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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Crazy Lady’s Beef Fajitas

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Crazy Lady’s Beef Fajitas

 

An awesome friend of mine, the one that actually encouraged me to start this blog, asked me to post my recipe for the fajitas we make.  Everyone my husband and I have made these for raved and now make them too.  Yep, they’re that good.  *grin*  So, bear with me since there isn’t really a true recipe, but there are several little tips.  The recipe is definitely not sponsored by any vendors, although that would save us a lot of money on marinades.  *laugh*

We usually get our flank steak at Sam’s Club, since they usually have the best marbling, the steaks are pretty big, and the price often can’t be beat.  I thoroughly trim the fat off and then put it in a trusty gallon sized zip bag.  Here comes the crucial ingredients…I add about an ounce of Allegro Original Marinade (found at most grocery stores, like Walmart and Dillons [if you’re in the Midwest]) and four shakes of Original Flavor Daddy Hinkle’s Marinade.  The Hinkle’s has a reducer top, so I literally just do four shakes into the other marinade.  Between the two your steak should have a nice amount of marinade on it.  We let it marinade at least overnight, but often about 30 or so hours.  I set it out to rest for ten minutes before it’s time to grill.  (Note: Daddy Hinkle’s is often sold in a combo pack at the grocery store [we usually have to go to Dillon’s or Hy-Vee to find Hinkle in any flavor, so you’ll want to go to whatever store you know often has hard to find items].  The other piece in the combo is a container of dry spices.  If you like more spice, then when you set the meat out to rest sprinkle your dry spice over the steak.  It usually makes my stomach upset, so I can’t use it, but Larry loved when we used to be able to add it.  Otherwise, that powder spice is great in breading!)

Larry is king of the grill, so on the gas grill he grills the steak 7 minutes per side, unless the steak is thick and then he will check the temperature and add time if needed.  He found that 7 minutes per side is the sweet spot to reach medium doneness on the grills he has used.  When it’s done we let it sit and rest for 10 minutes on the counter, and then he slices it into really thin slices.  While he’s doing that I’ll cut 2-3 green bell peppers into strips.  (For those that hate cutting bell peppers, there’s actually a less fuss method.  Just start a centimeter or so from the ring around the stem and cut along the contour of the curve down to the bottom.  If you do this the whole way around, the whole center will stay intact and you don’t have to deal with cleaning seeds off of anything.  Then just slice up your strips of pepper.)  In a large frying pan I sauté the peppers with one packet of Swanson’s Beef Flavor Boost and about a quarter cup of water.  If things seem to get dry, then just add a bit more water. I sauté them until they start to turn a pale green and are pretty soft.  You could always cook them less, but I found that there’s a lot less indigestion when they’re cooked down further than the restaurants do.  Once they peppers are all cooked we add the sliced grilled flank steak and any of the yummy juices that come out during the cutting.  *grin*  That gives the peppers even more of a beef flavor.  Once the steak is in I’ll put a splatter screen over the pan and put 2-4 tortillas right on top of the screen.  Why let that steam go to waste?  Let it soften up your tortillas and save you a few extra steps.  Once the steak is warmed back up (we try not to let the meat cook very long, so it stays tender), it’s time to serve. 

We usually put shredded cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and some of the juice from the pan in our tortilla with the meat and peppers (plus salt and pepper to taste, although usually we leave it alone).  We’ve tried a variety of other things, but that combination has made it to finally being the standard for us, and those juices really set these apart.  Even family members that usually load their fajitas up with lots of toppings come to the dark side after they try it our way.  We’ve tried red and yellow peppers (although everyone says they taste the same, my super senses can’t handle either of them usually, so we stick with green now), sour cream, diced tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, and jack cheese.  Change things up and see what works for your family, but this is what works for us.  With just the two of us eating the picture is all that was left after having it for lunch today.  That pan was full to start with!  *laugh* 

Hopefully you’ll like our take on fajitas.  Now back to your regular programming… 😉

DIY Glitter Ornaments

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DIY Glitter Ornament

 

 

I’ve been playing with glitter again and I have to share this with you.  The tutorial is at http://theornamentgirl.com/blog/being-crafty/how-to-make-glitter-christmas-ornaments-diy/ although I will give you a few tips, so it doesn’t take you as many attempts to make the ornament of your dreams.  *grin*  I know that’s a bigger picture than I usually bombard you with, but that’s just how much I love it.

