Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cowboy Coffee Cake

Do you ever make something just because it reminds you of good times?

Mom used to make Cowboy Coffee Cake for special occasions.  We would have it when company came and during the holidays.  Cowboy Coffee Cake usually meant that good times were about to happen.  I was feeling particularly nostalgic this morning so I made a batch.

Cowboy Coffee Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
2 c brown sugar
2/3 c shortening
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 T vinegar
2 eggs

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and shortening together until crumbly.

Set aside 1/2 cup of the mix.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the remaining mix.

Pour into two 8 inch cake pans.  Top with reserved mix.

Bake 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

This freezes fantastically so I usually eat one and freeze the other.  It's not good for you but, man, it's good!

If I do it again:

Nothing to change!  This is perfect, as is.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vintage Button Necklace

With my new working wardrobe, I've started to wear jewelry again.  I have a few functional and sensible pieces but I wanted a few pieces that are a little more fun.  I was looking over my boxes and bags of beads, trying to become inspired, when I found my bag of buttons.

I used to buy beads at estate sales.  Inevitably, I would end up with buttons, single earrings, single cuff links and other odds and ends mixed in.  I would toss those into a bag thinking I may find a use for them someday.  Someday came today!

This is what I came up with:
 It's made up of twelve buttons, one cuff link, four earrings and one pin.

It was fun and easy!

Grab your buttons and mismatched earrings.

Also get a piece of felt, some good glue (I use E6000) and some nippers.

Start arranging pieces until you get a layout you like.  Make sure there is a button with a good shank at both sides.

This is a good shank.

This is the layout I decided on.

Use the nippers and cut the shanks and backs off from the pieces.  You want them flat.  Don't cut the shanks off from the two pieces on each end.

Glue your pieces down to the felt.  Before gluing the two pieces on the end, cut a slit into the felt.  Glue the end pieces down, pushing the shank through the felt.

Let it dry.  At this point, I realized I didn't like all of the black felt showing through so I added another layer of buttons to the top.

Let it all dry.

Use a jumpring and attach one to each of the shanks.

Attach your chain.

You now have a pretty, functional and fun piece of jewelry to wear.


If I do it again:

I would realize it needs two layers!  I covered up parts of my really neat, unique pieces because I ended up adding a layer on the top.

Shared here:  http://beingfrugalbychoice.blogspot.com/ 
and here: http://www.mygirlishwhims.com/

Friday, January 25, 2013

T-Shirt Shrug

I saw a few really cute T-shirt shrugs that people made out of too small t-shirts.  I don't have a lot of too small t-shirts. . . mostly mine are too short.  I buy a larger size for the length and then end up hating them.

This was one of those t-shirts.

 The shirt is too big and the sleeves and length are too short.  I love those stripes, though!

I turned it into this:

It's not uber flattering. . . the stripes go in a weird direction now. . . but it's comfy and dresses up my t-shirts a bit.

Start by cutting a line in the FRONT of the shirt only straight up the middle.

Cut off the collar.

Turn the shirt inside out and pin about an inch in.

Make sure to round your corners as best as you can.  These aren't rounded enough and I had to redo.

Sew right on the edge of the cut side to make a little channel or pocket for your tie.

Flip right side out.

 Find something to use as a tie.  I picked organdy ribbon and hate it.  I may have to buy something else since I don't have anything in my stash that would look good with these colors.

Put a safety pin on one side to help feed it through the channel you made.

Push it through and trim.

To wear it, put it on and cinch it up.  The organdy ribbon won't lay straight so I want to get some nice grosgrain or something else.  The organdy is also quite scratchy.

You will have to readjust during the day and keep the gathers from bunching up right around the bust area.  It was just a few times I moved it around and I was pretty active!

If I do it again:

1.  No organdy ties.  They're itchy and won't lay flat.
2.  No stripes.  They are kind of pointing up at my face.  It might be because I know what this shirt looked like before but I prefer the stripes going straight across.
3.  I will use a solid color.
4.  I will round my corner up at the neckline better.  The first time I did it it kind of poofed out because mine wasn't rounded enough.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crock Pot Granola

Here is a little secret about me.  I am lazy.  If there is an easier way to do something, I see no point in doing it any other way.  I hate wasting my time and I tend to get bored if things take too long.

