Winter Projects

Now that the holidays are ending, it’s time to think about all those little projects that you didn’t have time to finish before. With all the snow outside, you can spend time inside nice and warm and paint those rooms that are needing a refresh, or fix that leaky faucet, or maybe you just need to declutter.

Declutter

Go through your house room by room and collect all the little things you haven’t used in more than a year. Donate them to a thrift store. Clean out your closets of clothes that you don’t like or never wear. This’ll make room for new clothes. Purchase storage bins to store what you can’t part with.

Pick Out Paint Colors

You probably have some rooms that need refreshing, so get down to the hardware store and bring home some paint samples. Don’t be afraid to paint large areas on the walls as paint swatches may look different than the actual paint on the wall. Live with the color patches for a while and check them out at different times of the day. How do you feel when you look at the colors? Bedroom colors should make you relax and feel like smiling.

Organize Your Attic or Storage Shed

Throwing everything in a storage space just makes for frustration when you need something. You can hang things on pegboard, build shelves to store bins, and label everything. You’ll be putting away the Christmas decorations, so they can go in an out of the way place to be pulled out again next year. Using special colored bins for each season’s decorations will make finding everything easier when it’s time to bring it out.

Bathrooms

Check your bathrooms for chipped tubs or cracked toilets. Now is a great time to update the bathrooms and repair or replace these items. Maybe you need new towel bars and tissue holders. The sinks could probably use new faucets, too. Take this time to spruce up your bathrooms for the new year.

It will be soon enough before you have to spend most of your time in the garden, so take advantage of these winter months to get all your inside honey-dos completed.

All About FrogTape

If you’re doing some painting projects in your home this winter, you may be asking which tape to use to mask off areas you don’t want painted like door and window frames, and baseboards. Or maybe you are getting creative and painting stripes or geometric designs on the wall.

What Is It?

Whatever your project, there’s a masking tape made specifically for your project. FrogTape® is treated with PaintBlock® technology and was designed for use with latex paints. PaintBlock reacts with the water in latex paints to form a micro barrier along the edges of the tape. This makes the tape more resistant to paint bleeding. It is available in 24mm (15/16 in), 36mm (1 27/64 in) and 48mm (1 57/64 in) widths.

Preparation is Key

Before doing anything else, make sure the surfaces you are painting and taping are clean and walls primed with a compatible primer. Remove any dust, dirt, or grease from the surface.

For Delicate Surfaces

FrogTape® Delicate Surface (yellow tape) is a low adhesion painter’s tape that’s perfect for use on freshly painted surfaces, wall paper or faux finishes. It will come off without leaving a residue from freshly painted surfaces (after drying at least 24 hours).

For Multiple Surfaces

FrogTape® Multi-Surface (green tape) painter’s tape is a medium adhesion painter’s tape designed to use on walls, wood trim, glass and metal. It will come off without leaving a residue from most surfaces for up to 21 days. If your taped areas are exposed to direct sunlight, try to finish painting and remove it within 7 days

FrogTape® Textured Surfaces

This painter’s tape helps you achieve sharp paint lines on most rough or uneven surfaces.

FrogTape® ShapeTape

This tape features pre-cut, repeating patterns, like Chevron and Waves, for use with your creative projects. Great for borders or repeat designs.

See the projects and tutorials here:

https://www.frogtape.com/inspiration/tutorials/projects/how-to-choose-the-right-painting-tape-for-your-diy-project

Insulate Windows and Doors to Keep Out Cold Drafts

If you didn’t insulate your windows before winter set in, and you’re feeling some drafts from the windows and doors, there are still things you can do to minimize the cold air coming into the house.

Window Insulation Film

 Window insulation film is available to use indoors.  These kits usually include plastic shrink film that is applied to the inside of the window frame with double-stick tape, then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and remove any wrinkles. It is quite effective and can save many heating dollars.

Insulated Blinds

Insulated blinds, especially the cellular kind that have an air pocket between the slats, are very effective in keeping out cold drafts. Standard sizes are available at the hardware store, or custom sizes can be ordered. These great choices let in the light but keep out the cold.

