Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

From our family to yours! Oooh, I forgot how long it's been since I've posted a picture of the kids. Mr. Peanut had to get glasses! Funny enough, he could have gotten a monacle (just like the actual Mr. Peanut), considering he has Anisometropic Amblyopia, which means he has diminished vision in one eye. Funny that I've never thought of that before! He does excellent with them. Most of the time...



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Card Holder "Tree"



For years now, I've been receiving Christmas cards and had no idea what to do with them. Put them on the fridge? Clutter City! Stick them to the wall? No thank you, I prefer not to repaint each year. So mostly, I just show them to the fam and then they sit in a pile for a loooooooong time because I can't.get.myself to throw them away!!

I knew this year was the year I was going to do something about it! I started looking on the interwebz and happened upon a simple cardboard triangle, covered with fleece and ribbon to make a memo board. Never being the one to do things simply, I talked to J-dub the Hub and came up with a plan.

He cut a simple triangle out of a 2'x4' piece of pressboard. I covered it with an identical size layer of quilt batting and then a layer of fleece that overlapped enough to pull it around and staple it to the back of the board.

I ran to Joann Fabrics to buy ribbon and happened upon THE MOST ADORABLE trim in the whole entire planet--little Christmas light bulbs!! It was actually 100% what I had hoped for, but didn't actually think existed!

I grabbed another two pieces of trim because they were adorable and I would find a use for them someday--stockings and gingerbread men--and meant to grab plain green rick rack (forgot it), and upholstery tacks (Hallelujah! I remembered those).

I realized when I got home that I was missing the green rick rack, which I was going to use along the sides and bottom of the "tree." Listen folks, I know myself. If I had waited to get this done until I went back to get the green rick rack, it wouldn't have gotten done. Period. So I made the decision to use the super cute (and much more expensive) stockings and gingerbread men just along the two longer sides of the triangle.

I pinned the two sides of the triangle (hereafter called the RRR because both trim had red rick rack) to the fleece and J-dub the hub and I started the light bulb trim on the bottom. After folding the ribbon on the trim, we pounded an upholstery tack (using a tack hammer--imagine that) through the light bulb trim and the RRR. Then we put the lightbulb trim at an angle that looked good and tacked it down on the other side to the RRR. We measured up 12 inches from the trim on the OTHER side and cut, folded, and tacked the ribbon. We repeated the same process until we got to the top of the tree. We decided to leave some room at the top so we wouldn't be crowding the cards.

To finish it, we pounded in a tack at the edge of each point and stapled the RRR behind the board.

We think it turned out great!! BRING ON THE CHRISTMAS CARDS PEOPLE!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Haven't Ordered Your Cards Yet?

LUCKY YOU!!

This year, I was thrilled to be asked to partner with Shutterfly for my Holiday Cards. Unfortunately, my procrastination got the better of me and I didn't notice I hadn't received the proper codes for the promotion until a few weeks ago. AFTER I had already ordered my cards. :( Woh-woh...

Then, to add insult to injury, I couldn't get my blog to work properly. If you hadn't noticed, this blog is looking a little wonky. With all the Christmas activities, I don't have another 12 hours to spend trying to get it to function properly, since that's about how much time I spent last week just trying to get my column over there ----------> back over there ----------> from clear underneath all my posts. Grrrrrr...

On to better topics!

I have these hot codes that I'd love to give to three of you for 25 FREE 5x7 flat or folded cards (standard shipping is only $5.99)! It's a little late, but don't let that stop you! Shutterfly has an AMAZING selection of New Year's Cards!! Why not distinguish yourself from all the others by sending your cards after all the hustle and bustle is done??

How about something simple and bright?


Maybe you want something more traditional?


This one's my personal favorite!


And here's a really cool idea--2011 highlights!


