My blog has moved!

My blog has moved...Please visit me over at my new blog home:

You can sign up to follow via email or other paths there, and, if you do, please leave me a comment so I can thank you...and follow you back, if you'd like! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Not Such a Tech Smarty Pants

I really thought my new site was working, but it turns out that I had the wrong name in for email subscriptions. So, if you tried to "Follow by email" yesterday, you may have gotten a message that you're already subscribed.  That's to this blog.

Please, please, please go to the new site, and click on the email subscription should work now, since I've checked and rechecked it.

Thanks, and so sorry for the inconvenience...but there's a great idea for organizing your rechargers, as well as yesterday's post on painting Adirondack chairs, to make up for all the trouble this switch has been!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Need a Favor

I'm very, very excited to announce that I have a new blog "home."  It's found at  See?  I told you I'd leap into this century someday! 

I've been working on this site for a couple of weeks, after mulling it over for a few months. It's not a finished project, but it probably will always be a work in progress.  I hope it will eventually be a lot easier to navigate than this blog, but for now, it's basically the same.

Now for the favor...I can't migrate your email subscriptions over, so I really need you to click over to my new site and click on the email subscription looks like a little envelope, there on the right sidebar.

Thanks, and I'll see you there!

Zucchini Plus Banana Plus Chocolate

***UPDATE*** Before continuing with this post,  I wanted to tell you that I have a new blog home.  I'd love for you to visit (all my old posts are there, along with brand new ones), and subscribe over there, since I can't transfer my subscribers over for some reason.  If you decide to follow, leave me a comment so I can thank you...and follow back if you have a blog!  Also, I'm trying to convince the hubs that this IS a real job, so I need all the followers I can get! Thanks so much... 

Equals one amazing muffin!  Actually, a whole batch of them. I recently needed to use up some zucchini and a very ripe banana.  With a little help from the hooligans, we ended up with very yummy Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins. Give them a try…they’re perfect with icy cold milk!


Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins

2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed
1 cup mini chocolate chips


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease muffin tins (to make 18 muffins), or use with cupcake liners.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, banana, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
3) Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined.
4) Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
5) Spoon into muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way.
6) Bake muffins for 16-18 minutes, until they test done (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, save for perhaps a light smear of chocolate from the melted chips).
7) Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before turning them out of the pan onto a rack.

Yield: 18 muffins

Click here for the printable recipe

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Easy Peasy Inspiration Bracelets

***UPDATE*** Before continuing with this post,  I wanted to tell you that I have a new blog home.  I'd love for you to visit (all my old posts are there, along with brand new ones), and subscribe over there, since I can't transfer my subscribers over for some reason.  If you decide to follow, leave me a comment so I can thank you...and follow back if you have a blog!  Also, I'm trying to convince the hubs that this IS a real job, so I need all the followers I can get! Thanks so much... 

DSC_0005Isn’t this a fun little bracelet?  Guess where I saw the idea?  Yep, Pinterest.  They take literally a few minutes to make, and are a perfect little accent for your crafty friends.

The silver beads are from Michaels and come in a package of 10, with “create",”believe,” and “hope” on them.  To make the bracelet, cut three strands of embroidery floss to about 12” and thread one of them through a bead.  Wrap the other two strands around either side, and tie knots to hold them in place.  Braid each side of the bead, tie a knot at the end, and you’re finished.

See, I told you it was quick and easy!

My hooligans have YMCA camp this week, so I was all alone for the first time in what seems like forever!  I spent the day shopping at the outlet mall (where I actually bought some shoes, shirts, and books for myself, in addition to things for everyone else) and checking out some small town knitting and pottery stores.

All in all, a very fun, if not productive day…but everyone needs a little me time now and then, right?  Hope you’re finding some time for whatever rejuvenates you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chalkboard Table Runner

***UPDATE*** Before continuing with this post,  I wanted to tell you that I have a new blog home.  I'd love for you to visit (all my old posts are there, along with brand new ones), and subscribe over there, since I can't transfer my subscribers over for some reason.  If you decide to follow, leave me a comment so I can thank you...and follow back if you have a blog!  Also, I'm trying to convince the hubs that this IS a real job, so I need all the followers I can get! Thanks so much... 

