Sunday, March 28, 2010

Light Switch Plates on Palm Sunday

 I adore Garage Sale season.  I especially love going with the kids or DH.  We hop in the car with a list of potential "good ones" and start driving. 

We didn't come across anything wonderful this week.  I picked up a sweatshirt for myself and a few pair of jeans for the youngest to grow into.  I love finding kids clothes at garage sales.  For now, it saves me a lot of money.  I am sure the kids will come of an age, soon, where it is no longer cool to wear garage sale finds but, until then, I will continue to supplement their wardrobe with name brand clothing bought for less than a buck!

I was tooling through Home Depot with a friend the other day.  She stopped to look at switch plate covers.  She had just moved into a house and the covers were white and didn't match her walls.  Some of the ones she was looking at were over $10 apiece!  Wow!  So, I got an idea.

The kids' bathroom is painted a blue color.  Recently, they found some ceramic fish at a garage sale that they swore would look great in their bathroom.  They were right. . . they do.  So, now we have a "theme".  I try to stay away from themes in my house because they never turn out looking tasteful. . . just overdone and gaudy.  I'm a sort of extreme person and I never know where to stop.  However, despite my best efforts, we have a fishy theme going on in the kids' bathroom.

We decided to do some switch plate covers for their bathroom.  The great thing about this project is that you probably have most, if not all of the supplies needed.  You'll use the existing switch plates, or, if you have a use for those somewhere else, you can buy really cheap ones.  Go past the switch plates hanging up and look on the bottom shelves, in a box.  That's where they keep the less-than-a-dollar switch plates.  You'll also need some cool photos printed off from your computer that fit over the switch plate.  I got mine off from the Microsoft Office clip art on Word.  Haul out your ModgePodge and a spray sealer and you have all the supplies.

*switch plates
*photos or decorative paper (scrapbook, wrapping or wallpaper)
*modge podge
*spray sealer (I use Krylon 3X but you can use anything)

Cut your paper to fit over the switch plate.  I like to leave a little extra so I can fold over the edges.  Paint your switch plate with modgepodge and fit your paper over.  Smooth and paint the top with modgepodge.

Let dry.  When it's dry, use a very sharp knife and cut out the light hole.  I just poke the screw holes with the knife. . . when you push them thru, they'll make the hole they need.  Spray with a heavy coat of sealer and let dry.  Once it's dry, mount them on the wall.

This project is mostly a "hurry up and wait" type of project.  It's results are pretty cute, though.

The switch plate on the bottom photo turned out kind of "blah" so I took some of the fimo clay used for jewelry making and molded some seaweed.  I gorilla glued them to the paper.  Don't forget to take a sharpie marker and color the screws.  It helps them to not stand out so much.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break Ending, Back to Work!

Today was the last day of the kids' spring break.  We really enjoyed each other, I think!  I can't speak for them but I know I had a lot of fun.

As a last day off treat, I took the kids to see the movie "Diary of a Whimpy Kid".  Boy, did they laugh!  It wasn't all that wonderful for me. . . . I found a lot of it gross. . . . but boogers and bodily functions tend to be a hit with second grade boys.  Go figure.  At least it was good, clean humor. . . . nothing R rated about it. 

We also made Rice Krispy Treat eggs.  I got the idea from the commercial.  Actually, my youngest pointed it out to me and, when I told her I missed it, proceeded to rewind the television so that I could see it.  Thank you Digital TV.  I didn't know she knew how to do that.  So we pulled out the bag of marshmallows and box of Rice Krispys and made Rice Krispy treats.  You shape them into eggs and let them harden.  Don't forget to butter your hands. . . . I'm still pulling marshmallow out from under my fingernails.  Yuck.

Then you get to dunk them in chocolate.  We just melted chocolate chips.

Dunk them. . . . . .

Schmeer the chocolate on, preferably with a knife, but fingers work too . . . . .

Roll them in colored sugar or sprinkles. . . . . . .

And let them dry.  Easter eggs!  Some uncouth people might say that they resemble something ELSE that the Easter Bunny leaves.   To them, I say phooey . . . . .   We had fun! 

We watched the premier of Dancing with the Stars tonight.  I really do have a thing for old men.  I thought Buzz was so very dapper in his costume.  I still think they should ask Dick VanDyke to join the cast.   That's someone I'd love to see Cha Cha Cha-ing it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chili and Chilly Weather

It was a gorgeous day yesterday!  We had a high of over 60 degrees and the kids and I hit our first garage sales of the year.  This is what we woke up to this morning.

Needless to say, the kids are thrilled.  We pulled out the snowpants, dusted off the boots that have been in a box for months and dug out our waterproof gloves.  It wasn't quite enough for a snowman but we managed to pull out a sled and romp the back yard from end to end.  When we got cold, we came in. 

