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!

Wallpaper On A Nursery Ceiling

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:22 am on Friday, August 1, 2014

I love this idea from Little Green Notebook of putting wallpaper on the nursery ceiling.

This is Daydream wallpaper from Hygge & West. It’s $150 a roll, but ceilings take up less space than walls.

This is a great way to add playfulness to the room. Love it.

Make Your Own Bubble Chandelier

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:23 am on Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bubble Chandeliers are so pretty and fun. They can also be expensive, ranging from $300-$7,000, depending on size and where you buy it.

That’s a crazy price when you consider you can buy the glass balls for $2-$4 each. (Possibly cheaper if you shop around–eBay is a good place to start.)

Rachel from Small Notebook made a DIY bubble chandelier for $70 and tells you how to make one too.

She liked it so much, she put a smaller $30 bubble chandelier in her nursery.

Faire Frou Frou made a large 2′X4′ bubble chandelier for their boutique.

They say it cost about 10% the cost of buying the same thing. And it looks pretty easy to make, too!

Kitchen Backsplash Round-Up

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:14 am on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There are so many ways you can go with a kitchen backsplash. Here’s some inspiration.

Pressed Tin

Vintage Postcards Under Glass

Metal Tiles

Chalkboard (Hard to keep clean?)

Reclaimed Wood

Paper Under Glass

Red Tile

Tile Cut At A 45 Degree Angle And Set In A Zigzag

Great Gift: Cookies In A Can

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:48 am on Monday, July 28, 2014

Here’s an inexpensive, but cool, gift idea: homemade cookies in a revamped Pringles can.

I don’t speak French, but it looks like Marcia Tack cleaned out the can and covered it with paper and decorative tape. Then she filled it with cookies.

It looks quite chic.

Just make sure that Pringles can is clean. You don’t want your recipient eating Pringles-flavored cookies.

Blackberry Smash

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:02 am on Friday, July 25, 2014

savvyhousekeeping blackberry smash blackberries cocktail bourbon mint lemon

I got together with DIY Cocktails and made a Blackberry Smash. (The name makes me think of the Hulk. “Hulk smash!”) We crushed the blackberries with a little simple syrup, lemon juice, and mint, then mixed it with bourbon. Kind of like a mint julep, only with berries. Plus it’s pretty.


Blackberry Smash

(Makes 1 cocktail)


    3 ounces fresh blackberries
    1 1/2 ounce bourbon
    1 ounce simple syrup
    8 small mint leaves
    1 dash fresh lemon juice


In a cocktail shaker, muddle all the ingredients so that the blackberries and mint are crushed. Fill a highball glass with crushed ice. Pour the drink over the ice. Enjoy!

Blackberry Scones

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Thursday, July 24, 2014

savvyhousekeeping recipe scones fruit blackberry

Scones are one of those things that can either be wonderful or awful. They are either dry and gum up your mouth or they are lovely and soft. My mom’s recipe is the latter kind. Her scones are a soft biscuit with lots of fruit and a sugary crust on top. Really, they have ruined me to most coffee-shop scones.

savvyhousekeeping recipe scones fruit blackberry

I made these scones with blackberries that I picked a couple of weeks ago, but you can make them with any fruit, fresh or frozen. The recipe:

Blackberry Scones
(Makes 6-8 scones)


    For the scones:

    1 – 1 1/2 cups blackberries
    2 cup flour
    1 Tablespoon baking powder
    4 Tablespoon sugar
    4 Tablespoon butter
    2 eggs, beaten
    1/3 cup milk
    1/4 cup sour cream

    For the crust:

    1 egg white
    1/4 cup sugar


If you’re using fresh berries, wash them and then stick them in the freezer for at least a half hour. This will help the berries maintain their structural integrity when you work them into the dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking flour, and the 4 Tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and work it into the dough until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk, eggs, and sour cream and form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Fold the berries into the dough. Be careful not to overwork or smash the fruit.

Pat the dough into an 8 inch circle. Now it’s time to make the sugary crust. Beat the egg white until it is frothy and then spread over the top of the dough. This will seem soupy and strange, but go with it. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the egg whites so that the top is covered and the sugar is absorbed by the egg whites.

With a floured knife, cut the dough into wedges. The scones will expand a bit in the oven, so keep this in mind when you cut them. Carefully transfer the scones onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes until they are lightly browned. Wait until cooled and then enjoy.

savvyhousekeeping recipe scones fruit blackberry

Magical Compost Tea

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:22 am on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You may be asking yourself why I am posting a bucket of muddy water on my blog. Ah, but that’s not mud, that’s compost tea.

I’ve written about the magic of compost before on here, and how amazing it is that you can take your kitchen waste and turn it into an fertilizer for your garden. This year, I’ve been taking the extra compost I have and making compost tea with it, and using it as an all-purpose liquid fertilizer for my plants.

Let me tell you: it works great. If you pour compost tea on a droopy plant, it will pick up within an hour of your applying it–that’s how powerful this stuff is. And it’s free and easy to make.

So how do you make it? Put a quart (4 cups) of compost in a 5 gallon bucket and fill that bucket with water. Let the bucket sit overnight so that the compost can “steep” into the water, thus the name compost “tea.” After that, transfer the compost tea to a watering can and water your plants as you would with any other liquid fertilizer.

Compost tea can be applied to any plant. It’s especially great if the plant is producing food and seems to need an extra boost of nutrition. It also helps sickly or struggling plants and is a great way to feed your container garden.

Also compost tea lets you make the most out of a small amount of compost. So if you don’t have room for a giant compost bin, don’t worry. Make what you can and then make compost tea with it. That way your plants can still benefit from the magic of compost.

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