Upcycling Jeans

My hooligans are horrendously hard on the knees of their jeans. The kindergartener just outgrew a pair, and since the knees were ripped out, I thought I’d upcycle them for Princess Thundercloud.

DSC_0020-1 I may have mentioned a time or thirty that rainbows rock at our house. Oh, and Thundercloud was not actually skateboarding without a helmet…she stood on it for like 10 seconds while I took this photo. And I probably could have caught her if she started to slip. She’s much more coordinated than her brothers, though, so she rarely falls, which is a nice change.

DSC_0017-1 I had this t-shirt material in my stash, bought for who knows what who knows when. I just cut a couple of 4” wide strips from it for the ruffle. I cut the legs off the jeans just above the crotch and far enough below the back pockets that I wouldn’t sew on them, about 1/2”.

First I sewed the two ruffle pieces together to make one long strip. At this point, a prudent sewer would stitch a running stitch along the top and carefully gather it into the correct length ruffle. As a general rule, ruffles take about 1-1/2 times the finished length you need. Being impatient, and only having 30 minutes for this project before picking up the Princess, I gathered the ruffle material onto the cut edge of the jeans. I stopped when I was about 6” from the end, estimated how much I needed, and cut off the rest of the ruffle strip. I sewed the ends together, then finished ruffling it onto the jeans.

I hemmed it using a zigzag stitch, just to be a little decorative. I was even using rainbow thread. I’m the coolest. Just ask my kids.

Just as a heads up, I may or not post next week. The GI and I are headed to an Army conference and my mom will be here with the hooligans. Say an extra prayer for her and her sanity! If I can figure out how to blog on the iPad, I might do a post or two. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Now if I could only get the housekeeping and laundry fairy to show up so I could take a nap…the snowplow rudely awakened me at 2:30 this morning. When we got home from swim and ballet lessons last night, there was not a bit of snow or rain. By the time the plow came, I was shocked to see about 6 inches on the ground. I’m certain the forecast at 6:00 last night said no more than a trace! Oh, well, I’m happy to see it, even if it is two days before we fly to warmer climes.

Have a fabulous weekend, snow or sun, and be green…or rainbow-ish…and upcycle something!

A Little Bit of Handmade

While I neither practice nor advocate making handmade cards for kids (unless it’s a relative or other mom that I know will notice and appreciate!), I do like to attach a handmade tag to gifts.

I picked up some cute glitter stickers at Michaels this week, on sale no less, and thought they’d make quick and easy tags.

DSC_0018 I cut my paper in half, to make two 8-1/2” x 5-1/2” sheets, then in half again for four 4-1/4”x5-1/2” sheets, then again for a total of eight pieces, 4-1/4”x 2-3/4”. It’s really economical, too..8 tags from one sheet of cardstock. I rounded and notched corners, stamped a greeting, and added a punched scallop circle.

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Put the stickers on, punch a hole at the top, and you’re ready to tie one on! That cute Happy Birthday sentiment can be found in the Sweet Cake stamp set in the Occasions Minicatalog from Stampin’ Up!, if you need it.

This idea, of course, would work for your adult friends, as well. I try to keep a few tags on hand, for wine bottles, flowers, bread, or any other gift that doesn’t really require an entire card.

Stamp a little, create a litte, but most of all, I hope you find time for a little fun today!

Drop by for Drinks and a Bite!

What a bad Catholic I am…here it is Ash Wednesday, and my post today is about wine and indulgent appetizers. Of course, no meat is involved, so perhaps it will be forgiven.

plate If you read this today, it will give you plenty of time to plan for the weekend and a little wine and cheese.

glass I like the little wine charms that have been everywhere for the past few years. However, I always forget to buy any. Here’s a great idea to help guests keep track of their glass.

coasters I used a large flower punch (from Stampin’ Up!, of course), then a smaller (3/4”) round punch to make a hole in the center. Then cut a slit from the edge to the center, and you’re done. If you wanted them to match a party theme, they could be the same paper, but use a silver Sharpie to jot down a name. Of course, it’s up to your guests to refrain from imbibing so much they forget what color they had!

app The other night, GI Joe and I were craving a salty-sweet snack. After rummaging around the kitchen I wound up with these tasty baguettes with jam and cheese.

Bleu Cheese and Fig Jam Crostini

Baguette

Bleu Cheese, crumbled

Fig Jam

Butter, softened

Split the baguette lengthwise and butter lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cut into 1” diagonal slices. Spread about 1 tsp fig jam on each slice, then sprinkle with bleu cheese. I found the fig jam at World Market…I’m always seeing recipes with fig jam and needing it.