Today, I’m sharing yet another thing I saw on Pinterest, but was too thrifty to buy…a chalkboard table runner for a buffet.  How ingenious is that, I ask you?  I like to have placecards in front of each item on a buffet, so guests aren’t wondering what they’re taking, but this is so fun for a barbeque or any casual party.  And at my house, they’re pretty much all casual.

And who knew you can buy chalkboard cloth?  Well, apparently it’s been around for years, according to the cutting table lady at Joann’s.  It’s pretty inexpensive, too…around $5 a yard. I made two of these for less than $10 (I used a 40% off coupon for the chalkboard material).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-3/4 yards chalkboard fabric
  • 2 bandanas, or 1 yard of material for binding
  • Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
  • Paper plate and Sharpie
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and Ironing Surface
  • Thread

1. Cut the chalkboard fabric in half lengthwise.  You can actually make two from the 1-3/4 yards, but it needs to be that long so you don’t have a seam in the middle.
2. Use a paper plate to trace rounded corners, then cut those off.

3. Make the binding:  ***If you don't want to make binding, you can buy it already made in the notions'll need about 4-1/2 yards. ***
Cut 3” wide strips from your bandanas or binding material ON THE DIAGONAL.
Sew the together, right sides together, to form one long binding strip. 
Press those seams open.
Fold in half and press.
Fold each edge to the middle and press again.
This is what it will look like.  I made two of these, one with bandanas and one with blue calico.
DSC_00224. Sew the binding around the edge of your chalkboard material.  Tuck the end in and sew.

5. Invite your friends over and let them marvel at your creativity!

Friday, August 17, 2012

This-n-That Kinda Week

I’ve had what felt like a completely discombobulated week.  No one had any camps to attend, but we still had little things to do each day…dental appointments, Moms Group meeting, never-ending errands to run.  And we fit in a fun thing each day, too, even if it was just making cookies.

But I’ve not settled on a topic for today’s post.  Thus, I’m showing you a couple of things I’ve done this week that turned out great, and a teacher gift I haven’t finished yet but I know you might need an idea NOW for the beginning of school.

This is the accomplishment I’m most proud of this week…I knitted a pair of socks for the first time…and they wound up the same size…and they fit me!  I’m just pretty amazed. And addicted.

How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy
This is the book I used to teach myself…I found it super easy to follow, with tons of photos and great explanations. I used the 5-needle method, by the way.  The hubs was impressed with my dexterity (which I’m sure was a sight to see as I started trying to figure this out).  I bought the book at Joann’s with a 40% off coupon, but you can find it at Amazon or a knitting supply site, as well.

The publishers of this book have no idea who I am or that I’m talking about their book…I just wanted to share it with y’all, in case you’d like to knit your own socks, too!  I used Paton’s Kroy Sock Yarn in Sweet Stripes, if you’re wondering, instead of the acrylic yarn they recommend practicing with…I didn’t want to spend any amount of time on socks I wouldn’t want to wear.  I’m a sock snob, it’s true.

Secondly, I reached way back in my memory and found these Bacon-Cantaloupe Wraps filed under “Summer Hike” from a year or two ago.  Originally from Rachel Ray, I just improvised as I remembered them and everyone loved them.  The hooligans even asked to have them again the next day, in lieu of eating somewhere in town while we were running errands.

This wrap is pretty self-explanatory…crisp bacon, really thin (1/4” or so) slices of cantaloupe, lettuce, and some basil-mayo on a Flatout wrap.  For the mayo, I just chopped up some fresh basil and stirred it into the store-bought mayo.  You could even call it basil aioli, if you add a little garlic and maybe some lemon juice.
The salty-sweet, fresh flavors meld together perfectly, though.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Then, I’ve been on Pinterest again.  Yep, and I found something I absolutely had to make.  Imagine that.

1 kit
Cute, huh?  You can find them at Bee in Our Bonnet,if you’d like the particulars.  Again, these are not ones I made...they are her where credit is due!

