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.
In preparation for Hubby’s pirate themed birthday party, I decided I needed a little accessorizing. Fortunately I have some random crafting supplies (“You? No way”, “Yes, really”) that I threw together to make a bad-ass choker. I happened to find this giant bird pendant at the thrift store attached to a bunch of other beads, and I had this black edging stuff laying around. I bought the black knotted clasp, on the right, for about $2, I think, at the fabric store.
Here’s a close up of the giant medallion/cameo thing.
First, I hemmed one end of the lace stuff, and attached half the clasp. I measured the lacey stuff around my neck, and cut it with at least an inch extra for hemming. This stuff comes apart very easily once cut, so I folded the end in about half an inch, then half an inch again, then sewed it all through to keep it from unraveling.
I put the clasp back together, then measured the lace around my neck again to double check the comfort and the clasp placement. This is also a good way to make sure you don’t have a twist in your necklace. The package recommends sewing the clasp onto your project while it’s together, and that’s good advice to make sure it will line up properly when you’re done.
Test out teh fit again, and make sure it’s snug without being tight. This is also the time to test putting it on and taking it off. I found that it’s easier for me to have the loop part on my right, so my right hand does the more challenging part of closing the necklace. If I had to depend on my left hand, there would have been much pouting and tantrum-ing.
I sewed the camoe onto the choker in the middle to get as much support from the lace as possible. It’s solid metal, and as you can see, pretty large. It works great, and is probably the most comfortable part of my costume. It also took me about 10 minutes to put it together.
Hubby had his birthday again, as he inevitably does each year. That means THEME PARTY! This year the theme was pirates, and as usual we did it right. The cake was in the shape of a pirate ship, and it’s so easy you can even make it while hitting the rum.
You will need: one box of cake mix, any flavor; 2 cans of frosting, chocolate; bamboo skewers (you only need 2); toothpicks; 1 Hershey bar; Twizzlers or 1 Kit Kat bar; M&M’s or Skittles, or some kind of small round candy; 2 sheets printer paper for sails.
I used box cake mix because I’m lazy, and also because for every party we have I end up running around half-dressed, decorating frantically and shrieking creative profanity. Cakes from scratch do not happen. Make the cake mix according to the instruction and make 2 round cakes. You can use either the 8″ or 9″ rounds.
Make sure to use baking spray in the cake pans before you pour the batter in, or else getting them out of the pans will be a nightmare. Let them cool completely (not warm, not slightly above room temperature, COOL), then run a butter knife around the edge. Now flip it out onto a large cutting board. Cut it in half.
Spread icing on one half.
Flip the other half on top to make a giant cake sandwich. Do the same with the other cake so you end up with 4 cake halves iced and stacked up. Icing the outside of the cake is easier if you make sure the bottom of the cake, i.e. the part that was touching the metal of the cake pan, ends up facing outward on your cake stack. Eagle-eyed readers may notice that I didn’t do that, making this one of those “learn from my fail” moments that are so common in my writing style. The bottoms of the cakes are much sturdier and flatter, and hold up much better when icing is spread over them.
Yes, this is a picture of 3 cake pieces stacked up, not 4. That’s because, yet again, I learned from the process of making the cake, and am sharing that hard-earned knowledge with you. With just the 3 halves of cake, the base was not wide enough, and the whole thing started to slump. I caught it, which coated my hand in icing. A delicious, though inconvenient, mistake. And yes, I washed my hands after licking all the frosting off. Probably.
Once you have your stack, slice a bit off the bottom of the curve. Retain the cut pieces for the future. In this picture you can see the top of the cake rather than the bottom facing upward, mocking me with its un-iceable surface.
Stand the cake up on the bottom you just created, and pray it stays upright. If you used your 4 cake halves it should be fairly sturdy. If not, you have plenty of those skewers to hold this bad boy together. I attached 2 of the smaller cake chunks to the back of the ship, where the rudder will be attached.
