Monday, March 24, 2014

Week in Review: March 17-23

Last week I...

...made yarn-wrapped vases with the 4th graders at STAR Club. So much fun! Yet, I'm really glad to be rid of all those cans cluttering my kitchen counter.

...celebrated my mom's birthday early. I made 2 tarts for the occasion. The berry tart was DELICIOUS. Recipe: HERE. I have made it once before & I must share again what I discovered: do NOT spend $12 on a jar of crystallized ginger. Just don't. I got the same amount of ginger as sold in that $12 jar as I did in the bulk spices section---& it only cost me 48cents!! No joke. Bulk spices rock.
The chocolate tart I made had the same base as the berry tart. It was the first time I made chocolate ganache. (SO GOOD. So good.) But next time I would omit the ginger (from the cream cheese base) in the chocolate one. I didn't like the clash of flavors. Recipe for the chocolate ganache: HERE.
Also for mother's birthday I brought over a giant whiteboard. We had her sit in a chair in front of the board, & then we all wrote sweet words about who she is or what she means to us. She got to turn around & read it when we were all done.
And then Chuke performed a new song. (That'd be Zoey + me on our cello + ukulele.)
We ate ribs & bbq'd chicken & brisket & cornbread & coleslaw & baked beans &... it was so yummy!

...got together with some old friends from MOPS. (Mothers of PreSchoolers). It's been many years since I've been to MOPS. In fact, some of our preschoolers back then are in 5th grade now. It's so good to laugh & visit. I welcome any opportunity to do that.

...went to a steak dinner & revival service at church with grandmother & family. 

...shadow-boxed.

...helped introduce my dad to the game of Farkel. Our family is currently addicted. I carry dice around in my purse wherever I go.

...ate the biggest burrito on the planet for dinner on Sunday night. Another addiction: the taco truck 3 minutes down the road.

...saw THIS & laughed & laughed & laughed.

...saw THIS & was completely inspired. 

...spent most of the week prepping for Camp Wooten. I'll be going as a cook on the 5th grade Outdoor Education Camp Wooten trip. We leave today (Monday) & return Friday. I have to report to duty every morning at 6 AM in the kitchen. And it'll be a lot of work! I'm hoping to have plenty of opportunities to snap photos & even escape to visit Zoey & see what she is up to every so often. I'm hoping to make friends with the other cooks & I'm hoping my body doesn't fall apart during the trip. You know, with my bum foot, my back problems & my IBS. (Too much info?) Sorry. It's just reals, folks. 
*grins*
Anyway, I won't have any access to the internet all week. Yikes! But that's as it should be. What with nature & camping & all. I actually look forward to the forced "unplugged" factor. I hope to have an awesome experience & be accepting of whatever adventures come my way. 
At the staff meeting I heard one of the leaders say, "Bring things from home that make you comfortable." So I packed a vintage quilt, homemade bunting, a cat rug, Earl Grey tea + hand warmers.
I will post all about camp after I return home, next weekend. 
See you then!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DIY: Yarn-wrapped vase

Yes, there are lots of yarn-wrapped vases out there in DIY world. But this tutorial includes a few tips & tricks that will help you complete the job in a jiffy. You can use these to hold flowers, desk accessories, knitting needles (oooh! I just thought of that one), or whatevs.

Supplies:
a tin can
some yarn (the multicolored yarns create really fun stripes)
scissors
pen or pencil
tacky glue
carpet tape

Ok, first off: carpet tape??? I know. I learned about this awesome trick on a TV show I was watching one morning. The Chew, to be exact. One of the hosts, Clinton Kelly (Love him! You might remember him as one-half of the reality show "What Not to Wear"), was making yarn-wrapped vases (What?! I was going to make some too!) & then he pulled out some carpet tape. A week earlier, I was seriously trying to figure out the best, least messy way to make these with my 4th grade STAR Club crew. Glue is so messy, but it seemed my only option. Until Clinton arrived on the scene. This tape is amazing. It's double-sided & SUPER sticky & strong. 
Brilliant. Genius. Fabness to the maximus. The end.
Seriously, this stuff makes the project so easy. I bought a heavy duty cloth roll measuring 1.41" x 42' for $7.50 at Ace Hardware. I have made about 13 vases so far & have lots still left!

Back to the DIY-ing...
I found that I liked the vase best when a strip of the can was showing on the top & the bottom. On most cans there is a natural "lip", as you can see in the photo above. 

