Thursday, March 29, 2012

our PW adventure

A few weeks ago I discovered that Ree Drummond – The Pioneer Woman was going to be in Denver for a book signing for her new cookbook – Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier

Um, yes please.  I want to go to there.

The day of the signing (last Saturday) finally rolled around and we had planned our day around heading to the Tradesmart book store in Littleton for the event which started at 4pm. 

Sweet Pea took her nap and got up with plenty of time for us to stop off to check out a couple of cross stitch shops before going to the book store but we didn’t get out of the house in a timely manner – I mean, really, I should be used to how long it takes to get out of the house with her but I seem to end up about a half hour behind schedule (unless there’s an appointment involved) no matter what I do.  So we decided to only hit one of the shops – thank goodness we did!  I finally found a good Christmas stocking kit for Miss P and a really great shop (Fancimats & More in downtown Littleton).

We walked in to discover that the ladies (one employee and one customer) were discussing, what else than the very same book signing that we were headed to.  I thought that was funny.  We found out from the ladies that the book store had been giving out numbers all day.  Great.

We decided to press on figuring that if we got there and we were way far back in line, we would just stay for the presentation, buy the new cookbook and go home.  So we got there a little before 3:30.  I staked out a spot and waited while Will wandered around with the baby.

The crowd anxiously waiting her presentation.

And then she finally appeared!

Her presentation is just a little history of her life and blog.DSC_0189 
She talks a lot on her blog about how she’s terrible at public speaking… well, it’s true!  But she’s funny and nervous in a very endearing way.

And then she sang to Charlie.  ha!

After her “song,” she came right over to begin signing books.  At this point it was about 4:30. 
My spot won me a perfect vantage point for when she started signing books.  Unfortunately, our number was 248.  We were going to be waiting for quite a while so we actually left and went up the street for dinner.  We’re still not sure why more people didn’t do the same.

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Basically, all these people were just camped out in the store waiting to be called to get in line.  We grabbed a chunk of floor and let the girl crawl around for awhile.
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They’d been playing an awesome country playlist but eventually the bookstore folks and the publisher folks got smart and they put The Muppets on one of the 2 screens that had been put up for the presentation.DSC_0218
Eventually, our number got called.  Not before the bookstore started announcing that if you needed to leave you could leave your books on a cart and Ree would sign them and you could come back and get them the next day.  A lot of people were taking advantage of that. DSC_0219
Aaaaaaand she fell asleep.  I was so hoping to have her meet Ree too. :(  But she was a little tuckered out by that point.
Finally we made it! 

It was about 8:30, 4 hours from when she’d started signing books and she was still so upbeat and nice.  AMAZING.  I was so excited to introduce her to our Sweet Pea since I know that Ree loves babies.  She told us how beautiful she was and that she looked like Snow White and just wanted to pet her.  Ree has to be used to people coming up and stammering at her because she just started asking questions while she signed the books.  Where did we live?  When we told her that we’d just moved to the area, she asked where from and then was joking that she was interrogating us.  Really, she’s just as nice in person as you would expect her to be if you’ve watched her show.  She even patted the babe on the leg.

Oh and thanks to the Tradesmart employee for taking the picture!  Our original plan was for me to have the baby and Will to take the picture but as you saw… she was asleep so Will had to get in the picture with us.

I had 3 books signed  - the original cookbook, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.
The new cookbook – Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier.DSC_0225
And Charlie the Ranch Dog which we had signed for Miss P.  DSC_0228DSC_0231

If I knew where it was, I probably would have thought to bring The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – A Love Story too but God only knows which of the bajillion boxes of books that’s in.

I actually bought the new cookbook at the event so I didn’t know what was in it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find two of my favorite recipes from her website. 

Pork Chops with Apples and Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits which if you’ve visited since November, I’ve probably served it to you in all of its delicious glory.  Though one of these days, I’ll finally make the whole thing correct from start to finish.  I haven’t done it yet.


And Summer Stir Fry.  The pictures are different from the recipe version that I’ve used but this is such a tasty summery dish.  I can even get Will to eat tomatoes!

So that’s how I got to meet Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman. 

Well, Pioneer Lady in our house.  Damn you, Will!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

household science experiments

or how Pinterest saved my bathroom sink.

Over the weekend I decided to try a few of the household cleaning tips I’d been seeing on Pinterest.  These are usually with the eye towards using less toxic chemicals in your house.

