Christmas Break Activities

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  I’ve obviously been slacking a little bit this week on getting a blog posted, but better late than never I suppose.  The Engineer and I travelled all around and had several different Christmas dinners and festivities with our families.  I’m thankful that we had good weather all weekend, but I’m also glad that we finally got a nice snow right before Christmas.  It wasn’t feeling very festive looking out the window at mostly dead grass….

It was my intention last week to write a last update about my holiday prepping, but I didn’t quite get it done.  I did quick whip up something fun and tasty last Friday morning though….MARSHMALLOWS!  I didn’t even get a picture taken of my project, and I intended to get one when I got home from our Christmas’s travels, but the marshmallows didn’t manage to make the trip back home from Nebraska!  I’ve never made a candy for Christmas, but this was actually easy to accomplish.  The worst part is that it’s a bit of a sugary mess, but yea know…..that’s what makes them delicious!  Thanks Alton Brown for the recipe inspiration!  Good science will never fail you in the kitchen!!  I just made plain, vanilla flavored shmallows, but based on your projected used feel free to jazz them up with other flavors.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with these at all….I’ll link the recipe below!

(Side note—-I just used my meat thermometer to cook the sugar and it worked fine, but PLEASE make sure your meat thermometer is capable of going to 240 Fahrenheit!!)

While I was busy working on Christmas craft projects for gifts it occurred to me that I haven’t crafted anything fun for myself in quite awhile.  That’s this week’s plan of attack. The Engineer and I both took the whole week between the holidays off so we’ve been lounging, running errands, and doing some odds and ends that we just never seem to have time to get done….including my crafts!

First up on the crafts to do list this week is a snuggle mat for my Scout-a-Roo girl!  If you don’t know what a snuffle mat is, it’s basically a strategic tangle of fleece that is excellent for hiding treats.  To assemble a snuffle mat for the treat hunter in your life you need 4 supplies.

  • Rubber sink mat with grid holes
  • About 2 yards of fleece…..doesn’t need to be exact or pretty….get the cheap stuff
  • Scissors
  • TIME

You’ll cut the fleece into strips and then loop them through the grid…..that’s really all there is to it!  Based on the current progress I’ve made, I project using about half of the sink mat.  I left my fleece folded, just like it comes off the fabric bolt, and cut approximately 1 inch strips from the fold end through both layers.  I then cut each folded strip into 4 equal-ish length pieces.  Precision isn’t a required trait for this. Fill the grid horizontally and then go back through and fill in the grid vertically.  This will create a nice little puff mat for your pup-a-roo to dig and snort around in after crunches or other small snackies.  The Engineer and I are curled up on the couch watching hunting videos….and I’m slowly working my way through my massive pile of fleece strips!!

My “Just for Me” craft this week is going to be a new scarf!  I found a pattern on Knit Collage, ordered myself some expensive, fun yarns, and I’m getting ready to whip myself up something cozy to start the New Year!  I’ll update you on that next week once I get it done, but I’m pretty excited about it honestly.  With the recent temperature dip into the negatives around here, you simply can not go wrong with a new fluffy scarf!

 

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Paint and Pie

IT’S FINALLY FALL!

It seemed like cooler, sweater weather would never arrive, but I guess good things come to those who are patient!  With the changing of the seasons comes my deep burning desire to spend time cleaning, organizing, and crafting in my garage.  Things that have been laying around all summer I suddenly have a burning need to organize.

The first craft of the fall was trying out chalk paint on some metal decor.  A few months ago I purchased a metal candle holder from Hobby Lobby.  While I do like the original color of the candle holder, it wasn’t really the right shade of blue for my house.  What better to do than throw some chalk paint on it and see what happens?!

Overall, I would say the mini project went well.  The only thing I would change was maybe the amount of distressing I did before I waxed the piece.  The paint chips off rather easy, so in buffing in the dark wax, several extra chunks of paint went flying off.  I’m not sure that in this case the candle holder could be “over” distressed, and since I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind….all is good in the chalk painting hood!  If you were going for a lighter distressed look, I might actually skip the initial distressing step.  Apply your wax, and then if you feel like you need a little extra maybe distress with sandpaper as a final step.

