I’ve Moved!

It’s official – I’ve moved the blog to http://www.humbleandhounds.com

It’s time to go to a self-hosted blog and all the opportunities that will offer. Same great content with more flexibility.Moving the Blog http://www.humbleandhounds.com

I hope you will check it out!

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Sleep well, my Friend! House Hack #7

It’s November!  I realize the calendar doesn’t declare Winter until around December 21st but in my mind, when the clock strikes 12 midnight on Halloween, Autumn is over and Winter has arrived. Are you with me? Time to break out the woolies, quilts, and turn on the fireplace.Dogs by the fire

While I won’t begin Christmas decorating until after Remembrance Day on November 11th, I do like to start changing over my decor from light & bright to warm & cozy. The first place I always start is with the bedding in our Master Bedroom.  My husband loves flannel sheets and would gladly use them year round but I would probably spontaneously combust (women of a certain age, you know what I mean LOL).  Our compromise? We keep the house cooler at night (thanks to a programmable thermostat coming on at 5am – no one is frozen when they get up in the morning) and we use the flannel sheets and a down duvet.  Everyone is happy and I can “un-layer” should the need arise.

I love the convenience of a duvet, such a simple way to change decor. What I don’t love is finding it at the bottom of the cover at the foot of the bed or bunched up in one corner. A simple addition to your duvet and duvet cover reduces/eliminates this problem and I have a method of inserting it into the cover that can be handled by one person and doesn’t involve you crawling inside!

Let’s start with the duvet itself. Take a look at the one you already own. Some duvets have a small buttonhole in the corners and spaced out along the perimeter of the duvet. Ever wonder what those were for? Prepare to be amazed. That is where you insert ties from the duvet cover and tie them off to secure the duvet inside the cover.  What?!!  “But my duvet doesn’t have those buttonholes” you say. https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-strap-detail.jpgHere’s an easy fix.

Take ribbon or seam binding (I prefer seam binding, it doesn’t fray or tear) https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-cover-and-strap-detail.jpgand attach it to the corners of your duvet. This can be done by hand sewing but secure it well, it will be pulled on.

 

Now turn your duvet cover inside out and attach ties to the “seam allowance” of the duvet cover as well. You now have a way to secure the duvet to all four corners of the duvet cover. But wait…there’s more…

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Lay your duvet flat over the bed. Take your inside out duvet cover and lay it over top of the duvet.  The bottom, or closure area, should line up with the head of the bed like this.

Tie the ties together in the corners to secure the duvet to the duvet cover.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-and-cover-tied-together.jpg https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-roll-beginning.jpg https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-roll-finish.jpgStarting at the foot of the bed, begin to roll the two pieces together. Continue to roll until you’ve got something resembling a cinnamon bun (sorry for the food reference).

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This is where the magic happens (I cannot believe I just wrote that!).
Turn that roll inside out so the duvet cover is now on the outside of the roll and the duvet is on the inside of the roll.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-zipped.jpgOnce it’s all nicely tucked inside, zip it closed and begin unrolling the duvet/duvet cover sandwich (again, another food reference, dinner is almost ready). It’s really that simple.  Makes you want to change your duvet cover all the time, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

Give it a bit of a fluffing to distribute the duvet inside the cover and you are done.  Sleep well, my friend!https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/duvet-insertion-complete.jpg

 

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When Life Gives You Lemons…Make Lemon Curd 

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-single-lemon_0089.jpgI love everything lemon – lemon loaf, lemon chicken, lemonade but one of my favourites is lemon curd.  Never heard of it? It’s the food of the gods but I’m not sure who thought the name “curd” would attract many fans? Curd for dairy products is coagulated milk, like cottage cheese, but fruit curd is something completely different. Generally made from citrus fruit, fruit curd is a delicious spread or dessert addition and you may not have realized you were eating lemon curd with your last slice of lemon meringue pie. My favourite topping for scones is clotted cream and lemon curd which is a very traditional way to serve them, but lemon curd has so many more uses!

  • Fruit pie, none of that commercial, fake, fluorescent-coloured stuff for me
  • Tarts – keep a few shells in the freezer and you can bake them as needed
  • Fool – a “fool” (other than the obvious LOL) is a creamy dessert. Take some stiff whipped cream and mix it with the curd. Use a few blueberries or whatever you have on hand for garnish and you’re done
  • Toppings – pound cake, waffles, toast, or right from the spoon!

In all my work, I try to say – You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?
~ Maya Angelou

Have I inspired you to give it a try?  Many people are afraid to attempt to make it because they have heard it is difficult to avoid curdling the mixture. I have a foolproof method I use and I’m going to share it with you, it will be our little secret… combining the butter with the sugar prevents separation and makes a silky curd.

