Friday, October 28, 2011

DIY Painted Silk Flowers

I mentioned before that we're trying to make our costumes for less that $15 this year. We're finally finished with them and the total came in at $10 spent, everything else we already had. We tried to use things that we could re-purpose, and these silk flowers were on that list.

stage one

As part of my costume, I needed loads of silk flowers, but I didn't want to buy anyway. I didn't need a ton of white flowers, so I decided to do one of my favorite things... paint the silk flowers!
Painting silk flowers is an easy way to re-purpose them. The firs time I repainted a flower, it was a GORGEOUS bright pink/orange lily that I wanted to use for a children's costume as a head piece. I needed it to be black and gold, though. So first I painted the entire flower black, then I painted the tips gold and then I painted the very edges with gold glitter. It didn't take any time at all and the result was stunning. I used regular acrylic paint, nothing special!
As a said before, I did it again today with a huge amount of flowers for my costume. This time, I turned the white flowers into a pink ombre-ish look. First I painted everything light pink up to the edges and then I added in hot pink at the center and brushed/faded it toward the outside petal.
adding in the hot pink
I'm not very good at painting, but if you want to make these a solid color that's even easier!
So, if you've ever had silk flowers that you needed in another color, but didn't want to buy new ones- here is your solution! I am here to say that it's easy and it works. All you need is a brush and some acrylic paint!
Our costumes are done and I'm excited to wear them tomorrow. I'll post a picture of our group together and see if any of you can guess what we went as :)
I hope you have a safe and fun weekend, whatever you do. Check back next week for more DIY and Delicious goodness!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deep Chocolate Aztec Brownies (reduced fat!) + my restored faith in humanity

The Aztec people knew a thing or two about chocolate- recent studies show that they may have been the first people group to use the Cacao bean, even before the Mayans. I also have a soft spot for them in my heart, since I spend half my life defending the fact that I drive an Aztek (I know, I know... there isn't an actual link there). So, when John came home last night craving brownies something fierce, I turned to the Aztec people for a truly chocolaty experience. They really enjoyed adding different spices to their chocolate to change the flavor, and the one that we'll pick up on today is chili powder. It may seem crazy, but I promise... they are delicious!
the finished batter
These brownies are SO moist! I'm ashamed to admit that there are only 2 left in the pan and we only made them last night. The only saving grace is that (like all recipes I post here) I did my best to make them as healthy as passable. I don't say POSSIBLE because if you made a dessert as healthy as possible, it wouldn't be edible. These are as healthy as passable for a dessert. There are some places where you can use substitution (such as the amount of chili powder or type of flour) if you'd like some wiggle room as well. They were easy to make and even easier to eat... enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 c. melted butter or oil (your choice)
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour (your choice)
1/3 c. dark cocoa powder
1/4 c. fruit puree (I used pumpkin, but applesauce or prune works)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (preference)
1/4- 1/2 tsp chili powder (preference)
1/2 c. dark chocolate chunks
*I added in some mini-marshmallows as well :) just about 15

heading into the oven...
Mix together the butter/oil, fruit puree, sugar, extracts, & eggs.
Next, mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and spices.
Lastly add the chocolate chunks and (optional) marshmallows.

Fold into a greased 9 X 9 pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with more chili powder. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Eat. Eat. Eat... and consider how much those Aztecs knew about how to do chocolate!
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the beginning of the end

I mentioned in a previous post that a neighbor had stolen a package from our front door containing a pair of boots I bought for work. It was really shocking and I had a hard time processing how a person could steal from his/her neighbor. I went to each door in my building a left a little note about how the package "may have been delivered to the wrong door" and asking that if it was, it be returned to us. Nothing happened. I really, truly expected to see the package back at my front door the next day. I finally gave up hope and was really frustrated by the situation. I even found myself being afraid to sleep when John wasn't home. But wouldn't you know, it's so like life... just when I thought I'd never see those boots again, I got a call from a police officer that the person had turned them in with a full confession. He said he needed to keep my boots so that he could press charges. I contacted him yesterday, hoping that he'll allow me to drop the charges against my neighbor, but I haven't heard back yet.
Isn't that awesome? I can't imagine how hard it must have been to take them to the police and I'm so proud of that person, whoever it may be. Not to say that it was ever a good idea to take them... but really, after two weeks to turn them in? It's really great. 
It was a nice reminder, too, that God answers prayer. I had prayed and prayed that the person would return them, but as time went on that seemed really unlikely.I thought for sure they had been sold by now. God always answers our prayers. Sometimes it looks a little different, sometimes it takes a little longer, but he hears us. He is a big God, he can change any situation.
He can even change the heart of a thief.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY Hair Glitter (Costumes)