Another glorious part of the shift in the weather is a change in nightly meal choices!  I’m not one of those people who can eat soup and casseroles with its 100 degrees outside, so as the temperatures have been cooling I’ve been ramping up the oven!  Last night I tried out a new recipe…..shepherd’s pie!  I had never had a shepherd’s pie before, but The Engineer has had them and was having a craving.  Coupled with the fact that we watched Gordon Ramsey make some on Kitchen Nightmare meant that I needed to try my hand.  All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!  Used up a bunch of leftover veggies, and anything with cheesy mashed potatoes is a good life decision!!

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • Onion, chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1ish glass of red wine
  • 6 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-12 oz of water
  • 3 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

While I do understand that this isn’t a traditional shepherd’s pie as it doesn’t contain lamb, I’m pretty confident that this recipe would work with any red meat.  The most important quality of the meat, according to Gordon, is that it’s well drained and free of grease.  Elk, for all intensive purposes, is basically grease free and I have a freezer full of it now, so that’s what I used.  If using any wild game meat, remember that you will probably need to add some olive oil to your pan before adding in the meat.  Brown the meat and toss in all the fresh veggies, onion, and the garlic.  Continue cooking until you’re sure the meat is completely cooked, and the onions have gone slightly translucent.

Dump in the worcestershire, tomato paste, wine, bouillon and water.  You could also use any stock you have laying around the house, I just had the cubes to use.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme.  I used several fresh sprigs from my garden, but dried would also work just fine.

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When you use fresh herbs and your fancy starts showing!

Simmer your meat mixture until the carrots and celery become tender and the mixture thickens….about 45 mins.  Stir often so that the bottom of the mixture doesn’t scorch to the pan.  While that’s simmering, rough cube the potatoes and add them to a pan and boil until fork tender.  Drain and add to a mixing bowl with the butter, cheese, and milk. Basically, just make mashed potatoes the way you always would….only with the addition of cheese.  Maybe you make them with cheese all the time…..I don’t, so that was a little upgrade!

Add your frozen veggies and just let them warm up a couple minutes.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan.  The entire mixture didn’t all fit in my pan, in hindsight it would have, but I made a small, additional baking dish and threw it into the freezer for later.  Top the mixture with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn the broiler on and babysit your pie carefully until the desired level of golden brown is achieved.  Dish up and enjoy your meat, potatoes, and veggies!!

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I raked my potatoes with a fork before baking and topped them with extra black pepper because it’s The Engineer’s favorite!

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PIE!

Crafty Christmas

Here they are.  All the crafts that I worked on for Christmas presents.  If I got ideas from other places, I’ll post the links with the pictures along with any modifications I made to the pattern.

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Ear muff wraps for my Aunt and My Sexy Russian.  They all get decorated a bit differently, and this year I discovered a new way to make the pattern!

These ear muffs are my own pattern!!  If you’d like a tutorial about them I can do that, I’m just not sure if anyone would be interested.  I, by no means, have pro level knitting skills, but I can get some basic things done.

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Some custom scrap booking pics with hand cut glitter swirls for my Sister of our beloved, and most ideal dog Whisper. (There are dots all around the frame, the photo is just weird apparently :/)

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Runaway Fringe Scarf sans fringe for my Momma.  I used three skeins of Knit Collage’s Pixie Dust yarn in Golden Snowflake and size 55 circular needles.  I did the whole pattern except the last 6 rows, mostly because I ran out of yarn due to my larger needle size.  There are also some errors, but the yarn is so randomly chunky you’ll never find them! 🙂 You can purchase the pattern and yarn directly from Knit Collage

http://knitcollage.com/collections/cowls-scarves/products/runaway-cowl

 

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Distressed wooden star garland for Momma.  I intended to put these on some actual garland and then gift the whole kit and kaboodle, however I wasn’t really sure were she’d want them so they are just on hangers.  I got the pattern online, however I didn’t glue and staple mine.  I just drilled some extra holes, and they are just stitched together with some craft twine.

http://www.hawthorneandmain.com/diy-wood-stars/

 

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Embroidery Hoop Orbs for my Sister.  She embroiders and always seem to like the orbs at home decor stores, so it just seemed to make sense.  I just stained them using General Finishes Gel Stain in Java.  I used the same stain on the Wooden Stars.

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Scarf and matching hat for my Sister so she has warm things on her winter adventures.  The scarf and hat were knit in the same pattern, although I didn’t have a size pattern for the hat.  The resulting hat was super large and in charge and has since been deconstructed into a chunky snood scarf.  The hat will be reworked sometime soon!  The pattern for the scarf came from Puhl Soho and is available on their website.  I didn’t have time to order their yarn, so I used Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick on my size 55 circular needles.

http://www.purlsoho.com/create/2015/12/16/eleventh-hour-scarf-in-gentle-giant/

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Deer antler necklaces with genuine Black Hills bambi sheds!  My gym’s boutique started carrying necklaces like this, but I have no idea who makes them.  I have access to some random deer sheds and decided that I could make my own!  The shed I got had 4 tips, so I have 4 necklaces with varying bead patterns.

The Stuff of Sunday Mornings

This is the first weekend I’ve spent at home in quite some time.  I’m not sure I could tell you when I last spent a Saturday and Sunday at my house.  You would think that with the massive list of projects and things I’m supposed to be doing I would have hit the ground running this weekend, but you’d be wrong.

Here’s what I was supposed to get done this weekend…..

  • Shopping
  • Bridal Shower
  • Homework
  • Test prep
  • Hang light fixture in hallway
  • Clean the house
  • Christmas presents

Here’s what I actually did…….or might get done……

  • Shopping
  • Wine drinking and banana cream pie eating
  • Bridal Shower road trip with bestie
  • Attempting to not body check the slow moving masses at Hobby Lobby
  • Homework
  • Dog Walk
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Hours of Hulu while making a necklace and bumming with the dog
  • Pass up going out drinking with Bestie because we were both too lazy to get dressed….#thestruggleisreal
  • Stood up for a date (maybe that’s not the right term, but it was sorta planned and he like double booked me….)
  • Coffee Drinking
  • Blog
  • …..test prep…..need to motivate
  • …..light fixture…..maybe
  • …..shower……debatable although should be done
  • …..wash make up brushes….possibility
  • …..plan Thanksgiving dinner……need to get on that shiz!

I know we all think that time moves too quickly, and I know that you only get one life and you should live it, but sometimes living it up is exhausting!  I really should get motivated for the day….ya know…the stuff on the list.  Take a shower, wash my makeup brushes, finish my test prep, clean my house…..ugh it all just seems like such a struggle.  Is this just part of being an adult?  Where all we want is to drink coffee on the couch with our dogs, but meanwhile the world around us is just piling up a list of “important” things we are supposed to be doing!?

I just want to Netflix and Craft….is that too much to ask!?!?!?

I think mostly I’m just over being in school and I would like to move onto the festive Christmas spirit.  The spirit has been a bit squashed due to the fact that Menards is no longer carrying their super amazeballs garland.  I need more of that garland!!!  I’ve got a house to decorate now…..and houses need garland!  Speaking of garland, when is an appropriate time to start decorating?  Last year I had all the plain garlands up for Thanksgiving……I just feel like they make the house feel cozier.  Maybe it’s a bit different because most of my garlands are just plain with pine cones and like cinnamin sticks.  Nice, but they don’t like scream Christmas in like a Grizwald sorta way.

I love me some Christmas lights....but you can for sure go too far.

I love me some Christmas lights….but you can for sure go too far.

Well….I have more I could write about, I should fill you all in on my trip to the Hills, but we all know the to do list isn’t going to wait.  Shower time for me, and a better blog coming next week!

Arts and Crafts, Fireball, Hangovers, and Besties for Life

I meant to get this posted sooner, but it’s been a busy week.  I spent most of the week in Omaha at a lab managers conference I wasn’t actually supposed to be at.  But, everyone else from work was going, so I got to tag along like the ugly stepchild and drink unlimited coffee and Diet Coke.  The only perk was that I got to spend Monday night with my Chananana eating sushi, drinking beer, and talking about boys.  It was perfect!

I mean, I guess in the grand scheme of life it wasn’t the worst of times, but I did have legitimate work to be doing in the lab which I obviously did not get done……

However, before rolling out into Cornhusker territory I spent the weekend with the besties!  Lil B came over from the West side to visit, and we had some epic adventures.  Granted, we had some epic plans that didn’t get accomplished, but anytime spend with friends is time well spent.

THURSDAY

The Cowboy said this looked like trouble....I don't think he has any idea!

