Thursday, September 1, 2016

Getting my Crafting On

Earlier this year I caught the make your own soap bug.  It all started with a picture (of course, we're visual creatures!) and I really wanted some milk and honey soap that looked just like a honeycomb.

Milk & Honey Soap: This easy DIY soap can be made in about 10 minutes & has great skin benefits from the goat's milk and honey. Great homemeade gift idea!:

Well I couldn't find any honeycomb molds so I had to make do with regular ol' oval shaped soap.  After making enough of these to hand out to a few friends and to last myself several months, I decided I wanted to try something new.  After some snooping around through Pinterest I picked a coffee ground soap that sounded perfect.  At first I was going to make a layered soap, but in the end I mixed everything together and it was amazing.

One bar of this soap has lasted me pretty much all summer and is just now starting to see its last legs.  It smells fabulous and the coffee grinds are an amazing exfoliator.  Every time I open my cupboards I get a lovely whiff of coffee.  Mmmm.  I don't think I will ever buy another bar of soap again.  I'm having too much fun making my own concoctions!

I wouldn't call myself a foodie exactly...but learning new ways to cook and make things and making my own things jives so well with my creative muscles.  It doesn't always end well or look exactly like the picture (but then again what does in its natural state?!) but it's almost always at least delicious and quite the experiment.  In the past I've made pasta sauce from almost scratch to go with ravioli or pasta, but those always required canned tomatoes.  Our garden produced so many freaking tomatoes this summer that instead of wasting them or just giving them away, I was going to make something awesome with them darn it.  My husband started with a few different versions of salsa.  The first batch was sweet and spicy and the second seemed to strike just the right balance.  After that I used some of our tomatoes to go with our meatballs and spaghetti and then yesterday I decided I'd make a ton.  Well, in the end it wasn't a ton because I mistook how many tomatoes were in my fridge and it ended up yielding only 3 cups.  :(  Later when I mentioned this to my husband he rolled his eyes at me and was like "They're all in the garden, you could have just gone and picked more."  Which is true, but I also didn't have quite enough of a few other things so it worked out.

One of the bags I'm giving away to a friend.  I hope they love it!

Just the roma tomatoes I picked today....there are about 8 giant regular tomatoes sitting in the fridge as well.  Mmmm.

I used this recipe yesterday but didn't bother to measure any of the spices.  What's the fun in that?  It was my first time ever blanching tomatoes and it was just as easy as they make it sound.  :D  After I let it simmer for close to an hour it was still a little chunky (or at least chunkier than I was hoping) and so I poured it into my blender for a little bit and it reached a nice consistency.  I am really excited to make a ton more to use throughout this upcoming year!

Other than that I haven't done much else in the way of personal care...I haven't really needed to.  Back at the beginning of summer I pledged to spend as much time as possible make up free.  It was an absolute win and I remember one of the first days I had a reason to put on mascara, I totally forgot about it and rubbed my eyes while sitting poolside with the kids.  Oops.  My back to school mantra has been about the same.  As less made up as possible.  :)  Although I am fairly certain that when winter hits and I'm pale as a ghost and feeling pretty sad, more and more makeup will get pulled out and applied.  :D

Until next time happy crafting and cooking and baking and being you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hello inner artist!

Now that I find myself with an abundance of free time (although the term abundance is misleading...) I have also found myself diving into more and more painting projects.  Now that I am able to do more intense or laborious projects I am taking these opportunities and making the most out of them.  I no longer have to sketch 3 different pictures, help paint 90% of one, partially concentrate on mine before the time goes to hell and life is sweeping everyone up in its chaos.  :D

I also took up a slight obsession with painting last week because in wake of our pet painting party I was faced with the very obvious realization that I suck at painting real life/still life.  The skills needed to accurately and prettily depict these pictures are not something I am in possession of (yet).  So I wanted to broaden my horizons and see where it took me.

