Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I decided that today I’m going to share a few things that have made me smile lately…because I have Irish eyes and they really ought to be smilin’ today!

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Two things make me smile about this photo:

1. Daffodils are my favorite, and they’re around for such a short time…but I found these at the grocery store Wednesday, and they’re still gorgeous today!

2. The scrollwork on the back of this secretary desk just had to be repaired…from our move last summer, when the dunderheads snapped off the whole rounded part of the middle, splintering the scrollwork. The guy who repaired it carved matching pieces by hand. Pretty amazing, right?  It gives me hope for my grandmother’s buffet that the same company is carving a replacement claw foot for right now. Of course, this damage all happened 8 months ago and we’re just now getting things settled and repaired..but on with the happiness!

3. The middle hooligan is making his First Holy Communion in May.  Last week, his class led the Stations of the Cross, and he ended up being one of the readers. With no prep at all, he spoke clearly in to the mic, while reading some pretty difficult (sometimes even for the adults) text…yay for him and his self-confidence!

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4. Watching the oldest hooligan construct his science fair project…comparing pulley systems. It’s great to see him get involved in something other than Legos or Minecraft.  Of course, I’m sure getting to use power tools helped!

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5.  Princess Thundercloud had building a leprechaun trap as a homework assignment…you gotta love that teacher!  The pesky leprechaun was in their classroom every night last week, creating havoc and building their anticipation.  She could not wait to get to school today to see what he’d done…and to share the hijinks our leprechaun perpetrated last night!

6. And one last thing…I’m a two and a half months in my 6 month college term, and I’ve completed 12 hours…woohoo!  I’m trying to finish 9 more hours by the end of May, so I can spend June on end-of-school stuff for the hooligans and helping the hubs transition out of the Army (he’s retiring after 25 years!).  I was really nervous about being back in school after so long (also 25 years), but look forward to my study time every day…so far!

So there’s my happy bragging out of the way for awhile…now I’m going to go pop the Irish soda bread in the oven and get the corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot.  Hope you day is filled with the luck o’the Irish (or at least some of their beverages!)!

TBT: St. Patrick’s Day Fun

I saw a great idea on Pinterest last year…green nail polish as St. Patrick’s Day “pinch-proof” gifts! I gave them to my book club members in Wisconsin then, but forgot to blog about it, so when I whipped up a batch this year for teachers and such, I wanted to show them off a bit!

polish-chaosserveddailyI used a retired set of stamps from Stampin’ Up! called Pinch Proof (of course) and simply stamped the labels, punched them out, and attached them with bakers’ twine and washi tape. I was pretty pleased with myself for figuring out a way to use both twine and tape!

If you don’t have a stamp, you could easily create the labels in Word with wordart and clipart, or use a shamrock sticker and write “Pinch Proof.”  These literally took less than fifteen minutes to make 9 of them.

Some other ideas from the past: (click on the photo for the links)Rainbow-Push-Pops-ChaosServBeer-TagChoc-Mint-Cookies-Title-Cha

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TBT: Knitted Shamrock Dishcloths

I love these dishcloths I made last year for St. Patrick’s Day, and, as luck would have it, I find myself in need of a couple of new ones.  There’s nothing better than an evening spent knitting while catching up on all those TV shows hanging around on my DVR…after I have all my schoolwork done for the day, of course!.

Since I made coasters with hearts in them earlier this year, I’m a little fascinated by the patterns achieved by simple knits and purls. I think it’s because it’s a little like counted cross-stitch, which I did (a lot) during my GI Joe’s deployments.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I found a pattern online for dishcloths with shamrocks. Yippee!

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Isn’t that cool? I also made one using a rainbow yarn, but the pattern is much harder to see and I wasn’t as pleased with it. But it’s still pretty nifty!

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These take one ball each of cotton yarn, and, per the pattern, I used Size 3 needles to make it more closely knit so that the pattern stands out more.

You can find the pattern from Kris Patay at Kris Knits here. Each dishcloth took about 6 hours to knit, but I’m pretty slow (and I was watching DVR’d programs so had to keep fast-forwarding though commercials and losing my knitting rhythm. Don’t judge.).

The plethora of free knitting patterns online is a source of never-ending wonder to me…all you have to do is Google and suddenly you have more ideas than you can possibly knit in a lifetime!

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Share the Luck!

I’m sure you’re all ready for St. Patrick’s Day, right?  Well, if not, here’s an idea for a card and a hang tag for libations that are fun and quick to whip up for a friend.

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I made these several years ago, just because I wanted to use a package of shamrock confetti.  The envelopes can be found a scrapbooking or paper supply stores, and the card base is Certainly Celery.  As you can see, the greens don’t need to match.   I think the stamp was from the dollar bin at Michaels. If you’re really ambitious (or like me and just don’t feel like driving to the store), you can find a template for the tiny envelopes at Split Coast Stampers.

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Again, this tag uses the shamrock confetti, along with Stampin’ Up’s Treat Cups, to make a fun shaker hang tag for your favorite adult beverage. I simply cut a piece of green cardstock to 3” x 8-1/2” then embellished it.  The 1-3/4” circle punch fit the Treat Cups perfectly, then I punched another one to place over the neck of the bottle.  Add a few little ribbons and you’re done.

We’re busy planning our leprechaun trap…they seem to get more elaborate each year. But he still eludes the hooligans!

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Shamrock Dishcloths

Since I made coasters with hearts in them earlier this year, I’m a little fascinated by the patterns achieved by simple knits and purls.  I think it’s because it’s a little like counted cross-stitch, which I did (a lot) during my GI Joe’s deployments.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I found a pattern online for dishcloths with shamrocks. Yippee!

Shamrock-Cloth-Green

Isn’t that cool?  I also made one using a rainbow yarn, but the pattern is much harder to see and I wasn’t as pleased with it. But it’s still pretty nifty!

Shamrock-Cloth-Rainbow

These take one ball each of cotton yarn, and, per the pattern, I used Size 3 needles to make it more closely knit so that the pattern stands out more.

You can find the pattern from Kris Patay at Kris Knits here.  Each dishcloth took about 6 hours to knit, but I’m pretty slow (and I was watching DVR’d programs so had to keep fast-forwarding though commercials and losing my knitting rhythm. Don’t judge.).

The plethora of free knitting patterns online is a source of never-ending wonder to me…all you have to do is Google and suddenly you have more ideas than you can possibly knit in a lifetime!

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An Irish Bracelet (and Ways to Celebrate)

Once again, I’m showing off something someone else made for me.  Doesn’t that just make you want to send me a gift I can showcase?  Okay, maybe not. It was worth a try.

Anyway, my sister-in-law made this memory wire bracelet for me almost ten years ago, when my favorite GI Joe was deployed, we were still waiting to become parents through adoption, and my day-to-day life just wasn’t the greatest. Although it was better than the hubs’s daily life in the sandbox. She sent me lots of little care packages which always seemed to arrive just when I needed a bright spot.  I think these were a MOPS project, or maybe a church group for one of her kids.  In any event, I sure am glad she sent it, way back when memory wire was a novelty and I was amazed at its “memory.”

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If you’ve not worked with memory wire, it’s a jewelry maker’s dream because you don’t need a clasp of any sort.  All you do is make a small loop at one end, to keep the beads from sliding off, then just string your beads.  At the other end, make another loop and attach a cool charm. As you can see, it’s lost none of its shape over the years (although those silver beads could stand a little polishing…but I like the antique look the tarnish gives it!).

As you might imagine, with our very Irish last name (and my family came over from the Emerald Isle, as well), St. Patrick’s is a ginormous event in our home.  Here are a few ways that you can up the Irish in your house, too, if you’d like.

1. The hooligans always build a leprechaun trap.  It never works, of course.0311-Leprechaun-Trap-2

2. The leprechaun plays all sorts of tricks.  He turns the milk and orange green, as well as the toilet water. Last year he built a pyramid of our kitchen chairs, and hung rainbow windcatchers all over some tree branches on the porch. 0312-Leprechaun-Tree

3.  He makes a mess of the trap, and drops a few small toys and chocolate coins as he escapes out the door.Leprechaun-Trap-3

4. He leaves green rubber snakes (St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland) in random and surprising places in the house.

5. We always have Lucky Charms for breakfast on St. Pat’s and, of course, corned beef and cabbage with Irish soda bread for dinner. You can see the recipes here, in a post from last March. We made these little cups of Lucky Charms for the kindergarten snack last year.  Kindergarten-St-Pats-Snack-

I know, it’s still a few weeks away, but I want you to have time to stock up on Lucky Charms, corned beef, and green food coloring before the stores are sold out…it could happen. And then you’d be sad, now wouldn’t you?

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Lucky Leprechaun Push Pops

Have you seen the current craze for Push Pops?  Well, perhaps you don’t spend enough time on Pinterest. They’re hot, hot, hot, people!  I bought some from Pick Your Plum (before Lent, fortunately, since I gave up online shopping for Lent), but I saw them at my local Target yesterday.  They’re in the section with baking pans, if you’re looking. You can also order them from Amazon or Consumer Crafts. See? They’re everywhere, I tell you!

Now, some of the ideas for them seem a little out there to me.  Seven Layer Dip?  Really?  How are you going to get a bit of all seven layers?  Layers of cake and frosting are cute, as are parfaits of fruits and yogurts.  But I wanted something for St. Patrick’s Day. Voila! (As they say in Ireland).

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This is definitely not rocket science, but here’s how I did it.

First, I had to sort a giant bag of Skittles, sampling for quality control, of course. There were may fewer red that the others, which were pretty much equal. Hmmm.

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Then I layered them into my containers.  There’s no blue in my rainbow, because Skittles don’t come in blue. Don’t judge.

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I topped each with a couple of chocolate gold coins, tied on a bit of bakers’ twine, and attached a tag. I downloaded the tags from somewhere last year, but can’t find where, so here are some similar ones, from HGTV.com.  You can find lots of others online.

These contain roughly two servings of Skittles, so don’t give them to your own kids, unless they’re headed somewhere other than inside your home.  I’m personally hoping for some warmer weather so my hooligans can burn off the sugar outside!

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Our Favorite Irish Feast

Before you start emailing to tell me that people in Ireland never eat our version of corned beef, let me assure you I know that. I’ve made pork roast in the traditional Irish “corning” way, and, though tasty, it’s not what we crave when we want corned beef.

Here’s the way I make it, and I’m pretty sure GI Joe could duplicate it if I were ever incapacitated when March 17 rolled around. I also make it a few other times each year, but it’s a non-negotiable on St. Patrick’s Day. By the way, friends who think they don’t like corned beef love this version. The texture is more like pot roast than boiled meat, which is a very good thing. Still think you won’t like it? Try it, try it and you may, I say!

Corned Beef and Vegetables

3-4 lbs corned beef flat, as lean as you can find…but they don’t come very lean

1 lb carrots, peeled and in 3” pieces (yes, I usually buy a bag of baby carrots and dump them in)

6 medium red potatoes, cubed

1 onion, cut in wedges

1 head cabbage, cut in 1” wide wedges

1. Place the vegetables, except cabbage, in the bottom of your crock pot, then rinse the corned beef and lay it on top. Sprinkle with the seasonings, and add enough water to almost cover. Cook on low for 8 hours.

2. About 45 minutes before serving, remove 2 cups broth from the crock pot and put it in a deep skillet with a lid. Add cabbage and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until tender.

We serve this with Irish Soda Bread. This recipe is a compilation of several that I’ve adapted over the last 20 years of making it. This photo is not very good, I realize. I made the bread into muffins for my husband’s office today, so they didn’t have to deal with cutting and buttering. The muffins were tasty (you didn’t think I’d send them in without tasting, did you?) but I prefer a loaf, sliced with Irish butter.

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O’Donnell’s Irish Soda Bread

1-1/2 cups golden raisins

1/2 cup orange juice

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1-3/4 cup lowfatbuttermilk

1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

1/2 cup applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large loaf pan.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, place raisins and orange juice, and macerate until raisins are plump (about 10 min).