To enter to win a set of 25 5x7 cards (shipping is $5.99 for standard shipping and they may take up to 10 business days to receive, but if you're doing New Year's Cards--who cares??), just leave a comment on this post. Please leave me your email (in long format ie YourEmailAddress at YahooGmailorWhateverelseyouuse dot com) if your Google profile doesn't link to your email so I can get in touch with you to give you your code! Contest will end 12/21 at 12:00 a.m. EST and winners will be notified 12/22. The codes expire on 12/31/2011, so if you win, be sure to get back to me immediately!

GOOD LUCK!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Circus Birthday Party Overview



Presenting--the greatest show on Earth--Midget & Peanut's Circus Birthday Party!!I had so much fun planning this party! I searched all over the web for ideas that I could incorporate on a small-ish budget, even though I knew the party was going to be the largest I'd thrown since our wedding.

The first thing I did was create a board on Pinterest, just to keep my visual ideas in one place. I resisted Pinterest for a while because I really didn't want another thing that I had to feel guilty about not keeping up with, but once I got in there and started working with it, it became a great tool that I've used for several other things. I set up a non-personal account, so I can share eye-candy with y'all, but I just set it up, so it's completely blank right now. However, you are welcome to follow me if you'd like! Just click here to get to my Pinterest page.


The next thing I did was to search out a printable party pack that would work for both the turdlets in both graphics and color scheme. I searched on Etsy and found an affordable and, most importantly, ADORABLE pack from Dimpleprints. They were super fast and awesome to work with, plus the pack I received included SO much stuff! Invitation, thank you, party hats, cupcake toppers, every sign imagineable (and some I hadn't thought of), and so much more! Be on the lookout for all the matching goodies throughout the pictures in this series.

So as not to overwhelm you with pictures and information, I'll be doing three more posts about the Circus Birthday Party. Look for posts on Activities, Food, and Sweets & Favors. Better yet, subscribe or sign up for emails (to the left of this post) and get updates right in your feeder or inbox!!

For now, I'll leave you with two pictures of my adorable munchkins. I sure do have cute kids!!



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Midget and Peanut!!!

I am just so amazed at how quickly this year has flown by! My baby girl turns 4 in just a few days and my baby boy turned one a few days ago.















J-dub the hub and I took the turdlets to a small circus a few months ago and Midget was enthralled with the whole experience! She laughed at the clown, ooooooed over the lions and tigers, squealed with excitement to get her face painted, and almost peed herself when she got to ride an elephant!! So, we are having a circus birthday party this weekend and I decided to do their birthday pictures in the same theme.















For the tutu, I followed the directions here and it turned out beautiful! It's so simple if you get the tulle spools. They can be found for less than $2 per spool on ebay. I cut the tulle in about 30 minutes and tied the tutu while I was catching up on some Dexter. Oh, I love that show...















The tie was made using this tutorial, although I made the tie pattern quite a bit skinnier.














The diaper cover was made using the tutorial and pattern found here. Just a piece of advice--do NOT sew the waist and legs up until you try them on your little one. I had to rip out the waist AND one of the legs. Because I was being impatient and wanted to finish. That's why...

I made the suspenders from ribbon and mitten clip clips (does that make any sense?). I thought I had four clips so I would've just made the traditional X in the back, but it turned out I only had three, so I had to improvise. I used an orange hair band and looped it.... I can't really explain it, so here's a picture of it.














I think my two clowns are the cutest!! Stay tuned for Birthday Party Pictures!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thai Friday

First things first. My baby is broken. Not Midget or Peanut, but my beloved DSLR. For some reason, it just pooped out in the middle of our vacation in Montana. I guess it just couldn't handle the utter gorgeousness of my home state. But I prefer to blame it on the hubby, since he was taking pictures of me being a total bad*ss on a jetski when the camera died. Yeah. I'm awesome like that...

So, not like you're used to super awesome pictures on this blog, but you can expect some super crummy pictures for at least the next few weeks. I'm just praying that my camera is back before the turdlets' birthday party, which is in less than a month.

Anyway, remember my little bitty Thai Container Garden? Well, this is what it looks like now!












