Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

So after my foray into embroidered pillows, I was feeling pretty good about my amazing embroidery skills. So rather than continuing to do piddly little projects, I decided to do something bigger. And harder. For some reason I always have to do the hardest of anything first. So I decided I wanted to do a children's book illustration. I chose to do this one from The Little Prince, or Le Petit Prince, for those who read it in its original French.

Shouldn't be too hard, right? Simple black outlines with solid colored blocks. Instead of using fabric applique this time I decided to paint the colors in before sewing it. That part went okay. Then I sewed. And oh my. The poor Little Prince.

I tried to pretty it up by putting it in a nice frame. And from far away it actually doesn't look to bad. But you have to move in closer to see the worst of it.

Umm. Is that his nose attached to his eye? And his mouth looks like it's hanging open to catch flies. And yeah, just ignore the loose threads hanging everywhere. I got tired of trying to tie them off and just started snipping.

Now, I know it's not a complete disaster. You can at least tell what it was supposed to be. But it sure isn't the masterpiece I was picturing. Oh well. Practice makes perfect, right? Anyone want a slightly disfigured Little Prince?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cheap food anyone?

So I went to the grocery store yesterday. I didn't buy that much stuff, but then again I didn't pay much either. I bought 14 cans of Progresso soup (for our food storage), 6 cake mixes, and 2 pounds of butter. And the grand total? $.63 Yep, you're reading that right, 63 cents. Don't believe me? Here's the receipts:

You'll probably have to click on them to read them, but I did two transactions. One was 30 cents and the other was 34. And you know what's even better? At the end I was left with a $10 coupon to use towards my next purchase. I love it when grocery stores pay me to take food off their hands.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Home Decorating

What better to do on a slow Sunday than some home decorating! I had a bunch of family pictures sitting around with no frames to put them in. So by combining a few things I managed to make a fun wall arrangement.

I stole this idea from someone else's blog, and I can't for the life of me remember where. So as always, thanks to the anonymous benefactor!

First we need our supplies.

I got the drawer pulls for a buck and change at Home Depot. You need to buy some hanger bolts (the double-sided screw on the right) in place of the one-sided screw that comes with the drawer pulls. The hanger bolts will let us screw the drawer pulls to the wall.

Next we need what we're going to hang.

I have a million pants hangers from when I was in the military. The original project I saw used the wood pants hangers, which I also have, but I liked the metals ones better. The pictures I had were in the black folders they came in from the photographer, but I'm sure you could just buy some mats and tape the picture behind them.

I used push pins to decide where I wanted everything hung.

That way I didn't have huge holes after I changed my mind and moved everything around, which I did.

And then the most important ingredient:

After screwing one end of the hanger bolts into the drawer pulls, I used my muscley arms to screw them into the wall. You could drill a hole first, but when the drill is out in the storage shed, we must make do. It wasn't hard anyways.

And that's it! Hang your pictures and enjoy!

I love that I can switch them out super easy any time I want. And it's one less bare wall I have to stare at in my house. Hooray!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Homemade Gifts are Done!

So giving away five homemade gifts from me was really just an excuse to try out some crafty things I'd been looking into. I hadn't yet thought up an excuse to experiment, and this giveaway was the perfect chance! So for those lucky five (Andrea, Monique, David, Angela, and Julie), you get to be my guinea pigs! Now don't you feel lucky?

So the craft of choice for this giveaway was embroidery. I've been trying to decide if I like hand embroidery, machine embroidery, freehand machine embroidery, etc. I didn't want to go out and buy all the stuff to try each one out only to discover I didn't like it. So being the weirdly anal person I am, I read a lot about all of them on the internet. Then a foray into the dusty craft bin led me to discover I had all the materials I needed right here at home! I was soooo excited. Yes, double-sided interfacing got me excited. So without further ado, here are my five homemade crafts.

First off, we have a lovely example of the hand embroidery.

A simple little village-esk scene. The clouds look pink because the transfer paper was red. Note to self: Don't use red transfer paper when you are going to be stitching in lighter colors.

