My knives are by far my most used and loved kitchen tools. They weren’t cheap by any means, but when you are a serious cook, you need serious equipment…serious equipment that I had neglected completely for two years. The blades were nicked, chipped, and impossibly dull. Cutting onions was sheer torture. So I finally gave in and took my knives to be professionally hand sharpened — and to be shamed by the proprietor:
“What kind of honing rod are you using on this?”
“Um…nothing. Sorry about all the nicks.”
When I got them back I was delighted with the results: knives sharper then when I brought them home from the store — we’re talking straight razor sharp — that diced up an onion as if it were nothing at all, and with nary a tear in sight! The knife sharpener advised me to get a ceramic honing rod (which is thankfully much cheaper than metal rods) for knife upkeep in between professional sharpening. I’ll never let them go dull again! This all leads to the question: How sharp do you keep your knives? — Megan B.
Photo by Flickr member Coultl
Unless you want a crazy-quilt cottage garden featuring every color in the rainbow (and hey — those are good, too!), most people want to choose two flower colors that will popâ€¦.but which two? If youâ€™re ready to step outside the norm, here are some eye-catchers to try.
Red & White: To avoid this combination seeming â€œbeen there, done that,â€ add some silvery-green in the foliage to liven things up. This duo is great for Christmastime as well as mid-summer flag-flying gardens!
Red & Purple: There is something a bit Monet-ish about this combination that makes it classic and yet slightly unexpected.
Silver & Purple: This combination is classy but never dull. I think silver foliage with nearly any color instantly creates an elegant but modern feel. Try silver and orange or yellow for an even more updated color scheme!
Orange & Lime Green: These two colors will give your garden a citrus-y tropical feel guaranteed to jolt you awake. If youâ€™re really feeling daring, throw some purple in!
Chocolate & Green: There is all kinds of foliage in chocolate colors, and when itâ€™s offset by any shade of green, it feels sophisticated and new.
Donâ€™t play it safe this year! Even your garden needs updating once in awhile. — Jenny P.
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.
We firmly believe in being your own handyman. Whether it’s installing our own back splash tile in the kitchen, renovating our backyard deck or giving a staircase a ombre hue, we regularly roll-up our sleeves and tackle little projects all over our homes. Sometimes things go wrong. Paints drip on the floor. Tiles dry crookedly. Equipment gets rusty. We pull our hair out. No one is happy.
Luckily, there’s a little help to be found via Vine and these handy D.I.Y. videos produced by Lowe’s. The wonderful thing about Vine is that the videos are super short — 6 seconds! — and loop over and over. So if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it, you can catch the second or third time around. Here are six cool tricks we learned from watching these Vines — though if you start playing around on the social network’s app you’ll find many, many more.
Six Handy Tricks We Learned From Lowe’s Vine Videos:
1. Potatoes aren’t just for dinner — or making crafty stamps! The next time you are dealing with a broken lightbulb in lamp, use a potato to unscrew it without risking a finger cut.
2. Rubber bands have many uses (besides being woven into colorful bracelets for grade-schoolers). You can use them to catch paint drips from a can, or twist out a stripped down screw.
3. For your next colorful paint project, don’t mess with a new paint tray for each color. Simply line your old ones in aluminum foil and reuse.
4. Take the guesswork out of picture hanging. A piece of tape can help measure the distance between holes and get things picture perfect.
5. You don’t need luck to make your tiles line up perfectly. Pennies placed in between the rows of tiles will do the trick until they dry nicely.
6. What could be more dull than a rusty knife? Dip your cutters in some lemon juice for 15 minutes and see how they shine.
Have you discovered any great DIY Vine videos? Let us know and we’ll feature them on Shelterrific!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
What is Re-Energized by Design, you ask? Well, it is an awesome web series that Shelterrific is excited to be participating in — produced by Puget Sound Energy, it’s all about incorporating energy efficiency into home design. The challenge is this: six teams of homeowners are paired with design coaches and together they compete to re-design 5 rooms with a focus on saving energy with a small budget. Cameras are documenting each leg of the challenge, and with every room one team gets the boot! The prizes are great: a home full of new LED and CFL lightbulbs from GE, a full suite of kitchen and laundry appliances from Frigidaire, and $5000.
I was fortunate to be paired with the Bedford family, who are just delightful. Kristen and her husband Slade have a great contemporary house, fun design aesthetic, and are really willing to completely put themselves into every challenge. This experience for me has literally been re-energizing to me as well, ending a year-long creative rut and getting me back into blogging and crafting and having fun again. I can’t wait to share what we’ve created together.
But as of today, I won’t have to wait much longer, as the first webisode is available at 6am PST at the Re-Energized By Design site — this week’s is an introduction to all the contestants. And stay tuned each week as we reveal another webisode. Also be sure to go to the Re-Energized page on Facebook, where you can enter to win a new Frigidaire appliance like those featured in the challenge!
May is National Bike Month and this week, May 17-21, marks Bike-to-Work Week. In New York City, the land of bike rentals and designated lanes, itâ€™s not hard to find a bike for a casual afternoon ride if you donâ€™t own one, but the thought of biking to work is bittersweet because New York is also the land of tiny apartments, and renting one such space means I have little room for the ride of my dreams.Â Itâ€™s not surprising, then, that I was included in a mass of onlookers at Areawareâ€™s booth at last weekendâ€™s International Contemporary Furniture Fair. The demonstration? The collapsible capabilities of the IF Mode, a foldable bike designed specifically for commuters. At $2,250, it may be a tad pricy for me, but is an interesting idea for those short on space. What do you think, readers? Will you be biking to work this week? Own a foldable bike, or have any other crafty storage solutions to my bike bind? — Sarah C.
Did you have a treehouse growing up? Or as a grownup? Visit Popular Mechanics to take a look at Ten Awe-Inspiring Treehouse Designs. They’re all pretty fantastic, but if you’ve got a serious DIY bent (and a big, sturdy tree) one or two actually look, well, do-able. What do you think?
Continuing my tradition of the takes-three-years-to-complete yard projects, I’ve finally started taking steps (har) to place the bricks that I salvaged from the old Rainier Brewery building a couple years ago. Frankly, I just finally got sick of seeing them stacked against our shed, so a couple weeks ago I laid out the bricks to start to figure out a configuration and also to just make sure that we have enough. As you can see, we have plenty! Now, the bricks aren’t all completely uniform, so it will be slightly more tricky to place these than it would standard yard pavers, but I found a couple how-to’s online at This Old House and Home Tips to help. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m actually planning this one ahead of time with measuring, estimating, then buying the correct amount of materials, instead of just buying a bunch of random sand and gravel and hoping that it works out. Welcome, summer! Wish me luck. — Mary T.