Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Pinterest Challenge: Measuring Cup Organization from Tidbits from the Tremaynes

My third pin tried for the Summer Pinterest Challenge, and my third food-related pin. This one also helps with organization, though.

I found the inspiration for the idea at Tidbits from the Treymanes. Since I'm constantly losing measuring cups and spoons, and hate stacking them up, this sounded like a wonderful idea, so off to Lowe's I went to gather my supplies.

I bought some Valspar Chalkboard paint, 7/8" cup hooks, a cheapo doors and cabinets kit with roller, as well as a stick of trim, not shown here because it's 8 feet long. I already had painter's tape and some wood glue.

I also had this glorious little thing. My father calls it a key, but I don't know what the actual name is. They had them at the paint counter and they make opening paint cans super easy.

I then wiped down the cabinet door to remove any grease or dust, let it dry, and taped it with the painter's tape. I probably could have carefully painted and avoided using the tape, but where's the fun in that?

I needed about 3 coats for the chalkboard paint to cover completely and smoothly. Once it was painted over to my satisfaction, I removed the tape and let the door dry. This is where my "hindsight 20-20" moments begin. I maybe should have removed the cabinet door prior to the whole process. It really became apparent when I went to attach the trim.

Before starting the whole process, I had also measured and cut the trim to size and painted it with some white paint I had for my baseboards. I tried to use wood glue to attach the trim with the cabinet door still hanging up, and the trim just tried to slowly slide down the cabinet door. At that point, I chose to hunt down a screwdriver and take the cabinet door off and move the project to the table.

This is also when I realized that I don't have any kind of clamps, and the trim wouldn't stay down without some help. I decided to use a chip clip, then stacked some teacher editions and my husband's Warhammer 40k army bag to weigh down the trim. I let the whole thing dry overnight.

Once the glue was dry, I spaced out my measuring cups and spoons to make sure they'd all fit. I marked each hole with a pencil so I would know where to insert the cup hook.

Now, I used a bit of a strange method to get the hooks into the trim. A normal, patient person would have waited until her husband was home with his screwdriver to drill tiny guide holes. Instead, I decided the project would be completed RIGHT THEN and used a hammer and nail to create the guide holes. I only hit my fingers once.

After creating the guide holes, I then twisted the cup hooks into the holes.

Here's a view with all of the cup hooks in.

I then wrote out the measuring equivalents and cup measurements with a chalkboard marker I already had.

I then hung it back up. You can see the evidence of my missing cups.

The only issue I've noticed is that if my hands are a bit wet, the words wipe off a bit. I had to rewrite the 1 cup writing after a mishap with baking.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Pinterest Challenge: Oven Cooked Corn on the Cob from House of Joyful Noise

And the second pin I tried from my Summer Pinterest Challenge is also a food pin. Surprised? You probably shouldn't be.

I have always loved corn on the cob. As a kid, I loved each step of the process. Waiting for ears of sweet corn to go on sale. Going with mom to Jewel. Pulling back just enough of the husk to see if the ear was good, replacing the husk on bad ears and ferreting away good ears into our produce bag. Taking it home. Helping mom set the pot to boiling. Going outside with the ears of corn and shucking them. Ending up with cornsilk EVERYWHERE. Eating the glorious, pop-off-the-cob-covered-in-butter-and-salt corn. I had only ever had boiled corn until I went away to college. The town my alma mater is in holds an annual Sweet Corn Festival. Festival! Festival for corn! And the best part (to the ears of a college student)? They gave away a FREE ear of corn to college students with ID. (The best part to a graduate's ears is now the blues music that accompanies the sweet corn festival.) It was at this festival my freshman year of college that I, for the first time, tried grilled corn on the cob. I loved had that sweet corn taste that I love, with that extra roasted flavor. But with that love came the problem...I am a bit afraid of the grill. Alas, I would likely never make grilled sweet corn on my own.

All that changed when I across a pin leading to House of Joyful Noise's oven cooked corn on the cob. It may not be perfectly like the grilled corn on the cob from my college days, but it tastes pretty darn good. The instructions are stupidly easy to follow, and worked perfectly.

Start with preheating your oven to 350 degrees.


Then, take your corn and cut off all the extra dry bits of husk and the silks hanging out. I don't know if this is a necessary step, but I did it because I was concerned about the extra bits catching on fire. I'm still not entirely clear on how to use my fire extinguisher, so I didn't want to chance it.

I set my corn directly on the rack in my horribly-overdue-for-a-cleaning oven.

Next, set your adorable penguin timer (What? You don't have one of those? Fine, set any kitchen timer) to 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, your husk will look drier and more brown, and your house will smell of roasting corn. Remove your corn from the oven. I definitely recommend using some kind of oven mitt or glove, unless you are like my mother and have fingers that must be made of Teflon.

