Friday, August 30, 2013

Rainbow Fan

I recently came across this ingenious idea on Pinterest of making your own rainbow fan. I couldn't wait to give it a try. I was worried about this project. If it was a fail, I would have a super ugly fan in whichever room I chose to put the fan, so I went with the fan from my son's room. Before you gasp, hear me out. My son's fan isn't working the best anymore - it no longer oscillates and it doesn't like to stay in place if you move the fan head up at all. So, it's kinda on its last leg this summer, I think. It was a good fan to give this a try on. Besides, having a rainbow fan in a toddler's room would be pretty cool.

Photo from Pinterest
It took a while to find an actual tutorial on Pinterest for this project, but I eventually did. To see the tutorial, you can click here. Once I found a tutorial, I went out and got the supplies, cleaned the fan blades and went to town painting them.

Pre-painted fan
As you can see, there are some speckles of other colors on each fan blade so after letting the paint dry, I  re-applied the colors, being sure that very little of each paint color mingled with the others. Once the fan was completely dry, I put it all back together. You definitely want to make sure it is actually dry because if you were to turn on your fan and that paint wasn't dry, you would most certainly have a primary-color-speckled wall.

There it is! Boy was I excited to try this beauty out! It looks so neat turned off!! Can I say the same about it being turned on???

Uhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmm, nope. Didn't work. This is the fan on it's lowest setting. This is definitely a fail in my book. I'm so glad this isn't one of our good fans. I think if the fan moved at a much slower speed, the blades would look like a rainbow because you can see just the slightest bit of a rainbow (if you look really hard) in this picture. Definitely not awesome though. Maybe I will re-paint the blades one color - that will certainly not make for this ugly color. However, summer is almost over and the fan isn't doing that great anyway...maybe I won't waste my energy on that. Still, it's always fun to try something new and I'm glad I got to see the results.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Homemade Fruit Roll-Up

One of my son's favorite go-to snacks is a "soo pawt." What is that, you may ask. Don't you speak toddler? Specifically my toddler? A "soo pawt" or as most people would call it a "fruit strip," is a sticky fruit roll-up that isn't so much rolled up as it is just a strip of sticky dried fruit (without additives). My son loves them. I recently discovered that I could be making these myself. WHAT?!?! How have I not thought of this sooner??? In order to do this, I had to scour the internet searching for fruit roll sheets for my food dehydrator. Unfortunately, the food dehydrator I have doesn't have fruit roll sheets even online. However, I found ones that fit it ok and ordered them, crossing my fingers just hoping they would work...and they did! WOOHOO!! As soon as I got them out of the packaging and washed them, I made my first batch of homemade fruit roll-ups. To see how to do this, check the link here.

Photo from Pinterest
This process was so easy and can be done without a dehydrator, but since I had one, I decided not to even try that route. My dehydrator is certainly a cheapie with only an on-off switch and no programable temp gauge and whatnot. But, it seemed to work just fine.

I decided to make peach-strawberry fruit roll-ups. Something about peaches and strawberries just seem right together recently, apparently. I mixed it in my fantastic Blendtec blender and then poured it into the fruit roll sheets on my dehydrator.

I made sure to distribute it as evenly as possible and I did use both of the fruit roll sheets, so it wasn't a single layer.

My observations: 1) Fabulously frugal's blog says this should take about 4 hours. My dehydrator ran through the afternoon and the night before the fruit strips were good to go. This probably wouldn't be the case if I had a fancy-schmancy dehydrator that I could control what the temp on it was, but it still worked fine, so I'm ok with that. 2) The top layer of fruit strip was more like fruit jerky. Very hard and chewy with a little bit of crunch. It still tasted alright, but it wasn't the right consistency. The bottom layer, however, was perfect. Chewy, no crunch and not hard. Very tasty. 3) To get it into "strips" I started out by trying to use a pizza cutter, but the fruit was just too hard, so I ripped the pieces apart, which seemed to work a whole lot better and was way quicker. That'd be my recommendation. 4) It doesn't look as appetizing as the picture from Pinterest, but it truly was rather tasty.

