Screen Door Quick Fix

Our back door and our kitchen balcony door are both large glass doors with screens that make it easy to catch the lovely spring breezes.  The screen doors are of the flimsy sort, however, and they’ve seen a lot of wear and tear.  If I had my druthers, I’d replace them entirely, as the locks are broken and you can’t actually close them all the way.  But it’s not my house, ergo it ain’t my problem.

Yorkville Condition May 2014 25

That said, there are a few things I can do to make them a little more functional (aside from a thorough cleaning — ew).  In the kitchen screen, there’s a tear around my eye level that I want to prevent from getting any bigger.

Screen Door Quick Fix 1

Simple enough.  Use some stout thread and a small needle and just sort of … stitch it up in as tidy a manner as possible.

Screen Door Quick Fix 3

Don’t pull too hard as you do it, or you’ll just end up pulling the screen filaments around and that’s no good.

Screen Door Quick Fix 5

It’s not TOO visible, which is nice. Try to match your thread to the screen colour. Neon is probably not a good choice.

Screen Door Quick Fix 6

Now the basement door is a different story.  After catching Gren trying to do this I know that the previous tenants’ dog probably jumped the gun on going outside before the door was open and went through the screen.

Screen Door Quick Fix 7

Fortunately, the screen isn’t too damaged, but it has popped out of the frame.  This black stuff is called splining, and it’s what holds the screen into the frame.

Screen Door Quick Fix 8

So you want to pull it out a bit from the frame, even around the corner.  Be careful, if the screen is old.  The splining will likely be pretty old. New splining is all spongy and stretchy and lovely. This stuff? Not so much.

Screen Door Quick Fix 9

Pull it out of the frame to just past the point where the screen has come out.

Screen Door Quick Fix 10

Use a spoon to tuck the screen edges back into the frame.

Screen Door Quick Fix 11

And then use the spoon again to push the splining back into place.  There’s a special tool for this, a spliner, but for small-scale stuff like this you can just use a spoon or any other smooth yet pointy object.

Screen Door Quick Fix 12

Make sure that the screen is taut around the splining.  Pull the screen down as much as you can before shoving it back in.

Screen Door Quick Fix 13

And then make sure the splining is shoved back in as far as it can go.

Screen Door Quick Fix 14

There you go.  Screen fixed, door cleaned, crisis averted.  Takes no time at all.

Screen Door Quick Fix 15

Advertisements

Rainbow-Dipped Wooden Spoons

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 27

This is a great and quick gift for people who are just starting out in a new home.  When I saw it over at A Pretty Cool Life I knew I had to do it.  And maybe even jazz up my own wooden spoons while I was at it, though at present I only own two. You can never have too many spoons (especially when you’re entertaining and all is chaos), and these bright and shiny ones are a great accent for any kitchen.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 24

So you need some spoons, wooden ones. The Pie and I picked these up at Winners for a reasonable price. We did two sets, six spoons each. And you need some craft paint. We had six spoons, so we picked up six colours. We went with Martha Stewart Crafts™ Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint.  It had a nice finish, was easy to apply, and is guaranteed to be non-toxic and food safe.  And if you let it cure for 21 days, then you can pop these babies in the dishwasher with no worries.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 1

I gave the spoons a quick sand with some fine-grade sandpaper to get some of the splinters and rough edges off.  Then I measured to see where I wanted the paint to go.  These self-healing cutting mats also make great ruler-like work surfaces.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 2

Then I used masking tape along the line I measured and pressed it down securely to make sure the paint wouldn’t bleed under.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 3

These are my own wooden spoons here.  I originally wanted to do a set of stripes forming a rainbow on each handle, with them being the reverse of each other, so I blocked off 1″ increments for my stripes, figuring I could do a few colours at a time.  Conveniently, my masking tape is also 1″ thick.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 4

I wedged the spoons in plastic cups with some rocks in the bottom for stability.  This way they can dry properly without touching anything else.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 5

Then I set up my palette in an old pie pan.  Re-use, re-use, re-use!