John and I are attending a costume party this week with a bunch of friends, as I'm sure many people are :) I was never allowed to celebrate halloween growing up, but each year my mom would make me a costume for a harvest costume party she allowed us to throw with our friends. I guess I'm still doing that sort of thing in my mid-late twenties :)
My goal is to make our costumes as inexpensively as possible. We did however discover that thrift stores can be more expensive than buying something new. Crazy, right? We're managing to get away with both costumes for less than $15, though, which I think is a feat. By sewing and rummaging through decorations at my mom's house, we achieved the majority of this success. Now we're using makeup I already have and other things laying around to complete the task. I really want to use hair glitter, but I don't want to buy cans of it since I can't imagine us using it again. I decided to make my own!
It's really easy. I made three different versions depending on what hairstyle you'll use or how much glitter you want. Remember to click on the pictures so that you can see them full-sized to get a better idea of how each version looks. Also, I included more pictures at the bottom.

Loose/light 1
Loose hair/light glitter:
Spray leave in conditioner into your hair (I used Tigi Fast-Fixx) and then sprinkle in desired glitter. Run your hands through your hair.




Medium 1
Medium hold hair/medium glitter:
Spray hairspray into your hand and then add in desired amount of glitter. Run hands through hair. You could also spray the hair spray onto a comb and then dip the comb into the glitter. Lastly, you could spray your hair directly and then shake the glitter over it IMMEDIATELY, but you'll have less glitter retention this way.

Heavy 1
Heavy hold/men's hair or hair up/heavy glitter:
Use a hair gel or a hair putty, 2 parts product to 1 part glitter (use more or less glitter for desired coverage- I used much less in the picture). Mix together and apply to hair!

Voila. Fin. Parfait!
John is definitely getting the heavy version. I haven't decided which I'll use for myself since I haven't chosen a hairstyle yet... but I'm thinking I'll go with the lightest one. You can't really tell from the pictures because I have an awful camera and I was trying to take them of myself, but in each version there is definitely glitterage going on. Even in the lightest version, there was plenty of sparkle.
I have tons of glitter here that I bought in the dollar section at Michael's.
Vive cheap costumes! Do you have any ideas for making costume elements less expensive? Let me know!
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Medium 2

Light/loose 2


Heavy 2




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin-fest (weekend edition!)- Pumpkin oatmeal bars

I like taking these bars with me to work. They're also really nice for early mornings when we're either out of almond milk (alas- no cereal!) or we haven't got time to eat.
They're super easy to make and they're pretty good. If I could re-do them again, I'd use more oats and less flour, which I've noted in the recipe. They also contain chopped apples and raisins, so they're pretty fruity :) They're also super healthy, there isn't much fat at all. There's definitely some sugar going on... but way less sugar than you'll find in the version at the store.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of oats*
1 1/4 cups of flour*
2 eggs
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger mix)
1 small box of raisins
1/2 cup of chopped/diced apples
3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)

*I originally used 1.5 cups each of flour and oats, but I thought it was too chewy.

STEP ONE:
Mix together the eggs, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, spice(s) & baking soda. Next add in the puree and then the oats and flour. Lastly, stir in the raisins and apples.





STEP TWO:
Press the mixture into a greased (I used a misto with olive oil) 13x9 inch pan. I like to drizzle a little bit of honey on top and put a last sprinkling of cardamom on top before throwing it in the oven.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool and cut into 12 slices. Wrap individually with saran wrap and store for use!



Super short, but there isn't much time during the weekend! If you make any adjustments or try the version with a higher oat content, let me know how it works out!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin-fest Part 5- DIY Pumpkin Hair Mask

So, let's just get it out there. I walked back into our complex after being out for a few hours and it STILL smells of charred pumpkin seeds. STILL. Two FULL days later! Amazing. 
Maybe THAT's why one of my neighbors stole the boots, haha.
It has been an interesting pumpkin week for 'la vie'. Monday we made facials, Tuesday was the catastrophic popcorn day, Wednesday we had a pumpkin cinnamon rolls & the baking substitution, Thursday was pumpkin spice latte day and now we're making a hair mask!
As I stated before, you could buy one can of pumpkin puree for $1 to use for the ENTIRE week! Amazing. I love pumpkin puree and we keep it in the house year-round. If you still aren't convinced, just google the benefits of eating pumpkin :)
Depending on your hair length, I'm giving two recipes. I have rather short, chin length hair.