Once your corn is out of the oven, make a cut all the way around the bottom of the ear. This will make removing the husk and silks seem like magic!

Squeeze the husks a bit and slide them off of the corn.  It took my a couple of tugs to get all of the husk layers off of the ear.

After removing your husk, you will notice a relatively small amount of silk left on the corn. Pull it off, then season your corn as you like.

You can tell we really like corn, since we have a slab of butter with a corn indentation in it.

I enjoy my corn seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper.

I very much enjoyed this method of cooking corn. The corn had a great roasted taste, while still coming out juicy and perfectly pop-off-the-ear cooked. And I didn't burn my house down trying it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Pinterest Challenge: Crash Hot Potatoes from Frontier Woman

Of course, I go for a food pin first in my Summer Pinterest Challenge. This recipe just happened to sound like it would go great with the baked Dijon Lime Chicken in the plans for this week from eMeals, so on to the shopping list red potatoes went. I attempted to have my husband pick them up during his small grocery run, but he had no idea what red or new potatoes were, and thought it would be better if I just bought them on my next trip.

I found the instructions from Frontier Woman very easy to follow, except when I had to google what exactly fork tender meant. Still think I may have a little bit undercooked my potatoes at first, but it didn't make a difference in the end. I also made a couple of changes to Ree's recipe, because I like spicy and cheese.

I used a bag of organic red potatoes from Meijer, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the salt and pepper grinders from Oxo, cayenne pepper (because I have been on a CAYENNE ALL THE THINGS kick), and cheddar cheese (because my life is a CHEESE ALL THE THINGS kick).

I brought a pot of salted water to a boil, as instructed, and then jammed it full of potatoes. I maybe, after boiling the potatoes, realized I hadn't washed them first, like a dummy, and then ran them under cold water hoping that would make it better. Once the potatoes were what I assumed to be fork tender, I used my pastry brush to spread olive oil over my cookie sheet, because I figured that just the drizzle wouldn't be enough to keep the potatoes from sticking. I then placed my potatoes on my cookie sheet, like I would cookies.....and this is the point at which I realized I had boiled way too many potatoes, so the quest for my other cookie sheet began.  I finally found it holding 40K miniatures in the basement, and had to thoroughly clean it.

Potato masher and red potatoes

Next up was to use the potato masher to smoosh the potatoes.  First, smoosh lightly one way, then turn it 90 degrees and smoosh it more. This is where I really figured out that I had undercooked my potatoes.  Instead of smooshing, they more cracked and stuck to the potato masher.  Perhaps next time, I would oil the masher, too, to keep the potatoes from sticking. You can see how much potato is stuck in the masher in the above picture. I also saw the suggestion (I think in the comments on her post) to do pilot cuts to help the potato mashing along...a small crosshatch in the top would probably help the process, too.

Spreading olive oil with a pastry brush on potatoes
Forgive the's very hard to take an iPhone photo and spread olive oil at the same time

I then followed the instruction to brush the tops generously with olive oil. I love the Oxo Good Grips pastry brush...the yellow bristles do a great job of holding the oil until I'm ready to spread it over each potato.

Unbaked crash hot potatoes

I followed with covering each potato with 2 twists each of salt and pepper, as well as a sprinkling of cayenne and just a bit of cheddar cheese. Because cheese and cayenne make everything taste better. Ok. Most everything. Next, I just popped them into my oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes....ish. It was probably closer to 30 minutes, because MasterChef is very interesting.

Crash Hot Potatoes on plate

Here they are, all crispy and beautiful out of the oven. They actually ended up even better when I stupidly left my oven on, with the cookie sheet still on the stove over the vent for about an hour...they were gloriously crispy then.

Whole meal

And here they are as a part of my whole meal...Dijon Lime chicken, wilted broccoli and bacon, and Crash Hot Potatoes. The chicken and potatoes will become part of my recipe book, but the wilted broccoli and bacon was disgusting.

I'd love to try these potatoes with different herbs and spices, and perhaps even different cheeses. My husband, who is an immensely picky eater, even liked the non-spicy batch that I made for him, but ate them with ketchup.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Pinterest Challenge

Last year, I posted a Wedding Summer Bucket List. Except, in the course of a year, all of those links broke when Pinterest updated their site, so I'm in the course of editing that entry so that the links are accurate.

I am writing this post because of a site I am a member of, Swap-bot. At that site, you can sign up for various swaps - e-mail survey, pinterest board, ATC, tea, arts, crafts....the list goes on.  This swap that I signed up for, in particular, asks for a "Summer Bucket List" of sorts, with Pinterest links.  I will then complete some of the Pinterest projects, and write about my results.

