Thursday, November 1, 2012

Duct Tape Astronaut + Front Porch Halloween Decor

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Sick of Halloween yet? Well this post will surely renew your love of it... In an attempt to save money, I decided to "make" my childrens' costumes this year. My son just adores space shuttles, lives for space shuttles, worships space shuttles! (Is this kid really mine? Who cares, he's mine now.) Did I mention he wants to be Neil Armstrong for Halloween? Well, N. A. costumes pretty much don't exist, but not to worry. I came up with a fairly convincing astronaut get-up even though I spent twice a much as I normally would have. Memories. Creating memories. Small price to pay. So here it is, my duct tape work of art and how I did it:
In right hand: Apollo 11 rocket.

 I started off by using items I all ready had: old coat & snow suit. I purchased three rolls of white duct tape and one roll of silver. Then the taping frenzy began.

 Here is the snow suite & jacket all covered. I used the silver for the collar, and stripes on arms and legs after I covered the whole thing with white tape. The whole process took about 3-4 hours. It went be really fast. Really! 

Here are his last year's school shoes covered in duct tape.

I tried to make the helmet with this odd wrestling thingy from the DI. It didn't work out so well, but next year I'm going to try using one of those half sphere trash can lids with the other thingy that comes up. I didn't have time to come up with a helmet, so I just put a NASA patch over his Pirates hat. The last finishing touches were of course NASA patches that I aquired from the Clark's Planetarium in SLC. These I just duct taped to the suit in keeping with the duct tape theme. Next time I would have hot glued or sewed these on. They stayed on fine, but the edges are starting to come off a little. And here is the finished product! Isn't he handsome? I would do it all over again to see his smiling face. Love him. One giant step for man, one giant leap for ME finding new and useful purposes for duct tape.

@School, an astronaut and a pirate. Brothers at last!
Trunk-or-treat


                                                                                          Lovin' me some pirate face!


Halloween Front porch/yard decor

I'm an easy-way-out, simple kind of gal. I am not able or willing to spend time and money on Halloween decorations. Less is more, less is more. I love the texture of the orange garland paired with bats paper bats and pumpkins from our local pumpkin patch "Jakers." Can I just give a quick shout out to Jakers http://harwardfarms.com/jakers/ Pumpkin Patch in Springville, UT? All activities are 100% free! They have hay rides, a ginormous corn pit where-in kids roll around like pigs, hay mazes, a petting zoo, and towers of hay to climb. Huge thanks for entertaining my kids for free. Anyway, back to decorations. Here is what I'm going on about: 

When I say simple, I mean simple! Tiny pumpkins on each fence post and let this gorgeous maple tree do the rest of the decorating!

The garland is made out of orange felt. To make, cut your fabric into 3 inch strips. Take a long needle and thread it with heavy duty string. (I used left over kite string.) Gather the strips as you would if you're folding a paper fan. Thread the needle through a small "stack" of folds. Repeat!! The wreath is an old one I spray painted black.


And one adorable lawn gnome. To make this...
To be continued...






Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Gourd"geous Pumpkin Centerpiece

Follow Me on Pinterest Congratulations! You have a butt-load of pumpkins...now what?
Here is a neat little arrangement that layers textures, colors, and shapes. It is so simple, yet makes a huge impact. This centerpiece is also very kid friendly. All my decorations have to be durable, or they will be utterly destroyed in a matter of seconds if you catch my drift.

I love the texture of hemp yarn which has been hot glued onto a styrofoam ball. I let nature do the rest of the work with colorful pumpkins in different shapes and sizes, all from my special store, Wal-mart. I purchased the wooden dish from my other special store, IKEA.


Start off by hot gluing the hemp yarn in a tight circle before placing it on the Styrofoam ball.

Hot glue a small "starter" circle to your styrofoam and continue gluing until the entire ball is covered.


Time for spray paint.

There you have it, a gigantic hemp ball. Who wouldn't love that?


Monday, October 1, 2012

Cakes!