If you're like me use...
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons of your favorite oil (almond, coconut or olive)

If you have longer hair use...
1 cup of pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons of your favorite oil (almond, coconut or olive)

Mix the oil and puree together with a fork and apply to your hair. Cover and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, rinse well and shampoo as usual.

It was actually very firm. My hair may have even stayed where it was (on top of my head) anyway, but I used one of the disposable shower caps that hotels give away and it was perfect. You could also use any shower cap, a plastic grocery bag or even saran wrap. I also let mine soak in for 45 minutes instead of 20. I rinsed my hair twice, I wish I had only done it once, though. I'd love to tell you how soft my hair was afterwards, but I just can't! You'll have to try it yourself. It was also much shinier.
I also wish I could relate how distraught John was at the whole process. I saw a blog in the making. He saw pumpkin puree ALL over our bathroom.
Life is full of trade offs.
Tonight we're taking a Salsa class at the studio I dance at. I'm very excited :) If I can get to the Farmer's Market before dance class tomorrow, I'm going to get some more eggs and make a special weekend-edition of pumpkin-fest. I have some oatmeal breakfast bars I want to highlight. It's never a guarantee at the FM, though. There's a crazy lady who gets there at the crack of dawn EVERY Saturday and buys the whole place out of eggs. We're talking DOZENS of dozens... every week! I've never once beat her. I always end up buying duck eggs instead of browns eggs since they're sold out already. Jokes on her, though, because duck eggs are a zillion times better anyway. Hmpf.
Have a great weekend, don't forget to hit the cider mill!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin-fest part 4- DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte!

After the catastrophic defeat of yesterday's blog, it's always nice to have something go well! Not to say that this was fantastic from the start, it was actually a long, experimental process. I don't even want to think of how much almond milk was poured down the drain. By the third trial, I switched to decaf so that I wouldn't be up all night :) However, eventually the right formula was found, and here it is!
I have to say, I've never actually purchased a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I can't bring myself to pay that much for coffee, even though I'm sure it's well worth it.
Hopefully this version is very similar, and for a fraction of the price. There's a lot of wiggle room involved since you may want more sugar or spice. I didn't use a ton of sugar, I never do. I routinely mention on this blog that you may find yourself wanting much more sweetness in a recipe. However, I can assure you that if you gradually taper down you'll discover that you won't need as much sugar any longer to get the same satiation. Yay!

So, you will need...
tools of the trade
1/2 cup of coffee (I suggest using a flavor such as vanilla or hazelnut)
3/4 cup almond milk (you could use any kind)
3/4 or 1 tbs of pumpkin puree, depending on preference
1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp of brown or natural sugar
1/2 tsp of almond extract (or vanilla, if you haven't got almond)
whipped cream and a shake of pumpkin pie spice to top it off
a milk frother (i got mine for $1.99 at Ikea)


frothing the ingredients, minus coffee
 STEP ONE:
If you like your latte to be hot, then heat your milk over the stove. Add the puree and froth it. Next add the spice, extract and sugar... froth again.

STEP TWO:
Add your coffee, froth again.

STEP THREE:
Cover in whipped cream and shake a little spice on.


STEP FOUR:Drink. Enjoy. Savor.

Everything, frothed
Pretty simple, right? The first time I made this, I couldn't figure out why it wasn't NEARLY pumpkin-y enough... and then I realized that I totally forgotten to put the pumpkin puree in! I was laughing pretty hard at myself. We've used a lot of canned puree this week already and tomorrow's blog calls for it as well. I'm thinking that you could make everything this week with ONE can of $1 pumpkin puree, which is pretty awesome.

Tomorrow is the last installment of Pumpkin-fest, though I'm considering a special edition on Saturday after dance. I hope you feel inspired to do some fun things with pumpkin this week, and love pumpkin just a little bit more :)




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin-fest part 3- pumpkin seed popcorn!

This is the blog I've been excited about all week. I've never heard of or even thought of using pumpkin seeds to make popcorn!
I could not wait to do this.
Seriously.
However... one word describes this event: disaster.
I have never, ever seen such a smoke-filled apartment in my life. I couldn't even SEE! Thankfully I had the sense to run and shut the door to where Odette is. I can only imagine how quickly the smoke would have ended her. It nearly ended me! I'm *still* coughing.
First attempt at opening the pumpkin
However, I'm inclined to say that this was a user error, since I've never popped anything on the stove top before. I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it worked! Or if you see the reason why it was such a huge failure, let me know.
My mom e-mailed this recipe to me and I didn't exactly follow it as listed. I added some flair, if you will.
Here's the original

2/3 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, washed with water and rinsed with warm ginger ale
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs olive oil

Heat the oil in a steel pan, add the popcorn and cover. Allow to pop.

