Sunday, November 3, 2013

No Monkey Business Here

Sunday mornings are great for trying new recipes. Today it was a simple and tasty monkey bread. It was very easy to make.


4 12-ounce cans regular-size flaky biscuits (such as Pillsbury)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sweet  Cinnamon Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional, but very tasty)


·       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
·       Combine 2/3 cup of sugar and 1 T. cinnamon in a gallon size Ziploc bag or shallow baking dish.
·       Cut biscuits into quarters and cover with cinnamon-sugar.
·       Place the cinnamon-sugar-coated balls in a greased Bundt pan, sprinkling some of the cinnamon-sugar over the balls occasionally while filling the bunt pan.
·       Melt the butter with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, or in the microwave until sugar and cinnamon dissolves. Add the chopped nuts.
·       Pour the melted butter mixture over the top of the biscuits balls in the Bundt pan.
·       Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden and caramelized.
·       Remove from the oven and let sit at least 10 minutes.
·       Unmold the Monkey Bread onto a cake plate.

Slice and serve.

Yield: Approximately 12 servings

I think next time I will add pecans to enhance the flavor and texture. 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Additions - Year 2

We've been in a different house now for two years.  Irene stole every last halloween decoration I had so we're slowly building our stash of holiday decor. The big surprise this year is that Rich got into the spirit with his woodworking  and painting skills. I could get used to this kind of help.

Here are four easy projects.  Project one is a simple framed print. Images made from words are the rage these days, so why not an easy one to add to your photo wall or shelves? Neither of which I have, but hope to by the end of winter.

The second project is a team of wooden ghouls created mostly by Rich. I'm sure you can tell how to make them by just looking at the picture. That's what we did.  We had the most fun making Frank. Rich cut the wood and painted, I added the detail of eyes, mouth and scars.  Jack and the Ghost were not to far behind once Frank was done.

Project three is for outdoors. We made a set of three square pumpkins for the entryway stairs. Rich used a 6 X 6 beam, I guess you'd call it, and cut them in different heights. Once the orange paint was dry, I sanded each to give them a worn look. I toyed with mod podging them, but decided against it for now.  Rich cut a tree limbs,cut them into smaller pieces, drilled holes  on top of each block and glued them in. I added the rafia and leaves.  I think they are pretty cool. I plan on leaving them out through Thanksgiving.

Last but not least is my Jack O 'Light.  After I saw this idea, I looked high and low for the glass blocks. I have one old one that was used back in the day for glass walls. My grandfather used to make lamps out of these. I was really disappointed when neither Lowes or Home Depot had them.   I looked online, but , OUCH, they were expensive.

Days after, I took a trip to Hobby Lobby for other project supplies and discovered these blocks on sale for 1/2 price. They are called Krafty Bloks. Needless to say , I bought 4 of them. The holidays are coming up after all.

What I used for this project is one block, a string of lights, ribbon, vellum paper and my handy dandy cricut.

I first cut Jack's face on my cricut from black vinyl. I cut a piece of gold vellum ( I couldn't find orange anywhere) and adhered it to the inside of the glass block. I stuffed in the string of lights and added ribbon and spiders.  I like the vellum paper on the inside, because it helps to diffuse the light from the string of lights inside.

What do you think?  Of course, ideas for each of these came from Pinterest (where else).

Lessons Learned:

1. Prints for frames look nicest printed on photo paper, not your standard cardstock or copy paper.

2. Hot glue works better than wood glue on the wood projects.

3. I experimented with the vellum paper mod podged, glued, and spray glued to the outside of the glass block. I used 6 sheets of paper in the process. I finally decided to put a glue tab on each corner and put the paper on the inside of the block. Looks the best. No bubbles or dried glue streaks to look at.

Have you made any Halloween decorations? I'd love to hear what you have made or your comments about these.

Thanks for visiting.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Getting Busy with Burlap ~ Part 2

After my success with the burlap pillow I've come up with some more ideas for burlap and using my Cricut machine; however, the projects in this post are different. I enjoyed creating with burlap, but it can get messy.

First is a table runner which was quick and easy. I used a premade runner purchased at JoAnn's Etc. , some lace and  ribbon I got at Micheal's.

And here's a note to you creators out there - before heading to either of these stores look online for coupons. Chances are there will be one with significant savings. And, if you are a teacher, both places offer 15% off.

I couldn't find a wide enough ribbon I liked, so I put three layers of the lace on each end topped by ribbon matching the blue in the tab curtains I made last year.

You could use a table runner like this for any time of the year, season or holiday. Just mix up your colors and trim and you've got nice addition to your table.

