at the bushes before it made its way across the yard and then disappear into the night.  I was mildly horrified, but at least I pulled through unscathed.

Dingo Lu was not so lucky.

Recently, I got home from work late and let her out to poddy. I went upstairs to change my clothes and the skunk odor came through the bathroom window and into my bedroom. My heart sank because I just knew that Lu had been sprayed.

I rushed downstairs and confirmed the hunch as I slid open the patio door and in came a very sorry little Australian Cattle Dog. She was immediately ushered back outside.  Poor Lu took a direct hit to her face. Her eyes were watering and I have never seen a dog drool like that.

It was as awful as it sounds.

Skunk funk, as I have come to call it, doesn’t smell like you think it would either. It’s more of a burning tires and hot piss kind of smell.  Or, if you’ve ever walked into a Starbucks.  It’s terrible.

I quickly took to the internet to find a real remedy vs what I have heard through the channels of Old Wivers tales.  Who has the time  to mess around in this situation?  Not I. I quickly made a list of necessary supplies and sped to Wal Mart.  Thank God for 24 hour super centers.

I obtained everything that I needed for the task at hand. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot and ate an ice cream bar while contemplating running away from home. No really.  I was at least mentally preparing for the endeavor.  The process was as awful as you imagine. It was also cold and raining and I had to do all of this outside because there was no way I was putting her in the car to take her to the dog wash across town.

In the end, I got it done.  The method I used worked.  I will share this with you below in the event that you end up in this situation yourself. .

Skunk funk. What is it?

Skunks have two glands; one on each side of the anus. These glands produce the skunk’s spray, which is a mixture of sulfer-containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive and nauseating odors. I can attest to this.  A skunk’s spray is powerful enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers, like little nosy cattle dogs.

It’s important to know that the chemical spray from a skunk is oily and you will also want to take care to avoid getting it on your hands and clothing. Don’t worry if you do, I have a tried and true method to remove the smell from your pet and from yourself.

You will need:

  1. Rubber gloves that come up to your elbows.  You can find these next to the cleaning supplies at the store.  Trust me on the gloves. Buy the gloves.
  2. Depending on the size of your animal you will at least want to start out with two medium size boxes of baking soda.  I used Arm & Hammer.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Dawn dishsoap
  5.  A large bowl
  6. Water
  7. Oatmeal Shampoo

 

In the bowl mix the following:

1 box of baking soda

1 quart of 3 % Hydrogen Peroxide

2 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap

Mix these ingredients together to create a paste.

Wet your animal in warm water. Then apply the mixture to the entire body, be careful around their eyes. Let the paste sit on the hair coat for 10 minutes. Rinse.  Then do the process again.

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Lu soaking in her paste. Poor unhappy Dingo!

I did this three times. It got most of the odor out. Her face was still a bit stinky.   I then used the oatmeal shampoo to soothe her skin and it helped to have a little bit of extra fragrance.

While this method cleared up 99.9% of the odor, there was still a faint odor. I noticed it more when she was wet or if I got really close to her face.  I decided to see if there was anything else that I could try.

I did some research and reached out to friends who all recommended that I follow up with a product called Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover.  You can find this product at PetsMart.  I got the big bottle that retailed at $19.99. It’s lavender scented.

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I gave Lu another bath using this product and it was highly effective. It smelled really good.  I poured the product into a large bowl and then soaked the collar she was wearing at the time of the incident, the collar she used when I gave her the baths, and also the leash that I used to hang onto her.  It worked great.

The smell has finally disappeared and life has returned to normal. Though, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little paranoid at night when I open the door to let Lu outside to do her business. I never want to go through that again.

At least I know what to do next time in the event it does. Also, my silver lining is that it happened at home and not out on the trail where I would be forced to put her into the car and transport her to get her cleaned up. I cringe at the thought!!

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I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

Saturday DIY- Turning Glass Into Stone

While I was looking at paint for other projects that I am working on, I stumbled across this amazing invention. It’s spray paint that looks like stone after it dries.

Product retails $8.00

Product retails $8.00

I got the wild idea that I could buy cheaper flower pots at the dollar store and then paint them with this product and have fancy looking flower pots at a fraction of the cost.  Then I started to fantasize about the other projects I could do using this product.