So next week all three hooligans have YMCA camp…all day, every day.  I promise to be a bit more coherent and organized in my blogging.  Well, maybe.  I may just have to dance around naked eating bonbons and celebrating being alone in my house all day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crunchier and Crunchier

Yes, I’ve had so much time on my hands this summer I’ve decided to make my own Greek Yogurt. No, I am not serious. I did learn to make Greek yogurt, but not to fill up my spare time.  It’s purely financial, people!  To say the hooligans love Greek yogurt would be an understatement. They devour it as if they were born in Athens. Actually, now that I think about it, they love anything Greek…except lamb.

But, as usual, I digress.  I grew weary of paying over a dollar for a single-serving of yogurt, and, of course, they don’t all want vanilla so I can’t buy a large container, not that they are much less expensive anyway. I do love the convenience of individual servings in the frig, so they can come in from playing and have a protein-packed snack.

I’ve made yogurt before, using my crockpot, and it’s very simple.  But that was not GREEK yogurt, and was a little too runny for our tastes.  I’m not sure why it’s Greek yogurt just by the addition of a draining step at the end, but there you have it.  The internet gurus have spoken. I am curious about the nutrition information, and how it stacks up to purchased yogurt, but I'm not losing sleep over it.

 I followed this method, from One Good Thing by Jillee.  She always has great ideas for household stuff

There are tons of recipes out there, but basically you just pour milk into your crockpot, heat it on low for a few hours, let it cool a bit, and stir in some plain yogurt (for the active cultures…you can use your own, once you’ve made a batch).  Wrap the crock up in a towel and let it sit overnight in the oven, and it’s magically thickened. Don’t think about why that happens.  Lastly, you drain it for several hours and end up with delicious plain yogurt, ready for flavoring or using in place of sour cream.

This process did take almost 24 hours from start to finish, but I wound up with 12 cups of yogurt from one gallon of whole milk.  That’s SIXTEEN 6-ounce servings for about $6…and that was using organic milk.  Individually I would have spent nearly $20.  Of course, I still have to flavor it, but that doesn’t up the cost all that much, since I would be adding fresh fruit anyway to storebought yogurt.

The hooligans pronounced it delicious, so I’ll definitely plan to keep making it.  Now I just need to find small containers to store it in, so they’ll continue to snack on it.  I can flavor individual portions with applesauce, jam, honey, or fruit.  I think I may make some lime curd to stir in...Key Lime is my favorite and I think that might recreate it at home.

If you want to make these EXACT yummy parfaits(meaning not with storebought granola), I use this granola recipe from Rachel Ray.  It’s fun to make with kids, if you’re looking to spend a little time in the kitchen together.

To make the parfaits, I layered a little yogurt, drizzled with honey, some raspberries, some granola, then repeated.  I added a little extra drizzle of honey on top, so you could see a prettier picture. It’s really all about you.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Iris Folding….Whaaa???

I’ve had an issue of Stampin’ Up!’s demonstrator magazine on my craft table for almost three years…because I wanted to try a cool technique highlighted in it.  Iris Folding, while appearing very complex, really is quite easy.  And addicting. When it’s complete, the paper folds look like a camera lens, or iris.  Aaahh, that’s the explanation…I bet you were just waiting for it, weren’t you?

Isn’t that amazing?  I practiced with the kids first, because apparently it’s my responsibility to actually entertain and perhaps educate my offspring.  Even the four-year-old managed this quite well.  I dispensed pieces of tape for everyone, because I felt the potential for disaster lurking in that step.

Here’s all you need:

  • Colored paper (not cardstock), in as many colors as your iris template has sides
  • Tape
  • Template (I downloaded mine here, at Family Crafts
  • Cardstock with a shape slightly smaller than your template image cut out of it (If I had a Silhouette Cameo, this would have been so very much quicker…if anyone reading this is looking to buy me a really, really perfect present)

1. Tape your cardstock lightly to the template, right side down. My cardstock is 8-1/2” x 5-1/2” and the square is 4”x4”.  I cut a square with my paper cutter from scrap cardstock, then traced it on each piece of cardstock and cut it out using my paper trimmer. See what I mean about a Cameo?

