Sunday, January 31, 2010

JANUARY WRAP UP

Good morning my darlings. I hope you are feeling good and staying warm and dry this crazy morning! It’s a whopping 36 degrees here. Well this is it… the last day of the month. Man can you believe it went so soon! I can’t. Its crazy really… sitting back I can’t even think of where half of my 2009 went! Guess what… today is the final day before we find out who the winner of the crock pot is… are you excited?? I am! Its been fun reading all the comments and ideas. I thank you for them and don’t stop just because the contest is coming to a close… keep them coming. I’m also planning another crazy fun contest game soon, so be watching for that!



Well the DH was a very sweet man yesterday. He had to run a couple of errands and he knew I wasn’t feeling well. So he stopped by my favorite restaurant and got my favorite meal (Chinese) and then he got me a dozen red roses. Aren’t they pretty?? Normally that’s a “Sorry I screwed up” move he makes so it was a pleasant surprise LOL!

OK so I did absolutely nothing yesterday… I was quite ashamed. I know I was supposed to clean and do some crafting, but alas… the pain took over and I stayed down all day. SO the DD and I watched movies and ate popcorn LOL! We watched the new MJ “This is It” movie and a few other oldies but goodies. I’m gonna try to do better today. She wants to go to Party City to check out a few things, and I have to clean and maybe get some crafts done! And I’ll warn you now so you don’t worry… more than likely tomorrow I will be blogging in the mid morning to afternoon sometime. I have a couple of things to do first thing in the morning. But don’t worry, I will be here!

OK crafts… hmmm crafts… Honestly I am not feeling very crafty right now. But I will share with you this one project I found that I am doing for my DD’s room. It’s the recycled message center and I found it originally on Thrifty fun. Granted, I am doing hers a little different… and yes I’ll share pics when I’m done and its all together, but the concept is the same!



Craft Idea of the Day: Recycled Message Center

Supplies:

Recycled cork board
Recycled shelf
Spray paint
Fabric
Decorative pins
Butter knife

Instructions:

Spray paint the entire cork board and shelf the same color (you might want to remove any hooks first). Let dry.

To add visual interest, add some fabric along the bottom half of the message board. To do this, simply use a butter knife and slowly work the fabric into the frame of the cork board. Fold over the top part of the fabric as you slide in the sides. Use decorative pins to hold the fabric in place along the cork.

Attach the cork board and shelf to the wall right next to each other so it looks like one big piece.

Presto! Add a calendar or other important papers. If your shelf has hooks, it's a perfect place to hang keys or other essentials.

Okie dokie… what’s for dinner? Well I saw this on allrecipes and I thought it was very pretty and I wanted to try it. The first time I made it, I was like OMG this is scrum-diddly-umptious!!! So I think I’m making that tonight… check it out!



Beef Tenderloin With Roasted Shallots

Ingredients

3/4 pound shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups beef broth
3/4 cup port wine
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 pounds beef tenderloin roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 slices bacon, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 sprigs watercress, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In 9 inch pie pan, toss shallots with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until shallots are deep brown and very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and port. Bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until the volume is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Whisk in tomato paste. Set aside.

Pat beef dry; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan, set over medium heat on the stove top, saute bacon until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add beef to pan; brown on all sides over medium high heat, about 7 minutes.

Transfer pan to oven. Roast beef until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125 degrees F (50 degrees C) for medium rare, about 25 minutes. Transfer beef to platter. Tent loosely with foil.

Spoon fat off top of pan drippings in roasting pan. Place pan over high heat on stove top. Add broth mixture, and bring to boil; stir to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a medium saucepan, and bring to simmer. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoon butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste; whisk into broth mixture, and simmer until sauce thickens. Whisk in remaining butter. Stir in roasted shallots and reserved bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut beef into 1/2 inch thick slices. Spoon some sauce over, and garnish with watercress.

Well gang, that’s all for me. I think I am gonna go bake some homemade cinnamon rolls to wake the house up and drink a monster to try to get moving. Then I have to run DD and a couple of the other kids in band with me to Party City, I need to clean, and get some crafting done. At some point, I also have to make out a shopping list so while the kids are at school, I can get that done too… being out of a few vital things tends to stimulate you to do that LOL! So as you can see, I have a lot to get done and never enough time, so I love you all and I will see you tomorrow! HUGS!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

THE LAST WEEKEND

Hi there boys and girls! Can you believe its already almost February?! Where DID the month go?? Oh well… so how does this crisp Saturday morning find you? I’m still feeling pretty yucky, but I thank you all for the well wishes! I checked my sugars last night and they were a little higher than normal so I’m not sure what’s going on. I’ll keep watching them closely. I’m sure it doesn’t help the weather keeps going hot-cold-hot-cold etc. It needs to figure out what it wants to do!

Ok so I was looking online for some party decorations for my daughter last night… see she turns Sweet 16 this year! And for once, she would like a big party. No problem I told her. Well she wants black, white, and blue with music notes… just like her room. (She is such a band nerd LMAO! But that’s ok, I think its cool too!) OK I think… no problem right? WRONG! I searched for about 3 hours and I could not find any ideas for things like centerpieces, except those cheaply made, expensive foil ones right? SOOOOO… I got frustrated and got up and cleaned a bit. I cleaned some of my craft area. I thought maybe by cleaning, I would get inspired to do some crafting.



Well I got the diaper cake I was working on done… complete with cake topper/centerpiece.



I think it’s rather cute and the DS18 was so amazed. LOL that’s the first one he’s ever seen me do! He said his teacher is gonna love it and gave me tons of hugs and pecks. Then he told me I do too much… for others and never anything for myself… HUH? I think he’s sneakin’ some crack somewhere LMAO! J/K! But everyone in my family tells me that actually. I don’t see it.



Anyway, I also made 2 NERDS candy fridge magnets and this may be my inner “nerd” coming out, but I think I want to see how many different little tiny boxes of Nerds I can make into magnets LOL! A regular “NERDY” collection if you will LOL! I also fixed a few things I had put on the table to mend. But no music decorations… not yet at least. I’m gonna work on the décor for DD’s room today, so maybe messing with all the music note stuff will give me inspiration! LOL.



OMG I so have to tell you about this infomercial I was watching LMAO! It’s for Time Life music collection called “Flower Power”… ya know 60’s Hippie times with the tye-dye and the peace signs? As sad as it was that I knew every single song they previewed, it gave me an idea! See I love bright cheery colors… and you can’t tell me all the psychedelic pinks and greens aren’t bright! Well all the 60’s décor, to me at least, is bright and cheery. My mom was a self-professed hippie too. Well I like all the 60’s stuff and I got the wild idea to redecorate my living room in 60’s décor… complete with lava lamps and everything! What do you think? I think it will be pretty groovy! LOL… yes I am seriously considering it!

Ok, now the infamous question… what’s for dinner? I have pork chops already thawed in the fridge, as well as one last whole chicken, and tons of veggies… hmmm. Well chops are always a huge success around here… NEVER any leftovers when I make them a certain way. Served with mashed potatoes and peas and a bread of some kind (I normally do croissants and hey I just happen to have a few left that I found on clearance, remember? LOL), this makes for a mouthwatering meal.



Crunchy Honey Pork Chops

Ingredients

Box of Corn Flakes
Eggs
Pork Chops
Honey
Pepper and Garlic powder

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Crush corn flakes to a fine/semi-course texture. Season the chops with pepper and garlic with just a gentle sprinkle on each side. Dredge in eggs and then in corn flakes. Place chops on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Drizzle honey on top of chop. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Remove, flip chops, and drizzle honey on second side of chop. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until done in the middle.

Its really one of those recipes that has no measurements but comes out great no matter what?! LOL like I said- in our house you eat them when they are ready or there won’t be any later LOL! As for me, today offers cleaning and crafting as I have a very important guest coming soon to look at my home for help with repairs and renovations. Gonna get all of Madison’s room done hopefully and I’m gonna assign everyone some chores for today to help! Stay warm and I will see you tomorrow… HUGS!

Friday, January 29, 2010

CLEARANCE MANIA!

Well a dark and stormy hello to you this morning! Its raining profusely here, the skies are black, and its all around yucky! However I have already managed to take the kids to school, go to the store (didn't get enough diapers for the diaper cake), come back and make a pizza, and now I am munching my breakfast and chatting with you... all in my PJ's LMAO! Fun isn't it? I found a couple of cute things at the store clearanced (a couple of shirts, some bandanas, school supplies, bakery ooops', handbags, etc.) You ever see the big Wal-Mart baskets? Imagine it filled to the brim and walking out only paying $47.91 YAY! Go me! Let's review... lol...