Next is a wall banner that is even easier than the table runner.  I had some wall space above my desk in my office/sewing room, but I knew I didn't want to hang photos there. I came across this pre printed burlap fabric in JoAnn's ( I've seen it in Micheal's and Hobby Lobby too) and knew just what to do with that space.  I had a piece of 1/4 inch MDF board and Rich cut it to size. I wrapped the burlap around it, stapled it on the back side, added a couple of picture hangers and here it is.
There were some other prints on burlap fabric as well. Although right now, I don't remember what they were.

Last are wreaths for the house. I've been wanting to try these burlap wreaths for a long time. They've been on Pinterest I think since Pinterest started.   Check out this link for loads of wreath designs. For each wreath I used one wire wreath form, 2 rolls of burlap, embellishments and hot glue.

The first wreath hangs behind the front entry.  I would love to put it on the outside, but that will have to wait until the  porch gets built, maybe next summer. It is the larger of the two. I have yet to add some small round pine cones to finish it off.

The second wreath is hanging on  my office/sewing room door. I couldn't resist this white with gray chevron patterned burlap when I saw it in Hobby Lobby. It was 30% off too.  Using a smaller wreath form and colors to compliment my sewing room, I created this wreath with added black wired ribbon for contrast. 

These types of wreaths have become very popular and are made from lots of varying fabrics and materials.  Just check out Pinterest or your favorite craft store for ideas. Here is a link to some mesh wreaths.  Oh no, I just pinned another wreath idea for Halloween!

I'm sure this will be the last post for awhile. School is starting on Monday and the first month is always hectic for me. Hopefully I'll be able to post periodically throughout the fall and winter.

Have you made any projects with burlap? I'd love to hear what you've created. Feel free to leave comments and ask questions.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Super Laundry Soap - Washes 128 loads of laundry for just $1.76?

This pin on Pinterest got my attention. A tablespoon of detergent will clean AND get the smell out of your laundry for just one dollar and seventy six cents? Obviously this pinner didn't have children who were dirty smelly soccer players.  I couldn't resist the temptation to whip up a batch of this super soap and give it a try.

It was easy enough to find the 3 ingredients, I found them at Walmarts.  I've been using the 20 Mule Team Borax for awhile now; I wish I knew about it when my kids were young. Added to my regular laundry detergent it works really well, but the money the claim made still had my attention.  By the way, you can find the original pin at here. You might want to read it first before finishing  this post about my experience.

I started by cutting the Fels - Naptha bar of soap. What a name, no wonder no one I know has ever heard of it. When my mom saw this, she decides to tell me my step-father, who owned and operated a dairy farm for years, used it all the time. Nothing like sharing these little secrets when I needed it for the grungy, smelly clothes of a construction worker husband and two, three sport athletes in the house. Ok, mom, so now is better than never. Thanks. :)  As you can see below, Rich cut the soap bar in think pieces. We put them into two quart mason jars we weren't using for other canned goods. We then added the water and let it set over night.

Today I finished processing the soap and gave it a try. Below is what the melted Fels-Naptha bar looked like after I used a knife to slice it into sections so it would blend together better with the other ingredients. I added the required amounts to the jars as the instructions stated and placed the blade and blender bottom right onto the mason jars. I thought, oh wow, now this is efficient. After I tightened the bottom of the blender onto the jars I flipped it and UH OH it started leaking! UGH! Now what do I do? This was an older blender my mom found. I really didn't want to use my Ninja machine.  
As you can see by the next picture, I did end up using my beloved Ninja. I thought, " I clean it up with dish soap, so why can't I mix soap in it?"  I made sure to clean and rinse every nook and cranny of the Ninja after I finished mixing the soap. At least the Ninja got a good cleaning. 

Below are pictures  of the mixture before and after blending the soaps. During this process I couldn't help but think it looked like lemon meringue and lemon whip. Just remember not to lick the spoon or the bowl! 

So here is what the final product looked like in the jars. Now onto the test trials. 

Trial One - It just so happened that Austin had a soccer game last night. Couldn't have timed it better. In the laundry room was a smelly pile of dried sweat. Those of you who know the smell of shin guard sleeves and goalie gloves will understand what I'm talking about. YUCK A DOO! I don't think I'll ever get over that smell!  I started filling up the washing machine with warm water. I added one tablespoon of the soap mix, swished it around a little and then added the clothes.  I was very skeptical at this point because as the wash started agitating there were no soap bubbles. This just didn't seem right. Oh well, I let the wash finish. When it was done, I was pleasantly surprised by the clean smell of the wet wash. It wasn't over powering, as the smell is when you are making the soap, but there was no stink to speak of. Once out of the dryer, the whole load was as clean as if I used detergent and borax. :) 

Trial Two - I did another load of clothes, this time a blanket that spent the night on the ground by a campfire and had dog hair and stink on it. Again, it came out pretty good. 

