Not a holiday. No company. Not a work day. Don’t have a cold or the flu. No errands to run. No excuses! Today, I’m taking the afternoon to try several new things. I’m playing with my new Christmas toys, and starting a DIY paint experiment.

When you wake up knowing there’s absolutely nothing looming large or hanging over your head, and your Sunday afternoon calendar is blank blank blank – Carpe Diem! I should note that if I wasn’t staging a slow comeback from a back injury, I might “seize the day” more vigorously. None the less, I’m a happy camper ready to embrace this January day and all the “new” this new year offers at home today.

Ho Ho Ho!
Santa brought me the Kitchenaid Spiralizer! Even though I failed to write him a letter and swear I’d been good, he came through for me. I can only guess Ken gave him the hint. I do have visions of future awesome apple tarts, but today I decided to test drive The Machine on the pantry sweet potatoes. Their days were numbered anyway… I registered my appliance online (#imarulefollower) and watched the QuickStart tutorial. I can drive this thing, no problem!

And then, faster that you can find a peeler, I spiralized my pile of potatoes. I LOVE it! (To the person who finds my hand-crank plastic spiral cutter at the thrift store, don’t be too discouraged. It’s a pain, but given enough time, can produce spirals…) We will have Sweet Potato Curly Fries for dinner. On to another new tool!

Not the “Boil-in-Bag” of the Past.
Our daughter and son-in-law have prepared the most amazing meals for us using the sous-vide method – particularly rack of lamb and steaks. (Sous-vide cooking places food in a plastic pouch, cooking low and slow in a water bath. Finish meats/fish by searing, grilling, deep frying, etc.)

For Christmas they gave us a jewel of a Joule. (Joule is the brand name of a small and very powerful sous-vide water boiling/temperature control tool.) I love all traditional cooking methods, but this system is intriguing. Before we tackle a complex recipe, we decided to learn the process with simple thick-cut pork chops.

So here’s what we did. We thawed two one-inch boneless pork loin chops from our freezer, sprinkled them with Great Crescent Brewery Steak Seasoning and chopped rosemary, and vacuum sealed them with the trusty FoodSaver.

Then, with the Joule App as our guide, we set up the system. Success – hot water circulated! Then we lowered the bagged chops into the water, clamped them to the side to keep them submerged, set the timer in the app, and let it rip! Now, on to that paint project…

Learning to Limewash – or Schmear?
The potatoes are spiralized, the pork is cooked, and dinner is in a holding pattern. Plenty of time to head for the craft room and mix it up with a little paint and spackling paste.

I’ve been interested in the process of whitewashing interior brick walls, in particular as a finish for kitchen walls. “Mix, brush, and wipe” sounds like a technique I could bring to the 1876 fixer upper!

I chose to test a product that wouldn’t require a sealant. One less step, right? I selected Romabio Limewash in the Avorio White color. I used the recommended wash to water ratio of 1:1 on the first test. The Italian limewash brushed on easily and wiped off just as easily. I did a second test with a ratio of 2:1 to see if I could achieve more contrast between wash & brick.

Third test was the charm. This time I tried the German Schmear technique using spackling paste and a wide drywall knife. This photo was taker just after application (so not fully dry) but is has a rougher texture – more the look I wanted!

The spackle schmear requires a sealant, so in the next few days, I’ll experiment with that.

Ring the Dinner Bell
After a full day of “new”, it was nice to have dinner waiting in the wings with only last minute touches to go. Just before the curly fries came out of the oven, I heated a cast iron skillet to finish the meat. A little butter and olive oil in a hot pan quickly achieved a beautiful sear on the chops. SO tender and moist. And the oven baked fries were perfect. Throw in some of summer’s succotash from the freezer, and dinner was delicious!

Side Note: Around here, ketchup with fries is a must. Sally’s Sweet & Spicy Ketchup and my Blueberry Ketchup, and of course our old fave, Heinz.) When summer canning season rolls around, I’ll post a how to on ketchup making.

Now to relax! And what better way to end a Sunday evening than watching Masterpiece Theatre – with back-to-back Downton Abbey and Victoria episodes!

This was a lovely day. Now I’m totally ready for a regular old Monday.

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.