Make the first loop around your can with the tape. As you overlap, you can see through the tape to the spot where you began. (See the arrow in the photo below.)


Mark that spot with a pen or pencil.

Cut the tape at the spot you marked.

 First row: done. It doesn't matter if there's a tiny gap between the tape. It'll get covered with yarn real quick here. (And, sure, you could measure the can & cut the appropriate sized strips. But sometimes I like to do things the lazy, er, I mean...the hard way.)

Continue along the can, adding tape right next to the last piece you attached. On some veggie cans, the tape comes out perfecto. But this large can ends up with some overlap on the last piece. And that's just not gonna work. (See arrow above.)

So here's what I did. Before adding the last strip of tape, remove the paper backing from the previous strip. 

Now, line the last strip up, right above the bottom "lip". You'll be overlapping the strip above, but that's ok. That's what you want to do.

Once you've finished, then peel off the paper backing from the last strip. Half of the can is now super sticky exposed tape.

Which is perfect, because it's time for some yarn wrapping!
My little trick here is to NOT lay your yarn in a straight line. Angle it down a bit & then start wrapping from the bottom up. (Or from the top down, depending on which end you started at.)

Now, when you continue wrapping the yarn, you'll catch the end & give it a nice, secure hold. No slipping. No unraveling. No little fuzzy flapping piece of wool to worry about.
As I wrapped my yarn, I slightly pushed the yarn up & together as I went along---to prevent seeing through the yarn to the tape.
As needed, peel off the next strip of tape & continue working.

The can is halfway done in this photo! Yay! I don't have a photo of the finished product though, because after I crafted with the kids at STAR Club, I gave the vase to one of the teachers.

Here is the same style of yarn, but in a different color. This yarn is also heavy in weight & thickness, which makes the project go more quickly. (Something to keep in mind.)

The kids really got into making these. They used several different colors of yarn, changing their own hues along the way.








Thursday, March 20, 2014

Week in Review: March 10-16

So many good things have happened in the last couple weeks. I can't believe I didn't post last week's Picture Collage! First off, I took a trip with my parents to Seattle for my dad's post-op visit at the Veterans Hospital. It was a happy day. Extreme anxiousness has wrapped itself around my family since Christmas Eve, when dad made the announcement he had cancer. (For the 2nd time, I might add.) That guy walked out of that hospital two weeks ago with the happiest of hearts. The news that he was cancer free was a celebratory occasion! We immediately hit the social networks to declare the positively negative results. My dad was so cute, asking, "Who else can I call? Who else can I text?" He really wanted to shout it to the world. We all did.

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The Mr. & I celebrated our 15th anniversary on March 6th. A few days later he surprised me by arranging to have the girls spend the night with my parents while he & I took a one hour drive east to Walla Walla for an overnight stay at The Marcus Whitman Hotel. Chocolate covered strawberries + champagne awaited me in the hotel room. (Oo la la!) The Mr's plan was to park the car in the lot & not drive anywhere. Which is easy to do, since the sweet, small downtown area is so close. We walked to eat lunch & dinner, & visited a few shops. I ate so many yummy things: I highly suggest the BLT + cream of asparagus soup at Olive, the potato & Gorgonzola pizza at Sweet Basil, any cupcake at Frosted, the house-roasted cashews with Ancho Chili spice at Public House 124, & the pink peppercorn chocolate bar at Bright's Candies shop. The customer service at The Marcus Whitman is first-rate as well. It was just so fantastic to spend alone-time with the Mr. Although, we did miss our kids a wee bit. Our little hearts were a tiny bit sad without them. So, we bought them lots of little goodies to make up for the aching. Marbles & wind up toys & candy & musical instruments. Oh, & the extra shampoo & shower cap from the hotel bathroom. 

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If you dare, check out MY first YouTube video, where I play the ukulele (& sing!) during what I call a "Late-Night Uke Session". I'm having so much fun with the ukulele. It took a lot for me to publicly publish a video. Which might seem silly since I've spent years & years in front of various church congregations leading worship. Music means a lot to me, it's a big part of who I am &, though my voice is nothing fancy, I love singing.