Finally hacked it open.
Here's what I did...

3/4 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, washed with water (definitely skipped the ginger ale)
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat oil + sugar and spices, add popcorn and cover. Allow it to turn your home into a smokey, death-filled abyss.


happy seeds, before their demise

So what do you think? Should I have adhered to the original recipe? Do you see where this whole thing went amiss?

I've finished the rest of the projects for this week. They are DONE and SUCCESSFUL... phew! I'm thinking I'll take the pumpkin, chunk it up (pray for me... I've already sliced myself once with a knife this week, and that carving knife is WAY bigger!) and roast it for dinner. I'm all about the silver lining!

the charred remains.
 I'm about to head out as soon as I'm sure it isn't too dangerously smokey here anymore. I worked it out with the post office since the theft and they no longer deliver packages to our door, so I'm going to head over to get my new ballet leotard. We're only a few weeks into the fall classes and I've already put a hole in my slippers and a rip in my leotard! Sounds about right :)
I'm also going to visit a local farmer, he said I can come by any time for duck eggs and apples and I WILL be taking him up on that! Have a great day and thanks for reading! Check back tomorrow for some more pumpkin-fest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin-fest, Part Deux- baking substitution & cinnamon rolls!

Randy Mayor; Mary Catherine Muir- Cooking Light
Here we are on this GLORIOUS Tuesday for part two of pumpkin-fest. Today's blog is short and sweet, I'll use the rest of today to finish out pumpkin-fest, and I need all of the time I can get!
Did you know that you can use pumpkin puree as a substitute for oil/shortening/butter in baking? As someone who has a dairy allergy, I'm often using substitutions in baking, and this one is no exception.
As I mentioned yesterday, pumpkin is SUCH a healthy food. It is FULL of antioxidants and vitamins, while being sooo low in calories. When you juxtapose that against the health *ahem* benefits of butter/vegetable oil/shortening, it really isn't a competition. In most cases, the amount of puree you're using is so minimal that it doesn't even change the taste of the recipe. However, any fruit puree can be substituted as well including prune and applesauce which are both very popular. I usually substitute an even exchange (ie, 1 tbs to 1 tbs). I wanted to leave you with one of my favorite pumpkin recipes while we're talking about using puree in baking. It's adapted from Cooking Light, and a blog I follow called Lick the Bowl Good. It's INCREDIBLE. I prepare the dough in batches and keep it in our freezer for quick Saturday morning breakfasts.

DOUGH:
2.25 tsp yeast, or 1 package
1/4 c. warm water
3 3/4 c. bread flour, divided
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/2 c. low-fat/almond/coconut/soy milk
1/4 c. butter, melted (optional, I never use it)
1 tbs brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp almond extract/bakers emulsion

FILLING:
3 tbs granulated sugar (I actually use natural instead)
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbs chilled butter, cut into small pieces (optional)

GLAZE:
3/4 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 tbs hot water
1/4 tbs vanilla extract

For the dough, dissolve the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes. Using a stand mixer, place 3 cups of the flour, the yeast water and remaining dough ingredients into the bowl and mix on medium til smooth. Remove and knead for about 10 minutes, adding the remaining 3/4 cups of flour as necessary. You can also finish this in your stand mixer if you have the appropriate dough hook. Remember to knead it for less time since the mixer is more efficient than hand-kneading and it's important not to over-knead dough.
Place the dough in a greased (I use a misto with olive oil) bowl, place in a warm area and allow it to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and allow it to rise for 5 more minutes. (after this, I freeze the dough if I'm not making the rolls that day)
While it's in it's second resting stage, combine the filling ingredients together with a fork.
Roll out the dough on to a flour surface in a 12 X 10 inch rectangle and sprinkle filling on top. If using the chilled butter, place slices of it all around on top of the filling. Roll the dough longways (hot dog- start with the long edge) into a tube. Using a sharp knife, cut the long roll into 12 pieces, I mark the halfway spot, then I score those two into half and so on until I've made 12 even pieces before cutting them all the way through.
Place the buns flat into a greased pan, cover and let rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Whisk the glaze ingredients together and pour over warm buns. Serve immediately.
Delicious.
I'm VERY excited about the blogs for the rest of the week. Tomorrow's should be especially interesting. I'm even working on my own pumpkin-spice latte :)
Enjoy your day and don't forget to make these rolls this weekend!