Kelly’s Lemon Curd

6 oz. Butter

2 C Sugar

8 Eggs

3 Lemons juiced to make 1-1/3 C Lemon Juice

2 tsp. lemon zest

Lemons, Butter, Eggs and Sugar. That’s it! Four ingredients and you can pronounce them all.

Directions:
https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-zest_0083.jpgWash the lemons, remove the zest, chop it finely, and set it aside.  Juice the lemons and make sure there are no seeds in the juice. You will need to have 1-1/3 cups of lemon juice. I will top it up with lemon juice concentrate if I don’t get enough from the lemons.  Separate four of the eggs and set the whites aside. In a separate bowl, combine the four egg yolks with the four whole eggs.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-butter_0084.jpgCombine the butter and sugar in your mixer until well incorporated (like you would with cookies).  Add the lemon juice and mix gently.  Now add the eggs, a bit at a time, until well incorporated. The yolks will automatically fall into the mixing bowl, one at a time, if you pour slowly.

Place the contents in a double boiler. What? You don’t own a double boiler? Neither do I. I take a large pot and fill it half full with water and place the metal bowl from my kitchen aid mixer on top.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-butter_0084.jpgVoila! Double boiler!  You can use any type of metal bowl over boiling water just make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.

Bring that mixture up to a temperature of 170 degrees, stirring often to prevent sticking. This is an important step because it cooks the egg, which thickens your mixture.  You must reach this temperature or your curd will not thicken and will separate over time.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-cooking_0079.jpgOnce you reach the temperature required, remove from the heat.

Add in the lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Cover the surface with plastic wrap by placing the wrap directly on the surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on the curd.  Cool in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the curd is cool, I spoon it into 1-cup containers and freeze. It freezes well and defrosts quickly.  The recipe will make four 1-cup containers but one automatically gets set aside for my Mom.  Always good to ensure your status as the favourite child!https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lemon-curd-ready-for-freezer_0105.jpg

If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home. Malala Yousafzai Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/search_results.html#8HwcgX0cwyb0zYsr.99

My Secret Obsession – okay, if you know me, it’s no secret!

The Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, British Columbia has offered a lottery prize home since 1934, long before the latest trend of hospital lotteries began offering their multi-million dollar homes as prizes. Even as a kid, I loved going through the prize home to see the “home of the future” gadgets and gizmos. Jetsons HouseWe are nowhere near what the creators of the Jetsons envisioned our homes might be but you can learn a great deal by visiting show homes. And unlike crashing real estate “open houses” with no intention to buy, it’s perfectly acceptable to take pictures or video of decorating ideas that catch your eye and a great way to see upcoming trends. I’m glad I no longer have to wait for the annual fair to view over-the-top decorating and mansion-like homes because the BC Children’s Hospital Lottery prize homes are open for viewing now.

I’ve been twice.  Once with my daughter when they first opened and most recently with my Mom.  We wouldn’t miss touring them and it’s amazing how different they can be from year to year. There were a few trends that I noticed were still strong and a return of some past decorating trends that (ugh, oak everywhere! Floors, trim, walls…) might be returning.

White Kitchens

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/lottery-homes-4-of-12.jpgThe biggest difference I noticed was the addition of colour through backsplash tile and counter tops. All the homes we visited had patterned counter tops throughout the home but it was very noticeable in the kitchen where previously you had only seen neutrals. The counter in the picture was very heavily patterned in a marble design. Thick counters covered all surfaces with a waterfall profile rather than the straight or bullnose profiles that have been popular recently. I like the softness of the profile but I think I would grow tired of such a busy pattern. The backsplash tile had a very soft green hue and appeared to have a crackled glass finish. Very pretty but unusual to see green in a kitchen. Lighting was dramatic with several light sources and options for brightness. The chandelier over the island added a modern touch to an otherwise traditional cabinet design. The perimeter of the cabinetry was white and the island was a soft grey which is a trend that we’ve seen for a few years now.

Cove Ceilings

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/southpoint-langley-dining-room.jpgIf you want to take a room up a notch, use the 5th wall to achieve it! All of the lottery homes showed a great deal of attention to the ceilings in each room. The formal dining room in the Southpoint Langley home had a beautiful cover detail with a more traditional looking chandelier in the centre. Cove ceilings are also a great way to divide up a very large space into zones like a kitchen and great room, for example. Cove ceilings make me swoon! Mom even remarked how the crystal teardrops were making a comeback. Sure adds a bit of glitz and sparkle to a room.