Thanks to our lovely plant-sitting neighbors, the container didn't die while I was gone for almost two months. As a thank you, I planted them their own Thai container. I ended up removing two pepper plants from this one, so one went into the garden and one went into their pot, I separated one of the Thai basil, and then transplanted the lemongrass that I propagated. Their container looks lovely as well, and I am a bit surprised that all of their plants thrived after such a brutal transplanting and the fact that I rooted out their lemongrass!

First order of business was to snip all the basil flowers. The flowers smell lovely and I'm thinking it will make fabulous Thai Basil Flower Vinegar. I'm steeping most of the flowers in plain white vinegar for a few weeks and will report back to you whether or not it was a successful endeavor. I'm thinking it will make a neat gift for friends.

I'd like to take a quick second to brag about my first garden harvest of the season.

Isn't it gorgeous?? Grape tomatoes (the orange ones were an awesome surprise), cubanelle peppers, banana peppers, red bell pepper, crookneck squash, a better boy tomato, and some OBSCENELY large cucumbers. I've since pulled gobs more tomatoes, but the cucumbers are slow to grow after supporting those giants!


Next, it was time to put that gorgeous Thai pot to good use! For dinner on Friday, it was Gai Pad Prik Khing (Chicken and Vegetables in a Chili Ginger Curry) and Som Tam-inspired salad (Green Papaya Salad) made with zucchini instead of green papaya. Just so you know, I'm not attesting to the authenticity of these Thai dishes, but they are DELICIOUS!











The curry recipe is all my own--a mishmash of many recipes I found online and using what I had on hand. The Zucchini Ribbon Salad is from Aarti Party on foodnetwork. I would highly suggest you start with only ONE tablespoon of fish sauce in the salad and then add more to your liking. I really love cooked fish sauce, but raw fish sauce is, well, fishy. Just take a piece of zucchini and dip it in the sauce (before you dump it on all the zucchini) and then add more fish sauce if you want it.

Here's my curry recipe. Have lots of beverage nearby and reserve a bit of chicken and veggies before you add the curry if you have kids. Midget took a bite, said "YUM!" and then spit it out on her plate once the heat hit. Peanut kept shoving it in his mouth, chewing, then crying, then gulping his water. I'm not a two-meal sort of family, but they both got some ham to eat after the hubby pointed out that there are some adults that wouldn't eat my spicey curry.

Wusses...

Gai Pad Prik Khing

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil, divided
1 small Onion
1 Thai Dragon Chili (VERY optional, as the curry paste is quite hot anyway) cut into very fine mince
1 cup diced Zucchini
1 cup diced Eggplant
2 Tbs Fish Sauce
10 oz boneless skinless Chicken Breast, cut into thin strips
2 Tbs Prik Khing Curry Paste (recommended brand Mae Sri)
1 can Light Coconut Milk
Cooked Jasmine Rice

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet with high sides (at least 4 inches tall) over high heat. Add vegetables and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add fish sauce and then chicken and saute for another 3-4 minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken and veggies to a plate and turn heat down to medium-high.

Heat remaining oil in skillet and add curry. Fry curry until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and veggies back in and stir until coated with curry paste. Stir in can of coconut milk, reduce heat to medium-low and heat through.

Serve over Jasmine Rice.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Has it been that long??

Wow, this summer has gone by SO fast thus far! We spent the beginning of June in Wisconsin and then my sister flew me and the turdlets out to Montana to spend almost a month. We got back last Friday and then left on Tuesday to go to North Dakota and Montana (again). I'm exhausted and am missing my garden, but it has been so much fun!!

Here's a smattering of the fun we've had so far!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Handmade Baby Gift


Here's a baby gift I made for a friend of a friend. I guess you could say I was "commissioned" to make it, as my friend saw Peanut's tag blankie and me using a handmade nursing cover and she asked me to make her friend one of each. My first paid project! :) It includes a nursing cover, burp cloth, and tag blankie.

