Monday, April 30, 2012

Pin 63

Original pin:
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A giant water pillow! Fun outdoor water fun without actually getting wet!
The weather is really getting summer-y around here and I knew my kiddos would really get a kick out of this. I picked up a couple of plastic sheets for paint drop cloths at the dollar store and taped them together just like she said.

First problem: Taping the sheets together straight was not easy. But I managed.

Second problem: I tried to place this in a flat-ish, obstacle free part of the yard. As it filled with water it basically rolled itself down to the lowest point. It was very heavy and I could not fight it.
I started filling it all the way at the bottom of the picture and it just kept sliding and rolling until it had parked itself under the swing set.
Third problem: Closing the hole I had left open for the water was darn near impossible once the thing was full!

Fourth problem: I had just picked up dollar store plastic sheeting. Upon close observation of the original poster, her Husky brand sheeting clearly states "moisture resistant." Mine did not state this and a few minutes after the boys started playing on it, water was slowly seeping through--like osmosis! The leaks were not at the duct tape seams. It must have been a semi-permeable material.
We were certain these little feet had created a large hole and were swimming inside, but it was just the seeping water pooling around them.

All problems aside, the kids thought it was fantastic!

The fun lasted about 15 minutes and was no where near "dry" fun. Thankfully it was warm and the kids didn't mind getting wet. After about 15 minutes the water level was dramatically less and I think a little boy helped a tiny hole grow to a big hole. We aimed the leak at the swimming pool and salvaged what was left of the water and then spent the rest of the afternoon with pool and hose play.

WARNING!! Although my husband and I were joking about this, it is really no joke. As the bag deflated we remarked about what a huge hazard this could be. The giant plastic could create a suffocation hazard as it deflated. The pillow rolled down the hill and was heavy. If it were to slide over a child it could have devastating consequences. Also, if for some reason a large hole were to occur, a child could climb inside with the double danger of drowning and suffocation. Please do not leave your children unattended on this for even one second.

Total cost: $6 for duct tape and sheeting.

Total time: It took me about 45 minutes to get it all taped up and 15 minutes to fill.

Final verdict: It was fun for the kids and a really neat idea. I won't do it again though. I don't know where in my yard would be flat enough to keep it from moving. It took way too much time and money for only 15 minutes of fun. It really could potentially be a horrible hazard. If you try it, make sure you get heavier, waterproof sheeting.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pin 62

Original pin:

Make your own baked taco shells.

At first glance I assumed these were flour tortillas, but after attempting this, I am going to guess these are white corn tortillas? I made some slow-cooked chicken lime tacos today. I popped these in the oven just as the directions said. Within minutes I saw this:
 They were puffing up so big the tortillas were not hanging on the rack any more. the one front and center nearly looked like a pita! I should have expected this, but I guess I didn't think it through. After 7 minutes--long minutes I lived in fear of burned and/or exploding tortillas--I pulled them out looking like this:
 I was a little apprehensive because I knew that this is not what it was supposed to be. I sweetly begged my husband to "Please eat one with me so you can tell me what you think too." He's always up for a good food challenge so he jumped in without hesitation.
My chicken taco

 My first impression was that it was crunchy on the outside, but a little chewy. However, as I continued to eat it I started to appreciate it more. It was sturdy and held up to my juicy, dripping, chicken tacos much better than a plain flour tortilla. It held together very nicely and stood up on the plate. My husband enjoyed them even more than me. We even saved the leftovers! Because it was so sturdy, the baked shell held more fillings and my usual three tacos turned into two tacos. Of course I also was enjoying the best Tex-Mex rice ever from Pin 26

Total cost: $2.29 for 20 tortillas, we only used 6

Total time: 8 minutes

Final verdict: Surprisingly impressed. I would definitely like to try them with a corn tortilla as well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Minor Delay

There will be a minor delay in two of this week's pin posts. My 28 year-old sewing machine had to go to urgent care this morning. I am so lonely.

Looking for a few no-sew projects for next week.

I miss you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pin 60 & Pin 61

Original pin:
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Homemade American cheese (aka Velveeta around here).

The recipe is simple enough. I got to use a kitchen gadget (yippie!) I did have to make a special grocery store trip to find whole milk powder. I found it at Target in the section with imported foods. It was kind of pricey for the one tablespoon I needed, but maybe I'll just be making a whole lot more of this. Either that or I need to find some new recipes that call for whole milk powder. Or just make some milk.

It was super salty when eaten by itself. The kids looooved and kept begging for more. Next time I would cut the salt in half at least. I, personally, don't love salt. It is great on potato chips and that's about where it ends for me. All together, it was a little expensive (due mostly to the milk powder) but I have a lot left over so maybe that will come in handy in the future.
My cheese loaf. **snicker**

Total cost: $11-ish

Total time: 10 minutes plus chilling time

Final verdict: Too salty on its own, but delicious in. . .

