Thursday, June 30, 2011

Butterfly Mobile!

This is probably the least practical project I've ever done... but I think it's the cutest.  Not every project we work on has to solve a problem, sometimes they just have to be fun!

I got an email from Home Made Simple with a cute little butterfly mobile project.  All you need is some scrapbook paper or cardstock, or even wrapping paper and some scissors and glue.  I printed out the instructions (which are downloadable to a pdf so you can save it, love that!) and went to work.  I picked a few of the shapes to work with and cut, cut, cut.  I did 8 of each shape and I can tell you that  6 or even 4 would have been plenty... But, what can I say? I'm an over-achiever.

They turned out really cute! And they flutter!  If I had a daughter (and I don't because I'm destined to live in a house with only testosterone) this would be adorable in her room.  Go download the instructions here and get cutting!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Artistic Husband

After the fan re-do, I had my dresser back.  I was thrilled to be able to create symmetry again on it's cherry surface, without the unsightly tower fan throwing my chi off.  Really... it was thrown off.  Anyhoo, I found the need for something on the wall behind where the tower fan once sat.  I thought I could find an artist on etsy or ebay that had some original work at a good price.  Good grief.

Admittedly, I don't have much of an eye for abstract art.  I took Art 101 in college and can appreciate art in the general sense.  But even during my one whole semester of Art class, I never 'got' abstract art.  I didn't understand the symbolism, the color choice, the use of light and dark... I didn't get it then and I still don't.  So when I saw the prices that these unknown artists wanted for their pieces, I was floored.  Really? REALLY?  There were small pieces on ebay that were more than a car payment.  Wow.  I'm a thrifty crafty girl.  Since I'm not artistic myself, I turned to the hubster.

I knew what colors I wanted on the wall and I knew I wanted an abstract... hey, just because I don't get it doesn't mean I don't like it.  So I gave Dave some paints, a canvas, an idea, and artistic license.  I spent less than $15 for all the supplies, and I love what he came up with:

It's me.  I love how thin he made my waist.  He is artistic, so he did create symbolism... but it's lost on me and as such, explaining it to you would be futile.  Let's just appreciate that my husband loves me enough to create for me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Not a Painter. For Realsies.

I saw several different blogs posting about making lap desks for kids, and it seemed like a great idea for my son.  We do worksheets during the week and he's always getting marker on his jeans because he's doing the worksheet on his lap.  So, since I'm a capable and crafty girl, I thought I could tackle this project easily.  Yeah.

I had plenty of wood leftover from a past project, so I had the hubbers cut it into an 18"x14" rectangle.  My son got in on the fun and sanded it for me.  He's so handy:

I had paints on hand, so I painted the whole thing white to start with.  I then made the mistake of asking my son what he would like on his lap desk.  He wanted flames.  And race cars.  Ahem.

Here's where the story gets sad.  Mommy can't draw.  Really.  I can't even draw stick people, they always end up with a lumpy head or a misshapen arm.  It's pitiful.  So drawing flames and race cars was not a great prospect, but I'm no quitter.  First, I stenciled his name on the board.  I still don't have a Silhouette, so I did it the old fashioned way and used my exacto knives.  I'm old school, yo.

I filled in the letters with red acrylic paint, and was at this point overestimating my artistic abilities.

Next, I had to draw flames.  This seems simple.  It is not.  Then I had to paint the flames.  This is also not simple.

My son was already happy with the results, but I was in misery.  I'm a perfectionist you see, and this was just screaming pre-k art project.  Ugh.  But, I trodded on.  He then wanted race cars painted on.  Good grief.

For the backside of the desk, I made a cushion.  Have I mentioned that I also do not have a sewing machine?  I'm practically living in the dark ages over here.  Weep for me.

