Jalapeno Infused Vodka Germain


Last week we went out to our new favorite restaurant in town - the place is exactly what we like in a restaurant.  The menu changes by season based on the organic meats, fruits and veggies they source from local farms.  The drinks are prohibition style and the ambiance isn’t stuffy.  It's located in a renovated brick warehouse and the decor is just right.

I was the lucky one that night because I wasn’t the DD, so I was able to taste some of their adult beverages.   We both had a glass of wine with our meals, but as soon as I saw the specialty mixed drinks, I was excited.  My favorite was a jalapeno infused vodka with St. Germain.  It sounds a bit strange, but I have to say it was a spicy, sweet combination that worked very well.

My frugality kicked in and I recreated this at home as soon as I could buy some jalapenos.  The trick is  simply infusing the jalapenos with vodka.  It was only a few hours before the vodka was had a kick of heat.  The longer you keep them in there, the more intense the flavor.

Jalapeño Germain

1.5 oz. jalapeno infused vodka
1.5 oz. St. Germain
1 oz fresh lemon juice or juice of a whole lemon
soda water

Wearing gloves, slice one jalapeño.  Place the jalapeño into a resealable container and add vodka.  Store in a dry, cool place until your have reached the intensity of desired flavor.  This usually takes 1-3 days. You can strain the jalapeños out of the vodka using a coffee filter and store in a clean jar or resealable container or you can simply keep them inside, but keep it refrigerated. You can also infuse the liquors, like tequila.

Jalapeño infused vodka topped off with fresh green cuts
The ideal heat, sweet and cold drink

<3 mk


Quick End-of-Summer Projects


Its that time of year as a teacher when I realize that I'm going back to work in a few short weeks and didn’t get everything on the summer to-do list completed.   I'm currently in this state of MUST-GET- THIS-LIST-DONE!   It's not that I wouldn't be able to get anything done once back at work because I usually do the same amount of projects during the school year as I do in the summer.  These projects aren't worthy of individual posts because (1) they aren't all that original and (2) they aren't super complicated. Hopefully this will get your butt in gear to check off some of those items on your list that you can get done before the end of this wonderful season falls upon us. 

Plastic Shopping Bag Container

I saw a few pins on this very topic numerous times already and didn't think too much about it until I realized I had a huge bag full of plastic shopping bags.  The ones I had seen involved the plastic reminisce of a Clorox Wipes container, but I didn't have one, so I used an empty oatmeal container.

It literally took about 10 minutes and was super easy.

- Peel off label from container.
- Measure containers diameter and height.
- Cut cardstock of choice to fit container.
- Glue cardstock to container with proper glue/adhesive. I used a decorative sticker on the seam because   I had the sticker from a previous project.  It wasn't necessary, just cute.
- Cut an X-shape in the plastic top to pull out bags.
- Fold plastic bags into thirds the long way and roll connecting them at the end. I was able to roll about     20 bags for my container.
- Leave the top of the plastic bag sticking out of the pre-cut T on the top of the container for easy access   to each bag.

Power Washing

Underneath the deck is a cement porch that has a great view of the lake.  Pretty much the slab of concrete was green because of all the years of moisture, pollen and green stuff (algae?).  I tried using soap and a heavy duty brush, but my scrubbing efforts left with little results.  So, I got the heavy duty power washer and boy did it make me happy. 

If you own a home, a power washer is really a great tool to have.  When we first moved in, I spent the entire day power washing the sides of the house, deck, and all the windows.  It really is worth its money because they can charge $200 plus to come in and do it.  That is about the cost of purchasing the washer.  It also works great on washing the car.

After and Before
Well, about an hour and tons of green dirty water later, I had a pristine concrete porch area.  It was so satisfying to see the before and after.  Don't forget to wear your water shoes or shoes you don't mind getting wet.

Shelf Liner

Shelf liner tools and materials

I started lining my shelves when we first moved in back in June, but quickly found out that I had more shelves in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room than shelf liner could cover. I bought out the shelf liner stock at our local Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart out of the type that I wanted and had to turn to online purchasing to get the remaining liners. Once that happened, the momentum to complete the project was gone and I put the box of shelf liner in the projects/to-do room. We had a goal to clean out the projects room this past weekend before school starts and this is just one project I could get done easily.

Shelf liner helps protect wood from moisture and makes it easier to clean
Do I really have to explain how to put in shelf liner?  Just remember to measure then cut. A little tip -  a rotary cutter, a lip edge ruler, and cutting mat make the process go quicker.  My lines are straight and it saves time.

Shelf liner installed
PS - That is indeed a GelPro Basketweave mat from Amazon.  I love it so much, we also have a matching one in front of the sink.

Outlet Blending

Where's the Wall Wart?
Have you ever heard of an outlet being called a wall wart?  Ok, I didn't either until Jeff said it when we temporarily placed a black outlet cover over a light switch in a yellow painted room in our old home.  I personally never thought it looked bad, but I can see the comparison to a wart. This term popped into my head when we moved into our new house.  In the kitchen, we have a black tile backsplash  throughout the kitchen.  Instead of looking at the backsplash, I was always focused on the white outlets and outlet covers that stuck out with their contrasting white.   We immediately bought all new outlets and covers on our first trip to Lowes when we moved, but didn’t get around to installation until this past weekend.  Being near a water source, some of the outlets are required to be a GFCI.  These cost a bit more money, but we're able to save the old white GFCI outlets for future expansions in the house.

