Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stretching Shoes

I have big feet.  I also like to walk around barefoot.  Because of this, my feet are always bumping into or catching on things and I have broken my toes on quite a few different occasions.  This actually happens so often that I quit going in for an x-ray when I do it. . . they normally tape it up, stick me in a flat shoe thing (which I ditch after a day or so) and tell me to wait it out.  Since I hate paying the co-pays for medical advise and treatment I don't bother to follow, I opt out.

As a result, I have a few odd lumps and bumps on my feet and my feet don't match.  I find breaking in shoes to be a trial.

I've found a good way to break in my dress shoes.

I put on my thickest pair of wool socks and squeeze my feet into the shoes.  It's not comfortable. . . quite painful sometimes. . . but it doesn't last long and the results are so much better than blisters for a week while trying to break them in by normal wear.

Cute, right?

I take my blow dryer and turn it on the hottest setting.  While wearing my shoes and forcing my feet to bend, I train the air on the spots that are rubbing and uncomfortable.  This takes about ten minutes per shoe.

Keep the shoes on, walking if you are able, until they have fully cooled.  I try to keep them on for another fifteen minutes or so.

When you take them off, you will notice that they've stretched to the shape of your foot!  I have mostly narrow feet so I can't buy wide width shoes without them flopping off.  Normal width rub on a few areas so this is a good solution for me. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

DIY Roll Up Shades

We have fake french doors in the kitchen.  They lead to a very small patio.  When we moved in we were overwhelmed with all of the little things you have to purchase for a new home and I tossed up some very cheap, too short, semi transparent fibrous roman shades.

Fast forward five years and, look!  I haven't changed them!  I got motivated to change them out a few weeks ago and I spent a bit of time looking for the right shade in the right size in the right material.  No go.

I found a shower curtain with fabric that I loved so I decided to make myself some shades out of it.  This is what it turned out to be:

Would you believe there is no sewing involved?

I decided to make roll up shades.  I started by buying two adjustable width pre-fab blinds online at WalMart.  They were $13 apiece. (Bali Size at Home Roller Shades)

It said that they would adjust to below 23 inches. . . not so.  They only adjusted to 25 inches and I needed them to be 22 1/2 inches so I got out the hack saw and chopped off the end.  Easy peasy.

Once I did that, I took the cheap vinyl blind off and kept the hardware and the spring tension rod.  I then made my shade.

I will tell you that I did it three different ways and the third time worked like a charm.  It took me six hours to get the first one right.  The second one took less than 20 minutes.  I'll tell you what I did right and what I did wrong.  You can decide how to make yours!

I spread out the curtain rod and cut a strip.  I took the measurement I needed and added two inches to the width and eight inches to the length.

I then ironed out my fabric and "hemmed" it an inch on each side with the iron.

Add a strip of the stitch witchery. . . .

. . . and iron again.  At this point I added a strip of stabilizer to the raw edge to keep it from raveling and because I had it.

I also added a strip of solid fabric to the bottom to lengthen it a bit.  The bottom should be hemmed.  The top should not.

You will need hot glue to glue the fabric to the rolling mechanism.

Before you took the vinyl off the roller, you should have looked to see if the roller was a "front roll" or a "back roll" roller.  This is important to keep your roller functioning correctly.

Mine was a back roll.  This means that the shade goes behind the roller and the roller sits in front of the shade.  If it was a front roll, you wouldn't be able to see the actual roller.

I lined up my fabric and added a bead of hot glue to the edge.

 I pressed it on to the roller, rolled the fabric one whole turn around, then added another bead of hot glue.  This way, when the fabric if fully extended, the roller is still covered with the fabric.

Roll up your fabric entirely on to the roller.

Mount your hardware and hang your roller!

The only issue I have with the roller is that it is hard to get the shades to stop at the same length.  Since I don't normally care, this isn't too much of a problem.

As promised, here are some things I did that I should NOT have:

1.  I lined the shades with interfacing the first time.  I shouldn't have.  It made them too thick to go on my roller.  If I didn't need the length (72 inches) or if my fabric wasn't as thick (duck fabric) the lining would have worked well, I think.  As it was, the roll was wider than the hardware and it was getting stuck.

2.  I wanted my shades to be a front roll vs. a back roll so I tried to make it that way.  Didn't work.

3.  I didn't think I would need THAT MUCH extra fabric for the length but I did.  Hence the black lining at the bottom.  It works, though.  It also adds enough weight that I don't need the dowel at the bottom to give it the weight to hang right.  

I did make a shorter one for the kitchen window (45 inches).  It rolls a lot smoother than the longer ones.  The longer ones just have SO MUCH fabric (80 inches).

If I do it again:

I will NOT over think it!  I kept trying to make it fancy by lining it, by changing the roll, etc.  It didn't work out.  Keep it simple!

Shared here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A New Use for my Waffle Iron

I know that I've had a lot of posts about food lately.  Here's another!  We will get back to the crafting soon, I promise!

I found a great use for my waffle iron. 

I LOVE the orange sweet rolls that come in a can.  They don't store very well, though, so when I make a batch it is eaten right away.  I tend to eat more than I should.

You can cook the rolls in your waffle iron!

Flatten the rolls and put them into a lightly greased waffle iron.  Bake until done (four minutes for me).  I thinned the frosting that came with the rolls to use a syrup.

These were amazingly good!  I was able to freeze the leftovers on a cookie sheet.  When they were frozen, I put them into a bag.  I popped one "waffle" into the toaster to cook it the next morning for a fantastic, hot breakfast for myself.

If I do it again:

I'm going to try cinnamon rolls for the kids. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

3-2-1 Cake

Sometimes you just have to have something sweet.  I hate making an entire cake to fulfill a craving so I've started making 3-2-1 cake.