I hand-stitched the cushion using the fabric my son picked out.  It has skulls on it.  Flames on the top and skulls on the bottom.  If you didn't know my son, you would probably assume he was a horrible little child who inflicted harm upon all those he met... but in reality, he catches lightning bugs and protects them from his little brother who he believes means to harm them.  Such a sweet child, who likes flames, race cars, and skulls.

I made a box of sorts from the fabric, stitching the corners together:

Do you see the candy bar in the shot?  Yeah.  I have a bit of a chocolate issue.  Sometimes, the prospect of a candy bar is all that gets me through the day.

I hot-glued the fabric to some cardboard that I had lying around.  I left one side open to stuff the poly-fill in, and I glued it shut as I went.  Am I the only one who likes stuffing fabric with poly-fill?  Probably.  Anyhoo, once the cushion was fashioned, I used Gorilla glue to adhere it to the desk.  I took my glue gun to the edges of the cushion for good measure.

I had my husband cut a strip of wood that I nailed to the bottom to make a pencil ledge and we finished the project by adding a coat of polyurethane to the top to make it shiny and smooth.  I love shiny and smooth.   When I showed my son his lap desk, he was very happy, but wondered if he could add a little of his own style to the front... he made some 'J's for his name and painted a heart in the middle.  It was then that I realized I should have just turned the whole thing over to him and let him paint to his hearts content.  It would have been so fun for him to do that... but I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

Here is the front:

And here he is, hard at work.  His brother is not helping, I can assure you:

This would have been the easiest project ever if I had just given the control over to him... Ah well, it still turned out pretty well.  And he loves it!

Linking up at...

Somewhat Simple

Monday, June 27, 2011

No, Mail-In-Rebates Are NOT A Waste Of Your Time.

OK, you gotta stick with me on this one... I'm about to encourage you to spend 5 minutes of your time and one postage stamp to make $3. Yep.

I'm talking about Mail-In-Rebates.  If you look for them, you'll see they are everywhere.  I find them mostly on new products, but they are on the same products you've bought a hundred times, too.  And I'll bet you don't always submit them.

My heart hurt a little when you just agreed with that.

I suppose I can understand why you would be reluctant.  Millions of MIRs go unclaimed every year, a fact that also makes my heart hurt a little.  So why should you exert the effort for a few dollars? Read on, my friend.

I'll start by telling you that it's basically free money.  If you are going to buy the product anyway, why not send in the receipt, UPC, first born, and papal edict that they are requesting from you? (Totally kidding there... they sometimes don't require the UPC. :) )  You are spending the money and I'll bet it wasn't given to you.  Turn around and get it back.

So you're saying that it's just a small amount of money?  Maybe it is... but those 'small amounts' actually do add up.  Last year, I submitted enough rebates to get back $100 in checks from companies.  And I promptly filled up my gas tank with it.  But I digress.

So now you're saying that it's too complicated, there are too many steps, and you are far too busy to bother with them.  I hear you... totally.  Most of my day is spent telling my two-year old that he cannot play on the roof.  But in actuality, it doesn't take long to fill out the little form.  In fact, it will be the easiest thing you do all day.

You don't have to do it now... but promise me that some time this year, you will send away for a rebate.  As I tell my children often, try it, you'll probably like it.

You know what else you would like? Following me.  And I would like it too... I follow back!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Time to Make the Doughnuts.

Five AM should not exist. It should be shunned by all, and illegal in this our great country. My two-year old son disagrees with me on this, and other issues as well. Sigh.

Because I've been up since before the roosters, I had time to think about what I should make for breakfast. Dinners are very planned out in this house, but for breakfasts we fly by the seat of our robes. A family favorite (that's also a cinch to make) is homemade doughnuts. But not entirely homemade... they're made with canned biscuits.

I think everyone knows about the canned biscuit doughnut trick, but just in case I have a reader who has not known the happiness of these bundles of tasty, I feel compelled to tell you all about them.

First, assemble your ingredients: a can of biscuits, some vegetable oil, and powdered sugar.  Three ingredients.  I love simple.

