Monday, April 29, 2013

De-stash Challenge...April

I joined Ana and Lynda's Destash Challenge this year.....and have done remarkably well.    I've made scarves and cozies and beds and such. 

This month, I was preoccupied with end of the year work stuff and other things so I didn't de-stash as much as usual.

In fact, I ADDED stash by going on a quick trip to a yarn store in Mississippi with a co-worker.   It was SUCH fun.  The drive was a quick 30 minutes and we had a blast.   After shopping, we had a really good lunch and headed back home with our goodies...  Some of this will be made into finger-less gloves, some into a scarf and some into who knows what...

I'd also been looking for a particular yarn for about a year...and looking HARD for well over 6 months.  
I finally found it on Ravelry but it took an additional 2 months to find someone willing to sell it to me.
The yarn is so lovely, it was worth the effort...I can't imagine why this lovely yarn would be discontinued!

Then I found these on sale 50% off and couldn't pass up the color....teal, light or dark is seriously the BEST color!

Then I bought some more yarn to create this shawl for our trip to Cancun.   I thought it would be fun to make this instead of a toy for my "drop" this month.  I left it for the lady who did our house keeping every day.  Dean wrote her a sweet note in Spanish....we saw it on her cart later that morning when we checked out.

I did manage to make 3 more pink scarves for the Pink Scarf Project.  Since I am making so many of them, I am only buying yarn I find on sale.   I have now made 8 scarves!  My goal is 12 so I have 4 left to make before October.

I made 2 of this light and lacy one.  This yarn is incredibly soft and was perfect for the open weave.   I love the pretty fringe.   

 I only found 1 skein of this yarn so made a long, chunky scarf out of it. It is also very soft but it looks best doubled and tied close to the neck........

I also made another cell phone case...I seem to making these constantly....

Going to a yarn store is like a kid going to a candy store.......but the good thing is that you don't rot your teeth out....and you get to create pretty things.......

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cancun part 2

One of the neat things about the resort was the art they had everywhere.   The walls were covered with enormous tapestries and sculptures were tucked here and there in hedges and on lawns.   

This was in front of one of the restaurants we went to for breakfast.  

and these two were in the foyer.

when we were leaving, a little boy of about 2 had wedged himself into the textile sculpture and his mother was taking photos of was so cute!

The kids ready to go out for evening, waiting on us......before.....


They were the only kids on the trip and everyone complimented them.  They are such great kids, we are truly blessed.

One night we went to a Fire show and to kick things off, the MC sent a cute girl off into the audience to bring back 3 male "volunteers" to go on stage.    As it turned out, they had to try and do the dance moves he did.
OH.MY.GOSH.  It was very funny!   One guy was terrified and the other guy just couldn't get it together.

Matt was the best of the 3 on stage and he won a spa package.  (He gave it away since we were going to the ruins the next day.)  
He enjoyed being a celebrity the rest of the trip with people coming up and talking to him, asking him to dance, telling him what a good sport he was and how funny he was on stage.  (He was the only one not intimidated by the MC.)   He kept saying he could "get used to this" and maybe he should go in to acting!

Then the show began, and it was so neat!  They used all sorts of props, one guy sat in a chair upside down and rolled the fire with his feet.  The girls used hula hoops....we kept waiting for their hair to catch on fire.

They had 4 guys in the back with percussion instruments and 1 of them chanted throughout the show.  It was really a wonderful show.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cancun, part 1

Dean went on a client trip to Cancun....and we got to tag along.    I was apprehensive at first but we had a great time.   The kids have good grades and hadn't missed too much school this year so we took them along, they've earned it.

While Dean was busy catching up with co-workers from other states, I enjoyed a little downtime watching the dolphins play....

they would jump and splash and play right in front of me

the kids hit the water and then wandered around the resort to do some exploring...

Later that evening, we had dinner and enjoyed good company......

then we walked around a bit, just taking everything in...

One good thing about living in Louisiana is that the humidity didn't bother us one bit!

We woke up early each morning and worked out before eating breakfast....

we spent one entire day at the beach....played in the water, watched the birds and iguanas....amazing.   I still believe that our beaches in Florida are more beautiful but the color of this water was breath taking!

I lived in Florida for over 20 years and the beach still has a hold on me.  Beach sounds of waves, birds and wind lulls me to sleep so fast it was embarrassing but so wonderful.....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For the Crock Pot: Stuffed Bell Peppers

My husband loves stuffed bell peppers and so do I...sort of.  I don't like to eat the bell pepper but I love the flavor it imparts on the stuffing mix.     My mom has the world's BEST recipe but I keep forgetting to get it out of her recipe file.