Ornament Prep

Basically you rinse your clear ornament with rubbing alcohol and let dry.  After it’s dry you squirt a little floor finish in it (although there’s some sticker shock, it barely uses any, so that bottle will last almost forever), swish the finish until it coats the entire interior, and pour the excess back into your bottle.  Sprinkle your chosen glitter into the bulb and either shake or swish the glitter until it coats the ornament.  This is where I have a little input.  I never figured out how she had any to “swish”, since the excess liquid was poured back into the bottle, but I covered the hanger hole with a napkin and shook the tarnation out of it.  Super fine glitter didn’t coat very well, so I had to rinse the ornament and start over another day.  When I switched to the other glitter it dawned on me that I should take  a picture, so you could see the glitter (although it’s not an overly descriptive picture, I know lol), but mostly so you can see the bottle of finish in case you get as confused as me when standing in the store and trying to figure out which one to buy.  So, using the slightly less fine glitter things started out well, but after the bottom was coated in glitter I couldn’t seem to get the glitter to move.  I tried all sorts of fun shaking, rattling, and wiggling, but if you end up with a clump at the bottom, don’t worry.  Just add more glitter!  It takes a LOT of glitter.  I went through half of one of those jars of glitter just on the one ornament.  I tried sprinkling the glitter directly into the opening and I also used a paper funnel.  Once I realized that shaking didn’t actually harm anything, despite the tutorial stating that she didn’t like to shake, I stopped trying to funnel the glitter to the spots that I needed to cover.  Just put your glitter in and treat the ornament like a shake weight.  After a few minutes you’ll have a fully coated ornament.  If you still have some blank areas despite having a bunch of loose glitter inside, then the floor finish didn’t coat that section.  It bites, since there’s no fix at this point, but it happened to me in a tiny spot (notice how the top hardly has any glitter?  I didn’t realize that I had failed to swish that finish along the entrance.  I found that the ornament balanced well on the small Dixie cup and it kept it from rolling about spreading the glittery love across my table.  It’s also a handy little stand for the ornament to sit and dry on, and since it won’t roll my cats are leaving it alone.  *grin* The ring from a mason jar works well too to keep the bulb confined, especially if your dog happens to smack paper cups off of tables with his tail like mine.  The only down side is that it’s hard to get pictures of the pretty surface without dark spots or reflections when it’s too cold to have a curtain open for natural lighting.  LOL

Glitter Ornament

Glitter Ornament

 

I hope you give this project a try.  Knowing how to prevent the troubles I ran into this project should take you about fifteen minutes.  In the tutorial she also added stickers and things to hers, so imagine the possibilities.  You could bling it out with some little gems, initial them in puffy paint, or do it in green and paint a fun Grinch-styled face on there.  If you have any problems, feel free to drop me a line.  Otherwise, have fun! 🙂

Antique Copper Jar

As promised, here’s the latest “dyed” jar. Although the paint streaked a little, I think this is gorgeous!

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A Sticky Situation

Last night I finally got to try out the new Popsicle mold. I figured that I could use it for Valentine’s or Easter, too, so I wrote out recipes for a few varieties that I could do in pinks and reds. It wasn’t until I actually started to work with the ingredients that things got a bit iffy.

I decided that Cotton Candy would be a good scent to pair with a pink soap, and then decided that this would be the perfect time to try out the tutti frutti dye powder now that I know how to keep it from speckling, since it’s neon pink.

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Now that my wholesaler has a Q and A section I read that the powder should be mixed in a bit of glycerin and used then as a normal dye. They mentioned that their small hand mixer worked wonderfully for this.

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It took 15 minutes to get it like this. Seriously?! The little hand mixer is battery operated and has a little design flaw apparently. While doing this I found (Larry reminded me that I learned this lesson before, but I inconveniently forgot it apparently) the battery is located right under the lever that gets pushed down to operate the mixer. When the mixer runs very long that battery begins to heat up that little tab of plastic to a very uncomfortable temperature. At 15 minutes I was doing the potty dance from the pain, trying to use a hot pad (which didn’t work), and switching hands, since my fingers were turning almost as bright as that dye. *laugh* Thankfully there were only two speckles that I could still find, so I just fished them out, and decided to keep trucking.

Funny thing about that Cotton Candy FO…there’s so much vanilla that it’s a very yellow oil. When mixed with the soap it remained very yellow. Usually an extra drop or two of coloring will cover that up, so I figured it would be no big deal.