So now, the only problem is that my son isn't crazy about it. He's tried it, but unfortunately, having tried the fruit "jerky" top layer before the fruit "leather" bottom layer, he has decided he is not a fan. I and my husband, however, both have really enjoyed it. I think this is definitely a keeper recipe - and you can use whatever fruit you'd like. Next time, I think I will make it in the morning so I can watch it throughout the day and make sure it doesn't stay on too long - no more fruit jerky for this family! Otherwise, I really like this and I'm looking forward to trying it again!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Zucchini Brownies

Awe, summer months and your over-abundance of produce, how I love thee! I'm not much of a gardener (although I am trying to remedy that this year and hopefully in the years to come), but thanks to a friend who was up to her eyeballs in zucchini, I recently came into a great wealth of the yummy squash my ownself. Thankfully, I've been pinning all kinds of zucchini recipes on Pinterest, so I knew just what I wanted to do with these: zucchini brownies! In all honesty, the recipe is technically called "healthy zucchini brownies," but I think it's safe to say these taste good enough we should just hide that "healthy" word. haha.

Photo from Pinterest
This was, again, something I made while watching my niece and my nephews. Gabe was pretty much the only one who had to do hard labor for this project - grating the zucchini. Woohoo!

The two younger boys really enjoyed watching this (from a distance), so while Gabe grated the zucchini, I got the rest of the ingredients out. Once the zucchini was ready to go, all of the kids each had a turn putting ingredients into the bowl. This is the most exciting part of the food making process (other than eating, obviously). It's fun to see how excited they each get to add a little flour or honey or what-have-you. It makes the putting it together part way more fun.

One of the ingredients this recipe called for was cardamom, which is not something I had on hand so we simply omitted it and I did not find the brownies to be lacking at all.

After all was prepared, into the oven it went.

After it came out of the oven and had cooled, we each had a piece of this moist brownie. It was delightful. Would I say it tasted like a brownie? Not so much. It was more like cake. A very moist and delectable cake. The kids all enjoyed it, as did I. My mom and husband both tried it later but were a little disappointed in it because it was not as much like a brownie as they had expected. I suppose I should've warned them...oh well, more for me. MUWAHAHAHA!

The only thing I would do differently about this recipe next time is probably not add quite as much cinnamon as suggested. It was a little too cinnamon-y for me. Otherwise, this recipe is a definite keeper. The zucchini was hidden enough (not that I mind it not being hidden...I do like zucchini) that the kids enjoyed it and you wouldn't have even known it was there. It was a very healthy dish with the chocolate chips and sugar being the only not-so-healthy ingredients. I suppose you could say the cocoa isn't the healthiest either, but I choose to believe otherwise. The healthy side of this made this preggo woman feel not so guilty having "one more small bite." Yeah, I'd say this is one ya'll should try sometime. It's a good'n.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mickey Mouse Hairclips

Ok, so this isn't actually a Pinterest Test. This is just a "Hmmm...I bet I could make that..." test. Awhile ago, when I was in Disneyland, I saw these adorable hair clips that seemed perfect for some wonderful little girls that we know that also have a family that is all about Disney. But, I remembered buying my niece a bracelet with those same charms on them, so I went on a search.

 And I found the bracelet! For less than half the price, I was able to make 2 hair clips and the girls got to choose which colors they wanted on their clip. I just needed to buy the clips (which were way cheap) and had to have my hot glue gun ready to go.

 So, the girls picked their colors and the order in which they wanted the charms to go on, and I glued them on. And Voila! Disney hairclips without the crazy Disney price!!

It got me many other little charm bracelets could we turn into adorable hair clips or barrettes? The possibilities are endless!!

