Sunday, January 13, 2013

Craft Counseling

Crafting can sometimes be like marriage. As much as you love your creations, sometimes they need a Just like in marriage, occasionally, what was once wonderful.. may need adjusting, tweaking....counseling.

About a year ago, I posted this piece on my new entertainment center.
I love my entertainment center. I do. I adore it. It is the centerpiece of my living room. However, my son also loves his Wii. And since the TV in his room is tiny, he plays in the living room. And since there is a lot of drawers in the entertainment center, that is where we store his games, accessories, and Skylander characters. Which means, of course, that the drawers frequently get left open. I didn't consider this possibility when I was painting the drawers, mainly because I was in a rush to get the project completed while the husband was gone for the day (this seems to be a recurring theme in my crafting life). And so, the ancient piece was left with bare wood on the insides of the drawers. No big deal, right? After all, it was that way to begin with.... and who is going to be looking at the INSIDES of the drawers?

Well, when your son leaves them open all the time, EVERYONE will be.

Around this time, I found THIS pin on Pinterest (the pin didn't actually link up to anything, so I am only including the picture. I would hate to send you off on a wild goose chase).

I thought it was cute, but really, couldn't see a use for it in my home. Then my wonderful friend Sylvia pinned it and I asked her what she was going to do with it. Well, a year or so ago, we did a remodel on her daughter's bedroom, painting the walls purple. And her idea was to paint the insides of her dresser drawers to match. What a cute idea, right? I can totally see that working in a little girl's bedroom, but still had no inspiration for MY house.
Finished product!
Well.... can you say "Duh"? Yeah, OBVIOUSLY my entertainment center needs help. So, I picked up paint chips, chose a favorite, and waited for a day the hubs would be gone. I even went a step further and paid the extra money for the Paint + Primer in one. I figured it would save me time, right? No. Possibly it was an unavoidable result with such old, thirsty wood, but I ended up having to slather on FOUR coats of paint and touchups as well in order to get decent coverage on the sides of the drawers. The insides definitely leave something to be desired since I was running out of paint and wasn't about to leave the drawers half done and sitting on the dining room table when the hubby got home. He already hates the entertainment center enough (yes, STILL), so I wasn't about to give him another excuse. I called the project "close enough" and put everything back together. Overall, I like the result...and after all, no one is going to be looking at the INSIDES of the drawers, right? RIGHT??

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pinteresting - GLITTERFIED!!

This post comes with a consumer advisory.... don't try this at home. But, if you do, just do it when your husband isn't home. Trust me on this.

So.... I have these boots. I'm sure you can all relate, right? There is that one pair of boots or shoes in your closet that you LOVE. They fit you just right.... they are easy to walk in.....they go with your favorite jeans (which also fit you just right)....and something about the height of the heel...just makes your ass look good.

Really, they do. You know what I'm saying. Don't judge.

Ok, so I have these boots. Have had them for a long time, actually. And you know that moment.... that terrible, sad moment.... when you recognize the signs. The signs that these poor boots have seen better days. That, really, wearing them at this point only makes you look kind of shabby.
See? Aren't they a mess?

But they are THE boots, right? You need to save them!

Well, in walked Pinterest. Again. Saving the day. Have you seen the new thing in heels? Or, rather, ON heels? It's GLITTER.

Now, I have to admit, I am NOT a fan of the sparkle. No sir, I am not. HOWEVER. I AM a fan of the boots. And the boots MUST be saved. By any means necessary. I love these boots. We have....history.

And so, they shall be GLITTERFIED.  There are tons of pins on Pinterest about making your own DIY glitter heels. Personally, I went for this one. Simple, few supplies needed. It was just a matter of finding black glitter, and I was on the move.

This is very simple, really. Pour some modge podge into a dish (preferably disposable), then mix in the glitter until it becomes a glittery, but spreadable, mass. Now, slow down, you really don't need much. Not at all. I mean maybe a TABLESPOON of modge podge. And I'm not kidding. These boots of mine have big, thick heels, and I still ended up throwing out more than half my glitter mix. So, start small, you can always make more.

