Saturday, February 27, 2010

ROSS. I went there today, you know. And browsing down the aisles I came upon the most spectacular find.
Remember how I did that safari/world traveler room? Well. I have a confession. The whole 'world traveler' part came about because I had an empty space on the wall and some nautical-themed wall hangings. Figured I wouldn't ever find something that I wanted for that space so I re-thought my original design.
Guess what.
Now I don't have to!


SAVE THE VEGGIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How many vegetables have gone to waste because they get wilty and limp before you use them all? I usually use a stalk or two of celery at a time, plus some leaves and that is all. The rest... wasted. They aren't moldy, but they don't have that crunch they need to be appetizing.
So, to put that *snap* back in your celery or carrots try this!

Soak your veggies (don't know if this works for anything but carrots and celery, but it might!) in an ice water bath to 'reconstitute' them, so-to-speak.

Great way to save money and save your veggies!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the words of Rachel Ray, "What's for dinner tonight?"

In our case: Pork medallions with roasted asparagus and Kale.

Does that sound daunting? I just made it up and I like to sound elegant. Really this was like five steps.

I took a pork picnic roast that I got on sale and sliced it into about 1/2-1 inch medallions. You could very easily do this with a pork tenderloin or with just plain pork chops.
I sprayed them with cooking spray and sprinkled on paprika (KILLER with pork), seasoned salt,crushed red pepper flakes (hubby likes the heat), pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. I did the same with the veggies.

Stick on your roasting pan, indoor (or outdoor) grill, or George Foreman.

If you're doing it in the oven like I did set it to broil!

Your asparagus will be ready before the meat. Remove it and tent with foil to keep it warm. Just cook them until fork tender (I never pay attention to cooking times. For shame.)

Replace asparagus with seasoned Kale. Cook that until wilty. Your pork should be done at the same time. The best way to tell if any meat is done without cutting into it: pick the fattest piece of meat and stab it with a fork. Press on it if need be to get juices to run out. If they run clear not red you are good to go!

Plate and serve!

A note about Kale: I love cabbage so I really liked kale. I had never cooked with it before but was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. If you do not like brussel sprouts or cabbage kale will not be for you.

CHALLENGE: Pick out a vegetable or leafy green that you have never tried before and cook it up. You will easily change up your routine (you know how you kind of cook the same 14 dinners over and over again?), you will add SUPER many good nutrients to your meal, you'll impress whoever you are cooking for, and you may even find a new favorite veggie.

Some of my favorites that came about this way:
Asparagus, brussel sprouts, Chard (very good on paninis), and Kale.

Sometimes it's better to do it simple

than not at all.

Last night the hubby and I decided banana cream pie sounded delicious, but I was NOT in a place emotionally, spiritually, physically to make it all by hand... okay. I admit. I was being lazy.
But, if you, like me, want a SUPER easy way to make banana, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, etc. cream pie check this out.

ingredients: banana 1 or 2 depending on how much you like in your pie, vanilla pudding mix, milk (2 cups or whatever the pudding box calls for), graham cracker pie crust, whipping cream (canned or carton, I like carton best), vanilla and powdered sugar for making the whipped cream.

make your pudding according to the box

Slice your bananas and layer in the bottom.

cool your pudding for at least 5 minutes on the stove top (make sure you stir sporadically as it cools to avoid pudding skin and chunks). Pour pudding over bananas and chill in fridge for a few hours.

Make your whipped cream (1c. heavy whipping cream [or just whipping cream], about 1/4 c. powdered sugar, and about 1 t. vanilla extract. Combine and whip until stiff peaks form. make sure you don't whip it too long or you will have homemade butter!)

Top your pie and serve!

See. Lovely and simple and still really delicious.


Chocolate cream pie:
A graham or chocolate cookie crust, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream. his is definitely my favorite. you can sprinkle chopped chocolate or chocolate prinkles on top, you can mix in cookie crumbles, etc. You could even cover with crumbled Oreos or other chocolate cookies and gummy worms and make a family-sized edible dirt cup.