Here is a recipe I adapted from a co-worker.  They are really good...and simple to make.

Just a note: my peppers were so large I had to use two large crock pots at the same time, 4 in one and 3 in the other.  If you have an oval crock pot, you can fit more inside.   Look for peppers with good flat bottoms that don't have the bottom end curling back up inside.

2 lbs ground beef
4-8 large clean green peppers depending on your crockpot
1 box  Spanish rice mix
chicken broth
14 oz can tomato sauce (I used 28 oz since I had 7 peppers.)
14 oz can diced tomatoes for rice.
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I'm lazy so I use the stuff in a jar.)

Saute the minced garlic and onion til soft but not browned.  Add the ground beef and brown.
Pour off any grease.
Add 1-2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.  
Mix well and set aside to cool a bit.

Take the box of rice and cook it according to the directions.  (I use *chicken broth instead of water)  I prefer this kind....

While the rice is cooking, clean your peppers, then cut the tops off and hull out them out of seeds and ribs.
Check for brown spots on the inside of your peppers and scrape them off if you find any.  

Mix your rice and beef mixture, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

If you like cheese, do this part, if not, skip it.
Here, I added a couple of large handfuls of shredded cheese to the mix.  (f you do this while the mixture is warm, work FAST...)

Spoon the mixture into the shells, packing it in up to the top, then carefully set them aside.  You want them all packed evenly.  

Spray your crock with Pam up the sides for easy cleanup.  
Pour a little tomato sauce in the bottom of the crock.

Stand your peppers up and tightly squeeze them into the crock.  You don't want them slumping over once they start softening from being cooked.

Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the peppers, sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with cheese.  I prefer them with cheese, it also helps keep everything together once the pepper softens.

Cook on low about 8 hours or 6 hours on high.  Peppers can be tricky,  if they are thin skinned, they may cook faster and get mushy so keep that in mind when setting your temp.

Spoon a little of the sauce that collects in the bottom of the crock........and enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

the patio...

Our patio is small but a little patience reaps beautiful blooms......

Dean brought me this amazing planter about 18 years ago, I think she is lovely!

 aloe for those bug bites and sunburns....

geraniums are one of my favorites but they don't do as well in the ground here so I keep a pot or two on the patio

My herbs have exploded.   I removed the basil and rosemary from this tub a couple years ago because they get so large.   Now, green onions, oregano, nasturtium, thyme, cilantro, flat leaf parsley and an experimental celery stump all share space here....

The rosemary which used to dominate the above tub was replanted and has quadrupled in size in just 2 loves this spot so much, it just keeps spreading out....

"Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden? "~Robert Brault

Friday, April 19, 2013

Getting creative......

Dean's birthday was Monday.  We've been together for a long time.......and finding the perfect gift gets harder and harder.   It isn't because I don't know what he wants.

When you are married a long time, you tend to just go out and get what you want/need when you want/need it.  So by the time birthdays or Father's Day or Christmas rolls around, it is harder to find something to give him.  At least something within reason.     The "within reason" means a lot when you are raising 2 kids, both of whom are getting ready to drive/enter college/etc.....
"Within reason" means no to that amazing vintage Corvette he would just isn't meant to least not yet.   Sorry honey, ONE day.....

So, over the years, I've gotten creative....

One year, I gave him a dessert of the month club and made him a new dessert each month.  He LOVED this because he loves sweets and it forced me to make something OTHER than chocolate!
It was also fun because it was a gift that kept giving.  Each month I would present it and everyone would vote on which desserts were worthy of making again.

Another gift I gave him was a case of different red wines.   I did A LOT of research for this one and bought 24 bottles of wine over the course of 3 months.  By the time his birthday rolled around, he had an amazing assortment of wines he had never tried.  I got him some lower end, some higher end and some mid end priced wines.  

This year, he picked out a new phone....but it doesn't come in until the end of the month and I couldn't let his birthday come and go with NOTHING to show for it.   

So...I put together an "Orchid of the Month Club" membership for him.   Like the dessert club, it is a gift that keeps giving, which he will love.  

The first installment is this lovely Phalaenopsis hybrid:

It came in an awful pink pot so I fixed that with hot glue and sheet moss....

....and he LOVES it!    (Of course, I knew he would...)  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A little B&E

Kaela's science class has to do this egg drop challenge that is so popular right now.

Sounds like fun, right?   Well....except that it has to free fall from 3ish stories up.  And the materials list is absurd.  No tape, no cartons, no pod, no fluff, no more than 1 sheet or paper, no parachute, no wings, no rubber bands,!