Original pin:
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Clever little grilled cheese roll-ups. We have made these before, but I didn't post on it. They were yummy the first time, but with this homemade cheese they were even better. The kids gobbled them up. I wanted more but refrained just because it is nearly swimsuit season.  They are just as easy as regular grilled cheese and perfect for dipping in tomato soup--which we did!
Fancy cheese, all sliced up

All rolled up!

Total cost: $0  We put our expensive homemade American on wheat bread from the pantry

Total time: 10 minutes for 6 rolls

Final verdict: A winner around here already. Daddy is going to be sad he missed dinner tonight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pin 59

Original pin:
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MMMMmmmm. Root beer float popsicles!

The original creator said to put ice cream into the popsicle mold and then fill up with root beer. I wasn't sure how that would work with my Popsicle X-press (remember when I told you about it back on Pin 21?) The molds are a little small and tapered and I was not sure I could get the ice cream in the right spot. Plus the X-press has some particular guidelines to follow to make sure you can get your popsicle out and I wasn't sure how that would work either. So I decided to blend my root beer and ice cream together first instead of having them separate. It created a consistent flavor throughout.

Unlike Ms. Butter-me-up-brooklyn, I did not make my own root beer. Store bought was the way to go this week--especially after I recover from a pretty rough two weeks at work. Lu's excited that we have leftover root beer and I promised him some after school tomorrow.

After dinner tonight I blended it up and popped it into the Popsicle X-Press and the boys watched the timer countdown.  Ten minutes later we popped out 3 of the 4 popsicles and devoured them. My husband described it as heaven. They were delicious. The fourth popsicle got stuck in the mold. The soft consistency of the ice cream prevented it from freezing through and the stick slid right out. This may be a problem I created by blending the two together first or may be because I used the X-Press instead of freezing traditionally. It didn't really matter though because we just took a spoon to the mold and scooped out the creamy goodness.

I may play with the root beer to ice cream ratio a bit. I used four average sized scoops of ice cream to one can of root beer for 10-ish popsicles. I bet if I used only three or two the ice cream taste would still shine through while still allowing the popsicle to set up a little harder.

Total cost: Probably around $1. I bought a 12-pack of store brand root beer of which I used one can and a half-gallon of store brand ice cream (don't tell BlueBell. They own my ice cream heart.) of which I used four scoops (less than a quarter of the bucket.)

Total time: 3 minutes to blend together, 10 minutes to freeze (thanks to the X-Press)

Final verdict: Delicious. We were fighting over who was going to get to drink the melted mix in the bottom of the blender. I think this one is going to be requested around here. And Lu is excited about the perks of left over root beer and ice cream. I just may have to show him what an actual root beer float is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T-shirt Upgrade

I have been so busy at work lately that I haven't been able to do many projects. Tonight I had a few free moments and pulled this little project together.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I love upcycled t-shirt projects! I had this shirt in my craft stash that I had picked up at a thrift shop a while back for $2. I had tossed it in the washer back when I bought it and at that time my husband tried to claim it for himself because it was so soft. I was ready to make it mine tonight!

The coveted heather blue shirt
 I layed it out flat and drew a straight line on the front side and back side just where the bottom of the sleeve met the shirt.
Using that line as a guide, I shirred five rows. Then I trimmed the sleeves a bit shorter, cut some excess off the bottom, and cut the ribbed collar off the neck. I didn't hem the sleeves or the bottom of the shirt. I left the original neck hem in place.

The finished product:

An easy and comfortable shirt for spring!

Total cost: $2

Total time: 30 min

Final verdict: I am totally going to be wearing this. It is perfect for those days when you just want to wear a t-shirt but don't want to look like a slob!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pin 58

Original pin:
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Seems easy enough.

I found a super deal on some light weight knit the other night at the craft store and I scooped it up with this project in mind. I own two wide belts--one in brown that is about 16 inches too long and another in red bedazzled with rhinestones. Neither of which seemed appropriate for this project. Before I started the dress, I decided I was going to make my own out of some cording. It will be very "boho, " right?

Wrong. ALL wrong. Well, fashionably wrong. Right if you truly are a bohemian of the shepherding type.

I only made a few modifications to her directions. I didn't buy white knit, so there was no need to dye the fabric. I cut the neck line with the dress on. I wanted it lower in the front and higher in the back. I also reinforced the seams at the sleeves and neckline so that the seams themselves wouldn't unravel.
After I whipped the dress together (in no time at all) and put it on with my new "belt" I saw just exactly how wrong this all went together. I felt, and looked, like I should be preparing to go on stage in a church production of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep.

