Hope the summer is treating you well!  The days have been great, not too hot and not too cold.  I know that some people would like a little more heat, but I think this weather is perfect, especially since I just returned from Florida and the heat and humidity was deadly!  It is so good to live in the Northwest.   Enjoy these days, we are about half of the way through summer (it ends in the middle of September) and we will have the rain and cold back soon enough!

Ste. Maine Filling a Wall

One of the quickest ways to decorate your home without breaking the bank is to fill your walls with special décor items.  To get some ideas on how to do that we stopped by Ste. Maine (503-232-1880) to chat with Erin about what she would suggest.  Erin mentioned that a lot of people fill their walls with expensive pieces of art, but there are so many more options.  On one wall they had used a mirror and a couple of wall sconces.  By using a mirror you can make a room look bigger, or even showcase something else in the room.  You want to make sure that it doesn’t reflect a blank wall or isn’t placed too high on the wall.  You can use an old mirror to give the wall some character, or even a convex mirror to give a unique ‘distorted’ appearance to the room.  The sconces were vintage and were originally designed to hold candles but they looked great without them.  They also gave a 3 dimensional look to the wall.  That depth seemed to give the wall a little more character too.  Next we moved across the room to see a series of 3 framed prints.  What made these prints unique was that they were just 3 pieces of decorative wall paper.  Erin mentioned that you could also use drawings, interesting cards or even old sheet music.  The key is the framing.  Make sure you use a good frame and have a professional do the framing; it will make all the difference in the world.  One other tip, use an odd number of frames to make it work.   If you would like some more tips of decorating your wall, stop by Ste. Maine in Westmoreland for some help.

Painted Hills Beef

When you are in your grocery store, do you know where you food comes from?  If you buy Painted Hills Natural Beef (1-877-306-8247) you know exactly where it comes from.  We met up with Merhten Homer, President of Painted Hills to learn what makes this beef so different.  Merhten told us it is the way it is grown.  These cattle are raised with no added hormones, no antibiotics and a 100% vegetarian diet.  The meat is ‘choice grade’ the best that you can buy.  Merhten also gave us some grilling tips too.  He recommended that you don’t over-cook the beef.  If you are grilling, you are looking for a medium rare piece of meat.  To get this, all you have to do is get your grill to a medium heat.  Cook your steak until it gets shiny on one side.  This means that the moisture and natural oils in the meat have cooked to the surface.  Flip it over and repeat on the other side, and you are done.  We found a great selection of Painted Hills Beef at Barber World Foods, (503-244-0670) a great market near Capitol Highway, but it is also available at select markets around the state.   

Kaboodle Measuring Items

Does your kitchen ‘measure’ up when it comes to cooking or baking?  I know, it is a little pun, but we are talking about measuring devices and how they have changed in the kitchen.  We stopped by Kitchen Kaboodle (503-643-5491) and talked to houseware buyer Maryann Samsa to see what is new in the kitchen.  First she told us about liquid verses dry measures.  You can’t just use one type of measuring device to do both liquids and dry ingredients.  Using the right measuring device will make your cooking and baking more successful!

We started with measuring cups.  Pyrex has changed their design to a more flaired cup that will allow you to read the measurement more accurately without bending down to see the side of the cup.  OXO has taken it one step further by having a measuring guide on the inside of the cup so you can see the correct amount by just looking inside the cup.  Chef’n has come out with silicone measuring cups that are microwave and dishwasher safe and they are in the shape of a beaker.  They won’t break or rust and when you pour, you can just pinch them to create your own spout for pouring.  Very convenient!   Other measuring cups included a lip on the front of the pour spout so they could hook onto the mixing bowl and you can pour ingredients without spilling! 

We then moved to measuring spoons.  A lot of the new designs for measuring spoons are oval, so you can use them with spice jars.  The newer designs allow you to place the spoon inside the jar so you don’t spill spices as you measure.  Another set of spoons had measurements for a drop, smidgen, pinch and a dash.  These are measurements that can be mentioned in older cookbooks and now you have an official measure for that.  This set also comes with a leveler for more precise measuring.  We also saw some measuring spoons that are magnetic so you can keep them together and even attach them to your refrigerator or stove if needed.  If you are looking to save space, they now have collapsible cups and adjustable spoons so you can cut down on the number of measuring devices you need.  They even have a device for measuring goopy and sticky items like honey or peanut butter.  If you have kids and you want to get them involved in the kitchen they have the ‘Head Chef’ measuring cup in the shape of a little man and some color coded measuring spoons and cups. 

The final item was a measuring cup that was also a scale.  This is great if you have recipes that call for a weight instead of a measurement.  Check out all the different measuring devices at Kitchen Kaboodle at any of the 5 Portland metro area stores. 

Quick Tip - Cleaning Stemware

Enjoying your favorite wine is a wonderful experience.  But if you have noticed a funny taste, the problem may not be with the local vintner, it may be your stemware!  We dropped by Metrovino (503-517-7778) to chat with Todd Steele to learn why your wine may be tasting so ‘interesting’.  Todd told us about the importance of clean stemware.  ‘Clean’ stemware still could have the taste and fragrance of the laundry detergent that you use on your towels.  Todd recommends that you keep a supply of clean and lint-free towels around your bar or kitchen, just for your wine glasses.  Metrovino uses lint-free microfiber cloths reserved just for polishing their glassware.  Fragrance free softener and detergents are very important!  Treat your glasses right and they won’t come up smelling like roses!

Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar has a strong smell and is a useful ingredient in the kitchen but it also has a lot of uses other than cooking.  It can also be used as a cleaner.  If you have lime or calcium buildup in your coffee maker or dishwasher you can just run a cup of vinegar through the machine to get rid of that buildup.  Of course you should remember to cycle more water through it to get rid of the vinegar taste once you are finished.  If you have coffee or berry stains in your cups and bowls, a little vinegar will easily remove them.  Speaking of removing, it can also be used to remove those pesky price stickers off of plates and cups.  If you have smells coming from your garbage disposal you can freeze some cubes of vinegar and then run them through you disposal and it will kill the bacteria and deodorize the disposal as well.    

Replacing a Dimmer Switch

Replacing a light switch can seem intimidating, but if you follow the right steps it can be done in just a few minutes.  First of all, read all the instructions before you tackle any project!  Today we showed you how to replace a dimmer switch.  Robin shut off the power at the breaker panel before David took apart the old switch.  Once he had it apart he double checked that the power had been shut off by using a voltage meter.  You can pick one up at your local hardware store.  He then removed the old switch by unscrewing the wire nuts.  The new switch had 4 different wires.  Most switches will have 3.  For an ordinary switch you will find a red, black and green wire. For this one we had an extra wire.  This extra wire was there in case we had another switch that would operate the light from the other side of the room.   We just kept the extra wire capped.  In attaching the wires, the wall had a black, white and a single copper wire.  The blacks were tied together, the red from the switch went to the white in the wall and the copper was the ground and that one went to the green wire in the switch.  You will want to keep the wires short so that they all can fit inside the junction box once you have them tied together with wire nuts. 

Once everything is back in the junction box you will want to turn on the power and make sure the switch works before you put all your screws back.  If it doesn’t work, double check your connections.  If it does work go ahead and screw everything back into the wall and put on your switch plate to cover everything.   If you run into problems or you feel like you are in over your head.  Take a picture and return to the hardware store to get some help or call a certified electrician for some professional help!


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This page last modified
August 12, 2011.