Monthly Archives: January 2012

Felt Rosette Wreath

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This might be my favorite Pinspiration yet!

I scored some cheesy Valentine’s Day window decorations last year on clearance, and by some collection of miracles, I not only remembered that I had them this year, but I also remembered where to find them.  I’m the queen of buying things on super clearance, only to remember that I have them after the opportunity to use them has passed and/or never being able to remember where I put them. And this is after I have specifically put said items “where I won’t forget about them”.  Seriously, that’s what I say *every time* I can’t find something that I’m looking for.  My husband teases me about that pretty often.  But, as I said, I DID remember about the Valentine’s Day decorations, and I DID remember where they were, AND I remembered that I’d pinned this perfect Valentine’s Day Felt Rosette wreath— IN TIME TO ACTUALLY MAKE IT!! The stars must have truly aligned, I tell you.

It came from a great blog, Our Best Bites, which has tutorials, crafts, recipes, give-a-ways, and dozens of kitchen and household tips.  The writers have had so much success with their blog that they’ve written a bookOur Best Bites: Mormon Moms in the Kitchen.  You should check out the reviews on this book: Five stars all around!  If their recipes are anywhere near as easy to follow as their tutorial on this Felt Rosette Wreath, well, then, I simply must add this book to my next trip to the bookstore!

I basically followed the tutorial, and as I mentioned, it was very simple and well laid out.  Even so, this project was time consuming.  Some of that was likely due to my inexperience, but I definitely think you should plan for at least 4 hours to complete this thing.  It took me about 6 hours, spread out an hour or so at a time over a few days worth of nap times and evenings after both kid were in bed. But, like I mentioned, I’m a novice, and, I also added an hour or so to the project by wrapping my 14 inch wreath form with white yarn (that I scored for 50 cents at a yard sale).  That part was unnecessary, and, in the tutorial, they just painted their wreath form, which, judging by their finished product turned out just fine.

You basically need only the following:  Felt squares (mine were 12×12, and I purchased 36 of them, 9 in each of my 4 color choices), ribbon or tulle to hang your wreath (I used 5/8 inch ribbon, and I actually chose my colors based on the colors in the ribbon), and a wreath form (I used a 14 inch foam form, like they did in the tutorial, but if you decide you want to wrap yours in yarn, you can get a a straw wreath, leave it in the plastic, and yarn wrap right over it).   Then you’ll need a glue gun, and a big ol’ pile of glue sticks.  A lot of glue sticks.  I used a half a bag of the mini glue sticks. I spent just under $17 on this project, including a bag of mini glue sticks.  The felt was 4/$1, the ribbon was 50% off, and I used a 40% off coupon on the wreath form. Not too bad.  I did not use all of  the felt squares, either, (I ended up using 7-8 sheets of each color) so it would be a dollar or two cheaper if I were to do another one.

Because my felt sheets were perfect squares, I was able to just cut them into even quarters. That’s a no brainer. Fold it, cut on the line, fold it again, cut on the line, done.

Then, I started cutting the squares into round-ish spirals, like the tutorial showed.  I say round-ish, and you can see what I mean.  This felt stuff is pretty forgiving, which made me happy.  I like when things are easy, and don’t have to be exact.  After a career in health care, I like things that have some wiggle room (Side note: I used to always joke with the students and residents on their first days with me, telling them: “Relax. It’s pretty hard to kill a human.”  It did wonders to ease their tension, and I’m happy to report that none of them ever made any nutty mistakes, probably because Mama took the pressure off.  And yes, I did refer to myself in the third person as “Mama”, as in “Here, let Mama show you how it’s done.”  For reals.).  See how this felt spiral has a little corner on it?  It really made no difference after the rosette was rolled.  Looked find of like a rose petal.  Totally ok to not be perfectly round.

