Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here are some pictures from Drew's first Halloween.  He was a lumber jack.  :)

 With the beard...

 ...which didn't last long

Hope you had a fun Halloween!

Cook Top Cleaning

So my cook top gets gross.  Like really gross.  Like if you're looking at this picture you'll probably never want to eat at my house again gross. 

And no matter how much I scrubbed I could never get it very clean.  Especially those spots where something had boiled over and then burned onto the burner.  Those are the worst.  OK, I'll admit I didn't really try very many things to get it clean.  Basically I've tried an all-purpose cleaner, vinegar and water and soap.  So, maybe it doesn't bother me as much as I think it does (or as much as it should...).

Anyway, I came across this method while wasting time exploring on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a shot.  And it was super easy. 

Step 1: Generously sprinkle baking soda on your cook top.  (I put extra on the really nasty spots.)

Step 2: Fill a bowl or your sink with hot, soapy water.  Get some rags wet, wring them out so they're saturated but not dripping and lay them over the baking soda.

Step 3:  Wait 15 minutes.  Then use the rags to wipe off the baking soda - and baked on gunk. 

This is after one swipe, without any scrubbing.  Yuck.

Step 4: Use a clean rag with water to get the residue off the cook top.  Then enjoy your cleanliness!

There were still some spots left on my cook top after going through the process once, so I think I might do a little "spot treatment" to get them off.

Ahhh, the beauty of a clean cook top.  It's the little things, right?  And I'm pretty sure when my husband got home he thought I'd been scrubbing all day.  I didn't correct him.  :) 

Happy cleaning!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Homemade Crinkle Paper

The Drew-meister is loving things that make noise.  He has a few toys that have parts made out of that crinkley-paper-fabric stuff.  You know what I'm talking about. 

The other day I finished off a box of cereal and as I was going to throw away the bag from inside the box I thought, "This sounds just like that crinkle paper stuff."  And an idea was born.

Why not make the cereal bag into a baby toy?  I then evaluated this idea to see if it was the sleep deprivation/need to get out of the house talking (because it kind of sounds like it) and decided it was worth a shot.  So here's what I did:

1. Take the cereal bag out of the box.  I definitely did not even rinse it off.  I figured I'd wash the finished project before I gave it to Drew and there's no need for extra work.  Ever.  You could also use the packaging from wipes, or whatever else sounds nice and crinkley.

2.  Gather the rest of the supplies: fabric, ribbon, cutting mat, rotary cutter, sewing machine

3. Cut the bag to the desired size and then cut two pieces of fabric to the same size.

4. Layer your fabric in this order and then pin
       - fabric, face up
       - fabric, face down
       - cereal bag

5. Fold the ribbon in half, put it between the fabric layers (folded side pointing to the center of the fabric) and pin it in place. 

6. Sew around the edges, leaving a hole to turn it inside out.  It will bunch and move while you're sewing.  No big deal.  It's not a perfection-necessary project.  Which is why I like it.  I don't believe in perfection.  Well, unless you're hanging a picture or some art on my walls.  Then I definitely believe in perfection.  And a level.  But other than that...

7.  Turn the project right-side-out through the hole and then sew a 1/4 seam around all of the edges.

8.  That's it!  You're done!  The babe LOVES it!  The ribbon loop is great for attaching it to the links on his car seat.  I've washed his in the washing machine a couple times, but I hang it to dry.  I figured a melted cereal bag would probably be less than fun to clean out of the dryer...

Total price of this project?  A big ol' NADA!  It was made with all stuff I had on hand - love projects like this! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wedding gift, numero tres

The third and final installment in the "Wedding Gift" series.

I saw this picture on pinterest and fell in love.  (Picture from here.)

 I thought some sort of glass etching would be a really nice, personalized wedding gift.  Maybe a vase or a candle holder?  (Again, I didn't know the couple very well - what if she hates to bake?  Then a personalized casserole dish is a bad idea.)  Then I went to Michael's and realized the supplies for glass etching are a little on the spendy side.  And after reading the instructions, it seemed a little putzy for me.  So on to plan B.

I bought some Krylon Frosted Glass Finish spray paint.  Which, contrary to logic, is not located with the rest of the spray paint.  It's with the glass paint.  I also bought a cool vase from Goodwill.

For $2.99.  Holla!

Then I got out my trusty contact paper.  I printed off a "G" from the computer in a font and size I liked (their last name starts with G, in case you thought I just picked a random letter), cut it out and traced it on my contact paper.  Be sure you trace it on the top of the contact paper so you don't get a backward letter.  Unless that's the look you're going for.  Then trace however you darn well please.  Stick the letter wherever you want it.  Sorry I don't have pictures for this step.  My friend Emily and I were having a craft day and I got distracted by the cute stuff she was making.

