Sunday, January 1, 2023

Is there ANYTHING Duct Tape Can't Do? + 2022 Life in Review & New Year's Wishes

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Happy New Year! Now begins the period of time when we all start crossing out 22 a hundred times on checks and documents. I guess a year long habit is hard to break! Do you have your 2023 calendar out?

Before my cards today, I thought I'd give you a list of tiny, mundane things that made my 2022 better that you might enjoy in 2023. None of these are craft related. Some are recipes. Some are hacks. Some are extremely useful, if not overly exciting, tools. But I liked them, so you might too. I'll put a visual list below too, in the order that I mention them in.

Tips & Tricks:

  • I LOVE America's Test Kitchen - it's full of great instruction and you don't need to be a chef to find their tips useful. My favorite subset of their recipes is What's Eating Dan? And within What's Eating Dan, I REALLY love his series on eggs, which starts here.
  • This is dumb, and I may be the last person to realize it, but consolidating layers in lasagne actually makes it taste better. I used to do the classic - a bit of sauce in the bottom, then no-boil noodles, ricotta (I use Kite Hill vegan ricotta - it's really good - they also have a whipped ricotta I have not tried), meat or veggies, cheese, sauce, repeat. But last time, I cooked the ground beef and then simmered that in the sauce and combined those layers. I swear it was better tasting, and it saved a dish and a step! PS if you can't have dairy, there's only one vegan melting cheese I use and it's Miyoko's liquid mozzarella, which you can get on Instacart, or your local natural food store. It's amazing. Everything else is weird. My fave marinara right now if I don't make my own is this Sacla sauce with whole cherry tomatoes. It's delicious - imported from Italy. 
  • To do lists: I've converted to a combo analog/digital task list and it's really worked for me this year. For all recurring tasks, I use the Due app. It's a BILLION times better than any native apps, easier to set recurrence intervals, dismissing is easy - you name it. So this is ALL my work tasks, house tasks, bills, anything that needs to be done on a schedule. The analog part I switched to this year because a planner doesn't work for me. Most of my work is task based. So I got this nifty holder on Etsy for index cards, with a stand for the one you're working on. Each week I put my MUST DO tasks for work, videos etc. on a card in the pop up holder and color code them with highlighters - red, yellow and green. Yellow and green are less urgent for the week. When I'm done with one side, just flip it over for the next week. When both sides are full, I toss those into my index card art pile for gel printing over, etc. So it's also zero waste. Then I just use my planner for journaling/daily notes etc. Since the index card holds the card in a vertical orientation, I use the cards that are lined for that orientation, not the traditional horizontal ones. 
Hacks (today's cards have a hack too):
  • My fave recipe this year was Maangchi's bulgogi and ssamjang. Her cookbook is life changing. Thank you to my sweet friend Yoo-Rah for introducing me to this recipe. Because I love to eat it so often, I came up with some hacks. When filet is on sale, I buy a bunch, shave it, and freeze it in one pound portions. I also double the ssamjang every time I make it and freeze it - it freezes great!
  • Sprouting green onions - you may already do this, but whenever I buy green onions, I stick the root part in water - the onions continue to grow and you get twice the life out of every bunch. 
  • Making potholders - I love to make potholders for friends when I watch TV. I use this loom, and it's metal. Instead of stretching out a loop to hold all the sides on when finishing, I use use a MISTI bar magnet! It works great! I love the monthly box of loops and patterns from Acorn & Twigs
  • Cleaning brayers/brushes/tools - the one soap to rule them all is Dr. Bronner's peppermint. I fill a bin with water and a few squirts of soap, and soak them. The paint will bubble up off the rubber and be really easy to remove. 
  • Get a dull-ish knife and never peel finicky garlic cloves again with this hack. The people in the group where I found this said a sharp knife cuts the cloves instead of pulling them out cleanly. 
Tools & Gadgets:

  • TikTok yielded some amazing tools this year. I HATE all my chip clips, binder clips etc. for all the different chip/cracker/cereal bags. Then Soogia (who also posts amazing recipes), showed this incredibly easy bag closer thing that actually closes the WHOLE bag, not just the center part, so everything actually stays fresh. 
  • Also from Soogia - this amazing Japanese sesame seed grater I now cannot live without. I use this when I make the bulgogi above.
  • This angled long reach stapler for making simple handmade quick journals. Coming soon to a video near you! :) If you want to see the embossing folder I will use in that video, you can do that here
  • Wifi plugs. These let us set timers for lights, the Christmas tree - anything you can plug in. 
  • Temperature sensors for our freezer/fridges. This saved our BUTTS this year when our GFCI went bad - because our freezer happened to be on that circuit and we didn't know it. You get an alert if the temperature drops. If you have kids who leave the fridge open, this is a necessity. A friend of mine went out of town with her fridge open - it was open for a week! We've been jittery since Uri, so being able to know when something goes wrong is important. 
  • We also got water sensors at the same time, and nearly immediately, our kitchen faucet leaked, so that saved us HUNDREDS of dollars in cabinet / molding damage. We happened to be away that day and got the alert and came back. Worth every penny. They are now under the sinks, one by the fridge (a friend's ice maker flooded her house a few years ago) and by the washer. 
  • Tomato clips - I had an elaborate system for propping up my leggy sungolds so they don't break every year, and this year we found these amazing clips! You suspend some twine from above the plant, and close the twine in the hinge, then clip them closed around the stem. So gentle and scalable! And you reuse them! I wasted so much time with drinking straws! LOL. Just be sure to use a good outdoor twine - the twine that came with them was not good. 
Pet stuff:

  • I found the nicest man in the world this year looking for things for Clarence and the babies to chew on and get calcium from this year. His name is Kevin Lee. He cuts up gathered shed antler that people send him from the mainland - he's in Hawaii - and makes these little nibble sticks my squirrels LOVE. It's really important that they wear down their ever growing teeth, and if you use these, they also give them calcium. He's such a sweet, kind man and has given me little samples if there are any squirrel lovers in my audience - I'm happy to mail you some. Squirrels can be paralyzed by eating foods that are high in phosphorous - peanuts, for example - they dramatically leach calcium from their bones. So feed peanuts very sparingly. Other foods are way better and you can read the list of good/bad foods here
  • Heated cat beds - STOP LAUGHING. I bought these two days into winter storm Uri, not knowing we were about to be without power and water for six days. Since then, they've been much beloved my kittiots. They are a flat heating pad (very low heat) with a removable washable cover - you just leave them plugged in. They absolutely love these things. They come in different sizes for different pets. Really good for older pets with arthritis, or just spoiled brats like mine. 
Okay enough of that. On to today's hack for all of you, who like me, don't have a foiling machine. I had one for a while, and it was one of those things I just didn't use enough to justify the space it took up. I love the look of it, and I love seeing people who foil beautifully, but I just fake it with shiny and colorful duct tapes! I find that gold cardstock isn't nearly as shiny as this tape - this truly looks like foiling and it's easy. For this card, I just put the tape down onto black cardstock and then die cut it with this skinny thanks die. The background is this stunning, layering stitching die I stitched with white floss - 2 strands. SO fun to put together. 

Here's a closeup of the beautiful, dimensional shiny sentiment - the die curves and finishes the edges so beautifully. These stitching dies are what I do in front of the TV when I'm not making potholders. See how much shinier it is than foil cardstock? 

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Here's the strip of tape I was cutting for today's cards. I can get LOTS more die cuts out of this one piece.

The second card is with this gorgeous die set themed around the ampersand with matching die cut greetings. I used the little flowers with different glitter papers. SO quick and easy and I love the gold tape.

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Here's an older video I did on using duct tape with dies - this remains one of my most popular videos.

Here are some shows we really enjoyed in 2022 - for some you'll have to find the platforms - I don't know how to use a TV 😂

I hope you have a great New Year's! I will be making my sister's blackeyed pea bean dip, with arepas and sorrel for the greens from my backyard. 

What is your tradition? 


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