2. Cut your colored paper in 1”x6” pieces, if doing this with kids.  For the “Imagine” one above, I cut 2”x6” pieces and used a bone folder to fold them in half lengthwise, for more texture and depth.

3. Place your first piece of paper along the first template line, and tape it onto the cardstock.

4. Place the second color down on its first template line and tape it in place. Continue around the template with each color.

5. Continue to place and tape each piece, going around and around, until the template is covered.  The paper will be quite thick by now.

6.  When you’ve covered all of the template except the very middle, trim around the edges of the cardstock (using scissors), so papers aren’t poking out everywhere.  Remove cardstock from template, flip it over, and prepare to be amazed.

7.  We made our finished pieces into birthday cards, using ribbon, stamps, and punches…from Stampin’ Up!, of course!

To make the “Imagine” card/artwork above (I think I’ll find a 6x6 shadowbox frame for it), I used patterned DSP.  It took about a 6x6 piece (cut into 3 strips 2"x6") of each color.  I cut the strips to fit before taping them, so I didn’t have to trim afterward and it used fewer strips.

To finish it, I glittered the card base behind and added ribbon and buttons from SU!.  The stamp is from the Word Play stamp set and I used Apothecary Accents and Labels Collection Framelits with my Big Shot. Oh, and a couple of brown pearls from the craft store.

These were a fun way to spend an hour or so, using few supplies and providing almost instant gratification.  And they learned about patterns and how to use a really large amount of tape.  I had to dig out the spare roll from the Christmas wrapping supplies, even!

These will be fun to do for holidays…a pumpkin shape for Halloween or Thanksgiving, an apple for a teacher, a shamrock, a heart…you get the idea.  Have fun, and go create something…even if it’s just a clear spot on the couch to take a little break!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Back to School Tradition

I know, we have way too many traditions at our house!  I think I overcompensate for all the moving around we do by attempting to have certain things that are the same, no matter where we are living at the time.  It also helps keep me entertained, truth be told.

When our first hooligan started kindergarten, my GI Joe was deployed, so I was at home with 5-, 3-, and 1-year-old kids.  Why did I think it was a good idea to make school bus sugar cookies for the first day of school?  Who knows?  I was probably in a befuddled state from exhaustion.  Whatever the reason, the kids remembered…and have expected them every year since.  Fortunately, the first couple of years, they asked me that morning if I’d have their cookies after school, so I had all day to get them made!

These are last year’s…I had help from Princess Thindercloud, so they’re not too professional looking. But they were very tasty.

Here’s a photo from the first year I made them.  And look, she was a Thundercloud even at 16 months.
If you’d like to start a tradition, or just make some for fun, here’s the recipe. 

Rolled Butter Cookies


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
2- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder


3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Food color, if desired


1. Combine 1 cup butter, sugar and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add orange juice and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.
2. Divide dough into thirds. Shape each third into a ball; flatten slightly. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (2 to 3 hours).
3. Heat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough, one-third at a time, on lightly floured surface (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
4, Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheets 1 minute; remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely.
5. Combine powdered sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often and gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired. Frost and decorate cooled cookies as desired.

Click here for the printable version

Since I can’t find a bus cookie cutter, I draw a bus shape onto cardstock and cut it out.  Then I just trace around it with a very sharp knife to cut them out.  I only have to make three, after all!  I make them about 6” long and 3” high.

I make Royal Icing, using Wilton's recipe and meringue powder, for these cookies.  I love the buttercream recipe listed above, but this needs to harden for the hooligans.
Hope you enjoy them!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Snuggly Tag Blankies

***UPDATE*** Before continuing with this post,  I wanted to tell you that I have a new blog home.  I'd love for you to visit (all my old posts are there, along with brand new ones), and subscribe over there, since I can't transfer my subscribers over for some reason.  If you decide to follow, leave me a comment so I can thank you...and follow back if you have a blog!  Also, I'm trying to convince the hubs that this IS a real job, so I need all the followers I can get! Thanks so much... 