Ok, now, using a brush, spread the glitter mix onto the clean heel. That being said, since the issue with my boots was that the leather was peeling off the heels, I first took a utility knife to both heels, thoroughly removing all traces of the leather, leaving a nice, virgin surface.

You're probably thinking to yourself, "ok, so once I have covered the heel in modge podge, THEN what do I do? Its not like I can set it down on the counter..." Okay, maybe you're not thinking that yet. But trust me, you WILL. About the time you have the glittery heel in one hand and the modge podgy brush in the other, with nowhere to go.

So, I did what any self-respecting country wife would do..... I *ahem* borrowed my husband's hunting boot dryer.... Yes. Yes I did. Did I mention not to do this while the husband is at home? I have yet to meet a straight men who doesn't hate glitter. He will see it as an act of domestic warfare. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I digress. thoroughly cover the heel in the glitter podge. Then, while the heels are still wet and gluey, hold them (one at a time) over a large plate or piece of newspaper, and carefully shake more glitter over them, gently tapping the new glitter to help it adhere. This is where I must warn you.... I really hope you have a dustbuster. Seriously... this is the point where your project can go horribly wrong, and you'll be wiping black glitter off your kitchen counter for MONTHS. And trust me, you don't want that. Which, in turn, would give your act of glitter treachery away to the husband... so... be careful.
This is what they will look like when you apply the "glitter-podge". Don't worry, once they are dry they won''t be white anymore.

Now, let the boots dry. THOROUGHLY.
This is what they look like once they dry.
When they are completely dry, shake off any loose glitter and apply an additional thin coat of un-glittered modge podge, just to seal it. And, VOILA! Kickin' heels!! I saved them from the trash bin and I can live happily once again.

Try experimenting with a whole shoe. Maybe some really sassy heels that are just a little out of style.... cover them in glitter and get one more night of partying out of them. I can't wait to try mine out later this month.
Not the best picture, but they look great peeking out from under my jeans!

Oh, and don't forget to clean up! Make sure to erase every last little particle of glitter. Why is it they always notice the things you think they'll never notice? Hmmmm...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Shiny Things

Do you ever feel like a ferret? You know… distracted by shiny things…. A little bit of a hoarder…. Running around frantically trying to find your secret stashes….

Yeah, that describes me pretty well most of the time. Especially since the dawn of the poison otherwise known as Pinterest. I see it…. I am enchanted… I hoard materials for it…. and then I run around like a crazy person trying to get it all done.

As was the case with my most recent project. The Penny Ball.

I saw it… I had to have it….I got the supplies together for it…. and two months later I find myself still trying to get it done. Its not hard… its not even time consuming. It just had to get STARTED in order to get finished.

Maybe its because my subconscious knows that I won’t be able to foist the penny ball on its intended purpose until at least April, if not later. I mean, why work on something that you can’t use, and you’ll have to find a place to store it for months at a time, right?

The penny ball is purported to have some lovely outdoorsy benefits. For one, when placed in your garden, it will (supposedly) repel slugs. Also, if you have hydrangeas, having a penny ball in their vicinity is reported to turn them a lovely shade of blue.

I have neither slugs nor hydrangeas…. But I DO have a penny ball. I just really think it will look cool in my low-to-no-maintenance garden. See, I don’t do flowers. I have a brown thumb. My garden is made of rock and pavers and the occasional potted plant. And now…. the addition of this lovely little gem. There are pins all over pinterest for these, so I am not going to link up to any particular one since I pulled information from several. True, I will have to wait until spring to finish my garden and give the coppery dome a new place to live. But, in the meantime…. It doesn’t look half bad in my dining room. Just don’t ask my husband what HE thinks about it….