I also love granola.  I was on granola overload for the past six months but I was craving some tonight so I made a batch.  I don't like having to "babysit" my food so I avoid the oven to make granola.  Instead, I make it in the crock pot.

This recipe makes a LOT of granola.  You can half the recipe with no problems.

Crock Pot Granola

11 cups of grains (oats, oat bran, flax seed, wheat germ, etc.)
     I used eight cups of oats, 3/4 cup flax seed and 1 1/4 cup wheat germ
3 cups of nuts
     I used 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup pecans and 1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla
1 cup light tasting oil (coconut is great. . . I used light olive oil)
Add-ins (dried fruit, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, etc)

Put your grains and your nuts into the crock pot.


 Put the remaining ingredients into a saucepan. 
Cook on medium, stirring constantly, until it reaches a rolling boil.  Keep it going for a minute.
Add the liquid to the grains and nuts.
Stir until coated.
Put the lid on but don't seal.  My crock pot is oval so I just put the lid on at an angle.  Cook on high for two to three hours, stirring every half hour or so. **You need the lid cracked because it will get soggy if you don't.**
After the time is up, spoon onto cookie sheets to cool.  As it cools, it will clump and get hard.  Before this happens, put your add-ins in the granola and stir.

The first cookie sheet I keep as-is.  My son hates cinnamon (so I don't tell him it's in this), raisins and any sort of fruit.   He'll eat the plain stuff.  The second side I sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.
Stir and they melt.  It's a nice coating on some of the granola for when you are in the mood for something sweet.  This I eat.

For the hubs I have a third cookie sheet (told you it makes a bunch) that I toss in some berries I dried.  We got some nice blueberries in our last fruit shipment so I dehydrated those and mixed them into the granola for him.

If we were a fancy family I would put it into cute containers and store it.  We're not so I toss it into a ziplock bag and keep it in the pantry.  It usually takes a week for us to eat it so I don't need to put it into the freezer.  I have heard you should keep it room temp for a week or in the freezer for three months. 

If I do it again:
I have a confession for this part.  I didn't watch the granola as well as I should have.  There was an NCIS marathon on and I watched a few episodes before I remembered to stir.  I burned the granola around the edges.  It wasn't a big deal. . . I just don't scrape the burned parts off.  (That's what I do with rice, too.)




Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quick Tip: Laundry Soap Addition

Have you ever been doing something that you've done before and then something pops into your head?  Perhaps a way to make what you are doing easier and more efficient?

That's what happened when I was making my batch of laundry soap for the quarter.  (Recipe Here) I was getting ready to grate the Ivory soap and I remembered how much fun it is to turn it into Ivory powder to play with. . . . thought about how the powder would spread through the soap a lot better than the grated pieces would. . . . and wondered "why didn't I think of this before?!"

I "blew up" my ivory soap.

The directions to do that are HERE.

I crumpled up the ivory into little tiny flake powder with NO effort and added it to my laundry soap.  Because it was so fine (and fun) I went ahead and did a second bar for my laundry soap.  I figured that, with it being so fine, I wouldn't have issues with it dissolving in cold water.  We will see if it is too much soap for my detergent.

If you use my recipe, try blowing up your ivory soap.  It saves you some time with the grater and it spreads the ivory soap around so much more than the shreds.

If I do it again:

I wish I had thought of this sooner just because it's easier!  I did a few loads with the added bar of ivory and I can't say I noticed a difference. . . yet.  I haven't done any truly disgusting articles of clothing but I am not having to rewash anything.  (I generally don't have to with my original recipe.)  The only thing I do notice is that, occasionally, I would have a really tiny piece of soap that was undissolved left on a seam of a blanket or something really bulky that the water wasn't able to flow easily around.  I washed my bedspread and didn't have that. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lotion Mix or ~Somewhat~ Homemade Lotion

For those that read this blog regularly, you know I make lotion bars.  These are wonderful, solid bars of lotion that you rub on to your hands (or other body parts) and your body heat causes the lotion to slightly melt and coat said body parts.  The recipe is here.

