Fun with Duct Tape

I debated for quite some time…”duct” or “Duck” tape for the proper name? Duct is the type of tape, Duck is the name brand of the cool patterned and colors of the miracle tape.  So I went with duct.

I made a couple of fun little things for the hooligans to take to school…lunchmoney/ticket wallets and backpack tags. And, most importantly here, I got a chance to play with some fun Duck tape!

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I actually made these to put in their Easter baskets last spring, and they’ve held up well through the end of school and being toted around the country all summer. The wallets, that is, not the hooligans…although they’ve survived as well.

I followed  this tutorial, from Artzy Creations, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and do another tutorial.  That would be silly. And you know I’m not.

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For the backpack tags, I printed out the info using word, then cut a scrap piece of chipboard (from the back of a package of scrapbook paper) to fit it.  Next, I covered the back with printed tape, wrapping it around slightly.  Lastly, I covered the front with clear packing tape.

To finish it and fancy it up a bit, I punched a few holes with my Crop-a-dile and tied ribbons through, then a pretty heavy twine to tie it to the backpack.  I used this same twine on last year’s tags, and it stayed on all year, through washing and wear and tear. And there’s a lot of wear and tear on our belongings!

These are also great luggage tags, helping to identify our duffle bags that look just like everyone else’s.   If your kids attend a large school, you could also add the bus route number.  There are only four buses at our school, so it’s hard for them to get on the wrong bus.

And, having said that, now I’ll just wait for that call on Tuesday that all of them managed to get on different wrong buses. It’s all just part of the fun!

Told You I Was Getting Crunchier

Now I’m making my own granola bars.  I admit it…I’m completely bugged by commercial granola bars for the most part, because they’re little more than glorified candy bars.  Remember Kudos?  Super sweet granola bars covered in chocolate?  I don’t think they make those anymore, but I know they do make chocolate dipped ones.

Being a non-chocolate lover, I didn’t like them anyway, but it makes me cringe when someone offers one to my kids.  Because of course they’re little chocolate and sugar fiends and inhale anything anyone offers them.

I’ve been on the hunt all summer for a great granola bar recipe.  I remember my mom making a fabulous one when I was little (she also made jerky, fruit “leather,” and soy burgers way back before it was mainstream…she was an art teacher, what can I say).  But I’m sure she’s lost that recipe since then…it was probably written on a papyrus scroll, it’s been so long.0812-Granola-Bars-Chaos-Ser

I didn’t want a cookie type bar, just a form of compressed granola that would hold up through a morning in a backpack, whether for a hike or to take to school.  Here’s the winner.  They are “better than store bought” according to the hooligans.

It basically a recipe from Ina Garten, but I saw various versions of it and modified it to meet my needs (and what I had in my pantry).  I also cut down on the sweetness and upped the fiber by adding flaxseeds.

Chewy, Fruity, Nutty Granola Bars

Modified slightly from Ina Garten, Food Network

(makes 16 bars)

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups diced dried fruit (I used the Our Favorite Fruits blend from King Arthur Flour)
  • 4 Tbsp golden flax seeds

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 9×13-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit (mine was a mix of apricots, pineapple, dates, cranberries, and raisins) and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares.

We wrapped ours in plastic wrap and them froze them in a Ziploc. Thaw them before serving at room temperature…they only take about 15 minutes to thaw sufficiently to not break your teeth.

By the way, I realize these still contain a LOT of sugar, from the honey, brown sugar, and fruit, but you could leave out half the brown sugar if you’d like.  I think you still need that amount of honey to make them stick together, though.  I did cut it down a bit from the original. So, in short, while these are not nutrition bars necessarily, at least I know what is in them, and there are no artificial chemicals or preservatives involved. So I’m going to feel good about them!

 

Click here for the printable recipe

ABC Matching Game

My youngest hooligan is beyond excited to start PreK next Tuesday.  She attended preschool two mornings each week last year, and she, like all our kids, started going to hourly care at about 6 months of age.  So she likes being around other kids (who are not her siblings) and is making all of us crazy here at home.

She’s also, of course, a genius. Her favorite time of the day is “homework time” when she gets to do workbooks while her brothers are doing actual math and writing. I made her this little matching game to keep her busy. She loves it, of course.  It’s pink and purple.

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Before I share the instructions, let me say this is not suitable for kids under three, or those over three who still put everything in their mouths. You can modify it, though, using larger glass pebbles.

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You’ll need:

A 1/2” hole punch

56 glass pebbles (I found a bag with more than enough at Dollar Tree)

An upper and lower case alphabet

Some form of strong, clear glue (I used Crystal Effects from Stampin’ Up! but Glossy Accents would work, too)

For the alphabet, I found a font I liked and printed a sheet with upper and lower case on it, measuring less than 1/2” tall.  Be sure your printer ink isn’t going to run when the adhesive hits it. I made the upper case letters purple and the lower case ones pink.  You could also use a sheet of small alphabet stickers, stuck onto white cardstock.

DSC_0004_edited-1Punch out all the letters, and put a dot of glue on each. I did about 12 at a time, so the glue didn’t dry too much.