Extensive Moldings  

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/south-surrey-great-room1.jpgThere has been a movement in recent times to simple straight moldings, no crown, profile baseboards, or wall treatments. That seems to be changing, at least in the lottery homes, where I saw lots of cove ceilings, crown moldings, door trim, and panelling. I love the grid pattern treatment that has been done to the fireplace in the great room. https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/traditional-moldings-doorframe.jpgFireplaces can be intimidating when they span two stories of a home but this molding treatment breaks up that broad expanse of space. Love it! I already had plans to add this to the eating area in our kitchen but now I’m even more excited about how it is going to transform the space. I’ve also been considering adding additional moldings to our door frames and I like the stacked look that adding different profiles can create. A winter project, maybe?

Home Office

The home office is still popular as more people choose to either extend their work day at home or telecommute. https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/traditional-moldings-doorframe.jpgThis one’s location in the lottery home was adjacent to the Master Suite so not really ideal to entertain clients but I could have spent hours in here. It was a really elegant space with lots of natural light and it was tucked away on the main floor so if you were a “messy” worker, no one would notice.  So many home offices are located when you first enter the home so either they need to be presentable at all times or they need a door.

 

If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.

~ Malala Yousafzai

I love going through open houses to gather ideas and to see if what I’m planning in our home is working someplace else. It’s also fun to imagine life in the location, should your name be drawn.  But, I’m pretty sure that if I were that lucky, I would take the cash and continue to work on the home we love.

How to EASILY re-stuff a cushion or pillow – House Hack #6

I’ve been absent from the blog for a good part of the summer but have kept busy with all sorts of projects around the house. Mixed in with travel and other summer activities, there has been much going on around here. I have started many projects but there are not many completed! So, I’m spending the last few days of summer to try to get some things finished up.

My beautiful Rosie sneaking a nap on the furniture. Bad Dog!One thing that has annoyed me for a while is how saggy and misshapen the sofa in our Great Room has become. It is the most popular spot in the room with the best view of the TV. The pets think so too and it’s an ongoing battle with the dogs to keep them off the furniture. We have never allowed it, but as Rosie gets older, she has become more devious about getting up on the furniture. I have resorted to barricading the soft upholstery when we’re not in the room for any length of time but now if you just step into the kitchen, she makes her way to the sofa. Bad dog!

Needless to say, a long hot, dusty summer has wreaked havoc on the upholstery. The leather pieces are easy enough to wipe down but the sofa has really paid the price. I decided to remove all the cushion covers and wash them. I checked the contents of the fabric and washed one by hand to make sure it would be okay.  It was, so all six pieces went into the washer.

They turned out great!  But the biggest challenge is not the washing – it’s stuffing them all back inside the covers when it’s time to re-assemble. I hate that part. By the time you get them put back in, they’re all out of shape and the batting is twisting around the foam – frustrating to say the least!

I had read about an easier way to accomplish this task using a plastic bag so I’ve made a video to show you how easy it really is.

And here’s the “after” shot (forgot to take the “before”!)

Sofa after polyfil has been added to the cushions.I’m pretty happy how a cleaning and a bit of polyfil have breathed new life into our sofa.  It definitely gets heavy use in our home and this should extend its life a little longer.  Have you tried adding fill to furniture to plump it up?  Would you try this hack to make it easier to put the cushion inside the cover? Did you notice how Dexter even photobombed my video…

Amazing results after adding polyfil batting to the cushions on our sofa

Our summer has been spectacular in British Columbia.  Hope yours has been as great! Can’t wait to share my next project with you,

Kelly

WD-40 to clean stainless steel

House Hack #5 – Spotless Stainless Steel

I love the look of stainless steel in my kitchen. When it’s clean. Which is a challenge. There are people who live in this house and they insisting on touching these appliances LOL. And, there are two bassets who have been known to slobber… What’s a girl to do?Stainless Steel Fridge polished on left, fingerprints on the right

You may choose your words like a connoisseur, and polish it up with art. But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays, is the word that comes from the heart.   ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I came across this tip while out shopping for appliances for my office. We found a fridge in the appliance store and the salesperson wanted to give it a quick polish before it was packed for shipping. You’ll never guess what he came back with to clean it! WD-40 to clean stainless steelWhen I asked why he was using this product, he told me that stainless steel will “dry out” and that is what allows the fingerprints to show up and what makes it difficult to remove them. By using a little penetrating oil, you “nourish” the stainless steel and bring back the shine. Best of all – IT WORKS. So every couple of weeks, when the dish cloth is no longer doing the job to remove evidence of use, I bring out the WD-40, give it a spritz, and polish with a clean, dry cloth. It’s an easy, inexpensive fix and it always works. Happy polishing!