RSS Feed

Tag Archives: DIY

Decorating with Fairies

As a child I was always encouraged to read (although I don’t know that they meant to read quite so much, so quickly lol) and my grandmother left some books at our house for me.  In with the encyclopedias and natural history books was this tiny book that seemed made for my small hands.  I opened it and fell in love with poetry way back then.  Fairies of the Flowers & Trees, by Cicely Mary Barker, was an old book when I first discovered it.  The “Fairies” series started in 1923 and I believe that the version Grandma had is the one from the ’50s, but as a kid I never looked at that page, so it’s only by looking at lots of old book covers that I found the one I had treasured.

8546974174_2

 

The fairies frolicked in the plants and simple, yet enchanting, poems were usually on the opposite page.  The book cover was worn and the pages had gone yellow with age, but they still had the power to transform the rest of my life.

 

The concept that a book could be about magical creations from the mind, the style of writing that conveys so much with so few words, and the idea that we should never stop looking for the magic in the world; in the minutiae of every day life, absolutely blew my mind.  I couldn’t wait to get done with schoolwork (I would have been in very early elementary school at that time), because I wanted to lose myself in the world of beautiful creatures and poetry.

 

It is part of why poetry is still so special to me and why I even had the guts to compete in national competitions. To this day I still love most things related to fairies (except fanfic or some of overly cutesy stuff); as a moving away gift my childhood best friend gave me a fairy figurine that graces the shelf in our living room and makes me smile every time I dust her little upturned tip of the nose.  After joining Pinterest I discovered amazing fairy artwork that people hoarded on their boards and it’s no surprise that Pinterest recommended a board about fairy gardens to me when they started to become so popular.

 

I fought it.  I really tried.  I don’t garden, I don’t do outdoors (apparently my blood is ambrosia to mosquitoes), and I seldom have ever done anything “trending”.  I’m the type of girl that’s rolling her eyes over the hype or a year late to the party.  This time something trending hit one of my weak spots and I jumped on the fairy garden wagon.  L was really sweet about it, despite finding it really weird that I suddenly wanted to do something that involves something I hate (gardening/outdoors), and we got a cut saucer style pot, soil, some tiny perennials, and a sweet fairy figurine I found on sale on Amazon.  Then I found a gazebo…another fairy to keep the first from seeming so lonely…a dragon…decorative glass rocks for paths or to fill in the spots where the perennials weren’t growing…and on.  Within a month or two even L realized this wasn’t going to be one of my “projects” that I try for awhile and then lose interest once I’ve learned everything about it.

 

We ended up getting a plastic stacking strawberry pot that is three levels high, has batting inside each level for the base with model train grass and aquarium gravel over that.  Fake seasonal plants and flowers fill at least most of the bottom level, so the mosquitoes have less opportunities to give me massive welts.  One of my best friends gave me a little fairy doorway at Christmas, just before the garden wagon started rolling.  It started out as an entrance into some of my hardbacks that I can’t bring myself to part with.  It quickly took up residence in one of the strawberry plant “nooks” as an entrance to the magical center that is enchanted, so humans just see normal stuff there.  (Yep, I know I sound bonkers, but it IS a post about fairies, so what did you really expect?)  The dragon took up residence in another nook on the middle level, then she soon started guarding these cute little eggs, and some metal “ribbon” (seriously?!  How is metal even in that class?) caged Mama Dragon and the eggs in, with a beware sign that I really need to add some burn marks to soon…Anyway…At Christmas I got L a fire hydrant socket cover in honor of his being a fire fighter (and I need to figure out something to honor his EMT certification; I’m so proud of his EMS work!).  Me being me didn’t even notice that the hydrant cover has the holes in the wrong places for any of our sockets, so it became the second doorway (although it had fallen down and I didn’t realize it until I was uploading the pictures for this post, so it’s the slab that laying across things in one of the nooks in a picture.  *laugh* The top is for the girls and the gazebo, plus rocks L brought back from the Scouts’ trip to Mount Rushmore, and a few little wood slices that I experimented on that became name plates instead.