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That is after 44 (!!) drops of neon pink and in desperation 2 drops of strawberry red. I don’t think it would have gotten to this mild of a pink without the heavy red, either. I have never used so much dye before. (Never fear, though, because I tested a little bit of the soap to make sure that the bubbles were still white. If the bubbles are colored, then there’s too much color, but as long as they’re clear/white, then you won’t dye the poor user.)

I looked up the mold on my wholesaler’s site and it said that there are 10 cavities that hold 3 oz each, so I did a test run with 12 oz of soap. Somehow I only managed to get 3 1/2 soaps when I poured though. Usually soap is right on, whereas lotion has a lot of loss during the mixing and pouring, so I figure they don’t intend for the user to fill the cavity completely. How was I to know that? Lol

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I also discovered that the craft sticks don’t fit snuggly in the slots on the lid, like it seemed. They kept slipping down into the soaps and I didn’t realize when I held them until the soap started a soft set that my tremor had made the sticks a little…uneven. Yeah, we’ll go with uneven. I won’t use the terms I used when crying to Larry about the disaster. *laugh* After I got over my pity party I decided to unmold them and check for speckles. That’s what I decided, at least. Thankfully Larry hadn’t left for work yet, because apparently it’s not a one man job. They didn’t want to come out at all. Unlike regular silicone molds I could just flip the cavity inside out, either, because of the shape. Between Larry’s strength and long fingers that could hold the entire length of the cavity to twist and cause air bubbles, which allow the soaps to release, and my pulling on the sticks, we finally got them out. I had been justifiably concerned about pulling on the sticks, since they started to slide out of the soap a little. That’s how tight they fit. (I could have put the soap in the freezer to shrink it a little and see if they’d pop out then, but that usually makes the soap sweat and I think it decreases the durability of the mold, not to mention the soap, so I try to avoid it.)

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They might have some flaws, but at first glance I thought they weren’t too bad, until I noticed this…

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Apparently where the mold has a connecting strip from cavity to cavity it tends to create a little dent in the middle of each bar. Lol. I throw in the towel.

After a few uses I don’t think anyone will see the dent anymore, but it does make it a little less pleasing on the eye to sell them, unfortunately. (Not that I could sell this wildly crooked set anyway.) Shrink wrapping the soap and maybe adding a small bow where it meets the stick should help, but now I know that I can’t do multiple varieties in one setting and that I can’t unmold these little cuties on my own. That’s a little irritating considering how much I paid for the dang thing, but Larry came up with an idea to hopefully solve the sticks moving, at least.

I’ll experiment again in a day or two and will see if I can suspend some poppy seeds in some of the pops for some Strawberry Jam Popsicle soaps. Since anything that can go wrong does go wrong when I’m the one doing it, I’m betting that the seeds sink and that the dye will go wonky, which might be in my favor, since then you won’t see the seeds in a big clump at the end of the soap. *grin*

Okay, enough sarcasm and self teasing for the moment. I’m not too upset with the flaws and I had fun learning some new things (like to use a stronger mixer if I do powdered dye again!). I’m off to do some pampering and take a nap. I hope you have a day filled with just as much relaxation and that you’re also learning to not be so hard on yourself too. 🙂

A Crafty Little Project

I hope you excuse my absence.  I have a really surprising excuse.  I’ve been a victim of mind snatching and in my place a Crafty Cathy has been dabbling.  *grin*  I’m not sure if she’s some previously unknown dual identity or what, but I’ve been having a lot of fun.  LOL 

I stumbled upon a really intriguing pin on Pinterest and it honestly sounded too good to be true, especially after the difficulties I had with the melted crayon pin.  It couldn’t be that easy and, truly, it’s not always.  I’ve had quite a mixture of success and failures, but the best part is that it’s a whole lot of fun and I think I may have finally figured out what’s been going wrong.  As you have probably guessed, that always piques my interest way more than success, so I’ve been a bit obsessed.  *laugh*  The pin (and sister link) lead to the websites: www.lilyshop.com/how-make-colored-mason-jars and www.lilyshop.com/how-make-glitter-mason-jars.  Once I started playing with one I had to explore the sister link, and then my crazy mind had to see if both processes play well together.  *grin*  Basically the first one explains how to “dye” mason jars with mod podge and food coloring.  The second is pretty much the same thing except you substitute glitter for the coloring (and the insanely girly side that hides from my typically morbid and dark usual tendencies can’t resist glitter, so it was pretty much a guarantee that I’d be checking that link out.  Although I totally realize that although the blogger says that it’s dyeing jars, it’s really just dyeing the glue, I’m going to follow in their footsteps, just because it’s a whole lot more consistent when you read my experience and then the blogger’s tutorials.  (Or you can go look now.  I’ll wait.  Unless I spot some glitter.  I can’t be held responsible for any lapses of sanity if that girly part of me spots…Oh!  Look at my new box of pretty glitters….*happy sigh*)  Ahem.  Now that we’re all on the same wave length, let’s continue.  *smile*