Genius, right?  The spray cost about $8.00. It comes in the standard size spray paint can. It doesn’t have a special sprayer or anything. The only color options that I saw were silver, gold, and a brown or copper color. I chose silver.  I think it might actually need a primer but I didn’t buy it, probably because I didn’t notice it on the shelf. That is something that you might want to look into if you decide to use this on any projects.

Standard glass vase

Standard glass vase

I have a few glass vases in my cabinet that never serve their purpose. They aren’t very pretty to look at. I think that someone sent me flowers, once upon a time and they were the vases they flowers arrived in.  The people who sent them might be gone, along with the flowers, but I still have vases.  I hate throwing stuff like that out because you never know when you can use them.

I decided that one of these “throw away” vases would be my first victim. I caught myself looking at decorative vases to place on the mantle above the fireplace and on an oak hutch that I have in my living-room. I’m picky though. While I like designs, I also like things that are plain. I am good with anything that is someplace in the middle. Simplicity is best.

That was my thought as I attempted to turn a cruddy glass vase into stone.   I didn’t do anything to prepare the glass for application.  When you spray it on the glass it’s wet and clumpy and can be best described as being like wet ash from a cigarette.

Below is the vase after three applications.  I added one application and then let it dry. Then I applied more.  I learned quickly that if you don’t allow it to dry, the paint will blow across the glass. It also has the tendency to stick together and clump and run down the glass.  I mentioned using a primer above, I haven’t tried it. I do think that it would help the paint stick better and allow you to use less of the product.

After 3 applications

After 3 applications

Don’t forget to add some of the paint around the edge of the vase on the inside. I wouldn’t recommend applying the product on the inside of the vase if you are planning to fill it with water for flowers.   You will have to really look over  the glass to make sure that there are no gaps that you can see through. Short bursts of the product should fill in any small gaps that you might find.

I allowed the vase to sit over night and then applied the final application the next day.  When I was satisfied with the way that it looked I allowed it to dry completely before picking it up and spraying the bottom.  I then let it rest upside down to dry.

The finished product.

The finished product.

I am really happy with the final results.  The vase looks amazing with the bouquet of sunflowers that my mother brought me.

So pretty!

So pretty!

I recommend hand washing the project and allowing it to air dry.

This was a fairly easy “do it yourself” project.  It was also a really fun experiment and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

What are some do it yourself projects that you experimented with?  Good or bad, how did they turn out?

 

Happy Autumn!

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Dom and I went out to a local place called Farmer Bill’s. It’s a farm stand that’s literally on the side of the road, not too far from my home town and well worth the drive from where we live now.

I don’t usually decorate too much for the seasons or the holidays other than Christmas, but I do like to decorate a little bit for Autumn. I like to at least decorate my porch and I have to make sure that Dom has a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

I’ve been going out to Farmer Bill’s for the past eight years or so.  The stand has always appeared to be the project of the woman who lives on the farm there. She is the one that has always met me or has at least been around when I visited. Sometimes her husband, Mr. Farmer Bill is there to meet customers.

I love it when Mr. Farmer Bill is running the show for the day. I am pretty sure that he was making up the prices for me as we went. I am really certain that the planter of mums was supposed to be more than $8.00.  I was reluctant to go with his price because I knew better but he insisted. Love the bright colors!!

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I love my Sacrecrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 2016

On the morning of April 30, 2016,  I traveled to the city of Chicago to participate in the 12th annual Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 5K & walk. This was my fourth year participating in the event.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides assistance to the families of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty and also for the officers who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  They have also assisted in the purchase of ballistic vests for officers and aid the families of officers with seriously ill children.  They have been able to offer over 7.4 million dollars in assistance.  I am delighted to be a part of this every year.

You can learn more about that here.

The event starts at the Gold Families Memorial Park that is located next to Soldier Field. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears. The event goes from the park along Lakeshore Dr. and then circles around along the shore of Lake Michigan. You pass by the Shedd Aquarium and also the Field Museum of Natural History.  During the last stretch of the race you pass by photographs of some of the fallen officers. It gives me goose bumps every single time. I am honored to be a part of this.