Coconut cream pie:
Toasted sweetened coconut, graham crust, vanilla pudding, whipping cream. Toast the coconut and mix about half in with prepared pudding. Pour into the pie crust and sprinkle the rest of the toasted coconut on top.

Monday, February 22, 2010

SUPER easy toy chest.

I have to admit I almost threw this box out, but decided (luckily) to save it a little longer. My hubby made this wooden box in scouts when he was younger. I was upholstered in BLUE VINYL, but I fixed that. ;)

So. I saw this cute saying on a vinyl cutting web-site and decided I love it but didn't want to pay the fee to have someone cut me some vinyl lettering, plus that would take WAY too long and I had to make this right away.

I picked a font I liked and studied the letters (you must be able to envision it to draw/paint something specific) and then drew light lines in pencil (measuring for height nd width of course) to block in the letters. I then drew (LIGHTLY!!!!!!!!!!!) the letters and then filled them in with paint. It looked a little plain when I was done so I used the end of my paintbrush, dipped it in paint, and then made dots.

A quick tutorial on VERY simple upholstering:

Detach whatever bit of the furniture you are going to re-upholster (mine was the top of the chest) remove any hardware, upholstery nails, staples, fabric etc. Get a piece of foam and cut it to size (I just used what was already on there since it was still in decent condition) glue it down to keep it in place (I would, but you don't have to I suppose). Pick and then cut fabric to cover. Make sure you have a couple of inches extra (you'll need it to go over the sides and wrap 'round part of the bottom). Lay your bit of furniture upside down and using a staple gun staple ONE side of the fabric just to get something to pull against. You must pull your fabric as tightly and smoothly as possible. I would start with the opposite side of the first side you stapled.  Stretching and smoothing staple one side at a time to the underside of your bit of furniture. I made a loop of ribbon and stapled it in the center of the front so there would be a little handle to lift the lid. If you are upholstering a seat cover you are probably done and can re-attach what you've upholstered. If, like me, you've done something where your staples are visible, you'll have another few steps. Find a carboard box or bit of wood. Cut to the size of your newly-upholstered furniture piece. Using hot glue cover much like you did the last piece with fabric. there should be one side completely smooth and covered and one side that has fabric pulled over the edges. Hot glue (or use your choice of gluing-medium) the thin, covered bit in place making sure all your staples and edges are covered. Voila! You have now re-upholstered something!

GOod luck. I make NO promises, but it worked for me! Leave your questions!

Safari/Explorer Room

SO, I originally planned to do a vintage baseball room for my Buck-a-roo, but after a move and never finding a way to do everything I wanted I settled on a completely different, but equally fun, room. Above are pictures of the pillows I made for his crib/floor pillows. My thinking: one spends so much time on the floor playing with baby, you might as well have a cushion under your bum. PLus, we all know pillows and babies don't mix, but pillows are a fast way to cozy up and personalize a room.
These are 18" pillow forms I bought and the covers are SUPER simple to make.
p.s. not paying 15 to 30 dollars for ONE pillow at the store and every pillow I have hand-stuffed turned out stupid and went flat within weeks.

Start with a square of your chosen fabric slightly larger than one of the sides of your pillow (gotta leave seam allowances, plus your pillows are fluffy not just flat !). Then have two more pieces one that measures about 3/4 the size of your pillow and the other measuring about half.

with the two smaller pieces make a small fold at one end. sew. fold over again. topstitch. You should have two peices of fabric with one nicely folded sew edge and three unfinished edges. lay these wrong-side-up (so your fold is visible) on top of the right side of the square of fabric making sure the two smaller bits overlap (I like the bigger to be on top once it is sewn together and flipped right side out). Pin and then sew all around your pillow going back and forth once or twice where the fold is. flip right side out, pick out your corners, topstich if you want, iron if you want, and then cover your pillow. Voila. If it is too big, you can always sew a little more!

If you have any questions, leave me a comment. Once everything was cut this took me 15 minutes at most per pillow. This was the first time I had ever made pillows that looked good and the first time I ever did it this way. I loved it because I love being able to wash them (by hand in the sink with cold water since I don't know what type of fabric it is or what the care instructions are) and I like being able to take them off and replace them easily!