At this point I'm pretty happy, but not sold yet. I really didn't have any clothes that had major dirt or stains on them. That will be test three another time. 

Lessons learned: 

1. I will use my Ninja again if I make this soap again. However, I shouldn't need it for some time if all I have to use is a Tablespoon per wash. 
2. I had a tee shirt that had grease stains on it in the trial one load. I pre-treated it as I do for any grease stain before washing. The grease did come out. 

I'm not to confident 1 Tbsp will do the job of getting out my son's muddy, greasy work pants. I'll report on that soon.   It almost makes me want to do more laundry. NOT! 

Happy laundering, 

Any Reason Is a Good Reason to Create Something

Rarely do I need even one reason to create something. Usually if I see something fun or interesting, and if there is time, I'll try to create something like it. I can't sit still and do nothing,  time's a wastin'!

Last week was Keddy George's birthday. My good friend rescued him four years ago from Georgia (thus the middle name of George). Isn't he just so cute?

So what do you get a dog who has loads of toys and gadgets?  Two years ago I made him a vest with an embroidered picture of him on it. Well, nasty old Irene took it. She seems to pop up a lot, doesn't she? Anyway, I wanted to make something again that would be memorable because he and his family are moving to NC in the fall. My new Cricut came to mind. I decided to make him a first year ornament with his name on it. I've seen these on Pinterest and have wanted to try it so away I went. It was really pretty easy. The hardest thing was not putting to much pressure when adhering the vinyl to the ornament. The back of the ornament says, " First Christmas in NC 2013."

Here is the front of the card I made to go with his gift. This second time making a card was a bit easier and less time consuming than the first. I just might get the hang of it someday.

Lessons learned:

1. The ornament I used had a white coating on it. Once you adhere the vinyl it can't be removed. I wanted to re-position a letter, and pulled the coating off along with the letter. Thank goodness for clear glue.

Here are pics of Keddy as a baby and at his first birthday hoping for some birthday cake!

Have you ever made your pet anything special?

Have a wonderful day,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vinyl on Jars and Old Man Card

Yesterday was Cricut project day again. The first project was one Shannon saw I had on Pinterest. Her comment was, "Did you make this?!?!!? Can't I please please please have one...or three :-)." 
I'd love to give credit to the creator of the jar  to the right, but it was one of those pins that led to just the photo.
I made a few changes to the design. First I used the plastic mason jar caps. I thought these would wear better than the standard, metal mason caps. I purchased plastic straws on eBay so they could be used over and over. 
You can also see the actual vinyl design is different from the jar above. One thing I don't like so much about Cricut is their limited selection of individual images. I didn't have access to a pair of glasses, so I used a sun instead.  Let's see what Shannon thinks of this thirst quenching drink holder.  

The second project was an original idea. I'm always finding extra change in the washer and dryer from unchecked pockets. I had no place to collect the change so I thought of those empty candle jars I've been saving. This jar held a 3 wick candle from Bath and Body Works.  Really, any jar with a top would do. A little vinyl on both sides and here's a nice size jar for that little extra I find in the wash. Finders keepers, right?  I wonder how long it will take to fill up? 

The last project I made was a first attempt to create a card using the Cricut.  I wanted to keep this really simple since it was the first go around. The card was also for my brother in law, so it was a challenge to choose colors for a guy.   I must admit, I did not like the time this took at all.  I used solid and printed scrapbook paper; and a gray, translucent washi tape for the outside. I ran the paper through a Xyron sticker machine so the entire surface  of the backs of the letters would be sticky. (I had a larger Xyron machine, but that's another item Irene now has. ) I purchased a smaller size one from Amazon at a great sale price. This worked great for the outside of the card, but the inside was to small and the machine had a difficult time cutting it. The inside of the card is hand glued with a glue pen.  I added the eyes and a few gems to jazz the card up just a bit. I'm not so sure I'll be doing many cards in the future.

By the way, Happy Birthday Jimmy! 

Lessons Learned: 

1. I used a quart size jar for the "Shine On" jar project. Wow - that will hold a BIG drink. The next ones I do will be on a pint or pint and a half size jar.  Although, the lettering , once cut from the vinyl will be much smaller to work with. We'll see how it goes. 

2. When using the Xyron machine with the Cricut,  the paper backing from the Xyron adhesive would not stick to the Cricut mat. I tried taking the backing off, but it made a mess of the mat. I ended up using painters tape very close to the edges of paper, adhesive and backing to the mat. This worked out well. 

Have you tried using vinyl on glass?  What about your first attempt at creating cards from a Cricut or Silhouette? I'd love to hear about what you've done and how you made out .  Click on Comments  to leave your thoughts. 