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Pop a glass pebble on top of each, smoosh it around to make it evenly covered, and let dry.  I placed mine on a sheet of wax paper on my crafting mat, just in case glue oozed out.

While I was waiting for them to dry, I embellished a tin to hold them, using a label I printed in Word and some scrapbooking paper and trim. I also cut a piece of felt to fit the bottom of the tin and glued it inside, so the pieces wouldn’t rattle so much.

She’s happily playing her game and, perhaps more importantly, letting her brothers play theirs.  Wow, too bad I didn’t think of this at the beginning of the summer.

A Sandwich, a Salad, and Crockpot Potatoes

It’s a whole meal recipe day here at Chaos Served Daily.  Aren’t you excited?

This recipe for Drip Beef brings back memories of Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house in Oklahoma.  My aunt and mom both made this often, probably because it can be cooked the day before and tastes even better when reheated.

My GI Joe would happily eat this for every meal.  Well, no, I’d probably have to rotate in a pizza occasionally. Anyway, we usually make sandwiches or sliders with the Drip Beef, but love it on loaded baked potoates, as well.  Speaking of baked potatoes, here’s a bonus recipe/tip.

Have you made baked potatoes in your slow cooker?  Well, they turn out perfectly, without heating up your kitchen in the summer. Just wash your potatoes, wrap them in foil, and put them in the crockpot. That’s it. No water. And you won’t even need to wash the crockpot afterward. Cook them on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.  You can fit 4 large potatoes in a 4-qt crock, or about 10 in a 6-qt one. It’s a fabulous trick when you’re craving baked potatoes in the summer!

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Drip Beef

Serves 8-10

  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp crushed rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp seasoning salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 4 lb roast (the cheaper, the better)

Place roast in crock pot and add all seasonings. Add water to nearly cover. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. You can also cook on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 6-8 hours.

Let cool slightly, then shred meat using two forks.

Serve on crusty rolls with horseradish mixed with sour cream and green onions. Serve a dish of juice for dipping if desired.

Wedge-Salad

Wedge Salad with Chunky Gorgonzola Dressing

Serves 6

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (nonfat or Greek nonfat)
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola, divided
  • Sliced green onions
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Diced tomatoes

To make dressing: In blender, combine yogurt, cottage cheese, mayo, and ¼ cup Gorgonzola. Blend until almost smooth. Stir in remaining Gorgonzola.

For salad: Remove outer leaves from lettuce head. Cut into 6 wedges. Place on plate and top with dressing, then onions, bacon, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Click here for a printable version

Washi Tape Memo Board

I cannot quit buying washi tape.  It’s an illness.  That’s why I absolutely HAD to use it in a project this weekend.

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This would be a great little back to school gift for a college student (to hang on their dorm room door) or any student with a locker (to hang inside for notes).  I plan to hang one outside each hooligan’s bedroom door to leave them little notes.  Probably nice notes, not just chore reminders!  But we’ll see.

Fun and quick to make, it’s just an dollar store 5×7 frame covered with washi tape (this came from Target).  I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to go under the glass and made a loop to hold the pen by sticking the adhesive sides of the tape together.

After tying a ribbon loop through the hanger on the back, I wrote a little note, just to test it.  Then I felt compelled to have pizza that night, just so it wasn’t a fake message.

This is is the last week of summer vacation for us, so we’re hoping to have lots of fun adventures…but I’m still planning to post some recipes and crafts for you…hope you’ll check back tomorrow!

A Five-Minute Project: Recharger Station

All those recharger and power cords on my kitchen desk drive me insane!  I really think they multiply overnight sometimes. So I decided to hide them.

Now, I know you can buy recharger stations, but every time Michaels has photo storage boxes on sale, I buy a batch.  You never know what you’ll repurpose them to do, and they’re such cute prints.

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See? No more unruly cords. To make one for yourself, you just need a photo storage box (or a shoebox covered with pretty paper) and a craft/utility knife.

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1. Cut a hole large enough for the plug end of your power strip cord. I left mine as a flap, only because I didn’t cut through the outer paper layer of the box (accidentally) and liked the look.

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2. Draw some squares/rectangles inside the box, large enough for whatever rechargers  or power cords you have/  I used a silver Sharpie so I could see it easily.  Then cut the holes out using the utility knife. It actually took about ten minutes to make this because I had to go searching for a sharp utility knife. And where did I find one?  Next to the recycling box in the garage.  Honestly!

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3.  Fit all your stuff inside.  It’s not pretty, but who cares?  That’s why you’re making this!

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4. Pop the lid on, and relax…one more thing organized in your house!

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My kitchen desk no longer makes me crazy…until school starts and hooligans begin bringing home a ream of papers every day. But I can enjoy it for the next twelve days, anyway!

Adirondack Style on a Shoestring

Ever since living in upstate New York fifteen years ago, we’ve loved Adirondack chairs.  Well, actually just Adirondack style…the grand rustic style of the “camps” gives us something to aspire to, on a much smaller scale of course.