Unroll the biscuit package and line all the biscuits out neatly.  I firmly believe the doughnuts turn out better if you line them up in rows of two.  Try it and see.  Find some sort of round cap to make the holes.  The cap from my bottle of soy sauce worked like a charm.  When I was a kid, it was always the syrup cap, but you may have to improvise.  Put the cap over the center of the biscuit and press.  Keep pressing.  Press again.  Then, squish it around.  Keep going.  Once you feel that you've hit your surface, you can dismember the doughnut from its hole.

Get some oil heating up in your pan at just under medium heat.  We use a cast iron pan, which I have been assured is the best way to make these.  It was explained to me that it is due to heat conduction and surface tension and the curvature of the Earth.  Or something.

Look how pretty they are, waiting for showtime.

Look how pretty my son is, anxious to eat the finished product.

Fry 'em up.  Gently, please... no skin grafts for breakfast.  In fact, you should probably use tongs.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Don't they look happy in their bath?  Depending on the temperature, these doughnuts will fry for a couple of minutes on each side.   Check the first batch often to make sure they don't burn.  And try not to get impatient and crowd the pan with as many doughnuts as you can cram in there... it won't cook as evenly or as fast, trust me.

Golden brown and yummy.

Retrieve them from their bath and let them cool on a bed of paper towels.

Put some powdered sugar in a bowl with a lid.  Secure the lid tightly and let your oldest child shake the heck out of them.  Permit them to jump up and down while they do so.

Turn around and take a picture of the impatient children who are trying to hurry the doughnut-making process.

Fry up the holes too, as they will be the preferred doughnut in the house.  These little balls are funny creatures... while bubbling in their bath, they will sometimes roll over on their own and fry themselves... while others are stubborn and refuse to mimic their brethren.  Flip them until they're golden and put them on paper towels until it's time for their powdered sugar.

This is what happiness looks like.  Yes.

Linking up over at...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Porky heaven.

Last week at Schnuck's (a grocery store, I don't think it's national) they had an amazing deal on pork butt.  Let's be clear about something: it's not butt... it's not even near the butt... it's shoulder.  So why don't they call it shoulder?  My husband says that butchers probably started calling it that to dissuade people from buying that cut of the pig and encouraging them to buy another cut.  I say that a 12-year old boy who thinks profanities are funny named it.  But I digress.

I got a great price for a HUGE package of pork shoulder.  That one package was enough for three separate meals and the price was only $6 total.  Jack. Pot.  I've never cooked with pork shoulder before, so I did what any culinary novice would do: I hit the internet.

Evidently, the words 'pork butt' are synonymous with 'pulled pork sandwiches' because every recipe I saw was for that meal.  I enjoy a good pulled pork sandwich though, and at the same grocery store there was an AWESOME sale on barbecue sauce, so it was like the universe wanted me to have these sandwiches for dinner.  I found a recipe that seemed pretty easy and got good reviews from other people, so I gave it a whirl.  Here's the play-by-play:

Season both sides of the meat with your choice of spices.  We are a kosher salt and garlic powder type of family, but I'm sure that there are countless spices that would work with this.

