Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some bunny loves Easter and Spring! ;)

Ok, I just couldn't help the title for this one. I've been procrastinating on making a door decor item that is fun and funky for my front door. I've seen the painted burlap decorations at some of the boutiques around here, but honestly, for some paint and burlap, I'd rather keep my $40+ in my pocket and create my own for about $5. Just what kind I wanted is my predicament. Easter egg? Flowers? Heart? Monogram? So frustrating, not to mention I change my mind 99.9% of the time before I actually get around to create something.

Anyone else like that? You plan a project in your head, and it seems 'perfect' and then you decide later- but before you make it- that it simply won't do. No? Ok, I guess I'm the only crazy one. ;) ha ha

So... I was hopping around blogland tonight, and found this adorable chenille bunny toy for a little girl. Perfect for my little girl's Easter basket, but that's not what I had the wheels in my mind churning at. :) This is the perfect shape for my door decor! :) A little bunny! Very Spring-y and Easter covered too!

If you want the pattern for yourself, hop on over to UCreate's blog and get it there. She also shows you how to make your own custom colored chenille with flannel! Sweet!!! I know what save me some $$ for my next quilt project! :)

Now, I have to print out my pattern and blow it up to size. I will post pics of it when it is completed.

Trash to treasure...

We moved a while back into the house we're at now, and until recently, I hadn't really ventured into our attic. No need to really, the garage was my storage place of choice. :)

Rewind to about a month ago, and the need/ability to house nearly 2,0000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies popped up. Hmmmm... where to store them? Our house is not a good option, because we have a 190# dog that has figured out how to open doors and he would happily consume all of said cookies. The only reasonable place was the garage.

There goes my storage area... we underestimated how many cookies *and* the amount of real estate needed to sort them out (good for the troop- bad for my lack of space). What to do, what to do? Oh wait! We have an attic!!

I grew up in a house that we didn't have an attic for storage. We used the basement/garage/shop/outbuildings for that. What didn't fit in those ended up at Goodwill or other local donation charities. So, I grabbed the cord to pull down my ladder to the attic to store all of my seasonal and misc. stuff- e.g. Christmas tree and decorations, Halloween decorations and all of the empty reusable bins we use for moving. Pretty sweet deal, out of sight *and* I get a cleaner looking garage in the process.

Well, apparently for some, out of sight truly is out of mind, because when I climbed up the ladder, there was stuff already there!! W-w-what?!? Books, posters in frames (you know the kind you had on your dorm walls), Christmas stuff, misc. stuff... Um, this is *not* what I wanted to find. Oh well. A quick call to the last resident proved that she didn't know about that stuff either, so it was at least 3 years old up there, and she didn't know how to contact the previous resident before her. So, I guess it is time to donate. In the last box of stuff- which happened to be a box that I have no idea *how* they managed to get it up there. It is bigger than the opening, unless they flattened it, popped it back open and then filled it...? Anyhoo... It had a *ton* of Christmas stuff in it. Not my style at all, but among the garland, wreathes, lights and ornaments was this little beauty.

Not too pretty, but she definitely had potential to be cool again.

I sanded the frame, pulled out the glass and removed all of the cracked and chipped paint.

Decided on how I wanted to paint it again and give her new life.

First attempt- epic fail. :( I was so disappointed in how it looked, I didn't even take a picture of it. It took almost 4 hours to paint and about 10 minutes to remove all of the evidence of my efforts. :( *note to self* must get a silhouette vinyl cutter for my birthday.

Second attempt- much easier- took about 10 minutes, but not what I really want. It will work for now, until I get said vinyl cutter. At which point, I will update this post.

So, there you have it. Huge long novel about repainting a window hanging- turning some trash into something that is cool... for now anyway. ;)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jumpin' on the pallet wagon... sort-of

I love some of the pallet art that I've been seeing on the web lately. So... I decided, I can make it myself and save some $$ from buying it from someone else. :)

Pallets are pretty cheap, sometimes even free if you can find a builder that is willing to give you one. I've even heard of asking places like Home Depot and Lowes if they are willing to part with one or two... I haven't done that yet. I'm too chicken honestly. ;)

So... what I did do, was go to Home Depot's bone yard of misfit boards. You know the ones, that have been declared unfit for someone's project. Some are scrap from boards that people have them cut, some are just warped to the point they can't even be useful- to me- they are the diamonds in the rough. Just perfect for what I wanted to do. :)

I snagged two boards for $1.14 (including tax) my two boards were just over 8' in length. One was a little over 4' the other a little under, but they were cut and worked out perfectly. My newest piece of wall art cost me a whopping $1.14, and I am so happy with how it turned out. :)

Finished dimensions approx. 15" x 20"

How to:

Cut 1" x 4" to 15" long. Repeat 6 times.