 Those that know me also know that I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe.  I don't like sharing my lotion bars.  They're also a little inconvenient for use at work since my desk space is limited and I don't like chunking the lotion bar into a bag.  I like it sitting out on a nice little soap dish or tray (and I'm a bit particular.  Sue me.)

I have very dry skin, especially on my hands.  My hands tend to crack and bleed at some point during the winter.  Those days are here.

I found a recipe online for some hand lotion that is essentially a mix of hand lotions.  She mixed baby lotion, Vaseline, and Vitamin E oil together to make her own mix.  She said it was great!  (Read about it here)

I  looked for the ingredients she used  but couldn't find the vitamin E cream and Vaseline just grosses me out for some reason.  I thought about WHY her lotion works well and decided it was because she combined the lotions with her favorite results to get a great big result.  That's what I did.

My lotion takes two ingredients.

I combined baby lotion and Eucerin Aquaphor hand cream together.  If you don't know, Eucerin Aquaphor is the consistency of very thick Vaseline without the icky smell.  It is the most effective lotion for me but I have to use it at night because it doesn't absorb quickly and leaves sort of a film over the top of your hands.  I picked baby lotion because it DOES absorb quickly and leaves your skin soft - at least for a few minutes.  I hate how quickly it washes off, though.

I put a big dollop of Eucerin in with the entire bottle of baby lotion.  My Eucerin container held 14 ounces. . . I used a third of that.

Mix with a mixer until fluffy (like whipped cream frosting. . . mmmm!)



I added a dropper of Jasmine essential oil since I'm probably the only person in the world who hates the smell of baby lotion.  This isn't necessary if you don't have my sensitive schnoz.

I put it into my new pump dispenser.  It works beautifully!  I had intended on taking this to work but that's a quart sized jar and there is a few issues.  First, it's big and I have limited space.  Second, my husband laughed himself sick and uttered the word "redneck" while gasping for air.  I don't think it's the mason jar he's laughing about. . . mason jar dispensers are quite popular right now. . . I think it's the SIZE that he can't handle.

The lotion is a tad oily so I can't use too much.  For someone who is used to using two or three pumps because my hands are THAT DRY, this is good news.  I like how quickly it absorbs but it does last for hours.  This is also great news!

It's not cheap.  Eucerin is very expensive (my 14 ounce jar was 13 dollars) but this is one of those things I will end up splurging on since it works.

If I do it again:

I have heard that there is an apple scented baby lotion.  I will try that one next!  I don't care for the smell of baby lotion and the lavender scented one is way too strong of a scent.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Add a Magnet

The door from the inside of the garage to the house is where my husband and I leave messages for each other.  It's the one place we are sure the other person will see.  Until tonight, we always attached the notes with tape to the door since our door is not steel and magnetic.  It bugs me, especially when I can't find the tape!  I took care of that tonight.

I attached a washer to the door with a command strip.

 I can now attach my notes to the door with a magnet stuck on the washer.  The washer is small and it's in a spot that no one will notice.  If I ever change my mind I can take it off with no fuss.

If I do it again:

I wish I had thought of this sooner!  There is tape residue from past notes that needs to be scrubbed off. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homemade Note Pads

I have a ton of scrap paper at my house and I hate seeing it all end up in the recycle bin.  We've tried cutting the kids' school papers in quarters and keeping them together with a binder clip but we always end up with a mess in the drawer.  I found some amazing stuff that will help keep it all organized and also has a ton of other applications!

I can tell you that the first thing I made is a scrap pad.  It didn't occur to me to take pictures so you get photos of a project I made with this stuff.  The steps are exactly the same.  It doesn't matter if you use scrap paper or fancy paper.  The results are the same and amazing.