Next up, the repeating pattern hand embroidery. Back in the day when my mom would buy us stichery kits when we drove to California every summer, I knew how to do things like French knots and such. Well, this sure wasn't like a duck to water. I think I had to do each one of their eyes over at least twice. French knots, ugh.

Then I moved on to the applique with hand embroidery. The little wings didn't feel like staying put while I was trying to sew around them. But there is just something about that little "hoot" that makes me smile every time I see it. Then it makes me think "Give a hoot, don't pollute."

At this point I said, forget the hand embroidery. It's too slow and makes my fingers hurt. I need something with more immediate results. So out came the sewing machine. Now, I have no sewing skills. I took the obligatory Home Ec in Jr. high, but everything I sew manages to fall apart at the seams. So pulling out the sewing machine to do anything is quite daring. But let me tell you, I think I'm in love.

I'm tempted to keep this pillow all to myself and make something else to send away. How totally cute is that little apple and pear?!? I sewed them on freehand with my sewing machine. While this is a difficult thing to do when you have a nice, calm crafting area, I am doubly plauged. My "sewing area" happens to be at our kitchen table. And it seems like no matter how involved my kids are in something else, as soon as they hear my sewing machine they come running. I had a kid hanging on each arm while I was trying to sew that. So whichever of the five winners that gets this one, just ignore the squigly line that goes up the right side of the pear. That would be Alex's fault.

And last but not least, the piece de resistance.

My sister saw the pattern for this chicken and fell in love. So I had to make the chicken. And since he's obviously dancing, what other dance does a chicken do beside the Funky Chicken? He's also machine embroidered. I love his little crossed eyes.

This one got a fun back too.

Those are all leftovers from a really hideous quilt I made when I was pregnant with Ella. I am so not a quilter.

And there you have it. Five little embroidered pillows for five of my lucky friends.

And those of you who were too cool to play along (you know who you are) maybe next time you'll think twice. :)

And for those who won, email me your address so I can send these out poste haste! travelgirlut [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Russian Wafer Cake

In our wanderings around town we've stumbled across a couple of Russian grocery stores. The first one we went in I saw these colorful, circle wafer things that were rather intriguing. I asked Anton what they were, and he had no idea. So when we stopped in a second store today and they had the same wafer things, I had to know. We asked the lady who worked there and she started explaining to me how to make some sort of layered dessert out of it. She pointed out the ingredients and in her broken English did her best to translate a fairly simplish recipe. I didn't have Anton to be my interpreter since he was chatting with another guy who just got into the country 10 days ago.

So armed with the ingredients handed to me by the nice lady, I went home to try my skills.

Three ingredients, piece of cake!

First I melted the butter, even though the lady just said soft butter, but I really think she wanted me to melt it.

And the reason I think that is when I opened the can of mystery stuff (Anton couldn't figure out what it was. All we knew was it was some sort of sweetened condensed milk carmely stuff.)

It was solid. Really solid. So I figured some nice hot melty butter would smooth things over. It didn't want to mix together, but I made it go.

Then because I was the cook and the photographer, there are no pictures of the next bit, but we spread some of the super thick carmely stuff on each wafer and stacked them one on top of the other.

That's the top layer there after I told Anton to start snapping pictures.

Alex was really excited to eat some cake! Anton got cutting honors.

Yummy layers.

Alex went with the peel off each layer and eat them one by one method.

Anton went with the pick up the whole pile and take a bite method.

And Ella went with the shove as much in her mouth as will possibly fit at one time method.

I just went with the eat so much it makes you feel sick method.

And the final verdict? It was okay. I think it needed some sort of creamy layer in it After we ate it I decided to look it up on the internet. I found one, count them, one website that remotely talked about this kind of treat. You can find it here. Seems like Russian things are not the most popular blogging/cooking topics. She describes various fillings I could have used in addition to the carmel we used. And it seems I should have mushed it somehow and let it sit overnight before eating it. I'll maybe give it one more shot to see if I can make something yummy out of it, and then I'll give it up as a tried it and didn't like it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Want something homemade by me?

Well, all you have to do is be one of the first five people to comment on this post and offer the same thing on your blog! Easy, right? Well, of course there are rules.