Use scrap board (e.g. a stake or paint stir stick for a 5 gal. bucket- you're not going to see it anyway) cut to 19". Repeat 2 times.

Line up your boards how you like. Smooth side out, to become the front of your sign.

Flip over and tack the strips vertically to hold your horizontal slats in place.

Paint the entire front of your sign in desired color. Let dry.

Free hand your saying on boards (as illustrated in picture). Let dry.

Hang on your wall and admire your work.

Seriously. It is that easy.

Stay tuned for even more cool wall art from the lumber yard... ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Craziness of life...

There is always something going on in my house. Whether we have Girl Scouts, sports, school activities... something... time always seems to escape and I end up remembering when I'm about to fall asleep that I forgot to do this or that. Grrrr! So, I have forgotten to write on here, haven't done much of projects lately- been super busy with Cookie Sales for Girl Scouts. For example, I've had the same project sitting on my dining room table for almost a month now, in the same state of completion because other more important things that are time sensitive have cropped up for some reason or another. I really ought to finish it up... maybe I will today... I'm feeling a bit more ambitious than usual. :)

So... with that being said, I also have a couple of projects that once they are finished, I will share them with you. Why? Oh, because I know you all just can't *wait* to see them, and do them for yourself. Really. ;) They are super easy, and you can customize them to your own liking very easily- and on the cheap too! BONUS! :) I love cheap- *cough* ah-hem inexpensive... projects- so does my hubby, because my craft addiction can add up fast! 8^/ Luckily, I have a decent stock of things now that I can almost whip up stuff now for less than $10. Unfortunately, my craft room needs to be organized something fierce- I'm tackling that project today, and hope to finish two other projects too. :) Like I said... a little more ambitious today than usual. ;)

Grabbing a cup of coffee... and signing off for now. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicken soup is good for you...

Especially if you're feeling a bit under the weather. Don't know what it is exactly that makes this soup taste so good when you're feeling crummy, but it just does. The other day, my little sous chef and I whipped up a batch of chicken noodle soup for our neighbor because she has been feeling sick with a cold. He enjoyed being able to finally cut a piece of celery on his own, and to see the smile on his face when he delivered his culinary masterpiece to her was priceless. ♥

We went off to the store, gathered up our supplies and made a batch of homemade goodness that was "just what the doctor ordered" per her comment to us later that night. :)

Here's what you need to whip up your own batch of goodness in less than 1 hour:

8 cups of chicken stock (your own, store-bought, whatever you've got)
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cooled (I grilled mine outside, and love the char developed on them from the grill outside. I did not season with salt or pepper during cooking.)
2 large or 3 medium sized carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium sized onion, sliced and then chopped into bite size pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Olive Oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Italian Parsley coarsely chopped
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked and drained (whatever kind you like- I used rotini.- These are also optional, I don't put noodles in my own soup, but the kids ate theirs with noodles, and we gave them as an option to our neighbor.)

Step 1: Drizzle olive oil in bottom of stock pot over medium heat.

Step 2: Add carrots, onion and celery to pot. Stir and cook until onion becomes translucent.

Step 3: Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Approximately 1 minute.

Step 4: Add chicken stock, chicken breasts and lemon juice. Bring entire pot to a boil. Approximately 10 minutes.

Step 5: Remove chicken breasts from pot and shred with a fork. Add to pot of broth and veggies.

Step 6: Taste and season with pepper to your own liking.

Step 7: Right before serving, add lemon zest and fresh parsley.

Step 8: If using the noodles, add them to a bowl before ladling soup over the top of them.

That's it.

Now, if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, this soup can be modified into a chicken tortilla type of soup. I call it my Fiesta Chicken Soup. Very yummy too, and has a bit of a kick to it. :)

During the cooking process add the following items in Step 4.

14.5 oz can of Organic Fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Lime juice instead of Lemon Juice (same amount)
Jalapeno diced, ribs and seeds removed *optional*

Step 8:
Garnish with the following:
Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla chips

That's it!

Note: I didn't add any salt to either recipe. I don't think that it needs it, but if you think it does as you're creating your meal, then by all means add some to it. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Recycled inspiration

Sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of days. I've been really busy with life over here. This past weekend our dishwasher decided to bless us with an indoor pool- I've always wanted one of those, just not in that way... A event that I'm on the committee for is happening this weekend, but some of the requirements were changed on Monday (less than a week before the event) and it caused a lot of the planning to be rethought- when you're putting together a shin-dig for 500+ people, it causes a bit of finagling and creativity. Luckily, that has been taken care of, and things are set up now... Reading/editing a book for a friend that I promised to do- if you (soon to be awesome and world renowned author- you know who you are) read this post, know that I like to 'cold read' something before I begin to edit/critique and then re-read it... in the editing process now :) ...that's just the stuff that is out of the ordinary here... ha ha

Ahhhhh... deep breath... in... out... in... out...