SO, how did I make it? First, I managed to get an old bowling ball from a local freecycler. Then I ransacked our change jar (shhhh don’t tell the Big Guy) for every last penny I could scrounge up. I didn’t count how many that was. The pins I looked at quoted anywhere from $4 - $10 worth, depending on the size bowling ball you started with. Then, Liquid Nails. Or another temperature-resistant silicon adhesive.

I worked on this in several sessions, leaving the ball poised in a cereal bowl on my kitchen counter while it was in progress. First, I filled in a good size section on the top of the ball and gave it a few days to dry thoroughly. Once they were solidly attached, I turned the ball over and continued to fill in the remaining space with pennies, one section at a time. No particular pattern, just however many I felt like putting on while I was standing at the counter that day. Just for kicks, since we live in Illinois, I made sure that Lincoln was facing out on each penny. Why not, right?
 So, what do you think? Maybe in a few months I’ll post a picture of it in its future home.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Kahlua and Cream Can Kiss My Grits....

Ok, I originally found the idea for this cocktail somewhere on Pinterest, but when I went back to find it, I got pin-blocked.  Has that ever happened to you? You see a pin that looks absolutely amazing but when you try to delve deeper, the pin has been blocked due to spam or porn or...whatever?

Yeah well, I'm not so easily dissuaded.

The original recipe called for Bailey's, some kind of Birthday Cake vodka, and coffee cubes (strong coffee, frozen in ice cube trays).

My version? Well, when I went to the store looking for the vodka, I came across UV Chocolate Cake Vodka, and I'm sorry, but isn't chocolate ALWAYS better? Yes, I thought so, too. And, frankly, I don't need that much hard liquor in a drink I am most likely going to have late at night or right smack in the middle of the day, like...after breakfast. Or instead of breakfast. Or, well, you get the idea.

But Mmmmmm when you put it all together, its like a wicked iced mocha. So, that's what I am calling it. Beth Anne's Wicked Iced Mocha. And yes, in case you're wondering, I'm having one right now..... jealous?

The most beautiful picture, this is not. But do you really think I was going to waste time going for photographic gold when THIS was calling my name?

Wicked Iced Mocha

4 or 5 coffee cubes
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce UV Chocolate Cake vodka (more or less, depending on what time of day it is)

Pinteresting - Buffalo Chicken Chili

I've been away..... for a very long time. I keep telling myself that I will be back. That I will start posting recipes again instead of just throwing pictures out on Facebook. I promise the friends that implore me to start posting again that I absolutely will.

I am such a fraud.

I intend to, really I do. I had a grand plan to spend my twelve days off over Christmas break breathing new life into my blog. And yet.... here we are.

However, I also have a new addiction. I imagine many of you are afflicted with the very same sickness. And they call it.... PINTEREST. I can't seem to stay away. I am constantly finding myself in the throes of yet another irresistible project or recipe. And so, a decision has been made. I MUST come back to blogging, just so that I can share my experiences with the crack otherwise known as Pinterest. Starting....


Of course, its not an entirely altruistic mission. It also gives me a venue to post pictures and re-pin them with my own personal notes, edits, and occasionally...rants. Because as we all know... sometimes those Pinterest projects don't actually turn out.

This is not one of those cases. This, my friends, is a real keeper. A gem. In fact, even a "husband-approved" pin. This is Buffalo Chicken Chili.

The hubby and I have a tradition of making soup to share with friends at our local watering hole on New Year's Day, as well as the hubster's birthday, the day immediately following New Year's Day. It makes for quite a "weekend" and brings a bit of closure to the holiday season for us.

This year, I pulled a recipe off one of my boards and decided to give it a whirl. I had the hubby's blessing to give it an attempt, and so we were off. To say this pin was a success is a massive understatement. In fact, it was so well received, I had to send the recipe to more people than I can currently recall. I admit that I did make a few minor tweaks, but in the end, we have one for the books. A recipe the hubby has already requested another batch of. And in my book, it doesn't get much better than that.

I am including the recipe below, with my modifications, and the original recipe - props to the original poster!