My husband helped me cut the spirals while we watched “The Tourist” starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.  (It was an ok movie.  Maybe I would have liked it better if I had been paying full attention to it, instead of half listening while I cut up felt squares.)   Since I had my husband’s help, things moved a little quicker for me.  He probably saved me about an hour.  What an awesome husband.  Did I mention that he’s a wiz with the power tools, too?

This was the first time that I’ve used felt for anything, and I think I’m in love.  Have you guys seen any of the ideas for felt food?!  Or  how about this adorable felt Christmas tree?  Or the many different felt flowers you can make? There are some really great ideas, and it seems to be easy to work with.  Starting at the center of your spirals, roll inward, until you have a little jelly roll style rosette.  Rolling them up was the quickest part of this project.  I had this many done in about 30 minutes.

And then my helper stepped in and rolled a bunch for me.

The next day, during the little slice of heaven otherwise known as nap time, I wrapped the wreath form in yarn. 

Glue your first piece to the wreath,

And then begin wrapping around and around and around until you get the entire wreath covered, overlapping the yarn as needed to cover all of the foam.  I didn’t have to worry too much about this part, since I used the same color yarn as the wreath form, but if you were to use a dark color yarn, you’d have to be more diligent to be sure you covered all of the foam.

After that, I was able to start glueing the felt rosettes onto the wreath…One at a time…

Alternating the colors however you think they look best. The felt held its shape pretty well, but I did go ahead and apply glue at the tail piece, and then to the entire bottom of each flower.  That may be why I used so much glue, but I wanted to be sure that everything stayed where I wanted it. Pack them in there pretty tightly to make sure you cover the wreath (which isn’t such a big deal if your wreath is a coordinating color, but I did glue them as close together as I could get them).   See how each rose is a little different from the one next to it?  I think that makes it truly unique.

Before the rosettes completely covered the wreath, I glued the ribbon down, and then covered it in roses, leaving only the portion that the wreath would hang from visible, but you could also add the ribbon to your finished product, like in the tutorial.  Like I said, this project would be hard to mess up. Fast forward another nap time + and evening, and in the end, I had this.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

You could do a lot with this project, and believe me, I intend to.  My friend Emily said that she would have stopped when about half of the wreath was covered and hung it up just like that, and I agree, it would have looked really cute that way.  I’ve already bought extra felt and another wreath form to do another yarn wrapped wreath in a different color scheme, with a few larger felt roses, or maybe a few flowers that I’ve pinned from elsewhere on the web.  Big plans for my front door, baby.  Big plans.

Are you doing anything to decorate your door for Valentine’s Day?  If you don’t have the time to do this felt rosette wreath, maybe you can knock out this argyle wreath with felt hearts?  Or a tissue paper wreath, like this hot pink one? How will you decide which one to make?

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Microwave Popcorn, Without the Chemicals

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I love popcorn in the unhealthiest, worst possible way.  I can pass on many snacks and desserts, and exercise moderation in consuming many others, but I can not resist my urge to consume popcorn, and what’s worse is that once I start eating it, I can’t stop until I am literally so full that I am uncomfortable. I have actually intentionally skipped dinner in anticipation of digging into a giant tub of popcorn at the movie theater, and then sucked down the entire bucket, and most of a refill.  We’re talking about the buckets that are roughly the size of a Smart Car.  It defies physics how much popcorn I can consume.  My friends tease me about it.  It’s embarrassingly unhealthy, but yet, I make no effort to stop myself.  When I was pregnant with His Majesty, I even had my husband stop at a theater on his way home from work several times, just to get me movie popcorn.  That’s how much I love popcorn.

Now, if I’m not at the movie theater, the bags of microwave popcorn sustain me pretty well, and I typically keep a supply of it on hand.  But, I always wonder what the heck I’m actually eating, because it sure isn’t butter (mind you, that doesn’t stop me from actually EATING it, but it does make me wonder.).  My husband gets pretty grossed out wondering this same thing though, and right before I went out and bought an air popper, he found this idea about making air popped popcorn in a plain old brown paper bag in the microwave.  We decided to see how this method worked before I bought a big air popper that I then had to store somewhere in the kitchen.

