Friday, August 30, 2013

DIY Dollar Store Halloween Wreath

At this time of year, its so fun to go through my local dollar store because they have the best halloween decorations for a dollar or less!!  I was shopping the other day and found myself really inspired by these  ravens.  I immediately thought of Edgar Allan Poe, and thus this wreath was dreamed into existence. 

These are all of the pieces I bought at the dollar store to create this wreath.  I thought I may use the skeleton garland, but found it didn't need it once I started putting it all together.  I used a pool noodle for the wreath base and taped the ends together with packing tape.  They sell smaller wreaths there, but I wanted mine to be a little bit larger. 

There were a couple things I already had on hand:  some red fabric which I roughly cut into 3-4 inch wide strips and fishnets.  I used one thigh high, which was a perfect fit.  I started wrapping the strips tightly around the wreath base until it was completely covered.  I used hot glue to secure the loose fabric pieces together.  I did not directly hot glue the foam, only fabric to fabric.

Here is the loose end where I applied the hot glue to secure it.

I cut the top off of the fish net thigh high, and sliced it down the middle so I had a long flat piece.

Remember what it's like to pull and stretch pantyhose to get them on?  That's exactly what you do with the wreath and fishnet.  Just start working it around until the two end pieces match up, and secure with a pin.

Then, start securing the loose ends all the way around the wreath, and pinning towards the back. 

Flip it back over to the front, and use thread to tie the two ends of the fishnet together. You do not have to be a seamstress to do this.  You can even just tie it together in knots, its not going to show.

This is what the front will look like when you are finished.

If you want this to look really professional, you could go along with your thread and continue to tie the fishnet together all the way around the backside.  I chose to just leave my pins in because they won't be seen on the back and they are very secure.  Next time, I will just go ahead and get some pins to match the wreath fabric.

Next I stretched some of the spider webs across the front,  and secured them on the back with the pins that were already in place.  

Time to add the birdies!!  These had little wires coming out of their feet, so I shoved them right into the foam when I figured out where I wanted them placed.  I used a small dot of hot glue under each foot to make sure it was extra secure.

The base of the skulls were foam, so I added a little floral wire to the back of them to add extra security and shoved them into the foam wreath.  I added hot glue to the back of the skull, also, for extra stability.

To create a hook, I made a loop with some ribbon and secured with hot glue.  I then glued it to the center of the top of the back side of the wreath.

To create this sign, I used a piece of wallpaper that looks like old news paper.  You could use real newspaper ( you may wanna support it with some cardstock on the back of it.)  Or, you could even use book pages, perhaps from an Edgar Allan Poe book?  I burned the edges to make it look old and I ended up free handing the letters, although my original plan was to print it with my computer.  My wifi was down, but I think it still turned out okay! I used hot glue to secure the sign as well. I added a couple spiders, and called it a day!

I love that the eyes light up and flash on the skulls and change colors! 

 Very spoooooooky!
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cherry Beer Margaritas

I posted this on instagram last weekend, and had several inquiries, so I decided to go ahead and post the recipe!  I found this one on pinterest from The Blond Cook.  The combination of Corona, Cherry 7Up, tequila, and limeade concentrate is super refreshing!! ( And super strong, be prepared!)  I actually added some of the juice from the marachino cherry jar to ours because we wanted a little more cherry flavor.  I also didn't do the full 12oz of tequila because we are lightweights when it comes to the hard stuff.  I'm not much of a drinker and my husband usually drinks beer, so I had not even a full glass, and he had about one glass full, but it certainly was delicious!!  **Side note** Did anyone see the episode of Up All Night when Will Arnett was trying to appear young and hip for the new young neighbors, and he comes back home with his head hung low, and says to Christina Applegate, " I said...Tah-kwee-lah."  I can't help but laughing about that as I type out tequila.  Hehehe...

  • (1) 12 ounce can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 12 ounces cherry flavored soda
  • (1) 12 ounce bottle of your favorite beer (I used Corona)
  • 12 ounces of your favorite tequila
  • Kosher salt, for rimming glass
  • Lime for garnish
  • Cherries for garnish
Mix these together in a pitcher and serve over ice.  You can rim the edge of the glass with salt if you want the full margarita effect!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gluten Free Turkey Corn Dogs

Don't you just love that fresh out of the fryer taste of a corn dog at the fair?  Well, for those who eat gluten free, its a pleasure that most of us pine for!!  We decided to try making our own at home, and let me tell you, these taste just like the ones at the fair!  You would never know they were gluten free!  So on to the recipe:

Makes 12 Corn Dogs
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour mix (Here's my homemade mix)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (regular milk works too)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 (12 count) package Turkey Hot Dogs
12 wooden skewers 
2 Quarts Vegetable Oil, for frying
Directions: In a medium or large pot, add the oil. Turn heat to medium and heat oil to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir together. Then add the beaten egg, buttermilk, oil and honey. Stir until combined. (Batter should be a little thicker than pancake batter) Ours puffed up quite a bit.
Remove hot dogs from package. Wipe them all dry with a paper towel (this will help the batter stick to them better) Insert one skewer or wooden stick into each hot dog.
Pour the batter into a tall drinking glass. Holding by the skewer, take one hot dog and dunk it into the batter, coating all of the hot dog. We found with the batter being so thick, we twisted it in the cup, pulled it out, and then dunked it again, slowly twisting as you come up.  It helps keep the batter from flaking off in the oil.  Slowly remove from batter and let a little excess batter drip back into the cup. Immediately place it into the hot oil, while still holding the stick. Turn as necessary to brown all sides. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until all sides are a deep golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place on paper towels to drain grease. Repeat with all hot dogs.

With it being just the two of us, we could not eat all of these corndogs, so I saved a couple for the fridge and put the rest in freezer bags.  So later on, we can just pop them in the oven or microwave to heat them up!
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Sweet Little Hand Made Dress

I had been saving this vintage fabric I found at the thrift store for about 3 years now...waiting for the perfect project.  I've been getting the itch to sew lately and as I was browsing through some of my project books, I came across this dress:

Two of my favorite dresses have shirred tops like this, and I wear them all the time.  The shirring on the top is extremely comfortable, which is probably why I wear them so much, and its also very flattering on any figure.  I was slightly intimidated, because it seems like it would be very complicated to create that kind of look.  So I was completely surprised when I realized how easy it was. 

This project came from the book Sewing In a Straight Line by Brett Bara.  This is the same book I used to create the One Hour Skirt.  It has so many useful projects, that take very little time, and each one is made using only straight stitches.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you would like the full instructions. This entire dress took me about 2 1/2 hours, and it would have taken 30-45 minutes less, had I not been fighting with my sewing machine again.  I love that thing, we've made a lot of nice pieces together, but she likes to cause drama, I'm not gonna lie.  Drama queen to the max.

I think the fabric cost me a whole $1.50 from the thrift store when I bought it.  I decided to make my dress shorter than the one in the book and I also added an 8" ruffle at the bottom and some straps.

I was blown away when I started working on the shirring.  I bought this handy see through ruler that has lines in it to help you mark out where your guide lines will be.  For this top, I did 8 lines at 3/4" apart.  Then you hand wind your bobbin with some elastic thread ( which I found at JoAnn Fabrics near the other elastic supplies.)  Start sewing your straight lines and it begins to bunch up on its own.  Then you take the steam from your iron and hold it up to it after you've sewn all of your lines, and it scrunches up even more!  Its amazing!

 There are so many pieces in my wardrobe that have this shirring in it, and I had never realized it.  Tops, shorts, pants...I think I've found a new obsession.  This may be a problem...  At least my other issue is fabric hoarding, so I may just sew myself a whole new wardrobe!  Dave Ramsey would be proud.

P.S.  These shoes are by Swedish Hasbeens and I am in love with them.  They are high quality and are super comfortable!  I consider gold a neutral,  so I think they go with everything!!

Now if only I could figure out how to make shoes...