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 6

Then I painted.  It was easy.  Leave an hour between coats to make sure it dries properly.  I ended up doing three coats on the spoons I was giving away, though I only did one coat on my own spoons.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 7

When I took the tape off my own spoons in order to mask off the already painted sections, I decided I liked the stripes just as they were.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 8

And if you put the spoons together it forms a rainbow!

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 10

And of course the other spoons are raring to go, just waiting for their requisite 21 days of curing.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 13

If you have a glass utensil holder, you can put them handle-side-down.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 19

Or if not, have them handle-side-up.

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 21

Either way, they’re a cheery addition to my kitchen.  Can I keep them?

Rainbow Wooden Spoons 23

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

I got this recipe from Canadian Living, but I would say it’s more of a cross between an enchilada and a burrito than it is a full-on burrito, especially after my modifications.  You tend not to bake burritos and there are lots of refried beans involved.  In any case, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s hella tasty.  It makes about 10 6″ wraps.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Start with 3 large chicken breasts, still on the bone, and poach them in gently simmering water until cooked, about 15-25 minutes.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Then shred the meat with forks, in good southern style.  Set that aside.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Dice a large onion and plop that in a wide frying pan with some olive oil and minced garlic and sauté those suckers until they are tender and translucent.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Chop up as well a red pepper and a jalapeño pepper.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Wrangle yourself 1 cup salsa.  I say “wrangle” because that’s what I did with this — it was in three different jars as I was cleaning out the fridge.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Toss the peppers, beans, and salsa into the pan with the onions, and add the chicken as well.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Stir everything around to coat with salsa — I found I needed to add a little bit extra to get it all covered.  Season with salt and pepper.

Grate up about 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and set that aside for a bit.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

In a greased dish or on a sheet of aluminum foil, lay out a flour tortilla.  You can use any kind you want, but I used the small whole wheat ones, just to make this a bit healthier.  Spoon in a generous amount of filling (you will likely have a bit left over so don’t be afraid to go overboard).

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Sprinkle the filling with a bit of cheddar cheese.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Roll the wrap into a cylinder and place it in your dish or on the foil with the open side down.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Repeat with the other wraps until you run out.  Sprinkle the remainder of the cheddar across the tops of the burritos.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the wraps turn golden brown.  Or wrap tightly in foil and freeze.  You can bake these from frozen, just increase the cooking time to 25 minutes.

Serve them with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Friday and over the weekend from Freshly Pressed, and thanks for all your great comments!Sausage Stuffed Peppers

This is a strange experience.  I’m actually eating this meal (leftover) as I blog about it.  I have already gotten rice on the keyboard.  This is one of those recipes I wrote down as a child in my magic recipe book and which I haven’t made in twenty years.  But it was also another one of those if-I-have-to-eat-plain-sausage-AGAIN-I-will-throw-something nights so, it had to be done.  And of course I changed it around a bit.
Sausage Stuffed Peppers

First you take 4 red peppers, wash them, and cut the tops off.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Pull out all the guts.  If you wish, you can parboil them for a few minutes at this stage but I like my veggies crisp so I left them raw.  Spray a small oven-proof dish and pile them all in, open side up.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Preheat your oven to 350°F and cook up 1 cup of rice, or enough that you come up with 2 cups cooked rice when you’re done.

I made the mistake here of chopping up 1 large onion.  What you should really do is chop up 1 medium or small onion.  Plop those in a saucepan with some olive oil.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squeeze the meat out of 1lb sausage (I used about a third less, and with the extra onion, mine ended up a little meh) and add them, together with a few teaspoons minced garlic, to the onions.  Sauté those until the onions are tender and the sausage is broken up into little bits and fully cooked.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir in the cooked rice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Melt 3 tablespoons butter and add it to 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir that around.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stuff each pepper with as much of the rice-sausage mixture as will fit.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squish it down a little at the top to make a shallow depression.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

If you have extra rice, put it in a casserole dish.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Open up a can of diced tomatoes.  Spoon on a few pieces of tomato, enough to cover the top of the pepper, and be generous with the juice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Use more on your extra rice.  See how the tomato juice kind of percolates down?