 

So that’s the basics.  For most holidays the girls get a renovation with seasonal decorations.  During Fall they had red and burnt orange leaves (fake), acorns, tiny pumpkins, and dark flowers with fake spiders crawling about.  At Christmas they had felt snow, a battery operated fire, a snowman, etc.  For St. Patrick’s (since that’s a favorite holiday for me due to loving my Celtic heritage), glitter edged green carnations, fake gold coins, and such decorated their home.  Now that Easter has passed it’s time to take the glittery eggs out of the scene and change things up.  I’m stumped though.  I think because my mind is constantly going back to thoughts about our adoption paperwork and such, I have no inspiration.  I found some miniature ducks on my old desk (a few being the ones I used for the “Splish Splash” duck soaps I made a few years back, for the long time readers), so I thought I might start a little section with them.  I’m just meh right now though, so I’m bringing it to you readers.  If you have any ideas I would greatly appreciate them!  I have to be budget conscious, otherwise this wouldn’t be an issue because they’d have an incredible tree house *grin*, and as you can tell once you look at the pictures, the planter is big, but there’s actually little space to decorate in.  I’ll probably take out half of the flowers to open up some additional space, but do you have any ideas for some spring decorating for the ladies?  The odd combo of St. Patrick’s and Easter really needs to go.  *lauhg*  I’ve used my product photo shoot props a few times, but I’m not into the idea of army men scaling the planter or strings of beads being draped across things, which leaves my creativity vault empty.  So I’m begging you to look at the following pictures and drop a comment or two on any ideas you have on how to decorate this season (note: names and pictures in the background have been blurred, so that’s why some spots look weird).  I tried to get several sides and a few angles, but it pretty much just came out looking like a weird hodge podge of pictures.  *grin* The fairies, and I, appreciate your help and look forward to making a new enchanting scene that makes visitors smile when they see it as they enter the living room.  🙂

 

 

Paper Hearts

First off I want to say a heartfelt thank you for everyone that took part in the Invisible Diseases Awareness campaign and I am so tickled that some of the information I provided has helped some readers.  That was an uplifting blessing that I was really needing and I am so happy I was able to help!  I’ve been struggling with some issues due to treatments not working so well for me lately, so I haven’t been posting, but I have had a lifted heart following the awesome feedback from the Awareness post.

Today I thought I’d share a little concept that I think is absolutely brilliant, yet is so simple and versatile that I think it could be useful to almost everyone.  I was reading something from Pinterest, which had a link to this site, which had a link to that site, and then I was down the Internet’s rabbit hole until I somehow landed on the Creative with Kids blog.  Her post (I put the direct link to what I’m referencing for her blog URL) was about better communication and less anger with/between her kids (I’ll wait here while you go read the post….welcome back! *grin*).  She described how she used little paper hearts as a visual cue to remind them and herself to speak and behave with more respect, etc.  For some reason the concept stuck in the back of my mind over several bouts of insomnia and it hit me that the concept could be used in my marriage.