Hope this inspires you as it did me! See ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken & Stuffing

I know I've already said it, but I'll say it again. I am LOVING my crock pot this summer. Having a home-cooked meal without the heat in the house has been really nice. Today's recipe had a lot of great feedback from the blog that I found on Pinterest, so I thought I'd give it a try. To check out the recipe, go here.

As always, I like to use crock pot liners when I make food in my crock pot. Clean up is 10 billion times easier with crock pot liners. You can usually find them at the grocery store near the turkey bags and ziplock baggies and such. They are amazing and I can't recommend them enough.

Anyway, I added all the ingredients and turned on my crockpot. Here it is, all ready to be started.

This dinner turned out pretty tasty. It wasn't my favorite, but I will make it again. I loved the convenience and ease of it; throw it all in the slow cooker, turn it on, walk away, eat a few hours later. That's my kind of cooking. It seemed like the stuffing was very dry, but not so bad once the sauce was mixed in with it and set for a few minutes. My mom, husband, son and I all tried it and the consensus was that it is definitely a make-again-worthy meal. The sauce was a bit rich and thick, but it was still quite tasty and worth a go. 

I don't have much else to say. It was tasty, and I'd say this was a tried and true crock pot dish. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homemade Bath Crayons

I've had this idea pinned to my board on Pinterest for months - maybe even over a year - to make homemade bath crayons with the kids. It sounded like a good way for the kiddos to have fun in the bath, and I'm a sucker for making things. So, I finally got the supplies to make it recently and we did it. To find out how to make these, check out this blog.

Photo from Pinterest
First things first: the supplies: glycerin soap is not cheap. These are some of the most expensive crayons I have ever purchased. It was still a fun experiment, but a bar of glycerin soap was about $10. OY! Yeah, that part wasn't so great. But, alas, I had already committed to the idea in my brain, so I had to do it. Maybe I just don't know the right place to by glycerin soap?? If anybody has other ideas for getting cheap glycerin soap - I'd love to hear them. I just found the soap at our local craft store and through clenched teeth, bought it.

Which reminds me, I just saw this on Pinterest today and had to share it - it made me think of this very thing. It may not exactly apply - but it was too funny.

Anyway, back to our homemade bath crayons. We did this project while Cade and James were napping, so just the older two kids did it. I figure dealing with hot, melted liquid could quickly turn into an ugly scenario if we had had two-year-olds involved.

I cut off a little chunk of the soap and melted it in the microwave, then I poured the melted liquid into ice cube trays. Gabe and Peyton each got their own tray. I did add a little bit of lavender scent to the liquid as that stuff was STANKY! It was way better after the lavender was added though.

After all the liquid had been poured into the trays, I let the kids pick the colors they wanted. We did a little bit of color mixing, but mainly just went with the colors that were available in the food coloring boxes that I had. The potential for spilling was pretty high since there wasn't much room for stirring, so mixing colors was not an idea I was too keen on.

In between stirring in each color, I had given the kids paper towels so they could wipe off their spoons. I would highly recommend this method as the soap does dry rather quickly and it's better to keep the spoons clean if you can so as not to mix colors and have an icky build-up of soap on your spoons...not that it would matter all that much - you let it soak for five minutes and the soap has re-liquified anyway.

After more than an hour of drying time, the soap crayons were ready to come out of the trays. To get the soap out, I used a butter knife. Because these aren't like ice cubes, running hot water on the back didn't seem to help all that much. But the soaps pretty much stayed all together when taking them out with the knife, so that worked just fine.

Aren't they precious??
After the soaps were done, the kids couldn't wait to use them in the shower. Unfortunately, the news I received from them was that they did not work well in the shower. Although I have not tried it first-hand, so I'm not sure if that's completely accurate. I did try the blue crayon worked in the sink even when wet and it worked, so I'm wondering if they were trying to use the smooth end of the soap, which may not have worked as well. Also something good to note - the crayons did not stain their skin. Gabe was very excited to use it in the shower, and I just held my breath and hoped that he didn't come out multi-colored; he didn't. He smelled a little too much like the nasty glycerin soap mixed with a little lavender, but he was clean so that's good.