They had these printed bandanas that were normally $1 on clearance for 10 cents! I bought some really colorful ones... some will become purses/totes and some will become pillows. And who knows what else I can make!

Handbags that were normally $17 a piece were clearanced to $3 each! They are strong durable canvas that I can decorate with some paints, iron ons, gems, etc... yes I am a handbag addict LMAO!

Bakery... when we find it clearanced/marked down we call it the "Ooops they baked too much" rack LOL! I found 3 boxes of butter cresent rolls marked from $3 to 50 cents each! Gonna cook up some eggs and sausage patties and freeze some breakfast crossiants for the kids to grab-n-go!

The shirts were marked down to $1 YAY from $15... One was a peasant looking woman's blouse and the others were baseball looking shirts that were white with colored sleeves. I bought the ones with blue sleeves (our school colors) and I am going to decorate them with school stuff!

School supplies you can never have enough of... book covers, pencils, dry erase markers, pens, you name it... I just bought a variety of things to stash away in the supply cabinet for either next year's beginning of school or whenever they need it!

I found a few other things too. I love going to the store alone and just having the time to walk around and seeing all the great things I can find. The imagination runs away and I get so excited LOL! You can take any of those ideas and make them into the craft idea of the day... cause that's what I'm gonna do LOL! That and finish this dang diaper cake I am working on! Ok so we move right along to food. I'm not feeling real well today... I'm swollen real bad, I'm irritable, I'm tired, and I have a monster headache. So I am going to pick something fast and easy but filling! How about some of these?



Giant Empanadas

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup Chunky Salsa
1 pkg. (15 oz.) ready-to-use refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 cup Mexican Style Shredded cheese
1 packet Taco Seasoning

Directions

HEAT oven to 425ºF.

BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in seasoning and salsa; remove from heat.

PLACE 1 crust on baking sheet; top with meat mixture, spreading to within 1 inch of edge. Cover with cheese and remaining crust; seal edges with fork.

BAKE 25 min. or until golden brown. Cool 5 min. before cutting into wedges to serve.

You can also add all kinds of peppers and other fixings to this to give this meal a little zip! Garnish each slice with a dollup of sour cream and more shredded cheese if desired.

Yep that sounds about right! Yum and leave me be all in one bite LOL! Sounds good to me! Well, I'm going to go finish this diaper cake and maybe lay down for a bit. Until tomorrow... HUGS!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HUMAN NATURE

Hello there my faithful followers. I hope this article finds you well. I want to apologize for my absence yesterday. I had a health emergency with a family friend that required my presence. Everything will be ok, and without going into personal particulars, let’s just say it will be a long road of recovery ahead for them. The stress and hustle has left me quite drained last night and today. I want to thank you ladies and gents for your emails and comments. It’s wonderful to know that you care so much! The compassion and all around good nature of my readers is one of the most precious gifts life has ever given me! YOU are why I do this blog.

To Jean- thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. It brought a tear to my eye and then made me chuckle as well. I am so glad that you (and hopefully lots others) feel that this is a blog worth having and reading.

To Melissa- OMG are you serious? He likes them that much? I think that is SO COOL! Tell your hubby I say HELLO THERE! LOL… let him be a part of this… its good to have guys around LOL! I am so glad you liked the wing recipes… and by making them at home, over time you will save so much money compared to going out! Congrads to you both! Give him that addy girl and tell him he has to share it with at least 1 other person! LOL…

OK remember how I told you that on Tuesday I was going to make a huge Kroger run on the last day of the 10 for $10? Well check this out…



There are things I don’t normally by here, but when you have coupons to make them free, why not right? I saved $209.35 in coupons and spent $185.22 YAY! I thought I was pretty awesome LOL! And that included a book and a kitchen set I thought was just too cute and am going to make into a gift basket… so I guess that doesn’t count, right? LOL Minus that and I only spent $159.27 on food, toiletries, diapers, and OH SNAP! I gotta take off the diapers and wipes and stuff too cause THAT is a craft/gift for one of the kids teachers… ok take off another $17.96 for baby goodies (cause my DS repaid me for all that)… leaves the total at $141.31 for foods, HBA’s, and toiletries, etc. Not to shabby I think!

I want to share a site with you that you can earn some extra cash in these stressful times… all from the comfort of your own home. If you like to write or take pictures, then this might be a site for you. It’s called SEED.com and after you register, you can pick your assignments, read a brief synopsis about what they would like, see how much it pays, and take the job if you want it. Granted, I haven’t gotten paid for anything yet, as I just joined not too long ago, but I have submitted 2 articles for a total of $100 in payments if they use them! And what were they about you ask… what do I know about the most? Crafts and Cooking of course! LOL! Check it out, it might be good for you! OK one of the articles I wrote for SEED was about T-shirt crafts… and I want to share it with you. So this leads us to the…..

Craft Idea of the Day: T-shirt crafts

Have you ever gone through your closets and dressers during a spring-cleaning fit only to find tons of (or even just a few) T-shirts that you can't wear? Perhaps you hold on to it for the sentimental value? Believe me, I've been there and done that! But now, in the stressed economic times, recycling and "Going Green" has been a rising trend! T-shirts are no exception. There are lots of crafts and uses to give that old shirt new life! Turn those silly vacation souvenir shirts into things like pillows, tote bags, quilts, framed pictures, baby bibs, and even toddler clothing!



Tote Bags: You can make a reusable tote bag or purse from an old shirt many different ways. To make a simple tote, start by laying the T-shirt on a flat surface. Trim the arms off the sides at the bodice seam. Then cut straight across the width of the shirt just under the collar line. You should now have a rectangle of shirt. Cut the shirt apart down the bodice seam on each side, separating the sides. Now cut 2 pieces of another material (I suggest duck canvas) the same size of your T-shirt pieces. Place each T-shirt piece on a piece of canvas, and sew together down the sides. (I use both a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch for double the reinforcement.). Then repeat with the second piece. You can use a folded over hem on the top edge of your bag side or you can also top with a piece of color coordinated bias tape to match your project. Using poly-webbing or fabric strips, sew handles on the inside top portions of your side bag piece. Place both completed pieces together and sew along the 3 sides. Turn ride side out and you have a cute T-shirt bag you can use for shopping, papers, or whatever you heart could desire!

Pillows: Another easy craft you can do is make a pillow You can simply make it look like a whole T-shirt or you can trim it down to a square or rectangle. To make the stuffed shirt pillow, simply turn the shirt inside out and sew the arms and neck closed. You can sew part of the bottom closed, just leave enough of an opening to stuff the shirt. Once sewn, flip the shirt right side out and stuff with whatever fill you like- old fabric scraps, pillow forms, or cotton batting. The choice is yours! To make a square pillow, simply trim the pillow of the sleeves, cut straight across under the neckline, and you can even shorten the length to however big or small you would like your pillow. Sew the pieces, right sides together, along the sides, leaving an opening for stuffing. Flip the square right sides out, stuff, and stitch the seam closed. Voila cute and Eco-friendly places to rest your weary head or dress up your home!

Framed Pictures: You can center the silk screen from that favorite shirt you just can’t fit anymore into an embroidery hoop or frame and trim to fit. Hang on the wall for a funky fresh reminder of your favorite vacation or whatever sentiment your shirt may hold for you.



Quilts: Also known as memory blankets, I always have friends asking me to make these for their sons and daughters who are graduating High school, college, etc. However this one is very detailed and takes some planning. First off, you have to be saving the T-shirts and such for a long time. Remember these shirts contain childhood memories and you can’t replace them if you mess up! Take your time, be patient, and if you have never made one, there are lots of sites on the Internet which can show you the labor involved in making these. They are a great way to stop time for that special someone!

So there’s what I wrote for them and wanted to share with you! Now let’s move on to my OTHER favorite subject… FOOD! I found some boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale, so I picked some up. And do you care to guess what I am going to do with them? Check this out…



Asparagus and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

4 (4 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
4 slices of Provolone cheese
4 1/2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth

Directions

Flatten chicken breasts slightly. Place a slice of cheese on the inside of the breast piece. Wrap each around five asparagus spears; secure with toothpicks. Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the oil, lemon juice and seasonings; pour over bundles. Cover asparagus tips with foil.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with the onions. Bake 12-15 minutes longer or until the chicken juices run clear and asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove bundles to a serving platter and keep warm.

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and broth until smooth; stir in pan juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove toothpicks from bundles; top with sauce.