These ideas should help you be ready for your next impromptu cocktail party, since both are super quick to do. A little touch of details, though, will make your guests feel extra special…even before they start drinking!

I’m linking this up to the Tip Junkie’s Tip Me Tuesday…come check out all the great ideas there!

Tip  Junkie handmade projects

A Manly Card for the Manly Man

Here’s a card I first made a few years ago, when this set was brand spankin’ new. I’ve used the layout several times with other stamp sets, I like it so well. To those of you who were in my stamp club when we made this, I apologize…but maybe your life is as chaotic as mine and you’ve completely forgotten it! In that case, enjoy!

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All Stampin’ Up! supplies: Totally Tool stamp set
Crumb Cake, Whisper White, and Night of Navy Cardstock
Chocolate Chip Classic Ink; Watercolor Crayons
Plaid DSP from a retired set; 1” and 1 1/4” circle punches; Cutter Kit

This stamp set still makes me grin, and I think I’ve had it for about 4 years. It’s a great manly set, and can be used for all sorts of occasions. The only non-self-explanatory part of this card is probably the distressing. I used the distressing tool on the Cutter Kit to rough up the edges and give it a little texture. Neato, eh?

Now you’re ready to make a card for a man who will appreciate it…and by that I mean save it forever because you took the time to hand craft it!

Sorry this post is so short, but everyone’s been home to keep me company for the last four days, and I’m so far behind I can’t even see today’s to-do list. Hopefully I can get caught up and have time to work on what’s important…keeping you entertained and crafty!

A Couple of Random Things I Did

I admit it…I have nothing cohesive to blog about today. But I did make a couple of things this week that I want to show-n-tell…I took the photos, now you’re being forced to look at them! At least I can’t hear you, so you’re not required to “oooh” and “aaah.”

DSC_0018 These are some extremely delectable Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies I made for the GI Joe’s office. I found them on…where else…Pinterest. They’re from the blog, The Novice Chef. She has some amazing ideas there, made with ingredients pretty much anyone has (or can obtain easily).

DSC_0023 This horrible photo badly shows this week’s addition to the organization of my craft room. This is a chalkboard decal from Stampin’ Up!’s Decor Elements line. It’s a couple of years old and no longer available, but you can easily find similar ones at craft stores or at Stampin’ Up! I’ve been wanting chalk markers (like restaurants use on their menu boards) for a while, and found myself at Hobby Lobby with a 40 percent off coupon yesterday, so I bought them,

They work excellently, and don’t just rub off and smear like regular chalk does. The do come off easily when you want them to, however, as does the chalkboard decal. That’s important because I’m sure my next craft room won’t configure the same way and this side of my cabinet will be against the wall or something. It’s Murphy’s Law.

So there’s my Friday wrap-up for the week…great reviews for both the Red Velvet Brownies and the Chalkboard Decals and markers. I call that a good week…two explorations that worked!

Enjoy your weekend, if that’s what you choose to do.

Giving Up on Winter

I’ve decided to accept that our first winter here in Wisconsin will not live up to our snowy expectations. Today it’s a balmy 45 degrees, and I can see the gravel on my driveway again, since the snow has melted.

After taking down the Valentine’s decorations, my front door looked naked, so I decided to make a wreath. grass-wreath Cute, huh? I copied from one I saw on Pinterest, at Capture the Details. Mine’s not exactly like hers, but pretty close, working with what I had on hand.

wrapping This wreath was at Dollar Tree, and a little large for the project, and, amazingly, I bought this eyelash yarn years ago (really, probably 4 years ago or more) to use when gift wrapping or for a little texture on cards. I’ve used a bit of it, but the remainder was plenty for the wreath. I tied it around the wreath and started wrapping, pushing each wrap against the previous. It sounds tedious, but took less than 30 minutes. I was watching Martha at the time, so it didn’t seem like long!

After I finished wrapping, I tied it again before cutting it. I rummaged through my craft stash and found some tiny paper flowers in a Stampin’ Up! Pretties Kit, and the felt flowers are from a Stampin’ Up! Floral Fusion set. I had various size pearl beads that I glued into the center of each flower after I glued the flowers to the “grass.”

For the tag, I printed the saying from my computer and notched the corners to make a tag. To distress it, I wrinkled it all up, smoothed it out, and rubbed some distressing ink over it. To finish, I put in a jumbo eyelet and tied it to the wreath using Early Espresso baker’s twine.