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts

Larry and I have developed a really bad habit of putting ourselves down and focusing on our perceived negatives instead of our blessings and good traits, and I had been trying to find tips for changing this behavior for quite a while before I ran across the Creative With Kids post.  Although Larry will listen to my ideas or research for improving things he’s not usually overly active with the standard therapy techniques, so I knew I had to use something that would stand out and would force him to take action, so that it would become a new learned behavior.  Having to hand out and receive paper hearts would get annoying for us pretty quickly, which meant it was the perfect way to quickly ingrain the new behavior.  It also had the additional benefit of being a visual cue, which is helpful to adults too since we have so many distractions and responsibilities that makes it easy to forget little projects, so we had a frequent reminder to be mindful of what we say.  I used a few new disposable leftover containers and cut out a bunch of construction paper red and blue hearts.  I set a container with the applicable hearts on the tables beside each of our usual resting spots, plus a collection container across the room so we could track progress (although we really sucked at that part honestly lol).  When I said something negative about myself Larry would hand me a red heart or say “here’s a heart” as a verbal reminder, and he received the blue hearts.  The act of taking the heart and then having to change what was being said to be more positive made a nearly immediate impact.  The best part is that we can be out shopping or at the doctor’s office and can give the verbal reminder without calling attention to ourselves, yet still continue to improve no matter where we are.  We still struggle with it and probably always will since we are both very self-conscious people, but it’s a LOT less often.   What is even better is that we’re not focusing so much on our appearance and instead focus a lot more on being better people in our hearts.  It’s incredibly liberating to release yourself from critiquing yourself, too.  When you become accountable for what you say about yourself to others you suddenly see just how emotionally crippling negative comments about yourself can be.

I hope this handy little concept might help a few of you as well.  I’ve thought about changing our use to instead improving our communication with one another, so when we feel that the other person is speaking to them in a hurtful or less respectful manner we are forced to address the issue and modify our behavior accordingly.  We are both non confrontational and have a habit of keeping quiet when the other person hurts our feelings, etc.  I think it will be quite eye opening to find out how often we communicate in less than a loving and beneficial way and addressing immediately will probably prevent some of those festering arguments with built up emotions becoming suddenly explosive.  As you can see there are a lot of ways to utilize the concept.  The Creative With Kids post has some absolutely brilliant ways of applying the concept with children, but since it’s such a versatile concept I thought I’d share our uses too.  The next post will feature some new soaps I’ve been working on and I’m really excited to finally share them with you.  Until then I hope you have a happy Tuesday! 🙂

Crafty Wrapping

I decided to try and decorate ornaments to attach to gifts this year, instead of the usual bows and curling ribbons. I thought it’d be a nice touch and would help get me out of my blah wrapping habits. *grin* Anyway, I’ve been experimenting on a variety of regular colored bulbs, regular clear glass bulbs, and tiny clear glass bulbs. Glitter, floor wax, mod podge, stickers, acrylic paint, dimensional paint, and glitter glue have all been fair game. Not always with great results, but it keeps me occupied and being creative while I’ve been pretty much laid up for several days.

Sadly I had a beautiful regular sized bulb done with mod podge and copper and red glitters that shattered. I tried to recreate it small scale with one of the tiny bulbs, but the colors don’t pop as much when small and especially not when photographed. Lol It’s still kind of pretty I think, although only the red really shows on “film” apparently. The copper gleams a bit where light is really hitting, like in the reflection of my ceiling light.

IMG_1859.JPG

I also did a few solid red glitter tiny bulbs and then one tiny bulb where I mixed green and red glitters, all with the floor wax for the adhesive. I learned during this that glitter throws off the camera’s focus, so most of my pictures are blurry despite my best efforts. Lol At least there’s proof that I tried, though.

IMG_1861.JPG

IMG_1860.JPG

I used an acrylic copper paint that looks remarkably plum when pixelated and added some gorgeous golden brown and burnt sienna glittery leaf stickers with little rhinestones around the outside of the bulb. Then I added a first initial sticker to another glitter bulb for a fully personalized little ornament for my niece to remove from her gift and add to her little bedroom tree if she wants, too.

IMG_1862.JPG

IMG_1865.JPG

For the dimensional paint and glitter glue I had two bulbs turn out well. Both were very obviously done freehand and I really like them, especially where the paint developed a bubble and left a double line on the black ornament. I think I will try to do a few more patterns with the dimensional glitter since it looks neat and the world needs more glitter. Lol.

