Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wooden Box with Drawers

{Operation Organize the Craft Room}
I have locked myself in my craft room today and am determined to finish organizing and cleaning it.  I am taking a break now to make dinner and thought I'd make a quick post.  As I'm organizing the craft room, I am trying to stick with the storage that I have instead of buying anything new.  In my craft cabinet was this nice but boring box.  

Nothing inside of it was of any interest.  I guess it was just a place to put things that didn't really have any other place to go.  It's new responsibilities will be to store miscellaneous sewing notions - velcro, buttons to cover, zippers, etc.  It was going to have to remain in the craft cabinet because space is limited elsewhere.  So, even though it wouldn't be seen, I wanted to make it fun.  I painted it with acrylic paint I had already {remember, I'm trying not to buy anything new for the room.} in the colors of Indian Turquoise, Burnt Orange, and Pure Yellow.  And then I added some paper by echo park paper co., a walk in the park - a blissful day.  {I did buy the paper.  I wanted something new and I planned on using it on several projects, like this small tool box.}

Isn't that super fun and cheerful?  And it was an easy transformation.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Skillet Lasagna

{Pinterest Challenge}
During the week, I eat leftovers.  After work I usually go to Jazzercise and depending on which class I make it to, it might be 8 o'clock by the time I get home.  So popping something in the microwave is what I do usually.  But on the weekend I like to take the time to cook myself a good meal or two.  Because it's just me, there are always leftovers. {I don't bother making smaller meals.  I cook like I have a family to feed.  Except for vegetables and sides.  I usually just make enough for one or maybe two depending on what it is.  Those are quick to do on a weeknight even if it is late.}  I'll divide up the leftovers into individual servings and freeze for later.  {I think of them as my t.v. dinners.}  I will try to plan my weekend menu during the week so I can do the shopping after work/Jazzercise.  This past week, I wasn't sure what I wanted but had settled on an old favorite.  But then one morning while looking at my favorite blogs I saw this recipe for Skillet Lasagna on Tracey's Culinary Adventures and knew right away that I would try it this weekend.

I have to say, it was pretty tasty {it tasted just like lasagna, imagine that.} and pretty simple.  My one minor complaint is that some of the noodles stuck together.  It didn't ruin the dish but I found it annoying and so while it was cooking I tried to unstick some of them.  I used the flat Barilla lasagna noodles.  I wonder if the noodles with the ridges on the edges would have that same problem.

Lynn's recipe rating [keep or toss] - Keep!

Sometimes I like to make myself dessert.  I found a recipe for Vanilla, Salted Butter Caramel and Chocolate Mousse on Pinterest.  I am in love with anything sea salt and caramel right now so I had to try this.  {This is what I was talking about in yesterday's post that used four egg yolks.}  Everything started out fine but as I was working on the mousse base things started to fall apart.  What exactly is creme anglaise?  {maybe I should have looked that up before I got started}  I think I got that part right but the simpler step of whipping the cream may have caused this dessert to go sideways I little.  I think I overwhipped it.  {Is that possible?}  But I carried on.  The bigger problem was with the chocolate portion.  When I stirred the cooled chocolate in preparation for the cream base, it seized up.  I *think* it had cooled too much.  I added the base and made it work, or so I thought.  When it came to layering, the first two parts were fine.  But that chocolate layer was too heavy and it just sunk and didn't spread like the other two layers.  At this point {which was too late of course}, I'm thinking I should have added more of the base to the chocolate.  Oh well, what's done is done.  I was still hoping for a tasty dessert.  I think I wanted something more like pudding so I was disappointed. And that blob of chocolate had hardened even more in the refrigerator.

Lynn's recipe rating [keep or toss] - Toss :(

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Egg White Omelet with Grape Jelly

This post is for my sister Karen who denies ever putting grape jelly on an omelet.  {Odds that she reads this blog are 50-50.}

Yesterday was Friday.  And it is lent so when I was deciding what to make for dinner I knew it would not be meat.  I knew that I planned to make a dessert today (Saturday) that used four egg yolks.  {I hope to share that with you soon.}  So I was going to have some egg whites - why not make an egg white omelet?

So I separated four eggs, whisked the whites with a little salt and made myself an omelet.  {I don't make omelets often but this is the best looking one I've ever made!  And my first egg white omelet as well.}  I think the best way to eat an omelet is with grape jelly.  {Try it, I'll bet you'll be surprised at how tasty it is.}  I remember eating omelets this way back when I was a kid.  But grape jelly is only for omelets.  I eat scrambled eggs plain which I think is kinda funny because aren't they basically the same thing?

And to complete my breakfast for dinner, I had a cara cara orange, buttered toast {yes that is my homemade bread}, and a glass of milk.