I've made several nursing covers just by using an existing cover I have as a guide, but there are several good tutorials out there like this one by made by the mama monster and this one by Sew Much Ado, so I won't bore you with another tutorial full of my blather. The burp cloth is just an inexpensive Gerber cloth diaper with two little strips of material sewn on. I bought a big pack of the diapers (maybe 10 or 12) and have doled them out one or two at a time for baby gifts. I've also appliqued on the diapers when the material has cute little scenes, but this particular crabby fabric was just little squares and wouldn't have looked quite right.

All in all, I spent under $20 (including several inexpensive spools of ribbon for the blankie, the cost of the diaper, and a few bucks to mail it to my friend) for a practical handmade gift that any nursing mom-to-be will love!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thai Container Garden














I'm SO geeked about this container! Seriously, could I be any more of a garden nerd?? I loooooooooooooooooooooooove Thai food, but I don't like the 20 minute drive each way to the Asian market every time I want to make it. So I started thinking about what I could grow at home and began the hunt for what would grow well in my climate and how easy it would be to find.

I decided on Thai Basil (yummy anise flavored basil), Thai chilis, and Lemongrass. They all require full sun, which they will happily drink up out on our deck. All of these plants would grow well inside your home if you have a nice sunny spot, but I have the kidlets and the wieners, both of which are not conducive to growing plants indoors without spilled containers and/or plucked leaves and/or chewed up plants which results in a very angry Mommy...

Thai Basil, also known as Siam Queen Basil, is easy to find. I saw seeds at Lowe's, but you can also buy it online at amazon and burpee. You can start it easily from seed, but I took the easy way out and bought two plants.

Thai Chili seeds are also fairly easy to find, but for many of us, it is getting to be a bit late to start peppers from seed. Your best bet is to find plants. You can order them on amazon or burpee, but you can also just go to your closest asian market and pick up some dried Thai chilis and use the seeds from those! You'll want to sow your pepper plants indoors, unless you live in the Southern United States. My container has four thai dragon chili plants in it right now, but I will most likely remove one plant (and maybe even two) depending on how they fill out.

In searching online, I found that you can actually propagate lemongrass at home! Just buy some lemongrass and cut off most of the top woody portion and plop it in some water. Mine didn't quite grow as fast as was shown on the link, but I suspect the lemongrass I bought wasn't very fresh. It still isn't ready to transplant after three weeks, so I was thrilled to find a plant at a local store!

Stay tuned for delicious Thai recipes in 45-70 days! " )

Monday, May 2, 2011

Midget and Peanut

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!! Can someone please slow time down a little bit for me? These kids are growing too, too fast!! Here's a few pictures from a recent photoshoot. I know everyone thinks their kids are cute, and I'm no exception! I think Peanut looks especially dapper in his little old man hat... Love that sweet boy!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Handmade Twirly Skirt Set


I decided to try my hand at my first piece of clothing for our little neighbor girl's birthday! I've done mostly craft sewing and feel like I have a pretty good feel for it, but sewing clothing is an entirely different matter to me. It has to fit. That's kind of important... I used a tutorial from House on Hill Road. The photos are great and it turned out super cute.

I bought twice the amount of fabric needed, just in case, and I guess it was a good move. It took me two skirts to get it right, but at least this way Midget will have a cute little skirt to wear also. Who cares if her bottom hem is crooked, the waistband hem is only half the size it's supposed to be, and the seams don't match up??? Ooops...

I also appliqued a t-shirt and made a little headband to match for the birthday girl. While doing the shirt, Midget was running around and wanted to watch and was generally driving me BONKERS! Well, I learned my lesson not to sew with her around when I was half done with the tree trunk and all of its teensy weensy little twists and turns and I realized I HAD SEWN THROUGH BOTH THE FRONT AND BACK OF THE SHIRT! Grrrrrrrr..... I had to sit and rip out each little thread and take care not to poke holes in the t-shirt material. It'll probably fall apart the first time it's washed, but at least she can wear it once. " )

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Car Playmat



I saw this car playmat over a year ago and saved it to my favorites, knowing at some time, I would want to make it. My friend's little boy turned three this month, and seeing his obsession with his cars made it the perfect gift for him!

