Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seasonal Makes

The weather has taken a turn for the better here the last few days.  Yesterday was so nice we could be outside without our jackets on. I bought a bunch of mixed greens and figured I had better change our garage window planters while the soil was still soft.  Last year I was too late and had to pour boiling water over the dirt to get my greens in!

I used one bunch of mixed greenery from the store and supplemented with a bit of my own cedar and some of the neighbour's - shh! don't tell!  I made two like this:

I bought a tree shaped ice cube tray for a dollar with the idea of making more crayons or bath fizzers or something.  Last night My Favourite Boy and I made bath fizzers to test it out.  We used balsam fir, sweet orange and a little bit of pine essential oil to scent them.  They smell like Christmas to me!  


The recipe we used was 1 part citric acid; 1 part epsom salts; 2 parts baking soda; witch hazel to mist them and about 1 tsp of our essential oil blend.  We colored the epsom salts to get the speckled look.  The outer trees are green by the way; it's not showing up so much in this picture.

Since Advent begins tomorrow I decided I had better finish off a cross stitch project I started last year during Advent.  I finished my cross stitch as a flat fold as best I could.  I messed it up a bit, but I think I'm the only one who can tell :)

This is what a flat-fold finish is like:

Sort of like a little easel is the best way of explaining it.  I bought this fabric this year and I love it.  I think it's the perfect fabric for this so I'm glad I waited.

Here it is next to the Advent centerpiece My Favourite Girl made in Sunday school last year.  Each week you pull a tissue paper 'flame' out of the candles.  As far as kids crafts go I think this one is spectacular, and plan on keeping it for as long as I can!  Isn't it just the cutest?

I heard back from the church about the wedding coordinator job:  they can't decide between myself and another applicant so we have to respond to some scenarios they are creating for us next week.  All this will take place via email - thank heavens.  It makes me feel good that I'm the top two; of course I don't know how many applicants there were.  Maybe only two!

I also just applied for a job with a company that makes school lunches.  Not cafeteria style: parents order the lunches and they are made in a commercial kitchen and delivered to the schools.  This would be a great one because it's from 9-1:30 during the week and whenever school is out you don't work.  Fingers crossed I get called for an interview next week.  Prayers please!  One of our cars needs a replacement transmission so the sooner I can get working the better! 

Thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Newest Hooky Project

I have discovered Pinterest.  If you have a few hours to kill and want to spend them in front of the computer screen, try it out.  I found a picture of a crocheted cowl with a link to a pattern yesterday and loved it.  I pulled out some yarn I was saving to make myself a regular scarf and set to work on it last night.   It took several hours, but I finished it tonight.  There are 23 rows of 55 crochet stitches; some double, some single and some half-double.  It's wide enough I can pull it up around my ears if I don't have my hat.  I guess I twisted the foundation row while I was beginning and ended up with an Infinity scarf.  Oh well; at least they're all the rage right now!

(Please ignore those tired eyes: it's the result of too much cross stitch and crochet recently.)

If some of you are wondering how my other, big, crochet project is going; you know, the one I was supposed to have finished for July 2, well, it's coming along.  I think I'm almost half done.  I am not going to speculate any more on when I think I might finish it.  Every time I do that I end up putting it down for weeks at a time.  Let's just say it will make a nice first anniversary gift.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Week

...or maybe I should say Last Week, since it's Sunday.  I have never gotten that figured out: I consider Monday the first day of the week, not the second.  Anyway, assuming Sunday is the last day of the week, this is what has been going on:

My Favourite Boy finally lost one of his upper front teeth!  This one has been loose for months and months.  He was so excited, and I would love to show you the picture of his glowing face right after he yanked it out, but there was quite a bit of blood involved :O.  So here he is the next day, still fairly excited because the Tooth Fairy had been to visit already.  He insists there are no such thing as fairies, except the Tooth Fairy!


I will miss those little front teeth; mostly because when the adult ones come in they are so big and look goofy until the kids grow into them.

We had our first snowfall this week!  It wasn't much and it was gone pretty quickly, but it did put me in the holiday spirit enough to buy a winter urn filler and fresh wreath for the door. We also saw this weird cloud in the morning:  look in the center for the spiral.

It stretched downward for a ways and then it blew eastward and disappeared.  We were wondering if it was the beginning of a tornado that never materialized.  It was weird anyway.

Now back to Christmas:  I joined a cross stitch ornament challenge and finally finished some so I could post it on this blog.  Lots of inspiration there!  Here is what I stitched if you don't see my stuff on the challenge blog:

I was hoping to make some cake pops to put in our church bake sale yesterday, but I burnt my chocolate.  The sugar in the chocolate crystallized, so I couldn't use it to coat the cake pops because there was the odd crunchy bit.  Instead of throwing it out I made these:

I call them Merry Peppermint Crisps.  You spread white chocolate on a Christie's chocolate wafer and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top.  The candy cane bits will conceal any of the crystallized sugar bits.  I did not put these in the church sale!  They're almost gone anyway:)  I think these might go in my cookie boxes this year.