IMG_1832.JPG

IMG_1863.JPG

IMG_1830.JPG

IMG_1831.JPG

I did a few swirled paint tiny bulbs that turned out pretty neat. Two in an attempt at camo and one in pastels. They look wildly different with flash versus plain lighting, so I am posting both versions. I can’t wait to see how they look under Christmas lights. *grin*

IMG_1402.JPG

IMG_1403.JPG

Anyway, those are a few of my little projects that I’ve been occupying myself with. I have a few more that are still drying, so I couldn’t take pictures of them, and I don’t want to make this post seriously boring. *grin* Do you like to embellish your gifts? If so, any inspiration or tips you’d mind sharing? In the meantime I hope you have a wonderful day and find a few moments to pamper yourself. You always deserve it.

Two Handy Tips

 

First off, I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s or Anti-Valentine’s, whichever you celebrate.  *grin*  While most people were dwelling in the land of love, roses, and mushy stuff (not that there’s anything wrong with that, Larry just doesn’t care for this holiday), I was testing a couple of things from the internet and they turned out so well that I’ve written this post a few times in my head. 

Up first is a beef recipe that I hope you’ll try. I ran across it on Pinterest, but here’s the link.  It’s for a Three Envelope Pot Roast.  It took me 10.5 hours for a 4.5 LB bottom round roast to be fork tender.  The big thing is the incredible flavor of the juices!  Please, please make a gravy from these juices if you try this recipe.  I just ladled out the juices into a saucepan and warmed it on the stove, then added a water and cornstarch roux to the mixture, and stirred until the gravy was the consistency that we like.  I’m not a huge gravy fan just because the flavor doesn’t usually add much in my opinion to the food, but as you can tell in the first picture it was lip smacking, smothering everything in it, good.  *grin*

Image

Image

You can barely see the mashed potatoes.  LOL  I ended up saving all of the juices to make more gravy and tomorrow night we’re having egg noodles with this gravy for dinner.  I may just freeze any extra too.  *grin* 

Next I wanted to let you in on a super easy and handy tip.  If you’ve been following for a while you’ll remember that I did a few experiments with removing labels and residue from glass and plastic jars, so that I can reuse them or go all crafty on them.  I’ve done the soaking in vinegar mixture, lathering up in oil in two ways, and even the lather in mayo version, but none were super easy and pretty quick.  I was reading online on a blog about reusing jars and about fifty comments in someone wrote that they didn’t remember where they’d heard it, but that peanut butter is a great way to remove labels and residue (“plus it’s fun to play with your food” *laugh*).  I decided to give that a try.  A few months back we had bought some PB at Sam’s Club and forgot to remove it from the grocery list, so we got another double pack on the next trip.  Even with Bo, the PB fiend dog, and holiday baking, we couldn’t go through four big jars of it before the expiration date, so I had been trying to figure out what to use it on or suck it up and toss it.  What perfect timing to find this little comment buried on a random blog.  First, proof positive that it actually works.  I lathered both jars up and after cleaning the first one off I took a picture.

Image

Now, here comes the helpful info from my experiences, since you ought to expect it from me by now.  *teasing smile*  It will help remove labels for you, but the PB is a one trick pony, so either you remove labels or you remove residue.  I recommend trying to get the label off as much as possible before you trowel the PB on, but if you have a stubborn one (a Minute Maid jug and a marinara jar come to mind), then put the PB on it and after it has soaked into the label, you’ll be able to push that label off.  Just lather the residue up and give it another rest. 

On a glass jar with just the residue put the PB on somewhat thick (I just used the side of a butter knife) and let sit overnight.  I took a pan scraper and scraped the PB off the next day, and then using a little water and my knit scrubber (picture to follow) I rubbed in a circular pattern with no muscle behind it.  There will be a residue left behind, since really this is a play on the oil concept (instead of having to try to soak rags in oil you’re using an oil based product that likes to stick where it lands, if you think about it), so just use a little degreasing dish soap like Dawn and you have a fresh jar. 