Layered or Insulated Curtains

Layering heavy curtains over lighter fabric curtains will go a long way to keeping out the drafts. Other curtains with an insulated backing will also help. Colors, patterns, and styles can be matched to the home’s decor.

Felt Weather Stripping

This weather stripping is made of felt and comes in narrow strips that you can put between the window frame and the sill. If you have double hung windows, also put a strip in the space between the upper and lower window.

Plastic Sheeting

If you have aluminum window frames and have had trouble getting sticky weather stripping to stay attached, you can attach plastic directly over the screens and fasten them back in place.

Wooden Blinds

Wood roll up shades are also very good insulation. The advantage is that they can be rolled up out of the way when they are not needed.  Made from a composite material from sustainable forests and coated for durability, they provide excellent insulation. The cordless blinds are also very safe.

 

Different Ways to Roast a Turkey

If your Thanksgiving turkey was a little on the dry side, check out these ways to make it tender, juicy, and delicious for Christmas dinner.

Brining

Brining is the process of soaking the turkey in a solution of liquid (wine, chicken broth, or water), sugar, and salt. The turkey is placed in a large stock pot, covered with the liquid solution, and refrigerated for 12-14 hours. Brining locks in flavor and moisture so the bird doesn’t dry out during cooking. For complete recipe and instructions see:
http://www.mortonsalt.com/recipe/brined-roasted-whole-turkey/

Buttering

Many store-bought turkeys have had extra butter or juice injected in them, but roasting still dries out the meat. If you would like a more moist turkey, you may want to add additional butter. Soften butter to room temperature. Starting at the neck, slide fingers gently under skin and move it away from the meat until you reach the end of the breast. Next smooth butter over the breast meat under the loosened skin, being careful not to tear the skin. For complete recipe and instructions, see:
https://www.marthastewart.com/315666/roast-turkey-with-herb-butter

Deep Frying

Deep frying turkey has been reported to be the way to a delicious, moist turkey, but the process is not without risk, and you need special equipment. Wash and completely dry (very important) your turkey. Use a turkey fryer or a pot large enough to contain enough oil to cover the turkey (not more than ¾ full). It is advised to place a turkey fryer outside for this process if possible. Peanut oil is recommended because it can sustain high temperatures. Fry the turkey 3 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes for the bird. Carefully remove from oil and drain on paper towels or brown paper sacks. Bake stuffing separately for a deep-fried turkey. For complete recipe and instructions, see:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/deep-fried-turkey-recipe-1940252

Bag or Pan Roasting

If you are roasting your turkey in a pan or roasting bag, you can assure moisture by using the butter method above, roasting the bird upside down for the first couple of hours so juices will flow into the breast, then turn it right side up till it’s done. You can also tent the breast (right side up) for the first couple of hours, then remove the foil to brown the breast. https://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/13-how-to-cook-turkey and http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/tips/how-cook-turkey-oven-bag/.

Whether you put the stuffing in the bird or in a baking dish, one of these ways to cook a turkey is sure to bring a bird to your table that is moist and succulent. Merry Christmas!

Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Maybe you are one of those people who shop all year and don’t have the last minute rush to find gifts for everyone, but if not, here are some gift ideas for everyone on your list.

For the Cooks in Your Life: 

 Anyone who loves to cook will love these items:  cookie cutters, electric krumkaka baker, Lefse grill, Zing Chop ‘N More, porcelain butter warmers, marble cheese slicer and server, starry cookie stamp, cookie press, saute’ pans, dutch oven, knife set, Instant Pot 7-in one cooker, spiralizer, KitchenAid stand mixer, roasters, coffeemaker.

For the Do It Yourselfer:

 There is always something the do it yourselfer would like but hasn’t bought for her or himself. Makita and DeWalt power tools, plier sets, sanders, compound miter saw, circular saw, ladder, laser level or measuring tape, a basket filled with paint brushes, roller covers, frog tape, and other really useful painting supplies.

For the Grillmaster:

New gas grill or smoker, beer can chicken roaster/griller, BBQ wood pellets, Bluetooth thermometer, chicken leg griller, premium tool set, large platters, sauce dispensers.