 

Here’s where my post is going to get picture heavy.  You take a clean jar (I got totally scandalous and branched out to sanitized spaghetti jars and old business jars…*laugh*) and pour a liberal amount of mod podge inside of it.  The blog advises quite a bit, but I have only needed that much for a family sized spaghetti sauce jar – the mason jars that I used didn’t need that much.  You add a few drops of food coloring, stir it completely into the glue, and then swirl the mixture to coat the entire inside of your jar.  Let it sit and drain for an hour or so, then flip it back over and let it finish air drying.  That’s what the instructions say.  Well….

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When I started I wanted to test if food coloring would be more effective than my soap dyes, since I have them on hand in more colors and they have such vivid tones in comparison.  The compilation of pictures are just that.  The lavender shots don’t actually go with the food coloring.  Honestly I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a bunch of shots that aren’t overly exciting, so I cropped them in with each other.  I wanted to show you the steps though, so if you are nervous while trying this project you can see that everything is progressing normally.  The lavender was a third test, using craft paint, while the pink was soap dye, and there will be a dark purple one you’ll catch a glimpse of, which was actually done with the food coloring.  (Something that the blogger very accurately notes is to not brush or scrape any of the paint mixture onto the glass.  Just swirl it around and let it naturally coat the interior.  Any forced application leaves funky textures and really messes up the look.  That was tested purely by accident, but a great thing to keep in mind if you do this project.  Just be patient and keep swirling!)

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This is what happened with the food coloring.  I retested it to see if there was a flaw in the application or process and realized that I had missed the instruction to turn the jar right side up after an hour or so (this was my first jar), so it had dried upside down, although most ran out and pooled at the opening on my paper plate.  I don’t have a picture of the retest, but it worked fine when the directions are correctly followed.  *grin*  I personally don’t care for the colors I achieved with the food dye, so I was more interested in the other paints.  Now, here’s the coolest part.  If you don’t like your results, fiddle with the coating at the lip of your jar and you can peel the whole shebang out and start over (after rinsing)!  How cool is that?!  So, you’ll understand why I’ve done these a lot of times, but don’t always have the pictures to back the comments up.  *laugh*  The second pic is the dyed glue “skin” which is absurdly fun to squish and stretch.  I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.  *teasing grin*  It’ll be our secret squishy stress reliever. 

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Now, the above is what happens if you don’t have a consistent heat source and your house is pretty chilly.  It starts out just fine, but then…I have incredibly bad timing and we had snow, freezing rain, and below zero temps, and to top it off our wood stove has been off getting repaired, so the house is chillier than usual.  I had been setting the jars in front of a heater register in the bathroom, since I could close the door and make that the warmest room, so in theory they’d have the best chance at heating.  That would be true if Abby Cat hadn’t decided that she needed some direct heat and laid down between the vent and the jars.  *rolling eyes*  The streaking also happens if the temperature is just right for the thermostat to not kick the heater on for several hours, so the glue just kind of works with gravity and pulls off of the sides.  The blogger noted that she had small bubbles develop from placing them in the oven (by the way, I never found a way to avoid at least a few bubbles, no matter what dye or process I tried.  Gentle stirring of the dye into the mod podge helped to reduce the number, but they developed on their own while I worked the mixture around to coat the interiors.  If you find a way to stop it, please let me know, but I never developed a whole lot of them, like she described with the oven process.  Just a heads up so you don’t think you’ve done something wrong.).  The way that worked best for me was to place the jar and paper plate on the floor and surround them with a heating pad, then top that with a light blanket, so it trapped in the heat.  I swear I need stock in Sunbeam, because I go through so many heating pads every year (it’s one of the few things that really helps me cope with the pain), so I always have a few handy.  For this I used a really long one, although I think a “king” sized one should work just as well.  The most flexible one you have.  After trying a few different heats I found that medium worked the best with mine.  After that first hour or so, once the jars are flipped, I slipped them back into the cocoon (with a bit of wax paper over the lips just because I don’t want to muck up my pad or blanket), and let them keep drying for at least a day.  The worst part about this is that most heating pads have that safety turn off feature, so every two hours I had to go and turn it back on.  When I slept I just left them in the cocoon and they still stayed warmer than most of my house.  *laugh* 