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Top each pepper (and your casserole) with bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until everything is all bubbly and the bread crumbs are brown.  Serve hot!

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Peeling and Pureeing Kiwi

I bought a box of kiwis a while back.  With the stress of getting the second draft of my research proposal out and starting my new transcription project, I kind of forgot all about them and they got a little over-ripe.

Not to worry.  I decided to purée them and freeze the purée for later use.  Easy peasy.

Now we all know that Kiwi is one of those super-foods, loaded all sorts of good stuff, including more vitamin C than an orange.  They’re handy things to keep around.  What you may not know is that the kiwi originated from China in the 14th century, and only slowly made its way to New Zealand, where it was renamed from gooseberry to kiwi, after the fuzzy bird it so resembled.  What you may not also know is that there is something called the Arctic kiwi that comes out of Nova Scotia.  It’s kind of like a cross between a gooseberry and a kiwi, and it’s about the size of a grape.  It’s green and missing most of the fuzzy stuff, but tastes pretty much exactly like a sweet bite-sized kiwi.  I think they’re cool.  So does some one else.

This is an interesting fact for you: I am allergic to kiwi skin.  No joke.  If a little hair from that fuzzy stuff touches my tongue it swells up and it’s exceedingly painful.  I have to be very careful about how I prepare kiwi so that I can avoid that discomfort.

To make sure I get all the skin off at once, I first slice off the top and bottom of the fruit.  Then I take a teaspoon (a tablespoon if it’s a bigger kiwi) and insert it in between the skin and the fruit. I run the spoon all the way around to separate the skin from the fruit in one piece.

Then you can simply squeeze out the fruit and compost the peel.

I popped my little kiwis in my blender.

Look at them whir away.

Then I poured the pulp into some novelty ice cube trays for freezing.  I plan to add them to smoothies, drinks, and even soups later on.  When you pop them out they look super cool.  Hen told me this is how she makes baby food, as well.

Fun fact: you can use kiwi purée as an antioxidant exfoliator.  Simply rub a few tablespoons of purée onto clean skin.  Leave 7 to 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.  Blamo kablam: a kiwi facial.

Paderno Factory Sale!

Yesterday may have been a Tuesday for you.

For us, it was Manna day.

I dragged the Pie out of bed at the crack of nine-thirty and towed him the block and a half from our apartment to the ReMax Centre, home to the St. John’s Curling Club.

We had come to take advantage of the Paderno factory sale, a rare opportunity to purchase some quality Canadian cookware.  Yes, there is a Paderno Kitchen store in the city, but without a car, it’s practically in the middle of nowhere, so we don’t go often.  Plus, we hit this shindig last year and found some RIDICU-sales, even though we came at the end of the event.  This time we got there nice and early.

For those of you in St. John’s, the event runs from May 11th to May 16th, and is open from 9 to 9 during the week, 9 to 6 on Saturday, and 9 to 5 on Sunday.

Here are some of the things we saw that we’re thinking about going back for:

I am firmly of the opinion that you can never have too many mixing bowls.  Especially nice ones.  These two sets were especially alluring due to their cheapness. 

We might come back later and get this nice medium-sized cast-iron skillet.  We are trying to use cast-iron more often these days, and now we have a wee one and a huge one and it would be nice to have a medium one.

These are fish tongs.  I’m not going to buy them.  But I thought they looked ridiculous.

My parents have one of these oil sprayers, and it works really well.  It means you never have to buy aerosol cooking spray again.  I have to say that I am rather tempted.

These tiny wooden spoons were so cute!  There’s no way the Pie will let me have even one of them.

We probably won’t come back for this, but it was interesting.  An egg-toss pan, with a little bulge on one end to help you flip your egg.  The Pie might want it.