In this post, if you click on any of the Pinterest embeds, it should take you to my pin.  If you click on the pin, it will redirect you to the site that originated the tutorial or idea. Or do it the quick and easy way and just click on the direct link in my list to the original blog post with the idea.

My list of to-do's consists of fairly simple projects, but we'll see which ones I get to this summer.

1. Library Book Bag from Endures All Things. I likely would not take the time to sew my own (that reeks of effort. Effort bad. Why sew a canvas bag when you can use one of the dozens of totes hiding around your house?) but I really like the phrase used and the placement of the phrase on the bag. I may use a slightly different font when I complete the project.

2. Oven Cooked Corn on the Cob from House of Joyful Noise. Here's to hoping I don't burn my house down! No, really, I started a small oil fire after two weeks in our house while cooking chicken, but luckily put it out quickly. My father then bought us a fire extinguisher as a housewarming gift.  Thank you dad. Now I can put fires out with an extinguisher, and not swears and putting the pan outside (so doing EVERYTHING you're not supposed to do - remove heat source, smother....not panic and run with burning pan, then spray with hose). I love corn on the cob, but the idea of grilling it scares me, and boiling it bores this sounds like the perfect compromise.

3. Crash Hot Potatoes from The Pioneer Woman. I LOVE POTATOES. I love crispy potatoes.  The idea of these potatoes makes me salivate. I want to have them with burgers, or chicken, or pork chops...or, gosh, I don't care, I just want to have them. {{Done! Check out my attempt at these here}}

4. Organized Recipe File from Be Simply Organized. Currently, I just have a plastic baggie of all the recipes I want to try.  I would love to have them all actually organized and usable.  Once I try and approve of a recipe, I add it to my TasteBook account (which is great, because my mom can see it then, but that's a whole different story!).

5. Melted Crayon Peacock art from a Craftster post by RaeRaggs.  Two of my best friends just bought a house, and I think this Peacock art would look beautiful in Katie's dance studio. Nick's not so much of a peacock fan, but that's too bad.  I would probably change it up and do it on a painted piece of plywood, instead of canvas, since that takes away the flexibility element.

6.  Wedding Lyric Wall Art from This Humble Home. I'm going to play around first and see if I can get a version of this put together that I like, but then I'll probably just give up and order from This Humble Home's etsy shop. Because laziness wins over things that take up time for me, usually.

7. DIY Fridge mats from It's an Organized Chaos. This one seems like a quick trip to Target, then done.  I really should do it, because I hate cleaning my fridge.  Also, it would have made cleanup way easier when my husband decided to shake the Parmesan without checking to see if the lid was secure, and covered the fridge with cheese.

8. Dual Pocket Folders from Put a Little Shush in Your Home. I'm slowly working on organizing our finances, lists, and other adulting-related organization. These would help with keeping things together in the binder.

9. IKEA kitchen cart makeover from Funkytime. I have yet to make my trek up to Ikea (which also includes going to The Container Store and Lush), but this kitchen cart is on my list when I do, and I love the idea of painting it and adding various hooks and helpful metal bits.  I would love to have somewhere besides the counter to do my food prep.

10. Infinity Scarf from The Cottage Home. I LOVE SCARVES. I also love infinity scarves.  For me, they're straight-forward and easy to style, and have the upside of making cleavage-filled outfits more appropriate for teaching. This tutorial may not be all that unique, but it is straight-forward and seems easy to follow.

11. Measuring Cup organization from Tidbits from the Treymanes. This is a late addition to the list...I saw it and knew I just had to complete the project.  I am constantly losing my measuring cups, and I always have to look up conversions...this will make it a bit easier.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Graze Box Review

As I wandered tumblr a few weeks ago, I saw some posts mentioning They are a company who delivers a box of healthy snacks each week. They stress being environmentally conscious, as well, with 100% recyclable packaging. Their package also fits in my super tiny mailbox, which is better than most of the subscription boxes I receive. You can also review snacks you've received or blacklist/trash snacks you don't want.  Before I received my first box, I went through their whole list of snacks and only removed one I don't want to try, Rock the Casbah, which has dates in it, which I hate.

Graze isn't currently open for the public, but is available with a referral code. With a referral code I found on tumblr, my first box was free. They also note that your 5th box will be free. The box is $5 a week, delivered to your door. If you are interested in a referral code, leave a comment on this post, and I'll send it to you via e-mail. The code gets you a free first box, and me either $1 off my next box or a $1 donation to the graze school of farming.

