Help! Smoke Damage

Our appartment almost burned down last night! It's a miracle it didn't! We came home from a movie to find the appartment covered in smoke and a terrible stench!

. . . it's the husband's fault! He left the food on the stove going and forgot about it. 

So. . . the big project:
  • wipe down EVERYTHING top to bottom (walls, furniture, cupboards, pictures, fixtures)
  • wash ALL clothes, linen, curtains.
  • dry clean the delicate stuff (i.e. wedding dress, suits, dresses)
  • air out all our precious books (hope they can be salvaged!)
  • clean the carpets, couch, mattress
  • say a prayer of Thanksgiving that the appartment didn't burn down and that this didn't happen while we were sleeping.

So far I've read/heard:
  • Vinegar
      • Run an inch of hot water in your bathtub. Add 4 cups of vinegar into the water.  Hang the clothing on the shower rack above the water. Shut the door and stop it up to keep the steam inside. 
      • Pour some vinegar into saucers and set them around the kitchen or other rooms. Leave bowls of vinegar in rooms for a minimum of 48 hours. Repeat every two days as needed.
      • Kitchen-boil a mixture of 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Using Coffee
      • Wash your clothing as you normally would. After properly drying your clothing, place your clothes on a hanger and then in a garment bag (preferably plastic, but cloth will also do the trick). Place coffee grounds (about 2 cups) in cheesecloth or a tea strainer. Put the tea strainer or cheesecloth at the bottom of the garment bag and tie or zip it up. Let the coffee sit for 24 hours before removing it. Your clothes will now have a slight coffee smell. To get rid of it, allow your clothing to air out by hanging them up in the laundry room or outside for four hours or so.
  • Charcoal
      • To get rid of the smell of a large amount of clothing at one time, place charcoal in an open container and put it on closet floor. The charcoal will absorb the molecules found in the clothing or the closet that makes the clothing continue to smell of smoke.
  • Baking Soda
      • Sprinkle baking soda onto all carpeted floors in your apartment. Baking soda is regarded as one of the best odor eaters, and it contains zero harmful chemicals. Allow the baking soda to sit on the carpet for 30 minutes. Vacuum and clean the filter. Repeat this treatment once daily for one week for best results.
  • Tea tree oil solution
    • FABRICS:
      • Fill a spray bottle with 2 cups of white vinegar. Add about 6 drops of tea tree oil to the vinegar, and shake.
      • Spray the carpets, upholstery, curtains and any other fabrics generously with the vinegar mixture. All your fabric surfaces should be slightly damp when you are finished.
      • Allow the fabrics to dry completely. The odor of vinegar might seem strong initially, but it will fade along with the smoke odor as it dries. Open up some windows if possible to help speed up the drying process.
    • WALLS:
      • Mix 1 cup of baking soda with enough tea tree oil to make a paste
      • Use a damp sponge to scrub the baking soda paste onto any painted walls in your apartment. The baking soda absorbs any odors that have become embedded in your walls
      • Allow the baking soda paste to dry, and then remove it from the walls using your vacuum cleaner's brush attachment.
  • Apartment Cleanse

    • Step 1-Open all windows inside your apartment. Fresh air must be able to circulate throughout the residence to remove lingering smoke odor from the air and household surfaces. Air your apartment out for a minimum of two hours daily for two weeks to see dramatic improvement.

    • Step 2-Launder all clothing and drapes immediately. The odor from clothing and fabrics alone can make a room smell as though it has been recently smoked in.

    • Step 3-Change all light bulbs. Believe it or not smoke collects on light bulbs. The light draws the smoke in the room towards the bulb and traps the odor. Change the light bulbs to reduce smoke odor.

    • Step 4-Wash the walls. Using an all purpose cleaner and washrags, scrub all walls inside the home. Smoke can seep into the walls' interior and exterior surfaces. A lemon scented all purpose cleaner is recommended. Lemons have a very distinct odor that can overpower common odors.

  • Sources

All these sounds great- but where to begin? Which to try first? Has anyone had any experience? 

Suggestions by comments, emails would be highly appreciated! I'm reading that smoke smell is one of the hardest things to clean/ get rid of! I don't want to use any toxic/aerosol if I can help it! Let me know what works!