Her teacher apparently Googled successful egg drop designs and made sure NONE of those materials were allowed in order to really frustrate her students....I mean CHALLENGE them (ahem.)
And the best part?  If your egg breaks, the highest grade you can earn is a "C."   Gee, thanks.   

That being said, I love science and a good challenge and Kaela is a good off we went.

Here she is.....test "dropping" the design...which survived numerous 2 story drops from home.

Aw, nuts...CRACKAGE!  AGH!!!  3 stories was just 1 story too high!  The wind caught it and flipped it about 6 inches from the ground.  Not a problem, we can FIX that.....

So we crawl back out the rabbit hole we came in from...

And jump back over the fence we jumped over...
Oh yea, forgot that part.  School was closed so we had to break in to test our prototype!  The kids thought we were completely nuts and kept checking for the "Po-Po"......

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Honey!

The day Dean was born, the nurse called him a "tax day baby."   He may be, but he is a lot of other things too...

He is a man of many talents...just a few of which are being my sweet loving man, the wonderful father of our two children, the DIY guy who neighbors love, the margarita maker, the Johnny Dollar listener, the fixer of all things broken, the bringer of the bread, the smoothie inventor, the pull over and helper, the weird fruit bringer, the weekend grill meister, the fashion guru, the feed the homeless luncher, the kid rough-houser, the landscaper, the sad/bad day hugger...and I am so very blessed to call him my husband!

Happy Birthday honey, I hope you have a wonderful day, you deserve it today and everyday.  I love you!!!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

old habits...

Suki has been with our family now for almost 5 years...and most of her old habits are gone, which is good.  She is a full fledged member of our household and no one would ever know she was once a feral kitty.

Gone are the days of her running and hissing at the dogs or hiding under beds.  Her brittle coat has been replaced with a lovely soft one.    She constantly purrs....and loudly!

But the best thing is that her greeting has changed.  If she hasn't seen you in first thing in the morning, or when you get home, she flops onto her side and exposes her belly so you can rub it.    (If you know anything about animal body language you know that is important.)

There is one habit she hasn't totally given up.  And it cracks us up whenever she does it.    
She still likes to cuddle up on our shoes!   
Old, new, stinky, not stinky, open toes, closed toed our shoes or a friend's, it doesn't matter.  Cold days, warm days, rainy days....we simply can't figure the pattern out.

At 8 pounds, she is small and I've found her half stuffed into Matt's basketball shoes, totally asleep...on more than one occasion.   We don't check for spiders in shoes, we check for Suki!

Whatever the reason, this is one habit that we don't worry about....
"The smallest feline is a masterpiece..."  - Leonardo DaVinci

Friday, April 12, 2013

Home made eye makeup remover

If you are a woman who wears eye makeup but you HATE paying the ridiculous prices charged for makeup remover....this post is for you.

When I was in my teens, my sisters and I used this green gel makeup remover by Revlon.  It came in a jar and we lovingly referred to it as the "green goop."  It was AWESOME ...the best eye makeup remover ever.
We (and all our friends) were all horrified when they discontinued it.  

Since then, I have had a love/hate affair with eye makeup removers.  I have sensitive eyes so some brands really sting, some dry the skin out around my eyes, some are greasy on my skin, some leave a film on my eyes, some simply don't work that well...the list goes on.  I worked in cosmetics for years so I've tried just about every name brand out there, even the really expensive, high end brands.  Sometimes I just use baby oil but that is just too greasy for me to use all the time.  Most of the time, I just bite the bullet and spend unreasonable amounts of money.

Until now!  I found a home made one on pinterest and am so glad I did. This stuff  takes less than 2 minutes to make, is cheap and it WORKS!  No stinging... no dry, pulled greasy film.....

Look how cute our little bottles are....the little pad in front is proof that it also works on waterproof mascara, which makes Kaela a very happy girl.

The best thing is that you probably have the things you need in your cabinet.    I don't want to steal this gal's thunder so click on this link for the "recipe" (water, a certain brand of baby shampoo and olive oil.)  She gives you the correct measurements....use them.
I tried to use less shampoo and it wasn't as effective so added the remaining amount.  You'll get about a cup of remover for pennies....much better than the $28.00 I usually pay.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Feeling good......

Matt is feeling good.   We bought him a new suit the other day.   A lady who was there with her family walked up and told him he looked like a model.   Talk about an ego boost.  I think he grew an inch taller after that comment.
Of course, we think he is pretty special...