I admit, I was skeptical.  I’ve seen those “special” microwave popcorn bags get hot enough that a hole was burnt into the side of them.  Those bags have to lie with a certain side facing up, and they are, well, just special.  Could a simple paper lunch bag really work?

Yes.  Yes it can.

1/4 cup of popcorn kernels in a plain paper lunch bag.

Pour it in.

Fold the top of the bag over once and stand it up in the microwave.  We put it on high for 3 minutes, and stood by to listen for the popping to slow down.  It ended up taking about 2 minutes to pop the bag.

It rolled over on its side as it filled up.  Then, we opened it up and poured it out. Almost every kernel popped, and we had perfectly air popped popcorn.

We popped two bags to share among the three of us, since the baby was in bed.  Had His Majesty been awake, he’d have needed his own bowl.  He loves popcorn as much as I do (I initially whined about dividing this meager amount 3 ways, but I silently thanked my husband for the skimpy rations the next day when my jeans still fit).   My husband made the perfect mixture of melted butter and salt for one bowl, and a cinnamon/sugar/honey blend for that he read about on the source page for the second bowl.

Pretty great discovery, and it saved me from having to buy and store an air popper.  Try it the next time you have a craving for popcorn!

DIY Box Shelves

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I didn’t make anything this week.

But my husband did!

Our relationship works out really well because I have a good imagination, and he has good problem solving skills.  Plus, he knows how to use power tools.  So, I like to say that I think up the ideas, and he makes them a reality.  It’s a pretty awesome deal, folks.

So, when I saw these shelves, from Young House Love (which, btw, is one of my absolute favorite blogs, since I think Sherry and John are as goofy and dorky as my husband and I are, so I can totally imagine them being our friends), I immediately showed them to my husband, and told him that I thought they would look great in His Majesty’s room, as well as give me extra places to display his books, stuffed animals, photos, whatever.

His Majesty’s room has a safari theme. He’s got some wall art that I purchased with his bedding, and I also decorated letters to spell his name, which we hung over his crib.

But he had this one blank wall without anything on it.  And I thought that these shelves would look really nice right there on that wall. My husband looked at the photos of the shelves, read through YHL’s tutorial, and then made some kind of saracastic comment about how I work him like a Hebrew slave.

But then, because he’s such an awesome husband, the next day he asked me to show him specifically where I wanted the shelves to go. I didn’t have a clue, and it’s hard to visualize shelves.  But, have no fear, YHL to the rescue!  Taking a tip from their tutorial, I used painter tape to mark off some ideas and determine the number of shelves I wanted and where they would go.  Isn’t that a good idea for helping with shelf placement?!  They are so smart!

We used a stud finder during this process to help dictate the length and placement.  We wanted to be sure that they were extra secure into a wall stud, especially since his future “big boy” bed may end up going underneath them.

I also wanted a shelf  under the window, so that we can keep his bedtime books off of the dresser, and still have them within reach of the glider.  A low shelf will make it possible for His Majesty to “pick book”, as he says it, all on his own, without having to dig through his entire bookshelf and make a huge mess.

After we’d determined placement and shelf size, my sweet husband went out and bought some lumber, and then spent the day in the garage, sawing, nailing, and sanding away.  And just like that, I  had the shelves I wanted.  He didn’t take photos, but he says that the tutorial was great, and very easy to follow (He did use different sized boards than the tutorial, though, simply because I wanted different sized shelves than what John and Sherry made.).

Then he asked me what color paint I wanted on them.  I didn’t want to stain them, because the wood wasn’t the prettiest, but I also didn’t want to go white.  I thought about it for a day or two, before my husband suggested that we paint them to match the colors in his bedroom.

Great idea!