OK boys and girls… I am off to go be with my friend again today… at least until the kids get out of school! Ya’ll have a wonderful day and I will see you here tomorrow… HUGS!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LET'S TALK FOOD AND COMMENTS

Well good morning everyone! How are you doing today? I'm good... I spent most of the day with my mother yesterday. I took her to the store, helped around her house, and just joked and laughed and kept her in a good mood. Well today is the final COMMENT DAY so make them count ok?! LOL... If you are new, check out the Jan. 4th post about the Crock Pot Giveaway for the rules!

Seeing as the last few days I have had the incurable munchies... I want to talk about food! I absolutely love food of all kinds... I love the tons of ways you can prepare the billions of kinds of foods, the sizes, colors, and shapes of it all, and even the chemistry of food. What do I mean by chemistry? Well for one... did you ever realize how chicken can have a hundred different tastes just by changing a couple of spices? Or how about how certain chemicals in some foods can literally alter your mood, energy levels, and even sleep patterns? Yes I am a food nerd! Some would say obsessed, but you know what? That "obsession" allows me to know how the food is best prepared (both taste and safety) and makes every meal a success! So its an addiction I happily admit to LOL! Take last night's dinner here. Remember I had all those whole chickens out, right? Well instead of the rosemary and lemon (which I know is an awesome combo in itself), I cut the chickens in half and put my usual S/P/G on them and added some Emeril's esscence. I seared them and then put them in a baking pan and coated them with a Mesquite flavored marinade (regular old Kroger brand currently on sale for 10 for $10!). I baked them and then about 30-40 minutes later I pulled them out and OMG YUM! I went to put some on plates for each person and they literally fell apart! Oh geez... it was awesome! I paired it with some Collard greens and cheese rolls and they were loving it! Look... It was a beautiful dinner!



Ok so if you are like me, then you need to shop on a budget right? We have discussed coupons and farmers market's briefly, but have you ever heard of Discount & Salvage Grocery Stores? These are places that take the over-orders, the scratch and dents, the discontinueds, etc. and offer them for like 30-50% off normal retail! Granted, your selection may be limited but you can alot of the times find some killer deals in there. My mom recently told me about a website called Anderson's and they list discount and salvage stores across the US. You can find the list HERE... check it out and you may have one closer than you think! I would love to hear about your trips and finds if you go! And the Kroger 10 for $10 sales is ending today, so I spent last night after dinner while we were watching a movie sorting and clipping coupons to go make an attack! Tons of things I can stock up on! Broccoli is 10lbs for $10 too... and the crowns are about as big as my steering wheel again! YAY! I got 2 crowns yesterday while I was with my mom, and those 2 weighed 4 pounds! Pears, carrots, and a ton of other stuff is 10/$10 too, so you better believe me and the store are gonna be bestest buds today LMAO! When you feed as many as I do, you can never EVER have too much food LMAO! My family even says I am addicted to shopping for food LOL!

And if you sit there and think about it... well food can be an adventure! By adventure, I mean... trying new foods is an adventure, searching a grocery store or farmers market is an adventure to see what you can find, the act of trying to prepare something new to you is an adventure too! Food is a source of pleasure AND pain... comfort foods vs. eating disorders. Food makes common people into celebrities. Did you ever really sit back and think about all this? Food is a powerful thing! Boggles the mind doesn't it? When I started this blog, my purpose was to educate and share... to celebrate food while teaching you about control. As long as you remember that there is a happy medium to everything...



Take this dinner... I made this for all the guys not long ago. You see lobster, steak, broccoli cheese rice, and peas right? Well I see protein (meats), vegetables (peas), starches and grains (rice), dairy (cheese in the rice), and fats (butter). I see a very well balanced dinner. Didn't the food pyramid teach us we havd to have all these things? That's what I'm talking about... balance LOL! I try to make sure each meal has a component from every section. Remember use... not ABuse food! And (in my opinion)... abuse includes waste! I try to waste nothing in this house!

And shall we not forget food crafts? OMG there are so many edible crafts, its unreal! But today I want to share a favorite with you...



Craft Idea of the Day: Candy Sundae

This Chocolate Sundae is an easy and fast candy craft project and it is as much fun to make as it is to eat! It would also make a fun party favor for guests to make and take home for sweet memories for a long time to come.

Supplies

Sundae glass
Hershey’s chocolate kisses of one flavor or several
Straight candy cane (stick candy)
Life Savers
Curling ribbons
Chenille wire or thin stem wire
Scissors
Wire cutters

Instructions

Prepare a Sundae glass. In this case a 3.5” diameter x 6.5” height sundae glass.

Fill the Sundae glass with the Hershey’s chocolate kisses.

Insert the stick candy of the corresponding color into the glass.

Put Life Savers candy on the top representing “whipped cream”. You may use mini glue dots to hold these candies in place.

Take curling ribbons of several colors that match the kisses wrappers. Or you can buy a ready curl swirls.

Take a piece of chenille wire and tightly wrap it around the middle of the curling ribbons. Instead of chenille wire you can use white stem wire. Curl the ribbons by pulling them over the edge of the scissors.

Insert the curling ribbons in your arrangement. Your Candy Sundae with chocolate kisses is ready!

As for dinner... well as of right now, I plan on making Rosemary-Scented Pork Loin Stuffed With Roasted Garlic, Dried Apricots and Cranberries and Port Wine Pan Sauce (I know a mouth full LOL!) with some asparagus, some kind of potatoes, and a homemade bread probably.



Rosemary-Scented Pork Loin Stuffed With Roasted Garlic, Dried Apricots and Cranberries and Port Wine Pan Sauce

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
16 whole peeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
1 (8 pound) whole boneless pork loin, patted dry, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (snip with scissors), divided
16 dried apricots (or similar amount of your favorite dried fruit)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Heavy kitchen string or twine
1/4 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup port
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons apple jelly
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add whole garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; reserve oil.

Turn pork loin fat-side down. Slit lengthwise, almost but not quite all the way through, to form a long pocket, leaving a 1/2-inch border of unslit meat at each end. Brush cavity with some of the reserved garlic cooking oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and 1 Tb. of the rosemary. Line cavity with sauteed garlic and apricots; sprinkle in cranberries. Tie loin together with kitchen twine or heavy-duty string at 1 1/2-inch intervals.

Brush with remaining oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Set roast, fat-side up, diagonally or curved (so it fits) on a large, lipped cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Warm 1/4 cup apple jelly along with the minced garlic and remaining rosemary. Brush mixture onto meat.

Roast until a meat thermometer stuck into the center registers 125 to 130 degrees. (Start checking at about 1 1/2 hours.) Remove from oven; raise oven temperature to 400 degrees. Brush loin with pan drippings, return to oven, and continue to roast until the loin is golden brown and a meat thermometer stuck into the center registers 155 to 160 degrees, about 20 minutes longer. For even more attractive coloring, broil until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Let roast rest 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to a carving board. Stir juices around pan to loosen brown bits. Pour through a strainer into a small pan, and stir in port, chicken broth and remaining 2 Tbs. of jelly; bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with a couple of tablespoons of cold water; whisk into sauce. Simmer until lightly thickened. Slice pork and serve with a little sauce.

I guess this morning I was just feeling super intellectual and wanted to stimulate you as well. Hopefully I have stimulated your mind as well as your palate! As for me... well first I'm off to get my copy of the Michael Jackson movie "This is It" that was released at midnight (yes hush, I am and always have been & will be a fan :-P LMAO), then an attack on Kroger, and maybe get some cleaning time in too LOL! You have a wonderful day and I look forward to all the great comments! Until tomorrow... HUGS!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

REDUCE REUSE AND RECYCLE!



Howdy everybody! Hope you are doing well today! I am feeling somewhat better today. Think my meds are finally doing some good! PLUS an added bonus is that I sold the old car we have had sitting here waiting for a loving person to take! YAY! Paying some bills! Most people don’t get excited over that, but I do! It means I am one step closer to financial freedom! Remember I set the goal of eliminating as many bills and debts as I could this year…

OK, I have been so pumped about the recycled crafting that I am gonna go craft-crazy today! I’m gonna cram a bunch of stuff in today! So pull up yourself by the boot straps and hold on for your 8 second ride! YEEHAW!!! LOL!

Craft Idea for the Day: Recycled Crafts (part 2)



Crayon Caddy

Approximate Time: 30 minutes
Supplies:
7 water bottles
24 inches of ribbon
Glue stick
Glue gun
Scissors
30 inches of string
Instructions:
Take the 7 water bottles, wash and remove paper labels.