Then I hung it on my door and hoped it will jinx this early spring we’re having! I know, I’ve not really accepted that we won’t have the Blizzard of the Century yet this season. A girl has to have dreams.

Spaghetti Squash Rocks!

As I’ve said before, my hooligans, troublemakers though they are, will eat just about anything. Each has a couple of quirks, so although I do force them to try whatever it is once in a while, I mostly let them avoid those few foods. For the oldest, it’s oatmeal. I think it’s a texture thing. For the middle one, it’s nothing. That kid eats everything and anything that’s not nailed down. The youngest doesn’t like spinach, but she will eat a few bites of it.

This is one of their favorite meals, and it’s really pretty healthy, not to mention quick to prepare. I decided last week to make this, having everything on hand, and it was on the table less than 30 minutes later.

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Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Spinach

1 spaghetti squash

1 lb bulk turkey Italian sausage

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for topping

12 oz spinach

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp water

drizzle of balsamic vinegar

DSC_00181) To make the squash: Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down in a shallow microwavable dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 15 minutes, until it gives a little when you squeeze it (using a hotpad). Let it cool for about 15 minutes…I just leave it in the microwave while I cook the rest of the dinner.

2) Brown sausage in a large skillet with a lid. Don’t cover the sausage, but you’ll need the lid when you cook the spinach. When the sausage is well-browned, remove from pan and keep warm.

3) To cook the spinach: If you don’t have about 2 Tbsp of oil from the sausage, add enough olive oil to make 2 Tbsp to the skillet. Over medium high heat, add spinach and toss to coat with the oil. Add the 2 Tbsp water, and put the lid on it. It’ll take just a couple of minutes to wilt. After it wilts, turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

4) Finish the squash: Hold a half in one hand and use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” inside. Repeat with the other half. I scrape it right into the same dish I cooked it in…why get another dish dirty? Toss with 2 Tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5) To serve, place squash on plate and top with sausage. Serve spinach alongside, or under sausage. We mix it all together when we eat…extremely tasty! This serves our family of 5, but with no leftovers.

If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, you should consider it. We like it substituted for pasta with almost any sauce. Obviously, mac-n-cheese still requires the pasta, so don’t try that on your kids and blame it on me!

Scrapping Valentine’s Day

We love to celebrate holidays around here, but I do think Valentine’s Day, along with many other holidays, is becoming way over-commercialized. I heard on the news that the average that each American will spend for Valentine’s Day is $125 this year. Really?

So I’ve tried to keep it handmade this year, for the most part. The hooligans got a few little handmade Valentines from us, and we made the ones for their classmates. Teachers just got a few chocolates, which the kids wrapped in decorated paper. The hubs did leave roses for me this morning, which was super sweet, along with a card and my favorite coffee. I’m pretty sure he didn’t make any of it, but he’s busy saving the world every day, so that’s understandable!

As one of my wise friends said on Facebook today, (paraphrasing here) I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day, and are appreciated for the love you give, and not for the overhyped gift expectations for the day!

Vday-SubwayJust so I’m not remiss in posting something creative today, here’s a digi-scrap page I made for our albums…nothing makes my heart happier than a happy family! (and my GI is happy, he’s just not pictured on this particular page!)

Enjoy a love-ly day!

Filling a Football-less Sunday

Everyone at out house seemed to be adrift yesterday, the first Sunday without football in a very long time. Not that we’re total fanatics…we usually don’t turn on the television until 3:00 or so. I’m not sure why everyone was so aimless.

We go to Mass on Saturday evenings (because that’s when our kids are the least ill-behaved), and usually try to keep our Sundays as a day of rest. Their dad takes them swimming at the YMCA, or we go for a hike, or just stay home and sled. None of that was appealing yesterday. So I needed to kickstart our day a little, and these doughnuts were just what we needed.

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Cider Doughnuts

(modified slightly from King Arthur Flour’s)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, almost melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Penzeys baking spice (or cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar; 2 Tbsp boiled cider; water to loosen if needed

1) To make the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard doughnut pan. I bought one at Target a couple of weeks ago. They had round or hearts then. I’m a little addicted to these baked doughnuts, especially since it’s over half an hour to Dunkin’ Donuts.

2) Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and spices.

3) Beat in the boiled cider, then the egg. I really like this boiled cider. It’s just concentrated cider, but much better than using frozen apple juice concentrate. We also put this on our waffles, with a little peanut butter…yum! Anyway, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

4) Whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Or do what I actually do and just put them on top of the wet ingredients and stir it all together.

5) Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour.

