Water Draining Soap Holder

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:13 am on Friday, August 15, 2014

Here’s a nifty gadget: a Water Draining Soap Holder. No more icky standing soap-scum water! $5.

[Oh Gizmodo]

Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Shelves

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:57 am on Thursday, August 14, 2014

Check out these glow-in-the-dark shelves that Mat Brown made for his kitchen. The shelves are from a piece of chestnut wood. He filled the cracks with resin mixed with powder that glows in the dark, like so:

The shelves were then sanded down and coated in linseed oil. The results are pretty nifty.

How I Made Blackberry Jam For $.69 A Jar

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:31 am on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This year, I took a lunch hour to pick some berries from a patch down the road and got a pretty good haul. Since Savvy Jr. has been eating a lot of toast, I decided to make jam with it the berries. I made the following recipe, which makes eight 8-ounce jars of jam.

Since I got the berries for free and re-used jars, the only things I bought for the jam were the pectin ($3.99) and the sugar ($1.50). That means each jar of jam cost only $.69 to make.

My recipe uses 5 cups of sugar. Most jam recipes call for more than that—7 cups of sugar is common, sometimes you even see 10 cups.

That might be necessary if you have sour berries (which is often the case with frozen berries or store-bought berries), but that’s way too much sugar for good berries, if you ask me. My idea of jam is summer in a jar. You want it to taste like mashed, sweet fruit, not gelled sugar.

I find this recipe works fine with regular pectin, but to make sure it gels nicely, use low-sugar pectin if you have a choice. It acts and tastes like regular pectin—you won’t notice the difference.

Blackberry Jam
(Makes 8 8-ounce jars)


    5 cups blackberries
    4-5 cups sugar
    1 (1 3/4 ounce) package low-sugar pectin
    1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Sanitize your jars, either with a dishwasher’s sanitize mode or by boiling them for 10 minutes. Wash the lids and rings with soap. Put the jars upside down on a clean towel until you’re ready to use them.

Wash the berries and remove any twigs or debris.

Put the berries in a large stainless steel pot. Mash with a potato masher.

Add the pectin a little at a time, stirring as you go. Heat the berries on high heat and bring to a full boil.

Stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Taste the jam. Add more sugar if needed. (The finished jam will taste pretty much like the jam in the pot, so keep that in mind when tasting.)

Bring the mixture back to a full boil. Let boil for one minute.

Remove from the heat. Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving about 1/4-inch space at the top. Put on the lid and rings on the jars.

Put the jars in a pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the jam from the water and let sit upright on the towel at room temperature for 12 hours.

Ta-da! Jam! You can eat it within a day or two after making it. Enjoy!

Vegetable-Heavy Entrees I’ve Made Recently

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:03 am on Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My fridge is jammed with vegetables from my garden right now. We’ve been eating like kings for very little money. There’s a reason they say the living is easy during the summer.

Here’s some dinners I’ve had lately that have been vegetable heavy that I heartily recommend.


I had never made ratatouille before and was doubtful I would like it. I was wrong. Ratatouille is AWESOME. I made Jacques Pepin’s recipe and served it on the side of red snapper en Papillote, along with some nice bread and wine.

The thing is, I didn’t care about the fish because the ratatouille was so good. I just wanted to eat more and more of it. And it takes a tons of veggies: eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, olives, and peppers. Because most of the veggies were from my garden, the only things I bought for the ratatouille were the eggplant, olives, and olive oil.

Lamb Kebabs With Sides Of Sauteed Chard and Caprese Salad

This was one of those “riches of summer” meals where you really feel the season. I marinated cubed lamb in a way similar to this recipe, using all herbs from the garden. Then put them on skewers with sliced fennel bulb and zucchini from the–you guessed it!–garden. While Mr. Savvy grilled the kebabs, I sauteed fresh chard (garden) with garlic, onion, feta, pecans, and a slight squeeze of lemon (garden). Then I made a Caprese salad, using tomatoes (garden), basil (garden), and fresh mozzarella. It was a lovely dinner.

Zucchini and Corn Quesadilla With Easy Guacamole

[Image From Ezra Pound Cake]

This was a big hit. It’s a cheese quesadilla with zucchini (garden), onions, and corn in it. (Canned corn worked great, but it’s easy to get fresh right now.) I used Martha Stewart’s recipe. Then we ate them with my version of easy guacamole: mash up an avocado and sprinkle in a little bit of salt and pepper in it.