Cut 6 of the water bottles to about 2 1/2 inches in height and 1 bottle to 3 1/2 inches in height.

Heat up the glue gun and arrange the shorter bottles in a circle around the taller one in the middle.

Take a string and tie them together snugly.

Drip glue between the bottles to attach them. When the glue dries, take your 1 inch wide ribbon and cut to the appropriate length, so that it goes around the outside of the bottles.

Glue in place and you're done!



Ceiling Fan Blade Key Holder

This is an easy way to use old ceiling fan blades, I turn them into key holders. It takes a short time and they are fun gifts to give.

Approximate Time: 1 hour or less
Supplies:
ceiling fan blade
stencil paint
stencil brushes
letter stencils
decorative stencils
hooks to hold keys
spray paint for background color
ribbon or old shoe strings (something to hang it with)

Instructions:

Unscrew fan blade holders and clean blades. Use spray paint for background color, your choice of color but light colors work better. Let paint dry and start stenciling. Use letter stencil for writing the word "keys" at bottom of the blade. Now the fun part, I use stencils but if you can free hand paint all the better! Just decorate anyway you want. I have done flowers, birds, whatever. It is better if you wait for one thing to dry before going to the next one. Place the hooks one on the bottom and two on each side of blade, more if you want. Use ribbon, string, leather, just whatever you have around just thread through the two holes on the sides then through the one on top so it comes out the back tie a bow or just a knot, I make these and sell them at our church yard sale, they do go fast.



Book Angels

First of all I would like to just say I love making these for any occasion. They are cheap and easy to make and best of all its a great way to recycle all those hard cover books you don't read anymore or the ones you can get at a yard sale for dirt cheap.

Approximate Time: 1 day and 2 hours

Supplies:
1 hard cover book: free-$1.00
1 small porcelain doll from a dollar store or thrift shop: $.50-$1.00
1 can of white paint (I get mine free from our hazardous waste facility) or maybe you have some left over in the garage from a new paint job in the house
1 small can of black paint, I get it from the dollar store: $1.00
1 spool of lace: $1.00
A small piece of felt: $.50
1 spool of any type of corrugated string: $1.00
small flowers, stars, beads, gems, etc. for decorations, which are usually laying in your craft drawers
Hot glue gun
foam paint brush: pack of 5 for $1.00 at dollar store

So total to make these books are between $4.00 to $10.00

Instructions:
First, take 20 pages from the front of the book and, two at a time, fold the bottom corner to the middle of the book with the folded part facing the front cover. Press to crease. Then do the same for the last 20 pages at the back of the book with the folded part facing the back cover, thus forming the wings. Then figure out how many pages are left and find the center. Turn the book upside down and fold two pages in the center the same way as before so you don't lose it. Go back to the front of the book, take the first two pages after your recent folds, fold bottom corner into the center. Press to crease. This will give you the same fold as before, just upside down. Keep folding towards the front of the book. When you hit the center fold start, folding from the back of the book the same way (folding towards the back cover). Keep going until you have folded all the pages. Here is your dress. Ta-Da the hard part is done!
Now when I first made these, I left the wings folded and just put a few drops of hot glue so they don't pop out too much. As I got making more, I decided to cut the creases so that I still had the shape but not the bulk (I prefer to cut), but to each their own, I guess. It's all trial and error. I will try to post one of each, if I can.

The next step is to paint the wings and dress using the foam brush. These work better to get in the creases in the dress. As that is drying, you may need to altar the doll. The ones I get, the arms and legs are separate but the head is attached to the torso so I use needle nose pliers to slowly and carefully detach the head (starting in the arm hole) making sure I keep at least some of the neck still attached. Don't forget to keep the arms.

Now that the paint is dry on the front, take your black paint. Cover the whole back and any other parts on the front that the wings and dress don't cover.

Next after all is dry. Glue head on book. Cut your felt shape. Take your felt and glue the neck part to the head. The arms can be tricky. The arms should only use half of the length of the felt cut for the arms. With the dolls being so small the whole arm only makes the hand to elbow. You can stuff the rest of the sleeve or leave it (it will be covered later). I usually play around with them for a while until I get the felt to wrap them the way I want and the arms to place on the dress the way I want them too. Once I get them the way I want them, I then glue the arms into the sleeves. Don't attach to dress yet just in case you want to add things under the arms, for example: lace, gems, etc.
Trim bottom of dress with lace and make a long strand to wrap as a shawl over head and shoulders then down as far as you want. This helps to hide the fact that the arms are too short. Next glue shawl to head, then glue arms where you want them. Sometimes I can even get them to pray. Then I hang a cross earring (from the dollar store) from her hands. Trim wings with corrugated string, add decorations to wings and dress. Check for any spots that may need a dab of hot glue.

And you have your very own book angel for any occasion. I have made these for baby showers, teachers gifts, anniversaries, Christmas gifts; next is a wedding one.



Juice Bottle Buckets

This particular bucket was made by cutting the top off the apple juice bottle with an X-Acto knife. I then wrapped fabric around the bottle, securing with a hot glue gun and attached trim on the rim. For the handle, I punched holes into the side and attached another ribbon. You can attached any type of decoration you want onto the front.



Clothespin Dress

Materials:

old toddler dress
thread and needle or sewing machine
clothes hanger (a child size would also work)

Directions:

All you have to do is sew the bottom straight across and and insert the clothes hanger in top and hang on your clothes line but dont forget to bring in from the bad weather. This could also be hung in your closet to hold nylons, socks, gloves, and scarves, etc.!



Pencil Cups

Simply take old aluminum cans (from veggies, etc). and wash them out real well with soap and water. Make sure there are no jagged edges. Cover the can with decorative scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, wrappers, etc. The possibilities are endless!



Ice Cream Cone Piggy Banks

Make these piggy banks for gifts for Christmas or any other special occasion. Save empty Juicy Juice containers (46 oz.), wash them out, cut out a slit in the side for the money, and painted them. Acrylic paint is the best. You can add “sprinkles” by punching holes in various colored papers and gluing them on. A cherry on top to decorate it and you have a FUN and neat gift!



Tin Can Herb Pots

Another use for aluminum and vegetable cans is to make an herb garden indoors. Cover the cans in decorative paper, paints, etc. Poke holes in the bottom of the cans for drainage and fill with a few small rocks (for weight) and dirt (about 1.5 cups maybe). Plant your seeds and watch them grow! This is a multi-purpose craft… you’re recycling, you’re creating a fresh oxygen source in your home, and you’re saving money by growing your own spices and herbs! Fresh is better… healthier!



Book Safe

There is something mysteriously appealing about a hollow book safe - it is a practical idea that adds to home security, but is also an ideal treasure box for sentimental keepsakes. This free craft project would make a cool homemade gift for mom, dad or teens. Choose the book with the recipient in mind - Dad may appreciate a book safe made from an old car manual or history book, while Mom would prefer to stash her cash in a sewing book or romance novel. If placed on a shelf with similar books, the altered book safe will fit right in and no one will ever guess its true purpose.

Supplies:

Hard cover book of sufficient size to allow a cut-out of 1/2" to 1" deep
Exacto knife
nail scissors or similar
non-fraying fabric or felt for lining
hot glue gun and glue sticks or strong craft glue
scrap cardboard
ruler
pencil

Instructions:

Caution:
Exacto knifes are VERY sharp. Although the instructions for this craft are relatively easy, it does involve deep cutting with an Exacto knife and may be dangerous for some people to do.

This is definitely NOT a safe craft for children!

Please proceed with this craft at your own risk.