Image

If you don’t have one (or five) of these, get one.  I buy handfuls at every craft fair I go to and use them all of the time.  They hold up for a long time, they don’t scratch most surfaces, and they can go in the wash (I just set them on top of the dryer to dry instead of putting them inside, so it’ll last longer) so you can keep them sanitized.  It’s the most frugal sponge and scrubber that I’ve found that actually works.  I use certain colors to designate for business use (since I don’t want any bath oils transferring to a food pan if the scrubber is drying on the side of the sink while I’m trying to cook and clean up my latest business experiment), kitchen, and bathroom.   

Back to the jars…if you’re doing a stubborn glass jar put a thick layer of PB over the label and let sit overnight.  Scrape a bit off that next day (I kept it on the scraper, since sometimes the labels haven’t released and I don’t see a point in using new PB when what I scraped off will still work) and see if you can remove the label.  I found that I often had to use the scraper or my nail to get the labels off, but on glass usually my nail would work just fine.  Just keep letting the PB work some magic if the label is holding firm.  Once the label comes off you can try to do the whole soap and scrubber bit, but so far it never worked for me on that first round if I was also removing labels.  *smile*  I always had to reapply PB (you can definitely use the PB you just scraped off from the label unless it has label bits and adhesive in it) and let it sit around 12 hours or so.  I tried a few different methods, just because I’m that annoying kind of person that has to test everything, and rubbing the scrubber in a circular motion seriously worked the best on the residue.  If you get a little bit of residue that’s being stubborn and you’ve removed it everywhere else, just put a little of the scraped off PB on your scrubber and use it like a paste.  Works perfectly!

Now, plastic jars and jugs require more umph usually, especially if the labels are completely glued down, as most of mine were.  These were the only containers that I had to use some actual muscle on.  If the label can peel off for the most part, then use the same trick for glass.  (Amusingly enough the peanut butter jar was the easiest plastic to remove everything from.)  I found that most plastic, especially the bigger containers, glued the entire labels down and the straight PB soak did squat.  If you run into this and you stubbornly want that gallon jug (you all ready paid for the stupid jug, not just the ingredients, you  know, so you should definitely reuse it if you want to, IMO!), then fill your sink with a mixture of blue (Original) Dawn, the hottest water from your tap, and enough plain white vinegar to make your nose wrinkle.  I didn’t measure the vinegar, so I’d say for a sink full I used about half a cup or so.  Then fill your container to the tippy top with that hot top water and immerse in the hot bath.  Let the containers soak for an hour or so (as long as the water stays warm) and while everything is still warm, but no longer hot, you should be able to work on those labels.  I found my dollar square plastic pan scraper worked great at getting the edges up so I could peel the labels off.  If this doesn’t work, I’d give it another bath.  I was able to remove the labels off of ALL of my plastic containers after this bath and hope you’ll have the same results.  Lather the residue with some PB and let sit, and use the same technique as before. 

One container, a Minute Maid OJ jug, is relaxing under a second PB treatment right now, but otherwise all of my containers are now done.  Look at all of these lovely little jars waiting to be used to hold a new batch of homemade simple syrup for tea (yeah, Apple Juice jug, I’ve assigned you a new position in this house little soldier), just waiting to get dyed or painted, or get all glittered up (*squealing with delight now that I’ve accepted that I’ve become a complete glitter whore*).  Luminaries, hardware jars, vases, and hair clip holders galore.  I suddenly have the urge to start singing “Part of your World” from The Little Mermaid…

Image

 

*shaking head to clear it*  Anyway, hopefully I’ve addressed any problems you might run across and you’ve found this post useful.  I’m so tickled to have found techniques that work on both types and don’t gross me out, either. Bo wasn’t overly happy since he kept smelling the PB and looking for his favorite Kong to be filled and waiting in his treat spot (I have no idea why, but Bo picked a specific spot to take all of his treats to, so now I save him the effort, and the carpet any accidental drops, and just take his goodies to his spot.  LOL).  Poor Bo got a little new PB, but seemed pretty let down that I was slinging so much of the good stuff into the trash.  *grin*  Btw, sorry about the pictures distorting a bit in this post.  After six adjustments and saves I figure they’re probably good enough.  *smile*