I attached a larger piece to the front to be the prow. I ended up sticking it on with toothpicks when it misbehaved.
And then coat the whole thing in so much icing no one will see any flaws.
To make little railings to go along the back of the ship, I used toothpicks burrowed into Kit Kat bars. You can also use Twizzlers if you prefer.
The rudder is a chunk of Hershey bar jammed between those two cake pieces I stuck to the back.
Hubby got super artistic with the sails (which was fully expected). You can either use plain paper, print a Jolly Roger on them, or make them all tattery like this. Just stab the skewer in at the top, then down through the bottom, then stick it in the cake.
I used M&Ms for portholes, and more Hershey bar for railings at the front of the ship.
It came out pretty good, and damn tasty. There were no leftovers!!
We’ve all been in that position: people around you have been hacking and sniffling for weeks, and you start to feel stuffy and achey yourself. You know illness is coming, and there’s very little you can do about it. How can you make this whole process as worry-free as possible? Lucky for you I have thought this all out.
Prevention – If people around you start dropping like flies, start taking your multivitamins and washing your hands like crazy. Hopefully you can avoid this problem altogether. Hand sanitizer is your friend.
Just in Case – Try to get ahead on work and chores so you’ll have less to worry about if you do get sick. Don’t work so hard you actually allow the illness to take hold, though. You can kind of think of it as though you’re going out of town, but not for something fun; pretend you have to go on a useless, boring work conference.
Too Late – You can feel your glands swelling and your throat scratching. Before it gets horrific set a few things up.
1. Go to the store – stock up on orange juice, cold medicine, tissues, chicken noodle soup, soda crackers, or whatever foods you want during illness. My staples are Nyquil and more Nyquil. Whether you’ll be home alone, or have someone caring for you, generally stick to foods that are quick and easy to make. I also tend to use Zicam when I’m sick and it seems to help, but I’m not sure how scientific that is.
2. Get your home ready -
A. Entertainment: If this is a stay-in-bed-all-day sick, make sure you have entertainment ready and in arm’s reach. Books, magazines, video games, TV remote, lap top or whatever. Have the chargers ready for electronics, a lamp for reading, and clear unwanted junk out of the way.
B. Meds: Put any medicine you might need or want next to the bed, along with tissues, hand sanitizer, and a trash can. Depending on what kind of sick you are you might want a heating pad, too. If this is a stomach virus or something comparable, make sure your pathway to the bathroom is unobstructed. You might even try to move your bed closer to the bathroom in that case.
C. Comfort: Put clean sheets and blankets on your bed, make sure all your comfy pajamas are clean and ready, and grab a cuddly stuffed animal.
Preparing a little ahead of time makes it so much easier when you’re actually sick. Last time I made a huge pot of soup and then just had Hubby heat it up for me later when I was ill. I took a day off work, and slept around 36 hours. I felt much better afterward, and was able to relax during. Take care of yourselves!
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?
I had never had homemade refried beans until a friend of mine opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities. We make them for breakfast tacos, but they are good any time of day. For this recipe you’ll need some cooked beans, preferably pinto or black, garlic, garlic salt, and either bacon or olive oil, depending on your preferences. I start out by cooking some bacon.
While that’s cooking I chop 4-5 cloves of garlic up very finely.
Oh look! Beans that are already cooked, as if by magic! (I’m like Rachel Ray, but with a normal-sized mouth).
Once the bacon is mostly done, start the garlic browning. If you’re making vegetarian refried beans, brown the garlic in olive oil. Turn the heat down pretty low for this.
I use garlic salt and sriracha to flavor mine, and the potato masher will be very important in a minute. I don’t just take photos of random crap on my counters, this is all part of my plan.
Put a bunch of beans in the pan and mix in the bacon fat or olive oil. Let that heat up a little bit.