For the Gardener:

New tools-shovels, rakes, weeders, gloves, poinsettias, bulbs for forcing, gift certificate for seeds.

For Pets and Birds

Dogs – new pet beds, chew toys, collars, water and food dishes, bones, treats, shampoo, grooming aids.

Cats – toys, new litterbox with cover, cat tree (they love to get up high and see outside), pet bed (you may have to spray it with catnip spray to get them interested), combs and brushes.

Birds – bird houses, suet, bird seed, stickers for windows so they don’t fly into them, feeders.

 

 

Taking Care of Your Real Christmas Tree

No one will argue with the fact that artificial trees with fiberoptic lights already strung are more convenient, but you don’t get the scent of pine, fir, or spruce and your family tradition may just include a real tree.

When you use a fresh cut real tree, water is the most important element in keeping it happy for the holiday season. When you bring it home, cut a couple inches off the bottom of the stem to create a fresh cut that will open up the pores and allow the tree to absorb water more readily. Put it in the stand and add a minimum of one quart of water or enough to keep the end of the trunk under water.

Check the water daily and add more as needed.  If the trunk is not in water, it will seal up the pores and the tree won’t be able to drink.  The tree will drink 65% of its water the first week it is in the house.  Not only does water keep the branches soft and pliable, but it keeps the tree safer. A dry tree can become engulfed in flames in seconds.

Place your tree in a spot where it can stand out of the way of traffic and away from heat vents. You will want to make sure it doesn’t wobble and the stand is very sturdy.

If your cat or dog finds the ornaments fascinating and won’t stay away from them, try giving them their own small tree decorated with plastic bulbs, treats, and pet toys. A little catnip spray on the toys will keep cats entertained and they may leave your main tree along.

After Christmas, instead of throwing the tree out in the trash, consider cutting it up and storing the wood for next year’s fireplace. Or you could stand it up in the back yard as shelter for the birds.  You could also create a bird feeder and haven. After securing it outside, decorate it with orange slices, cranberries, suet, and other bird friendly goodies and put it in a sheltered location.

Fresh Cut and Living Christmas Trees

Fresh cut and living trees are the ones you usually find at the garden center. Living trees come with a root ball wrapped in burlap and can be planted outside after Christmas.

The most frequently requested Christmas trees, as reported by growers across the US, are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, White pine and Balsam fir in that order. Historians agree that the first decorated Christmas tree appeared in the U.S. in the mid 1800s.

Scotch Pine – The Scotch pine’s color ranges from bright greens to blue greens. It has stiff, sturdy branches that will support heavy ornaments and excellent retention of the 1- inch needles.  It’s pine scent lasts a long time and it will remain fresh throughout the holiday season.

Douglas Fir – The Douglas fir has soft dark blue green needles about 1-1 ½ inch long. The fir needles are soft to the touch and radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, the needles have a sweet fragrance. The branches are spreading to drooping and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough and dark brown.

White Pine – The White pine, or eastern white pine, can grow to 80 feet or more at maturity with a two to three-foot diameter. The needles are soft, flexible, bluish-green to silver green in color and are regularly arranged in bundles of five. Needles are 2 ½-5 inches long. Bark on the young trunks and branches is smooth and greenish-brown in color.

Balsam Fir – The Balsam fir is frequently copied in artificial trees because of its branch shapes. Branches may be shorter and curved upward to cover the upper sides of the twig. The needles are 1-1 ½ inches long, have a sweet subtle scent, and are dark green. It has a strong fragrance and good needle retention.

Other good choices are Colorado Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce.

Colorado Blue Spruce – The Colorado Blue spruce is a silvery blue color and has a symmetrical form. The needles are 1-1 ½ in long with excellent needle retention. The Colorado Blue spruce works well in small spaces, will last longer than other varieties, and has a pleasant fragrance.

Norway Spruce – The Norway spruce has dark green needles and drooping branches. It has a triangular shape and needles are ½-1 inch long. Will last through the season if kept well-watered, but needle retention is only fair.

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