I hope you get to sleep in and enjoy your holiday if you have tomorrow off.  I never got it off when I was working, so if you don’t, I feel your pain and hope it’s a light day for you.  I’m off to snuggle with Bo and a few heating pads and watch some Ballykissangel.  Happy pampering.  🙂

 

 

Another Homemade Cleaning Spray

I’ve been on bed rest for the most part for several days now due to an infection that my whole body is now fighting. Top that off with a phlebotomist that blew every vein she tried to draw from, and I’ve been a bit unsociable. *grin* Since I haven’t been able to do a whole lot I thought maybe you’d like some information about an incredibly easy DIY product I made a while back.

If you go to here
you will get the whole skinny about this homemade cleanser. It’s just warmed vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap. You let it soak in and work some magic.

Here’s where my results are a little less enthusiastic as the pinner/blogger…it did a good job on cleaning up dirt and even Goodyear Grime, as I call it (my husband works in a Goodyear Tire Plant), yet it doesn’t touch hard water stains.

I have been embarrassed about our shower/bathtub ever since we moved in. At first I thought the previous owners didn’t bother cleaning (which, by the way, they didn’t. I think it’s kind of gross to clean the toilet in your new home that first day because the previous owners never cleaned the boy’s “miss”take.), but I’ve fought the dinginess and hard water in that thing for ten years now, so it wasn’t just in need of a regular cleaning. It is the one area of the house I am too embarrassed about to even consider a before/after shot, but you can use that tutorial for that. *smile* This solution did a much better job than any other product I have tried, honestly. Compared to her bathroom I actually had to get out my Scumbuster to put some umph behind the solution, but the extra pressure really helped. It even shined up the faucets and stuff really nicely. It doesn’t clean caulking that has discolored or those fun hard water stains, but it’s not full of harsh chemicals and it’s even safe to get on your skin while you’re cleaning, so I’m impressed it can do this well.

Here’s where it gets good, though. I decided to try it on my seriously messy crockpot. I made crock pot ribs one night and then started the first round of getting sick. My husband tried to be nice, so he filled the crockpot with hot water that night, since the BBQ and juices had formed this brown lining that didn’t want to come off even with a scraper after soaking for a bit. When I finally was able to be up on my feet and get some things done, I was surprised that pot hadn’t grown legs and left the building. It was bad. Thankfully I had the spray bottle sitting there with the remaining solution (I needed 1 1/2 batches for my bathtub and shower), so I sprayed it and laid back down for a few hours. In the blog the user stated she just wiped everything down after the solution sat for a few hours and then rinsed. I tried that on the crockpot and the crust slipped right off! I’m telling you there were stains that disappeared with this one treatment!

I hope you consider trying this out, especially if you have any trouble with chemical sensitivities or have had trouble finding a cleaner that works for you. I honestly think it’ll take pumice, elbow grease, and a miracle to get the hard water areas clean, but for your normal in-depth cleaning, this is a really effective mixture. It’s super easy to mix up and requires very little effort compared to most products.

I hope you have a happy (and healthy!) weekend. 🙂

Crazy Lady’s Beef Fajitas

Image

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

Image

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!

20140119-135548.jpg

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….

Image 

Image

 

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!)

Image

Image

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. 

Image   

 Image

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* 

 

Image  

Image

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. 

Image

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.)

Image

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*

 

Image

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*

Image

Image

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).

20140106-194125.jpg
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.)

20140106-194632.jpg

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.

20140106-202411.jpg

20140106-202428.jpg

20140106-202442.jpg

20140106-202450.jpg

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. 🙂

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: