DIY Cut Flower Food

As some of you are aware, I was lucky enough to get no-occasion flowers from my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago.  From the Farmers market haul and blog post I did last week, I was able to then pick up another fall bouquet!  The results:  combining the yellows and greens from the earlier bouquet my boyfriend bought img_2057

with the NEW bouquet from the farmers market:img_2085

 

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I was able to get a steal of a deal with the farmers market bouquet being either $3.95 or $4.95 (can’t remember)!   There was enough that it could be separated into 3 full or 4 semi-full bouquets!  That’s about $1 per bouquet.  I like to separate them out when I get them into “skinnier-necked” vases so that I have more to place around my house.  Take a look at my good friend’s blog for the creative ways she separates her flowers around her house – so adorable, and not to mention versatile, no matter your decor.

Store-bought or fresh-cut flowers tend to die pretty darn quickly, and if they do come with the flower food packet, it doesn’t stretch far enough for the life of the flowers.  TIP: If you are able to get the flower food packet, DO NOT use it all in one watering!  Cut flowers require the water to be changed every 2-3 days, so you should use some of the flower packet food every time you change the water.

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE. img_2086 I like to have monthly house flowers if possible.  One of those ways that make it possible, is my homemade plant food recipe that keeps one bouquet lasting 3 weeks to a month.   This was how I was able to take the old flowers from my boyfriend’s bouquet from two+ weeks ago and incorporate it into my new farmers market bouquet. Before getting to the recipe, the first few things that are a must is to cut all of the stems of each flower at an angle.  Make sure you get a clean cut, and you should probably also sanitize your sheers with rubbing alcohol (I admit, I sometimes do this and sometimes don’t). Every time you change the water, you should also re-cut more off of the stem again at a new angle.  It seems like a lot of work, and it seems like you’re wasting the majority of the flower, but I promise you it will be worth it for how long you can make your store-bought or fresh-cut flowers last.  The other tip  is to remove all leaves from the bottom portion of the flower so that they don’t sit in the water, which will create mold.  Lastly, it also helps to keep them out of direct sunlight.

RECIPE:

Per 1 quart of water.  I prefer to use lukewarm water.

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (to balance PH levels)
  2. with 1 tablespoon of sugar (to feed the flower)
  3. with 1/2 teaspoon of bleach (to keep the water clean & bacteria-free)

If all else fails or you’re not using an entire quart of water, I actually eyeball this recipe A LOT, and it works out just fine.  If you eyeball it, just remember that bleach is used as little as possible so you don’t kill the flower, but instead, want to keep the water clean and clear.  I created a homemade recipe to stop algae in my outdoor water fountain last summer, and that requires bleach with hydrogen peroxide, so I’m going to say it would be okay to see if hydrogen peroxide will work in place of bleach here, if you don’t have bleach on hand or don’t like to keep this ingredient in your household.

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Try some of these tips and let me know how long you can get your flowers to last!  If you have any recipes you’d like to share, please comment below!  Happy Fall Ya’ll.

Fall Farmers Markets

Fall is today!  For Pennsylvania (as some of my local followers know) it’s something out of a movie.  It truly is picturesque with the leaves changing color and the crisp, coolness in the air.  A lot of us have started to watch a few Sundays worth of football.  It’s cool enough not to have the AC running but not cold enough yet to turn on the heat…it’s juuuust right.  We started buying apple cider and are just about ready to go apple-picking in our flannels.  Shortly, we’ll be picking out costumes!

It’s the PERFECT time to pick up some fall goodies at your local farmers market.  I fully support buying local, and it’s not just to keep the money local, although that in and of itself is amazing!  I TRULY can taste and see the difference in the food and flowers/pumpkins I get at farmers markets and local festivals.

I’m about an hour outside of Ithaca, NY – home to Ivy League school, Cornell University, where my boyfriend attends – but also the melting pot around the Finger Lakes, NY.  Here there’s local EVERYTHING that your little heart could desire.

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Going to the Ithaca Farmer’s Market is a must if you are in the area.  There’s every type of vegetable, fruit, flower, or herb you could imagine with international cuisine from all over.  The area is home to stunning views of multiple waterfalls and places to hike.

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However, if you can’t make it here, try a local farmers market or nursery near you!  A few minutes from me, a farmer has his own building where he sells all of his own stuff in the Spring to Fall (link below).  In the Spring to Summer months, there’s anything from various colored mulch & fertilizers, flowers, herbs, fruits & vegetables, local crafts, outdoor fountains and handmade furniture. Below is my summer haul from Summer 2015.

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In the Fall months, he’s carrying local apple cider, pumpkins, gourds, mums, fruits & vegetables.

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He also sells and supports other local farmers, craftsmen, and meat & cheese processors that carry hormone-free and grass-fed meats.  The apples are huge and crisp.  All of my summer herbs/flowers, fall mums, and hanging baskets are the largest and healthiest I’ve seen anywhere.  Hot dogs are a must and shouldn’t be bought from anywhere but here! You can literally taste the difference in grass-fed burgers as well.  And this Italian swoons over the garlic cheddar.

So, I’m not one to start decorating too soon before the appropriate holiday, HOWEVER, Farmer Fred’s was having his 10% off everything, annual Fall Fest, so I had to take advantage.  My haul is pictured below with my dogs (Gus the pug & Gizmo the french bulldog).  I try to get three different-colored mums and put them in the opposite-colored pots!  I’m always a fan of varying pumpkin colors and pumpkin sizes up and down your steps.  My front door is a bright aqua color, and I normally use that as a jumping off point for all of the holidays, so I try to incorporate oranges and whites against the coral chair from summer, for the transition between the two seasons.  The small pumpkins and gourds will be used inside on my mantle for fall decorating inside. To see my most recent post of my mantle pics, click here.

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Comment below and tell me about your fall decor or your hauls from the markets and festivals near you! By the way, there’s another 10% off everything sale near me coming this weekend, visit Shore’s Sisters page for more info.

 

40%off Halloween Haul & Homegoods

I swear,  I’m not one to decorate too soon for a holiday, but when there’s sales, there’s sales. Who am I not to partake?  I felt like I NEEDED to do this blog post so all of you decorators, designers, moms, DIYer’s, and all are aware!  Michael’s Crafts is currently (as of this post) having 40% off of its Halloween decor and 50% off of its Fall decor.  Usually my go to is Homegoods or Pier One, but this week, Michael’s was my winner!

I don’t overly decorate my house for the holidays or spend too much money, but I like to do a little.  With doing just a little, it helps me find stuff that works well in my everyday decor and color scheme while not spending a TON of money.  My color schemes throughout my house are various shades of blues/greens & greys mixed with silver and gold as neutrals. When I decorate for the holidays, I keep to the main living area which is the living room, dining room, and kitchen, because it’s open concept.  When I decorate for any holiday, I tend to lean toward a contemporary styling – using modern metals like gold, silver, & copper, mixing them with black and white.  My Christmas decor is mainly silver & gold or blue & silver.  My front door is aqua blue, but it goes great with silver Christmas decor and orange pumpkins. It also looks lovely with reds for Valentine’s Day.  One wouldn’t think so, but my aqua-colored door is just as good as any neutral!

Let’s get to my fireplace mantle.  I’m lucky to have a HUGE stone fireplace, mantle, and hearth.  It’s the perfect mix of rustic yet styling it with modern and contemporary decor.  My mantle theme after my haul are witch accessories on the left side and then a general Halloween/fall theme on the right.  I usually keep one big piece of artwork or something similar in the middle and then decorate around the artwork as the seasons change.  The other constant I have (besides the big piece in the middle) is some sort of banner or swag hanging from the mantle and above the fireplace screen.

