Wednesday, November 30, 2011

for my Bathroom

My sister has a really cool old tool box on the back of her toilet to hold extra rolls. My solution isn't quite as nifty, but it gets the job done.
I started with this wicker basket I thrifted and added some shiny blue spray paint I bought from Walmart for about a dollar.
And now my toilet paper rolls have a proper home :)
Now I am thinking I need something pretty for the walls.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Going Fishing Toy

I found this cute fishing game and thought it would be a great gift for two of my nieces. I followed this tutorial, but did things just a little differently. I meant for the game to work for a 2 and 4 year old, but I think 4 is as young as this would probably work for.
First I drew out my own pattern on a piece of printer paper and made just one fish to make sure I liked it and that the magnet was strong enough to hold up the fish. After that I did the rest factory line style and pounded them out.
The two fishing poles were made from cutting one cheap dowel from Home Depot in half and tying some yarn to one end. After I tied it I also used a little wood glue to keep it in place. The "chum" was just a small piece of material sewed in a circle with a magnet inside and the other side of the yarn securely attached.
Each of the fish were hand-stitched closed and I attached washers to their "noses". Lastly I hot glued some felt  numbers to each fish to make the game a little more interesting.
My nieces loved it. They are 4 and 2 years old. I think the game turned out way too advanced for the 2 year old, but she still had fun trying. And my 1 year old also loved gathering the fish and eating them. I think I may have to make up a bunch of softies just for her.

The magnets, washers and dowel I bought at Home Depot all for less then $5. The rest was scraps of fabric and batting from my stash.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I was with some of the crazies last night out shopping the midnight deals with my sis-in-law. I hope if you are doing the same you will be safe and able to score some great deals :) For now I will leave you with a family favorite recipe.
In my family, we never make pumpkin pie. We all agree that sweet potato pie is much better and is a must around this time of year. Plus it seems to be a healthier recipe than pumpkin pie although nothing about it tastes "healthy".

2.5 lbs. orange sweet potatoes (about 3)
1 stick butter
3 large eggs
1/2 c. Evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. regular granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Boil in enough water to cover until soft, about 15 minutes. Use an electric mixer to blend potatoes and the rest of the ingredients.

This will be enough to make two pies. I always use pre-made pie crusts found in the refrigerated dessert isle at the grocery store. Fill pie crusts with the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. The middle of the pie should be cooked thoroughly, but not cracking. Top with cool whip if desired.
When I made these pies for Thanksgiving I totally forgot about them and ended up taking them out 25 minutes late. Luckily, they didn't taste overcooked although they did end up with large cracks throughout. And if you will notice, this pie ended up with two little three year old finger prints... and even through all that it still came out just as yummy as always :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harvest Wreath

I have redone my wreath again. This time I bought a new straw wreath (about $3 at JoAnns) because I knew once I took the time to finish this one I would never want to change it up. I got the tutorial here and followed it exactly. I would have even done the exact color scheme, but decided to use the felt I had on hand instead. Oh and the yarn I bought from Walmart for about $2.80 and had a ton left over.
 I love how it turned out. I love the colors and the texture. I think in the future I may want to change up the colors of the flowers so they are simply pinned into place for easy removal.
And as always, my little helper is underfoot wondering what her crazy Mama is doing with the camera.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chicken Bundles

I found this recipe while looking for something to use up some old ritz crackers. It turned out really good and definitely will be made again.

4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
10 ounces fresh spinach, torn
1 1/4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1 egg
10 RITZ Crackers, crushed
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, heated
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella and 3 Tbsp. Parmesan until well blended; spread onto chicken breasts. Starting at one short end of each breast, roll up chicken tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks, if desired. Set aside.
Beat egg in shallow dish. Mix remaining Parmesan and cracker crumbs in separate shallow dish. Dip chicken bundles in egg, then roll in crumb mixture. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done (165 degrees). Remove and discard toothpicks, if using. Serve topped with spaghetti sauce and remaining mozzarella.

Serves 6
*To make ahead: Assemble chicken bundles and place in baking dish as directed; cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. When ready to serve, uncover and bake at 375 degrees for 35 min. or until chicken is cooked through.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I'm Reading

Espresso for your Spirit
Hope and Humor for Pooped Out Parents
by Pam Vredevelt

I was leery of what a Christian self-help book could do for me. I have always had a bit of a negative connotation towards this type of literature and so I began reading this book already skeptical and believing it might help some people, but most likely do nothing for me. My attitude changed immediately. The first chapter had me in tears. The following chapters were much of the same: I cried, laughed, or was compelled to get on my knees and pray about something I had been neglecting.  A chapter at a time I was uplifted by Vredevelt’s words and hanging on to every sentence.
The book is meant to be read in a few minutes here and there by busy parents who only have about 5 minutes to themselves a day in order to rejuvenate and carry on. So the chapters are short and each one very meaningful. Some of the chapters are personal stories about the author and her family and other chapters are compiled of stories mostly of close friends of the authors. They are stories of trials and moments of inspiration. Each chapter ends with a short list of humorous anecdotes or quotes of hope.
After only reading a few chapters of Espresso for Your Spirit, I was already singing its praises and deciding everyone I know needed a copy. I loved the very personal experiences shared, the acknowledgment of God’s hand in all things, the simple truths learned that all parents need to understand, and the reminder that all parents struggle and that in no way defines how “good” of a parent we are. I cannot think of a negative thing to say about this book and am thankful it crossed my path.