1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
2- What I create will be just for you.
3- It'll be done this year.
4- You have no clue what it's going to be.
5- I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch is that you must repost this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. The first 5 people to do so and leave a comment telling me they did win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me! Oh, and be sure to post a picture of what you win when you get it!

So there you go! Hop to it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Productive Day

Anton and the kids were gone again today. And while he was slaving at his mom's house, I was actually getting things done here. Here's what I've managed to accomplish since they left last night:

1. I got much farther on the job I was working on than I had planned.
2. I did the dishes and washed all the plastic baggies that had been collecting next to the sink. (I reuse baggies. Yes, I'm a scrooge.)
3. Took the burners off the stove and cleaned off the whole thing.
4. Swept and mopped the kitchen floor. (It's only about 3x6, so this isn't a huge feat.)
5. Scrubbed my bathroom toilet.
6. Updated and organized my grocery price book.
7. Found my sister an easy recipe for her London broil.
8. Folded, stuffed, and labeled all the invitations to our March Enrichment activity for church.
8. Added to my emergency storage by filling all our empty mason jars with water. This added 3.5 gallons of water to the 35 gallons we already have stored. Every little bit helps!

Things I still want to do today:
1. Find my sewing machine. Not sure where it got put after we moved. In the shed perhaps?
2. Finish the job I'm working on so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow when I have the kids underfoot.

So this may not be the longest list in the world, but compared to what I accomplish on a typical day, this is monumental! It feels good to actually get something done around here. Too bad the to-do list is far from being done away with. Anyone want to help me sort through the piles of clothes my kids have managed to aquire? Ugh.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Quick Valentine Craft

Do you need a last minute Valentine idea? I found this one somewhere online. I don't remember where. So if I stole this idea from you, thanks!

Just trace your hand and cut it out. Fold down the two middle fingers and tape. Then we taped hearts over top with our message written on them. Easy and quick, and a fun way to say I love you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Move Over Magic Bullet

So I'm sure you've seen the infomercial about the supposedly fabulous Magic Bullet blender.

I'm here to tell you you don't need to waste you money on one. Not that it doesn't do what it claims to do, but you already have the tools in your house to make your own magic bullet. Well, at least you should.

Did you know that a regular-mouthed mason jar fits perfectly on most blenders? It's true. Every morning for breakfast I bust out my pint-sized mason jar and load it full of yummy fruit and yogurt.

Then all you do is place the blender blade and screw-on part upside down on top of your jar like so (make sure you actually screw it on, not just place it there):

I added juice to my smoothie concoction. Then you flip this whole thing upside down and place it on top of your blender base.

See? One homemade Magic Bullet. Just give it a few pulses. (You'll need to hold onto your jar while doing this. I've gotten mine blending so rapidly that the jar unscrewed itself. That was not a fun mess to clean up.)

And voila! A fantastical yummy smoothie!

Now, you don't just have to stick with smoothies. I've made salad dressing, blended that stubborn non-instant powdered milk, and so on. You can also use the large sized quart jars if you need to blend something bigger, like a super extra large smoothie. Anything that Magic Bullet can do, I can do too, and without all the fancy equipment.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Amazing Race

For a while now Anton and I have talked about applying to be on The Amazing Race. We've watched it for quite a few seasons now, and it's one of our favorite shows. But after many discussions we finally decided it wasn't practical for us to do it since we would be gone for 30-40 days. What would we do with the kids? No one wants to watch someone else's kids for over a month. Not even grandma and grandpa would want to do that. So we dropped it. No Amazing Race for us. :(

So then when Anton's brother was out here for their dad's funeral, I overheard them discussing The Amazing Race. What's this? You're going to apply together? Traitor!! Sure, I'll stay home and watch your kids for a month while you go traipse around the world having all sorts of fun. I'm only the one who thought up the idea and now you get to do it. :(

Now, don't get me wrong. If they get chosen to be on the show, I'll be super happy. I mean, I'm not one to turn down the chance of half a million dollars. Though if we had done it together we would've gotten to keep the full million. I guess beggars can't be choosers.