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Pictured are witches bottles and potions with a collection of spell books.  The Poison bottle is the only thing purchased at Homegoods, not Michael’s.  On a mantle, it’s extremely important to have things in groups, generally groups of three, as it makes the decor more “impactful”.  In addition, I have most of the items at various heights, which is pleasing to the eye and lets shorter things be shown.  I have done this with the witches bottles and with the spell books.

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My FAVORITE ITEM from Michael’s was the 1000ML flask since my boyfriend works in a lab.  He helped me fill it with water and green food coloring and added the rubber eyeballs for a creepy-looking lab experiment.  The rest of the items on the right are mixed from other stores and not a part of the sale.  The huge skull and cross bones & glass container with fillers are from Homegoods last year.  The small pumpkin and Indian corn are from a local farmer, and that blog is coming up!  The vase is handmade from Jamaica.

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Next:  My dining room table! I try to keep to the same gold and silver theme here as well from what I already have, while mixing in the holiday decor.  I purchased the placemats, napkins, napkin rings, candle sticks and candles from last year at Homegoods, along with the giant skull this year for $14.99.  The gold skull would be nothing without his counterparts – the gold skeleton hands and furry spiders from the Michael’s sale.

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Lastly, throw pillows.  I am a self-professed throw pillow addict, especially themed ones.  I keep my standard off white furry and dark navy pillows from Pier One but always mix in holiday throw pillows.  Pictured here are my standard throw pillows mixed with the last two skull pillows from Homegoods and were only $9.99!

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WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW:  I cannot find on Michael’s website how long these sales will last, so act now!  The decor from Homegoods was purchased from the Vestal, NY location.  As for the skulls at Homegoods, there’s still another gold one left, a few black and white ones the same size and then mini ones and skull candles as well.

 

Decor Finds

Alert interior designers and decorators! Every so often I’m going to do a post on chic, inexpensive home decor finds.  Most of my focus will be on Homegoods, with some TJ Maxx and Marshalls mixed in.  Since there is no website to order products online and their inventory is leftovers or overstock items, so it’s constantly changing, I think posting items on my blog when they’re fresh from the store, may help some of you shoppers!

Currently, you can download “The Goods” app to follow the Homegoods stores near you and the staff will post maybe 2-3 pictures a day of some of the items in the store, so you can see what they may have new before having to drive over.  The website also has an option for customer finds but most don’t know about it or use it, so there’s not many items posted.  You can access it here.

The other option (which tends to help me) is to follow Homegoods hashtags or other similar home decor hashtags on Instagram so you can see what others may have at stores near them.  I’ve found amazing pieces this way.  It also helps show me when the store transitions from one seasons’ decorations to the next without having to drive there since others are posting their finds.  Other than this, there’s not really an efficient way to know what they’ll have in stock to buy and when. So let me keep you posted on some items!

First up: A super cute, white fur & white faux leather office chair.image

Price: $119.  This is a decently-priced office chair considering they can be hundreds of dollars. It’s got a chrome base that I am considering painting gold since the fixtures in my home office are gold. Currently, I have it at my desk that’s built into the kitchen area, so I’m keeping it chrome to match the SS appliances in the kitchen.   It has a lever to adjust the height as with most office chairs and is on casters.  It’s extremely comfortable. I know white fur and white faux leather isn’t for everyone but for those looking for something similar, you can’t go wrong with this office chair!  Add whatever throw blankets or pillows you’d like.

Location: Vestal, NY Homegoods location.

Similar items: Another office chair was there. They also had a white fur, square ottoman and two white furry bar stools!

 

 

 

Jalapeno Poppers: Recipe for those that don’t actually like jalapenos

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So, believe it or not, this foodie is actually just not that into Jalapeno poppers.  It’s not the poppers’ fault, really.  I don’t tend to like jalapenos in general (unless diced tiny in pico de gallo or guacamole).  My boyfriend was on a mission to get me to like HIS jalapeno poppers…and he did just that.  This is perfect and just in time for regular-season football too!