What is with me and finishing early?? I finished this project fairly early in the evening the night before the party. It completely threw me off my game and I forgot to take pictures of the completed carmat. Then the next day at the party, I left my camera at home and had to have the hostess of the party take pictures of the playmat for me. Thankfully, she wasn't too irritated at me. Well, she didn't say she was...

I actually think the most difficult part of making this playmat was finding cotton car fabric!! What on earth?? I looked all over the internet for fun fabric, scoured JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby and all I could find was too nursery-like or licensed Cars fabric. I finally settled for flannel, since it was all I could find in brighter colors, though I'm sure my friend will be thanked by the waitress at every restaurant they visit because that flannel will most likely pick up every crumb on their table...

I had some help from two different fabulous Aussies making this project. The original link has great pictures, but is not very specific with measurements. Thankfully, cookyousomenoodles posted some estimated measurements that were SUPER helpful!! Created by Cathy drew out some templates for each of the four sections that were also very helpful. You will just need to email her for the templates. I was feeling lazy and used the templates more for sizing purposes and didn't cut out the templates and then pin and cut the corresponding felt out. It would have looked much neater, I'm sure, but I think it still turned out pretty good!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dora Cake

Midget's Bestest Buddy had her 3rd birthday last weekend. For a little something special, I made a Dora cake for her. I swear this was the first cake I've done that I wasn't up until 3 o'clock in the morning! I finished it at 7 p.m. and then sat and wondered what else I could do to keep myself up until all hours of the night...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Taggie Blanket (Tag Blankie) Tutorial


I know I could completely get away with not telling you all how long ago I talked about doing a taggie blanket tutorial here. But, I'm just not that kind of girl. I prefer to berate myself publicly, even though it doesn't seem to help me in any way... It was almost two years ago. eeeeeeeek. How on earth does time fly like that?? I finally am getting around to it now.

To be fair, I haven't made a blankie in that long and last week, I noticed Peanut mesmerized at the tag on a stuffed monkey. Since poor Midget never got one, I decided to rip a tag blankie out for Peanut to try to make up for his second child photo syndrome. Surprisingly, I remembered that I said I was going to do a photo tutorial on here. Funny, since I can't seem to remember to put on my undies some days...

First, gather your materials.
Two 14 x 14 inch squares of fabric: I prefer fleece and flannel because they are fairly easy to sew and nice and soft, but you can use whatever material floats your boat.
Sixteen 6 inch long lengths of ribbon: I like to use varying textures, colors and widths of ribbon. You can coordinate them with your fabric or just use whatever you have on hand.
Coordinating Thread: I didn't worry too much about this because my non-patterned flannel fabric was light colored, so I used white thread. If you use a darker colored solid panel, you'll want to coordinate your thread.
Empty cellophane candy bags (Optional): I sewed in some crinkly panels, but once I realized I wouldn't be able to bring Peanut's tag blankie to church, I was sad I'd done it. : (

Here's my two fabric squares.








First, I sewed in the crinkly panels. I just took two empty candy bags (by the way, I LOOOOOOOOVE Everlasting Gobstopper Heartbreakers and wish they made them all year long but it's probably a good thing they don't because I'd have broken teeth and lots of cavities and I'd never look good in that strapless bridesmaid dress I have to wear in November) and cut off the end pieces and opened them up and cut them a little bit bigger than where I wanted to sew them onto and zipped around them. If your fabric has a right and wrong side, you would want these on the wrong side of the fabric. Midget was insistent her hand be in this picture. Silly girl!








Here's a front view of the fleece with the two crinkly panels sewn in.