 

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The above is mod podge with super fine iridescent glitter that is rated as safe for cosmetics, which I use in soap.  At first it’s white, but then it dried completely clear and look at all of the pretty sparkles!!  *cheesing*  Yeah, I’ve turned the bend.  They’ll probably be coming to size me for my straight jacket soon…(Something else to note is that no matter what color you’re using, it’s going to look like a pastel at first and won’t be anything like what you’re going for.  I found that 4 drops of actual dye worked great for vibrant colors and about a teaspoon of craft paint was perfect. 

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I had a crafting mishap when I tried to make a pretty glitter covered jar weeks back and decided to dye it to see if it would salvage the disaster, and I happen to love how it turned out.  *grin*  I used Crafter’s Choice (available at Wholesale Supplies Plus, among other online retailers) in Strawberry Red for the dye, while the outside was simply the same iridescent glitter mod podged [I’m not sure if that’s a word, but I’m going with it.] to the exterior in two or three sessions (yeah, looking back that’s a bit extreme, but while it was wet it looked so pretty, so I kept going for it.  *sigh*  Lesson learned.)

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It’s now a permanent fixture on the entertainment center.  Although it didn’t photograph well it looks so cute with an LED tea light at the bottom and the fake flowers on top.  There’s a slight frosted look, plus a delicate shimmer from the glitter.  *happy sigh*

 

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I saved the best for last.  This is the lavender (“lilac”) craft paint example from the collage at the beginning with metallic purple small (not fine) craft glitter mixed in.  I found that the heavier glitter always sunk, but still looks pretty awesome to me.  I swirled like a possessed woman to get enough momentum for the paint to carry some of the glitter toward the top.  *grin*

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This is what really got us all amped up about the lavender one.  Larry came into the room as I was trying out a flickering LED tea light in the jar and said he wanted to try something.  He came back with his color changing glow sticks that he uses when he goes riding at the dunes in Oklahoma (safety measure so others know where your vehicle is at night and so it’s easier to judge where your vehicle ends, since it’s dark as can be in the middle of those dunes and you don’t want to clip someone).  The above pictures were taken in that lavender jar!  I’m not from Jersey, but those are still wicked cool!!  Plain and simple.  I think this would be awesome for a preteen, too.  There are so many glow in the dark craft paints on the market and a ton of different glow sticks, even, so they might not even need a black light.  We sure didn’t use one.  I never outgrew (nor did Larry) my love of glow in the dark things obviously and would have gone ape over this as a teen.  We plan to do some of these jars as luminaries if we get to do a morbid anniversary or Halloween party someday. *crossing fingers*  How awesome would these look in a darkened room with a creeping fog from a bowl of dry ice near them?! 

 

In the end I had several that I tore out, but all in all I loved this project.  As a matter of fact I bought a bottle of extreme glitter craft paint while grocery shopping today, so I’ll share pictures of that attempt soon.  I’m at war with myself over spending the next hour of insomnia watching the new episode of Face Off, which I’ve been eagerly anticipating, or go try out my new paint.  *laugh*  Since I’ve had limited use of my right arm for the past 36 hours from a small mishap I think the season premiere will win out this time.  I really hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my results and experiences, and please share with me your results if you try this.  I’d really love to see your creativity.  Feel free to link in the comments or email me.  It’d totally make my day.  *grin*  In the meantime, pamper on Garth. 

A Little DIY Ornament Tutorial

I hope you’re having a good year so far and that your resolution is going strong. My resolution was to work on learning to be proud of myself again and stop focusing on what I lost or am unable to do after I became disabled. Part of that is to do little things to help me feel productive and proving that I CAN still do some things.

In light of my goals I wanted to try some of the many crafty pins I have from Pinterest. I might give them as gifts or keep for us to use, but mostly it was to prove to myself that I actually can be crafty. *laugh* I’ve never thought I could be, although I’ve always done some artistic things. When I saw a pin my stepmother had posted on Facebook about using crayons to create pretty swirled ornaments I thought it sounded like the perfect craft to try.

