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Need more jars!

still have more to go!
still have more to go!

Bought 3 dozen 125ml canning jars – but still have some more spices to get into the new jars – so I think I’ll get a dozen more. The can of chalkboard paint would probably do 100 dozen!

My daughter and I had a challenging time getting some of the spice names to fit – but it was fun.  We’ll have to be careful not to rub the names off too!

One thing I’ll have to remember is to burnish the painters tape down along the label edge. I’m also going to see if I can’t source a better quality chalk – one that might allow for a little better control, and maybe add some colour! 

After painting the 4 coats of chalkboard paint on the 36 jars, I came across these DIY Chalkboard stickers at Thinkgeek.com.  These might be an even better approach!

Spice storage

The array of spices that we’ve acquired over the past while seems crazy – especially with my interest in all the different Asian dishes (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc).  Last count, I think I had around 60 bottles (!!!) of different herbs & spices, and various blends.  I’ve been trying to come up with a better, more accessible means of storing them – and thought that small mason jars might be a good choice.  So, off to Google, and came back with this great idea!  Blackboard paint and mason jars – perfect!

Mason jars - perfect for storing spices

On another blog, the recommendation is to use a brushable blackboard paint – for better control, and less mess.  I like this – as I can do it in the house then!

I’ll have to practice my chalk writing so the jars look as good as these!

Think I might use shelves to hold all the mason jars – I think the color of the spices would be great out in the open, as well as make sure they are readily accessible.

New Aquarium

IMG_0424Last year my son decided he wanted an aquarium, so we bought a 30 gallon setup on Kijiji. I helped him set it up – and unfortunately, he insisted on having it in his room – and after a couple months it became neglected, half full of water, and dark green with algae.

So one evening a month or so ago, we moved it downstairs and into the living room – where it gets a bit more attention, and the fish get fed. 🙂  A few more dollars have been spent on better lighting, and a better substrate for plants.

He had 6 catfish already – 4 different kinds of Cory’s (2 panda’s, 2 peppered, 1 albino, and 1 leopard), and we added 9 fancy guppies (3 male red metal delta tails, and 6 females – not sure what kind they all are) to the mix.  There are now 5 or 6 additional guppies as well. We’ll probably add a school of neon or cardinal tetras – I’ve read that they like softer water, so I think they would do well.

guppies2

Albino, Panda, Peppered and Leopard Corydoras

Trying to get some really good plant growth happening in the tank – but I’m not sure that our softened water is all that conducive to lush plant growth.  I’ll just keep trying different plants until we get a combination that works!

The tank is currently filtered using an in tank model – but I think that will get replaced in the near future with an external canister model – something that will get a little more flow.

Gone to the dark side ;)

My old workstation finally gave up the ghost – after almost 6 years of service.  A friend loaned me a machine to use for a while until I got around to getting a new system.

I’ve used every version of Windows since 3.1 – and after working on my in-laws new laptop with Windows 8, I decided that Windows 7 would be the last version of Windows that i would own.  I’ve used a few different distress of Linux, but for the new computer I decided to buy a Mac.  A 27″ iMac. Having never spent any amount of time on a Mac, it should be interesting getting used to!

imac27

Fixing the espresso machine

Andreja_premium Well, after 7 years of almost daily use, it appears that the pump has failed on my Andreja Premium espresso machine.

The machine uses a 52W, ULKA EAX5 vibe pump – and as it turns out, this is a fairly commonly used pump in espresso machines.  I also found prices varied wildly.  The dealer where I purchased the machine originally sells the replacement pump for $95.  I found a replacement on Ebay for $39.99.

Ulka_52WattAfter getting the new pump swapped in, the machine seemed to be working fine.  Then, this morning, it seemed to have stopped again 🙁

So, removed the casing from the machine and hooked the water supply back up, and this time I tested things out  with the cover off.  This allowed me to see the water flow.  Everything worked fine. Maybe I kinked a hose as I put the machine back together?

I carefully put everything back together – making sure no hoses were kinked, and tested the machine again – everything was 100%.  This morning, the timer kicked in and turned the machine on at 6:00 AM, and at 7:00, I pulled a double shot with no issues.  I think that the shot was up there with some of the best that I’ve done!

Something I came across, that might be useful in future, is this page describing the process of repairing the ULKA pump itself – with lots of photos and additional comments from other readers.  I still have the old pump just in case.  They certainly aren’t that complex!