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When I see Adirondack chairs, I think of long, relaxing afternoons on the deck, not really doing anything but enjoying life.  We’ve owned about four dozen of the plastic versions, and here’s why.  We’re cheap. They’re such fun colors, and change every year. We’ve not had a covered porch for a very long time, and I want real wood ones protected a bit from the weather. The wooden ones last forever, I know, but until we’re done moving back and forth across the country every couple of years, we were sticking with lightweight and inexpensive.

Then we moved to Wisconsin last summer, and lo and behold, the first Sunday newspaper had a flyer advertising Adirondack chairs for $19.95. So we bought four.  Why four when there are five of us?  They only had four in stock when we got to the store.  The hooligans never all sit still at the same time, anyway.

The unassembled chairs sat in the basement until this spring, though, when I finally shamed my GI Joe into assembling them for my birthday.  They’re just pine, so I know they won’t last for years and years, but for the price, I’m fine with that.

Once they were assembled, I didn’t want them out in the weather until I stained and polyurethaned them.  Which took until last weekend.  It was always too hot, too humid, or too many other projects I wanted to do!  But that’s okay, too, because it’s just getting to be campfire weather and they’ll be perfect for hanging out and making s’mores.

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We bought the smallest size stain we could find, a half-pint, and it proved to be the perfect amount.  Yay, us.  The paint mixer at Home Depot was less than thrilled to have to make four different colors, but the customer is always right, right?

We used Behr Semi Transparent Stains in Bard Red, Wedgewood, Cedar, and something green…sorry, but we disposed of the cans and I can’t remember the name. I think it had “Mountain” or “Pine” in it. The stains were less than $3 each, and a quart of polyurethane was plenty for all four chairs.

All in all, we spent a touch over $25 per chair.  That’s a price I can live with…and not feel guilty if the rain gets to them or the movers damage them next summer.  Now I need to go relax, read, and enjoy an icy beverage in one of my new chairs while the hooligans are still occupied at YMCA Camp.  Cheers!

Zucchini Plus Banana Plus Chocolate

Equals one amazing muffin!  Actually, a whole batch of them. I recently needed to use up some zucchini and a very ripe banana.  With a little help from the hooligans, we ended up with very yummy Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins. Give them a try…they’re perfect with icy cold milk!

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins

2 large eggs

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 very ripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease muffin tins (to make 18 muffins), or use with cupcake liners.

2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, banana, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

3) Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined.

4) Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

5) Spoon into muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way.

6) Bake muffins for 16-18 minutes, until they test done (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, save for perhaps a light smear of chocolate from the melted chips).

7) Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before turning them out of the pan onto a rack.

Yield: 18 muffins

Click here for the printable recipe

Easy Peasy Inspiration Bracelets

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Isn’t this a fun little bracelet?  Guess where I saw the idea?  Yep, Pinterest.  They take literally a few minutes to make, and are a perfect little accent for your crafty friends.

The silver beads are from Michaels and come in a package of 10, with “create”,”believe,” and “hope” on them.  To make the bracelet, cut three strands of embroidery floss to about 12” and thread one of them through a bead.  Wrap the other two strands around either side, and tie knots to hold them in place.  Braid each side of the bead, tie a knot at the end, and you’re finished. 

See, I told you it was quick and easy!

My hooligans have YMCA camp this week, so I was all alone for the first time in what seems like forever!  I spent the day shopping at the outlet mall (where I actually bought some shoes, shirts, and books for myself, in addition to things for everyone else) and checking out some small town knitting and pottery stores.

All in all, a very fun, if not productive day…but everyone needs a little me time now and then, right?  Hope you’re finding some time for whatever rejuvenates you!

Chalkboard Table Runner

Today, I’m sharing yet another thing I saw on Pinterest, but was too thrifty to buy…a chalkboard table runner for a buffet.  How ingenious is that, I ask you?  I like to have placecards in front of each item on a buffet, so guests aren’t wondering what they’re taking, but this is so fun for a barbeque or any casual party.  And at my house, they’re pretty much all casual.

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And who knew you can buy chalkboard cloth?  Well, apparently it’s been around for years, according to the cutting table lady at Joann’s.  It’s pretty inexpensive, too…around $5 a yard. I made two of these for less than $10 (I used a 40% off coupon for the chalkboard material).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-3/4 yards chalkboard fabric
  • 2 bandanas, or 1 yard of material for binding
  • Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
  • Paper plate and Sharpie
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and Ironing Surface
  • Thread

1. Cut the chalkboard fabric in half lengthwise.  You can actually make two from the 1-3/4 yards, but it needs to be that long so you don’t have a seam in the middle.
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2. Use a paper plate to trace rounded corners, then cut those off.

3. Make the binding:  ***If you don’t want to make binding, you can buy it already made in the notions section…you’ll need about 4-1/2 yards. ***

Cut 3” wide strips from your bandanas or binding material ON THE DIAGONAL.
Sew the together, right sides together, to form one long binding strip. 
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Press those seams open.

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Fold in half and press.

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Fold each edge to the middle and press again.

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This is what it will look like.  I made two of these, one with bandanas and one with blue calico.
DSC_00224. Sew the binding around the edge of your chalkboard material.  Tuck the end in and sew.

5. Invite your friends over and let them marvel at your creativity!