Playing with the blue soap in the sink
They later tried the crayons on a piece of paper and the soap crayons worked well on that, which was exciting. If they used the smooth end of the crayon, it took some work to get it to work, but if they used the sharper side, it was no problem. Their Aunt Becca showed them that. She's a genius.

So, all in all, I'd say this was a Pinterest expensive Pinterest success, but still a success. It seems more worth it to make these if they actually do work in the bathtub (as the blue one did, but apparently the others didn't), but not so much otherwise. Who needs a $10 box of homemade crayons??  Not I. (Granted, not the whole bar of soap was used, but still....)

It was still a fun experiment, and an experience with my kids, so I still very much enjoyed it and just for something different, I'd say you should check it out.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bread Machine Honey Wheat Bread

I've had a bread machine for a long time, and I have used it maybe twice...maybe. Both times the bread turned out poorly and was darker and dryer than I would've liked. I decided to give it one last go before tossing out that piece of machinery that I've heard so many rave about. And, you know what? It worked. The last go-around saved my bread machine!

First of all, I found on Pinterest this website for how to: bread machine recipes. Fantastic! But, I soon discovered if you don't read all of the directions for your particular bread machine - your bread will most likely never turn out the way you'd like. So, just keep that in mind as well...I never did and I now know why my bread didn't turn out well until today. I read my bread machine's manual front to back and then I followed the instructions on the above website. The specific recipe I used was for Honey Wheat Bread.

Photo from Pinterest
I was watching my niece and nephews today, so they all got to help with the process - I let each child put in an ingredient until all ingredients had been added. They enjoyed participating and felt like they contributed which made it more special for them.

Cade and James watching the magic happen in the bread machine
After all of the ingredients had been put in (in the proper order as per my bread machine manual), we pressed start and the bread machine did all the work - like magic! Added bonus: my house never heated up - no oven meant no heating up the whole house in the middle of summer. WOOHOO!

One tip my bread machine manual suggested was being sure to take the bread out as soon as the machine says it is done - so as not to overcook it, I assume. The picture doesn't do this bread justice - it really was kinda pretty and looked very tasty.

Thankfully, it tasted wonderfully as well. It had Gabriel's seal of approval, which means it was kid-approved. Yay! I will be making the recipe again and (hopefully) if all goes well, I will start making bread regularly so I won't have to buy bread anymore and we'll have our own homemade goodness.

Would I call this a success? Yes. Would I say it is all because of the website I went to? Not so much. Pinterest did not fail me (I mean, I did get a great recipe out of it!) - but my biggest recommendation to all of you losing heart over your bread machines and their lack of making you the perfect loaf of bread; read the manual. It makes a world of difference. And that is my Public Service Announcement for the day. Happy baking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How To Make A Glitter Striped T-Shirt

So, this is half of an idea from Pinterest...the lazy half. I saw this idea and loved it. But, the craft store I was at didn't actually have all the supplies I needed, so we improvised. I had my niece and my nephew both make a shirt and they had a blast doing it. I'm hoping to someday follow the actual blog's instructions to a "t," but since I didn't have the ability this time, we adjusted. To see the slightly more complicated, and probably way more effective way of doing this blog, click here.

Photo from Pinterest
We were able to find t-shirts and fabric glitter paint - even the kind recommended in thebudgetbabe's blog, but not the actual glitter. For my nephew, we used a black shirt with some glow-in-the-dark paint.

We started out by laying painters tape on the shirts, just like was done on the blog, and then the kids went to work with the painting. I wasn't overly concerned so we did not measure the tape at all - just laid it down. I'm ok with this. I'm fairly certain nobody is gonna be coming over to them with a tape measure to make sure all the rows are evenly spaced and if they do, well, they may be just a bit crazy...
Peyton and Gabe had to lay the paint on thick in order for it to be seen almost at all and they did alright with that. I did help Peyton at the end to make the paint a little more even, but otherwise, they just did this part on their own.