Hmmm. Now where did that sheep go?
The original creator of this dress must be much taller than me (I just looked back and she fesses up to 5' 9". She's got at least 7 inches on me), and have a few less child induced curves (a young cute co-ed). This dress with a belt at the natural waist on her looks cute. On me--no way. So I kept playing around with other belts:

My puppy had to get on the bedazzled red!

Perhaps I am just too short for this length. I pinned it up to see what it would look like shortened. (The hem is not even in the picture, but I would make it even if I shortened it!)

Firstly, I can not wear this at the natural waist. It must be higher--empire waist high. Secondly, should I shorten it? When I looked in the mirror I liked the shortened look the best, but when I look at the pictures I like the high waist with the skinny red tie the best. I also considered just shirring five or six rows for a high waist. What do you think? Leave me a comment about which style you like best and I'll post an update soon with what I go with.

Total cost: $7

Total time: Creating the dress, less than 30 minutes. Playing with looks, hours

Final verdict: ?? To be determined. . .  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pin 57

Original pin:
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Specifically interested in the top row, first two items. This link was purely a picture. No directions, no source for the image. I thought they'd make a cute gift when paired together.

I have a wedding shower to attend soon so I decided to use this pinspiration for the gift. I checked out the registry to find out her kitchen colors and did my best to match.

In no time at all a couple of wooden utensils and some flour sack towels became a one-of-a-kind wedding gift. Hope she doesn't mind that it wasn't on her registry!!

I guess I could have stuck with the original pin and done solid colors on the spoons, but I just love the imperfect look of hand painted

Wrapped up and ready to gift!
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Total cost: Can't say--its a gift. I will just say it is affordable.

Final verdict: I think it is cute and would love getting it for a gift. I love handmade over store bought any day. One thing I try to teach my kids about gift giving is that part of the gift is that the person took the time to think about something really special that the recipient would like and put their time and effort into making it happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pins 54, 55, & 56

Original pin:
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Spray painting furniture how-to


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Overview of distressing painted furniture


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Whoa. A triple pin project! A few months back I scored some new furniture for the boys future room (when I determine they are old enough to bunk together--which I hope is sooner rather than later). This furniture came from a friend who offered me a deal I couldn't refuse! It was truly a bargain. The furniture was in good condition structurally, it had just had a little love from the previous little boy so it needed a little tlc.

 My little one's dresser is literally falling apart. I can no longer put the drawers back together on a weekly basis AND keep my sanity. I decided it was time to start moving in the new furniture, beginning with the dresser. I read a lot of blogs about refinishing furniture. It was probably a little too much because my plan got a little muddy. The pins I shared here are the sites I actually used techniques from. The first pin inspired me to prime with spray paint rather than brush on primer. I quickly hand-sanded all the parts first and then put on a sturdy layer of Kilz spray primer. Then I started painting. After two coats, I decided I needed a third. After three coats, I decided I needed a fourth. I love deep, rich colors which always require extra paint. Such a chore. I have painted two rooms red (requiring three coats) and one room deep brown (requiring four coats) and I still go for these colors. I finally achieved the color and coverage I wanted.

Ready to distress
 I'm not going to lie to you. This is the point I got really nervous about the distressing part and nearly backed out. All this time and work to get the perfect color and now I was just going to bang it up? Something didn't feel right about this. What if I messed up the messing up part? But I am dedicated to the pin so I jumped right it before I could over think it any longer. (The second pin, above)
The stressed out drawers.
Now onto (what I thought was going to be) the final step. Providing a protective coat, per pin three above. I thought I was going to be really smart here and apply a sealing finish with a spray paint sealant specifically indicated for indoor furniture. I was horrified.

This spray sealer did this to my perfect paint job. It was powdery and gritty, and I was just so disappointed. When I finally pulled myself up by my bootstraps and went to the hardware store armed with these pictures, the paint expert took one look and said, "You spray painted over a water based paint? Can't do that. All spray paint is oil-based." Dang. Luckily he had a solution for me. I had to sand it down, again, and paint it, again, and seal it, again--but with a water-based sealant this time. And so I did. Sanding the whole piece, I actually was glad this had happened. I saw the effect of sanding the entire surface, not just the edges as I had done originally, and I really liked how it looked. Sanding made me brave. After the fifth coat of paint, I sanded much more aggressively than I had the first time and I was much, much more pleased with the results. Ready to seal, again. As soon as I started, though, I noticed that the sealant was smoothing out the texture that the sanding had provided.

See the difference between the top and the bottom color and texture, this is after the sealant had dried.
 I was not going to sand or paint this thing again. So I just stopped. Nope, no sealant. What is the worst thing that can happen? The paint might scratch off. Great! I've already spent a lot of time doing that intentionally. So I put the knobs on the drawers, put the drawers back in, sanded off the three or four slats of sealant, and called this turkey done.