Guest Post: bushel basket garden

I had the most fabuous weekend seeing old friends again! We drove down to Indiana on Friday to witness our friends Claire & Steve get married (beautiful wedding!), drove back Saturday morning and met up with Ashley who visited us for the weekend, hosted a fun summer cookout party for all our friends in town at our place Saturday night (post to follow!), spent the day in the city on Sunday with friends, and wrapped up the weekend with another more low-key outside dinner party for 3 and a chick flick, Leap Year!

Pheeeew! I'm exhausted from all the fun!

Anywho, so Ashley loved out baby potted garden, and shared all about her own back in Jersey! I think it's so much fun to share the creativity and so I am featuring her story to share with you!

Presenting: Ashley’s bushel basket garden story!

I have always liked the idea of a garden, but a garden that requires minimal effort and maximum results! So, it seemed to me that the ideal garden would be one that didn't involve a lot of digging or getting your hands dirty -- a "glamorous" garden. I'm also a fan of using what is already available around the house in creative ways, thereby saving a lot of money and giving your garden a personal touch. These things all came together nicely one day when I noticed my neighbors were throwing away 20 bushel baskets! There it was. My garden. I could see it now... those bushel baskets were easier than raised beds, and ready for use! I walked away with 6 bushel baskets = free. They were still sturdy, and the cracks in the sides provide excellent drainage. I layered about 1 - 2 inches of rocks in the bottom from our gravel driveway = free, and bought 2 bags of potting soil from Home Depot = $4, each. I purchased a tomato plant = $5 max, and for my potatoes? I had a bag of new red potatoes in the pantry that I hadn't cooked. Those little veggies had "gone to seed" and there were 2 inch sprouts on them, ready for planting!
 So there you have it, 4 weeks later, my potato plants are 2 feet tall, blooming, and almost ready for harvesting, and the tomatoes are the size of a ping pong ball. Zero digging was required, meaning zero dirty hands, and all of this for only $12! The best part of it is, we're moving next week and my bushel basket garden is coming with me!

PS. The added benefit to the bushel baskets is that our local gopher has not burrowed into them, nor eaten any of the plants, and they take up such a small amount of space, AND can be moved at will to the sunniest spot for optimal growth!

Do you have a garden? We would love to see it! Comment or email me!


Fresh bread, anyone?

Remember the bread machine I found a few weeks ago at a garage sale?

I finally tried it out! I've had two attempts thus far and am on a mad quest to get the perfect loaf of bread!

Attempt #1

It was a rainy, humid day (does this affect bread, anyone? I recall something about weather affecting some recipes from my old bakery-working days. . .)

Obviously I didn't have the instructions since I got it from a garage sale, and it was very funny trying to figure out what to do! I began to simply put in all the ingredients from Jake's recipe in there in the order (very important, he said) that they were listed. . . and then my husband suggested making a hole in the middle of the flour before adding the milk. . . it was a hunch of some sort, and so I did. . . (anyone heard of this being necessary for a bread machine?).

Then we decided to start just by selecting the setting to make the dough only so we could pull it out to let it rise more.

We hit start, and then heard lots of noises. . . tried peering in through the little window and didn't notice any movement. . . after two minutes and still not noticing any movements, just a different pattern of "pulsing"  noise . . . I decided something was wrong.

Sure enough! I hadn't pushed the plate with the ingredients down all the way! Duh! Once I did it began to mix. I didn't stop and restart the process. Maybe I should have, but I figured it couldn't hurt to continue. . .

After about a 40 minutes the noises stopped! So we eagerly pulled it out and let it sit out while we ran off to the nursery to buy a hanging plant for our deck before the rain came.

When we came back about an hour and a half later, the dough was HUGE! It had risen way past the height of the container! Sweet! A big, fluffy loaf this would be!

Then we realized. . . Uh Oh. . there's no setting JUST for baking. . . so we stuck it in our oven to bake for 30 minutes as the recipe said.

When the timer went off I eagerly ran to meet my first loaf. . . !

It looked. . . well, like a loaf! I was so proud! (Don't ask me why- it's not like I actually made the loaf with my bare hands ha ha! THAT will be an adventure for another day).