The Cowboy said this looked like trouble….I don’t think he has any idea!

It’s always ideal when you can start your weekend off on a Thursday night with $2 wine night at your favorite bar!!!  We then decided that a Walmart run was in order because we had crafts to do and more wine to be drinking!  I would like to point out that taking my two slightly tipsy besties to Walmart was a bit like herding cats…..and there may have been several jokes made about Lil B’s melons…….yup…..we are those girls.  Hide yo kids, hide yo husbands!!!!!!!

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Rolling around town with these two weirdos!

We may or may not have tried to con the Hubby in Law into watching Magic Mike XXL with us….it didn’t really work.

On a side note, could we discuss that Magic Mike XXL is too random to even exist?!?!  I mean the first Magic Mike was weird….but acceptable.  There was an actual plot line and you felt like something was actually happening.  The second one is just random, and then when it finally starts to get good….it just ends!!!!  Like here’s a mostly naked Channing Tatum, now goodbye! Granted……..I did have to take a hangover nap Saturday morning during part of the middle section, but the besties assured me I didn’t miss much.

We all went to bed without much incident, and I did manage to scrounge up enough blankets so that Lil B didn’t freeze to death in my house!

FRIDAY

I didn’t work Friday since Lil B was here and the Bitch Faced Bestie (Triple B) gets off around noon.  Lil B and I made breakfast and did manicures while we waited for lunch time.  Triple B and the Hubby in Law came over after she got off work, and I made spicy fish tacos with slaw and avocado cream for lunch.  (I should probably throw that recipe up on the blog….someone remind me!) The Hubby went to work and we ran to the mall because underwear was on sale…..and you can’t waste a sale on underroos when your dog eats them the way mine does!  Post shopping it was shower time followed by wine and crafts!

I did have grand plans to make rings, and so we bought wire on Thursday night.  Unfortunately, the wire we settled on was too thick.  Triple B did manage to create a cute squiggle ring, but I couldn’t get my “Bitch Fuck Off” rings accomplished.  Oh well, another day I’ll try again.

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It’s gonna have to be another day another craft for this little project I guess.  I really think the trio of “Bitch Fuck Off” would be really helpful for nights I go out….or trips to Walmart…..life in general really!

We did manage to accomplish making our matching bestie sweatshirts.  Triple B found a Pintrest hack for making your own screen printed shirts.  It is a bit labor intensive, however I think wine really takes the edge off that.  It would be less labor intensive if everyone pulled their own weight….cough cough Lil B……!!!  However, some of us are more crafty than others of us apparently.  Triple B showed off her pro level skills by cutting out two of the stencils in the time it took me to cut out one…..

  • The Things You Will Need
  • Sweatshirt or shirt of choice
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Freezer Paper
  • Printer
  • Scissors and a knife
  • Tape
  • Pen or Sharpie
  • WINE!!!!!!!!!!!
  1. Type the saying or picture into Word and blow it up to size.  Once you’ve got what you want, just print the documents.  This took us a couple trials to get the size right, but it’s not a difficult process.
  2. Align all your words in the position you want and tape them down onto your work surface.
  3. Trace the words onto a sheet of freezer paper, making sure that the waxy side of the freezer paper is down.
  4. After you get done tracing, you’ll need to cut out the words.  This is by far the worst and longest part of the process……..just keep drinking your wine and you’ll make it through.  Be sure to save all the middles of your letters….so your letters will have their holes if that makes sense.
  5. Lay out your shirt and gently iron on the template.  If it isn’t positioned just right, or if one of the middles moves, just peel it up, reposition, and iron down again.  We also put a piece of freezer paper inside the shirts in case the paint bleeds through.
  6. Sponge the paint onto the stencil making sure to cover everything well.
  7. Carefully peel off the stencil….it won’t come all in one chunk….and pick out the middle of the letters.  Try and avoid getting paint onto any parts of the shirt that aren’t supposed to have paint.
  8. Let shirts dry undisturbed over night and you’re all set to rock your new creation!

After we finished making the three shirts, we headed out to the bar.  We ended up not staying very long, but that was long enough to put away some fireball and get hit on by some random old guys who may or may not have been married and who may or may not have been at the bar with women other than their wives……..

We did manage to order food on the way out of the bar, however Lil B ate all mine before we managed to get home. :/  This caused less than stellar results for some of us the next morning…..