***I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Monday, November 14, 2011

dinner roll holder

When I first saw this dinner roll holder I thought it was the cutest thing and wanted an excuse to make one. I ended up making one for a gift and filling it with candy because it seemed empty without yummy rolls in it. I think it would be so much fun to someday host a big dinner and have a couple of these beautiful holders on the table.
 It folds flat for easy storage. So handy.
I can not wait for Thanksgiving. What could be better? Family, food, and beautiful fall.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reusable Gift Box

 For my final post this week I wanted to show you a clever way to wrap a gift. Take a shoe box and wrap each part individually.
 You end up with a cute little present which is easy to open when dealing with a very young child and which you can use over and over. No waste. I love it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Easy Birthday Cake

On to the all-important Birthday cake! I wanted to do something simple and pretty so this is what I came up with.
I alternated layers of homemade yellow cake and a boxed red velvet. The yellow cake was awesome for stacking and icing. The boxed cake, not so much. It's funny, before making this cake I never really thought about what buttercream icing was made of. Guess what? It is mostly butter. I almost died when I saw this recipe, but still wanted to try it so I tried to ignore the ingredients and carried on. I simply added a little food coloring and placed white chocolate chips all over to get my 'polkadots'.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Birthday Crown

We had a wonderful little party for my (baby) girl the other day to celebrate her first birthday. It was very simple: food, cake, presents, and family. We all had so much fun and I was glad we were able to pull it together at the last minute.
One thing I knew my little girl needed for her birthday was a crown. Every little girl needs a crown on her birthday don't you think?
All you need to make a crown of your own is two layers of felt, one layer of cute material, thread, velcro, and embellishments. I started by free-hand drawing the shape I wanted the crown to be. You could do this too or I know there are templates around blogland you could also find and use. Cut out a piece of felt giving yourself a 1/4 inch border and adding a long strip on the base of the crown long enough to velcro the crown in place in the back of your child's head. From end to end mine was 20.5 inches long for my one year old.
Using the cut felt as a pattern piece, cut out your cotton material. Then, placing right sides together,  sew these two pieces together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance sewing all the way around except for the entire bottom length of the crown.
Turn right side out and sew the bottom closed. It should now look like a crown. Sew or glue on your embellishment over the bottom seam to hide the raw edge.
Then I cut a 'J' out of felt and sewed it in the middle of the crown for my daughter's first initial. You could also use a number for their age or something cute like a ladybug.
Cut a small piece of velcro and sew it on one of the long ends of the crown on the cotton material side.
Now take your crown and use it as a template to cut one more piece of felt. Cut a larger piece of velcro (make sure it is the opposite piece to the velcro you already sewed on) and sew it onto the felt on the opposite side of the crown from your first piece of velcro. You will then glue the felt to the back of the crown covering up all of your sewing and giving sturdiness to the entire project.
Now hopefully your daughter won't spend the entire night trying to pull her crown off her cute little head and you'll be able to get some memorable photos.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wreath Redo: Birthday

I have changed up my door ornament once again. This time it is in honor of my little one turning one. I think I have been in denial about her growing up because I waited until the last minute to even plan anything for her party. Luckily I already had her present tucked away months ago and it wasn't something I was planning on making. I bought her a little wooden train handmade in Kentucky that I just couldn't pass up at a farmer's market I visited.

First things first I needed to work on the wreath to replace my Halloween decor. I started by wrapping my wreath with some white lace and then a pastel pink fabric.
The white flower was rolled using hot glue and a one inch strip of fabric. The purple flowers were 2 and 1.25 inch circles hot glued together.

The banner was made by cutting a two inch wide strip of the white fabric and cutting out triangles using my rotary blade and straight ruler every two inches. I wrote 'Happy Birthday' using a purple permanent marker which bled a lot more than expected, but I kind of liked the result so I kept it. I crocheted a long chain of yarn and then went back up the chain with hdc to make the 'rope' for my banner.
I pinned the rope to my wreath and pinned my letters into place to get the spacing just right. One by one I then removed the pin and hot glued each letter to the yarn rope.
The final flower I crocheted out of the same purple yarn used for the rope.
Around here we celebrate birthday weeks (and sometimes birthday months). Let the celebrating begin :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mexican Casserole

I tried a new recipe I found on Cooking On Clover Lane. It was good and simple to make. I had forgotten how nice making casseroles can be. I hardly use my oven during the summer and find myself cooking over the stove up until the minute we eat. When making a casserole there is time to clean up, set the table, and even sit down and relax for a minute. It was an unexpected treat to cook using my oven. And the best part about using an oven is how easy it is to make freezer meals :)

1 pound lean ground beef
2 cups salsa
1 16oz can chili beans, drained
3 cups tortilla chips, crushed
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large skillet, brown beef. Stir in salsa, reduce heat, simmer until liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes depending on how thick your salsa is.) Stir in beans, and heat through.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread crushed chips in a layer on bottom and then add ground beef mixture. Spread sour cream on top. Top with onion, tomato, cilantro and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

a Curtain for the Bathroom

In our apartment we have a functional bathroom. That is about all it is. It needed a little life breathed into it. I thought I would start with a little color for the window.
My little window measured in at 22 inches square so I started off with a 25 by 44 inch piece of material. I first hemmed the two short sides and then the long bottom side. Then to create the top sleeve for the rod to go through, I ironed down the top about a quarter of an inch and then ironed it down again about an inch and a half then sewed along the bottom edge of the hem.
I love this floral pattern. In fact, I bought extra yardage for another upcoming project. It just makes me happy to look at.