1. If your book has a paper cover, remove it and replace it when you are finished making the book safe.
2. Open the book and decide how deep and how large you want the hollow opening. Measure and mark the width and height of this rectangle on a page that is at the depth that you have chosen, measuring the depth from the inside of the back cover. The cut side near the center of the book should be far enough from the center to allow use of the ruler as a straight edge for cutting; usually this means at least a ruler width away from the center line.
3. You may need to support the side of the open book that you are not cutting, so that the other pages lie flat as you work. If so, use another book placed under the open front cover to support it. You could also use a rubber band to hold the loose pages to the front cover and away from your work area.
4. Begin cutting with the Exacto knife, using the ruler as a straight edge on each side of the rectangle, cutting down through about a 1/4" inch of pages. Take particular care with the corners to ensure each cut meets the cut that joins it.
5. Remove the cut out rectangle that you just created and discard. Use nail scissors if it is necessary to trim the sides straight.
6. Lay down the pages that now have an opening cut in them, and draw around the inside of this rectangle, on the page directly below, so that you may repeat the cuts exactly.
7. Repeat steps 4 to 6 until you reach the back cover. Place a piece of scrap cardboard inside the back cover as you work on the last section, to avoid scoring or cutting the back cover with the knife.
8. Cut fabric or felt to fit the bottom of your rectangle. Measure the depth, and cut one or more strips of fabric to this size, with enough length to cover all four sides of the rectangle.
9. With the glue gun, place enough hot glue in each corner of the rectangle and up the sides to secure the pages in place, forming your "book safe." This will be covered by your fabric lining.
10. Use hot glue to secure the side strips of fabric all around the rectangle, being careful that the fabric does not extend anywhere above the opening or the book will not close properly.
11. Finally, use hot glue to fasten down the bottom lining fabric. Cut away any glue "strings" once the glue has cooled, and close the book. If you have one, replace the paper book cover. Your book safe is now ready to hide money, valuables or keepsakes in its secret compartment!

New Life Crayons

Maybe your little one has broken crayons scattered everywhere in his room and you just can’t bear to throw them away. You can do single colors or mix up the pieces and give the crayons new life! Remove the paper wrappers and place the broken pieces into metal muffin tins (I recommend shaped tins). Bake the crayons for about 10 minutes or less… just enough to melt them together to form the new shape!



Cake Pan Burner Covers

A Trash to Treasure craft project! Recycle cake pans and make yourself a set of artistic stove burner covers! Are you tired of looking at those ugly burners? Well cover them up with dollar store cake pans (that's where I bought mine). Note: I have an electric stove You don't have to be artist - just paint like you did in grade school...

Supplies:

8 inch cake pan for the small burners

9 inch cake pan for the large burner

acrylic paints - white for the base, plus any other colors you need for your design

sealer - I used a brush on gloss.

rubbing alcohol

Instructions:

Clean the bottom of the cake pan with rubbing alcohol, you will actually see some metal paint or dust from the pan. Let air dry, and don't touch with your hands. We have lots of oil on our hands.

Now paint on two coats of white paint, making sure you go one way, from one end to the other end, in a brush stroke. Let dry for a couple of hours.

Now paint on any design or scenery you want. If doing a scenery, I started with a darker blue at the top, working lighter blues towards the middle, ending with a dark green at the bottom working the lighter greens towards the light blue. I'm no artist, but I don't think I did too bad - and my kids liked the picture!

Let dry a day, and brush or spray on a sealer.

Caution: Do make sure that your stove burners are turned off and cold before topping with your masterpiece.



Woven Magazine coasters

1. Tear out 6 magazine pages. Cut off the ragged edge on each, then cut each page in half lengthwise. I stacked them and cut them all at once with an X-acto knife and ruler. (To make a coaster with a finer weave, cut each of the half-page strips in half lengthwise again. And note that weaving will take you twice as long!)
2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise. Then fold the resulting piece in thirds, folding the cut edges inward first so they're hidden inside. Now you have a long, thick strip. Fold it in half at the center. See steps pictured above. Repeat with each magazine sheet
3. To start weaving, interlock two strips. This is the bottom left corner of your coaster.
4. Add another strip that wraps around the outside of the horizontal bottom strip.
5. Continue weaving. Some strips will wrap around the outside of the coaster when you start them; some will begin sandwiched between two existing strips. See above. Keep adding to your coaster one strip at a time, making sure to push the papers tightly together. Flip your coaster over and check the back frequently to make sure nothing's going haywire back there!
6. When the coaster has 6 horizontal and 6 vertical strips, it's time to finish the edges. Strips that emerge on the outsides of the "coaster sandwich" need to be secured. Trim off one end of the strip so it's even with the edge of the coaster. Bring the other end around the edge of the coaster and tuck it under the closest weave to hide the raw ends. You should have just enough length to reach.
7. Strips that emerge from the inside of the sandwich can simply be cut off. If you want to seal your coaster with something, you could try some spray acrylic sealer and see what happens.

Scoop of Hugs and Kisses

Use a laundry scoop and some candy to make a gift for someone special.

Materials Needed:

Laundry Scoop
Hugs and Kisses Candy
Clear or Colored Plastic Wrap
Ribbon

Instructions:

A simple gift idea! Fill the Laundry scoop with candy hugs and kisses. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap. Set the scoop in the middle of the plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over so the two ends meet at the scoop handle. Pull the plastic wrap tightly around the scoop and gather around the handle. Tie a ribbon around the handle to hold the plastic wrap in place. Tie a note onto the scoop that says "A scoop of Hugs and Kisses for you".



Bubble Necklace

Instructions for making a necklace that is also a container that holds your bubble soap and wand.

Materials Needed:

Film Container
Bead
Yarn
Pipe Cleaner
Home-Made Bubbles

Instructions:

Glue the side of the pony bead to the center of the film container lid, making sure neither hole is covered. Set it aside for the glue to dry. Start out by decorating the film canister if desired. You can use stickers, permanent markers, or other items; just remember, there is a good chance of it getting wet!
Cut a piece of yarn long enough to fit over the head once the ends are tied together. Thread one end of the yarn through the bead and tie the ends together. Make a small wand by forming one end of the pipe cleaner into a circle. Cut the pipe cleaner so the wand is small enough to fit into the film container. Store your wand in your container along with some bubble solution. You can buy bubble soap, or even make your own!



Mini First Aid Kit Necklace or Tin

Instructions for making a tiny first aid kit necklace using an empty film container, pill bottle, or mint tin. Perfect for a purse, backpack, or suitcase!

Materials Needed:

Film Container, Pill Bottle, or Altoids tin**
Yarn or Ribbon
First Aid Supplies (see below)

Instructions:

Put holes in the sides of the film container, and attach a long piece of yarn or ribbon to go around the neck. You can also poke a hole in lid to feed the yarn or ribbon through. Tie the yarn into a knot so you can wear it around your neck.

Fill the film container with first aid supplies such as a small packet of antiseptic wipe or alcohol, band-aids, safety pin, small wrapped hard candy, and money for a phone call. Include a piece of paper with important phone numbers.

As a finishing touch, you can paint a red cross on the outside with nail polish or cut a cross out of whit contact paper.



**If using an Altoid tin, simply cover the top with scrapbook, contact paper, or paint and fill with supplies.



Toilet Paper Roll Drum Ornament

Materials Needed:

Toilet Paper Roll
Felt
Ribbon
Toothpicks
Tiny Pom-poms
Craft Glue
Scissors

Instructions:

Cut the toilet tissue roll in half. Cut a piece of felt to fit around the outside of one of the half rolls and glue it in place. Cut 6 pieces of ribbon, each one should be 2 1/2-inches long. Glue these pieces of ribbon around the toilet tissue roll to form 3 'V' shapes that touch at the top. Trace around one of the round ends of the toilet tissue roll piece onto a piece of white felt; cut this circle out. Dab some glue around one of the round edges of the toilet tissue roll. Center the white circle on the glue. Cut 3 more pieces of ribbon, each about 8-inches long. Fold one into a loop and glue the ends onto the top edge of the drum for a hanger. Glue the other 2 around the top and bottom edges of the toilet tissue roll. Trim off any extra ribbon. Cut off the pointy ends of the toothpicks; paint them black. Once the paint is dry, glue the 2 tiny pom-poms onto one end of each of the toothpicks. Glue these onto the felt top of the drum so they look like drum sticks.



Garden Markers

Take old wooden spoons and wooden utensils and give them new life by painting them with a bright color. Then write the name of the plant down the handle with a permanent marker. You can hot glue small trinkets to match the marker if you wish. Would make a great gift for the gardener in your life when you pair it with a pair of gloves and some seed packets (can both be found at the dollar store along with wooden spoons if you don’t have any at home to use).



Beach in a Jar

Fill a jar with sand and shells from the beach you visited. You could also make these cute gifts/souvenirs for friends and family! I make these for my friends if we go to new places on family vacation… and they are always a hit!

What You Need:

Glass jar with lid
Glass cleaner
Paint pen, optional
Sand
Shells, pebbles, small pieces of driftwood, and sea glass
Thick crafts glue

Instructions:

Use glass cleaner to remove fingerprints from the inside and outside of the jar. Decide if the jar is going to sit on its bottom or lie on its side. If you'd like, use a paint pen to write the name of the place where you collected the shells on the side of the jar. Pour enough sand into the jar to cover the bottom. Drop shells, pebbles, pieces of driftwood, and sea glass inside the jar. Glue a large shell, a sand dollar, or a group of shells onto the lid. Let the glue dry. Put the lid on the jar.