This is my hardwood floors, after the kids have trooped through on their way to the basement.  I thought I was through with discarded gloves and hats and piles of snow that melt into little puddles for unsuspecting stocking feet to walk through.  After such a thing happened to yours truly, I pulled out the slippers from under the bed where they had been sitting since the end of January.  I'm currently sitting, cozy, with a cup of tea, a bowl of chili and wearing my favorite flannel shirt and fleece lined slippers.  The snow won't last. . . . Monday should be back in the fifties but it is a nice change of pace.  Not bad for the first day of spring!

Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous!  The kids are on spring break so we piled into the car and hit the first garage sales of the season.  Our favorite find was a bunch of old games that I used to play at our family game nights growing up.  I paid between a quarter to a buck apiece and walked away with a box for four dollars.  The kids think they're awesome and we've got plans to play Kismet later this afternoon.

When we got home, I made the kids a picnic lunch and sent them to the back forty.   (Our yard is tiny. . . it's the back forty feet here.)  They ate lunch on the swing set and I made a huge batch of chili to can for DH lunches.  He has a favorite chili recipe that I found but I made a few errors this time and turned good chili into Hotter than the Blazes Chili.  The first big error. . . . the recipe calls for V-8 juice and I only had spicy v-8.  No biggie, right?  It's chili, after all.  The second error wasn't really my fault.  Last year, DH dropped into Penzey's Spices (wonderful place) to buy some "special" chili powders.  He was experimenting with a recipe and wanted something with a bit more kick.  When I cleaned out our cupboards, I put the bag of chili powder into a jar that I had so that it was more accessible.  Our recipe calls for 1/4 cup of chili powder.  I usually add 1/3 of a cup. . . so that's what I did. . . . with the super hot from insane peppers powder.  Needless to say, the kids won't be eating this recipe. 

So here's lunch!  It's actually pretty good, just a bit hotter than I personally like.  For those of you who have seen my pantry and know about my reluctance to toss anything. . . . these are guacamole chips.  They're supposed to be green. 

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's a day late, but Happy St. Patrick's Day, all the same!  We had a fun day.  Every St. Patrick's Day, we do the magic Apple Juice trick which involves me putting a drop of green food coloring in the bottom of the champagne glasses the night before.  St. Patty's morning, I (a true "Irish-woman") pours the apple juice into the glass and TaDah!  It turns green.  This was a tradition growing up and my kids enjoy it as much as I did.

This year, unfortunately, it didn't go as planned.  During the night, the food coloring dries.  When you pour in the apple juice, the food coloring rehydrates (usually) and the apple juice turns a gorgeous, shamrock green.   For future St. Patty's Day celebrations, I will no longer buy my food coloring at the Dollar Store.  What happened is that the apple juice hit the bottom of the glass and this disgusting piece of dried green food coloring started floating around in the cup.  Very unappealing and definitely not green.  My youngest looked at the tan apple juice and asked me if it was possible that I was no longer Irish.  Well. . . . Grandma was usually full of it but the one thing I was pretty sure of was her ancestry.  

We ended up pulling out the spoons.  With me cheering my Irish children on, they stirred their apple juice until it turned that gorgeous color we were looking for.  We decided that, because mommy messed up and bought the wrong brand of apple juice, we needed to have true Irish children stir the juice to turn it green.  They were thrilled to participate this year and I am sure it will be talked about for a few years to come.  Next year, I'm not buying food coloring from the Dollar Store and we might change to the sparkling apple cider. . . that ought to agitate it enough that we don't need the spoons.  Sheesh.

We also took the kids to the World War I Museum in town.  We've been meaning to go for awhile and, since it's Spring Break, we decided to do it this week.  Wednesdays' are buy one, get one so we got in for $18 for the entire family.  All I have to say is, Wow.

The place is amazing.  There are no reproductions in the museum; all the exhibits are the real items.  There was so much interaction for the kids that they didn't get bored until right before the end.  I do have to say, it's an emotionally draining experience.  I love history, especially United States history, and I learned so much.  At the end, we took a trip up to the top of the tower and looked out over the city.  It was a cold and chilly day but, somehow, it was a perfect day to do this.  The kids learned a lot and the trip home was rather quiet.

And we made brownies.  Not just any brownies, but minty brownies with green swirl icing.  They're sickly sweet and very gooey. . . and good.  We did these brownies as traditional ooey, gooey, chewy brownies, not the cake/bar type brownies that we usually make.  They're incredibly messy but, hey, St. Patrick's Day only comes around once a year.  

St. Patrick's Day might not be a traditional "family holiday" for most of the country.  But, this Irish woman is proud to say that it is a family holiday at our house!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Orange Marmalade

Oranges are in season!!!  We've been busy these past two days making a wonderful treat. . . orange marmalade!

Making orange Marmalade takes two days.  I am not sure why, but I follow the recipe!  You'll need fifteen ripe oranges and one large, ripe lemon.  The recipe makes sixteen cups of marmalade so you can cut the recipe in half, if you would like to.  It will still turn out the same.