Next I took the vase with the contact paper letter on it outside and sprayed away.  It took a couple coats to get the coverage I was looking for.  (Is it creepy that I was hearing Sherry from Young House Love saying "thin, even coats" in my head?  Stalker?)

Here's what it looked like after it dried.

After peeling off the "G" I filled the bottom with some rocks and them put a candle in it (both of which I had on hand.)  Ta-da!
I was super impressed with how it came out!  SOOO easy!

Here's the cost break down:
vase: $2.99
Krylon Frosted Glass Finish spray: $9.98 (and I didn't have a coupon :s)
contact paper: $0 (already owned)
candle: $0 (already owned)
rocks: $0 (already owned)
TOTAL: $12.97
On-Going Total for wedding gifts uno, dos and tres: $25.23

Not bad for a three piece, personalized wedding gift!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wedding gift, numero dos

As I mentioned earlier, we went to the wedding of a couple who has everything, so I made them three personalized items.  Numero uno was a Christmas ornament made from their wedding invitation.  Numero dos was inspired by this framed wedding date that I found on pinterest

Here's the finished product:

The couple got married on Sept. 10 (hence the 9-10-11), so the babe and I went on a walk one morning and I took pictures of numbers.  I may or may not have gotten some weird looks from people driving by.  The 9 and 10 are from mailboxes and the 11 is from a garbage can.  Romantic, I know. 
Then I took my camera to Targhetto, cropped the pics and changed them to sepia (to match the brown frame), put them in the frame and voila, instant wedding present:

Total Cost:
- Frame: $10.26 (on sale at Michael's)
- Pictures $0.75
TOTAL: $11.01
On-going total (including numero uno): $12.26

Numero tres is up next!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wedding gift, numero uno

Justin and I went to a beautiful wedding a couple of weekends ago.  The couple had registered at one of those donate-to-our-honeymoon sites.  I checked it out, but wasn't sold.  (Something about typos on websites that I give my credit card number on makes me feel like my identity may or may not get stolen...)  So that was a no go.  Back to the drawing board.  This couple has everything.  They have a hovercraft.  They have everything.  I don't know them super well (the groom is one of Justin's poker buddies), so that made figuring out what to get them even harder.  That's when I decided I would make them something and headed over to my dear friend pinterest  where I found this adorable idea for a Christmas ornament made from the couple's wedding invitation.
And can I say how easy it was?  The only things you need are a clear ball ornament, the invitation, scissors and a pencil. 

Step 1: Cut the invitation into strips.  I made mine various sizes. Try to get strips with things like their names and the wedding date.

Step 2:  Wrap each strip around a pencil to curl it.

Step 3: Take the top off of the ornament and put the curls in.  If using glass ornaments, be careful of sharp pokeys at the opening...ouch.)

Step 4: Put the top back on, tie a ribbon and admire your handiwork.

Total Cost:
- Ornament: $1.25 (I got a 4-pack for $5 at Michael's)
- Invitation: free
- Ribbon: free (I just grabbed some from my stash)
TOTAL: $1.25 - not bad for an adorable and personal wedding gift!

Stay tuned for info on the two other things I made for them

Monday, September 12, 2011


What's that?  You've never heard of a Tarf?  Seriously?  Do you live under a rock?  Probably not, because I just made that term up.  Pretty catchy.  Anyway, a Tarf is the love child of a T-shirt and a scarf.  I saw this on Pinterest (go figure) and it looked easy enough.

This project requires all of 4 things - old T-shirt, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter.  You could probably get away with just the T-shirt and some scissors, though...

Step 1: Square up your T and cut off the bottom hem

Step 2: Then cut your T into strips.  I think mine were an inch or an inch and a half wide.

Step 4:  Grab a strip or two and stretch it so the edges curl.  You'll have a pile like this when you're done.

Step 5: Put your new Tarf on!

I had a few loops that were longer than the rest after stretching.  So I just didn't use them. 

So easy!  It seriously took me less than 15 minutes, including gathering my supplies.  (Side note:  Does anyone ever say "It jokingly took me..."?  And that's how my weird brain works.)

Go make yourself a Tarf!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drawstring Bag

I made fabric letters the other day for a friend's little boy and wanted something fun to store them in.  So what did my brilliant mind come up with?  A drawstring bag.  I know, super original.  I had never made a drawstring bag before, but I only made one mistake while sewing it.  I call that a success.

I suppose it would be a lot easier to make a drawstring bag out of one big piece of fabric.  But where's the fun in that?  And I kind of wanted to keep with the "rainbow colors" theme of the fabric letters, so I did a little extra sewing.  Honestly, I don't really remember the dimensions for my bag.  I just piled the letters on top of the piece of fabric and it looked like a good fit so I went for it.