But. . .
 Once I cut into it, I notcied it wasn't fluffy or cooked thoroughly, and though I tried baking it for a bit longer, it still wasn't right. *Sigh. It was great for toasting, though!

Attempt # 2 occurred the following weekend.

This time we let the machine run its full course  *Highly recommended.

And. . . 

We got a huge, fluffly tasty bread.that looked beautiful! Tall, dark and handsome (Unlike our first albino one!)
. . only the crust was rather chewy. . .
No crust on my sandwiches this week!

Stay tuned. . . I am determined to get it just right,  and to try some recipe modifications or new recipes as well. All machines are different I daresay! Any suggestions?

                                              Jake's White Bread Recipe:

                                   1 ¼ cups water
                                2 tbsp butter
                                4 cups flour  
                             4 tbsp milk
                         2 tsp salt
                              3 tbsp sugar
                           2 tsp yeast


Gardening Endeavor Update

So it's been over 8 weeks now since we first planted our seedlings and Mother Nature has been kind!

Within the first week or two we already had some sprouts! The first to appear were the herbs (Cilantro, Parsley, and Basil). By week 3 or 4 the rest of our jalapeño, habañero and bell pepper plants began to sprout.

Only one row didn't have any results and we're not sure why. . . maybe we forgot to put seeds? But everything was looking very promising!

We let them grow, and in the 5th week we started moving the tray with all the plants outside for a few hours to take advantage of the sunshine and outside weather conditions.

Very important : we kept rewatering them often (the plans would start to droop fast when the sun shined directly on them and the soil dried up. We decided that for next time we'd use bigger containers because these little biodegradable ones really do not hold much water.

By week 6 or 7 we transplanted our little plants into terracota pots and into a hanging planter on our porch. We lost a few plants due to heavy wind and rain and my accidentally stabbing a jalapeño plant! Oops! So then my husband went ahead and began round 2 of seedlings in the leftover planters (and the newly empty planters due to my "slaughter," as he calls it).

We noticed there was a stunted growth for a week or so once we transplanted, but soon enough they started shooting up!

We're at week 9 now, and look at them grow! We can't wait to make our own bruchetta with our fresh herbs very soon! The basil in particular has sprouted and grown like a weed. The jalepeños have been the second best success after transplanting them into larger containers. While they have not produced any signs of forthcoming vegetables yet, they have a very strong and sturdy main stalk!


A toxic home?

OH my goodness! Who knew that your home was probably toxic?

Check out this video!  

Scary stuff!

Enough said for now. . . to be continued soon!



Comments on Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

I just finished Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey!
What a quick read- I did it all in just a few train rides and lunch breaks, and honestly it is the most puzzling thing to me! It really seemed so unlike a Jane Austen novel. Am I the only one who thinks so? I enjoyed it, but I felt it moved way too slowly at first, then much to fast by the end, and I'm mostly sorry that the characters were not more memorable. Having spent a week with it, I wouldn't be able to describe any of these characters in any way to make them sound interesting, or be able to look back at any scenes to re-enjoy them.
 Really, the "heroine," as Austen refers to her throughout the book speaking in first person, is just silly and it seemed that there was a prevailing attempt to merge her story to that of the plot of Udolpho which I haven't read, but was constantly referred or alluded to in many scenes. Maybe if I read it I might find more humor in the events, but it really just all seemed out of place! *SPOILER* Especially since it had nothing to do with the climax, which was made clear as the events unfolded. I think Austen's continuous commentary on her "heroine" threw me off from the story. . .  Maybe Mansfield Park will be more enjoyable. . .
though I am excited to watch a film rendition!


Ahh! Time flies!

Oh dear! Here I was so excited to start this blog project a few weeks ago and here I am staring at the big gaps between posts!

I just started a new job downtown and with the commutes and training the days have been long, but I will soon build a routine and get back to balancing!

 Coming soon will be post on 
  • Projects and updates I've been working on around home
  • Great new finds garage sale-ing and redecorating for Spring/Summer
  • Upcoming summer party plans!
  • Updates on our herb and vegetable gardening endeavors
  • Some more good articles by great writers
  • Hopefully fixing the pages/links on top and updating (movies, readings, etc)
  • Some funny little anecdotes about my new daily commutes to the new job
So until soon, dear readers, I promise!
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