A selection of cheap serving spoons.  We really don’t have any serving spoons at all, so this is a definite maybe.

I thought these mugs are cute.  I am, however, banned from buying mugs.  Stupid husband and his RULES.

The Pie really, really wants this pizza cutter.  Like REALLY.

Here’s what we ended up with:

This little cast-iron pan is our triumph.  We picked it up from the salesmen’s sample table (basically, the scratch & dent) for ten dollars.  It’s a little dirty but we don’t think those scratches are permanent.  The ones that aren’t scratched are selling for twenty dollars, which is 50% off their original price.  So it’s a real steal.

Also from the scratch & dent table came these two wee darling cafe latte-style bowls.  The littlest was a dollar and the larger one was two.  You can pretty much justify anything for two dollars.

Our most expensive purchase was this pan liner for $10.99.  It makes a good alternative to parchment paper and as I’m planning to make a lot more bread these days I think it will come in handy.

I had to have this silicone spoon, merely because it was turquoise.  And it was only $2.99.  The Pie mocked my choice: “do we really need another spoon?”

Of course, that is coming from the man who insisted we get these miniature tongs (red to match our larger tongs) for $1.99.  So I can’t really trust his judgments.

The Pie is also exceedingly fond of egg mcmuffin-type breakfast foods, so we picked these up for $3.99.

A small icing spatula came away for $2.75.

I also picked up two 9″ pie plates, both deep dish.  This lovely ceramic one was only $7.50, and normally this vintage-style goes for $40 or more.

This nice clear one was only $5.49.

All this loot for a grand total (including HST) of $55.03.  Can’t beat it.

Experiments with Tintex Fabric Dye

“it doesn’t look like you dye-it” – Stef

In February of this year, as I was procrastinating studying for my exams, I decided to try to dye my dining room curtains, just to see if I could.  Before the wedding last summer, the Pie and I painted both the living room and the dining room a cream colour, and the white cotton curtains (from IKEA) I had in there made the room look too stark. We didn’t have the money to purchase new curtains, so something had to be done with what we had.

I thought, why not purple?  A rich, deep, eggplant.  Yes.

I’d always passed the boxes of Tintex fabric dye in the grocery store and wondered how the process worked.  Now was my chance to find out.  While I was picking out my purple, I also picked up some forest green (in case the Pie objected to purple) and I read the instructions on the back of the box.  It suggested I remove all traces of the old colour or stains on the fabric with the Tintex colour remover, so I picked up two boxes of that, as well as two each of the purple and the green.  The dye amount is by weight, and I figured each curtain panel would warrant its own box.

Now, if you know me, you’ll know that I have a tendency to spill, drop, tear, break, or otherwise destroy things.  The idea of me in charge of a vat of purple dye was enough to give the Pie arrhythmia, but I promised to be careful.  And, to my credit, I was, very careful.  Nothing got dyed that shouldn’t have been.  I wore long rubber gloves, tied my hair back, and wore my oldest clothing.  And I didn’t spill a drop!

Everything ready and waiting for the colour remover.

In order for fabric dye to set it requires that the water in which it is dissolved be as hot as possible, boiling if at all possible.  There was no way I could put an entire curtain panel in even my largest pot, so I needed a new venue.  Luckily I had an extra-large Rubbermaid bin, and I set this in the bathtub to avoid spills.  I boiled up some water in my big lobster pot, and poured it into the tub.  I followed that up with water from the faucet.  Fortunately our water heater is brand new and about three feet from the bathroom, so the water that came out of the tap was near to boiling itself.  I also turned up the heat in the bathroom (which normally hovers around sub-zero).  This was the best I could do.

The instructions on the box also recommended that I dye each piece of fabric separately, but I didn’t trust myself to either time it properly or get a uniform water level between the two batches, and I needed these panels to come out the same colour, so I did them at the same time.

Having the colour removed.