One important thing to note is, if you have a nut allergy, graze is not for you. Their FAQ page tells us: "We can't guarantee that our products are free from traces of nuts and sesame ingredients since everything is prepared in the graze kitchen. So if you suffer from a nut allergy, you will not be able to graze."

So how did the graze box look? What snacks did I get? Did I like them? Read ahead to find out!

Front of box
 Note the plastic strips -they did an excellent job of keeping the box closed in the mail.  And, though the box feels rather thin, it held up well to shipping.

Back of box
 I love the note that says "turn me over before you open (or you'll make a mess).  The top right has a printed FDA notice/declaration, while the bottom has a quick description of the box.

Inside of box
I think the printing on the inside of the box is beautiful.  The top has what I believe is a date, and under the snack pacs is a grass print and a napkin.  They also include nutrition facts.

Can I also say how much I love the whimsy of the illustrations on the snack pacs?

Here are the snacks I received this week:
Herby bread basket: I love the basil baguettes and garlic croutons, but there was something overly sweet about the oregano rice crackers.

 Florentine: Love this whole snack, but I wish the chocolate pieces were smaller.

 Chilli & lime pistachios: MMMMMM I love pistachios, and these are no different.

Tutti frutti: Eh. I'm not huge on dried fruit. It's a textural issue for me. The cherry raisins and regular raisins are great. The blueberry cranberries and pineapple are just OK for me.

Overall, this is a subscription I will definitely be keeping with.  I love the variety of snacks available, and I love that I can trash things I don't like.  The little snack pacs will be perfect for me to toss in my desk at school for when I'm hungry.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pin Win: "It's My Special Day" Plate

Sometimes, your year throws some curve balls.  I completely intended to be an active blogger this year, but my caseload is a little heavy, and I would rather take a break than be overwhelmed and inconsistent.  Married life is also great, but hectic.  We bought a house in September, are trying to get pregnant, and recently had our basement flood.

With being so busy, I tend to get overly stressed and incredibly anxiety-ridden.  I've been struggling all year with keeping calm and on task, especially after stressful weeks.  I've tried all sorts of different things - pedicures, reading, baths, chiropractor, asking husband for backrubs - yet nothing had helped.  Then I thought back.  One of the things that best relieved my wedding planning stress was making my wedding party gifts (which reminds me - I never finished posting those!  I was pretty darn proud of the results) at the pottery painting place in town, Artful Designs.  I decided earlier on in the week to go there on Thursday or Friday night.  Well....the house flooded Wednesday, so Thursday was out to meet with the people drying out our basement.  So I headed to Artful Designs last night to paint.  But first, I had to consult Pinterest for some painting inspiration.  I happened upon the following plate design:

I decided it would be perfect for some stress relief.  My friends Meghann and Alex had a beautiful baby girl late last year, and I think that each child deserves some kind of special day plate, mug, cup, or bowl.  Off I went to Artful Designs to paint my plate.  Instead of the plain paint like they used in the original pin, I used the speckled paint.  I just love the look of it.  I used what I think was called Lime Lizard for the rim, Blizzard Blue for the background, and a speckled yellow for the star.  I then used bright kiwi for the spots and a dimensional paint for the writing and outlining.  I like how it looks before firing, and I will update this post at the end of the week, once it's done firing.  I also like that it's bright, festive colors, but not pink and purple.  I guess because I was so resistant to girly colors when I was little, that I always push that on gifts for little girls that I make or buy.

My plate, before firing
My plate, after firing

You might notice that this post's title begins with "Pin Win" - it's because I love the blog Pinstrosity, and when I saw that they were holding a contest, I decided that I would look around for some pins to try.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Little Things: Blackhawks Bridesmaid Gift

For my girls' gifts, I wanted to do something personal and crafty.  Enter Artful Designs in my town, which is a paint your own pottery and ceramics place, or any place like it near your town.  I love painting pottery, and it had been a long time since I was able to do it.  My mother and I decided to go together, and I sketched things out and painted details, while she painted large sections for me.  I wanted to get something that all of my bridesmaids could use, so I settled on travel coffee mugs.  They all drink tea or coffee, and putting something personal would make it even better.

One of my bridesmaids is a HUGE Blackhawks fan, so a Hawks mug was truly the only answer for her.  I painted the detail of "Commit to the Indian" with a small brush, then sketched out the feathers and passed it on to my mom to paint the black and the base of the feathers.  I then used their smaller writing bottles to go over "Commit to the Indian" again, drew the lines on the feathers, and wrote "Bridesmaid 8.4.12" on the bottom of the mug.  One week later, it was ready for pickup after firing.

In coming days, I will post the other 5 bridesmaid gifts, as well as the ringbearer and flowergirl presents.