I had taken a screenshot of her post, which said to melt some crayons inside clear glass ornaments with your hair dryer, so I hit the day after Christmas sale at Walmart and picked up a package of them for around a dollar. That way I wouldn’t be out much if I had one of those days of disasters I tend to stumble upon. *grin* I had everything else on hand, so once I found some gumption I went for it.

Now, I went through lots of pins on Pinterest to find a good tutorial and I never found one. The instructions about were just about it and I’m not going to send you to a site for that. I also think a tutorial that says what not to try could save others a lot of time and frustration, so I’m going to provide it.

First off, make sure you get actual glass ornaments and not the plastic ones that several stores sell that look a lot like the real deal. I promise you that the plastic will distort with the intense heat of the blow dryer. *shaking head with embarrassment* However, if you want to make some creatively shaped ornaments, that would be an easy way to go about it and would be totally unique. *grin* Decorate as you want and voila, an original creation. For this though, make sure it’s the real deal. Second, don’t use a knock off brand. After sacrificing a box of off brand crayons to my xacto knife I discovered that they are incredibly hard to melt. Get a box of Crayola that you can slaughter.

Now I tried a variety of lengths and I found that half an inch chunks worked the best for me. You can cut smaller pieces for extra detail swirls, but they don’t last long, and lengths beyond half an inch tend to stick for a few, which makes bare spots when they do that. (More about that later. Once you’ve cut your chunks on something disposable like old sale ads or something, clean up so that there’s nothing lightweight in your work space. The dryer WILL blow everything off if you don’t have a clear workspace.)

Pop the cap off your ornament and drop in one or two pieces of crayon. I found that two colors at once made some gorgeous designs and made the process a lot faster, although you have to try to keep the two pieces together as you are melting them, since you have to chase the crayon piece(s) with the hair dryer. Before you start the dryer put the cap back on. Trust me on this. When you get going the dryer will blow just right into the hole sometimes and cause a seriously annoying noise. While you’re putting stuff in the bulb you can use a mason jar lid to keep it from rolling around. If you get creative with your add-ins, this can save you a big mess (trust me).

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I learned that if you get really creative and add glitter, and that bulb decides to roll, since the top area is heavier, well, those crayons will knock a healthy portion of glitter all over your table. I also happen to know that manly men hate to have glitter accidentally sticking to their things when they go to work, so this little oops has the potential of causing you a bad day. *grin*

The easiest way to get the ball rolling once you’re all ready is to hold the ornament by the top and put the blow dryer at the underside, directly on the crayon(s) and give it a minute or two to start to melt, with the dryer on your highest settings (mine allows for hot heat and high force – warm doesn’t cut it for this project). You’ll start to see a little pool around the edges and it’s much easier to get going once it’s at this stage. (I forgot to get a picture at that point, but I did when I switched colors, so at least you can get the idea.)

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Once the crayon starts to melt a little just start to roll the ornament slowly, following closely with the hair dryer to keep it melting, and swirl to your heart’s content. I found it was much easier to control the process by putting the ornament down on a hot pad on my knee and rotating the ornament while keeping the dryer steady. That glass can get really hot and your leg can get burned if you have the blow dryer focused toward it for the half hour or so this takes. Please put something down to protect yourself. I tried the mason jar lid, too, but that didn’t work so well. The pad on the knee worked the best.

Anyway, you will probably have to add more pieces and start the process over if you want as much of the ornament covered as possible. As you will see later I covered as much as I could, but I saw some pins where people just did a few swirls with the melted crayon and had lots of clear ornament showing. The more colors you have and the hotter the overall ornament gets, the more the colors will blend. If you melt colors individually it’s a bit more work, but you get distinct swirls. As mentioned before when a chunk of crayon stops in an all ready colored area the chunk will strip the previous color off and you’ll have a clear spot again. I found that if I kept the chunk there and focused the dryer on it, much like I did to get the whole prices started, and got a little pool of melted color going, then I could swish the chunk around and re color most of the stripped area. No matter how hard I tried every ornament had a few stripped spots. Hey, it’s handmade, so that just shows that a machine didn’t do it. *smile* Toward the end you will have trouble knowing where the crayon is, so you’ll have to pull the cap off and shine a light inside to see where it is. The lighter the colors the easier this is and the last bulb I did was so light that I could just hold it up before a light to see where to focus the dryer.