Once the beans are warm, smash them with the potato masher (see? The plan! I had one!). Warm beans are a little easier to squish than cold ones, in my opinion. Once you have everything smashed thoroughly, let the beans cook a little more. You want to cook off some of the liquid until they reach a consistency you like. But remember, the beans will thicken as they cool, so let them cook until they are slightly runnier than you’d like. That way, when you serve them they should be just right. If your beans are too dry you can add warm water or olive oil a little at a time to get a consistency you like.
I made these beans into breakfast tacos with the bacon, but I ate all the results before I took a picture. Meh. I had plenty of extra, and I’ve made quesadillas also, which were amazing. This process is way easier than I thought it would be, and it’s very easy to make a small batch to experiment. You can use canned beans, or beans you’ve cooked from scratch yourself. And it’s an excuse to eat bacon!
I was going to write a blog post about “How to sell your car”, but I thought, forget it. You people can figure it our your damn selves, the same way I had to. The last thing I need is people thinking I know what I’m talking about. (Oh fine. Here’s the link for Texas. People in states that are not spontaneously combusting can fend for themselves). When I sold my Honda CR-V, I had to remove all the stickers and other bits that gave it personality. One of those was my adorable little Darwin Fish.
You can see all the silver has worn off the lettering. What does it need? GLITTER. I like where this is headed.
Two coats of red glitter nail polish, and Darwin is blinged-out! Ready for my next car, whatever that may be.
If you find yourself having to remove stickers from your car, the easiest way I’ve found is to buy one of these little razor blades:
It’s basically a small plastic handle that a normal razor blade fits into. They cost about a dollar at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. This makes it much easier to get between the sticker and the glass, and also makes it more likely you’ll get the whole thing off. You can also open it up, and flip the razor blade around so that the sharp part is covered up while you aren’t using it. It’s a pretty clever little gadget. You can see I tested it thoroughly:
This is just one more random photo. This was my antenna ball, until we realized that her cowboy hat was catching the wind while I drove, causing her to whack the roof constantly. It made a very worrying knocking sound, so I took her off and kept her on the dash. A well-meaning car cleaner guy, who was removing a half gallon of spilled milk from my floor boards (don’t ask), armor-alled the dash board, thus giving my antenna ball her five o’clock shadow. My sister, Beans, (all of my ridiculous stories start with “My sister, Beans…”) got in my car at one point and wanted to know why the hell I have a drag queen/king antenna ball sliding back and forth across the dash as I drive. I told her the whole story, and we dubbed her Pearl, the tough, female, truck driver. We started doing a “Pearl Voice” that sounds similar to Sling Blade, but slightly less effeminate. Anything with my sister evolves into these long, drawn-out, inexplicable scenarios. We entertained each other for an entire afternoon doing impressions of Pearl. When I sold the Honda, I kept Pearl, and she will, hopefully, be a perpetual passenger in my next vehicle.
Now that my Explorer (briefly named Carthulhu), has ALSO bitten the dust, I am about fed up with cars. But I saw this on the road the other day, and it makes me feel slightly better about my problems:
I maybe going through issues, but at least I can
still enjoy laughing at realize there are people less fortunate than I am.
Yes! Some crafts, finally! I was wandering around the thrift store the other day, despairing of finding anything cool, when I saw this fabric poking out from under a pile of clothes. Hubby and I have both been working on pirate costumes for Halloween/Renaissance Festival/random costume parties our friends have, and we need many more scarves.
Someone had split the whole booty area open, in what had to be a brutally embarrassing moment, but I still saw the potential. The fabric and pattern are also pretty close to historically accurate for the time period, which is always a plus.
First, I used my seam ripper to get the pants down to their basic components.
I then trimmed down the sides to make rectangles. I also trimmed off the torn booty area. Keep in mind, this is for a costume, and a pirate at that, so I just basically eyeballed everything.
I wanted it to be a bit longer, so I took some of the other scraps, cut them to size, and pinned everything together. I hand-sewed everything together. The fairly busy pattern of this fabric hides the fact that several bits of fabric form the whole scarf. I wouldn’t necessarily try this same method with a quieter pattern, unless it’s for a gypsy or pirate costume. Gypsies and pirates are supposed to look patched up, so it adds to the authenticity.