Hiding Kitties

I confess that I was inspired by this pillow I saw at ModCloth.  The simple black and white line drawing and design really captured my heart.  Unfortunately throw pillows are not really a big thing around my house and I had no excuse to buy it.  So instead I paid it the highest compliment I could..."Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

I began by sketching out the simple designs in pencil.  About 3/4 of the way through drawing I realized that I should have started in the upper left corner because I was smudging the pencil with my hand...but at the same time I know that would have been ridiculous because it would have interfered with my thought process.  It took me the better part of 2-3 hours to sketch out the picture.

Later I took a Sharpie to trace over my pencil lines and to add in where there was too much white space (my flower in the lower left is my glaring example that I had to cover up the best I could).  At first I left the kitties blank but it made the picture too...bleh.  So I colored in one kitty and it made the picture look infinitely better, so I decided to color in all the rest.

I'm pretty tickled with how it turned out and my kids were super impressed (my son couldn't stop gushing about how cool it was and difficult it must have been).  My favorite part of this picture is the lower right corner where I started because everything is perfectly layered and grouped together.  :D

Birch Trees

In my Pinterest search I came across this birch tree painting.  The article is on how to do a more or less cheaters way of doing it.  When I saw that I was like "oh eff no I need to do this the hard way" and so I did.  But I guess you can't really call slathering blue paint and white stripes on a canvas the "hard way".  :D  What was difficult was that I couldn't quite get the credit card technique down to get the nice edging on the trees down, so that I had to make it up by hand.

Again I'm pretty tickled by the end result.  Sometimes when I look at it I think of a white giraffe, but then sometimes when I see how the limbs intersect it makes sense again.  :)


The front door sign I bought last year fell apart due to weather.  :(  I had an idea for what I wanted my new sign to look like and I came fairly close to the mark....I wanted a rustic looking sign to hang on my front door.

It was a bit difficult to strike the right balance using the stain.  Before this last coat it was perfect, but there were still several spots that were untouched and I wanted to fill them in.  I used my biggest bison cookie cutter, traced it out with sharpie and then filled it in with black acrylic paint.  Then I sketched out some laurels in Sharpie and traced them with the same paint.  Above I used the green and gold (okay yellow) to spell out NDSU and that's where I felt a little stuck.  They were too bright and shiny so I dirtied them up a bit with watered down black paint and dabbed and blotted my way to a happy medium.  I'm still undecided on if I like the letters or not.  But overall I'm pretty happy with how my sign turned out!

Medal Rack

My current medal rack is now overflowing with various run medals.  A month or two ago my husband made the offhanded remark that if I added any more medals the rack would not be well supported still hanging on the wall.  He then also jokingly suggested that I stop running and it won't be a problem.  :D  HA - yeah right.

But it got me thinking that I needed a new medal rack.  Did I want to buy one?  Did I want to make one?  I was undecided.  Until last week the day before school started I got a bug up my butt to do all of the things.  My husband cut some plywood down to size and I got started using this as a frame of reference:

Running Medal Holder and Race Bib Hanger, Hebrews 12:1, Keep Running the Race…:

I painted the background black and then wrote in the same scripture (which incidentally is also on the back of 3-4 of my medals)....which honestly took me the longest time.  Have you ever watched a Type A person try to correct letters until they fit their specifications?  It's a tedious process!  :D  Eventually I had to stand back and say "It's good enough!  Relax!"

This was before I started tinkering with my letters :D

Before it can be called finished I need to attach the hooks (I bought 6 sets of double clothes hooks  - which I call octopus hooks...only because I once saw a meme where they showed one and said something about drunken octopus fights) and then some simple hooks to hang my bibs on the upper left side.  After that I need to figure out how I'm going to hang it on the wall.  And then I'm done!

I have had a lot of other projects ongoing which I'll write about in upcoming blog posts!  Knitting, cooking, sewing and more!  Check back for more fun things!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A smorgasbord of new recipes

Over the summer I learned a few things about myself, some of which had to do with fitness, some with food and others with how far my family was willing to humor me with new recipes and flights of fancy.  :D  I am not vegan or vegetarian or any label of the sort, but I do have more vegetarian tendencies some days and it bleeds into what I cook for my family.  Normally it isn't a big deal (although my husband will tease me with a "But there's no meat in this!!!!" complaint), sometimes it's a bit of a struggle, and sometimes it's a surprise hit.  This was such the case on Friday evening.