The race ends near the memorial wall in the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park.  Participants gather for a few hours to enjoy new friendships and refreshments at the after party. It’s a lot of fun and such a worth cause.

The goal for this year was $175,000 with $190,834.92 raised!!

The Annual Run to Remember is a 5K USATF certified chip-timed 5K Run combined with a noncompetitive 5K walk sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The event also features a junior jog, and a family friendly after party with children’s activities. You can participate as a team or as an individual.

You can find out more on the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s website http://www.cpdmemorial.org/

The event next year is on May 6, 2017.  Save the date!

 

When You Can’t Let Go- Rearrange

Have you ever started a project at home and thirty minutes later asked yourself, “Dear God, what have I done?”

Have you ever had a piece of furniture that you just couldn’t part ways with? I think most people probably have “that old chair” in their life they just don’t want to get rid of. You have an overwhelming emotional attachment with it. It doesn’t match, but you just can’t seem to let it go? It’s just so comfortable, pretty, makes you happy. Whatever?

I have one of those. It’s a solid oak hutch/curio cabinet that I bought from Gypsies who had a little set up on the side of the road. No really. I also bought their oak table and chair set. The only thing that remains from my road side shopping spree is this cabinet.

It’s awesome. Currently though, it doesn’t really go with the decor in the living room and it’s so big that it just got in the way of everything. You would think that this would inspire me to sell it or give it away. Oh no. Instead, I scooted it inch by inch into the den/office just adjacent to my living room.

It’s probably 7 feet tall, 3 feet wide.  I have no idea how much it weighs.A lot.  It’s also not bolted together.  Scooting the piece was my only option and at any moment, it could fall over if I wasn’t careful.

I decided that I wanted to reclaim my office. Part of this project meant that I wanted to hang things on the walls. Except, I can’t because I have this giant cabinet in the way. It took up a ton of space. It had to go. Except, I can’t sell this thing or give it away.

After some thinking, I decided that I would move it into the kitchen and put my pretty dishes in it and set the microwave on it as well. That is, if it would clear the opening and ceiling in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t bother to measure. I just got to scootin’.

I had to take on the task of taking everything out of it that I had stored on the bottom, in the drawers and on the shelves inside.  This turned into me making a huge mess not only in the den/office but also in the living room and in the kitchen. Awful.

It was literally an all day project. I made a huge mess of clutter all over the house. Excuse my mess in the photo’s below as I was rehoming items that were formerly in the cabinet and also the long hutch that is in the photographs below.  I don’t live in squaller, I promise.

The hutch barely fit into the space where I wanted to put it. I mean, there is maybe 2 inches between the top of the piece and the ceiling. The microwave just fit into the space also.  It’s perfect where it is now.  I’m happy with it too.

I’m also really glad that I was able to free up the space in my office. Now I just need to work on getting it put back together and organized. I want to but some shelves and maybe another, larger bookcase.

I am also attached to the mid sized bookcase that is in the photo gallery below. I rescued that from the Habitat For Humanity ReStore maybe two years ago. That thing probably weighs 200 pounds and is also solid oak. I dragged it home and refurbished it.

If You Eat Your Feelings, Make ‘Em Delicious! Baked Fudge

This is the post that is going to make you realize that I am a bad influence on you your new best friend.

It wasn’t an exceptionally stressful 12 hour shift today. I’m pretty sure I screwed something up to the point that I will likely hear about it. Nobody died, but that doesn’t matter. I’m stressed, I’m restless and I’m hungry.

So what’s better than drowning in your own self-loathing? Eating an amazingly delicious treat too late in the evening! I’ll hate myself in the morning. Remember though, I promised myself to live in the present.

Well, here we are friends, in the now.

Tonight, my feelings are going to taste like Baked Fudge. Very easy to make and the upside is that there’s a waiting period. It takes 45-50 minutes to bake, giving you time to think it through.

Should I eat this wonderful cup of joy at midnight?

Hell yea you should.   Just don’t do this everyday. Lucky for you, the recipe I am going to share with you doesn’t make very much. I usually split the batter into 3 individual 8oz, stoneware ramekins AKA little stoneware baking bowls.

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Flour,cocoa, sugar

 

Delicious batter…

 

Don't mind my outdated counter tops. I don't.

