Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hit the bar for breakfast!

Nothing says good morning like a nice, intoxicating, fast and easy breakfast. The only thing easier than this would be drinking the most important meal of the day, but alas....unless you're currently in college, that's probably not such a good idea. However, the recipe I am about to share with you IS.

These chewy, thick oatmeal bars are effing AMAZING. SO very much tastier and scrumptiousier than those boxed ones that cost a fortune. Even my husband likes these bars and he hates half the ingredients that I put in them. Super easy too! Here's what you need...

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed in food processor or blender...or be lazy like me and use baby oatmeal.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (I used Craisins, raisins, and dried blueberries)
1 grated carrot
1 grated apple (or chunked...however you like it.)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used Skippy creamy peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey (if you don't have or can't use honey, you can use maple syrup for this too)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11"x 7"pan with parchment paper, allowing some extra to hang over the edges so you can easily lift the bar out after baking. Lightly grease with non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts if you are using any. Add the vanilla, olive oil, honey/syrups and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. If you have some little tykes hanging on to your pants asking all those "why" questions, put them to task with mixing it all together with their grubbly, cute little fingers. It's why we had kids right?? Free labor? Spread the semi-slop goodness in the prepared pan and squish those suckers down until they're as dense as that blonde chick your little brother has started dating. Bake the bars for 30 minutes or just until they are brown around the edges.

Now, I know you want to dig on in because the smell is intoxicating, but you need to restrain yourself. We need to let these suckers cool down so you don't burn off your taste buds and miss out on the whole yummy thing. Let em cool in the pan for about 30 minutes and then lift them out with the edges of the parchment paper. Let them cool about another 10 minutes and bust out the sharpest knife you are allowed to use unsupervised and cut those bad boys down to size! I cut mine into squarish shapes, but if you want to live dangerously, you can cut them into bite size pieces. Trust me. Unless you want some help in the regularity department, don't make them snack size.

I put waxed paper in between layers of the bars and put them in a Zip-lock freezer bag and keep them in my fridge. You don't have to do the fridge thing, I just like mine cold.

.......Don't ask why there's no pictures.

Until next time......

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

K cups on 'da cheap!

I know many of us have (or desperately want) a Keurig coffee maker. They are a mama's best friend when you need that cup in a seriously quick fashion. Problem is, I might have to sell my daughter to fund the cups that go in it. Now, I hear there'e a reusable one you can buy. I'm sure its awesome...But you have to buy filters and such to go in it, so they are still making bucks off of it. I have yet to buy any more pre-filled cups. I am still using the sample ones that came with the machine that I got on Christmas. I make mine all in advance for the week.

Here's what you need:

Saran Press and Seal wrap
used K cups
ground coffee
1/2 TBSP measuring spoon

First things first..Use the K cup for the caffeinated goodness it holds in it's cuptastic loins. Take a nice break and enjoy it. You deserve it!

Now, ya know how it says on the lid not to remove the foil top? Be the rule breaker you know you are deep down inside and rip that sucker off!! Dump the coffee out in the garbage and rinse out the grounds that are still clinging to the filter like that creepy guy that had a crush on you in 9th grade. Don't worry if you can't get it completely clean...I never get mine perfect either. Let it dry overnight.

**fast forward 24 hours**

Take the 1/2 TBSP measuring spoon and start to fill it. One spoonful at a time with a little light tamping (packing it down) in between each spoonful. Don't be getting all aggressive with it because you will rip the filter out. Fill it up to the little ridge leaving some space for the coffee to expand during brewing.

Grab that Press and Seal wrap and tear off a piece about 4 inches wide. Tear it into 3 equal squares.

Take the first one and stretch it just a smidge and cover the top of the cup. Smooth it down and mold it tightly to the sides of the cup. Grab a second piece of the wrap and do it a second time. Make sure to run your fingers around the rim a few time to give it a nice tight seal.

Use your newly filled cup just like you normally would.

Guess what its time to do now?? Chugalug, ladyparts! And for goodness sake, don't throw it away. Look how many times I've reused these things! I'm all green and stuff.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Betcha can't use just one!