It seems I need small baby gifts frequently, for soldiers, coworkers, or friends.  And they seem to come in waves, so I needed something I can mass produce and be set for six months or so. Of course, I read there’s a Fifty Shades of Gray baby boom going on, with babies due in February, so who knows how many blankies I’ll need then!

I like to give these tag blankies for babies to use as teethers or tactile learners, along with a copy of one of our favorite books.  It makes a thoughtful, yet affordable, gift.

About ten years ago, “tag” things were all the rage…books, blankets, teething cloths, you name it.  I’m not sure if they’re still so prevalent, but I figured out how I could make them for next to nothing.  (In this case, next to nothing adds up to about $3, if I have to buy ribbons and can’t just pull from my stash.)

To make these, you’ll need some soft chenille-type microfleece.  One and a half yards of 60” wide fleece will make 6 blankets.  I always buy it on sale or with a 40% off coupon at Joann’s.  You’ll also need 10 or 12 different, closely wovan, fabric ribbons.  You’ll need two pieces of each, 4” long.

Tag-Blanket-4Cut two pieces of fleece 14”x14” for each blankie.  On the right side of one piece, fold each ribbon in half and pin he cut edges along the sides of the fleece.

I do this assembly line fashion, cutting everything then pinning all the squares.

Next, place another square of fleece right sides together with the ribbon pinned one.
Stitch around the edges, leaving a space about 3 inches or so not sewn.  Clip the corners, as shown above, then turn the blankie right side out, pulling the fabric through the unsewn part. Remove the pins, tuck the raw edges from the unsewn part inside, and topstitch around the entire square.

See?  I told you it was easy!  I try to make mine pretty unisex in color, since I make them to stock my gift trunk. You can make several of these in an afternoon (or an evening while watching mindless television) and when a baby is born, you’re ready to give a fabulous present!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Time for Tea and Cookies!

When I found these side-of-the-cup cookie cutters at World Market, I had to have them.  Had to, I tell you.  I’ve seen cookies all over the internet, hanging on the sides of mugs, but they involve cutting that notch out yourself.  These cutters make it so much simpler!

I'm picturing gingerbread stars on a mug of marshmallow-topped hot chocolate after sledding, or some pretty pink frosted hearts on a mug of steaming coffee during a date night movie.  And did I mention they were only $1.29 each?  What a bargain!

I made some Lemon Sable Cookies from the King Arthur Catalog, iced them, and placed them on the side of a glass of yummy Iced Passion Tea. It makes for a perfect afternoon snack on a hot summer day!

Here's the recipe on King Arthur's website, if you'd like to print it.

Lemon Sable Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour or ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt; Fleur de Sel is especially nice in this recipe
  • 2 tablespoons lemon powder*
  • 14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large egg white
  • grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon
  • *Or, for a less zesty cookie, substitute 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.


1) Using a food processor or mixer, combine the flour, almond flour, sugar, salt, and lemon powder.
2) Add the butter, and process or mix until the mixture is crumbly.
3) Add the egg white, lemon juice (if you're using it) and grated rind, and process or mix until the dough comes together.
4) Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
5) Preheat the oven to 350°F.
6) Roll the chilled dough 1/4" thick.
7) Using fluted cookie cutters about 2 1/2" in diameter, cut out as many cookies as possible, re-rolling the dough as needed. Space the cookies 1/2" apart on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets — you'll need a couple of pans.
8) Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until their edges begin to brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
9) For the glaze, stir together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth.
10) Brush a thin layer of glaze onto the surface of each cookie; garnish with sparkling sugar, if desired.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

I followed the recipe exactly, except that I dipped the tops of the cookies into the glaze, rather than brushing it on. The lemon powder is an amazing ingredient to keep in the pantry.  I love using it when I make shortbread, because it adds the zesty flavor without adding liquid, which would make your shortbread not so short.

These cookies are very much like shortbread, but not as dense.  They’re tender, crisp, and nice and lemony. Definitely a keeper!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Storytime Suite

Did you know Stampin’ Up! designs product suites, with coordinating stamp sets, designer papers, embellishments, and even dies?  Well, they do!  How thoughtful are they? And remember, you can shop 24/7 on my website...just click that button in the right sidebar! I'm thoughtful, too.