One other thing I did was to make a smaller one (whatever size you like) to keep the jams in when baby's dressed for the day. I am lucky enough to have a mom with an embroidery machine so I commissioned her to embroider his name on a seperate piece of fabric (muslin) and then sew it on using a decorative stitch. I did it this way because inspiration for the embroidery came after the jam pillow was sewn.

I started making a map for the room by projecting and then tracing... it was taking FOREVER. SO I went to my local craft outlet store and by jove.... exactly the thing I had wanted but figured I ouldn't find without paying an exhorbitant fee.... so I bought it for $3!!!!!!!!!! It ended up being too big for my frame so I cut it down a little, using the cardboard backing of the frame as a stencil. This frame I got for %50 off at my local craft store (Robert's). It was white and since I am renting I can't paint the sterile-white walls so the frame got spray-painted instead! The map was perfect because it tied the explorer theme into the room and also the oranges and yellows in my fabric. The giraffe-print pillow is another pillow I made. The chair I got at IKEA and it came with that teeny little pillow and with the shape of the back of the chair it looked sad. Quick fix PLUS way more comfortable.

The stars are a. a tin blue star I also found at the craft outlet store and b. the orange star I found at the same place and hand-painted (as shown in an earlier blog post).

Still don't know how to feel these, but my landlord  some awful motel-style drapes up and I couldn't deal with it. The tan curtains I got at IKEA for $14 a set. CRAZY!! They come with an unfinished bottom and some no-sew iron on type stuff so you can hem them to whatever length you want. BRILLIANT, by the way. So, my mom and I sewed two flat pannels of some remnants of the striped fabric I picked out for a bed skirt, and sewed a loop for a curtain rod at the top. I got them home and they weren't long enough (naturally) I sewed three pannels of the blue fabric but then after a trial the hubby and I decided the one  e middle looked best. I thought it would look ky and ou may too, but I thought it wasn't too bad. We installed a curtain rod I had above the drapery rod and that covered up all the weird little attachments on the rod. A quick valance-type-thing and all wi left-over fabric.

Here's a picture of the paintings I did with the lamp I re-vamped. Now you can see how it all ties together!

Kind of a funky picture (ever notice how great something looks in a room in real life, but as soon as you take a picture it looks all stark and dis-jointed?), but I got a leaf canopy at IKEA for $14 (I love those netting canopies, but  hubby says it's too girlie). You're supposed to install it directly on the wall but I didn't have the right size screws, but I HAD to have it up immediately (you know how it is) so I covered a bar of the crib with muslin to protect the wood and then used those plastic zip ties (we used probably 12 to make sure it was secure) pulled as tight as possible and then trimmed off the ends. It worked wonderfully and I was able to place it exactly where I wanted to over the crib.

All right, let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Like Butta'"

As a newly married bride I was terrified by the thought of a classic 1950's style family dinner. I never thought I could make a pot roast, let alone one that tasted good. But I was determined to be the kind of wife that cooked lovely Sunday meals where the family and any friends that wanted to could gather together and have some warm, comforting food and good times, too.
I was wrong about not being able to do it, and you know what, if you believe that... so are you!
I have decided recently that a good cook is a bold, confident cook. If you believe you will be able to cook something, get a recipe for it, and are brave enough to try - you will be able to cook anything. Perhaps it won't be perfect the first (or first few) times, but in time you will be surprised at all the things you can learn how to do.
So. My tips for a pot roast that will melt in your mouth and please everyone at the table:

A. Brown it first. (I suppose I could tell you first buy a good cut of beef but I don't know what that would be. I think with the right kind of cooking any portion of meat will be good.) This gives it a nice color. I was watching Alton Brown once and he did an experiment to see if browining your meat first REALLY helped lock in the moisture. According to him it didn't matter. Thing is, regardless of the moisture thing, an un-browned roast looks the color of a corpse. So. Eat with your eyes first, right? BROWN YOUR ROAST! Plus it gets all these lovely crumblies in your pan that you then use beef broth to de-glaze and have delicious little meat particles that add flavor as your roast cooks away.
B. Cook it with veggies. Use the aromatics- onions, carrots, and celery (including the leaves). I know, I know, "EW. Leaves?!" but seriously. You don't eat them, but they really do add more flavor. I like to brown my onions while I brown my meat, get a little more of that flavor going and what not, but probably it doesn't make a huge difference
C. Find a seasoning combo you like.
This does have MSG (AGH!!!!!!), but I have to say that this is the BEST tasting seasoning for beef I have ever had. Essentially it is brown sugar, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and hickory. I could imitate it 'cept how does one get hickory? WHen I find this out I will sit down one day and make my own
MSG free seasoning. Until then I use it sparingly (as in not often. I douse my steaks in it).
I usually rub some of this on before browning my roast and dump a little in while it is simmering. Delicious.
D. Pour beef broth in, bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours. I don't have an exact time (check Better Homes and Gardens [p.s. if you don't own this cook book, run out and get it. I couldn't live without it]) but when that is up you will have a moist, flavorful, and fabulous pot roast!!!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends

I made sugar cookies for my craft night with my friends and in honor of Valentine's Day. I made some of them monsters for the guys in my life so that I could make 'masculine' love monsters instead of flowers and lips and hearts (which of course I made for myself and my friends).
My recipe for cookies is KILLER. SO stinkin' delicious. I can't take credit, though. It is my mom's recipe.

Get the recipe here

Click above to get the recipe for the cookies and some AMAZING frosting.

A few notes:

For the cookies:
   I ended up using almost 5 1/4 C. of flour. Make sure your dough isn't so sticky that you can't work with it or roll it out. Try not to have to knead in too much extra flour once the mixing is done so your cookies don't turn out tough. I also ended up (but my oven is old) baking the cookies for about 9 minutes.

For the frosting:
Adding 1/2 t. or so of lemon extract makes these ultra delicious.
Less powdered sugar means a more glaze-like frosting that coats nice but you can't really do any frosting decorating (you can use sprinkles, though) More powdered sugar makes a frosting good for piping &c.
I always split mine into bowls and then color it because I like various colors and I always like having some extra white frosting on hand during decorating in case I run out of one color, decide I need another, or just so I can add some white accents to my cookies.
p.s. I have some black food coloring (comes in a tiny jar, made by Wilton, can buy at Wally World) that is indispensable. It is perfect for outlining, faces, &c. Plus nothing is more dramatic than black on white or vice-versa.


SO many things at IKEA for such good prices. Yesterday I got a rug for 30$ that goes under my dining room table, I got a big leaf that creates a canopy-type feel for the babe's crib (we don't like anything girlie and the hubby says netting is), and the thing I am most excited about......
Guess how much I paid for this. Guess!!! okay. I will tell you. .47$ yes that is a period and then a 4 and then a 7. WOot! I got four of them. Who wouldn't?! They are unfinished wood and probably need a little wood filler in some spots but come on. Less than half a dollar?
I have this painting in my house hanging above my dining room table. I plan to do my entire dining room around it. Oh and guess what. I got this original oil painting for $20. that's right. not $200, but $20. It is one of a kind. You may ask where I got such an amazing, wonderful, terrific deal. The Starving Artist Art Sale that comes 'round once a year or so. LOVE IT. The only paintings that were this size and were $20 were all of fruit (motel type, you know the ones) but somehow among all of those I was able to find this for $20. And it is exactly what I loved and wanted. Talk about Kismet.
So anyway (that wasn't completely random) I love the painting but it looks a little sad up there all by itself so I plan to hang mirrors on either side of it. At first I planned to go around to thrift and antique stores to find old mirrors to fix up. I still may do this. But when I saw those mirrors at IKEA I thought it would be kinda cool to hand-paint each one and hang two on one side and two on the other.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making your own vinyl wall boards

Love my cricut.
If you didn't know you could... you can cut vinyl with your cricut machine. I bought this darling tin sign at Roberts (using 50% off, of course!) and bought some brown vinyl by Provo Craft (bought it later using 50% again!) and cut this out for my bathroom.
the sign was maybe five dollars after the coupon and the vinyl was five, but I only used 1/4 of it.
If you have a regular cricut machine and you buy the Provo Craft brand vinyl (it's the only kind I have bought so I don't know how much comes in other brands' packages) you cut each sheet in half hot dog style and you get four perfect 6 by 12 pieces to use.
So, if you own a cricut or have a friend who has one you can borrow, don't pay crazy high prices for custom vinyl signs! Next time... make your very own.