We've all done it. Bought the way over-priced ones in the drug store. We've all marveled at the awesomeness of them sucking the greasies right off your nose...But MAN. I might have to sell the Creature to keep myself supplied with them. Betcha can't guess what we are going to show you today....................

That's right!!

How to make new candles out of your husbands earwax!

...wait. That's for next week.

DIY oil absorbing sheets in an upcycled powder compact! Who knew those expensive, name brand blue sheets were nothing but tissue paper??

Supplies are:
old compact with mirror
butter knife
pretty paper
mod podge and paint brush
white tissue paper (got mine for like 15 cents a pack at Walgreens after Christmas)
glue gun
trinkets (optional)

First things first. Trace 2 circles onto the back of the paper. Cut 'em out...Put 'em aside.
Next, take your trusty butter knife and slide it in between the edge of the powder and the compact. It should pop out very easily. If it doesn't, you can take an eyedropper and drip some acetone to help loosen the glue.

Since I couldn't get all the residue off, I cut out a smaller circle and glued it to the bottom, white side up. I used that same circle to make a template for the tissue paper.

Nothing difficult. I figured since I was making a few, I should just cut the entire pack into circles and put the extras into a zipper baggie. AND, I was even smart enough to put the template into the bag so when i started to run low I could make more! Look at me working smarter not harder! I am so smart - SMRT.
So now all we really have left to do is cover the compact with paper. I ended up needing 3 circles because my compact had a clear lid and you could still see the brand. I used my trusty hot glue gun to attach the circles and my nifty little charm from a necklace I got from a cool chick named Megan. She enjoys things of the red plastic cup nature if you ever need to get her a gift.

Back to business....Gluing stuff. Try to avoid your fingers when using a glue gun. Not that I have any PERSONAL experience or knowledge. Just a little bit of safety minded precautions.

I made sure to get the Mod Podge on the edges between the paper and the plastic of the compact to help keep it from peeling off from being so lovingly placed in purses and thrown into diaper bags. You only need a thin coat so it doesn't take it long to dry at all. While I was waiting for the top to dry, I covered the inside with Mod Podge over the paper and charm. Once everything is dry, load it up with some tissue paper circles and get ready to de-shine in style!!

Let's Get Cookin!!

So it is the newest rage... make your own play kitchen! So I joined the "in" crowd and did it! If you'd like a much cheaper kitchen renovation that the typical one, stick around...

I will do my best to give you step by step instructions, just keep in mind some of those steps include drinking, swearing, kicking the husband out of the studio for "helping" too much and many, many (fun?!) mishaps. So, with that warning, let's get to it!

Step 1:
Go to a thrift store, look on craigslist, scour the streets for a REALLY cheap desk. You want to spend as little as possible, so if it doesn't turn out as planned, you're not out much money. Because, well, I am doing this to save money. If I wan't to spend $100 on a desk to make it, I would just buy the damn kitchen. But I digress...

This beautiful piece of furniture was a whopping $5. Talk about a score! now I stood in line for 45 minutes to pay for it, but I got it for ONLY FIVE DOLLARS!!!

Step 2:
Research and make a plan. I looked at many play kitchens, and found one in a design I liked that would work with the desk I had already found. I think it is easier to find a layout to work with the piece you select rather than vice versa because you can modify it a little.

Step 3:
Draw out your plan! You do not have to be an artist, but it will make things go smoother in the long run. TRUST ME. Plans are awesome. Why do you think architects use them??

Step 4:
Dismantle your desk down to the basics. I didn't take a picture of this step because, well, it was just a bunch of boards laying around. I figured you would know what I meant, so I skipped that :)

Step 5:
Using your PLAN (you have one right?? If not, go back to Step 3!!), start building your base. I cut my side pieces of the original desk to 24". I added a bottom as well so I could put castors on it and have the ability to move the kitchen about. The castors add an additional 2 inches, so the total height was 26". I then cut supports for the sides of the refrigerator and stove. My sink was going to be in the center. I have now created the 3 work areas of every kitchen ;)

Step 6:
I was very fortunate my desk came with a hutch. If it hadn't, it would have definitely affected my plans, but since it did, I ran with it!! I used the hutch exterior as is, no alteration to the height. However, I created 2 shelves on the inside. One was for dishes, the other for the microwave. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the microwave. This was one of my favorite parts to the kitchen! I used a picture frame for the door. Added hinges, a handle and decoupaged a keypad. Viola! Microwave.