Baby Sock Coin Purse (I make these a lot!)

Baby sock change purses can be an adorable shower present or just a neat way to remind yourself to "sock away" your loose change. You can make one in as little as 10 minutes, which makes them ideal last minute gifts or baby shower favors. In this article, we will discuss how to make a baby socks change purse. Lay a baby sock flat on the table. It should be a clean, unused sock with a cute pattern. If you have selected a lacy anklet sock, then turn the sock down so that the lace is not at the top of the sock. Cut a slit about an inch long on either side of the sock. This will make room for the hinge on the metal clasp. Position the change purse clasp so that the top edges of the sock fit in the metal grooves of the clasp. The groove is meant to hold the material at the top of the change purse. In this case, it will be holding the edges of the ankle hole. Press the metal edges tightly together using the pliers. This will hold the sock firmly in place and enable you to shut the purse tightly so that change cannot escape. Fix the ends of the clasp to the sock with the needle and thread. There will be at least one small hole at each end of the change purse clasp. Use the needle and thread to firmly attach the ends of the clasp to the sock for added durability. Decorate with rhinestone accents. Sparkly rhinestones are a good way to customize your baby socks change purse and add pizazz to your cute new look.



Magazine holders

What You Need:

Empty cereal boxes
Wrapping paper, or wallpaper
Scissors
Tape (double-sided works best)

Instructions:

Cut off the sides of the box at your chosen angle and height. Wrap the box in wrapping paper or wallpaper, taking care to hide your tape. Repeat until you have enough storage boxes to house all of your magazines.

Tips:

1. Fabric or contact paper can also be used to wrap the box.

2. To hide your seams, place them on the corners of the box.

3. If you plan to group several boxes together, on a shelf or elsewhere, stick to the same size box – you'll achieve a more orderly look.

So there ya go… I think that’s enough to keep you busy for a few days LOL! I was going to cover some crafts using puzzle pieces, but there are WAY too many... so I figured in an upcoming entry, I'll cover just that... because you all know the puzzle piece is special to me anyway! There are literally thousands more ideas you can do to make recycled crafts! Just Google and you can be whisked away to a treasure cove of ideas. OK now for food… most of my readers know I am not privileged enough to get a chance to have many leftovers LOL… BUT- it doesn’t mean that I don’t do research for the benefit of my friends! Rather than posting a billion recipes here, I found 2 great sites that have a database full of ideas for leftovers and they are pretty easy to navigate… being divided by ingredient, etc. The first is called LeftOverChef.com and the other is LoveFoodHateWaste.com … be sure to check them out!

Well I am still conquering the clutter mess… and I think it’s contagious! YAY! My DD15 actually cleaned her room and found a banker’s box full of books she no longer reads, some in pristine condition. So I showed her a resource she has to recycle those books and make a little cash in the process. We loaded up and I took her to Half Price Books where they buy used books, CD’s, etc. She got like $15 and she was thrilled! Then I was up until about 2am this morning cleaning out in the bedroom closet! I took out 2 HUGE 39 gallon bags of clothes I either can’t fit or don’t wear anymore… I only saved 1 shirt I cant fit and its because I’m gonna turn it into a reusable shopping bag to that store. The shirt was a promo giveaway when they opened a new location at PetSmart and it has their logo on it… so why not make one? I’ll post a picture when I’m done with it (LMAO I know… I just inadvertently gave you another recycling craft idea LMAO! T-shirt shopping bags! That’s pretty good! LOL!) I also removed 1 big 39 bag of trash! I hung this row of hooks I found (actually supposed to be used to hang brooms, etc. on) at the back wall of my closet and hung some of the purses I use the most (yes I LOVE purses! LOL have them EVERYWHERE!) behind the clothes. I thought it was pretty smart! I’m going to get a couple more so I can hang more purses and belts, scarves, etc… all across the back wall in there! I went through my shoes too and took out a bunch. I got to get an over the door shoe organizer for the ones that remain! Gonna try to tackle some more of that room today! It looks tons better though… TRUST ME! LOL…

As for food? Well since I am on this cleaning frenzy, I have to have some fix it and forget it meals… so guess what that means kids?! YEP… more crock pot yummies!! Check out what’s for dinner in my house today!

Cheesy Crock Pot Chicken Recipe

6 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder, to taste
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup

Rinse chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix undiluted soup and pour over chicken in the crock pot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serve over rice or noodles.

Crock Pot Broccoli Rice Casserole Recipe

1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c margarine
2 c uncooked quick-cooking rice
2 c water
1 can mushroom soup
1/2 tsp salt
1 (5 oz) jar sharp cheese spread
2 (10 oz) pkgs frozen chopped broccoli
Dried onions

Combine onion, margarine, rice, water, soup, salt, cheese & broccoli to the Crock Pot. Cook on Low for 6 hours. Sprinkle dried onions when served. Serves 8

Ok kids… I’m out of here for the day. Happy cleaning, crafting, or whatever your journeys take you to do! Be safe, have fun, and see you tomorrow! HUGS!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

WE’RE GOING GREEN!

Good morning my darlings! How are you on this bright and sunny weekend? I’m doing alright. One thing I am happy to see is everyone groovin’ on the recycled crafts! I’m so diggin’ the vibe ya’ll are giving! It’s awesome! SO I decided that this weekend’s entries are all gonna deal with recycled crafts! I have so many that I want to share with you… so be prepared. Geez, there are so many great things I could share with you… I’m gonna have a hard time picking AND limiting this to a weekend deal LOL! And I think to stay true to form… we need to recycle some food too! Yep, leftover recipes baby! WOOHOO! This is gonna be an interesting weekend, so sit back and enjoy yourself… LOL… cause here we goooooooooo!

Ok, today’s first few craft ideas are gonna answer Hazel’s great comment from yesterday about empty CD cases. Those little clear jewel cases are very versatile and so many great things can be done with them. I gave you an idea yesterday on how to used scratched and damaged CD’s to make cute little cake toppers and centerpieces. And there are tons of other ideas to use CD’s on. But now I bet you’re thinking what do I do with all the empty jewel cases right? Well here are a few ideas you can make for yourself or would make cool gifts too!

Craft Idea of the Day: Recycling CD jewel case crafts



Collecter Frame- this could also be used for smaller photographs, stamps, pressed flowers, etc.

Materials Needed:

CD Case
Construction Paper
Glue
Tape
Baseball, Pokemon, or Other Card

Instructions:

1. Cut a piece of construction paper into a square that will fit into the cd case. Place your card in the center of the square and trace around it. Cut out the rectangle you traced, cutting it about 1/4 inch smaller than the line you traced (figure 1). Put a dab of glue in each corner of your square, on the opposite side of your trace lines. Open the cd case and stick your square on the inside of the clear cd case cover.

2. Cut a strip of construction paper about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. Cut another piece of construction paper about 1 inch wide and 4 inches long. Lay your card down between the trace lines in the center of your square. Lay the strips over the back of the card (figure 2). Tape the edges of your strips so they hold your card in place. Make sure the tape does not get on the card.

3. Close the cd case. Glue a pop can tab on the back of the cd case towards the top and you can hang up your Frame on your wall, or add a magent strip to the baack and hang it on your fridge! You can even add stickers and other miscellaneous things to decorate your frame.



Standing Picture Frame- Display photos of your children or other loved ones proudly on a desk or table!

Method/Instructions

A. Preparing the CD Jewel Case

1. Open the Jewel Case and remove the top cover. The best way to do this is to gently lift the top cover male connection until it separates from the bottom female opening. Be careful as prying them too wide cracks the top cover. Remove the CD title paper on the top cover.

2. Remove the middle plastic attached to the lower cover; ie the plastic part which has the circular shape to hold the CD. Depending on the type of Jewel Case, it can be removed with varying degrees of difficulty. For the difficult ones, the best way to remove the middle part is to flex the back cover so that the back cover and the middle plastic separate where you can place your finger between them. Pry open where there is only 1 connection first (each side has 3 connection - 1 in 1 edge while 2 in the opposite edge). When that has separated, pry open the other 2 connections on the same side or the other 1 connection on the other side, whichever pries more easily first. Remove the CD title paper on the back cover.

3. Replace the top cover to the back cover. This time, however, place the top cover on the opposite direction such that it won't close. You now have a slanted surface with the CD title clips facing back.