I took the acrylic craft paint that I’d used to make the wall letters and had it color matched at Lowe’s.  They did it in about 5 minutes.  I was skeptical that they’d be able to match it so perfectly, but their program was dead on.  I got a satin finish in their Valspar latex paint.  On the advice of the paint guy, I also picked up  a quart of Zissner 1-2-3 water based primer.  My husband hadn’t used this primer before, and he was really impressed with it.  After a coat of primer and a few coats of paint applied with a foam roller, the shelves were ready to hang. He pulled the tape off of the wall and hung the shelves in its place.  Leaving us with this:

I’m really happy with how they turned out.  My husband is quite the craftsman! I love how the colorful books and frame look like pieces of wall art by themselves, and the green shelves give his “sugared almond” colored walls a little extra splash. I’m not worried about the color of the shelves when we change his room decor, since I’m planning to do a dinosaur theme  when he moves from the crib to a bed, so the green shelves will still work.

The lumber for this project cost about $15 (we used pine boards), and the quart of paint and primer (of which we have plenty to spare for future projects), plus the foam rollers cost another $25.  Not a bad way to spend $40 and a few hours of work, plus drying time.

So that’s my husband’s Pinspiration for the week.  What do you think?  And what have you been up to?  Have you made anything fun lately?

Bacon Ranch Chicken: A crock pot masterpiece

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Is there anything that bacon can’t make better?  Our state fair actually puts bacon on a stick and covers it in chocolate.  I’ve never tried it, but I tell you, I love bacon enough that someday, I might be willing to give that concoction a taste test.  Ironically enough, I didn’t eat meat for nearly 15 years, and so I honestly think that my propensity to eat large quantities of bacon is my body’s attempt to make up for all of that lost time.

As the name implies, Bacon Ranch Chicken couples bacon with another food miracle: ranch dressing.  Seriously: ranch on a sandwich, ranch on veggies, ranch on chef’s salad, ranch on pizza, yum-yum-yum, ranch is pretty much universally applicable to non dessert dishes.  Lucky us, this dish has both ranch AND bacon.  Plus it goes in the crock pot and takes less than 4 hours.  Are you kidding me?!  In my house, this is perfection.

It doesn’t get much easier than this.  First, you get yourself some boneless skinless chicken breast, and gather the rest of the ingredients.  You could probably use chicken thighs if you wanted to.

Ranch dressing packet, minced garlic, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, bacon bits

Put the chicken in the crock pot.

Don't forget your crock pot liner, unless you want to spend a half hour scrubbing out the crock pot tonight!

Then mix up the other ingredients (sour cream, soup, garlic, ranch mix, and bacon bits) in a separate bowl, so that all of this deliciousness is thoroughly combined.

Now here’s the hard part.  Spread it all over your chicken, scraping every last bit out of the bowl, cover and set your crock pot on high for 3-4 hours.

I always test my chicken to be sure it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.  After verifying that it’s reached a safe temperature, I use two forks to shred the chicken breast.  It falls apart really easily.  The sauce will be nice and creamy, like an Alfredo sauce, only better, since it is made with bacon and ranch.  I served it over egg noodles with garlic toast and a salad on the side for my guys, and I skipped the noodles and the bread, saving myself some carbs. It’s great either way.

This recipe made enough for 3 generous servings, a toddler sized serving, and had enough left over to put in my husband’s lunchbox for the next day. I silently pouted while I packed the leftovers up for him. The sacrifices we make for our loved ones 😉

Have you added bacon or ranch to anything lately and had it rock your socks off?  If so, you know I want you to share the recipe.  Or, have you made Bacon Ranch Chicken for your family?  What did everyone think?

Happy pinning!

Another Guest Post!