Step 7- ????????

So this is what happened... we went to our kids first school program. I put the wrong SD card in the camera, so we had no memory left to take pictures. So I sacrificed the "in progress" photos to take ones of my children. I KNEW you would understand!

I cut out the hole for the sink and faucet during this time. Quite easy with a skill saw. Start your hole buy drilling inside the area to be removed with a large drill bit.

I also cut the doors for the refrigerator and oven. This is the part where the husband helped too much. He misread a measurement and cut one of the doors too small. It was still usable, but I was close to a nervous breakdown and another Bloody Mary. Despite this one mishap, he helped way more than he hurt. I wouldn't have finished without his help. (Thank you, Honey!) After painting the doors (and the rest of the kitchen), I installed them using hinges and magnetic closures. <------ Great idea to keep the stove from falling open on little toes. Add handles to each door, and done!!

Step Next (sorry, lost count) :
Paint it!! I started painting a little early, just to check the color, and because, well, I am quite impatient. I used oil paint paint because it is extremely durable. Messy, takes a long time to dry, but DURABLE. After the paint dried, I installed the faucet according to its directions, minus connecting it to hot and cold lines. ;) I also installed the sink.

Step 11:
The oven... I used wooden craft circles for the eyes: 2 large and 2 small painted black. For the oven knobs, I found some wooden wheels in the craft department. These worked out great as knobs. The holes were large enough to insert a screw, but still allow it to turn. After I painted them black, I screwed them to the cook top. Perfect!

Step 12 (to keep it consistent):
Make the curtains for the window and sink. Yes, there is a window behind the curtains. I used another picture frame and screwed it to the back panel. It even has an outdoor scene... from Norway! This kitchen is perched on a cliff overlooking a beautiful bay in Norway. Nice. Originally, I planned to make the area below the sink a dishwasher, but this project, as with most remodels, took longer than expected.

Step 13:
Lean the kitchen base on its back. Install the castors (if you want it mobile). Place kitchen upright on its wheels.

Step 14:
Install the hutch on top on the base. Be sure to use brackets to keep it secure on top of the base.

Step 15:
Touch up any boo boos from installing things. Just be prepared, there WILL be areas you need to touch up.

Step 16:
Unveil the kitchen to your kids that have been wondering where you have been disappearing to the past week...

I know I may have left out a few steps, but I explained the camera mishap. I also didn't want you to hear what terrible things I said when something didn't work out, or I dropped a piece on my foot. But if you have any questions, leave a comment or email us!

This is the best gift I have ever given my children. They love it, and I love it keeps them so busy!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Super Easy Winter Wreath!!

...Wow. It's been WAY too long. The holidays got the best of us all it seems! I hope everyone had a wonderful time over the last few weeks. Now let's get back to making awesome stuff for cheap!!

We are making a winter wreath because, well, it IS winter. You can use any color and decoration your pretty little heart desires. This takes hardly any time and as close to zero skill as one can get. You will need:

1 skein of yarn
a round styrofoam wreath base
hot glue gun
felt to cut snowflakes from
ribbon for hanging

Got all your supplies rounded up? Fantastic!

I didn't take too many pictures because honestly, if you can't figure this out, you probably shouldn't be using the glue gun unsupervised. So, we are going to take the styrofoam circle and put a small dot of glue on the side you deem to be the back. Place the end of your yarn in the dot of glue and hold it until it is secure. Now, just start wrapping the yarn around the foam, keeping it tight.

I put a little line of glue every few inches to keep it case I dropped it...and so you can put it down without worry if you have to go retrieve your baby who is very loud when she wakes up from a nap.

When you have completely covered the foam, just dot another bit of glue onto it and hold the end down until it dries. Now you are ready to decorate!! I used some pretty blues and white to cut out old school snowflakes. You can use anything you want! Be creative...Use what you have around.

(this reminded me I need to buy more ketchup)

I used some ribbon from the dollar store to hang it. I made a quick bow and hot glued it to the ribbon, let it dry, and hung that bad boy up. Enjoy!!