Monday, November 26, 2012

Looking for natural soaps & moisturizers?

Just in time for Christmasing, my wonderful friend Amber and her lovely sisters Rachael & Ashley have launched their line, Women of the Wildwoods. If your skins cries for relief (like mine does, in new ways with each new season because eff being "normal") you should get some!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Made@home ornaments, $15 big impact display

     This year, thanks to Pinterest giving me a starting point or two, I got away from thinking I needed to replicate a magazine Christmas look. I don't live a magazine life, so why was I trying to get that look? Maybe I was watching too much HGTV... (blasphemy!) So this year, I gave myself permission to do my own thing. And you know what? That's very liberating and stress-relieving.

     I started with this pin: super hero ornaments. Then I asked Chris for a list of his top 12 superheroes. I didn't tell him what this was for. Maybe I should have let the surprise go and told him, as I had to make him revise his list for having two on there that had no identifiable logos. And then had to make my own logo for Night Crawler as i didn't know the one for Martian Manhunter either. I think he snarled at me from the other room at least once. But the end product was worth it:

     12 of our favorite superheroes, which will be adorning our tree that actually looks like it belongs to us- you know, gamers & geeks. I don't think he's even noticed yet that I threw in the Greatest American Hero- a "hero" from a show he used to watch with his dad that he really likes. I kinda wish the glitter in the Hulk ornament had shown better- it mostly ended up in the bottom, and I learned mid-ornament that the black acrylic paint I had was unusually thick and wouldn't mix well. So many q-tips later, and lots of paint on my fingers, I got the desired darker silver for Thor. Probably would have been easier if my paint hadn't been half-sludged. Or if i had mixed it before pouring it into the ornament. Meh. Live and learn. It was fun anyhow.

     And today's step in getting some holiday spirit <forced> into us (I'm notoriously anti-holiday spirit, but I'm trying) I made a 5 minute display to set on the entertainment stand.

See it over there on the right? Ok, you're right, Reese cups look AWESOME and way too yummy right now. That's what I get for watching the commercials. Here's a close-up, stop drooling on the chocolate;

     You saw the title, right? Yes, this costs just $15 to set up. $9.97 for the 2 gallon jar at the Wal-hell-mart. (10.50-ish with tax.) Those giant ornaments came from Family Tree Dollar something or other for a buck each.So $5 there.  And the pine cones were rescues from the wreath the real estate agent sent Chris the first Christmas he lived here...which stuck around for 2, 2 1/2 years.... it was a live wreath. I think it may have been part zombie.  But it contributed to the cause, so good on it.
     The bonus to this set up being I don't have to do much dusting of it. Because do you know how difficult it is to dust something that has glitter on it? Yeah. I don't want to find out, either. :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

When putting up the tree....


:) Karen, you probably could have warned me about this ahead of time. Ruby, you'd probably be covered in glitter right along with me, but likely far more ok with it :)

I decided to try out this pin: Paper Tree Topper

Lovely, tutorial, surprisingly easy. What they didn't mention: YOU WILL HAVE GLITTER EVERYWHERE!

I did not have pre-glittered cardstock on hand, but I did have spray adhesive and ultra fine glitter. so I made my own. Was that the reason it ended up everywhere? Not sure. I do know all the glitter cardstock I've seen in stores had lots of loose glitter in the pack as well, so maybe I would have looked like I got glitter-bombed either way. But it was a cute idea, and I think this will solve my "what the heck do I plunk on the top of the tree?!" issue. Last year I made a big bow. Also the year before saw a big bow. Blah. This year will likely see one of these. In foil paper. Because I am decidedly NOT a fan of having glitter everywhere....yes, EVERYWHERE. You can't get rid of it! GAH! (editor's note: I found some in my skivvies when I changed into!)

Edit: In an effort to reset my sleep patterns for <this week at least> a little while, I decided to just stay up tonight. Boredom kicked in oh about 5 minutes after Chris went to bed. So I learned (or in some cases re-learned a few tips about putting up the tree.
1. If your tree skirt is huge, it will look funny on a normal tree. It will also make your resents, no matter how many, look inferior and/or like slim pickings. My tree skirt is made for a *very* large tree. We have a 5 1/2 footer. Twist that ish about until it is the same width as the lowest branches. Or even a bit smaller. Seriously. That looks ok in the pic right? There are 3 sections folded up in the back.