In my mind, there's no such thing as too much garlic.  Next, you need to sear the meat in a cast iron skillet.  Why cast iron?  I have no idea... but I've been assured there is a scientific culinary reason and I should just do it and zip the lip.  So I did:
Pork goodness.  While the meat is searing, cut up an onion and separate the rings.  I admit, due to a very old refrigerator that freezes anything put in the back of it, my onion was a little frozen... interestingly, I did not tear up while cutting it!  Maybe that's the secret to a tear-free onion cutting.  Anyhoo, layer half of the onions in a crockpot.
Put the seared pork on top of the onions and put the other half of the onion on top of that.  Pour 1/4 cup of soy sauce over the top and then add 1/2 cup of water along the side of the crockpot.
Let me tell you, it smelled good at this point and I hadn't even turned the sucker on.  Nice.  Put the crockpot on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5... I had all day, so I turned it on low and walked away.  After about 9 hours, it looked like this:
Shut. My. Mouth.  This smelled amazing.  Truly.  I stood there and smelled it for a good three minutes.  No judgement until you've tried it, folks.  I took the meat out with a fork and a carving knife and the meat fell apart. Literally.  I had to get a slotted spoon to get the meat out.  I didn't need the knife to cut the meat, the fork pulled it apart with absolutely no effort.  Love it.  The husband and kids put barbecue sauce on it and slapped it on a bun, while I went au natural.  It was delish.  Pork heaven, truly.  I will have dreams about that meal.
Try this.  It's spectacular.  And messy, so make sure there's a package of napkins handy.  Yum.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wrought Iron, Except It's Not.

Before I start talking about this awesome project, I have to give some props to the blogger who inspired it. Her name is Suzy. She has a sitcom. I haven't found it in my local listings yet, which probably means she held out for the big HBO or Showtime money. Smart girl.

See Suzy's blog here. Really. Go look at it, I'll wait.

Did you look? Was it not awesome? The project that she blogged about here was just begging to be created. To be an ethical blogger, I emailed Suzy to beg for her permission to blog about this project.  The convo went something like this:

Me: Hey, Suze.
Suzy: Yo, what up?
Me: Can I copy your project?
Suzy: Yeah, that's cool.

We sounded more educated in real life.

So I did it:

That's right... wrought iron.  I spent days upon days with a welder and iron scraps.  OK, I actually made it from toilet paper rolls.  Yup.

First, you call your family and ask them to save all their toilet paper and paper towel rolls.  You then take questions from said family about this insane request.  Trust me though, this project will impress them once you're done.

Once you've acquired a ridiculous amount of toilet paper and paper towel rolls (I didn't count how many I used because I am thoughtless. It was more than 10, less than 50.  I'm a big help.)  you find some wood for the frames.  I had some leftover board from a previous project, so I had the hubster cut them into 10" strips to make a 10" square frame and I found some wrought iron art online to use as a guide.  Then, the fun began.

Cut your toilet paper rolls down the side and unfold it, keeping the curl. I used one of the strips to measure out the right width of toilet paper roll strips and cut a million of them.  See here:

Suzy did an awesome quilled monogram project that I would also like to do eventually... but I can only steal one project at a time from her.  Anyway, to make the curls, you pretend to be a quiller... take your toilet paper roll strip and wrap it around a bamboo skewer, or a paintbrush like I did:

I used paper towel rolls for the long straight strips, just cut longways instead of with the curl.  Did that make any sense?  It's not as hard as I'm making it sound, trust me.  Wrap the toilet paper roll strip around the stick and get a good curl.  Shape the curl to match the shape you're going for and hot glue it into place.  The curl stays curly.  Awesome.

I worked from the center out, since that was easier for me to do... I think Suzy did it by sections, but whatever way works for you, works for me.  I'm so agreeable, despite what my husband might say.  Anyhoo, you keep working until you've made art:

Toilet paper roll art.  Yes, really.

I made four in total, with a different design for each.  Would you believe that each one only took about an hour to finish?  The whole project was done in two nights... and one of those nights was a "Real Housewives" on TV night, so I was busy for most of it.  Yes, I watch that show.

I bought some 'hammered finish' spray paint to give it a metal look, and that was the only money spent for this project.  Love it.  To recap:

Visit Suzy.  You'll like her.  'Cause she knows Tom Selleck.  Yup.

I'm linking up at...

Somewhat SimplePhotobucket Photobucket Chic on a Shoestring Decorating Funky Junk's Saturday Nite SpecialUndertheTableandDreaming Homemaker In HeelsStay At Home Nation The Girl Creative Confessions of a Stay At Home Mommy

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