Vegetable Pot Pie

You can make a Vegetable Pot Pie on a Monday and get a couple of dinners or lunches out of it. I have my own recipe that I’ll eventually share, but in the meantime, this recipe looks pretty decent. My veggie pot pie had zucchini, carrots, green beans, onions, garlic, (all garden) and mushrooms.

Fettuccine with Sausage, Basil, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I made fresh fettuccine with my pasta machine and tossed it with Mario Batli’s sauce of sausage (homemade), basil (garden), and sun-dried tomatoes (leftover from last year’s garden). There’s nothing like fresh pasta.

Yep. We’re eating well around here.

And we’re not done yet. Here are some upcoming vegetable entrees I have planned:

What To Do With Chard

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:52 am on Monday, August 11, 2014

I have four thriving chard plants in my garden this year. That’s fine with me, since I like chard better than other greens, like kale. And you can use chard (or beet greens) in any recipe that calls for kale or mustard greens. Here are some ideas:

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta. This looks like a great Monday night dinner.

Chard Fritters. Hm. Kinds like chard chips, only in fritter form.

Swiss Chard And Bacon Turnovers. You could do an easier version of this with frozen puffed pastry, too.

Chard Pesto. A good way to preserve extra chard.

Orecchiette with Sausage, Chard, and Parsnips. Yum, is all I have to say.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With White Beans and Chard. I love this idea. I think I’ll try it.

Desk Hammock For Your Feet

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:56 am on Friday, August 8, 2014

Check it out: a Desk Hammock For Your Feet. I like it. $30.

Make Your Own Altoids

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:44 am on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Well look at this: Make Your Own Altoids.

It takes gum paste, powdered sugar, and flavored oil, presumably peppermint.

I like Altoids, as you can tell by my post about what to do with Altoids tins. I wonder if making your own is cheaper than buying them. Hmmmm…

Orange Marmalade

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:35 am on Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My orange tree is giving me a lot of oranges this year, so I decided to make orange marmalade. I’m pleased with how it came out.

I used Alton Brown’s recipe, except I reduced the amount of sugar in it. His recipe calls for about 7 cups of sugar, which seemed like way too much. I cut it in half to 3.5 cups and it tastes perfect to me. Here’s the recipe:

Orange Marmalade
Adapted from Alton Brown.


    1 3/4 pounds oranges, 4 to 5 medium
    1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
    6 cups water
    3.5-4 cups sugar


    10 8-ounce canning jars with rings and lids
    12-quart pot


Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Cut the oranges into 1/8-inch slices. Remove the seeds. Cut the orange slices up into quarters.

Put the oranges in a stainless steel pot. Add the lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil, which will take about 10 minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat so that the marmalade is at a rapid simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring periodically so it doesn’t burn. The fruit should be very soft.

Sanitize your jars. Here’s how Alton says to do it: “While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot (at least 12-quart) 3/4 full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place 10 (8-ounce) jars and rings, canning funnel, ladle, and tongs into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lids and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.”

Put a plate in the freezer. When the 40 minutes are up, bring the marmalade back to a boil. Add the sugar. Carefully taste to see if you like how sweet/bitter the marmalade will be. Adjust accordingly.

Stir the mixture continually until the marmalade darkens in color and it reaches 222 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

To test if the marmalade is ready, take out your frozen plate and put a dab of the marmalade on it. If it’s ready, the mixture should be a soft gel that moves when you tilt the plate. If the mixture is thin and runs, it’s not ready.

Transfer the marmalade into the jars. Put on the lids and rims. Tighten and wipe away any spillage with a damp cloth.

To finish the marmalade, put the jars into boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and let the cans sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours before opening.

Voila! Marmalade. You can store it for up to 6 months.

Michael Chabon’s Berkeley Craftsman Bungalow

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:29 am on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Remodelista has a tour of the home of author Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman. It’s a pretty gorgeous Craftsman bungalow in Berkeley. Pictures:

Original wood paneling offset by this wallpaper.

Love these custom-built two-tiered bookshelves.

This is a great use for a corner if you happen to be a bookworm.

The house itself. Must be nice to be a famous author!

See the rest of the tour here.

The 1970s Wallpaper Is Gone

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:52 am on Monday, August 4, 2014

I’ve been living with this 1970s wallpaper since I bought my house in 2007. Last week, as the first phase of our kitchen remodel, we finally tackled it.

The wallpaper was thin cardboard that was glued to the wall. The only way to remove it was to replace the wall. So we textured over the top to flatten the wall and painted.

Of course, that meant living for a week with the dining room in this state.

Words cannot express what a relief it is to not look at that wallpaper anymore!

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