Delicious Crock Pot Low Carb Lasagna made with zucchini and eggplant instead of pasta — Less than 275 calories for a HUGE, cheesy serving! Healthy, gluten free, and your slow cooker does all the work. You won’t miss the noodles! Recipe at @wellplated:

My version didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the pictures above....

But it was a lot tastier than I anticipated and my family ate it up with my son (the notorious veggie hater) eating up every last bite of his.  When we revealed that there were no noodles or meat in this dish, that it was 100% veggies, my son comically shouts "I've been poisoned!!!!!!  Uggggggghhhhhhh...." clutched his chest and pretended to fall to the floor.  Then he got up and said "Just kidding, I actually want to finish this."  :D

In hindsight....

Only after trying my best to thinly slice the eggplant and zucchini did I think "Hey I should have used my multipurpose grater to slice these veggies up!".  Which is the same thing my husband said later when I complained about the many times I almost chopped my fingers off slicing up eggplant (those suckers are huge and a pain).  I half-assed salted the veggies to dry them out so that there wouldn't be a ton of extra liquid (see above - lots of liquid!).  Next time I might try harder.  :D  The red peppers added a perfect sweetness to the meal.  I had to make a last minute substitution for the cottage cheese because somehow it just never made it on my list and I was in no position to run out and grab some after some googling (seriously where would we be without it?  although I suppose if there was no google maybe I'd have a pocket full of tips and tricks written down somewhere already...who knows!) I was thankful that I had barely enough sour cream to mix in and decided to throw in a ton of Parmesan cheese for good measure.

Overall it was a pretty big win and I'd definitely make it again.  :D

Banana Bread from Run Fast, Eat Slow

I made this banana bread in anticipation of making French Toast Banana Bread from the same cookbook.  It asks for a special kind of flour (mostly important that it be gluten free).  When all was said and done I feel that I could have used one more banana and that the new flour made it taste a bit grittier.  It wasn't awful, just different and once you slather some butter and syrup on it you didn't notice a thing.

Energy Smoothie from Run Fast, Eat Slow

Saturday was a weird day in terms of routine.  The power was out, there were storms brewing so I headed out to hang out with some girlfriends.  Later in the afternoon I was still feeling O.o so I thought it would be the perfect time to whip up this energy smoothie.  Everything sounded delicious except I was wary about the inclusion of kale and dates.  In the end it was a pretty tasty smoothie although perhaps it didn't get blended as well as it should or it was simply the ice chunks of floaties on top.  Either way it gave it a weird grainy taste and I could only drink not quite half of my glass.  I love that I tried it but I'm not sure that I'll be making it again.  Or at least if I do with some substitutions.  :D  Or make it as more of a milkshake...we'll see.  However it seemed to work because it made me have a speedy 4 mile run shortly thereafter!  :D

This week will be another week filled with some new recipes.  I'm pretty thrilled about trying new things and seeing what everyone else thinks.  New recipes we'll be testing out are: bacon wrapped stuffed chicken (this will be a test of patience on my end!), meatballs with marinara sauce (this recipe called for bison meat but I only half-heartedly looked for it so it will be just regular ol' meatballs but with homemade pasta sauce) and fish tacos with mango salsa.

Friday, July 1, 2016

We can be ...artists...if just for one day

Once again summer and doing kid-centric things this week has pretty much been my focus.  There have been some all day outdoor days, slumming around the house days and run errand days.  But there has also been some artsy time in between all of these things.

On Sunday I finished up my sweater.  The first thing my husband says to me is "It's kind of plain isn't it?"  After an appropriate WTH look from me he amends his statement with "I mean, it isn't crazy like your octopus sweater so it's...plain."  Okay, I'll give you that.  But it's exactly what I wanted.  A light and breezy summer sweater that can be thrown over tank tops and worn with shorts.  This picture doesn't do the blue color justice, but it's a lovely soft blue color.