Hint: If you like the painted signs you can cut some vinyl (doesn't matter the color) and place it on a dry board that has been painted the color you want the letters. Once the vinyl is in place paint the board the color you want the background. Once that is dry peel the letters off and... voila! Perfect.

Hint: Have a cricut cartridge swap with your friends so you can try various cartridges before investing in all of them. That way you won't be disappointed by what you get OR you can just save money by doing the one or two projects you would normally buy a specific cartridge for when you borrow the cartridge. I know I have a cartridge or two that I was so excited about, used once or twice and then never again because there was one thing I wanted to do with it and once I was done I rarely touched it again. I also borrowed a few cartridges, fell in love with them, and knew they would be worth buying.

Happy Crafting!


Next project that I am doing this Thursday with my friends will use a sheet of foam, ribbon, other foam forms, and some fabric....

p.s. don't you LOVE that yellow ribbon? Totally different and fun. SO excited to use it.
p.s. the best part: it was on SALE at Robert's craft (.70 a yard)

It paid off

The late night grinding session paid off. My little buddy LOVES the barley cereal the very best. The rest are okay with him but the barley is a definite favorite. Yay!

I am attempting to decide on the next skill I want to learn. I need to post pictures of a recent project as well. I learned to sew pillow covers for 18" pillows. Look at me!!!

"They all paint tables and embroider cushions" -p&p the movie

I was watching the newer version of Pride and Pedjudice and heard the quote, "...They all paint tables and embroider cushions...." and thought to myself that THAT must be a lost art too since I never really hear of anyone handpainting tables.
I got the project bug and decided I had to paint a table... immediately.
Probably it isn't as fancy or refined as the tables of old, but this is my funky, personal version of a painted table.
Thing is, it is completely custom and completely 'me' and it cost me around five dollars.
I bought a 'decorator's' table at Target on sale for five dollars. Pretty much it is a circle and three legs out of MDF board. Typically people buy a 70" round table cloth and a circle of glass (also sold at Target) and call it good but I couldn't for the life of me find a table cloth I loved and that matched my living room.
First I painted it red and had every intention of painting a checkerboard onto the top (still want to do this some day) and make it a fun little game table. I never did that and when inspiration struck I was glad I hadn't.
I love paisleys. Just so you know.
So, I painted my table with acrylic paints (first laid the background [rule of thumb when painting....background goes in first] and then painted the individual paisleys) and then when it was dry I varnished it so people could put cups of water etc. on the table and all my hardwork wouldn't be ruined. This means that if I ever want to change the table I will have to remove the varnish with that awful, harsh stuff (I can't remember what it is called at the moment... paint stripper?) and sand and then re-paint. But I love it an don't plan to have to.
So now, I am in my own way (according  Charles Bingley anyway), an accomplished female because I can paint tables! ;)

Amazing things happen with a fresh coat of paint.

Spray paint is one of the most economical ways to change or update something and it takes relatively little work. Most of the time.
2 1/2 cans later my cute, but boring black bench got fifteen hundred times cuter.
The color is Summer Squash and I got it at Home Depot. Note: spray paint is less expensive at Home Depot (as compared to Wally World) and they have a WAY bigger selection.
I got this at JoAnn's. It was a bronze color but I had to paint it. I got this last year at about this time. The time of the year when I am DYING for spring and it just isn't coming fast enough and I have to do something around the house to usher it in.


I loved the red star but it no longer matched the room it is in so now... it is orange.
I mixed orange with a little brown paint to make a color I wanted (I didn;t want it too bright) and then I used a dry brush with ome brown paint to make it look distressed by just swiping it lightly across the star all around it til I thought it looked good.


Here is the link for the Baby Shoes that I made.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I. made. baby. shoes.

k. got this pattern off some of my friends' blogs and couldn't wait to try it out. It is late and I am tired so I will post links tomorrow, but I just wanted to share a picture.