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Sew Chatty Link Party

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pretty Personalized Journal

There's nothing better than getting a personalized gift that someone has taken the time to make specifically for you.  This is a sweet little journal that I made for my cousin for her birthday.  I bought the journal from Target and then decked it out with vintage fabric and jewelry pieces.

Spray adhesive is my best friend.  I use it on tons of projects and I love that its movable until it dries permanently.  I measured out the fabric to fit the cover of the book leaving a little room to tuck the edges.  I sprayed the fabric with spray adhesive, tucked the edges, sprayed again, and then pressed it onto the front back and insides of the journal.

I chose to cut her initial out of a coordinating color of felt, and embellished with swarovksi crystals.  I then attached the vintage jewelry pieces with E6000 glue and let it dry according to directions.  And there you have a lovely little keepsake that is one of a kind!!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Canning Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We finally did it.  We grew enough Italian Heirloom sauce tomatoes, green peppers, and onions to make and can homemade spaghetti sauce.  20 pounds of tomatoes to be exact...

Look how gorgeous they are!  I love the colors!

Some recipes require that you peel the tomatoes, but for this recipe, we removed the core and fuzzy ends, and pureed them in the food processor.

Here's the recipe:
One batch makes about 9 quarts of sauce

20 pounds of fresh tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green pepper
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped fresh parsley OR ¾ cup dry parsley
2-3 tsp. bottled chopped garlic OR 4 fresh garlic buds chopped in small pieces
½ cup olive oil

2 Tbl. chili powder
3 Tbl. Un-iodized salt
1/4 cup. Sugar
2 tsp. Oregano
2 tsp. Rosemary
2 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. powdered basil
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. Sage
1 tsp. Cumin Seed

Peel the tomatoes and chop them into bite size pieces. Another option is to put your washed tomatoes in the blender and puree them. (that is what I did)

After the tomatoes have been chopped or blended, weigh the tomatoes. (20 Pounds of tomatoes is about 12 quarts)

Combine the tomatoes, onions, green peppers, celery, parsley, garlic, and olive oil in a large stockpot.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it for ½ hour. Stir it every 3-5 minutes so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Now add the rest of the spices.

Bring the spaghetti sauce back up to a boil and cook it over low heat for 2½ hours. Remember to stir your sauce every five minutes.

Fill your quart or pint jars with the spaghetti sauce. Wipe down the top of the jar before putting on the lid and ring. One batch made 9 quarts of sauce.

I put my jars in the sanitize setting of the dishwasher.  ***BE SURE THEY ARE HOT BEFORE PUTTING IN THE CANNER*** This is very important, more on this later.  Follow basic canning instructions.

If you don't like spicy spaghetti sauce, don't add the cayenne pepper.  We do and it was still a little spicy, so I upped the sugar a little bit.  This stuff is sooooo good!

We were pretty excited about making our own spaghetti sauce from homegrown veggies.  Now we have enough to last us until next summer!!

Someone wasn't quite as excited that we were spending so much time in the kitchen, and not spending time with him...(Benny Boo Boo.) *cough* spoiled! *cough, cough*

I was hoping for 10-12 jars, but was still very pleased with 9 quart jars!
Happy canning!!

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash

We have a lot of fruits of vegetables that go through our kitchen.  Thankfully this summer, most of our produce has come from our own garden.  We didn't  get fruit trees planted this year like we had planned, so we buy a lot of our fruits from the local Amish community.  

We used to buy a fruit and veggie wash at the store, but lately we have been using this method for cleaning produce:

1 part vinegar to 10 parts water

I just put this mixture in my clean sink,  and soak any fruits or veggies for about ten minutes. All of the dirt will fall to the bottom of the sink.  I then rinse them off really good and let them dry thoroughly before storing them.  We do this with berries as well, and it extends their shelf life quite a bit!!  I had a batch of strawberries from a local farm that lasted me about 3 weeks in the fridge.  Vinegar helps to kill any mold causing bacteria that can cause fruits and veggies to spoil.  Its so nice to have fresh, clean produce all ready to go in the fridge.   Can you guess what I might be working on from these two pictures?

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