I had my first job interview in ten years this week.  I was not nervous at all before I went because it had been so long I had forgotten what I would probably be asked.  Once I got in there I remembered and then the nervousness kicked in.  I know I was twisting one of my rings around on my finger during the interview.  My hands would have been shaking if I hadn't.  The job is for Wedding Coordinator at our church.  I will know next week if I got the job or not.  I also applied at the library, but not for any specific position so I won't hear anything from them unless something comes up.  Well, hopefully anyway!  With our new car payment and My Favourite Boy in a new after school activity I think some extra income will help.  So wish me luck and put me on your prayer list please!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There's nothing like a little crafting to start your day!  I woke up early this morning and took advantage of the quiet time to make some pendants I have had on my 'to do' list for a while.  I just love the looks of these:  I'm sure you can tell because I made so many!

I used silver plated wire and glass, stone or fresh water pearl beads.  I'm having a tough time deciding which one I want to keep!  Probably the pearls, which are in the middle, but the frosted blue glass (top left) are a close second.

Another kind of nesting has been going on here lately:  cleaning!  I cleaned and organized the storage room in the basement and now I can find my wrapping paper and extra foodstuffs.  This weekend I cleaned out my craft area.  It was atrocious I can tell you.  I moved my fabric and sewing stuff up to the spare room, because the light for sewing in the basement is not very good.  That freed up a cupboard to put kiddie crafting supplies in - the kind they need permission to use - and get them out of the storage room.  I put all my Avon stuff in a rolling cart and put it in the storage room.  Part of me thinks that the Avon stuff distracts me from crafting so I wanted it out of my creative space.  I can just roll it out when I need to do orders and process the catalogues and then put it away. I also moved my table because I didn't like sitting with my back to the rest of the basement.  This is what it looked like before:


 Doesn't it look better now?  I can actually tuck my chair under the table! The messy table in the foreground belongs to the kids!
 I want to replace the light with a pendant one, and hang it right over the table for better lighting.  My ageing eyeballs are really noticing poor lighting these days.

A. also cleaned out the garage so it's almost ready to put both cars in.  I say almost ready because I am still sanding down a bookshelf in there.  Fingers crossed that will get done this week. My Favourite Boy had to explain to his piano teacher why there are books all around the perimeter of the living and dining room.  I wonder if he was embarrassed?

Weekend Fishing

The kids and I made some funky crayons this weekend. They were telling me about a crayon maker you can buy that uses broken crayons to make new ones.  I told them we could do it without the crayon maker and they were both gung-ho to try it.   I had picked up this mould at the thrift store a few months ago, thinking it would be good for just this thing.

They picked through their crayon box to find the best colour combinations.  Once they had the cavities filled with broken, peeled crayons, I put the mould in the oven at 375 degrees F. for about 10 minutes.  It's funny how you can tell the cheap crayons from the better ones once they melt:  cheap crayons turn very watery and lose a lot of their colour.  Crayola crayons take a lot longer to melt.

The' newly designed' crayons came out looking like this:

Nice and bright but all the tails cracked off when we were trying to get them out of the mould.  Now I know why it was at the thrift store!  

Anyway, the kids had fun and they like coloring with the fish crayons.  Next time we will pick a better mould. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shortbread Candy Bars

I tried this recipe from Everyday Food (Oct. 2010) last night and they are goo-ood!  If you don't have any Halloween chocolate left over you might still be able to get yourself a bag at a very good price.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups assorted chocolate candies or roughly chopped candy bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer beat butter, brown sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.  Add flour and beat on low speed until mixture is crumbly.  Press dough into an 8 inch square baking dish.  Bake until golden brown and firm, 30-35 minutes.
Scatter chocolate chips only on top of shortbread.  Bake until soft, approx. 1 minute.  Evenly spread melted chocolate chips over shortbread using the back of a a spoon.  Scatter candies over top.  Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.  Refrigerate briefly to set the chocolate, then cut into bars.

These are very, very rich, but oh, so good!  I would suggest using a slightly larger pan so you don't get so much shortbread in every piece.  There's a lot of butter in there!
We used a combination of miniature Oh! Henry bars, Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp, Aero, Crispy Crunch and Reese's Pieces.
I guess I could have "styled" this photo a little better, but I was pretty excited to share the results with you.  That, and I had to make sure to take a picture before any more of them got eaten!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Grey; It's Gloomy

...I need a bit of cheer.  After I dropped the kids off at the bus this morning I headed straight downstairs to do some crafting before the call of dishes/errands/taking a shower took over.  I even put some Christmas music on the get into the spirit of things!