One of my favorites in the 2012-13 Annual Catalog, the Storytime Product Suite features vintage style school sketches and colors I love together:  Pool Party. Basic Gray, So Saffron, Ridinghood Red, Wild Wasabi, and Pumpkin Pie, along with several others.

Today, as I contemplated (with a large amount of glee, I admit) the fact that school starts in 27 days, I pulled out these products to design a few back-to-school projects.  The suite helps everything come together “speedy-quick,” as Junie B. Jones would say.  I’m sending the cards in back to school packages…I just can’t decide if the sentiments are more appropriate for the kids or their moms!

Stampin’ Up! Supplies:  Storybook Friends stamp set
Storytime DSP; Whisper White, So Saffron, and Basic Black Cardstock
Stazon Jet Black ink; Soft Suede, Ridinghood Red, and Pool Party Classic Inks
Label Collection Framelits; Aquapainter;  Wooden Skewer (not from SU!)
Daffodil Delight, Basic Black, and Real Red 1/8” Taffeta Ribbon

Stampin’ Up! supplies:  Storybrook Friends stamp set
Storytime DSP; Basic Black, Very Vanilla, and Pool Party Cardstock
Stazon Jet Black ink; Black Embossing Powder; RIdinghood Red, Wild Wasabi, and Pool Party Classic Ink
Label Collection and Apothecary Accents Framelits; 1/8” hole punch; Cherry Cobbler Bakers’ Twine

I’ve been wanting to try this splattered watercolor technique.  To do it, dip a paintbrush in a bit of ink, then in water, then tap the brush to make the splotches.  I practiced a few times on scrap paper, and I really like the interest it adds to the card.

Stampin’ Up! supplies:  Storybrook Friends stamp set; Storytime DSP; Basic Black Cardstock; Whisper White Craft Ink; White Embossing Powder; 1/8” hole punch; Cherry Cobbler Bakers’ Twine; Ticket Corner punch (retired); Red Polka Dot Ribbon (retired); Silver Eyelet        From craft store:  Clear paint bucket (in packaging/gift wrap section)

I love the border prints that are almost always included in the DSP collections.  Unfortunately, since I don’t make paper scrapbook pages any longer (I'm all digital, baby!), I sometimes struggle to use them.  This kid parade print was so adorable, I HAD to use it.  It makes a great teacher gift for the first day of school. 

I just cut a piece of the paper 5-3/4” tall, leaving it 12” long.  I rolled it into a tube and pressed it into the inside of the can.  It fit exactly, and took all of 30 seconds to make. It took seven dozen pencils to fill it, if you’re interested.

I’m pretty sure the teachers are not thinking “Hooray!” but too bad for them.  I certainly am!  Now if I could just find a Big Chief tablet to satisfy the nostalgic longing induced by using these stamps and papers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shazaam! Desk Redo

Just before school was out for the summer, the boys’ school had a few old desktops for sale at very reasonable prices, so I bought one.  Keyboarding is a challenge for our oldest, and I certainly am not crazy about letting him practice on my laptop or desktop. 

With this used computer, he can play practice games as well as games on CD.  He will not be able to access the internet, much to his chagrin.  Our internet here is a wireless card, where we pay by the usage for date.  Ack.  You can imagine how Lego and Netflix downloads would suck that up, if I didn’t have control over it!

But we needed a desk to put said computer on in his room.  We visited the local thrift shop back in June and found one that was perfect for our needs.  Sturdy and cheap. And not too large.  He picked paint colors (with a little guidance from the Stampin’ Up! Color Coach) and we bought sample sizes of a pale turquoise and a schoolhouse red. We also bought a craft size bottle of chalkboard paint for the top and new drawer pulls.

After we tried to give our kids e coli Sunday, I came home ready for a project.  We finally started on this one, and it went very quickly.

We painted it Sunday evening.  The hooligan got to help, since it’s for his room. Sadly, the only paintbrushes we could find were little sponge ones that I got 20 for $1 at Joanns.  But they worked fine.