2. DO NOT lay pieces of your artificial tree in progress on the couch. This is year I don't know, he had this thing for years before I moved in on this poor tree-that-could. It sheds. Nearly as much as a real tree that ain't been watered. Ever. And my special self laid the top two sections on the couch while I was fluffing the lower bit. *AGAIN*. This leads to cussing. and #3

3. While decorating the tree may be a beautiful family tradition, or a nice one to start, as the case may be, putting the *(%%#$* thing together is best done by the one with the most patience after everyone else is either asleep or gone. Both if you can swing it. Liberal application of rum is highly recommended.

4. If your tree is not pre-lit, buy the biggest bottle of rum you can find. I cursed a blue streak just putting this one up, and it was on its best behavior. (and pre-lit) If I had needed to untangle lights and wrap those puppies around it, there might have been mayhem. As it was, Damien is giving me funny looks.
"I'm not sure what just happened, but I'm sure it's my fault. And I'm sorry. So, so sorry."

Ok, so that wasn't him tonight, but it seemed appropriate. He was totally making that face again.  Daisy curled her lip at the tree, so it's not just me, it really is evil.

5. When putting up a Christmas tree, especially by yourself, or even worse, hindered by others, be sure to reward yourself for a job survived with a liberal application of rum. Sweet, sweet rum....
I just realized I never update with the final product-
2012's Superheroes Christmas tree
(with some Packers ornaments for kicks)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas tree sparkles, made@home for not much $

Today's project: make the most of the lights that are on the pre-lit Christmas tree.

Since our tree is kinda thin, kinda lackluster, I decided to use a pin and make some reflective ornaments to add extra sparkle to our tree this year. Plus, our living room can be rather dark, so bring on the bling!

Hot Glue Gun and glue sticks (I used 5 sticks for 50 mirror ornaments)
Silver or clear string or laces ( I used clear craft lacing which I already had on hand from Halloween projects- $2.77 for 100 yards)
1" mirror tiles- I found round ones at Michaels  for $1.99 per bag of 25. I bought 4 bags, and used this week's coupon for 25% off the entire purchase (which was nice, as I ended up replacing my glue gun as it was old and not heating well)

Cut the string or laces into roughly 6" lengths- 100 tiles makes 50 finished ornaments.
Get your glue gun heating up and set out half of your tiles face down, and half face up. Laying these all out neatly helps you to move quickly once you start in with the glue.

Take the first lace, hold the ends together between your thumb and index fingers, leaving your other fingers free to stabilize your bottom tile.
Add a small dot of glue and stick the ends of the laces or string in it and quickly  stick a face up tile on top. Hold for 2-3 seconds while pressing down to make sure you get a nice seal.
Pull off any stringy glue and set aside to finish cooling. Rinse and repeat. Lots and lots of repeat.
Just be sure you don't stick your fingers IN the glue as you're doing this, and you'll be done in no time. OK, admittedly, it's something like 20 minutes to do 50 ornaments.  I'd suggest nap time if you have any littles running about that would want to "help" as this is not a project suited to tiny hands. It might not be suited to MY hands either as I have a tendency to get hot glue on my fingers. But those with more grace should find this an easy one, and coming in at $10 or less, easy on the wallet.

Since we aren't ready to put the tree up just yet, I gave a thought to storing these- just gather them all up on a finger and slip a twist tie through the loops to contain them to an easy to manage bundle.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


The highlight of the collection is Anne Rice hardbacks. 

We now have a Half Price books in Bloomington and I have a collection of new books.
  All together we spent a little over $23 on all of the books that are pictured above. The Anne Rice books we have in paperback, but we wanted to hardback on the to keep on the shelf. I was really happy to find "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". I been wanting to read the book, but I didn't want to pay full price or get it from the library, so finding it for $2 was great. "The Scary Stories" book was for Andrea and "Dangerous Girls" for Bailey. I like to get the girls books to read, but they have to be good books.
   Now if any of you want me to look for books for you or the kiddos just let me know. The books range from $.25 to $3. We didn't spend more than $2 on any of our books and that includes the hardbacks. 

