Tag Archives: experiment
Around the House
Favorite Reads from around the Web
What are you into this month?
My “Heirloom” Cactus
Preparing the Environment
Have you propagated succulents? I have not had much success with starting other varieties (except jade). Leave your advice in the comments!
Around the House
Favorite Reads from around the Web
Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.
If you have not noticed, I took an abrupt break from my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps. I honestly lost interest in writing about apps every day and life got busy. After what I thought would be a one-day hiatus, I decided to stop altogether because I had other projects needing my attention. Instead, I plan to start writing about apps or other tech tips once a week.
I had a long weekend, thanks to parent-teacher conferences and teacher inservice days where school staff like me do not have to go to work. I spent most of the weekend sewing and cooking. I am thrilled to have finished my first purse refashion and my Halloween costume. The original purse was made of buttery-soft leather with heavy hardware; I loved the former but the latter kept me from enjoying it regularly. I removed the hardware and the leather that had holes from the hardware and remade the top and straps with this gray chevron/zig-zag fabric. In the end, I eliminated over half the original weight!
I am not posting photos of my costume yet because Brian and I are keeping them secret from our college students until Friday. You can, however, see photos of our previous costumes: Waldo and Carmen Sandiego (2012), Mayhem and Flo (2013).
What craft or sewing projects have you been working on lately?
I like my coffee strong, dark, and sweet, so I like coffee-flavoring syrups. Did you know it is easy to make your own, customized syrups that taste better than store-bought? I start with the most basic simple syrup recipe and add whatever suits my taste. Both microwave and stove top work well for me, so I have included directions for both.
What is your favorite coffee flavor?
Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon Stick Syrup
Add 1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches long), broken into pieces
Vanilla Rum Syrup
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (Mexican or some other really good kind), and
1 teaspoon rum or rum flavoring
Stir all ingredients together in a clear, microwave-safe container that holds at least four cups. (I use my four-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Cook on high for two minutes, stir, and then heat until bubbling but not to a rolling boil. Stir about every minute and keep a close watch so it does not boil over. Cook at a “bubble, not boil” for about five minutes in total.
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan that holds at least four cups. Heat to a low simmer, but not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about five minutes in total.
Taste Test & Finishing
When the sugar is completely dissolved and the solution is thicker than plain water, you can check the flavor: Scoop up about a half-teaspoon of HOT syrup and let it cool before you taste it. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can simmer for a little longer and consider adding a little more of the flavor add-ins. When you like the flavor, let the syrup cool.
If your add-ins are not dissolved (like the cinnamon stick), strain out the pieces with a strainer and cheesecloth. Pour the syrup into your preferred containers. I prefer easy-to-pour bottles. Use right away or store in refrigerator.*
*I always store mine in the refrigerator and have no idea how long it lasts because I use the syrup quickly!
I eat two to three snacks a day, interspersed between three small to moderate meals (my mom says I eat like a hobbit). Since I try to keep a healthy blend of carbohydrates and protein, I usually stick with the same basic snacks that serve their purpose but sometimes become a little boring.
Every so often, I happen upon a particular snack that is satisfyingly delicious and nutritional. I tried what I am calling Lemon Cream “Tarts” today and they are yummy! (Yes, I realize they are not actual tarts but call them that anyway.)
Lemon Cream “Tarts”
1 thin sandwich-style bun, whole wheat
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese, part-skim
2 tablespoons lemon cream*
Split the bun open and toast the the two sides separately. (They toast faster than normal bread, so watch closely.) Spread the ricotta on the bun. Gently spread the lemon cream over the ricotta. (Total calorie count: 200.) Enjoy!
*Many people call it lemon curd but that name sounds gross to some my friends and family, so I call it lemon cream. I make my own using this recipe from My Baking Addiction.
This week, my low was the challenge of working cheerfully on less than six hours of sleep on Friday. I came home and took a nap before continuing with the rest of my Friday evening activity!
1. One of my highs was the reason for my lack of sleep: 9 pm Bible study followed by half-price appetizers out with students. We had 24 students at the study and I have enjoyed getting to know them!
2. I also enjoyed spending a couple evenings with my friend, Pennie, preparing for her sister’s baby shower. We chatted and painted wooden letters in her nephew’s initials and made an adorable diaper cake. I had painted letters before and Pennie had made diaper cakes, so we made a good team.
What were your lows and highs from the past week?