After letting it dry for a full 8 hrs or more (through the night and into the next day), the kids peeled off the tape. James & Cade really enjoyed this part as they got to play with the used tape. Toddlers. :)

The shirts turned out wonderfully, if not exactly as planned. Last time we had checked, Gabe's shirt did not glow in the dark, but it has cool greyish colored diagonal lines that he painted, so I think he's ok with this. Peyton's shirt doesn't have the pizzazz-y sparkle that the blog writer's did, but she's happy with it, and that makes me happy.

I don't know that I'd call this project a success, other than in the eyes of my niece and nephew who had a really great time making them (and now wearing them), but the other thing is I didn't get to accurately make the shirt so hopefully I'll get that opportunity soon and we will actually know if this is a tried and true or a tried and lied project from Pinterest. I suppose I could've waited until I did the project correctly, but I figure this is still a fairly good little craft/project to do with young'ns, so I'm posting it anyway. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cool Whip Cookies

A year or so ago, a friend of mine at the community theater that I perform at made some absolutely delectable lemon cookies. She is quite the baker and I was certain that these had to be some kind of challenging masterpiece. Thankfully, they were not! A mere commoner not trained in the art of fancy-schmancy baking such as myself could go so far as to make them and have them even turn out ok. Woohoo! I made them and they were, again, delectable. But, alas, I forgot the recipe. BUM BUM BUM!! But wait; there's more to this I was doing my normal Pinterest scanning the other day, I came across the recipe yet again! Eureka!! To see how to make these for yourself, check out this blog.

Photo from Pinterest
This recipe is incredibly simple and requires little prep, as long as you don't mind store-bought cake mix and cool whip. But, hey, at least I used an egg from my friend's free-range there's that. 

I didn't separate the ingredients at all, just mixed it all together at once. 

All mixed and ready to go
The only complaint I have about this recipe is how messy it is. Everything that the batter touches, and I do mean everything, gets sticky...very sticky. In fact, I tried to use my cookie scoop to put the batter into the powdered sugar, but it stuck inside the scoop like super glue. I would recommend not trying to roll the cookies into balls until after the powdered sugar has been heavily applied - trust me - I learned this the hard way. Since my cookie scooper didn't work, I went back to the old fashioned way of using a normal table spoon. Who knew that was still an option??? 

Ready to go in the oven
It's hard to tell when these cookies are actually done because the dough is yellow and the cookies are yellow, but I found that when they start to turn a deeper yellow, that's when they are absolutely perfect and ready to come out. I took the first batch out too soon and they are a little doughy - still tasty, but doughy. The next batch I left in until I thought I may have ruined them because they were a little darker. In fact, they were still chewy and wonderful, but just not so doughy. Longer baking for the win!! 

The top cookies were baked for longer than the bottom and the top ones tasted better too's blog says you can use all kinds of cake mixes and I'm looking forward to trying more...just thinking about making chocolate crinkles this way sounds wonderfully easy and I'm hopeful it'll work out. In summary, great cookie recipe - way easy - way messy - way tasty. Need I say more? 

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Days Until" Sign

Wow...I'm actually writing a post that's not a craft with kids, not cleaning and not cooking related. This is actually a craft I did for me. Just for fun. And, yeah, it was fun!

A while back, I made a "days until" sign for a friend for Christmas. Well, I didn't actually make it - I helped my friend's daughters make it as a gift. Yep, I love crafting with the kiddos. Anyway, I decided I should make one for myself. So, here we are, more than a half a year later and I'm finally getting to it. It's ridiculous that I have such a hard time crafting for myself. I enjoy it, I should do it more often. But, I generally think I should be doing it for someone else if I'm gonna be taking the time away from cleaning or napping (hehehe). I'm glad I did this one for me, because it makes me happy. I didn't actually follow the blog very much, but for those of you who don't have the amazing Silhouette Cameo machine or a Cricut, check out this blog for details on how to do this.