Follow Me on Pinterest I'm no cake maker, but I just wanted to post some of these cause I'm pretty proud of myself for the effort and creativity.

Hunting Cake


I made this hunting cake for my husband's birthday. I used canned chocolate frosting, graham crackers for the crust, and figurines I got from ebay. The letters are made from edible paper (which I got from Michaels) and used letter cookie cutters to cut them out.



Beach cake 


This was for my son who turned 3 and loves to swim and play in the sandbox! I used teddy grahams crushed up for the sand and bears, Swedish fish, jelly beans that looked like rocks, gummy rings, and the towels were some candy gummy strips. All candies and decor from Wal-mart.

 Cake decorating class


I took a cake decorating class from the community education and this was my first attempt. Not bad! Mainly I just love the colors.

 Fondant follies


First and last? time doing fondant! My neighbor taught me how using marshmallows as the main ingredient. Thanks Stacey!

Friday, September 28, 2012

No Sew Roman Shades Using Blinds

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No Sew Roman Shade
My kitchen window has had a nappy treatment for some time now, so I guess it's time I did something about it. I have always loved the look of the roman shade but are expensive and daunting to make. I thought I could just buy a cheap-o blind at Wal-mart and somehow sew some fabric to the blind... (I often have these great ideas without thinking them though.) Of course I turned to the internets for some kind of tutorial on how to make a roman shade from blinds. I found this nifty tutorial on exactly what I was looking for! How to make roman shades from blinds:
http://365days2simplicity.blogspot.com/2011/04/easy-no-sew-roman-shades.html. This site has step by step instructions to make all your roman shade dreams come true. And in true blog fashion, I have added my own pics, tips, and suggestions on how go about turning a plain, old, boring blind into a fabulous, fashionable, and functional roman shade!

First things first, shop for some totally awesome fabric. I found a great print at Hobby Lobby for a steal, for like $6 for duck cotton or some such nonsense. Apparently the thicker the better. Whatevs, any fabric will do. If you want to filter more light, I would get a darker color, or double up on the fabric. If you want a print on both sides of the fabric, IKEA has a good selection. Pick out some ribbon as well if you want. A tip for easier measuring is to get a print with a pattern to use as your guide.

You will need some fabric glue, which can be purchased at Wal-mart or any craft store, and your blinds. Again I got mine at wallies for $4.00. Other things you will need is an iron, glue gun, scissors, measuring instruments, and iron-on "no sew" tape. (Sorry I can't remember the official name.)


I started out by measuring the window and cutting my fabric. Next, I hemmed the edges with iron-on tape. (I did not need to hem the top and bottom. I hot glued them to the top and bottom rail at the end.) I then used the iron-on tape to attach the ribbon to the fabric.

Now for the fun part: taking apart the blind. (Refer to instructional tutorial on how to do this. Don't worry, it's easy as pie.) http://365days2simplicity.blogspot.com/2011/04/easy-no-sew-roman-shades.html


After taking apart the blind, I was ready to glue my fabric to it. I placed the fabric face down, and placed the blinds on top. Just like starting a wood floor, the first line is the most important in making sure  subsequent lines are level. Making sure my top rail was totally straight, I used the fabric pattern as my guide for straight lines, placing a blind every 5" or so. An easy way to begin gluing was to flip the blind over to the surface that I was gluing to the fabric (convex.) It was easier to place glue on the blind than the fabric. I used a foam brush to smooth the glue. I felt this is a very important step because it looked "globby" otherwise and did not adhere as well. I then flipped the blind back over and pressed down the length of the fabric making sure the two sides weren't crooked. I was careful not to glue the drawstrings to the fabric. You're supposed to let this set over night, but mine was perfectly dried in 3-4 hours. I adhered my top and bottom rails with hot glue taking care not to glue the top corners  because I needed to be able to slide the "locks" into my blind brackets. After installing the blind, I later hot glued the corners to their holders. And that there's how you turn a blind into a work of art!