B. Preparing the Décor

4. Depending on the theme you would like to do, cut and shape your papers, cards, giftwraps, photos etc. Take note of the Jewel Case's internal dimensions so that you can lay-out accurately. Typical dimension available for décor is 4 3/4" wide and 5" high. Also, don't forget that you can use the paper that comes in the CD already as your guide to measure your new picture, no need for the extra work of having to bring out a ruler!

C. Putting together the Jewel Décor

5. Insert the decors/photos you have prepared in B into the top cover such that the CD title clips are securing them. Adjust accordingly.

6. Use a cardboard for backing the papers or photos so that they look firm from the front. Arrange them in your display area and you've got personalized décor you can change over and over again as the mood changes or as the season changes. No need to repaint the house every season!



Organizer from CD Cases (One of my favorites)

Recycle your old CD cases and make an organizer. We made a Father's Day organizer for my husband. I placed photos of the kids on each side and let them decorate their own page. We placed a poem on a blank side. You can use this organizer for many things. You can even place the cds back inside of the organizer. It would make a great Christmas gift for grandparents etc. We even made on for the teacher for Earth Day.

You need 5 empty CD cases and some hot glue. Start with one case on the bottom and glue each side one at a time. Be sure you can open the case cover as you glue it to the bottom. When you are done gluing, open each case and add decorative paper or photos etc.



CD Coasters

What You’ll Need:
1. old cd case (clear, with no stickers on the back)
2. decorative paper (from art and craft stores, or leftover wrapping paper, or magazine cut outs would look cool too)
3. scissors
4. masking tape (i found black at the art store, but that japanese colored masking tape that has been all the rage on blogs recently is now available in the us here)
5. exacto blade and cutting board

Instructions:

1. Open the CD case and remove all album artwork papers from front and back. clean the cd case and dry it off.

2. Trace the back of the cd on the back side of your paper. cut these templates out.

3. Remove the plastic cd insert ( the part that holds the actual cd) from the back piece of the cd case. it should snap out and snap back in again later. slide your paper in and cut down any excess until it fits exactly in the back of the case. fold the left edge of the paper where it meets the spine of the case.

4. Snap the plastic insert back in place. now you have a cd case with your pretty paper in the back and on the spine.

5. If you want your coaster to be double sided, trace the front of the cd case and cut out the template. slide the front template piece into the front of you cd case, like you would the album cover art. this is an optional step.

6. Cut four pieces of tape that are each 1″ longer then the sides of the cd case. to cut out the designs, stick the tape down onto a cutting mat and use an exacto blade to cut the shapes. if you do not want to free cut it, you can draw the design on first with a pencil to make sure it looks okay, then cut the design.

7. Gently peel up the tape from the cutting board and stick it on the sides of your cd case, overlapping with the back just enough to cover the edge. fold it down over the sides to hide the edges of the cd case. wrap the tape on the sides like you would a present. do this on all four sides with your four pieces of tape and snip the extra flaps off the sides with scissors.

8. If you are making your coasters double sided, you will want to overlap two pieces of tape just slightly lengthwise to form one thick piece of tape. follow step 6, but cut the design on both sides in a mirror image. then proceed to step 7.

So there are some great CD case crafts… now see all these other great ideas!



Recycled Vinyl Record Bowl

If you don't have an old record collection, you can buy records very reasonably at thrift stores and yard sales. These recycled retro record bowls make wonderful containers for potpourri - or you can line them with a doily or paper coffee filter and use them at parties to serve chips and crackers.

Supplies:

old vinyl record album

large ovenproof bowl

oven

oven gloves

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

2. Place the record on top of a large bowl turned upside down and carefully place in the oven.

3. Heat for about five minutes, or until record begins to soften and melt.

4. Wearing oven gloves, quickly remove from the oven. Flip the bowl the right way up and press the record into it so that it takes on the bowl shape. You'll find that the sides will curl in a fluted design, similar to the bowl in the picture.

5. While the record is hot and pliable, you can adjust the shape to your liking. If necessary, reheat for a short time to make adjustments.



Tea Tin Candles

Recycle old tin containers from tea, etc. into homemade candles! Make a day of scavenging flea markets, thrift stores, etc. if you don’t have any at home! These make unique and wonderful gifts. Add drops of essential oils for wonderful smells.



Post Card Wallets

Stitch attractive or vintage postcards into slender, pocket size wallets or business card holders! View the printable PDF instructions HERE!



Foody Fridge Magnets(Another one of my favorites!!)

Food comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and packages. Your kitchen cabinets, pantry drawers, and refrigerator shelves are already filled with marvelous little boxes and baggies of goodies. Some of these are cultural icons, others are silly modern wonders of neo-retro design. You may even have your own little collection of interesting little containers in the form of left-over little boxes of candy from Halloween. What can you do with all these things? Make them into an awesome array of fridge magnets!

The first step is to pick some appropriate boxes to use. Most anything will work. Things that are small, recognizable, and come in (large sets of) small packages are a good choice. Right after Halloween is a particularly good time of year for little boxes of things. Depending on your age, you've probably just been out trick-or-treating, or at home handing out little boxes of things to trick-or-treaters, so you may already have some cute boxes on hand. Even if you haven't gotten involved in the sugarfest, it may not be too late; you can sometimes find discounts the week after Halloween. Beyond the box, you'll also need some magnets and some glue to hold the magnets in place. If your box is bigger, needs to hold more to the fridge, or you just like overkill, it's good fun to use one of the monstrously strong magnets. If you've chosen to use a mint tin or other ferromagnetic box, your life will be easy: Just drop your magnet(s) in the box, shut the lid, and stick it to the fridge. Otherwise, welcome to the trickiest part of the project: Opening your boxes without making it look like they've been opened. If you've got large boxes, like the cream cheese box shown here, start with those. Most cardboard boxes used for packaging are assembled with glue. Find a flap that's held down by glue. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through the glue that holds one of the flaps down. Be sure to not bend the flaps as you open the box this way. Remove the contents of the box, drop in a magnet, and glue it in place. A hot glue gun is great for this. Drizzle in a little hot glue, and drop the magnet in on top of the bead of hot glue. Quickly place the box on a horizontal ferromagnetic surface (like the top of the fridge) so that the magnet is pulled down, flat against the side of the box and is then held in place when the glue cools.

Optional extra step: Once the magnet is in place, add some weight to the box. Dried pinto beans are cheap and are the right size to substitute for many candies, such as sugar babies. For less rattly things like Dots or raisins, you can use additional hot glue to hold most of the beans in place.

It can be a little bit tricky to seal up the box without making it obvious that the box has been opened and resealed. Your best strategy is to try and put a small drop of hot glue exactly where the original glue was, right beneath that flap that you cut open. If you do this correctly, it will leave no trace whatsoever that the box has ever been opened. Once you've put that last drop of glue in place, fold down the flap and firmly hold it in place until the glue is cool, around one minute. That's it, stick 'em to your fridge. Make lots of them. Give them out as party favors. Give them out as birthday presents. Come up with new varieties. Completely cover your fridge. If you are devious, mix them in with real candy and confuse the heck out of everyone. It's up to you.

See… it really is true! One person’s trash CAN be another person’s treasure! OK now on to food! First off Jean would like a recipe for a thicker potato soup. Granted I don’t make this one in the crock pot but it is very thick and very yummy!! And if you really think about it, you are recycling a baked potato… if you don’t eat it as a baked potato, but use it for a secondary purpose… its recycling! YAY! LOL…



Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients

4 baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups milk
1 cup chopped green onions
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
5 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

Directions

Bake potatoes 1 hour in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes and set aside. Reserve the skins for another recipe or discard.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually pour in the milk while stirring until all the milk has been added. Bring heat to medium and keep stirring until the soup mixture starts to get thick. **You can also mix 1/2 cup of flour with water to form a slurry and then add to the mix after the milk to make it super thick!

Add the potatoes, green onions, salt, ground black pepper, bacon and cheese. Stir well and continue to heat for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend. Stirring well, mix in the sour cream until well blended with the soup. Serve immediately.

Oh deary me… yummy goodness! OK and here is a sweet treat for you to make with leftover mashed potatoes!



Chocolate Covered Peppermint Patties

Ingredients

1 cup mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
8 cups confectioners' sugar
8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons shortening

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, salt, butter, and peppermint extract. Gradually mix in confectioners' sugar; mix in enough to make a workable dough, between 6 and 8 cups.

Knead slightly, and roll into cherry-size balls. Flatten balls to form patties. Arrange on sheets of wax paper, and allow to dry overnight.