Now it's time to pin on your ribbons! You'll be putting four ribbons on each side. Fold each ribbon in half and match up the raw edges of the ribbon to the edge of your fabric. The loop should be in the middle. Take your ruler out and lay it next to your material (if your fabric has a right and wrong side, you'll want the right side up) with the 0 at the end of the fabric. Place the middle of each of your four ribbons at 3 1/2 inches, 6 inches, 8 1/2 inches, and 11 inches on each side. Here is my blankie all pinned up.








Here's a step that isn't 100% necessary, but after making several blankies, I realized it makes everything a billion times easier than just pinning the ribbons on and sewing the two fabric squares together with the ribbons pinned inside. You don't have to worry about your ribbons being crooked, or poking the crud out of yourself trying to remove your pins by sticking your hand in the little opening, and it triple reinforces the ribbons, so (hopefully) your little one will have a harder time ripping the ribbons out of the blanket! Take a nice long stitch (I had my stitch length at 3 because some of my ribbons were only 1/8 inch wide) and sew just along the ribbons at 1/4 inch. Lift up your presser foot after you sew through each ribbon and put it down before the next ribbon. You can see the extra thread on my picture below. Clip your threads and proceed to the next step.








Next, put your other piece of material directly on top of your ribbons, making a ribbon sandwich. If your fabrics have right and wrong sides, match up the right sides.










Now pin your sandwich together and sew a 1/2 inch seam allowance around the outside, leaving a 3 inch opening for turning. I used a stitch length of 3, but you may need to vary yours depending on the fabric you choose. Remember, the thinner the fabric, the lower the stitch length. If you use cotton and flannel, you'll probably want to do a stitch length of 2.








Clip your corners about 1/8 inch from the corner so you'll have nice sharp corners. Clip off your threads.








Turn the entire thing inside out and poke out your corners. I use a chopstick to make nice square corners.








Tuck your opening inside and pin it closed. Sew 1/8 inch seam around the entire blankie (I used a stitch length of 2). TA-DAAAAAAAAAA!! Tag Blankie!!








Peanut immediately fell in love with it. Not as much as I'm in love with his utter gorgeousness...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Midget's New Haircut

Midget got a sassy new haircut! She was twirling her hair so hard she was yanking chunks out of it on a daily basis. I'd go into her room and find perfect little circles of hair laying by her bed. So we took a few last pictures of the ponies and went to chop it off. She had fun doing some silly faces, but she was all business when she was modeling her new haircut for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birthday Beer Can Chicken


There's something decidedly obscene about Beer Can Chicken. I can't help but guffaw every time I look at that poor chicken with a beer can shoved up its hoohah... *snort*

However, the moist deliciousness of the chicken is enough to overlook how weird it looks to have a chicken sitting straight up in your oven.

Today is Jdub-the-hub's birthday. He had to be out of town for work today, so we celebrated this weekend. The menu was fantastically trailer-trash, if I do say so myself. Yuengling Chicken, Dijon Roasted Potatoes, Peas, homemade vanilla ice cream, and.....

wait for it....

TWINKIES! Yes, my husband requeted Twinkies instead of birthday cake. The ease factor of making the cake for him--rip open box, rip open plastic, set twinkies on plate, and insert candles--was fantastic.










Beer Can Chicken

4 lb Chicken, washed and thoroughly dried
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 can of Beer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Make rub by mixing salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper together in a small bowl and set aside. Be sure chicken is completely dry on the outside or your rub won't stick to the chicken. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the rub inside the chicken and then cover the rest of the bird with the rub.

Open your beer can and drink about 1/3 of it. Yummmmmmy. We used Yuengling and it was AMAZING!!

Now comes the fun part. Stick that chicken on top of the beer can with the legs and the beer can acting as a tripod. Giggle a little, then bend the wings back so it looks like the chicken is crossing its arms behind it's non-existent head.

Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer stuck into the chicken's thigh reads 165.

Go turn on some Nascar (just kidding hubby), cut your hair into a mullet, and ENJOY!

Midge sure loves her Daddy. And so do I.