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Triad Moms on Main is showing me some love again today, this time with a guest post all about how Pinterest can work for you!  Be sure to check out my post, and see my top ten favorite things to pin! While you’re over there, you can check out TMoMs info onTriad parks, places to eat, shopping, and upcoming area events.  Lots of fun stuff over there

Pink is in the Air

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Just as 2011 drew to a close, two wonderful new people entered the world!   My friend from college and our neighbor both had baby daughters.  How exciting, pink ruffles everywhere!  The birth of these two little ladies presented me with the opportunity to try my hand at a version of this idea, from Baby Xpress over on Etsy.  Doesn’t Etsy just have the most fantastic products ever?!  So many great ideas! And Baby Xpress is no exception, this seller offers dozens of gift ideas that would be fantastic ways to shower a friend, neighbor or colleague, and they are very affordable.

The idea that I pinned was for Washcloth Cupcakes.  Precious idea, no?  Not to mention that anyone with kids knows that having extra washcloths definitely comes in handy (Who knew that such a little human could leak so much, and from every available orifice?  Ahh, the things they didn’t teach in Home Ec…  Do they even offer Home Ec in schools anymore?! Man that class was fun! Did anyone else have the egg babies to take home? Haha, good times.).  Regardless of the practicality of washcloths, I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give them clothes.  Seriously, baby girl clothes = SO STINKING CUTE.  I decided to make my “cupcakes” out of onesies.

Naturally, I had to find a tutorial to help me out, and I chose this one over at Our Little Casita.  I hit Target and picked up two packs of onesies, and then I hit Micheal’s and picked up the rest of my supplies.

You'll need: cupcake boxes, crinkle paper, paper rose stickers, Gerber multi-pack of onesies, cards, jumbo cupcake cups, packaging ribbon/twine in coordinating color, 1 inch ribbon in coordinating colors, 3/8 inch ribbon in coordinating color, rubber bands, straight pins, scissors, scrapbook paper; also tacky glue (not shown)

During the coveted nap time (which, I’m sad to report, seems to be getting shorter and shorter), I completed both gifts, delivered one to my neighbor (and caught a peek at their beautiful baby), and started this post.  Not too shabby. What I’m trying to say is that you can knock this out in about an hour, if you gather everything that you need up first.

I started by snapping the onesie closed, and lying it face up.

Then, I folded it into thirds, so that the front of the onesie was on the inside.  Any embroidery or printing will more than likely look wonky when you roll it up, so it’s better to just hide it for the time being.  Think of it as being an extra little surprise when your gift is fully opened.

Then I folded it in half again so that I had a nice narrow piece of fabric to work with.

Rolling the cupcake took me a little bit of practice, not because it’s hard, but rather, because I wanted to see how many different methods I could try to achieve the look I was going for.  I ended up rolling it on a slight angle, so that the first roll was the HIGHEST portion, sort of like the icing on a real cupcake.

This is how it looked when I was finished rolling it.

After I was happy with how my cupcake was rolled, I used a rubber band to hold it in place, and then tied a piece of 1-inch ribbon around it to hide the rubber band, like so.  You can see that I didn’t want the ribbon to tie in a bow, but only so that it was secured around the rubber band.

At this point, it was ready to be set in the cupcake liner.

Oh yeah, now we’re getting somewhere.  The next step was to decorate the cupcake.  I used 3/8 inch ribbon to tie a small bow and then secured it to the top of the cupcake with a straight pin.

This is where the paper roses came in.

I used them to cover the straight pins.

Then I did the same thing with the rest of the onesies.

Next came the packaging.  I filled the box halfway with crinkle paper.

And it was WAY too much paper. The box wouldn’t close without smushing the cupcakes.  So, I took out half of the crinkle paper, and put it on the other box for the second gift, and we were good to go. Don’t buy a new bag of crinkle paper if you have some in a color that will work already.  You hardly use any.  I didn’t have any, or else I’d have likely worked with what I had on hand.

Aren’t they just adorable? All that pink is about to give me a sweet tooth!

At this point, they are ready to go, and I think they are plenty cute as is.

But Emily at Our Little Casita covered the sides of her box with scrapbook paper, and it really just jazzed them up, so I took my inspiration from her, and did the same thing.  The cupcake boxes that I bought came in a 3 pack, so I used the empty box to trace templates in the scrapbook paper, cut it out, and then glued it to the sides of the box with tacky glue.