P.S.  Sorry the pictures aren't the best.  I was using my iPhone because I was too lazy {and hungry} to use my regular digital camera.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Across the Border Shop Hop

I just got back from a weekend trip to Iowa.  My mom and I visited four quilt shops (2 in Iowa, 2 in Minnesota) as part of the Spring Across the Border Shop Hop.

My mom's crocus were blooming.  Is that what they meant
by spring across the border?

The four shops were:

Pine Needles Quilt Shop - Decorah, IA
Quilter's Window - New Hampton, IA
Voted Best Hospitality by mom and me because they had coffee, lemonade, and cookies.
{But we had stopped for a Shamrock Shake and cookie in Decorah for the drive there.}
Pine Needles Quilt Shop - Racine, MN
All in Stitches - Stewartville, MN

I had a list of projects that I wanted to buy supplies for and had really hoped to stick to that list.  How likely was that?

That went out the window when we got to the second shop and this quilt was in the window. {Did you notice that the second shop was Quilter's Window?  How fitting.}  I loved the blocks and the colors right away.  And as luck would have it they had it in a kit so I had to get it!  

In addition to this Modern Maze quilt kit, my other projects I was shopping for were:

Ruffled Tea Towel {hope to finish before my Norwex party - date TBD}
Cinched Satchel {this is the next project}
Amy Butler Cosmo Bag with long handle
Friendship Braid Quilt {Christmas present that will have to be mailed}

This is by no means my complete project list so I better get busy.

Other weekend notes:

Do you remember my parent's dog Sasha?  Saturday morning when we were leaving the house she was jumping up and down with excitement and ready for a walk.  {Wasn't she tired?  She kept me up half the night with her barking.}  I tried to explain to her that she would have to wait until later that day for her walk.  If she didn't understand it then, she did when we backed out of the garage.  Her excitement turned into dejection at that time.  Talk about sad puppy dog eyes!

Then on Sunday morning when I went outside for our walk, she was waiting for me on the front steps.  She wasn't going to miss out on a morning week two days in a row I guess. 

She enjoyed some extra exercise Sunday morning.  She ran alongside while my dad and me took the four wheeler down to the river.  Off roading down a bumping pasture hill on the back of a four wheeler isn't exactly my idea of fun.  I had to get off and walk some of the time because it was a little too rough {translation - scary} both coming and going.

Why was I risking life and limb on the back of a four wheeler?  To see the eagles and their nest.

She {or maybe it was he} was in the nest when we got there but then flew away.  She/he came back and after sitting on the branch for a little bit went back into the nest.  The mate was sitting in a tree just a little ways up river.  We watched for 5-10 minutes and then left them alone.  It was a nice little visit with nature.

My artistic shot of the eagle and nest.  I wish it hadn't been cloudy then.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Small Wooden Box for Tools

{Operation Organize the Craft Room}
I am in the process of organizing my craft room and it is in disarray currently.  I need to find the time and get in there and clean it up because it is starting to get on my nerves.  I like things neat, orderly and organized so I can't believe I've left it in this state for this long.

I've rearranged storage of my beading supplies and needed to find a new place for my tools.  They were taking up only a little space in a medium storage bin so I wanted something smaller.  I had this wooden box and it was just the right size.

We got a block of aged cheddar cheese for Christmas at work in 2010 {I work for a company that is in the egg, potato, and cheese business.} and it came in this cute small wooden box.  I held onto the box thinking I could use it for something.  And finally I figured out that something.  But I wanted to dress it up a little.

Using Tree Tops scrapbook paper from echo park paper co. I covered the sides of the box.  The reverse side of the paper was green polka dots and using my cricut I cut out the letters spelling TOOLS and glued them on the box.

Simple but cute.  The best kind of project.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sandwich Bread

Want to hear a funny story?

A couple of weekends ago I wanted to bake some bread.  It wasn't the first time I've made bread {I started baking my own bread for my lunch sandwiches last year.} but it would be the first time since I took a bread making class at The Kitchen Window.  Now I should be a bread making genius, right?  Wrong.

We made french bread in class but I was going to make sandwich bread from the recipe in the handout.  As I started mixing together the ingredients I realize the recipe calls for the egg and milk to be room temperature.  Oops, I just grabbed them right out of the refrigerator.  I hoped that wasn't going to be a problem.  I got my dough made and kneaded and set it aside to raise. And I waited.  And I waited.  Then I waited some more.  After 2 1/2 + hours my dough still looked the same size.  Maybe the eggs and milk had been too cold.  Or my house wasn't warm enough.  Then I came up with the brilliant idea of turning the oven on and setting the bowl on the warm stove top.  In fact, I would put it in the back burner.  Thirty minutes later I checked my dough.  Yes, that did the trick and my dough had doubled in size...and baked.  And the bottom of the plastic bowl was melted.  I was not about to throw all that hard work away.  I got rid of the baked dough and still had enough for a loaf of bread.  But for some reason, I made it into two loaves {shaking my head}.  This story does have a happy ending though.  My two mini full size loaves tasted great.