3-2-1 cake is SO easy!  You start with two boxes of cake mix.  The first one HAS to be an instant Angel Food Cake mix.  The second can be any flavor of instant cake you want.  I chose Butter Pecan.

Mix both dry cake mixes together into a bag.

To make the cake, take THREE tablespoons of cake mix and put it into a coffee mug.  Mix in TWO tablespoons of water.  Microwave on high for ONE minute.  Done!

You can store the mix in an airtight container or bag in your pantry and make a cake for yourself whenever you have that craving.  It's the lightest, fluffiest cake and it is the perfect serving size.  I dolloped mine with some whipped cream and drizzled a bit of caramel over the top.


If I do it again:

This is so easy that kids can do it!  I will pick a cake flavor that they enjoy next time!

Friday, February 15, 2013

All in One Breakfast

Mornings are rough at our house.  I have one child that likes to set an alarm early so that he can stay in bed and read or play his handheld games.  I have another child that will sleep until I wake her and then beg for five more minutes.  Both lollygag terribly.

On the three mornings a week that I have to be at work right after I drop off the kids, I like to eat breakfast early so that it has a chance to settle.  Generally, eggs and some sort of meat are my go-to.

Tonight I made a quick, easy "all-in-one" breakfast to keep in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast.

You need:

One package of "Grands" biscuits
sausage, ham or bacon crumbles
cheddar cheese
eight eggs
eight small oven safe containers

Start by spraying the inside of your containers with nonstick spray.  I used my French Onion crocks and some small custard casseroles.

Flatten one Grands biscuit and press up the sides of each container.

Sprinkle your meat and a bit of cheese inside each.

Top with one slightly beaten egg.

Bake 400 degrees for fifteen minutes.  Let cool.

I put ours in a bag in the fridge.  In the morning, put one on a plate and microwave for 30 seconds.  It's a quick meal!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taco Kits

Tacos are a staple at our house.  We have tacos once a week.  It is the one night a week that I can please everyone and no one goes to bed hungry. 

I make "taco kits" to keep in the freezer since we eat them so often.  (I am big on freezer meals. . . I like to have something ready to go when I get home from work. . . perhaps already in the oven on a time bake!)

This can also be a very economical meal if you watch your sales.

When cheese goes on sale, stock up.  You can store cheese in the freezer and it thaws beautifully.  I like to shred my cheese before freezing.  I also buy the bags of pre-shred since they occasionally go on sale for $1.25 apiece.

I store the cheese in the freezer and make my kits when ground beef goes on sale.

Start with ten pounds of ground beef.  Cook it, drain it and season it to your family's taste.

Let cool and divide into ten (less or more, depending on your family's size) quart sized freezer bags.

In a gallon sized freezer bag, put a stack of tortillas.  I put fifteen in for my family.

Into another gallon sized freezer bag, put your beef, tortillas and a bag of shredded cheese.  Remove as much air as possible and seal.


I put a taco kit in the refrigerator the night before we want to eat it.  The night we have tacos, the beef gets put in a bowl and microwaved until hot.  The tortillas can be heated for ten seconds in the microwave.  The cheese thaws out nicely in the refrigerator and you can't tell it's been frozen.  Pair it with some beans, fresh vegetables and salsa and you have a great meal!  The two gallon sized bags can be reused but you should toss your quart sized bag since it held meat.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fancy Glass Holders

For lack of a better description, I'm calling these "fancy glass holders."

These are simply mismatched candlesticks glued to the bottom of glass containers.

They hold my "essentials" in the bathroom.  Much nicer than the heap I had everything tossed into previously!

Make sure you use a glue especially for glass.  I like Aileens Glass and Bead glue.

If I do it again:

I love the combination of colored candlesticks with the clear "bowl".  I will be looking for more at garage sales!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine S'Mores

Valentines are SO expensive and the kids don't even read them.  We haven't bought store Valentines in a few years.  These are our Valentines this year:

The tag says "Happy Valentine's Day from " with my kiddo's name.  There's a little tag on the bottom with directions.  It reads:  "Microwave S'Mores.  Put 1 cracker on a plate.  Add chocolate and marshmallow on top.  Heat 10 seconds.  Top with remaining cracker.  Enjoy!"

The Valentines were very easy to make.  They also cost a less than a lot of the pre-packaged ones.

You need:

One box of graham crackers - $1.97
Bag of Hershey's Bars - $5.23
Two packages of goodie bags - $1.27 each
One bag Cupid Mallows - $0.75

Labels and ribbon - free if you have them.

Total cost:  $10.49 for forty Valentines.

Package one graham cracker (broken in half) with one marshmallow and one bar of chocolate.  Add your tag and directions.

If I do it again:

I would use larger labels.  I didn't have them, though, so I used the itty bitty teeny ones.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tip: Getting Rid of Yellow Arm Pit Stains

I have my white shirts that end up with that yellowing underneath the arms.  There is a trick to getting rid of it!

Mix 1/2 cup Dawn Dishwashing Soap (original) and 1 cup Hydrogen Peroxide together.  Rub it on to the armpit stains and toss into your laundry basket.

Wash as usual with like colors.

 Before. . . . .
During. . . . . .


The stuff works wonders.  I don't use it each and every time I do wash but I will do it every month or so, just to keep things white.  I seem to have a crazy number of white shirts and, lo, I wear them all!  It also works great on other stubborn stains such as wine and grass.  It hasn't bleached or lightened anything I've tried it on so I'm assuming it's color safe. (No guarantees, though. . . I'm refusing to feel guilty if you bleach your favorite top with this stuff so try it out on a spot that you can't see first.)