Step 1: Sew some strips of fabric together to make a larger piece.   How's that for vague instructions?

I decided to make the top of the bag  (where the drawstring goes) a different fabric.  I did this because I thought it would be easier to make and thread the drawstring tube without all the seams from the colored fabric getting in the way.

Step 2: Fold one of the long edges over about a 1/4 inch and sew it in place.

Step 3: Make a little hem on the short ends of the fabric.  If you look closely at the picture, you can see the hem is kind of triangular so that there's room for that little drawstring-closure dealy when the bag is finished.  Also if you look closely, you'll see the mistake I made.  I sewed the tube for the drawstring before hemming the short edges.  I'd like to say I noticed the mistake quickly, but that would be a lie.  I had completely sewn the tub and had the fabric in my sewing machine ready to hem those edges when I realized that would actually sew the tube shut.  Genius.  Pure genius.

Step 4: Then fold the long edge (the one that you hemmed in step 2) over about 1 1/2 inches and sew in place (this is the tube for the drawstring, so adjust the width as necessary for your string).

Ta da!  You have a tube for your drawstring!

Step 5: Attach the drawstring piece to the rest of the bag, sew the bottom and sides up, thread the drawstring through, attach the drawstring closure thingy and you're done!

Here's the finished product!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fabric Letters

 I love fabric.  If I were being honest, that "love" might teeter on the edge of having a sick obsession.  Tomatoes, tomahtoes.  Anyway, my friend Laurali's little guy was turning one and I wanted to make him a fun gift.  I found my inspiration on pinterest, of course.  They were adorable fabric letters - love.  For this project you need an assortment of fabric, batting, letters to trace, a fabric pen and a sewing machine.

The first (and most fun) step in creating these bad boys is to get all of your fabric together and decide what order you want it in.  I did mine in rainbow order with some brown at the end.  Theoretically you'll need 26 different fabrics.  The little boy I was making these for has some double/triple letters in his name, so I ended up needing 29 fabrics.

The next step is to cut your fabric and batting into squares/rectangles that will fit the letters.  To make my letter templates, I just did a word document with a font and size I liked, printed them on cardstock and cut them out.

This picture is probably not the best to use for this step, but it was the only one I took.  On the right side of one piece of fabric, trace the letter backward using a disappearing ink fabric pen.  (I realized after tracing this one that my "J" is most definitely NOT backward...)  Then you're going to make a little sandwich of fabric (right side touching the table), batting, batting, fabric facing up.
 Next, you're going to pin it together and sew along the lines.  If the letter has a middle piece that needs to be sewn (A, B, Q, etc.) I found it was easiest to start with that part and then do the outside.  After you've sewn on the lines, use your fabric scissors and cut about 1/4 inch away from your sewn lines.  And that's it!  You could probably use an X-acto knife and cut out the centers of the letters that need it, but you don't have to.  I didn't.

Here's my completed pile of letters! 

And here's the birthday boy's name in his new letters

I also made a little drawstring bag for the letters that I'll post soon.  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011


My cousin Jill issued a challenge on Thursday.  "Make one Pinterest-inspired item by Saturday."   That was all it took for me to go through my boards and select something to make.  I'm a sucker for a challenge - but only if it's something doable.  Challenge me to make something crafty or bake a fun recipe?  I'm in.  Challenge me to climb a mountain or solve a tough math problem?  Totally out.  So I guess I like challenges that aren't very challenging...

We're going to a birthday party tonight for one of our best friends - he's turning the big 3-5.  I said I'd bring a little something sweet.  And what did Pinterest have in store for me?  No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Truffles.  Sold.  And they are SO easy!  And don't they look festive?

No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Truffles (I doubled this recipe and it was a good amount to bring to a party)
  • 1 cup vanilla cake mix
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups chocolate chips (you can also use chocolate almond bark)
  • Combine the cake mix, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  It will be a very firm dough.  
  • Roll the dough into small balls and place on a parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet.  (If the dough gets too sticky during this, place it in the fridge for a few minutes.)
  • Place the cookie sheet of dough balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  • Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.  I like to melt mine in a mug - it makes dipping easier.
  • Dip each dough ball in melted chocolate and then place back on the cookie sheet.  Put sprinkles on before the chocolate hardens.
  • Once all the dough balls are covered in chocolate, put the cookie sheet back in the freezer until the chocolate is hardened.
  • Store in the fridge or freezer

Then I was left with about half a bag of cake mix.  What's a girl to do?  Why, go back to her pinterest board and see what other cake-mix inspired recipes she's pinned.  And that'shat I did. 