HIS biggest tip:  They were bite-sized, cut in sections going across the pepper, instead of lengthwise, so you can actually pop them into your mouth in one bite.  And yes, THAT does make a difference.  Something else he does, is soak the sections in milk for about an hour after removing the seeds.  This helps with some of the heat that secretes from the pepper.  You can go shorter or longer for time and use water in place of milk.  Both of these steps are what persuaded this foodie into liking jalapeno poppers.

Recipe for your football cravings.  Serves 2-4.  7 jalapeno peppers:

1. Cut jalapeno across in sections about 1/2″ to get approx. 3 pieces out of each pepper.

2. Take out the seeds and membrane.

3. Soak the jalapeno pieces in milk for an hour. image

4. Fill a cast iron pan with canola or vegetable oil (our preferred method for frying). We fill it higher than the largest jalapeno popper, so that all of them are submerged in the oil while frying.

5. Prepare dipping stations: image

  • One for flour (approx. 1 cup).
  • One for the egg mixed with milk. *You should have the same amount of volume of milk per the same amount of egg (1 egg).
  • One for breadcrumbs (approx. 1 1/2-2 cups). *We prefer to bread things in Panko breadcrumbs over Italian breadcrumbs.

*I suggested that buttermilk could also be used because I know it’s used generally in homemade fried chicken, and so, I liked it for this application as well.

6. Take the pieces out of the milk and stuff them with cream cheese. *You can also use shredded cheddar, but he prefers not to (because of how greasy it can get).

7. Dip it first in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs.

8. Fry them on a medium to medium-low heat until golden brown.image

Voila!  Stay tuned to the blog.  I created an “AMPED UP Jalapeno Popper” that I haven’t seen anywhere else based off of combining TWO of our fave football snacks. image

Coconut oil led to argan oil which led to…BEARD OIL?

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This one is for the gents as well…scroll down if you must.

It seems right now (and possibly for the past 1 or 2 years) that everyone has been on the coconut oil train, but I’m not quite there yet completely in my commitment. It may be because any organic coconut oil I seem to find is a bit expensive for my taste for being not as effective for my needs. I have high end and drugstore brand skincare in my arsenal, but for some reason, I don’t want to buy coconut oil UNLESS it WOWS me. I can’t seem to find any cheaper brands at Homegoods either, although, TIP: I seem to discover more and more types of oils thanks to the food aisle of the Homegoods Gods.

Enter argan oil. I discovered this treasure about a year or two ago via late night QVC-viewing. Josie Maran was telling her story of this nut from an argan tree that takes 14 years to produce fruit in Morocco, where Moroccan women have been using it for centuries. You can view the process on YouTube , but the story was something compelling, like them hand cracking each nut one-by-one into a paste and then hand-squeezing out the oil. Well, she was selling it, and I was buying it…the good thing…she’s right! This is truly the process that wowed me, truly why this is expensive, and truly why this translates to “liquid gold”.

Now everything I’ve read on coconut vs argan oil will tell you that they are both excellent to add to your beauty regimen and that each have a place in your bathroom or vanity for different reasons. Coconut oil has anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties, so it’s great for dandruff or headlice, even a method called “oil pulling” to help fight tooth decay, yet Argan oil, because of it being high in Vitamin E, has HUGE antioxidant benefits. Coconut oil is supposed to also be somewhat greasier, and so, better for the body than face and better for the hair if used less, like a treatment, than argan use in the hair daily.

Babe, you need beard oil? Here, use my Josie Maran Argan oil hair serum. Eventually I realized I couldn’t let him finish the bottle of my “liquid gold” so I began my pilgrimage for the perfect beard oil. I knew from looking at oils for myself in the past, that the beard oils I was seeing in stores was just as expensive, so I went out to explore Pinterest for ideas that would then lead me to retail to buy it for hopefully less than I had seen in the past. Tip: I came across this fantastic read to make your own beard oil. I have been wanting to make my own skincare for myself and have a few essential oils to start but haven’t gotten to it yet, so when I do, I’ll also try to make a beard oil as well and come back here to tell you all about it.