As for the new suit?  Well, last night he got inducted into the National Honor Society!   He is pretty jazzed.....his ACT scores rock and his college prospects are looking great...

I can't believe next year he will be a how time flies.  Enjoy your kids while you can folks.....

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pinteresting Toadstool Wreath

I found this cute wreath on pinterest and decided  to make one for myself.   I mean, polka dotted toadstools and moss....what's not to love?

If you want to make your own, here is the link to the tutorial.   The one thing I would suggest is that you look CLOSELY at the moss you buy.  Elizabeth's wreath has no seams....her moss must have come in large sheets.  The moss I used was broken up and the few large pieces tore easily so I had to piece it together

I want to leave it outside for at least 2 months so I did make a few changes:
Even though we have a large porch, my front door takes a lot of abuse from the elements.  I didn't think the fabric or card-stock would hold up so I made my toadstools out of polymer clay.  Each had about 2" of coat hanger sticking out the bottom to secure the toadstools to the form.  

Even though I love mine, I wish my moss wasn't pieced together.  If I do another one, I'll be SURE to check the moss before buying it.  Other than that, I'd call this a success.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Turtle Topiary Tutorial

Turtle Topiary Tutorial....say that fast 5 times!  Ha!

Here are the supplies:

Turtle frame ...I bought the medium frame here.
Sphagnum moss, bucket with water to soak it in
Small assortment of succulents
Fine wire to wrap and nippers to cut wire, needle to finish.  
Something to poke holes in the moss
Gloves to wear because I had a cut on my hand and sphagnum moss can be nasty
Choice of plastic eyes 

Getting started:
Soak the moss thoroughly and then pour off excess water.
Start by flipping the frame over and stuffing the shell full of moss...this is a side view so you can see how full I packed it.  

Flip it back over and pack the top and sides of shell.  Using wire, generously wrap so the moss will stay put.  
Here I am tamping it down.  You can see the wire in the photo.
Once you get it where you can't see the frame, wrap once more but don't clip the wire.  Put something heavy on it to keep it tight while moving on to the neck.

Start on the neck and head.  Take 2 handfuls of moss, one for either side of the head.  Hold the moss to the head and wrap with the wire being sure to go down the neck and back up to the head a few times.  Don't wrap so tightly that the wire pops but wrap tight enough that the neck has an actual shape to it.  End with the wire UNDER the turtle at the base of the neck.
Again, secure the wire with something heavy to keep the wire tight.

Flip the turtle over and start on the tail and legs.  Have your moss ready and work each extremity like you did the head and neck.  You will be working in sort of a star pattern with the wire criss-crossing under the shell.  This keeps the wire tight while you work and keeps you from having to cut and tie the wire each time.  
I didn't take photos of the process because my helper left and I didn't have four hands.

Starting at the neck, run the wire to the TAIL. This keeps the neck wrapped tightly.  
From the tail, run the wire to a front leg.  This keeps the tail wrapped tightly.
From the front leg, run the wire to the farthest back leg.  This keeps the front leg wrapped tightly.
From the back leg, run the wire to the other front leg.  This keeps the back leg wrapped tightly.
From the front leg, run the wire to the other back leg.  This keeps the front leg wrapped tightly. Don't cut the wire but keep it tight.

At this point, we have a monster from a Scooby Doo movie, but don't worry about that, just keep going.  
See that bit of wood in the lower left corner?  Yep...throw that away.

After you do the last leg, run the wire back to the neck and wrap it around the base a couple times to secure it tightly but don't cut the wire.

There are two ways to secure the wire, I did it the 2nd way:
1.  Cut the wire and use the plastic needle to tie it off.
2.  Secure the wire to the plastic needle and shove it into the base of the neck under the body.  If you do this, make sure you shove the needle in at an angle so that will stay tight.

Poke holes where you want the plants to go.  
Just shake off most of the soil and cram them into the holes you've made. 

Placing the eyes.
If the animal eye stems are short, lengthen them by wrapping with the wire.  Mine were long enough so I didn't need to do that.
Poke the plastic animal eyes into his head and you are almost done. (you can get them online or at craft stores) 

Here he is before trimming....still a rather furry turtle.  I wonder if furry turtles furry elephants?

Now, take some scissors and trim off any moss that is hanging off of him.....then place him in the garden.  Once he dries, be ready to trim him a bit more....
If you use succulents, you can let him get bone dry between waterings.  To water, place your turtle into a bucket of water and soak him thoroughly.  Other than that, just put him in the garden and watch his shell grow.  
BTW, I looked up furry turtles and found this critter on youtube.  Not exactly FUR, but still too cute not to enjoy.

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