SATURDAY

You'll notice the only perky one is the one who got the food!

You’ll notice the only perky one is the one who got the food!

Eventually, I did manage to choke down some toast, and rallied for the end of Magic Mike XXL….. Again, apparently I didn’t miss much in the middle section while I was sleeping off the pukiness.  I think Lil B and Triple B made eggs….but I was in bed so I’m not entirely sure.  I do think the mark of true friendship is when your friends can forage in your kitchen and no one thinks it’s weird that you’re not there!

Girls who veg together stay together!

Girls who veg together stay together!

We spent the rest of Saturday at Triple B’s playing Star Wars Monopoly.  The Hubby in Law made us fancy steak and shrimp dinner, and we all just hung out and watched movies.  We had originally had plans of going downtown to one of the bars for a neon dance party, however the residual hangovers were just too much to rally from.  Also the mere thought of going downtown seems exhausting.  It’s expensive, far away, it seems like that’s were the annoying Bro type dudes would hang out…..just generally not really my cup o’ tea.

SUNDAY

Sadly, Lil B had to leave us Sunday morning, but there was time for one more breakfast and coffee.  I know it’s hard for her because Triple B and I are both here now and she’s sorta out West all by herself.  It’s always sad to see her go, but anymore, our livers can only take so much of each other at one time.  I’m actually headed out the direction in a couple weeks so I’ll see her again soon.  Until then, there’s always awkward and strange group texts to get us through.  Seriously, if you read our group chats sometimes you’d think we didn’t get along…..you’d also think we were probably drunk all the time….we aren’t, that’s just how we act!

A Weekend Project

I promised I would put together a DIY blog about my new hutch.  It’s honestly not been my best week as a homeowner.  My fridge developed a leak……and I’m really not at all equipped to adult on that level.  So, I shut off the water to the fridge so my kitchen doesn’t flood, and I’ll formulate some kinda plan to deal with that later.  In the mean time it’s back to drinking tap water and making ice in trays for me.

A couple weeks ago Momma found a hutch on Craigslist.  I have a bit of a skinny house, and it’s been challenging to find a hutch that would fit in the dining room without encroaching on the dining room table.  This particular piece was a bit more expensive than I would have liked, particularly because I ended up having to paint the whole thing.  But, it was one of those situations where you bite the bullet because the style and size was just right for the space.

Thank goodness Bestie has a truck and was free to go check out the piece and help me haul it home.  I hate making these kinds of decisions on my own…..actually, I hate making any decisions really, but that’s for another day.

The mini bar I built myself is painted in Old White by Annie Sloan, and I was hoping that the hutch’s original cream color would work with that and the Cocoa of the dining room table.  Sadly, it was very yellow in person….like so yellow that I can’t imagine that the color really matches anyone’s decor.  So, Saturday morning saw me off to the vintage store downtown for more Old White paint and some Aubusson Blue.  I had used the chalk paint before, but I had never done a two toned piece before.  I’ve already done some chalk paint furniture…..Because Every Home Needs a Bar!, so I won’t bore all of you with that again.  If you want more details about the process just lemme know and I can try and fill it all in.

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The start of the project……in all it’s yellow glory!

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My phone doesn’t take the best pictures…..iphone 4 in the house! Hopefully you can see the yellowiness, and the fact that the back panel was nothing to write home about really. Two coats of Old White. In person it was very white. I always think the projects look very odd until you get all done. You just have to wait for it all to come together.

Two coats of Old White. In person it was very white. I always think the projects look very odd until you get all done. You just have to wait for it all to come together.  It’s similar to when you only have foundation on your face…..it just looks weird!

End of day 1!

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You might get stuck in a group text with the besties….if that happens, send them this pic to show them that you’re busy and don’t have the time for their shenanigans. It won’t help, but it’s worth a try!


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I was a bit stressed about where I should put the shelves so that I could get the distressing right.  Eventually I settled on just distressing the shelves and not carrying the dark wax onto the sides of the hutch.  This will let me move the shelves in the future if I need to.
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Doing this was my favorite part. It’s amazing what some distressing and some wax will do.

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Distressing details and some dark wax buildup in the corners. Don’t stress it….you can’t do any of this wrong.

photo 5The Finished Product!