One other non-pin related snag I had with this project--I intended to replace the knobs. However, after taking them off I found they are some sort of fancy custom knob that would require me to repair the current holes and drill new ones. At that realization, I decided these knobs would work fine.

Total cost: $30 because I bought way too much paint and two kinds of sealant. Not including the price of the dresser. It was a steal and part of a set.

Total time: I feel like I've been working on this for absolutely months, but probably more like 3 weeks, off and on. I needed recovery time in between defeats.

Final verdict: I love the way it turned out. I have two more pieces of the set I am going to do in this color because I have so much extra paint. However, I will be buying an electric sander before I start the next piece.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pin 53

Original Pin:
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This falls right into my previous statement, "Who doesn't like fresh, hot bread???" Pita bread with dinner tonight!

I was pretty tired today and the kids were busy boys this afternoon. I'm not sure exactly what happened but the bottom line here is that I didn't follow the directions. Oops. Totally my fault. But luckily, everything turned out okay. The step I skipped was the third rise. I am used to making breads with one and two rises, but the third rise just didn't sink in this time. That being said, I don't even know if it is necessary. I shaped the dough from the balls into the pita bread and let them sit on the counter 3 or 4 minutes and then just popped them in the oven and they turned out beautiful. My cooking time was a little longer than the authors. She called for 3 minutes, but mine stayed in more like 5 or 6. I just waited until the tops started to get some browned spots. The bread was delicious. We sliced them open, stuffed them with steak, cheese, and avocados, and then gobbled them up. The leftovers will be great for lunches this weekend. Time consuming because I had to remember to start them in the morning, but they were definitely much better than the store bought kind.
Because I wasn't setting the timer, just watching for the color, one of them almost burned!

Total cost: $0, I had everything in the pantry

Total time: 1 hour hands on time, 2 hours rising time (divided)

Final verdict: Yum. Will be making these again for sure.

Pin 51 & Pin 52

Original pin:
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A cute and cheap idea for some original wall art. I have this space above my entertainment center that I have been trying to fill for years. No, literally. We have been in this house six years and I have NEVER had anything in this spot that I was happy with or felt like it was appropriate for the space. This seemed like just the thing.

The big empty. This is really high. The wood in the lower right of the picture is the edge of the mantle.
 The original pin called for scrapbook paper adhered to wood blocks the author bought from the hardware store. There were two problems I initially saw with this: 1. Wood blocks are heavy. Nine wood blocks are heavier. 2. They would require picture hanging equipment to be installed to the back. Installing picture hangers is just one of those things I can't stand doing. Too much precision required, I guess. So when I came across these canvases at the 99 cents store I was really excited. Light weight, no picture hangers required, CHEAP--perfect.
 With the first canvas I had trouble. The paper was buckling and bubbling (like paper does when it is wet. Surprise.) And I could just not get it to lie flat and smooth. I tried a few different techniques to no avail.
One of the first three full of lumps and bumps :(
 Surely I am not the first to have this problem. I got on the friendly internet and did a quick search. The third place I looked had this awesome tip. It was so awesome, that I had to pin it to my friends so that they, too, could know the awesomeness of it. (That is how this pin project turned into a two pin project.)

Here is the second pin:
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The most fabulous tip ever is that you can fix these bumps with a hairdryer! Amazing! I didn't know that! But it worked like a charm. Coincidentally this pin was actually for the same project (scrapbook paper on canvas.) I also learned from my google search that there is a special Mod Podge for using when working with fabric, but that's for next time. The hairdryer trick worked great.
After a blow out. Nice and smooth.
Even on canvases more wrinkled than this one, the trick still worked. You can't let it get too hot or the Mod Podge will boil and create bubbles. One drawback was that it had to be dried again after every coat so this step added significant time to my project. I did the original coat to plaster the paper to the canvas. Sanded the edges to give them a smooth edge and a little bit of a weathered effect and then I put on a second coat of Mod Podge. The original project called for antiquing paint (?) which I am not really familiar with. Is it a type of glaze?  I took a little brown acrylic paint and added it to the left over Mod Podge in my bowl to create a glaze which I sponged, smeared, and wiped on and off the edges to give it some dimension and authenticity. Some I did the edges only and others I did the entire tile.

My husband was amused by the blow drying.
 The final product laid out on the table.

This one is my favorite.
All that is left is to hang it up!

Close up of the tiles up on the wall.
The almost-full effect. The baby pics need to be updated, and the vases are going to get some tall-ish foliage.

Hanging that was a dusty chore!! But I got the corners while I was up there.

Total cost: $10.80

Total time: 3 hours

Final verdict: I love the look of the tiles themselves. I love having something up in this space. The top of the center needs some tweaking and now I have this great nook in the living area. Time to work my way around the rest of the room!