Enjoy the day, 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Getting Busy with Burlap ~ Decorative Pillow

I love all the "in style" burlap projects that are popping up on Pinterest.  The reason I bought a Cricut is to cut vinyl and fabric.  Today was the day to do both: create a decorative burlap item incorporating the use of fusible fabric cut with the Cricut.  I've seen this done in frames, but I decided to make a small, easy, envelope pillow.

Here are the materials I used:
  • I had some left over burlap. Actually I don't think it was left over, I bought it make a project, but don't remember what the project was. Does this qualify me as a fabricholic? LOL
  • 12 x 12 pillow form
  • Ultra Heat and Bond
  • black fabric
  • light fabric, muslin or off white cotton for lining
I started by cutting a 13 x 13 piece of burlap and the same size from the light fabric . I placed these two pieces together and serged around the outside not cutting any of fabric from the two pieces. I did this to reduce the amount of raveling or fraying of the burlap  If you don't have a serger machine, you can use a zig-zag stitch to sew the edges.

Burlap gets kind of messy, so be prepared to do some clean up while working and after you are done.

Next I cut two pieces of burlap for the back of the pillow each 13 wide by 18 inches long.  I serged around the edges of these two pieces as well.  Next I folded the end of each piece so one was 13 x 16 and the other was 13 x 14 . I pressed the folds. You can stitch the folds to secure them, I chose not to. 
I then places the two pieces on top of each other , right side up, so one piece was overlapping the other and the perimeter around both pieces was 13 x 13.  This is the back of the pillow and should be the same size as the front, lined piece.  I pined the two pieces together and stitched 1/4" around it. 

I loaded the Cricut Craft Room software on my computer and chose my design. I decided to keep it simple since this was my first time using the Cricut to cut fabric. 

Once I settled on a design, I cut the black fabric and a piece of Ultra Heat and Bond and ironed them together.  

Before placing it on the Cricut mat I used a lint roller to clean the mat and then used the roller again to clean the fabric.

Seems simple enough, right?  Well read on. :|

Here is where the excitement begins (and so did the frustration). I was eager to see if the Cricut lived up to my expectations. Boy was I frustrated when it didn't - 3 times!

Here is the first try. Notice the frayed edges around the lettering? This is totally unacceptable to me.

The second and third attempts were much worse. Ugh!  By this time I was getting more than mad. I know cutting fabric with the Cricut is possible, I've seen it on Pinterest! LOL  Being it was late at night and my brain works much better in the am, I wasn't thinking clearly of solutions so I Facebook messaged my friend Kathleen over at Projects at the Picketts. I knew she did this successfully with her Silhouette .  As soon as I pushed the send button, I knew what I had to do.

I did a little more research, grabbed  some new tools and fabric and went on to round 4. The solution was pretty simple: I used a new Cricut Cutting Mat and a new blade. When Kathleen replied to my message she mentioned everything I knew, I just wasn't putting the pieces together.  I appreciate her reinforcing some of what I've done correctly and helping to understand  what I needed to do for future tries at cutting fabric with the Cricut. See, the Silhouette has a separate fabric cutting blade, which is smart. The Cricut does not have a separate blade, so I just used a new blade and made it my own separate blade for fabric cutting. I also labeled the new mat to be used for fabric only.

Try # 4 was a success. This is what the design looked like when the Cricut finally did what I knew it could.  You can see the difference between this cut and the image above from the first attempt.

After I carefully removed the lettering from the paper and mat, I put the burlap over the pillow form and placed the design where I wanted it on the pillow. I then secured the design on the burlap by ironing with dry heat.

 After pinning the front to the back with right sides together, I sewed around the pillow using a 1/2" seam allowance. I trimmed the corners, turned the pillow right side out and carefully used a seam ripper to pull out the corners.

I inserted the pillow form and now have a cute decorative burlap pillow.

Imagine the  pillow possibilities with other fabric for other purposes?

Many lessons learned - When cutting fabric with the Cricut:

1.  Use Ultra Heat and Bond Ultra - NO STEAM - It is much stronger than other fabric adhesives.
2. Trim fabric to the same size as the Ultra Heat and Bond.
3.  Do not remove paper before securing it to Cricut mat.
4.  Set aside a Cricut mat to use just for fabric.
4. Follow my own advice about blades used exclusively for fabric - Keep a separate blade only for fabric. I have multiple pairs of shears used just for fabric. Using fabric shears on paper dulls them. Duh!
5. Use a tightly woven fabric. On my first attempt I used a looser weave fabric. I finally used a cotton fabric.
6. Use the  following settings:  Blade =5, Speed = slowest, Pressure = Max

Have you made decorative pillows? Have you used the Cricut to cut fabric? I would love to hear about your experiences.

I have a few more burlap projects in the works. When I get busy and finish them, I'll be sure to share.