Don’t mind my outdated counter tops.

 

Three 8oz ramekins

Three 8oz ramekins

 

Place the ramekins into a pan that is half filled with water.

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The recipe I am using, and will provide below, will fill an 8 inch square baking dish. I like the ramekins because they assist with portion control.  Since I don’t have a lot of self control, they come in handy.  Also, if you want to make this for friends then you can share them individually, making their baked fudge experience extra special.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the upper crust is crispy and the rest of the batter is firm but not set. If you do the toothpick test, it shouldn’t come out clean. Your batter shouldn’t be runny.  If you pull this out of the oven and you’re not sure, put it back in for a couple more minutes.

Perfecto!

Perfecto!

Closer inspection?

Perfect- The upper crust should be crispy and will look like this.

Perfect- The upper crust should be crispy and will look like this.

What’s also great about this treat is that you can chose to use a topping, or not. Whipped cream is always good, so are strawberries and raspberries. Strawberries and raspberries are my two favorite fruits to enjoy with chocolate! I threw in the recipe to make your own whipped cream at the bottom.

Baked Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa – I used Hershey’s unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To prepare:

Preheat your oven to 300-325 degrees, depending on your oven. I use a gas range and set my heat at 325 degrees.

Beat the eggs until they are light in color. Add sugar and beat until the mixture is well combined. Add the cocoa, flour, melted butter and Vanilla Extract. Mix until the batter is well combined.

Pour the batter into your ramekins or an 8 inch, square baking dish. Set the ramekins or the baking dish into a larger pan that is half filled with water.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the upper crust is crispy and the rest of the batter is firm, but not runny. If you do the toothpick test, it should not come out clean. If you remove your baked fudge from the over and you have second thoughts you can always stick it back in for a couple of more minutes.

I check on them after 45 minutes to see how they look. I usually bake them for 50 minutes and they are always perfect.

Like I mentioned above, I prefer to use a fruit topping, if I even add a topping. I also enjoy making my own whipped cream vs using store bought.

To make your own whipped cream, you will need:

  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Add the heavy cream and the sugar to a medium size bowl.  I use a regular hand held mixer, set on high. Mix the cream and sugar on high until the cream transitions into the whipped cream you know and love.  This can take up to 3-5 minutes.

When it’s done, you can either cover the bowl and use it or place the whipped cream into another container with a lid to keep in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be used again.

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Almost done!

I’ve had an hour to think about it. I am totally going to enjoy a ramekin of baked fudge goodness.  The other two I will save and take with me to work so I can have something sweet with my dinner.

This recipe is so easy and the result is so yummy!

What’s your favorite late night mistake snack?

How To Select and Clean A Pomegranate

Three perfect pomegranate's.

Three perfect pomegranate’s.

With the holidays coming and going, people like to not only decorate their homes for the season, but it also inspires them to try new things with the food they are preparing for family and friends. It seems that since the pomegranate began to gain popularity they have become a holiday season treat. I’ve also noticed that replicas of the pomegranate are being sold as decorations.

Inside of the shell that you see in the photo above are “arils” which are the fleshy seed that you eat. The pomegranate is the perfect  exotic garnish for any salad and not to mention the perfect snack all by itself. The arils also go great with sliced bananas, strawberries and blueberries. The arils are sweet and are crunchy. A lot of companies have tried to replicate the taste for various products that sort of taste like the cranberry. I do not think they are similar in taste.

Pomegranate’s are one of the oldest fruits on record and have been seen in writings and artifacts of many different cultures. The pomegranate is thought to be a native of Persia.  The growing seasons depends on where the tree is being grown. In the northern hemisphere it’s September-February while in the southern hemisphere it’s March-May.

Typically in the United States, where I am located, they start to show up in the grocery store around mid September. The brand that my local grocery store carries appear to be grown in California.  They retail anywhere from $2.99 each but are often on special at 2 for $5.00.  Around the holiday,s a lot of my local grocery stores and mega stores  sell them so cheaply that they practically give them away.

The only downfall to the pomegranate is that they can be a challenge to clean. I am going to give you some tips to ease you through the process.  It’s true that you can choose to purchase a container of arils that have already been cleaned off of the pomegranate, but you will pay twice the price for something you can do on your own.  You’ll get more for your money too,  if you’re using a lot of the fruit,  than you would if you were to purchase them in a container.