Fast forward to last Saturday and attempt #2 at baking sandwich bread.  This time it also took a long time for the bread to raise so I turned up the heat in my house and put the dough in the bathroom - the warmest spot in my house.  I'm going to have to be more patient during bread baking because I want it to raise fast.  But the bread was great again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cute Little Bottles for Buttons

Wow, 66 degrees here in the Twin Cities yesterday!  A record breaker for sure.  The old record was 59 degrees in 1878.

When the weather gets nice, I love getting outside and walking.  I did that yesterday but maybe I should have thought more about where I was going.

Some of the trails in the park are used for cross country skiing and therefore the snow isn't removed from them.  Oh well, it was fine if you walked carefully.

{Operation Organize the Craft Room}
When I was looking for a jar in my parents basement for my chalkboard jar project, my dad showed me these super cute little milk bottles.

He said they were in a box of stuff he bought at a sale for $3.  I knew right away I had to have them.  I even had an idea for them.

Aren't they a cute way to store buttons?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recycled Window Picture Frame

Okay, here's the truth - the reason for my weekend retreat was one project in particular.  I needed my dad's help in completing this project.  And let me tell you, I love how this came out. I mean, I am over the moon happy with the results.  I am pleased as punch!  Do you get the picture?

Here's the story on how this project came to be:  Sometime last year, I think it was late summer, I took a weekend trip to my parents house.  When I got there, no one was home so I grabbed my camera and started exploring.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, just some interesting abstract shots.  Then I wandered into the top of the barn which my dad was remodeling into something - a storage space I guess.

It was here that I found the jackpot.  There were all kinds of odds and ends including the kitchen sink {okay, maybe it was a bathroom sink} that my dad had been collecting.  The pile of doors was intriguing.  {I've always admired the painted doors windbreak on Normandale Blvd.}  But it was the stack of old windows that I really wanted.  I had this great idea about using the windows as frames for my flower photography.  {Of course, had I been on Pinterest at that time, I would have known that wasn't an original idea.}  So, after checking with my dad, I picked a couple of them out and took them home with me to start cleaning.

Cleaning them up wasn't that bad as they were in pretty good shape.  But I wanted to take the old caulking off around the panes since some was chipped off anyways.  That took more elbow grease than I had so the windows and I took another trip to Iowa for help from my dad. Unfortunately, the result was one cracked pane in one of the windows.  That one will have to wait for later.  And somehow in the transporting I managed to lose one of the screws from the handle.  Oh well, that could easily be replaced.  The handle and latch on this window made it my favorite because it was unique.

Now, I had to select a photograph to use.  I had so many choices since I love taking pictures of flowers.  I selected this one that I took of some dahlias at the Arboretum.

It was taken last fall when I had met my girlfriend Jenell and her two sons there for a morning visit.  I had forgotten to bring my camera so this was taken with my iPhone.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out enlarged but it looks great.  I love this picture because of the vibrant colors and I thought the depth would come across great behind the window.

So, I finally had all the pieces and now I needed to put them together.  I'm not too handy with a staple gun so that it why I enlisted my dad's help once again.  Thanks Dad!  As I said before, I just love how it turned out.  We hung it up in my parent's kitchen to see how it looks.

It looks awesome!

My original idea was to sell this in my etsy shop.  But it's too lovely for anyone else so I'm going to keep it.  Now, I just need to find a spot for it.

Just recently I was thinking this spot in my dining room needed some updating.  {Honest - I was really just thinking that the other week or so}  I don't have many windows in my townhouse {just three, I counted them.} but this will give me one more and the view will be so sweet.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chalkboard Jar

{Pinterest Challenge}
Thanks to Pinterest, I'm finding lots of ideas that I didn't know I needed to make!  I pinned this project from craftaholics anonymous and on my weekend retreat I made it.

It's a pretty simple project once you find a jar.  (That was part of the reason I made it while I was at my parents house - to raid their recycle stash since I didn't have any jars available at my house.)  Using Martha Stewart Chalkboard Paint found at Michael's, I painted the clean jar with four coats of the paint.  Per the instructions, you should wait one hour between coats and then let it cure for 24 hours before conditioning it by lightly rubbing the painted surface with chalk.  I finished my jar by gluing some variegated yarn around the top of the jar and adding a bow.  Lastly, I drew on a design {with chalk of course}.

My original idea for this jar when I decided to make it was to store buttons in it.  But then when rummaging in my parents basement, my dad showed me something even better for the buttons.  (Don't worry, I'll show that to you soon.)  What would you do with this jar?