6) The directions for the pan say to spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the tops. The first time, I found this difficult to do neatly. Now I spoon the batter into a Ziploc, close it, and cut off a corner. Then I can just pipe the batter into the wells easily.

7) Bake the doughnuts for 10 to 12 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into one comes out clean.

8) Remove them from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Put a piece of wax paper under your wire rack, to catch the glaze drips later.

9) Mix glaze ingredients in a flat-bottomed bowl, then dip the doughnut tops into it. Set back on wire rack to cool. Sprinkle them with whatever you’d like, if your Sunday is in need of excitement.

These doughnuts are very tasty, but don’t taste like old-fashioned, fried doughnuts. We actually like them better…they’re a bit like a muffin, but more moist and dense. And, by the way, I made fruit salad and Egg Beaters with cheese to round out our breakfast.

Soon after eating, the hooligans were ready to tackle the outdoors. The temps dropped into the teens Saturday night, so it was quite chilly out.

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They sledded for awhile, then somehow they were persuaded to haul wood in using their sleds. That GI Joe of mine is pretty clever sometimes!

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DSC_0028Then the big one and the little one decided sledding down the stairs would be a good idea. I think they got this idea from their Papa Colorado, who told them he used to ride his bike down the building stairs in New York. They don’t remember anything else he tells them, but he mentioned this once and they’ll never forget. I stopped them right here, so no one actually traveled down the stairs.

We do still have three hooligans, but the middle (and smartest) one was back inside, having warm peppermint milk and leftover doughnuts. He had been kicked in the head by a sibling while sledding and needed a little comfort.

Everyone ventured back outside after lunch, and I managed to come up with a couple of ideas to entertain them. First I filled some old spray bottles with food-coloring tinted water for them to paint on the snow. That worked for about 20 minutes, then of course they started painting each other.

In the meantime, I boiled pure maple syrup for about 6 minutes, to hard crack stage, in a saucepan over medium high heat. It really boils up, so use a much bigger pan than you think you need. I boiled about a cup. When it reached hard-crack, I took it outside and quickly poured it in a thin stream on a patch of clean snow. It hardens almost immediately, then the kids can pick it up and eat it! It’s like maple hard candy. I’m pretty sure I saw some squirrels out this morning acting even more hyper than usual, so I think the kids didn’t get all the sugar out of the snow!

I read both these ideas years ago, but after we left Ft. Drum, NY. We haven’t lived anywhere snowy and/or cold enough since, so I’m glad we got a chance to try them out!

They sledded a bit more, then came inside as I was starting to make dinner. I fed them Miso Soup to warm them up this time, instead of hot chocolate or anything sweet. They love miso soup, so didn’t even complain…except that I only made them one bowl each!

Cherries and Chocolate…and Digi-Scrapping

DSC_0030 So I made this amazing chocolate cherry pound cake to share with you today. Then I sent it off to the office with the hubs. Without checking the photos I took last night. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but you’ll get the idea. It turned out to be a dense, moist, rich, dark chocolate bundt cake that really needed no frosting, so I just dusted powdered sugar on it. If you felt like it, a chocolate ganache glaze would be excellent, I’m sure.

Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

1 Tbsp cherry juice concentrate

5 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan (this is a really important step!).

Whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition, then add the cherry concentrate. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

When well-blended, fold in chopped dried cherries. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for an hour and twenty minutes, until wooden skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto cake plate.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving. If you have fresh cherries, they make a pretty garnish alongside on each plate. I don’t have fresh cherries here in the upper Midwest this time of year, so a maraschino cherry had to stand in for the photo.

If you’re looking for cherry concentrate, I love the one King Arthur Flour sells. I was thrilled to discover in our local grocery store,with the large selection of cherry products. Really. Although it seems a little pricey, one bottle goes a long way. I use it for sodas, cakes, frostings, salad dressings…every chance I get! Find it here.

I’ve also been scrapbooking a bit this week. Here’s a scrapbook page of our family on a winter walk. I’m not sure of the correlation to chocolate pound cake, it’s just a reminder to scrap the moments, not just the events…to myself!

winter-walk

I’ve just thought of yet another benefit of digital scrapbooking…you can eat chocolate cake without fear of getting it on your pages. Keyboards can always be cleaned, after all.

Enjoy your weekend…we’re getting snow today. so perhaps we can go sledding. And by that, I mean the kids can sled while I watch from inside by the fire while reading. Or surfing Pinterest.

One last note…I added a search box up on the right sidebar, so you can “Search the Chaos” for certain recipes, crafts, etc. Sorry I didn’t do that sooner!