Monday, October 17, 2011

DIY- Pumpkin (Facial) Mask (Pumpkin-fest Part 1)

I love pumpkin. I'm not ashamed. John gets annoyed at how EVERYTHING between September and November includes pumpkin... lattes, dessert, soup... everything. But I don't mind one bit! Pumpkin is excellent for your body AND your taste buds.
I mentioned last week that my mom spammed my inbox with all sorts of uses for pumpkin. Some of them were fun, some of them were really, really interesting. There's one use in particular that I've never heard or thought of! In honor of that, I've decided to dedicate this entire week to the greatness of PUMPKIN! So, Pumpkin-fest part one begins today with a fun mask from Bethenny Frankel. Not that I endorse her, but this mask is really great. It also is very edible and delicious ;) Here is the recipe...

2 cups canned pumpkin
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons honey
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine ingredients, smooth on face, relax for 10 minutes and then rinse off! This recipe should make enough for a few applications, so do this with a few friends or store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge for a week at the most.

I've spoken to the benefits of honey, it's a natural antiseptic and is wonderfully moisturizing. Yogurt contains zinc, which is an anti-inflammatory and pumpkin is FULL of incredible antioxidants and vitamins. Frankel says this mask is wonderful for wrinkles, though I haven't used it nearly long enough to either validate or refute that claim.

We have a SLEW of pumpkin-goodness on the docket for this week, but if you need a little something extra *right now*, check out this recipe for homemade pumpkin apple butter. It's amazing! Check back tomorrow for the next part of Pumpkin-fest!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rosette, take two

I thought you'd like the see the silver lining from yesterday's disaster. I ended up making 2 cute little hair barrettes (following the same steps as in this old blog here). I also made a little halo band as well.
For the rosette, I hot glued some lace over felt, with the lace circle being slightly larger than the felt, then I glued the rosette to the circle. Lastly, I glued it to the barrette.
For the bow, I simply tied the 1.5 inch thick ribbon into a pretty bow and then hot glued it to the barrette. You can't tell because I'm not wearing it, but it's actually pretty huge. Probably 4 inches long! It's the biggest bow barrette I've ever made, but it's pretty awesome. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I do. Remember to treat the ends of ribbon with either fray check or clear nail polish.
For the halo, I glued the lace on to the ivory ribbon and then cut out 2 leaf shapes and hot glued them on to the back of the rosette. Then I added another, larger leaf cut from the ivory ribbon. You can't really tell from the picture, because the ivory leaf blends into the background. Lastly, I glued the entire piece on to the halo band. I like to hot glue over where the two ends meet. It makes me feel like that helps the band be more sturdy. Especially because I buy mine from the Family Dollar... 6/$1! What a deal! :)

One of my managers complimented the rosette piece immediately at work last night, so I'm going to make one for her. I'm excited... I have several of them to use up since the blog failed so miserably yesterday. We're heading to my parents today, and I have big plans for stealing my mom's sewing machine since mine is still out of commission. I have SO much to sew! We're also going to watch our nieces, which is really exciting. And if all of that wouldn't be enough... we're going to stop at a cider mill on the way... YAY!

My mom has been emailing me a ridiculous amount of things to do with pumpkins... I'm talking a VASSTTTT array of uses. I'm thinking next week will be entirely pumpkin themed. I'm hoping to get a lot done, since I have very few hours at work scheduled. I'm still looking for a second part-time job in the Lansing/Grand Rapids area... so if you hear of anything, please pass it on!

Friday, October 14, 2011

DIY Rosette Accesories

I'm really not sure why, but I generally like to share my failures in the DIY world, and today we have another example! I finally found the ribbon that was purchased for the ribbon rosette bib necklace tutorial. I decided to make a few different things with the rosettes and got to work. Wow. Let me just tell you what... I discovered that this was in fact NOT wire ribbon. Wire ribbon is pretty necessary for making these rosettes as painless as possible. Instead, it had fishing line (or something similar?) pipped through it. Sad. So, here I stand, generally defeated and with seriously burned fingers, but ready to share the process anyway. It'll work for you. I promise. You're not as clumsy as me. Plus you'll be sure to check that the ribbon is wired and also make sure you have all of your supplies, right? Right.