When all 4 sided were covered, I tied my ribbon twine around the box and tied a bow.

Then I did the same to the second gift.

The next time I make these (and I will get the chance to do it again really soon, as my cousin just had her second son, and if I wasn’t so wrapped up with my head in a pink cloud thinking about baby girl gifts, I would have picked up a pack of baby boy onesies today– *DOH*), I will buy some scrapbook stickers to decorate the outside of the box a bit more.  You can really do a lot to up the presentation of the box, if that’s your thing.

I couldn’t wait to deliver the gift to my neighbors, and I’m happy to report, they loved it.  I’m sure my friend back home will think it’s really sweet, too.  And even better, it’s calorie free.

There are tons of tutorials online for making cupcake onesies, even some that use receiving blankets and socks and really go all out.  I think that this is such a fun way to gift something.  A friend made me a diaper cake when His Majesty was born, and it was so wonderful, not only because it was useful, but because I knew that she had taken the time to create it, and that particularly meant a lot to me.

It isn’t how much money you spend that makes a gift special.  I spent less than $30 on the onesies and the supplies to make both of these gifts (and I have a great deal of supplies left over).

Have you found any great gift ideas lately?  Made anything special?  Please share your (p)inspiration with me!

Creating a Memory Jar

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The beginning of the year seemed like a great time for us to try out an idea that I’m hoping will become a family tradition.  I got the idea when I pinned this image from Inchmark: a jar for collecting the many funny things that children say.

Image from Inchmark.

I didn’t have to go out and buy anything for this project, I just took an empty glass jar that I got a few months ago at Hobby Lobby for under $5, and then I asked my husband to make a label for it.

Then, after that, we started randomly writing on some small Post-it notes that have been hanging around in my junk drawer for years.  We’ll likely take a cue from Inchmark and start using scrap paper when the Post-its run out, since it seems like a pretty good way to reuse the flaps on envelopes.   We did add a small twist of our own, in that we are not only writing down funny things that the kids say, but also funny moments that we share.  Then, on New Year’s Eve 2012, we’ll read them together, and hopefully have some laughs remembering the year that passed.  It’s just a simple way to try to remember the little moments that fill our days.

So far, we’ve got a handful of entries.  Christopher wrote about how when we went to get His Majesty from his crib on New Year’s Day, we saw that he’d managed to remove his pajama top, which made us laugh, since we were greeted with a view of his chubby, round tummy.   Is there a better way to be greeted in the morning than by a chubby topless toddler wearing an ear to ear grin?  I tell you, the boy can be so cute, it’s unreal.  I wrote about how when my husband told Christopher to put on a “play jacket” instead of his new jacket, Christopher’s response was “This fabric doesn’t get grass stained”, with his expression as serious as if he had personally performed qualitative analysis on the fabric, at which point my husband and I cracked up laughing.  Christopher wrote about walking in on a goofy dance I was doing in the kitchen while cleaning the cupboards. I’m sure there will be many more funny moments and quotes to keep track of.

You can expand on this idea by doing your own vacation keepsake memory jars, like this idea from The Inspired Room (P.S. Have you SEEN Melissa’s site, The Inspired Room?  It is an amazing resource full of ideas on how to create an “authentic” home, not just something that looks pretty but lacks character and functionality.  Check it out, but be sure you have some time to spare… I could easily kill a few hours over there).

You can fill the jars with shells, post cards, a favorite photo, magnets, keychains, sand, whatever you collect during your adventures, label them with dates and locations, and then display then in your home or office.  I think this is a really fun idea, full of character, and great conversation pieces.  I only wish I had remembered this idea in time to try it on our vacation last month. Oh, well, there’s always next time.

Do you have any new traditions that you’re trying out?  Any old traditions that you’re continuing?  I’d love to hear about them…