Place chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Dip patties in melted chocolate, and let cool on wax paper.

Ok, well that’s all for today kids. Join us again tomorrow for another great adventure in the life and times of your friendly blogging buddy! LOL! Love ya all! HUGS!

Friday, January 22, 2010

MONEY TIPS AND HINTS

Good morning mes amis! How are you all this morning? I’m doing alright I suppose. The swelling has gone down under my eye at least… except right in the corner near my nose. It’s rather annoying LOL! I want to thank everyone for the comments yesterday. They were great! Now, I’m gonna take a few moments to answer all of your questions…

To Melissa- Thanks for letting all your SAHM’s know about the blog. I want to say HI to all of them and glad you like the reading! Make sure you get to be a registered follower so you are eligible for the prize! There’s still a few days left! Now… when I don’t feel well… well you have to understand I have had medical issues since I was 5 years old, so coping with it and keeping going is something I have always done. Its like habit now LOL. Plus I always have had so many people depending on me for so many different things… ya know that old phrase “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done”? Yep… there ya go. LOL but if I need a lot of energy (like for cleaning and stuff YUCK!) I do every once in awhile drink a Monster LOL! I have never held a class on crafts or cooking before. And I have never actually thought about it LOL. I go to Farmer’s markets on leisure time. I have never considered selling at one because of the fact that I do go to festivals, fairs, and shows tailored for Arts & Crafts booths. Honestly, I don’t think I would enjoy them as much if I had to work them too. And finally… BABY showers… those can be so fun! I remember my baby shower for my daughter! There were at least 50 people there and I got so many things that I didn’t have to buy anything except formula for the first 6-8 months of her life! It was crazy! Gimme a few days and we will discuss it… is it foe a boy or girl?

To Jean- Glad you are still enjoying the posts LOL! Hope you continue to enjoy them as well. As for meal planning… I set up a general “month” calendar but its just a guideline. I print out a blank month and write a meal on each day. This gives me a general idea of what to make throughout the month. However, I’m flexible… maybe what I wrote down for that day doesn’t sound good or maybe I have more people coming than that meal will feed. No problem, I just pull something different out… switch the days around if you will. Remember that if you have a hard time deciding, planning ahead on paper may help. And you can always quick thaw some ground meat in some cold water if you finally decide at noon that you want meatballs and they need to be done by 5pm LOL! And lastly… soups. Girl, where have you been all this time? LOL J/K… During the course of this whole blog so far, I have posted 22 Soups & Stews recipes. Are you looking for something designed around a specific ingredient?

To Hazel- Thank you so much for your comment and I am glad you are enjoying the writings. If there is anything you might want to see, let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

Ok, so I was reading online some of the articles for “Money matters” online recently, and I found this article I wanted to share… Now tell me this is not an “oxy moron”… you have an author writing about money issues and his/her name is SHAM? Um…. Yea ok… anyway, I thought a few were pretty interesting and maybe you will too…

Top 6 Mindless Money Wasters

by Sham Gad

Most people will say they are interested in saving money. Money saved from one area can be spent in another area. Or even better, the money can actually grow as an investment for the future. But despite the benefits of putting some money away, most people take a passing interest in actually doing it. As young adults, they don't think much about retirement; then, as adults, credit card debt becomes a way of life.

But the tough economic times that hit the U.S. in 2007 through 2009 were a wake-up call for many people, causing the public's view of saving to shift. If you'd like to make regular saving a part of your life, read on to find out how to conquer the first step: finding that extra money. You can begin by paying attention to these top money wasting activities.

1. Convenience Stores
Many people don't think about the mark-up they pay for convenience store items. Here's a hint: it's huge. This is because these stores don't purchase food in the large quantities that a grocery store does and also because they make you pay more for the convenience they provide. So, unless it's an emergency situation, avoid shopping at convenience stores. The premium you pay for convenience is not worth the assumed convenience you get. For example, a Coke at a convenience store might cost you a dollar, while you can go to the grocery store and buy a 12 pack for $4. If you tend to pull over for a drink, buy a 12-pack and keep it in your car. If you visit convenience stores often, the annual savings of cutting out these visits can be tremendous.
2. Cell Phone Plans
Take the time to check your monthly cell phone bill - you may be paying more than you need to. If you are using fewer minutes than your monthly plan allows, switch to a lower-rate plan. If you are using more minutes than your monthly allotment, then upgrade to a higher minute plan. Before making any changes to your plan, sit down with a list of your cell phone company's offerings and compare and determine which plan provides the most value based on your needs. Most cell phone companies charge 40 to 50 cents per additional minute, so going over your allowed minutes by 100 minutes one month will cost you $40 to $50 in that month alone. With many minute plan upgrades costing $10 to $20 a month, they'll easily pay for themselves. You should also scan through your cell phone plan for added features like text messaging and mobile internet. If you aren't really using these features, get rid of them - they're costing you money each month!
3. Soft Drinks
This one is a sneaky money waster. Not only does ordering beverages along with a restaurant meal boost your total expenses, but soft drinks also have one of the highest markups of any restaurant item, and thus provide lower value for your money. Consider a typical family of four that eats out twice a week at fast casual restaurants (typical for a middle class family even today). Assuming an average price of $1.50 for a fountain soft drink, that totals $12 a week, $48 a month, $624 a year. Just cutting out this one item from your meal could mean significant savings that could go into something much more productive, such as a retirement savings plan. If you invest $624 at the market average of 9% a year every year, you would have almost $32,000 at the end of 20 years. So dine out, but opt for water!
4. Unnecessary Bank Fees
Many people unknowingly pay a lot to their banks in the form of fees. If you don't know what fees your accounts are subject to, spend a few minutes finding out. Some banks charge ATM fees for using another bank's ATM, for example. These can be as high as $5! This amounts to a 25% one-time fee for a $20 withdrawal. The key with this type of fee is simply knowing about it. You would be better off using a credit card to make the purchase. Go back and examine the rules governing your checking and savings accounts. Many people have accounts with a fixed number of withdrawals and deposits per month. You would be better off with an account maintenance fee of $10 a month than getting hit with two or three different fees a month. Also consider consolidating bank accounts, as often one account with a larger minimum can eliminate numerous fees that might otherwise exist.
5. Magazines
If you're the type of person who likes to occasionally pick up your favorite magazine from the local grocery store or newsstand, consider getting an annual subscription. Even if you don't want the magazine every month, a couple of issues at the newsstand are enough to cover the entire annual subscription. For example, a 26-issue subscription to Forbes Magazine will cost you less than $25, while one issue at the newsstand costs $5.
6. Annual Credit Card Fees
Unless you have a poor credit history, there is no reason to pay annual credit card fees. A host of Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards have no annual fee, yet many people pay up to $100 a year for the privilege of holding a credit card. Unless you're an ultra-wealthy, exclusive holders of an elite-level credit card with exclusive perks, most people should not be paying annual credit card fees.
And speaking of credit cards, make sure you make a payment on time every month, even if it's the minimum. Many credit cards charge $39 monthly late fee charges, charges which accrue interest along with your existing balance.
Be Proactive- Spend a couple hours and go over the above categories along with any other regular habits you may have accumulated over the years. The time will be well spent as it could mean hundreds of dollars of recurring annual savings.


Alright, now… here is another cute craft from recycled materials… those old CD’s. I found this on thrifty fun and I had to share!



Craft Idea of the Day: CD Cake Toppers Or Centerpieces
Cover an old CD with scrap fabric and lace. Hot glue figurines on top for a cute centerpiece or cake topper! Make sure to ask friends and check with local thrift, pawn shops, etc. and ask them to save the damaged/unusable CD’s for you. Figurines can be found all over- thrift stores, dollar stores, craft stores, and your own home! Have fun!

Ok, food… who doesn’t love food, right? Here we go with another slow cookin’ hearty winter-y soup recipe to add to the collection!



Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
1/2 cup barley
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups water
4 cubes beef bouillon cube
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a slow cooker, cook chuck roast until very tender (usually 4 to 5 hours on High, but can vary with different slow cookers). Add barley and bay leaf during the last hour of cooking. Remove meat, and chop into bite-size pieces. Discard bay leaf. Set beef, broth, and barley aside.

2. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, celery, onion, and frozen mixed vegetables until tender. Add water, beef bouillon cubes, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chopped stewed tomatoes, and beef/barley mixture. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

And there you have it… today marks another day of fun and food LOL! I think I’m going to go lay down for a bit cause my meds are making me sleepy! I’ll see you here tomorrow… HUGS!