  I was very amused while we were there because there were so many copies of the Twilight Books, like 3-4 shelves. People apparently didn't want to keep those books after they had read them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Now THAT is a wreath!

I still don't know if it will go above the tv or on the front door (it would have to get hung on the outside of the storm door as the gap between the main door and storm door is very small) but I finally have a wreath I like! I almost have full feeling back in my index fingertips, too! (OW! Hot  being the operative word in hot glue. And that junk won't stay put!) But very worth the effort, and considering the inspiration one was $66 plus about $20 in shipping from etsy, I think even spending what I ended up on it (about 50- the majority was the 17.99 plus 10 bucks shipping for the team ornaments) I came out ahead. I did use a few cone ornaments I had on hand already, and I already had the ribbon. Which got all cut up to become filler-puffs and the bow.  Ok, and I needed to pick up a new bag of hot glue sticks ($7 for a bag of 100 sticks), but I've got about half of that left. Which means I need more projects...:D

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Forget About Me Chicken with Rice (or potatoes)

Adapted to my own tastes from other pins about slow-bake chicken around Pinterest


3- 6 (or 8 even) Boneless skinless chicken breasts, depending upon how many you want to feed or if you want leftovers for lunch later in the week
2 cups minute rice or 2-3 baking potatoes of your fave variety, diced
1 pkg. onion soup mix (or equivalent homemade mix )
2 cans (10.5 oz each) cream of insert fave variety here soup(chicken, mushroom, celery, broccoli whatever).
1 can water
veggies (optional- roughly one can worth)
seasonings sprinkled to taste (thyme, basil, cardamom, garlic powder, celery seed etc)
salt and pepper blend

1. mix your two cans or equivalent cream of soups and your onion soup mix in a 13 x 9 baking pan. If you are not using stoneware (why are you not using stoneware??) butter the bottom of the pan. Smush/stir until you have the big lumps out, but don't worry about it too much.

Notice that i did not start with preheating the oven. Oven temperature is a myth... Google it if you don't believe me, and is especially NOT important in this recipe. If you want this to slow cook, set your oven around 200-250(cool oven). If you want it in 2 1/2 to 3 hours, set it around 275 or 300(high cool oven). If you want it in an hour -1 1/2 hours set it around 350-375(moderate oven). You can even set it as you stick the pan in there, especially if you are slow cooking this one. 

2. Add your rice or diced potatoes and stir. If you want to add veggies, made a well in the center and stick 'em in there.  I live in high altitude, so I leave about half the water in the can of veggies as liquids boil off faster here. 
You see how super-technical this is, right?

3. Now is the time to customize your flavor: add whatever of your favorite seasonings in a sprinkle across the surface: thyme, oregano, cumin, basil... if it's green, it will probably go in just fine. I won't blanket-approve here, because there are some weird herbs out there that have some strong flavors, but any of the basics will do. Whatever floats your goat.

4. Lay your chicken across the top of your mix. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. If you are NOT slow-cooking this, you may want to use a tenderizer to flatten out any particularly thick bits. If you are slow cooking, or like me decided to slice up your breast halves into more manageable bits, you will be fine.  COVER WITH FOIL! This is the one step you really can't forget here people. Stick that pan in the oven at your desired temperature, for something approximating a time frame  You can even forget it is in there for a while. You'll smell it if you forget it for enough hours to burn it.(likely smell it before if burns and get that hungry-grumble reminder from your stomach) There's lots of wiggle room in this recipe. If you can mange to screw it up, let me know. I'll be impressed.

So. After I made this with potatoes for the first time tonight (because SOMEONE doesn't like the texture of rice [barbarian], I can admit it didn't come out as expected. With rice, the liquid is absorbed and this comes out as a casserole. With potatoes, it comes out as a thick stew. I was not planning for stew, but wow, it was yummy! Throw in some oyster crackers, grab bowls instead of plates, dinner is served. :)