Wall Warts - now you see 'em
Wall Warts - now you barely see 'em
We left the light switches white so it will be easier to spot them.  While we were changing out the electrical outlets, we also took the opportunity to install the Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser.  It literally is our most used kitchen appliance and we love it. It also makes for a perfect  housewarming gift.

I have tons of other projects that I need to get done. If anything, I hope I inspired you to get some of those projects done that you've been putting off for a while. Are you in a big rush to get projects done before the end of the summer?

<3 mk


Japanese Meal Recreation - Japanese BBQ

Wagyu beef from Matsusake @ M restaurant
So in an attempt to eat as well as we did in Japan, I tried to recreate some of our favorite meals.  Japanese BBQ and Japanese Curry Beef were two dishes that I felt confident enough to make from all of the meals we ate while vacationing in Japan.  We've heard numerous stories on Japanese BBQ. Some say that it originated in Korea, but the Japanese perfected it.  We've only had the Japanese version of it and all we know is that it is indeed delicious.

Japanese beef is "Wagyu" and it is some of the best in the world. The Japanese treat their cattle well by feeding them beer and massaging them with shochu. Wagyu cattle are known for their extreme marbling and quality, which is why it is more expensive.  It is sold in the states and is usually referred to as Kobe or Wagyu, which is probably a misnomer is some cases.  "Kobe beef" simply means beef that has originated in Kobe, near Osaka.  "Wagyu" beef is simply Japanese beef.  There are several regions in Japan that produce excellent beef.   In particular, we had a meal with beef from the Matsusaka region.

We went to a few Japanese BBQ places, but we hit the jackpot when we went to M for Jeff’s birthday dinner.  They literally showed us a picture of the cow’s identification (nose print) and the farmer that raised it.  The meat was cooked right in front of us by the chef and was delicious.  Probably the best we have ever eaten.   Japanese BBQ usually involves the customer cooking the meat, but as a result of negative reviews from foreigners on a travel website, this restaurant cooks the meat for you if you're "gaijin" aka non-Japanese.

I wanted to recreate this style of meal at home, but couldn't get any Wagyu so we resorted to grass fed beef purchased from our local farmers market.

Japanese Beef Marinade

1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp Sake
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp grated ginger

I marinated a skirt steak after cutting it into smaller pieces. After a few hours, I took the steak out of the marinated to be grilled.  We really tried to recreate the scene and used the electric griddle on the dining room table to cook right in front of us.  There were veggies and lettuce to eat with the steak.  If we were in Japan, there would be personalized table grills that would have hot coals added when you arrived at the restaurant. I think we were playing it safe using the electric griddler, but it would be a cool gift idea in the future...hint, hint.

This was more similar to a Korean BBQ place with the lettuce and the toppings, but this girl did what she could with what she had available. My favorite was the seasoned leeks (ramps) I made as a side. 

Jeff and I broke out our new chopsticks and sake boxes for the meal. The boxes are placed under the small glasses and the Sake overflows into the box after the glass is full.  This way when you are finished with the glass, you pour the remainder from the box into the glass. We had never seen it done this way until this trip.  It was really nice to remember our journey and bring home some experiences from this trip of a lifetime.

As soon as I get my Japanese Curry Roux, I'll be making some of that as well. Mmm, I can smell it already!  

<3 mk


Our New House - Exterior “Before” Tour


Our new house

Technically we have been moved in and "settled" for about a month and a half.  I would say about sixty percent of that time we weren't actually in our new house because of our Japan trip and then some smaller trips for pleasure or work. August is here and we'll actually be home for the next few months, which means we can get some home projects done.  I am seriously excited about that! Such a house dork. 

Many of my friends and family have been asking to see what the house looks like and I have been seriously slacking on posting pictures.  This weekend we are conquering some inside projects that have filled up our project room over the last few weeks.  The project room has become a dumping ground for the to do list.  Once those projects get done I’ll be sure to give you a tour of the inside of the house.  Until then, you only get to see the outside.  It was such a beautiful day the other day that I grabbed my phone and did a quick outside "before" tour for you.

After watching the video and judging myself, I really listened to what I had to say and realized the list for outside projects keeps building up.  It wasn't that Jeff and I didn't realize that we had more to conquer outside than inside, but the entire time I just kept saying, “that's another project we will have to get done in the future.”  

Honestly, the outside looks much better than it did when we first moved in.  The weeds, now that they are now dead weeds from vinegar,  don’t bother me as much and the empty mulch bed will have some sort of vegetation once the weather gets cooler.  The lakefront will take us some time because that is an expensive project.  Until then, the view is still pretty awesome. 

I call this the “before” tour because it won't look like this forever.  I look forward to sharing the projects that we undertake this year so that next summer, I can do another tour and it won't look anything like it does now.  Oh the possibilities. 

On a side note, we have been enjoying the lake these past few days with paddleboards.  I have always wanted to paddle board on vacations, but the possibility of sharks eating me never went over well.  The fact that this is a shark-free lake (sans any unexpected Sharknados) has allowed us to do this sport that I have been wanting to do for about six years.  A local store has given us lessons and loaned us a few boards to try out for the weekend.  If you have never tried stand up paddle boarding, you should!  It’s a great workout, which requires balance, but really is fun.  We have gotten a whole new perspective of the lake and scenery from the water’s perspective. I love seeing the way each house has landscaped their outside area.  It’s like pinterest, but in real life.  It also allows us to work on our tans!

I hope everyone had a productive and/or relaxing weekend.  Any ideas about plants to plant this fall?

<3 mk

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