If you decide to add glitter don’t add a lot of it before you get the crayons started. The glitter coats the chunks and makes it hard for them to melt at the beginning. Get your little pool started and then sprinkle some in. You can also blow the dryer into the opening for a few seconds, sprinkle the glitter in, and then shake the ornament to get the glitter to settle everywhere. Doing the heat inside will make your colors blend a lot more. Just sprinkling in some glitter throughout the process worked the best for me. I used extremely fine, cosmetic safe, glitter that I have on hand, so you may have different results with a bigger and heavier glitter. The only time mine clumped was when I added it to the cold crayons.

One last note – the darker your colors the harder it is to photograph. *laugh* I ended up with one red and green swirled ornament, a second one using the same two colors but more blended, so it looks kind of like camo (hmm, sounds like a great stocking stuffer for my favorite redneck), and then a really pretty light one, where I used pink, white, peach, and iridescent glitter. You have to look hard to see the glitter in the picture, but it has a gorgeous soft (almost gold) shimmer in person. I had one shatter while I was working too, which was another light one, and after some looking I found that there were some fine cracks in the ornament and when I dropped the piece of crayon in I hit one. I found a weak spot in the other light one too, before I started, and made sure to softly slide the pieces in and I kept the dryer at an angle to keep from having direct force on the ornament.

All in all I spent probably two hours working on the four ornaments, which included the time it took to learn that the off brand crayons wouldn’t work and chopping up some Crayolas, so it’s not a really time consuming project. Your fingertips can get a little toasty, but it’s a pretty safe craft, other than the projectile chunks of crayon as you cut them. *laugh* Depending on how the light hits your ornament they can look completely different from one moment to the next, too! The best part, in my opinion, is that the possibilities are endless. Hopefully you’ll give this project a try. If you do, I’d love for you to post the link so I can see your incredible results. In the meantime, here are some final result pictures.

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The light one is definitely my favorite. I plan to try some other color combinations too, but don’t know that I’ll ever top that. *grin* Anyway, I hope you don’t mind my going off topic today and being rather lengthy. Happy pampering and stay warm to those of you “enjoying” the wintery weather if you’re getting hit too. 🙂

Inspiration

If you have looked at my recent Pinterest activity (if you didn’t know I was on there, then it’s easy to find me by searching for Georgia Cornelison for the pinner), then you know that I’ve been playing with ideas for some themed combos/baskets. One that I love thinking about is a monster themed basket. Most of the items can be standard products with little twists, much like the Redneck options, but with a decidedly more…morbid twist. *grin*

One such item that keeps rattling around in my mind is a bubble bath – er, blood bath. *laugh* I saw a pin for a container of red bubble bath that resembled a bag of blood/plasma. I can’t tell you how excited the Poe-loving side of me is over that idea. With this rattling around while I looked over the end of year sale my wholesaler had yesterday I ended up buying a set of zipper bags. They hold around 2 ounces and even stand on their own! How cool is that?! Anyway, most mention using it for samples of bath salts, which I will definitely be trying too, but I want to see if a little “blood bath” will work in the bag. Check this out:

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Although I’m trying to decide which zombie and Frankenstein items to narrow in on (so many ideas!!), I decided to also splurge and get the really nice mold for Popsicle soaps. Look at this little guy:

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It was a bit more than I usually want to spend on materials I can’t really justify as necessities, but it’s silicone and guaranteed to work for soaps. I loved the failed Popsicle soaps I made before the holidays and knew I really wanted some good Popsicle soaps all year around. I saw some really wicked (oh man, I almost went to the “wicked cool”, so you know I’m getting all wound up about this) Popsicle soaps that were in Halloween colors and they embedded toy spiders in the ends. Wow!! How awesome would a play on that look in that Monster combo?! I’ve thought of doing some Frank colored ones or some toxic yellow ones. *grin* There are SO many options!

As you can tell, I’m having a lot of fun looking at the brilliance and creativity of others, and in thinking of what possibilities would work for me. I am so excited. *smile* I’m still looking into trademark issues for other theme ideas, but I am pretty set on a few things. I want a zombie repellent soap, a blood bath, and a demented Popsicle soap, bare minimum. Isn’t it fun to think of all of the options?

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you reading if you’re still suffering the after effects of a late night. I hope you’re enjoying your New Year and have a wonderful rest of the week!

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