Ok. Cool. I have my cup of now cold coffee next to me- it was hot when I poured it a while back... and I'm ready to go now. ;)

Today I feel inspired. Not that I don't have inspiration around me, but this inspiration is permeating my thoughts. Such a simple activity (like recycling, turning off a light when not in use, etc.) can make such a huge difference when we work as a group. I mean, really, think about it for a second... let's take a journey back in time ... okay, maybe not, but think about how things were like when you were a kid. I can't say that I remember ever consciously recycling items until I was in high school, partially due to living in the 'boonies' as I affectionately refer to my parent's house 5 miles from 'town', partially because I didn't think it mattered what I did or didn't do. Just being honest here.

Now... I have my own kids, and recycling is one of those things, I don't even think about any more. I'm sure we can do more, but for now we use the compact fluorescent bulbs in our lights, refurbish materials into new crafty goodness, have 2 'trash' bins- one for recycling, one for 'trash'... which will be changing yet again, when I get my composting pile going for the garden. That is still just a thought in my head, need to research that one some more before I embark on it... So, my recycling inspiration is from a project with Girl Scouts and their Forever Green Project. This is the 100 year anniversary of Girl Scouts, and as a result, 'Green' projects are popping up all over the place 'to do this, do that,' etc. If you are interested in this at all, you can go here and read more about it.

Unfortunately, I am feeling that these projects are indeed incredible to undertake and set in place for your community, however, to keep the impact going and escalating, we need to maintain them. Such a simple concept really, but how many will actually do this?

Just the word "maintain" brings up some negative connotations. An inward groan of ugh, maintenance, continued work, delayed results, etc. especially from living in a "immediate gratification" society. Where our cell phones can jump on the internet to research the best whatever with the swipe of a finger, if it doesn't happen right now, then it is too slow, etc- the fact that cell phones have become our "home phone" so we are available (with appropriate cell service) at a moment's notice.

To me, we need to look at maintenance in a different way, it needs to be seen as a positive thing. Like, if we keep up on it or grab a friend to join us, it will never become something so overwhelming, that undertaking it as a project will just squelch any inspiration left, and any that may sprout up later because of the memories of overwhelming ourselves with a project. I remember growing up, my brother had a teacher that used the phrase "a happy heart" and that has really stuck with me and I believe it applies here. We need to have a "happy heart" when doing something because that positive attitude will not only keep you inspired, but motivate others too.

Summing it all up here:
To me, if you are inspired to do something- that is fantastic! Inspiration is always a good thing.

Acting on that inspiration is an even better thing.

Maintaining that inspiration "with a happy heart" is the best thing- and is what will inspire others to do something too.

So the cycle continues... inspiration - action - maintain -

That's the kind of recycling, I'm not only happy to do, but hope to inspire others to do as well.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine Lottery Tickets

I found an idea a while back on how to make your own lottery type scratch it tickets here. I made a few for the kids and hubs for Christmas with different things to "win" just like a real lottery ticket- just without the gambling! ;)

I decided to revamp them for Valentine's Day, but use them as mail for my kids' mailboxes that I made for them. This has become such a fun night time before going to bed activity with the kids. They love how they get "mail" each day. :) I'm giving my "lottery" cards to the kids and hubs tonight complete with a "lucky" penny- ones dated with their birth year for the kids and our wedding year for the hubs. :) This project is super easy, and can be whipped up during naptime. :)

Here's what you need:

Packaging tape- I think that the original tutorial used contact paper. I improvised.
Acrylic paints- I used red and gold
Dish soap- I used Dawn
Pen for writing
Imagination :)

Step 1: Think of what you want to have on your "lottery" tickets and write them out. If you have horrible writing, I guess you could print them out.

Step 2: Cover your "prize" with the tape. Set aside.

Step 3: Mix your paint and soap. You need to use a 2 parts paint to 1 part soap. Stir until it is blended.

Step 4: Take your card with the "prize" from Step 2, and cover your "prize" with paint mixture. You might need 2 coats, depends on how you do it, and if you can see your "prize" still after 1 coat.

Step 5: Let dry completely. It doesn't take too long. Mine were dry in 15 minutes.

That's it! :)

Hand out some pretty cool Valentine treats to your kids, family, etc. These could even be made as a class gift if you really wanted to. It's up to you- use your imagination! :)