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Drain raisins and add them to the batter.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm (with lots of butter!) or cool and wrap in plastic wrap. Stays fresh for about 3 days, if it lasts that long!

Wishing you all a very, very lucky St. Patrick’s Day!

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Blessing Printable from A Night Owl blog

Those Leprechauns Can Be Crafty!

While the leprechauns create mischief throughout the house, they also leave a little gift for the kids.  The boys are getting some special edition St. Patrick’s Day Hot Wheels (that I bought last year and forgot about, then happily found when I got the decorations out).  For Princess Thundercloud, I made this little pendant.

DSC_0017-2 It cost about a $1.28 or so, so it’ll be no big loss when she loses it.  I’m sure she will, and I’m okay with that.

domino-and-ruler It started when I found this Spongebob domino in my car.  One of the hooligans had a whole set of these, from the Dollar Spot at Target.  But that was in Washington, and who knows where the other 542 of them are.  There seemed to be that many as I’ve found them throughout the year in various spots. But this one was destined for greatness!

DSC_0018-1 First I cut out two pieces of Designer Series Paper to fit the front and back.  Using a very light coat of Crystal Effects (a clear craft varnish from Stampin’ Up!) I adhered one piece, then put a thick coat of Crystal Effects on top to make it look fancy.  That needed to dry for about 6 hours, or overnight. The I flipped it over and repeated with the other piece of paper.

DSC_0019-3 See how shiny and pretty that is?  To make it a pendant, I attached a bail (yes, that’s what it’s called) using E6000 and let it dry for a few hours.

To finish the front, I used some green seed beads and more E6000 to make a sort-of shamrock.

She’ll love it. 

Here’s another cute craft I made last year for the hooligans.

IMG_2942 I just used my Big Shot and punches to make it…nifty, eh?  I CASE’d it from someone last year, so I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder…let me know if it was you!

That winds up my week of St. Patrick’s crafts…tomorrow I’m posting our favorite recipe for corned beef and cabbage, as well as Irish soda bread.  I hope you’ll check them out…and even better, try them on Saturday!

St. Patrick’s Week?

Yes, at our house, St. Patrick’s Day is a really big deal. I’ve decided to devote the entire week to ideas for celebrating…but I’m not pressuring you to go all overboard with it like we do!

My little hooligans start planning their leprechaun traps as soon as we pack away the Christmas decorations. Who am I kidding? They start on March 18 of the previous year! Leprechauns are pretty mischievous in our house. They turn the milk, orange juice, and, of course, water in the toilets green. They sometimes make a mess in the kitchen with flour or oatmeal. That’s usually only if I need to clean the kitchen anyway…leprechauns know better than to mess with a clean kitchen!

They always escape our trap, but drop a few gold coins on the way out the window or door. Oh, and they often leave green rubber snakes around, with a note about not trying to trap them again. This year they’re going to decorate the bare branches of a tree on the patio with foam shamrocks and rainbow wind spinners (they found those at the dollar store…leprechauns are thrifty with their gold coins!).

Today, I’m showing off some appetizer picks I made, using various green and gold beads and 12 gauge wire (I think). I just picked up the beads and the wire at the craft store. The wire needs to be stiff enough to resist bending, but not so thick you can’t cut it with wire cutters. It’s usually over in the floral design department, hanging in 12” lengths in a plastic bag.

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To make these, I cut the wire in 4” lengths. Using E6000 (they really should pay me for hawking their product, but they don’t…it is my favorite all-purpose, extra-strong adhesive), Put a tiny dot on one end of the wire and start putting beads on. Each pick has about 1-1/2” of beads, then for the last one, put a dot of glue on the next-to-last bead and wire, then slide the last bead on snugly.

That’s all there is to it. My kids like using them for dipping fruit. For breakfast on St. Pat’s, I plan to make a platter of fruit, shaped like a rainbow, with some vanilla yogurt for dipping. I saw the idea on…say it with me…Pinterest.

image From ApartmentTherapy.com

Enjoy your first Monday of “new time” as we call it here…we’re off to a rough start, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to require lots of coffee this morning! I’d best get to it, though…I just realized it’s almost 10:00 and I’m still in PJ’s. See you tomorrow!