Disclaimer: These were a first try done with some scrap fabrics I had and I threw them together and didn't take as much time as I should have so they aren't great, but I am still impressed with the results.

And I made a few more paper bows this weekend. This was my favorite. Thought I'd post it. It's for a wedding so I sprayed it with glitter spray (hard to tell in the picture. but it adds a little something).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wooly whatnots

We love wool, right? Doesn't fray and always lends to feeling cozy. Wool's expensive, though.
SO! Thanks to a fabulous friend I found that you can go to the local thrift store, buy 100% wool sweaters and felt them in the wash.
SO simple. You throw the sweaters you buy into the wash and wash them in HOT water with detergent (MUST use detergent, it is part of the reason the wool felts) and then dry them (I did on high). Repeat, repeat, repeat until your wool is felted. It should look and feel like fabric and you shouldn't be able to tell it was ever knitted.
Your sweaters should be ready to cut and turn into projects. I am planning to make wool cupcake pincushions. Will post once that happens, but I have to build up my store of colors of wool first. Right now those pictured above are the only colors I have.

Alos, tip from the same friend. If you like a sweater you find for a child, but it is an adult size, you can just shrink it in the wash until it fits your kid. Cute!

I plan to use wool for:
baby shoes
flower pins and hair clippies
embellishments on sewing projects
 (am learning blanket stich for this very reason)
who knows what else!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

an update about cereal.

Barley cereal. The most favorite. Rice cereal is second, and oat cereal third. That is what my little prince likes. I have loved making the cereal fresh and warm every morning and evening and I don't mind having a little fresh, homemade oatmeal either.

Coming soon to a sewing machine near you....

These are my next project, I think. I figure I can just use masculine material to make them for boys, right?

How to re-vamp a lamp

This is how I recovered a plain white lampshade I had from IKEA. I make NO promises on how yours will turn out or how it will work for you, but these are the steps I took and the materials I used. I hope this helps and that you have success!
Recovering a lampshade is a simple way to add one more matching element to your decor. Sometimes you have a lampshade you hate and is hideous or sometimes (and for me a lot of times) you change things up and now your lmap no longer matches. You can use leftover fabric from pillows or other projects to make these. Experiment with different ribbons or other embellishments and just have fun. Nothing is so wonderful as something you did all by your lonesome!

1. Starting at the seam of your lampshade roll it on your fabric until you reach the seam again marking on the wrong side of your fabric first the top and then the bottom. Cut out making sure you have a one inch margin on both top and bottom and a one inch margin on one side.
Fold one side of the fabric over itsself and iron. This will give you a finished edge once the fabric covers your lampshade.
Protect your work surface with newspaper or whatever else (I used a large kitchen garbage bag).
Spray the wrong side of your fabric with spray adhesive and slowly (and very carefully) roll starting at the seam of your lampshade and ending with the folded edge of your fabric on top.
Your seam should then look like this.
Your lampshade should now be covered with a finished seam along the backside. You will still have fabric hanging around on top and bottom.
I clipped mine in about one inch sections to make it easier to fold over and not have wrinkles. Make sure you only clip up to the shade and not through your shade!
Using a hot glue gun you are going to start finishing the top and bottom of your lampshade.
One by one glue the sections of your fabric to the underside of your lampshade. It seems like it would be tedious, but it actually doesn't take too much time.
Do this for both the top and bottom of your lampshade making sure you are being careful not to burn yourself with the hot glue. You may want to wait a second or two for it to cool slightly (but not too much so that it doesn't stick!) before folding it over and rubbing it smooth.
The inside of your lamp should look like this.
And the outside should look like this.
You can take some matching or contrasting ribbon and finish the top and bottom but I found mine looked just fine without it. Particularly because the slant of my lampshade wouldn't allow me to put ribbon on and make it look nice. It would work well, however on one of those cylindrical lampshades.

I did use hot glue (gluing at the top and the bottom) to glue four strips of ribbon along my lampshade for some added interest. This step is purely optional, but I quite like the way it turned out.

What do you think?! Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or suggestions!