Step two, backside with glue

Step one

If you've never made a ribbon rosette, it's super easy. I usually make them to apply to a barrette and stick in my hair. Cut about 18 inches of 1-1.5 inch ribbon and twist it into a long straw-like shape and then twirl it around and around until you have your rosette. I generally glue mine with hot glue along the way (on the back side- and this is where the burned fingers come into play). The hardest part is when you've finished twirling it long-ways and you're about to twist it into the rosette shape. The center bud is a bit blah-ish, but once you get going, you're fine. Some people stick pins sideways through the rosette to help it hold it's shape. I just keep twirling and gluing. I made five of these for the bib necklace, and between one and three for the bracelets.
For the bib necklace, cut out a piece of felt to your desired shape. You want it to lay right, so consider how much space you have between your neck. I placed a picture of what my felt looked like. Next, glue your rosettes on and then add a piece of ribbon to each side with glue so you can tie it around your neck. I put little bows on the side of the rosettes. You could also make varying sizes of rosettes if you want a more tapered look. Just cut smaller pieces of fabric (18 in, 12 in, 6 in). My ribbon was pretty thick for the tie, I wouldn't recommend this necessarily. I also wanted black... but the white was all we had here!
I made two different types of bracelets, nearly identical. For the first, I just glued down three rosettes to the ribbon. This was a disaster. It looked awful on my tiny wrist. All bracelets look awful on my wrist. Not sure why I thought this time would be different? The second one, I only used ONE rosette and first, I glued down some lace (I still have tons to use!). It would have been better with just the lace. 

Bracelet #1



SO there is our failure for the month. I'm going to take all of these rosettes and make some cute headwear out of them. I see barrettes and head bands and halos and all of that good stuff. However, first there is a kitchen to clean and a post office to visit. I I had a package stolen from my front door this week, and I want to find out if there's a way to ensure that the post office no longer leaves packages at our door if we aren't home. And then- work! Have a great night everyone, and a wonderful weekend. I'm starting a new dance class tomorrow which should be really fun!

Bracelet #2


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Health Editorial: 1st Edition

Good afternoon!
Our blog today is inspired by two things a) I don't feel super healthy today, and b) I like health. I grew up in a SUPER healthy household. My dad's mom used to tell my parents that if they didn't let me have *some* candy, I'd turn 18 and live off of it entirely. Yeah. That's exactly what happened. However, I've spent a lot of time returning to my roots, which is a healthy lifestyle. My dad has always had a really great intuition about what is good for human beings. I remember him ranting about the dangers of various dietary disasters long before it was recognized by the FDA. He's right to be health conscious, though. We only get one body. I remember watching a documentary about the decline of real, actual food in America. One of the contributors said, "Our bodies are like a building. How can we expect to make a building that will last for 100 years if we don't use good materials." I like that. It really spoke to me. So, obviously 'la vie' has to include health editorials now and then. I have some things that I'll do entire posts about (activated charcoal, for example), but today we're going to start with my top 5 health tips. Are you ready? Let's go.

1. Don't drink your calories.
I have never, ever understood the deal with pop. Stop drinking it for a few months and then try it again... it will burn the whole way down. That right there should tell us something- what we consume shouldn't burn! I'm sure we realize in general how bad pop is for us, but other drinks aren't that great either... juice is FULL of sugar. Water is the single best drink you can put in your system. Our bodies are comprised mostly of water, and we need to replenish it to get the toxins out and keep our system happy. If the health of your body doesn't really speak to you, consider how you feel about food. Think about it: you only get so many calories per day... wouldn't you rather eat them than drink them? Drink more water and less of the other stuff! As a bonus, drinking more water will curb your cravings for food. Often times when we think we're hungry, our body is actually thirsty. If we make sure that we're drinking enough water (I've read varying accounts from 64 oz/day to one oz/lb of weight you are), we'll find ourselves less hungry. ** If you hate water, try making your own flavored versions. Get a glass pitcher, fill it with water and then add slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers or strawberries. It's delicious. Keep a pitcher always full in the fridge. Also, if you need help getting off pop, try mixing soda water with fruit juice, half and half.

2. Embrace honey.
I love honey. I know that seems strange since honey is sugar, but my favorite uses for honey aren't of the edible variety. Try an oatmeal honey mask- this is good for ANY skin type! Honey is naturally an antiseptic and it's also very moisturizing. Your skin will glow. I haven't suffered from seasonal allergies much myself, but I've always heard that relief can be found by eating 1 teaspoon of LOCAL honey each day. The honey contains the local pollens that cause your allergic reactions and forces your body to fight them off, making you more resistant. Here is another blog with 20 unusual uses for honey, though I don't endorse them all.