Back to my pilgrimage, aka, Amazon. Of the thousands of results, they share essentially the same roadmap of ingredients: (1) a carrier oil which is derived from a plant, normally, “carries” the essential oil in the product/is the base ingredient and (2) an essential oil – a thin, highly-concentrated oil, which one can think of as the scent (just to make it easier). It’s more complex than that, but I digress. So, typically you’re going to find a grapeseed oil or similar, then they add some masculine, woodsy-type essential oil to it. Behold! I had found a beard oil for under $10, and the second ingredient contained the essential oil that was perfect for him – vetiver – an essential oil sometimes used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety and stress.

And if all this isn’t “manly” enough for you, you can always use rendered bear fat…like this guy.

 

The meaning of Pennsylvania’s minimum 12.5% oil & gas royalty

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For those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of the oil and gas industry, I want to give you a brief opening. When you buy your house and property, you are purchasing the surface use or surface estate (the literal ground that you can see on the surface). In addition, you will most likely own the subsurface estate as well – and anything worth anything underground – like oil and gas. You don’t have to do anything extra because buying your house also gets you your subsurface rights and any goodies that come from underground, UNLESS, someone in the past already reserved it. When you use a title company before closing on your house, they will research your land “title” back to see if there are any issues with it that they need to report.

Because you most likely own your subsurface estate, an oil and gas company must lease it from you in order to extract anything. In Pennsylvania, the legislature believes that the landowner is entitled to 12.5% of the royalties from the oil and gas that it produces from your land. But what happens if your lease contains language that other costs will be taken out of that royalty percentage for things such as transportation and compression, sometimes referred to as “post-production costs,” (any cost that arises to get it out from under your land into usable oil and gas)? Generally, landowners have an attorney look over the lease language, which may not even help in some or most cases where attorneys are unfamiliar with the oil and gas industry and precedent. Other times, an attorney negotiating holds no more weight than if you, yourself, were negotiating.

Enter present day – most of the area around me currently is leased and has been producing natural gas, but what if those costs leave you with less than 12.5%? Pennsylvania is still new to the oil and gas game, unlike say, Texas or Oklahoma. This very topic has been and still is being debated about. Just today, Supervisors in Wilmot Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, plan to pass a resolution asking the state’s legislature to address this issue.

The current Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act reads:

Section 1.3. Royalty guaranteed.
A lease or other such agreement conveying the right to remove or recover oil, natural gas or gas of any other designation from the lessor to the lessee shall not be valid if the lease does not guarantee the lessor at least one-eighth royalty of all oil, natural gas or gas of other designations removed or recovered from the subject real property.”

To my knowledge, nothing has been discussed at the state level or in PA’s Supreme Court regarding the post-production costs, that come out of the royalty percentage. Some could say that the Act is ambiguous because it simply states “shall not be valid if the lease does not guarantee the lessor at least one-eighth royalty…” and so, it’s not addressing the “post-production costs” coming out of that one-eighth royalty percentage, after the fact. While others could argue, that “Post-production costs” not discussed in the Act are instead addressed in the terms of the lease itself, so regular, contract law principles apply. If regular contract principles apply, then the landowner signed, agreeing to those terms. Or even if they agreed, are the terms so unconscionable that the court should rule in landowner’s favor, regardless? This most likely won’t apply to oil and gas since unconscionability is used in sale of goods. Real estate/real property law principles may apply where buyer’s severance of the oil and gas will materially harm the real estate and the law generally considers oil, gas, and minerals as being in that category. Whether this is a sale of goods, a sale of services, or something else materially harming real estate has been discussed more in other states but not Pennsylvania…yet.

What do you think? Comment below!