Start by washing your oranges and then peeling them.  You want to wash them because you will be using some of the peel.  Chop the fruit up into small pieces and put it into a large pot.  Thinly slice two cups of the peel and add that.  Cut up the fruit, but not the peel, of the lemon and add that, too.  Add 10 cups of water.

Cook on medium heat.  Once it starts to boil, time ten minutes and then take it off the heat.  Let it sit 12 to 18 hours in a cool spot.  It's still chilly in the evenings out here. . . we put it on the back patio, covered, overnight. 

The next day, put in two boxes of pectin and bring it back to a boil; boil until the peel is soft.  I find that this takes about forty minutes.  It makes the house smell marvelous!  After the peel is soft, add 11 cups of sugar.  Bring it back to a boil, stirring constantly, for twenty minutes.  

Put in your hot jars, and BWB for 15 minutes.    You'll have to be patient with this recipe. . . it will take a week or so to completely set up.  It's excellent on toast, to use in yeast bread recipes and to mix in with muffins.  We've made a few batches using cinnamon or cloves but my favorite is plain, with a little lemon. 
Strawberries are next. . . I can't wait!  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jewelry Making Contest

Wish me luck!  I entered into a jewelry making contest.  The "theme" was Glass Beads.  I submitted two pieces.

Here's the first. . . .  (I discovered a "new" trick. . . click on the photo for a bigger, more detailed version.  Not new, new, but new to me!)

It's sideways and I can't figure out how to flip it so turn your head!  This is a lasso rosary for a wedding.  I made this one with Celestial crystals.  If you look close, it's two rosaries, each with their own centerpiece (One of Mary, one of Joseph) joined together.  There's a third centerpiece (the joined wedding rings) and a heart shaped crucifix.  It's so the happy couple can pray the rosary together.

Here's the second piece I submitted. . . . 
This is just a traditional rosary but, for the Our Father beads, I used handmade, lampwork glass beads.  They're purple with a rose inside.  The other beads are regular Czech glass beads in the newest color, Oil Slick.  It's an ugly name but the beads are amazing.  They're color changing, depending on the light.

Grand prize is $1000 gift certificate to my favorite bead store.  Do you know how many rosaries I can make with $1000 worth of beads?!!?  Keeping my fingers crossed!  I should get points for unique. . . . I am sure most people are submitting actual jewelry pieces.

Don't forget to sign up to win the Stations of The Cross chaplet.  See the post below. . . . .

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grammy's Birthday Present - Scrapbook Coasters!

The chance of my mother actually reading this blog are slim to none so I am going to post the lastest, greatest craft that the kids have just completed.  It's for Grammy's birthday.  I think she's going to love it!  Here is a photo of the completed project:

Scrapbook Coasters

These coasters were very easy and very fun to create.  We started out with some 12 cent tile from Lowe's.  They're the matte finish, white tile that they have back in the bathroom tile area.  These particular tile measure 4.25 x 4.25 which is a great size to work with.

You will need scrapbook paper (or other fancy paper like wrapping paper), decorative scissors, modge podge and a spray sealer, like Krylon 3X .   We cut out a piece of paper large enough to cover the tile and then trimmed it with our fancy scissors.  We layered, added stickers and arranged until we got the look we wanted.   Take it all off and set it aside.

You need to paint Modge Podge on the entire tile, covering it completely.  Even if you don't cover to the edge of the tile, you need to paint the whole thing.  Don't forget to protect your table or you will end up with this stuff everywhere!

Once you've painted on the tile, add your first layer of paper.  Paint over that layer completely with the ModgePodge.  Keep layering, covering each layer with the ModgePodge.  The Modge Podge acts as a glue and as a sealer.  You'll end up with a mess that looks like this:

Let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes and add another layer of Modge Podge over the whole tile.  You're trying to completely seal in the paper so that it can be used under a wet glass.  We added a total of three layers of ModgePodge.

Once the last layer has been added, let it dry for 24 hours.  You will need to seal the tile with a spray sealer at this point.  Modge Podge tends to get a little tacky if exposed to moisture and the spray sealer will help prevent this.  Use a heavy hand with the sealer and you will get a coating like glass.  If you mess up and leave streaks, go over it again in a half hour with the same spray sealer.  

The kids also made a box to hold the coasters.  We decided to have two stacks of four coasters, side by side.  The oldest thoroughly enjoyed using the saw and the hammer!  He measured out the tile, multiplied by two and added in the width of the side slats.  It's very easy and only took a few cuts with the saw to complete.

Don't forget to add felt to the bottom of the box as well as to the bottom of each of the tile so that they don't scratch the surface they're sitting on.  We used Gorilla Glue to attach it.

This turned out to be an extremely inexpensive project with a lot of meaning.  The kids were able to do all of it, with a little help and supervision.  Grammy's gonna love it!