*Note: if you have problems with your fabric bunching up as you pull the drawstring, don't panic. You may need to crease the folds with you hands and straighten it a little for it to start working properly. I had to do this with mine as I had thick fabric and thick ribbon.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Picnic at the "beach" birthday party

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Our backyard is teeny tiny but wanted to make the space I do have fun enough for my two children to grow up with a "normal" childhood. I have wanted to do a sandbox for many moons but have not had the gumption until my four year old's birthday came up. I finally decided to go for it-a sandbox that is-expanding upon this theme to a "Picnic at the Beach." It was a freaking hard project...mainly because our backyard is somewhat inaccessible. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the end result was really great and I'm glad I decided to go for it. Never mind the fact that my kids go to bed every night with sand crusted in their hair and lining their pockets. It's their favorite thing since Thomas the Train! We hauled in huge stone pavers, (16 inches wide) then added a yard and a half  of sand. (That was 4 truckloads, a total of $40.00. Not bad.) The waves, dolphin, and whale are made from spray painted card board, and the sky is plastic table covers. I purchased some pretty sweet sandbox toys from Toys-R-Us (the best selection in my opinion.) The Adirondack chairs were from Wal-Mart for $5.00 a piece. Add a kiddie pool and some beach balls, and you have yourself a beach in the backyard! It was definitely a huge hit with my kids as well as the rest of the neighborhood!








The arbor going from our front yard to back with a sign that says "Beach Entrance."


Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Miracle for under $200: 40 Meals for 40 Nights--in one day!

Follow Me on Pinterest By the time summer rolled around I was in no mood for making dinner, especially when it came to hot stoves and so forth. Sweltering heat and slaving over the burner? No Thanks! So I came up with this nutty idea that I would make 40 meals in one day and freeze them. That way I wouldn't have to cook for the majority of the summer.  Oh, and I planned to spend only $200 for everything!

Mom and me-chopping like the wind!
Having no knowledge of what or how to freeze, I went to my favorite friend, the internets. Many of these recipes come from others' posts (don't worry, I cite my sources.) My mom, (Denise) and sister, (Lucy) decided they wanted to join me in my  endeavor. Having said that, it is possible to do 40 meals in a day, and I'm glad we did it! I don't know if I can say the same for Mom and Lucy.

Here's how I prepped for my freezer meal project:

   1) Considered all the the different meat groups, beef, chicken, pork, etc.
   2) Came up with 20 simple recipes, then doubled them. Here is what I came up with:

Freezer Meal Plan (based on 4 large servings)
FROZEN BAGS O’ CHICKEN
SHREDDED COOKED  CHICKEN
RAW BEEF CUTS
RAW PORK CUTS
GROUND BEEF
MISCELLANEOUS
(15 lbs. aprox.)
(15-20 lbs.)
(10-12 lbs.)
(10-12 lbs.)
(6 lbs.)

sweet asian chicken (for grill)
cilantro lime chicken w/ black beans and corn
beef fajitas
mu shu pork
lasagna or spaghetti
French toast casserole
sesame chicken
enchiladas
stroganoff
bbq ribs
shepherds’ pie or sloppy joes
breakfast burritos
teriyaki chicken
chicken pot pie
pot roast or French dip
shredded pork cafĂ© rio style salad or burritos
hearty beef veggie soup
*French bread sliced & buttered
divine chicken
bbq chicken sandwiches



*rice-cilantro lime rice/regular

chicken a la king



*twice baked potatoes












*Optional sides 

   3) Stocked up on meat as it went on sale. (Be careful though because you
       cannot freeze, unfreeze for prep. and then freeze again, it will be nasty.) Here is the 
       complete shopping list:


SHOPPING LIST
(Each meal is approx. 4-5 large portions, so you may need to adjust accordingly.)
PRODUCE
DAIRY
FROZEN
MEATS
SPICES
CANNED
MISCELLANEOUS
PANS/BAGS
3 red onions
1 gal milk
green beans
6 lbs. ground beef
italian seasng.
88 oz. diced tomatoes
1 loaf French bread
ginormous mixing bowls
1 very large white or yellow bag onions
10 eggs
peas
25-35 lbs. chicken (15 lbs. frozen bags o’ chicken)
ginger
4 cans d. tom. w/chilies
soy sauce
plastic wrap
1 bunch green onions
2 pkg. butter
 corn
10-12 lbs. beef
garlic powder
24 oz. tomato paste
sesame oil
4-6 casserole tinfoil pans
6 tinfoil bread pans
5 large bags baby carrots
3 c. cottage cheese
tator tots
10-12 lbs. pork
onion soup mix
2 cream of chicken soup
olive oil
lg. freezer bags-45 or so
5 regular carrots
2 c. sharp cheese
3 pkg. pie dough or puff pastry

chili powder
cream of mushroom soup
2 c. teriyaki sauce
small bags
5 green peppers
1 carton sour cream


red pepper flakes
2 cans diced green chilies
16 oz. apple juice
tin foil
3 red peppers
1 cream cheese


sesame seeds
2 cans dr. pepper
1 c. pecans

bulk bag o’ garlic
½ c. parm. cheese


poultry seasoning
2 cans pineapple
worch. Sauce

2 c. cilantro
1 1b. sliced moz. chz


vanilla
bamboo shoots
hoisin sauce

cabbage
2 c. half & half


cinnamon
150 oz. or 3 jumbo cans chicken broth
2 c. salsa

celery



bay leaves
2 cans mushrooms
cooking oil

8 potatoes



nutmeg
1 can v8
1 c. honey

1 bag limes



garlic salt
chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
ketchup

4 c. broccoli



cumin
9 c. beef broth
cornstarch

ginger





brown sugar

1 cup spinach



dry parsley
2 cans black beans
white sugar

1 pkg. mushrooms



dry mustard



Total Cost: $175 (No silly coupons, but I did do some price/ad matching at Wallie World.)

    4) Made my base sauces: marinara meat sauce, and white sauce
    5) Browned my hamburger
    6) Cooked and shredded chicken and pork by throwing them in a crock
        pot (separately) with salt, onions, etc, to give it flavor.

Freezer Fest 12' had arrived by 8:00 am, but with most of the cooking out of the way, it was just a matter of chopping vegetables and assembling meals. Dr. Pepper-in-hand, we decided it would be easiest to each take on a meal and assemble it for all three ladies and work our way through the list.

Side note: Lucy had the idea of adding all ingredients in one large bowl, and then dividing it evenly between three gallon size freezer bags, rather than adding each ingredient separately to each baggie. Brilliant!

Another Side note: Mom suggested that next time we do this, ( wait...there will be a next time?) we should include two more of my sisters, each taking on 4 meals, (doubled) making enough for the five families in our own kitchens, then meeting for a meal exchange. The work load would be more evenly distributed as each person would come up with their own recipes and less chaos in one kitchen. The end result would be again, each person taking home 40 meals. Genius!

We slaved away until about 7:00 pm, completing each and every meal, after-which we went out to eat for a celebratory dinner. Frankly, I was surprised we ended that soon. Job well done, hit the showers.



Cilantro lime chicken

Chicken a la King


Beef fajitas


Put some mussle into it, Denise!

A little friend to help out.

Getting pans ready for chicken pot pie!

Savory Beef Stew

Teriyaki Chicken

Lovely Lucy!

Sweet Asian Chicken (for grilling)

Chicken pot pie
Hooray, a freezer full of food!


Below are some links that inspired and guided me:
1. Freezable Foods--great particularly for vegetables:
    http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2011/02/10/freezable-foods/

2. Interesting web-site, this woman claims to have made 46 meals in 4 hours for $95:
    http://www.aturtleslifeforme.com/2011/06/freezer-meals-on-cheap.html

3.  A blogger's experience with freezer cooking:
    http://melissafallistestkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/freezer-cooking-slow-cooker  %20meals.html

4. Another blogger's freezer cooking:
    http://mamaandbabylove.com/real-food/other-freezer-bulk-cooking-meals/

5. One more helpful freezer blog:
   http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/02/freezer-cooking.html