So last night Anton was putting the finishing touches on his application and he asked me to help him with his passport-sized photo. So I snapped a photo of him and pulled it into Photoshop. One of his eyes looked a little wonky, so I decided to fix it. And while I was in there I decided to fix a few other things too.

Here you go, honey. I hope The Amazing Race is super fun. Without me.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Recovery Day

Anton took the kids to his mom's today, and even though I didn't have any work to do, I opted to stay home. This week, though completely uneventful, was totally draining on me. So today I am recharging my batteries. I had hoped to sleep in, but Ella came in my room at 5:15 complaining that her stomach hurt, so she ended up in bed with us. And why is it that even though I have a King sized bed, I still end up on the very edge when sleeping with a child?

Anton made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The middles were a little undercooked, but the sugar coma I went into shortly after was divine. Last night we finished up some paperwork that had been looming over my head all week, and when Anton left he took it to mail it. That was a huge relief.

So now I'm just going to sit back and relax. I'm still going to do things that need to be done, but I'm going to do them at my pace, with no child interruptions. How wonderful will that be? I'm wearing my most comfortable, sloppy clothes, have no make-up on, and am as happy as a clam.

And on a completely unrelated side note, if any of you have ever done a service auction for RS and happen to have the questionnaire that you use to get your points/money, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could email it to me! travelgirlut [at] Thanks!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Last night in order to get out of the house and entertain the kids, we decided to go on an alphabet scavenger hunt. We headed off to the mall, where there were sure to be letters in abundance. We have an old digital camera that the kids have commandeered, so we let them bring it to take pictures of all the letters they found.

The first few letters were a bit of a warm-up. The kids didn't quite get what was going on, so we were having to explain it each time.

The next few letters, the kids grasped the concept and were actually finding them by themselves. Alex felt the need to pose with the "g."

The peak of the letter finding excitement took place during the next round of letters. Ella would scream in delight with each one she found. They were really into it.

And then it all started to go downhill. Ella started dancing around like she was having a seizure. Alex was climbing under every sign and kiosk. Mom and dad were having to redirect their attention back to the task at hand.

We were getting closer the the play area, and the kids were getting more and more distracted. We were having to point specifically to each letter in order to get them to take the pictures.

Now mom and dad were wishing they'd never thought this idea up in the first place. "Hey, kids, if you find the next letter we'll go home and have some brownies!" We'd resorted to bribery.

And in the end, it was mom and dad who took the last pictures while the kids went screaming down the walkway. If mom and dad can't catch us, then we don't have to leave the mall!

The concept was a good one. But maybe next time we'll just do A through F.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Young Women's Theme Poster

Since the church added the new value of virtue to the Young Women program, my sister asked me to make up a poster with the new value added to the theme. So I figured I'd post it here for whomever may want it!

This is the full-sized 18x24 image. Just click on it to see it full sized, then right click on it and do a "save as." Then just print and enjoy! My sister framed hers, but you can do what you want with it. You are all welcome to it for free, but please don't post it elsewhere claiming it as your own. Please link back here for people to get it. I used a digital scrapbooking kit from Songbird Avenue to make it. Thanks so much!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Out of the blue today I decided to flat-iron Ella's hair. Her hair has a natural wave to it, but it's not really curly. It was when she was a baby, but the older she got the less curl she had. It was so sad to watch them go away. But since I had never seen her with straight hair, I went for it.

Look at all that long blond hair!! She always says she's Rapunzel, and today she looked it.

She was having fun posing for me.

So I took lots of pictures. She looks so grown up.

This is my favorite of the non-xylophone pictures, which we'll get to in a sec.

I love how bright her eyes look next to the pale skin and blond hair. What a babe.

So about that xylophone, she was playing it the whole time I was doing her hair, and she kept trying to get me to take pictures of her with it. So I finally gave in.

The xylophone. So I figured I might as well work with it.

Such concentration. I asked her today if there was a musical instrument she would like to learn how to play. She said the xylophone. Do they teach that in school? Or would I need to find a professional xylophone player?

Even though the photoshoot was meant to capture her long, flowing hair, I think this next one is my absolute fave!

Love that peeping blue eye and mallet poised for stricking! And last but not least, I couldn't resist putting that cute shirt to use.

It says it all.