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For Zoey's date day this month, she & I baked together. She has been dying to do some more creative kitchen stuff, so we found a recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies. OH. MY. We followed the recipe exact---& the handmade pie dough is amazing. My mom says it's the best pie crust she has had in a very long time. Dad & grandmother loved it too! (I baked another batch of hand pies the next day, using store-bought pie dough. Not even worth it. This was a victory for me, in case you forgot about the pie dough competition my mom & I had a couple months ago: she baked a pie using store-bought dough, & I baked a pie using grandmother's pie crust recipe....& my mother won!) The pies were so delicious & fun to make. I can't wait to try other fillings. Though the pie-baking was oodles of loveliness, the memory-making was the best.

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I am beginning to see sunny days & am loving the slightly warmer weather. I never realized, until now, just how much the weather affects my mood, my days, my whole being. Wow, this sunshine makes me feel alive. And today (March 20th) is the official First Day of Spring. So....happy spring!! The windows have been open a lot more, the blinds flapping in the breeze.

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Next week Zoey & I leave for Camp Wooten! Though I was not chosen as a cabin counselor, I did get in as a cook. I'll be reporting for duty every morning at 6am, & it sounds like long days. I anticipate the whole achy leg/my feet are beyond sore/I want my mommy scenario. But I accept the challenge & look forward to this whole new adventure. The 5th graders at Zoey's school take this trip every year for Outdoor Education. It sounds like she'll have a blast! I may even get to tag along on a couple classes---& hopefully snap some photos of her in action. I'll be absent from the internet/wifi/etc all week! I'm busy now, packing & purchasing all those last minute things. 

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Here are some other things I've been up to...

•I made "Emma's Shepherd's Pie With No Gross Vegetables", the girls' favorite version.
•I ate delicious chocolates from the Ukraine & Russia.
•I had a couple jam sessions with the houseband, Chuke. (Zoey + me on the cello + uke.)
•I enjoyed a quiet moment with the Mr., by the river on a bench swing, in the sunshine.
•I received some more eggs from a neighbor with chickens.
•The fam hit the park to partake in the lovely sunshine.
•I melted beads & made St. Patrick's Day crafts with my STAR Club 4th graders.
•I discovered a new favorite recipe, which the fam & I wrapped in lettuce leaves, with fried rice on the side: Asian Ground Beef.
•I baked oatmeal + chocolate chip bars. I'm so addicted to oatmeal these days.
•I smiled during this video by Pentatonix. I love them! (And I LOVE the movie "Frozen".)

And that. Is all. 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

DIY: Melted Bead St. Patty's Day Shamrock Brooch

I found out how to melt beads via THIS PINThe 36th Avenue blog shows how to make the most adorable flower accessories. I immediately fired up the oven & made several. I turned one flower into a necklace, & the girls snatched up the others. 



And then I went nuts & decided a giant mustache should be made. Makes total sense, right?


So, ANYWAY...
Yesterday, I had to come up with a craft for my weekly 4th grade STAR Club crew. Something St. Patty's Day themed seemed appropriate. So I used my melty bead skillz & made these shamrocks.


To melt the beads (which are Pony Beads, by the way), follow the instructions on The 36th Avenue blog. You basically shape your beads onto parchment paper, on a cookie sheet, & melt them in an oven set at 350°F. Open some windows too, because it gets stinky!

For the shamrocks, line your beads as I have done in the picture. I used regular sized beads for the leaves & mini pony beads for the stems. Some of the shamrocks turned out lumpy & weird, but I found out that the process is pretty forgiving. You can put the beads back in the oven to melt them a bit more. OR, if the shamrock melts together too much, pull the cookie sheet out of the oven & use the back of a knife to slide through the leaves & create definition. (See the arrow in the picture.) That was the last shamrock I made & it was the best one. (Isn't that how it always goes?) You'll either get a shamrock or a broccoli shape. Broccoli is cool too though.
It took about 5 minutes to melt these shamrocks---give or take, depending on your oven, of course.

So, with that done, here is the tutorial on how to make the brooch...
(Click each picture for a larger view.)


Supplies:
Green glitter glue
Clear tacky glue
Green crepe paper
2" circle punch
Gold glitter
Scissors
Green puffy paint
Hot glue gun
Green cardstock
Crafty foam (this will not show, so the color doesn't matter)
One brooch back bar pin
Melted bead shamrock










When I crafted these brooches with my 4th graders I gathered a bunch of different green supplies & let them go crazy: buttons, glitter, puffy paint, yarn, felt, etc. You can make these more sturdy by replacing the crepe paper with fabric, & the paper with felt. You get the idea.


Have fun!