First is this one for removing soap scum:

Source: via Marcy on Pinterest

The directions state that you heat 12oz vinegar and add 12oz of original Dawn for a 1:1 solution.

Ok, so on the first go round I forgot about the heating the vinegar part.  But I tried it overnight on my SUPER scummy bathroom sink – this sink had a steady drip for the first 5-6 months we lived here and looked like it had had the drip for years before we moved in so there was a distinct ring of hard water and scum that nothing was getting it off.  I sprayed it on one night and scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush in the morning and it seemed to be working but, oh my god, Dawn suds so much that it was taking forever to get the solution off.  So I added another cup of, heated this time, vinegar.  This seemed to help things.  I also used it on my tub and shower to great results.

I need to go one more round with my bathroom sink to get the final bits of super stubborn scum off but the results so far have been AMAZING.  I went from seriously considering replacing my sink at some point in the future to having a sink that looks almost brand new – of course, I have no pictures of this amazing transformation :(

I think the problem with the original “recipe” is that it assumes that you have original Dawn and not the super concentrated Dawn that is also readily available and looks just about the same if you’re not paying attention.  If you’ve got the super concentrated, I would recommend 2:1 vinegar to Dawn.  Maybe even 3:1.

Oh and a couple of the comments I’ve seen talk about how wonderful and clean everything smells… um, personally, original Dawn scent + vinegar smells hideous!  But it works so I’ll stick with it.

The second is homemade Drano:

The directions are 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, and a gallon of boiling water.

Our shower has been running slow in the last few weeks and with Sweet Pea underfoot I wasn’t keen on buying Drano which was our go-to in Virginia.  I figured I would give it a try and if it works – yay!  If not, we’ll just lock up the Drano.

The original poster talked about needing something to force the suds back down the drain.  Since this was a flat shower drain, I just grabbed one of our rubber jar openers.  So armed with my supplies (baking soda, vinegar and the jar opener), I left our biggest pot on the stove to boil (I don’t actually know if it was a gallon or not) and went to begin.  Getting the baking soda down the drain was a bit of a challenge so I got as much of the 1/2 cup as I could, poured on the vinegar and slapped on the cover as quickly as I could.  Let me tell you – this part was FUN.  It just foams everywhere and that’s when I felt like I was doing science experiments at home.  Then repeat with the rest and let it sit until the water was boiling.  Getting a whole pot of water that was just at a rolling boil up the stairs and into the shower was a bit of a feat – one that I would never dream of doing without Will home to keep the baby out of my way – but it was accomplished. 

And we’ve had no problems since.  I assume we’ll have to do this periodically but it sure beats having Drano in the house and the ingredients are much cheaper than a “single serve” bottle of Drano.  Though I do want to know where one finds the bag of baking soda she shows in the picture above.

Update: My mom checked and you can get an 11lb (or was it 13lb) bag of Arm & Hammer in Sam’s for under $6.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

ugh, technology

ok, I seriously love my tiny little baby laptop but it’s currently over 3 years old and, honestly, it’s not what I ordered. 

When I ordered it back in the fall of ‘08, the idea was that I would order the computer, go on leave to get married and enjoy my honeymoon, and it would be waiting for me when I got back to the office.  Unfortunately for me, Dell was in the middle of a model change on Latitudes and the computer I ordered was no longer available.  And when did I find this out?  When I got back after being out for a month.  I had to reorder my computer and it took quite some time but I figured out that I didn’t end up with what I’d wanted.  The main errors being that the computer I ended up with has a solid state 128GB hard drive – not nearly enough space and the processor speed is wrong too.

At this point 3+ years later, I’m lucky if it will stay alive for an hour and half, the processor speed won’t support Photo Shop Elements 8.0 (it grinds the whole works to a screeching halt), and I’ve maxed out my hard drive space.

I need a new computer.  I need something to save for. 

I really want a MacBook Pro (the little 13” one) but I’m not keen on the price and I’m not really sure that I want to jump platforms.  Mostly, I want it for the battery life.  SEVEN hours!

So who wants to find me a computer to save for? 