Photo from Pinterest
 The first one I made, I think, turned out really great. But, I changed my mind on how to do this next one and made it a whole lot smaller and added some colorful edging instead of leaving it one color.

The original
I started out this time by painting the whole board in my accent color, letting that dry and then painting the top with the black chalkboard paint.

I let that set overnight, sanded it down a little bit and then cut out my vinyl using my fancy, super-fantastic cutting machine. I decided, since I am a Disney fan through and through to use my Disney font. Even if the countdown wasn't's always fun to think of Disney, so I thought it was a good choice. I'm still happy with my choice.

To stick the vinyl onto the sign and make sure that it was straight, I used the saran wrap cling wrap stuff - you know, the kind that is sticky. Anyway, that helped to get the vinyl in just the right spot without too much hassle of it being crooked.

And there it is! My sign is complete! The chalkboard wipes off really easily with a wet washcloth and it took very little effort. I was worried that after wiping it with a wet washcloth that it would be hard to write with the chalk, but I still had no problem with it.

I am enjoying looking at this each day and counting down the days until our baby girl may be here - give or take a few days or weeks and I look forward to using this board more for other things like birthdays, vacations, anniversaries...oh what fun!

In summary, this is a fun, quick, easy little project that I think just about anybody could do and it makes a terrific gift...for yourself. HA! Or for someone you love, I suppose. hehe.

Crock Pot Lasagna

Isn't the sunshine and the heat wonderful? If you didn't know me very well, you'd never guess that I've grown up my entire life in Oregon because I'm not a big fan of rain. In fact, most people would think I am not a native Oregonian but rather a sad, sad transplant - most likely from someplace like California where the sun shines far more often than what we normally have in the Northwest part of Oregon. But, alas, I am indeed an Oregonian, through and through. I love the green in Oregon. I love the rain...when it first starts in December to early January, I'm done...done done done. So, this summer has been heavenly for me. We've had so many gorgeous, sunny days. I have loved it. The only issue I've had with these hot days is finding foods to cook other than on the BBQ. I don't want to heat up my house because my son and husband are true Oregonians and anything about 75 constitutes sitting in front a fan trying not to melt and BBQing every day is just a bit overkill. For some reason, I had never considered using my crock pot in the summer - it just seems like something you use in the fall - but I did this week, twice as a matter of fact, and it was wonderful. My house stayed cool, it smelled like delicious food, and I didn't spend hours slaving in the kitchen, although the food certainly tastes as though I could have.

Thanks to Pinterest and the loads of pins with crock pot recipes, I found the crock pot lasagna recipe. 

Photo from Pinterest
To be honest, I didn't follow creatingthroughlife's blog recipe pretty much at all. I already have a lasagna recipe that I love, so I used that recipe instead. I made the sauce as I normally would and instead of putting it in a pan to bake, I put it in the crock pot. I used whole wheat lasagna noodles and ground turkey instead of ground beef. I felt like I was living large with how healthy I was making this meal. hehe. 

Anyway, I put it in the crockpot on low for four hours and left it alone until dinner. It actually ended up cooking longer than the four hours I intended though because I went for a walk with my mom and son and forgot all about it. Oopsy. Thankfully, no harm, no foul. It still turned out just fine. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get a beautiful picture of it plated as I just scarfed a quarter of it before I realized I hadn't taken a picture - hence the not so pretty picture. But, believe me, the food was very good. It tasted very much as if I had made it in the oven except maybe the noodles were a bit softer, but overall, it was excellent. 

This is certainly something I will do again. It was relatively quick, my house stayed cool and my son, my husband, my mom and myself all enjoyed it. In fact, I may go eat some leftovers now....