Back in college is when I really started getting crafty. I made my own purse, made some dorm decorations, and made my own body pillow cover. That body pillow cover finally gave out after lasting
ten three years. My beautiful stitches stayed in place; the fabric itself gave out. I had hand sewn the whole thing, and Mi Madre thought I had machine sewn it, that’s how awesome I am.
I decided it was time to make a new cover, and in fact I made two, so one could go through the wash. I also made them using two different methods, because I’m awesome, and that’s the kind of crafting that keeps you on the edge of your seat! The first one is just plain old fabric sewn together. Maybe “plain” is not the right word for this fabric. It is faux quilt fabric from probably the 70′s that I found at a thrift store years ago. I have hoarded it, and used it periodically, but this is the biggest piece I’ve used so far. This piece is a yard wide, and I just laid the pillow down on top to get the length.
I then hemmed one of the short sides to be the open end of the pillow case.
Next, I folded the fabric in half, inside out, and pinned along the back end and long side, a couple inches from the pillow. You want the pillow case to be snug enough to stay on the pillow, but easy to slide on and off.
I ran it through my magical sewing machine, and BAM! Look at that crazy fabric! It’s so amazing, and yet terrible!
So, pillow case #2 is MUCH tamer. For this, I’m using 2 normal pillow cases. This is a great way to do this, because you can easily match your existing bed sheets, if that’s a concern of yours. If you can see the picture above these words, and the one below, you can tell that is OBVIOUSLY not a priority of mine.
I decided to have the open ends of these pillow cases both facing outward. First, I used my trusty seam ripper to open up the short end of both pillow cases.
Now here’s the tricky part: I turned one inside out, and left the other rightside out, then stuffed one inside the other so that rightsides were against each other, and the insides were both showing. The one that is rightside out goes inside the inside-out one. lined up the long seams on the pillow cases first, then the open seams I had just made. I then pinned it to death.
This picture shows the two “right” sides of the fabric touching each other.
And this is after I had pinned it all the way around the circle.
I then did a running stitch, by hand, all the way around. After that, I turned the whole thing right-side out, to make sure everything had worked as I planned, then turned it inside out and sewed one end shut.
I then turned the whole thing back rightside-out, and put it on the pillow. Fabulous!
This is a great way to use extra pillow cases you might have, like I obviously did. The hand-sewn one took a little longer, maybe a total of 45 minutes, and the first one took maybe 30 minutes. These are both great projects for someone beginning to learn to sew, or learning a sewing machine for the first time.
I’m sure, like good little minions, you saved your ham/turkey bones from Thanksgiving, lovingly wrapped and stored in the freezer. We had a ham (cause Hubby is a pirate, and we all know they only eat ham), so that’s what I used. First, carve as much of the meat off the bones as possible. (No one will judge if you nibble at it like a mouse during this process).
Next, you will need a giant cooking pot with water, about 2 or 3 carrots, half to a whole onion, and either 2-3 stalks of celery, or use the inside of your celery that’s not really good for much else. I threw in a couple cloves of garlic for fun, and you can add a whole jalapeno or two if you want something spicy.
Throw that all together, and you can add your tupperware for your almost-free soup, which you all have in your freezers at all times, right? Get it started boiling, then go do something constructive. I let mine boil for about an hour. You want to cook it until the meat comes off the bones easily. If you cook it too long the cartiledge will start to disintegrate, which is disgusting, so try to avoid that.
Oh, this is just me showing off how much ham is in my freezer:
Most of the time when you make soup stock, you are told to scoop out those veggies that have been boiled to death in the broth, and throw them out. What is the point of that?? Put those in the blender with some of the broth, and blend it all up.
You end up with this veggie mush you can mix right back into the broth. It makes it much thicker and more flavorful. Note: if you are using turkey bones, be VERY CAREFUL to get all the bones out before doing this. You don’t want bone shards in your soup. I swear, I’ve seen muslin bags designed for this exact problem; you put the bones in the bag, then throw it in the pot with everything else. An internet search has turned up nothing, so maybe I’m delusional. Or need more coffee. I can’t have all the answers.
Here’s another quick trick. To clean your blender, rinse it out, then add a drop of dish soap, and fill it with water. Put it back on the base and turn it on for about a minute. This gets the blades really clean while the food is fresh.
Look at that! A double-whammy of helpfulness! IS THERE NO END TO MY GENIUS?
You guys are already jealous of how cool my parents are, but just you wait. On Black Friday, did they run around town hunting for insane deals, biting and clawing people to buy Christmas gifts? No. They spent the day in my attic. We have a (fortunately) tiny attic space, but it backs up against Hubby’s and my bedroom. In the summer time, that section of roof just bakes in the sun, and that heat sets up camp in our living quarters to torture us.
The solution? Radiant barrier. This stuff resembles silver bubble wrap. You simply staple it to the under-side of the roof, and it reflects heat right back out before it has the chance to make you miserable. My hope is that it will also keep the AC unit itself cooler, so it doesn’t have to work as hard. Here you can see some of the completed sections.
Personally, I find attics to be frightening. There appears to be a floor, but you can’t actually walk on it or else you’ll fall through to your death; there’s a chinzy little ladder to climb up and down that seems like it might collapse so you fall to your death; there are bugs and itchy insulation that you can’t touch or you’ll get cancer. I held onto the rafters for dear life with every step, terrified that I would fall and my useless T-Rex-like arms would fail me. At least it wasn’t hot in there.
To figure out how much of this stuff you need, measure the area to be covered, and measure the space between the joists (aka the boards running along the slopey ceiling area) so you know what width to cut your pieces. It comes in rolls at home improvement stores, and it’s fairly inexpensive.
You only need a staple gun to install it. We had three, only one of which seemed to be functioning at a given time. I spent most of the time reloading, fiddling with, and swearing at each staple gun, attempting to make them work. Even the small amount of area I covered was hampered by the fact that I’m only 5’7″, and the ceiling is 8′. You may need a step ladder, but my dad is over six feet tall, so I just whined until he finished it for me. I did a lot of pointing as well.
Mom faithfully documented the whole thing for both of our blogs, and made dozens of trips up and down the balsa wood ladder of doom, bringing supplies, taking pictures, and taking supplies back down again.
If you are at all familiar with my dad, The Intrepid Traveler, you know he’s hilarious, although not always on purpose. When I was actually doing some work, this conversation occurred:
Me: “It’s getting a little crooked, is that ok?”
Dad: “Yeah, as long as it’s straight.”
He wasn’t being intentionally funny, but it cracked me up, regradless. Speaking of hilarious, the man knows I hate Newt Gingrich, so he “hid” a magazine, with Newt on the cover on top of one of my bookshelves. When I say “hid” I mean propped up so that his piggy little eyes were staring at me from across the room. I had to wait for a tall person to come over and get it down for me. The family that pranks each other…should live far apart to avoid repurcusions.
So thanks, Dad, for climbing around my attic like a monkey, and putting my home improvement skills to shame. And thanks for not finishing the beer. You must truly love me.
I’m sure you have all figured out by now that my “recipes” are just, in fact, conglomerations of whatever random crap I have in the house at the time. For this one, I used chicken, but it is very simple to make this vegetarian or vegan; the variations are at the bottom.
Today we’re using one chicken breast, about a half cup of frozen peas, a cup of frozen broccoli, one cup uncooked rice, two scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and a bunch of teriyaki or soy sauce, whichever you like.
Start by cutting up the chicken really tiny, and sauteeing it in a large sauce pan. Get your rice cooking at the same time, according to the package instructions.
Chop what needs choppin’.
Throw the veggies in to cook with the chicken. You can add some teriyaki or soy sauce, and garlic salt at this point. You can use different vegetables, if you like, such as bell peppers (ew), water chestnuts (EW), or even just a bag of mixed frozen veggies. Once the veggies are almost done, throw in your raw scrambled eggs, and stir them around to cook. I throw teriyaki sauce on top of them while they’re cooking so they get some flavor.
Hey, the rice is done! It’s so fluffy and delicious! You can also use leftover rice for the recipe. If it’s a bit chewy, just throw it into the veggies, once they’re cooked, and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Let it cook and stir it around to make sure all the rice gets coated in oil and heated up.
Once the rice and veggies are both ready, you can combine them in the pan, and stir everything together. Add your sauce and spices to taste.
To make this recipe vegetarian, leave out the chicken. You substitute tofu if you want, or add extra scrambled eggs. To make it vegan, leave out the chicken and eggs. I consulted my teriyaki sauce bottle, and it appears to be vegan. Everyone can enjoy my cooking; I’m just that amazing.
I usually make a nice breakfast on weekends, even if it occurs at 2 in the afternoon. This last weekend I wanted to try something a little different. I decided to make a sort of crust-less quiche. I started by chopping up a small head of fresh broccoli.
I diced up a small amount of onion.
I sauteed the two together in olive oil with a dash of garlic salt.
While that was cooking, I shredded a little over a quarter cup of parmesan cheese.
I cracked open and scrambled 4 eggs. I threw in a dash of pepper, and about half the cheese.
I then threw the eggs into the pan on top of the veggies. I stirred it around, and made sure all the egg was thoroughly cooked.
I used the rest of the cheese to top the eggs. It was AMAZING. I started stealing off Hubby’s plate, it was so good. I may make it for dinner tonight. I think the key was making sure the broccoli was well-seasoned before the eggs were ever introduced. Plus, this type of cheese is very flavorful, and I want more right this second.
First off, I have to tell you all that something very serious has happened. I’m almost out of coffee. There’s enough for right now, but after that I have to go to the store!! I’ll try to be strong and plow ahead, because that’s how much I love you little minions. Enough to inflict my barely-awake, nonsensical ramblings on you. You’re welcome.
Friday night, I had a fantastic night. Me and Samantha went dancing at our favorite place, Barbarella, and it was everything girls’ night should be: dancing, drinking, gabbing, and pretending to be a lesbian couple so the people hitting on us would go away.
Saturday morning (and by “morning” I mean 2 pm) I paid the price. Not only were my legs sore from jumping around, I was dehydrated and *un-caffeinated*. I know, I don’t know how I survived either. I usually function based on a large number of caffeine injections throughout the day, starting at 9am, so I was well below my daily quota by the time I woke up. I am honestly surprised I even regained consciousness.
After scrabbling around in the kitchen blindly, coffee was created, and I gradually fought off my zombie-like state. I then realized food was the other cure for what ailed me, but again, I need to go to the store. I decided finding pants (other than my Mr. Bubble pajama pants) was a ridiculously monumental task, akin to getting the ring back to Mount Doom, so simple food would have to do. This is a recipe I’ve made before, and I really like it. You will need 2 eggs, 1 cup (uncooked) rice, 1/4 cup onion (or more depending on your preference), and this stuff:
The teriyaki sauce totally makes this dish. It’s similar to soy sauce, but with a more complex, savory flavor. I use instant rice, so I start it in the microwave first thing. Then dice up the onion; I like rather large chunks. Start the onion sauteeing in a frying pan in some olive oil or butter. Once they start to get a teeny bit cooked, throw in some of the teriyaki sauce, and stir.
Let the onions cook to your preference. I like mine a little golden, but still crispy. When the onions make you happy, crack the two eggs into the pan, and stir them around. As the eggs are cooking, throw in another tablespoon or two of teriyaki. Let’s all keep in mind that when I took the pictures I had not had any caffeine for about 15 hours, so the pictures are a bit blurry. You should all just be amazed at the fact I had the presence of mind to take pictures at all in my handicapped state.
Put half the rice in a bowl, and throw a dash of teriyaki on it, then put half the egg mixture on top. This recipe makes enough for two servings, so you can either share, or eat half, pass out, and reheat the rest when you regain your mental faculties.
I know it sounds weird, but this is really good, simple food, and I’ve made it many times when I was not hungover in the slightest. It is easy enough to make when brain no workee, which makes it great hangover food.
You may have noticed that I like to cook a whole bunch of food at once to I don’t have to do it every night. The other day I washed and cut up 2 heads of cauliflower, and threw them in a baking dish with olive oil and garlic salt. Since the oven was already on and the cutting board was already dirty, I decided to bake some lentils, too. They were already cooked (the night before I made pasta, and since the pot was already dirty I threw a whole bag of lentils in to boil while we were eating dinner. Noticing a pattern?).
I chopped up the remains of a white onion, 2 raw jalapenos, and some red onion, for a total of 1/2 cup of large chunks of onion.
The laready cooked, refridgerated lentils, fresh out of their tupperware:
Yes, that’s a Star Wars cup in the background. I mixed the ingredients in the pan to avoid dirtying extra dishes.
I added 3 tablespoons or so of olive oil to moisten it up, 1/4 cup good parmesan cheese, and probably 2 teaspoons or less of garlic salt. You can make it spicier by adding chili powder, or Sriracha. Once it was done cooking, we each added Sriracha to our own portions to control the level of spiciness. Hubby like things way spicier than I do. You can make it vegan by leaving out the cheese or using a vegan cheese substitute. I haven’t tried those, so I’m not sure how it would work. You can also add some cumin for additional flavor.
I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until it was bubbling and a little crispy around the edges. The veggies had cooked a little bit, but they were still fairly crunchy, which I liked. You could always saute them before mixing them into the lentils if you want them more done, but I liked the variety of textures.
It’s happened to all of us (I presume): you either buy a brand new shampoo, and you hate it, or you get down to the last inch of shampoo that refuses to come out of the bottle. Now, I may be ridiculous when it comes to saving money, but I’m not one of those “Extreme Couponers” or “Hoarders”, so let’s keep this all in perspective. I paid for an entire bottle of shampoo, and, so help me, I am going to use that entire bottle of shampoo.
Everyone at some point thinks “Hey, this new brand looks like it will help solve all my problems!”, or “They’re out of my regular shampoo! I guess I’ll grab this”, or “It’s on clearance!! And there are EIGHT BOTTLES for a DOLLAR!!” (ahem; I’m sure everyone has done this, or else just me and my dad have). Inevtiably, the shampoo will be terrible. It leaves your hair flat, frizzy, or smelling like bacon, but not in a good way.
As I’m typing this, I’m really rationalizing to myself that everyone has these issues, and is concerned about them. Right? It’s not just me???
Anyway, neurosis aside, there are lots of uses for shampoo. If you have a whole bottle, you can use it instead of laundry detergent. 1/4 cup or less per load should work great. This is also helpful if you run out of laundry detergent, but can’t go to the store immediately for whatever reason. I know I can’t be the only one who has started a load of laundry late at night, or when visiting friends or family and put all my clothes into the washer and started it before checking to make sure there was detergent, and I am NOT going out in public in my Batman pajamas, because I will end up on People of Wal-Mart for sure.
You can also use shampoo to wash your pets. I like to that the shampoo bottles that are almost out, add some water, and shake it up. This makes it easier to get the shampoo spread over the wriggling, screeching pet so the bath can end more quickly. I like the way human shampoo smells better than the pet kind anyway.
You can actually use shampoo in the dishwasher also, if you run out of dish soap. Don’t try to use Dawn, because that will cause an epic bubble flood, but that is actually an easy way to mop the floor, if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not in the mood for epic bubble floods, use shampoo instead.
You can use it as body wash, to wash your car, or lots of other stuff. Shampoo is just soap, so if you have a brand you hate for some reason, just use it anywhere you would use liquid soap.
I think my goal when I write posts like this is to spread my fixation with getting my money’s worth out of everything I buy. That way I won’t seem like such a nutcase.