This is what I want:

  • little.  no bigger than a 13” screen.  Preferably under 3lbs but I’ll deal with under 5lbs.
  • lots of RAM
  • lots and lots of hard drive space.  At least 500GB.  Preferably more.  None of this solid state HD nonsense either.
  • processing power that will handle some combination of Photoshop CS5, Photoshop/Premiere Elements 10, and Lightroom 4.  (and figure out how I can afford new versions of those too)
  • a looooong battery life.  Something in the 7+ hr range.
  • has to have an SD card reader built in.  But I don’t actually have to have a CD/DVD drive or writer.
  • under the MacBook Pro’s $1199 price tag

Anyone got any ideas?

Update (3/29): no one had any Windows based ideas for me and a friend came up with a discount that I could use so I currently have a brand new 13” MacBook Pro making its way to me.  So excited!  So scared!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

nursery – dresser drawer saga

It’s an IKEA dresser so you know I couldn’t leave it just like it was supposed to be, right?  I wasn’t planning anything more major than lining the drawers and swapping out the knobs – I’ve seen some crazy awesome IKEA hacks on Apartment Therapy but nah…

I just went simple.  I lined the drawers and swapped out the knobs. 

Unfortunately, lining the drawers proved bizarrely complicated.  Or maybe I just made it overly complicated.  I don’t know.

The bottoms of the drawers are yellow and white stripes.  I think I’ve mentioned my distaste for yellow, right? So I bought 4 different scrapbook papers – 8 drawers, each paper for 2 drawers – to line them.  I decided that it would be easiest to do this before putting the drawers together so that I could just deal with the flat bottoms of the drawers rather than wholly made up drawers.
My materials – paper, drawer bottoms, DIY modpodge (I don’t recommend it or find better directions than the 50/50 mix of elmer’s and water that I was working with), and a foam brush.
Apply glue with brush.  Stick paper on…
DSC_8466 DSC_8467
and watch your paper destroy itself :(
Try the rolling pin… no dice.
Try stacking a whole bunch of flat weight on top… no pictures but this didn’t work either.  Actually, that was a complete disaster.  It all stuck together.  No, actually, first it worked but the paper peeled right back off so then I tried to put the “modpodge” on the top surface too and that stuck to everything.
Finally move on to Plan B – use spray mount to stick the paper down and then cover in clear contact paper.  That actually worked like a charm.  I lapped the contact paper over the edges since they would be hidden under the edges of the drawers once they were put together.  I figured that might add to the staying power and make for a more seamless look.
Will put the the rest of the drawers together.
With his little supervisor watching every move, of course ;-)
These are the smaller top drawers – the bigger bottom drawers are lined in the green polka dots you see above or pretty plain turquoise-y.

The dresser comes with dark, nearly black knobs which I didn’t think “went” with a pretty white dresser in a baby’s room.  So awhile back, I picked up some pretty pink glass knobs half off at Hobby Lobby.  I know I said that I was going gender neutral but that doesn’t mean that I can’t put in pops of girly that can be easily swapped out if the next munchkin turns out to be a boy.  I also convinced my mom to give me all the brushed nickel knobs that she got for her kitchen cabinets but had to replace since they were too shallow.  Score!



Bonus – you can almost tell that the walls are 2 different colors in this picture! But – oops!, I just realized that this picture is actually from before I swapped out the rest of the knobs.  D’oh!  Oh well, other things changed too so you’ll see later.

So that’s my very basic, simple IKEA hack on the Hemnes dresser.  Here’s the first part of the story.

Friday, March 9, 2012

24 hours into a new venture

So yeah, we accomplished a lot in 24 hours.

It’s official.  As of yesterday morning, my friend A.J. of I Still Want More Puppies and I Still Want More Cupcakes and I started our new blog to raise awareness for ovarian cancer.  Well, with a secondary goal of having ZTA change or add ovarian cancer awareness to our philanthropies.

Our blog is: Sisterhood of the Whispering Crowns.  Now, it’s not pretty yet.  Actually, it’s super boring in appearance.  But we do have THREE posts already!


You can contact us at whisperingcrowns dot gmail dot com.


You can follow us on Twitter @WhisperingCrown.  Apparently, WhisperingCrownS was one letter too long for a Twitter handle.


You can like us on Facebook at Sisterhood of the Whispering Crowns.

Yeah, we got started at a sprint. 


I swear I’ll get back to finishing some of the post threads that are just hanging out there.  But we have a visitor this weekend so maybe next week?