3. Hot lemon water, daily.
Lemons are another of nature's wonders. They naturally detox the body (I've heard they're good for cancer patients who are going through chemo) and make it more alkaline. Do a quick google search about being alkaline and you'll see that it's important for the body to be balanced. Every day, I squeeze half of a lemon into a glass of semi-hot water and drink it. It makes a huge difference in my skin. In fact, I got out of the habit of drinking in daily in the last few weeks and have immediately noticed a difference. I'm right back on track now! You can use the peel for so many things after you squeeze the juice out. You can rub it over your face to get rid of scars (from acne or the sun or even age spots) since it's a natural and effective bleach. You can slice it and throw it in your garbage disposal to make it smell better. You can add some salt and scrub copper cookware to restore it's shine. Lemons are awesome. For more benefits, visit this site. I also recommend googling it, because you'll find a wealth of knowledge.

4. Consider the source.
Think about what goes in or on your body. I read once that women put 500 chemicals on their bodies each day. Skin is the largest organ of the body, and what comes into contact with your skin is absorbed by your body and into your bloodstream. Try to use natural products and makeup where you're able to, you want to really cut down on the amount of chemicals you slather yourself in. And remember- just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for you. Hemlock and arsenic are natural. Also, American is eating less food and more "edible food particles" all the time. Watch the documentary Food Matters (free on Netflix!) or read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It's incredible how many things we eat every day that aren't food. Try to cut back on processed food and eat more natural, raw foods. Take a look at the ingredients in what you buy... make sure they're actually food. This goes back to the idea of our bodies as a building- we want our building to last a long time, and to be in very good condition during it's later years. You can do that by putting in the proper materials, natural food. Michael Pollan has a great rule that is easy to remember for those of us who struggle with what is good to eat, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The idea is that we need to a) eat food- not processed junk that doesn't even contain real food (some of the "fat free" products on the market are mostly chemicals), b) not too much- don't overstuff yourself, eat the proper amount of calories for your weight, and c) mostly plants- make sure you eat mostly plants (fruits, veggies, grains) and limit your intake of meat, dairy, sugar and chemicals. As Americans we tend to flip our pyramid- though I think we no longer use a food pyramid. Weird.

5. Mind over matter.
Your mindset will determine much of your health, just talk to a hypochondriac. Live life with a postive outlook, become a person who looks for the good in the world, and is solution oriented, instead of being someone who dwells in the bad. Try to start each day by listing 5 (different) things that you are grateful for. When things go wrong, try to remember the things you listed and thank God for those. I had my own reminder of this yesterday... it will really improve your well-being.

That's it for today! I've got just 2 hours to clean the house and get dressed before heading back into work. Have a great day and stay tuned! I know we've been down on crafts lately, I'm having a hard time with the lack of sewing machine. Hopefully I find the missing piece soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy French Dip Sandwiches

I have a confession: this blog is lacking. However, the recipe is really good. Promise. I was still super sick when it was time to cook this, however since I'd been drooling over it all week (and already bought the meat!), I was determined to make it anyway. So, I forgot to take pictures halfway through. Oops. The picture you see to the left is actually the leftover sandwich reheated today. Yeah. It was a thousand times more delicious and juicy Wednesday, but it wasn't half bad today either! If I were to reheat it all over again, the beef would go back in the liquid and they'd be heated together. Separately, it made the meat a bit dry. Oh well. Still good.
This was insanely easy to make and SO delicious. The proportions are for 2 people (2 big sandwiches each). If you want to make more, you probably could get more meat and not even have to worry about more liquids. We had tons left over. I'd say you could add another lb of meat without a problem.
Ingredients:

1.5 lbs of boneless beef chuck pot roast (excess fat trimmed off)
1 can (14 oz) beef broth
1/2 can (7 oz) chicken broth
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 packet of Onion soup mix + 2 cups of water
2 tsp steak seasoning
1/2 cup ginger ale
Sub-shaped rolls of your choice

2-4 potatoes (optional)
Provolone cheese (optional)