Monday night, my GI Joe drilled some new holes for the top drawer handle, and we replaced the hardware.  Then an extra coat of the blackboard paint, just to make it thicker on top, and we were done.

I think it turned out wonderfully, especially since we spent less than $40 total for the desk and the supplies.  The drawer pulls cost more than the desk, by the way.

It reminded me of how much I enjoy refurbishing furniture…maybe I’ll add that to my list of things to fill my spare time!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why I Didn’t Craft Today

So I didn’t get any crafting done today.  Why?  Well, I was busy being Mom’s Taxi Service, with kids at three different camps in two locations 20 miles apart. Sounds like fun, huh?  But it was only for today, not the whole week. Consequently, I am forcing you to see what we did Sunday to liven up our lives.

First, we went to our favorite Lake Michigan beach.  After ninety minutes of playing in the sand and splashing in the water, a lady out for a walk asked if we saw the “no swimming” sign.  Apparently there’s e coli in the water. We came home and scrubbed everyone, practically turning them inside out, and are hoping for the best. We rock this parenting thing.

In our defense, there was one small sign posted under the regular one that says no lifeguard on duty, no fires, etc.  It was red and said STOP in bold letters, but none of us even glanced that way as we headed down the trail to the beach. Oh, well.

See how (relatively) clean and shiny they look?  They inhaled some pushups on the front porch while discussing the various bugs and butterflies they could see from there. It was actually a peaceful ten minutes. Look how dry their little legs are from the showers…we used about a quart of lotion on them before bed.

And my GI Joe missed the peace because he was mowing the yard, which has made a heroic comeback from the drought.  We didn’t water this part a bit, and it grew so much the deer were out there grazing as if it were a meadow Saturday morning.

Oh, and I painted Princess Thundercloud’s toenails to match mine, in honor of the Olympics.  It’s hard to paint stripes on constantly moving toes, so don’t judge me.

Then I made an amazing, less-than-thirty minute meal with some Apple Gouda Chicken Sausage that wound up in my cart at Costco last week.  Those sample ladies know what they’re doing when they offer it to the kids! Then they pester me until I at least read the label.  These are actually pretty healthy, with no nitrites and all natural ingredients, as well as being fairly low in fat and high in protein.

Anyway, here’s the recipe I found and tried.  It was delicious enough that all three kids and the hubs stressed that they really liked it and would like it another time. They know if they don’t, we’ll probably never see that recipe again.

Chicken Sausage with Couscous

*Note: I like to use Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous. When I cook it, I use chicken broth instead of water to give it a boost in flavor.
*Serves 4-6
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces precooked sweet apple chicken sausages, or other type sausage/kielbasa, cut in 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dry whole wheat couscous

Start the couscous cooking according to the package directions. I like to cook the couscous in chicken broth to give it a boost in flavor.

Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet (12-inch), toast the pine nuts over medium-low to medium heat, tossing frequently, until they are golden. Remove the pine nuts to a small bowl and return the skillet to medium heat.

Heat the olive oil until rippling and hot. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken sausage and brown lightly, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the chicken broth to the skillet with the salt, pepper, thyme, cumin, coriander and curry powder. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the onion is very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated and/or absorbed. It should still be slightly wet but not soupy.

Add the cranberries and the remaining chicken broth (2/3 cup) to the skillet. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the cranberries are heated through and softened a bit. Stir in the cooked couscous and let the entire mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed but the couscous is not dry. It should still have some tender moisture to it but not be saturated with broth.

Stir in the toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.

It’s from Mel's Cafe Kitchen.  You can find the printable there.  I doubled all the spices, except salt and pepper, and diced my onion instead of slicing it.  It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but it really was very quick and easy to make, 

So your takeaways from this post:
1. Read the signs at the beach and don’t be bad parents like us.
2. The chemicals in pushups will probably kill any bacteria that the scrubbing didn’t.
3. You, too, can have patriotic toes!
4.  This recipe really is a keeper…it was light enough for a summer dish, but the flavors would be fabulous in the fall, as well. From Googling recipes to serving it up, it took less than thirty minutes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fake Out Watermelon

I’ve seen all these different fruits scooped out, then filled with Jello Jigglers, then sliced to look like regular fruit on….drumroll….Pinterest!  I had resisted making them because I can’t stand the thought of real Jello, all full of artificial flavors, colors, and sugar or sugar substitutes, which I think are even worse than the real thing. Now I’ll get off my soapbox.