First, you need to select a pomegranate.  As with other things in life, size doesn’t necessarily mean anything. You want a pomegranate that is fairly heavy. This tells you that the pomegranate is full of ripe juicy arils and that’s what you want.  If you select a pomegranate based on size, without paying attention to its weight, you may be disappointed later when you cut it open to find that it doesn’t have a lot of arils on the inside. Or wasn’t quite ripe yet.

You also want to look at the skin and make sure that it is not wrinkled or rippled. This is a sign that the pomegranate has been sitting on the display for awhile. Also try to avoid ones that have cuts or bruises on the skin.   It is true that a pomegranate has a shelf life of up to three months, but since you’re standing in the grocery store making a new purchase, pass that one by if you can.  You don’t want to get home and find that your pomegranate is moldy on the inside.

Now that you have your pomegranate, you will want to prepare it to be cleaned.

I use my kitchen sink to soak the pomegranates in hot water for 30-40 minutes.  It’s as simple as filling your sink or a very large bowl full of hot water. How hot? A step above what you would hand wash your dishes in. Let them soak in the water for at least 30 minutes. You don’t have to keep the water hot just let them soak.  This will not damage the arils or make them mushy. When we are finished I am going to tell you to rinse them in cold water. That will crisp them again.

Let the pomegranates soak in hot water for 30-40 minutes.

Let the pomegranates soak in hot water for 30-40 minutes.

Next you will need a cutting board or something that you don’t mind cutting food on.

I suggest that you use a knife that is longer than your pomegranate. They aren’t terribly difficult to cut through, but a paring knife will be awkward.

Two warnings.

First, this is going to be a little messy. You may want to have a darker colored dish cloth or paper towel near by just in case.  The juice will stain your cutting board but cleaning with bleach will eliminate the stain.  You’ll want to look at the wall in front of you when you are done because you probably squirted juice on the wall.

Secondly, the rind or skin, may discolor your cuticles and finger nails.  When I clean my pomegranates I usually wear gloves. You’ll want to wear something that allows you to be able to move your fingers in a picking motion.  It hasn’t always happened but it only took one time for me to start using gloves. My fingers were stained yellow and it was not pretty.

Next, you’ll want to place your pomegranate so that it is upright, as it’s pictured below. You are going to cut it in half and then into four pieces. I start cutting in the middle of the top in an effort to make my pieces the same size.

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Cut the pomegranate in half, starting at the top.

Cut each half of the pomegranate in half again so you have four pieces.

Cut the pomegranate in half and then cut each piece until you have four pieces.

Cut the pomegranate in half and then cut each piece until you have four pieces.

Next, have a bowl or colander ready to catch your arils.  Hold one of the pieces in your hand. Take the thumb on each hand to fold the pieces backwards at the top and bottom, with your fingers supporting the middle.  The seeds will separate easily from the rind and fall in to the bowl. You simply keep picking at the arils until they are all gone from your piece.

Peel the rind back to expose the seeds.

Peel the rind back to expose the seeds.

It’s as simple as that.

Up close and personal with arils-

Up close and personal with arils-

When you are finished cleaning the arils from the pieces rinse them with cold water. Then simply let the water drain from the colander. When they are dry then place them into an airtight container and place them into the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

I can clean three pomegranates in about twenty minutes and make a minimal mess. It’s seriously an art.

What do you think? Is this something that you are willing try? Have you cleaned your own pomegranate? How did it go?

Hello!! Welcome To My Blog

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Hello! My name is Jenn, I am a 30-something from the mid-western United States. I am a Public Servant, mom to a small human, dog mom to a Rottweiler and two Australian Cattle Dogs.

I enjoy camping, hiking and pretty much anything that involves the outdoors. I also enjoy attempting various “do it yourself” projects, photography, writing, cooking and living my life.

This is my third, and hopefully final attempt to start a blog. Over the years I have struggled to decide on a particular niche.  I don’t think that I really need one.  I’ve also overcome a lot in the past few years and have come out from under my rock to live again.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle my adventures in home improvement and my journey through life in addition to may to day musings.

I hope that you’ll follow along!