First, I boiled the water and dissolved the colour remover in the tub.  I plopped in the curtain panels, which were white, but which did have a few stains and marks on them that could have stood to be removed.  I sat on the edge of the tub for the time allotted, stirring my cauldron of smelly, steaming liquid and poking the fabric back below the surface with a long metal slotted spoon (from Lee Valley – I highly recommend them).

When my time was up I tipped out the liquid and rinsed the curtains as best as I could.  It is really backbreaking work, and quite hard on the wrists to bend and squish (but not wring) a huge pile of wet fabric from your knees.

I repeated the boiling water process with the purple dye.  The powder itself looked black, and billowed up in a multicoloured cloud as I poured it.  I was wiping red, blue, green, and black dye particulates off the walls of the shower for a week afterward.  Once the dye was dissolved it made an opaque, wine-like liquid that steamed and smelled quite evil.  I dumped in my wet, rinsed curtains and poked at them for the requisite amount of time.

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble.

Already tired from my rinsing of the colour remover, and solidly bored from having to sit by myself in the bathroom for over an hour, I was not all that enthused about rinsing the newly dyed curtains.  The Pie, bless him, helped quite a bit, running the removable showerhead over the fabric as I worked it with my gloved hands.  Eventually, after about the ninth rinse, I gave up and put them on an extra rinse cycle in the washing machine.

Draining the Vat

I figured there wasn’t enough dye left in them to do any real damage to the machine (we had a residual bleach accident when we first moved in that made us reticent to put fabric altering substances in the washer), but there was enough still in the fabric that it might rub off on something else when it was dry.  The nice thing about the rinse cycle is that it did a better job of wringing out the fabric than I ever could, so I didn’t have to worry about drips while it was drying.

Hanging from the shower rod to dry.

I hung the fabric to dry, and the next day I hung them in place in the dining room.

They weren’t a perfect job, by any means.  There are several patches of white remaining on the fabric.  I think this is either the result of me not rinsing them enough after the colour removal stage, or the dye didn’t penetrate that far into the folds of the cloth while it was in the tub.  Next time I might just time and measure it better and do each panel separately to ensure better coverage.  But for a first attempt, I’m quite pleased with them.  They turned out the colour I wanted them to and they really make the dining room much cozier.

Back in the dining room.

Cleanup was nearly a breeze from this experiment.  I was very careful to have no spillage, so anything and everything was fortunately contained within the tub.  The tub, however, is very old, and a lot of dye worked its way into the tiny scratches on its bottom and sides while I was doing the rinsing.  It took some scrubbing with vinegar, baking soda, and borax to get it out, but it was easier than I had expected.

Cleanup was a snap.

Flushed with my success, I took the remaining dye (the forest green) to one of the lampshades in our living room.  This lampshade is one of the cheap ones from IKEA, and is made of paper overlying some sort of plastic.  It was getting dingy and dirty, and during the day, when the light was off, it looked quite yellow.  I dusted it off with a clothes lint brush and took it into the kitchen.  I laid down a garbage bag and then several layers of newsprint on top, and took one of our sponge brushes from the closet.  The lampshade was too wide to fit into a pot, and I was concerned that the paper part of it might dissolve if I were to submerge it.  Instead, I planned to paint it.

Painting on the Dye.

I filled a 4-cup measuring cup with boiling water and emptied in the green dye, which also looked pretty black, and dissolved the whole thing.  I let it cool slightly, and then set to painting.  I let the sponge brush fill with dye and ran it gently up and down the sides of the shade.  I had to let it thoroughly dry between coats so that I didn’t destroy the paper, but I managed four coats before I was satisfied.  An unexpected effect was that the paper on the shade was actually crinkled, with wrinkles running here and there along the sides of the shade.  The dye darkened the wrinkles more than it did anything else, and so now the shade looks sort of like dark green leather.  When the light is on, the lines stand out even more.  It’s quite nice, actually.  Another decent first effort.

Finished, Greenskin