Once the bits were assembled, I laid it out, and rolled the sides over to be hemmed. The edges were not straight, so I just folded the extra cloth under to even it out. I pinned the edges down, and hand-sewed everything again.
Here’s the finished product! The ends were already machine-hemmed, since they were the ankles of the pants, so that saved me some work. In the picture, it looks like that end flairs out terribly, but that’s just the way I laid it down to take the picture. The scarf is now complete, and either Hubby or I can wear it for our costumes. I also have some extra fabric from this project, so it may reappear someday. Overall, it only took me a few days, even hand-sewing everything. With a sewing machine, it could have been done in an hour, easily.
I know i’ve mentioned before that I don’t make my own hummus. It just never seemed worth the effort. Well my friend Sara, of the formally-long-red-hair finally convinced me to give it another try. Here’s the recipe that made me start making it again. I’m going to start with the basic, plain-jane kind, and then give you some flavor options.
I start out with a bag of dried garbanzo beans, aka chick peas (probably 3 cups or so). I put them in my crock pot, with lots of water, and (here’s the smart part) about a teaspoon of baking soda. That makes them get super soft, which gives you a creamier hummus. Put it on the 8 hour setting, and ignore it.
Once you have your squishy-soft beans, let them cool some, but the hummus comes out much creamier if you make it while they are still warm. So put them in your food processor with 1/2 tablespoon of tahini, 2 cloves of raw garlic, and at least a tablespoon of lemon juice. Don’t go overboard on the tahini, or it can end up tasting like peanut butter. I add some olive oil also, to add some creaminesss.
A couple notes on tahini: Tahini is sesame seeds smashed up until they resemble peanut butter. I have always been irritated by this product, because it’s one of those ingredients that you only need a miniscule amount of for the recipe, but you can only purchase it in mass quantities (The Oatmeal has faced a similar conundrum). I finally found a small(ish) reasonably priced, resealable jar over with the peanut butter in our grocery store! If you are able to find something similar, just make sure you mix the sesame oil that rises to the surface back into the tahini before you scoop out a dollop for the hummus. I wonder if anyone has tried making hummus with sesame oil, and no tahini? Maybe I’ll try that in the future.
Okay, so now you should have your basic hummus: chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini (and salt if you want). Here’s some flavor options, but also feel free to be creative. Hummus is like a blank canvas, waiting for flavor.
Spices: I like to add cumin for a nice earthy flavor, and/or dill. Garlic salt, chili powder, chipotle, and Tony Chacherie’s have all served me well in the past.
Vegetables: I usually throw green olives into the food processor from the outset, along with a little olive juice and olive oil. You can obviously use black olives as well. I, personally, don’t like bell peppers, so I have no idea why anyone would want to throw all their hard work away by tainting something so delicious and healthy with the flavor of demon poop, but to each his own. Some people just like satanic doodoo.
Sauces: I recently used a red wine vinagarette Italian dressing in mine, and it was awesome. It instantly gave the hummus a lot of complex flavor without much work on my part. I also used, brace yourself, dill pickle juice. I only eat the Clausen pickles that you find in the deli section of the store. All others just taste sour to me, but this pickle juice was great in there. Don’t judge! (I know my friend Bon Quiqui is probably drooling at the thought of pickle juice hummus right now).
The other sauce I used recently is Sriracha, aka Rooster Sauce. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a spicy red chili sauce, usually found in Asian restaurants. I have been using it in an unholy number of foods lately, to the point where it may get its own post soon. It makes the hummus spicy and delicious, to the point where I don’t want to share at all. AT ALL. It’s miracle hummus. I want to eat it with a spoon instead of crackers or carrots. I’m not kidding.
So I hope you’re all happy that I’ve seen the error of my ways, and admitted my ignorance. I’m not perfect, but everyday I get a little closer. but then I do things like almost set my house on fire, and I stumble back a few steps.