Mi Madre is a constant reader of my blog (one of the two I have), and when she and I were on the phone yesterday she told me something awesome. She said that when my sister and I were teens, she despaired of us ever cleaning a thing voluntarily. After reading the Deep Clean Week posts, she said it should reassure parents everywhere that kids do develop the ability to clean, and in fact I probably clean more thoroughly than she does. She really did say that! In fairness, she lives on a farm, and has greater concerns than sweeping the floor thoroughly. Our conversation ended yesterday when she had to go herd cows out of the vegetable garden. No joke.
Bottom line, I hope all you people enjoy my practicality as much as I do. If not, here’s a kitten for some entertainment value!
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately crafting for friends and family, like the cake topper and wedding favors for my sister, Beans. This post is going to show some of those gifts, and serve as an excuse for not doing many crafting posts.
For Jessica, I made a tiny gnome head magnet (which is part of an on-going weird joke between us), and a box of Cadbury creme eggs, of which I did not steal ONE.
This is a necklace for my sis, Beans, inspired by a recycle poster, which is why the tree is made of arrows.
UPDATE: I found the inspiration pic for this:
This is a monster baby. I made it out of some fabric by running it around the sewing machine with no real plan in mind.
He’s wearing a cape with SB on it, which stands for Super Baby. He’s playing super heroes, with his pet cow.
I named the cow Moothusela. This monster baby was made for Kathy Phan-tastic for her birthday.
Nuclear explosion? No problem! Super Baby to the rescue! (The background is part of a painting by my super-talented Hubby). So it just goes to show, being friends with me has its benefits. I love giving handmade gifts whenever I can.
This is a much simpler reupholstery project than the ottoman we did recently, so I’m hoping this will illustrate the basic concepts in a simpler way. This used to be an office chair, then the back broke off. Now it’s a stool, and the vinyl is going to bits. Hubby and I have our computers set up next to each other on a long desk, so you have to walk past one of us to get to the other computer. Having a full-size desk chair in that narrow space is a pain, but this little guy fits right under the desk:
You will need, scissors, staple gun, and some cah-LASSY fabric, like leopard print:
For this small piece, I just flipped it over onto the fabric:
And cut around it:
The seat has rounded corners, so to make sure everything stays even, we fold it over on either side, staple in place, then do the other two sides. I hope I’m explaining this well!
Having the middle of each side anchored makes it much easier to do the gathers on the corners.
Here’s the finished under-side:
And the finished top. The fabric has that fur texture, which is why it looks like it has stripes in this picture, but it doesn’t. That’s just the light.
If you wanted to be REALLY clever, you could make a cover that goes on and off for cleaning. I don’t know how to deal with elastic, so I just did it this way. This would be a good place to use a t-shirt you really like, but doesn’t fit also. I love projects like this, because they add those little unique, personalized touches to your home. Plus, I get to keep a piece of furniture that fits my needs already, rather than buying something new.
When I went to that super swappy swap meet awhile ago, I acquired some awesome stuff, that just needed my special touch to make it perfect. This is one of those items. It’s a t-shirt dress. I love how the top fits me, but I have a little too much “junk in the trunk” for it to look good on me in the lower half.
I got Hubby to draw a line all the way around me while I was wearing it, so that I could cut it to the exact length I wanted all the way around.
It was a little longer in the back, which is just what I wanted.
I did this bad boy right. I even ironed the hem into place before pinning it. I folded down 1/4 to 1/2 inch, ironed it in place, then rolled it over another 1/2 inch and ironed that on the inside to create the hem. I then pinned everything in place. I was able to complete this project on my friend Jessica’s sewing machine (the same Jessica from the swap and several other posts), but it coughed to a tragic end right before I was done, so I hand sewed the remainder.
So now I have a nice t-shirt, that I may embellish on the front. It has a decoration on the back which was pictured in the swap post. It is really soft, and I love the fit. It may star in another post in the future. Ooh, more skulls perhaps??