You first need a bottle of this stuff:

It's padding compound.  You can buy a big quart jar for about twenty dollars but I have no idea how and when I'd use that much.  I purchased a two ounce bottle for seven dollars on Amazon (yeah reward points!!)  and I still have no idea how I will use all of this stuff.  You just don't need much.

Cut your papers and stack them.  I used the binder clip to pin them together so that there is no shifting.

Paint a thin layer of the padding compound on it.

Let dry.  It takes about a minute.

Paint a second layer.

You are done!

I stacked some tags I cut out and bonded those.  I will keep them in my desk with some stickers.  These will make great "Thank You"s when needed.  I'll write my Thanks, plop a sticker on it and attach it to a mini candy bar.  The binding glue keeps it organized and neat until I'm ready to use it.


If I do it again:

I will be doing this quite often.  I like the idea of making scrap pads out of paper I would put into the recycle bin normally.  It is a great way to keep papers together.  I also think note pads would make a great gift for someone.  You could use your shape cutter and cut out fancy shapes in colorful paper and bind them together for a gift.  You could hand stamp papers in different designs and bind those.  You could cut out different mats or frames for scrapbooking, bind them together and gift those.  The possibilities are endless! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mason Jar Pump Dispenser

I am getting ready to try out a new ~somewhat~ homemade lotion and I need a place to put it if it turns out well.  I can always use more lotion or soap dispensers around the house, too.

One think I have a LOT of is mason jars.  I decided to use one with a chipped lip (bad for canning, good for crafts) for this project.

You can use a metal ring with the metal lid but I have a serious rusting problem in my house.  I didn't want the ring to end up rusting within a few months so I decided to use a plastic lid that fits for this project.

You need:

*a lid that fits (try a mayo lid for a regular jar or a Miracle Whip lid for a wide mouth jar)  You can use a metal lid if you wish.
* a pump dispenser.  I pulled one from an empty bottle of Bath and Body Works antibacterial soap that I was going to recycle.
* drill with bit (I used a 5/8 bit and it fit perfectly)
* strong glue
*mason jar

Start by drilling a hole right in the center of your lid.  You can always put a piece of duct tape over the spot you will be drilling if you think your lid might crack.

Make sure that the bottom part of your pump fits into the hole.

Put a layer of glue around the "screw" part of your lid and around the outside of the hole.  Push your pump through.

I added a layer of glue around the inside of the lid, kind of like caulk.  I used a Qtip to smooth it out.

Let dry!

When you are done, fill it with your lotion or soap.  You have a nice soap dispenser that is easily cleaned!

If I do it again:

I would try to find a pump that goes to the bottom of the jar.  I could also use a smaller jar and cut the pump.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sweater Hats

Happy New Year!

With the holidays, I took a little break from crafting and blogging.  It took most of my efforts to keep up with the massive amount of dishes produced from the massive amount of food I was cooking for company.  The company has left and the washing machine has started a marathon session so I've sat down to write about a project my daughter and I did yesterday.

My father in law sent my daughter two of my late mom in law's sweaters.  They are nice sweaters but didn't fit her and were a bit out of style.  They also had some holes in them so I decided to re-purpose them into something usable.


We made these:



The red sweater is one of my old sweaters that no longer holds its shape.  It made a pretty cute hat!

The steps are easy.

Lay out your sweater.  I flipped it inside out so that I didn't have to re-match up sides just in case my cutting wasn't even.


We picked a hat that we currently wear and like and used it as a template.  I wanted mine to be a bit looser so I cut a bit wider than the hat.



Sew up the cut sides.


Voila!  You have a hat!


Here is my super cute, very professional model showing us some of the hats.  I am sorry. . . she's in an exclusive contract with me so you can't have her SEVENTEEN and TEEN MAGAZINE!

 Got Milk?
If I do it again:

I wouldn't cut the red hat so wide.  I tossed the sweater into the scrap pile because it doesn't hold its shape.  The hat fit me great for the first five minutes then it started sliding down my head.  I resewed the seams while it was out of shape and it fits much better.