Buffalo Chicken Chili

2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large carrots

4 stalks celery

1 large red pepper

1 large onion

5 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup chili powder

3tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. paprika

3/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce
3 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz) can chili beans in sauce (do not drain)

2 cans water
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook chicken with a bit of water in pan until cooked and easy to shred.  Shred chicken and set aside.  Heat a bit of oil in a large pot and cook onions, carrots, pepper and garlic about 8 minutes.  Add all the other ingredients and mix together.   Simmer for about an hour, until the flavors come together. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Things!

I am a “saver”. I try to keep it under control so that I don’t turn into a “hoarder”, but I am always trying to find ways to repurpose items rather than throwing them away (not to mention saving myself money).

One way I “save” is by re-using food containers from the store. The 32 ounce cottage cheese containers are the perfect size for freezing stock, for example. The problem is, when I put them in the fridge or freezer, I often forget what I had in them, because my mind says “oh, that’s your cottage cheese”.

Well, no more! I found this on Pinterest and tried it myself at home. It seems like such a no-brainer, I can’t believe I never thought of it,

Acetone nail polish remover. I have this on hand all the time anyway. It takes a little patience, but if you soak a cotton ball and let it sit on the ink on a container, it will begin to remove it. A little rubbing, and away it goes! Now, I HAVE found that it doesn’t work on EVERYTHING. For example, it didn’t want to remove the ink from the LIDS of these sour cream containers, but hey, at least now I can tell it’s a re-used container.
The acetone doesn’t seem to hurt the integrity of the container at all, and being able to re-use them is a good thing for me. In this small town, the recycle center only accepts #1 and #2 plastics, and most of this type of container are #4 or #5. So its either re-purpose, or throw away. And I just HATE option #2. Don’t you?

I may never need to buy new containers again. And THAT’s a GOOD thing! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jam Exchange 2012!

This summer has definitely been one for the record books. Extreme heat, drought, and a very poor growing season all combined to make this summer.....not very fun for canning.

For the past few years, I have been participating in Steph Chow's Jam Exchange, and it is SO. MUCH. FUN. What a good excuse to gather produce from the garden, make something lovely out of it and send it off to someone you've never met? And THEN! When that long-awaited mystery package arrives at your doorstep...well....its kind of like Christmas in July. Ok, technically September, but you get the idea.

Luckily, I got an early start to my jamming this year and finished off my first batch in May, before the heatwave crippled the entire midwest. Somehow I managed another batch in June, and then, just this last weekend, the third - an experiment. I have to mail my package fast, before I give the rest of my goodies away to family and friends!

I hope my jammy exchange partner (check her out at Blondie's Cakes!)enjoys the package heading her way on Monday, with one jar each of my Piña Colada (recipe here), Mango Habañero (recipe HERE), and the new experiment - Corn Cob Jelly! (recipe below!). I had so much fun putting these together, two long time favorites in this house and a new addition to the menu.

Corn Cob Jelly
12 large ears of corn
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
3-4 cups sugar

Cook corn; cut kernels from cobs and store for another use. Measure 2 quarts water into a large pot; add corn cobs.

Bring to a boil; boil hard for 30 minutes. (If you had the pot covered when you brought it to a boil, take the lid off now. Boil it down uncovered for a more concentrated result.) Turn off heat and remove cobs. Strain corn liquid through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer if you like a clear jelly. (I prefer to leave the corn bits in there! I didn’t strain it.)

Measure remaining corn liquid. I got a little over 3 1/2 cups corn liquid after it boiled down. Return liquid to the large pot. Stir in lemon juice and pectin. (Add a dab of butter to prevent foaming.) Bring to a boil. Add sugar cup per cup to match the measure of your corn liquid. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring pot to a rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. (I probably boiled mine for five minutes at this stage because the first batch I tried never set up very well.) Remove from heat. Ladle hot corn cob jelly into hot jars. Adjust lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.