Basically, you trim the fat off of your meat, season it with salt and pepper and then throw it in your crock pot. Next, add all of the other ingredients (except potatoes).
Set your cooker to low. After two hours, add the potatoes. At hour 6, take out the meat and slice it. Mine didn't slice so much as fall apart. Return it to the cooker and let it finish out (30 minutes to 1 hour).
For the bread, we used Portuguese rolls. We cut them in half, sprayed them with garlic oil (you could always use butter + seasoning... or nothing at all) and then put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. If you're using slices of cheese, place them on the bread before they go in the oven. You'll want to time it so that they come out when it's time to eat.
Fork/tong the meat on to the bread and then give each person a little bowl of "au jus" to dip his/her sandwich in.
The potatoes are so excellent. They come out nicely seasoned and flavorful from absorbing all of the deliciousness while cooking.
Super easy. Super delicious. I hate red meat... but I love a good French Dip! Again, my apologies for the lack of photographs, next time around we'll do this sandwich justice and beef (heh heh heh) this blog up!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DIY Lace head piece

I was going to do a really pretty necklace from ribbon today, but I can't find the spool of ribbon I bought for it. I'm totally bummed because I wanted to wear it tomorrow, but there's always Friday!
Normally, I'd be better prepared for an event such as this, but I'm recovering from food poisoning today so I don't have the energy to run into town and get extra supplies. SO- I made something out of just a very few items that I had on hand. That should tell you how easy this project is :)

supplies

I have a lace jacket I got from Express years ago. I never wear it and I was going to donate it, but then I realized that the lace pattern was really pretty and I could make TONS of things out of it. So, I kept it. Since today I couldn't make the necklace, I decided to make a head piece out of the lace. I ended up making it an actual headband, but I kind of pictured it with a stretch band (for the halo look) and a ribbon (for a fascinator) as well. I'm really excited about doing a gorgeous fascinator for a future blog (special event, or even wedding-ish), but it isn't quite ready yet.
Generally, I would have liked to make this a little more "finished", but all the things I wanted to finish it with aren't at my house. I'll talk more about later... but for now... the steps!

STEP ONE:Trace the shape you'd like out on to a piece of card stock. I did kind of a vintage-ish shape. You can make it a circle, square, rectangle, flower... any shape that suits you. OR, you can do lots of little shapes (little flowers or what not) and put them together.
After you trace your shape, cut it out and trace the pattern on to a piece of felt. Remember, you will see the felt underneath your fabric, so choose a coordinating color. After that, pin your card stock to the felt and trace again. I had to pin mine because I used black felt and was tracing with a black sharpie. If you have lightly colored materials, pinning won't be necessary. Just remember to put the side that you traced onto facing down. You don't want any leftover markings to show :)

STEP TWO:
Hot glue your felt to your lace. I put the hot glue on to the thick, black parts of the lace so that it wouldn't show through. Depending on what color lace you use, it may not be a problem at all. Just remember to glue the lace and NOT the felt. If you glue the felt, giant globs of hot glue will show through the lovely holes in the lace. Once the lace it attached to the felt, trim up any areas that look strange. I decided I wanted my shape to be a little bit more dramatic, so I trimmed in the indentations more.

STEP THREE:
attached to a ribbon
This is optional: spice up your lace. You can add buttons down the center (pretty ones, not standard), ribbon, crystals... whatever suits you. I'm probably going to run a black ribbon down the center, or accent the flowers in the lace with an iridescent (or maybe glittery) puffy paint. I'm a firm believer that glitter and bling can be done wrong, so we'll see. For this piece, it isn't entirely necessary to add anything. For the upcoming fascinator, it will be 100% mandatory!

STEP FOUR:Fun fact: my best friend's name is Steph. This is the FIRST time in all of my blogging that I was able to type STEP instead of STEPH. I'm not lying. The very first. It's so intense that I had to stop what the entire tutorial to make you, dear reader, aware.
attached to a stretch band
Anyway... attach your lace piece to the head wear of your choice. I show it attached to a stretch band (to wear OVER your hair, like a halo- think flapper), a piece of ribbon (to fasten around your head) and a regular headband. If you're attaching it to the first two, you can apply hot glue down the center of the lace piece and then attach it. If you're putting it on a headband, go to the mirror with the headband on your head and see where you want it to lay (I like mine almost on the side of my head). Then, either mark it physically or hold it down with your hands, lifting up one side at a time to be glued down on to the band.

Another shot on the headband
It's really cute on. I'd show you, but again.. recovering from food poisoning. The only person who should see me right now is the person who lives with me. And if I could stop HIM from seeing me, I would.

Just a side note: if you go to the store to buy lace, you can get lace that has already been modified. This is an easier option if you don't feel comfortable enhancing your own lace.

And now, it's back to bed for me. Tomorrow is a full day of work and ballet class. I *have* to be ready for ballet tomorrow! Enjoy your day, the weather looks BEAUTIFUL in Michigan today, and I hear it's going to be a *real* Indian summer this weekend.

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