And that's when I found these beauties.  Cake mix cookies.  And only 3 ingredients?  Done.

Cake Mix Cookies (I only had half a box of cake mix, so I halved this recipe.)
  • One box cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • whatever mix-ins your little heart desires
  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Combine cake mix, eggs and oil.  Stir in your chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  • Drop by the spoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes
So easy!  And delicious.

Thanks, Jill for the challenge!

PS - I also made one other sewing/crafty project, but it's for a 2-year-old birthday that's coming up on October 1st...stay tuned!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mint Condition Cookies

It was my dear friend Sara's birthday on Tuesday.  Sara lives all the way out in Washington state.  :(  One of Sara's favorite things in the world is a Mint Condition from Caribou.  Mint + chocolate + coffee = happy Sara.  One of the bummers about living in Washington (aside from being far away from friends and family) is that there are no Caribous.  Poor Sara.  So for her birthday I wanted to send her something to remind her of home - aka a Mint Condition.  I figured the good ol' USPS probably would not approve of me sending a cup of coffee through the mail, so I decided the next best thing was to make a mint condition in cookie form. 

Sidenote:  Why do people always take pictures of their baked goods in mugs?  When's the last time you ever used a mug to serve cookies?  But, I'm nothing if not a band-wagon joiner, so enjoy the cookies-in-a-mug picture.

I combined a bunch of different recipes and here's what I ended up with:

Mint Condition Cookies:
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup Andes Mints baking pieces (or other mint chips)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the milk.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars.
  4. Add the coffee mixture, melted chocolate and eggs.
  5. Add the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Stir in the mint and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
They were pretty darn good!  You could also drizzle a little chocolate over the cookies when they're cool....mmmmm.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Extra Milk?

I had a gallon of milk that was getting near the expiration date and was still 2/3 full.  There was no way I could use that much milk in 2 days, but I didn't want to throw it out.  What's a girl to do?  I poured the milk into ice cube trays and froze it.  (I figured I can freeze breastmilk, why not try it with cow's milk?  TMI?)  It worked!  Now I use those cubes for milk shakes or smoothies (this one was milk cubes, a banana and some pineapple juice).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

News Flash!

I think I like coffee.  I've always liked the flavor of coffee in things like coffee ice cream, but could never bring myself to drink it.  That is until yesterday.  I was reading a friend's blog (Mommy Monologue) and she had posted a recipe for Greek Iced Coffee.  And I thought, "Heck, why not try it?"  So try it I did.  The recipe is super easy and uses instant coffee granules so if you're like me and gave away your coffee maker that you never used, you can make this!  It's so yummy and made paying bills yesterday WAY better.  :)

Last night, I used this recipe, added some ice cream, hot chocolate mix and extra milk and poured it into a popsicle mold.  Can't wait to try my mocha pops today!  Yum!  Thanks, Laurali for the recipe and making a coffee drinker out of me!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


So, I'm slightly addicted to pinterest.  It's my little escape.  It gets me motivated to do cool things around the house and cook fun things.  And fun things I have cooked.  Like these:
What is all that deliciousness, you ask?  Why it is an Ulitmate Chocolate Chip Cookie 'n Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar.  Seriously amazing.  I've made them twice now and they've been a big hit.  The recipe calls for you to make your own cookie dough from scratch.  While I have THE best chocolate chip recipe in the world, I'm sometimes on the lazy side so I used a mix from a pouch.  Cheater. 

Really, you don't need much for these amazing bars - chocolate chip cookie mix, brownie mix (and the eggs, oil, etc. needed for both) and some Oreos.  I recommend the double stuff.  Why?  Why not?

Mix up the cookie dough and pat it in the bottom of a greased 9x13.  Arrange the Oreos on top (don't worry, you don't use all the Oreos so there are some for you to munch on...).  Mix up the brownie batter and pour it on top.  I like to add some chocolate chips to my brownie batter because that's what this recipe needs, more chocolate.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. 

Okay, after typing this post I may or may not be going to the grocery store to get cookie mix, brownie mix and Oreos.  Don't judge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chickpea Nuts

I made nuts out of chickpeas.  I'm pretty much a magician.  That, or they're not actual nuts, just baked chickpeas.  I guess the secrets out then - I'm not a magician.

Ingredients: Chickpeas, olive oil, whatever spices you want (good ol' s&p for me)

Rinse your chickpeas.

Pat dry with a paper towel.

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spices.

Put them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes, or until brown and crunchy.

Voila!  Chickpea Nuts!  (Next time I'll cook them a little longer, some were still a little soft...)

Easy, healthy little snack.  :)