I occasionally make Jigglers (because I can’t resist the molds they sometimes have at the grocery store) but I use plain gelatin and fruit juice.  I made Phineas and Ferb ones that way last week.  See, I’m not horribly depriving my hooligans.

So I decided to make watermelon fakeouts, using some form of red juice.  In hindsight, I should have tried the watermelon juice, making it myself, but I didn’t. I searched and searched for a juice that was all juice and didn’t contain cochineal (the red coloring made from ground up insect wings and shells).  I know, we’ve been consuming it for years, but now that labeling is required, I’m totally grossed out by it. And now I'm climbing off that soapbox, as well.

Finally, I found Hibiscus Cranberry Juice at Trader Joe’s with an ingredient list that didn’t make me cringe too much. While they were distracted by harassing their father when he got home last night, I finally found alone time to make these.
This one said how cool it was and praised my talent, and the other two didn’t, so he got to be in the blog post. So there.  They all thought it was tasty, but the others apparently expect that kind of stuff from me.

To make this, wash a small watermelon with soap and water and cut it in half.  Scoop all the flesh out of one half.  Try to get all the red stuff.  Then rinse it out and dry it as best you can.  Fill it with water, to about 1/2” from the top, then pour the water into a large measuring cup to figure out how much gelatin you’ll need.  I only needed 3 cups for my watermelon, so I made the following recipe (from the box of Knox gelatin).

Fruit Juice Knox Blox

    • 4 envelopes knox unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup cold fruit juice
    • 3 cups fruit juice, heated to boiling
    • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional) or 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in large bowl. Let stand one minute.
  2. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in sugar or honey if desired.
  4. Pour into 13x9x2 inch pan.
  5. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
  6. Cut into 1 inch squares and serve.
Here's an online version from
DSC_0002Obviously, when I got to step 4, I poured it into my watermelon half.  I balanced the rind snugly in a plastic bowl to hold it level. Also, I did not add any sugar or honey. After chilling overnight, I sliced it up and fed it to my kids!

By the way, I didn't actually read the whole recipe, just the ingredients, so I added the gelatin and cold juice to the boiling juice at the same time and stirred until it dissolved.  It worked fine, and I had one less bowl to wash.

They spent most of dessert time discussing what other fruits I could do this to...perhaps they need to help out a little on the execution sometimes!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Girly-Girling It Up

Princess Thundercloud is like a giraffe…she has long, skinny legs and so even her brother’s size 5 jeans are too short.  She just turned four a couple of months ago. Anyhoo, they were perfectly good pants, but I cut about 6” off and made her some pink-polka-dot ruffled capris.  I’m sure by next summer they’ll be shorts, but that’s okay.  I had to cinch them up so much with the waist adjuster buttons that it’s like they’re ruffled at the top, too.

She thinks she’s pretty much da bomb. Some days she is.  Anyway, here’s what you’ll need:

A pair of jeans and some already ruffled ribbon trim (I found this at Hobby Lobby).  You’ll need about a yard, or four times the width of the jean leg where you cut it, plus about 6 inches.

First hem the jeans about 1/4” in, then sew the ruffle right along the bottom edge. You’ll then have a double row of stitching.  I use rainbow thread for pretty much everything I make the Princess, just because she likes it.

As a finishing touch, I sewed a 3” piece of the ruffled ribbon trim into a circle.

Then I sewed a button (yes, from Stampin’ Up!) into the center to make a flower.  It also covers up that lovely handstitching I did, which is a good thing.

I love being able to recycle the boys’ clothes for her…it’s my little bit to save the planet (and my wallet, too!).  This project cost less than $3, since I just needed to buy the trim and use two buttons from my stash.

That’s another good thing, since I’m pretty sure keeping Princess Thundercloud in hair products is gonna break us.