On Monday we got busy learning about moon rocks and space.  Our first project was to make these baking soda moon rocks!  Little Miss was in charge of mixing our food coloring (the day I bought supplies I couldn't find just black, so I figured we'd just mix our own) and Big Mister was in charge of mixing everything together.

As you can see our color didn't quite turn black, but it was a neat green color and lots of sparkle (as in all of the glitter exploded out of the vial)

It was a little difficult for them to put the moon rocks together (our many additions of food coloring mix must have made the sand too prone to fall apart) but once they were smooshed together it worked out alright.  We let them dry overnight and then two nights and now, 4 days removed, the rocks are mostly dry but still prone to exploding if you put a lot of pressure on it.

Later that morning we made straw rockets!

I drew Little Miss' rocket to cut out and Big Mister designed his own.  They colored and made designs on them before we assembled them.  Little Miss' worked amazingly and she had a lot of fun blowing it all over the house.  Big Mister made his too heavy and so it was harder for it to go anywhere.  :(

Finally while we were waiting for lunch I whipped up a couple of origami nesting cats and then taught the kids how to make them and draw on them.

Nested paper cats!:

Our first group of origami kitties...they have grown three fold already!  ;)

Tuesday it was gorgeous and it was hot so we spent the afternoon outside in the much so that my left eye either got burnt or so dried out that wearing my contacts is strictly a 14 hour deal for the time being.

As an end result I was very content letting Wednesday be a dominated by kitties kind of day...

Sherlock was the first kitten to be enticed by a nap on my lap.  It all starts out super innocent...

But wait, let me get a little more comfortable...

That's the stuff.  I'm not kidding, he really does sleep like this for hours.

Then here's the more reserved Mance, later in the afternoon.

Today we were in errand mode.  First we took Ein to the vet and then made a list of craft supplies we needed, which of course also prompted a quick trip to the grocery store.  But while we were out the kids asked if they could paint and who can say no to that!?!?

Little Miss requested a unicorn and rainbows.  Well she didn't see anything that she wanted to paint and so we settled on a unicorn profile surrounded by a laurel of flowers.  I sketched it out for her and let her go to town...

This is the end result:

Big Mister decided he was going to do a Percy Jackson inspired piece.  He drew the 3 weapons of the Big 3 and then painted them in (if you are not down with mythology he made a trident for Poseidon, a lightning bolt for Zeus, and a bow for Apollo).

Mine was an idea I originally tried last week and it failed horribly.  It failed so bad I can't even find a picture of it.  So this time around I drew two different sketches and picked the one I thought looked best.  My first one turned out way creepy (it was the eyes) but the second one looked like something that belonged in my house.

Here's my sketch and blank canvas ready to be drawn on

The finished product.  I had to step away because I kept poking at it and adding things or taking things away.  To keep myself from over correcting I backed away, sent a pic for some feedback and felt pretty good about it.

It's the 4th of July weekend so there probably won't be a ton of crafting going on, so I'll leave it at this:

Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend and I hope you enjoy whatever comes your way!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quickie Crafts

This week my house has been hit by the mini plague.  It started with my husband coming home Monday looking like absolute death.  Then he stayed home from work Tuesday and by Wednesday AM I felt it creeping on me.  Luckily the kids seem to have been kept immune to it (unless my daughter's 2 week coughing cold makes her Patient Zero...).

Me yesterday shortly before falling asleep for close to 3 hours!

There was an hour yesterday afternoon where I thought I'd pull through (it was actually just a combination of more coffee and a long nap; I crashed soon after!) and so we did crammed in some crafts after snack.  We made paper bag ninjas!

These puppets were super easy and fun to make.  The biggest annoyance for me was paper hole punching for the arms but it all worked out :D  My husband teased that they were very bright ninjas, but who cares - it was fun!

Another quickie craft we did was this fun little cut out.

My daughter wanted to add pink wavy hair and I stuck to a plain brunette background :D

Today my house seems to be back to normal so I'm excited to get back out into the real world :D