This is a project I have been wanting to do for ages.  I have been collecting the supplies at after Christmas sales for two years, and have almost donated them all in fits of purging!  Last night I did the first, and most time consuming job: glueing all the caps to the glass ornaments.  Thankfully I only broke one :)
I had an assortment of red balls: some are frosted, a few are glittered and the rest are shiny.  All told there are 79 glass balls and I used them all, except one that got glued into the box :(

The only other thing you need is a wire coat hanger.  Mine was fairly thick metal, and I wish I had a flimsier one.  Who would ever think you would wish for a flimsy wire coat hanger?  Anyway, all you have to do is thread the balls onto the hanger that you have bent into a circle shape.  At first it is a little frustrating because they all just hang straight down; but keep going and eventually they bunch together nicely and start to look like something a reasonably capable crafter would make.  I made a bow for the top to hide the metal ring for hanging.  I'm not completely happy with the bow, but that's something that can always be frou-frou-ed with later.

If I did it again (and I just might because I would love one made with silver, pink, lime green and turquoise),I would buy one of those big containers of plastic balls.  It's making me a little nervous on how I am going to store this wreath without any damage for 11 months at a time.  I would also use more ornaments and try to find a coat hanger that's a little easier to manipulate.
If you want a little more inspiration, look here.  You can also find instructions with pictures on the same site on this page.
If you make one send me a picture!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mantle Make Over

We have the same mantle as everyone else on our street.  There must have been a sale on at the builders warehouse when they were making this subdivision!  As far as mantles go, it's fine.  I am grateful to have it and I have for sure seen worse.
 At one point in our house's history the owners put new stone over whatever else faced the fireplace before.  Instead of removing the mantle, putting new facing one and then replacing the mantle, they just put the stone around it.  Because the stone sticks out over the mantle, and in some spots by quite a bit, it has made putting things on the mantle a little challenging.  Because the stone is not completely flat, you can't really hang anything from it.  Any pictures or mirrors I have, have to rest on top of the mantle (thereby taking up valuable display space) and be secured by chains into the ceiling above it.

(See how the stone sticks out?)

Things like this plate rack actually hang over the edge; just waiting for something to hit it and knock it over.

Pulling the mantle off was out of the question.  The quickest thing I thought to do was to face the mantle with more wood and trim to make it a little deeper.  I had to use 1/4 inch wood pieces for the sides to fit between the stones:

...and I used 3/4 inch pine for the front, along with some more trim at the top to add an extra 1/2 inch.  I just nailed everything in, then glued and nailed the trim on.  The actual facing and staining only took a day to complete; I only got the thing varnished yesteday!

  I have been debating whether or not to do an aged paint treatment on the mantle so that's why it took me so long to decide whether to varnish it or not.
Here is the mantle now, and I can say it's much more fun to play around with!

(The blue candles don't really "go" here, but you get the idea!)

I'm not sure if I will put the mirror back on or not.  It takes up a lot of space and is so heavy I still have to rest it on the mantle.  If I can find a lighter one and try to hang it off the stone I will. For the moment I am loving the white iron decoration against the stone.  I think I'll move the candles and put my white birds there, currently living in a box slated for the church sale!  I also found some white porcelain fruit that would look pretty good up there I think.

Autumn Makes

I have seen photos of mason jar soap dispensers all over blogland for a while now.  Back in the spring I purchased a Kerr canning jar from the thrift store and a bottle of Dial soap.

 Yesterday I finally got the gumption to put one together and here's how I did it:

Step one was to use a hack saw to cut the top off the dial soap container.  Yes, I did remember to empty the container first!  I then trimmed the cut off piece so it would fit underneath the jar lid.

I wanted to cut a hole in the top of the jar lid big enough for the threaded part of the dial soap container to fit into.  I used my 3/4 inch spade bit, but as you can see it didn't really work out!

The lid was too soft and the jar kept spinning around as the bit was turning.  Placing the jar between my feet while I drilled didn't really work to keep it still.  These lids are so soft that really all you need is an awl to poke a couple of holes and then cute the circle out with some small tin snips.  I was able to save my mistake by cutting a bigger hole with my tin snips.

A good rummage around the garage and I found some clear silicone.  I put a goodly amount on the area around the threaded spout of the plastic Dial container; then I put some around the top to make it water tight and to cover the sharp edges!

The hardest part was waiting for the silicone to dry!  After about four hours it was dry enough I could put it all together and add the soap I took out the Dial container in the first place.  Obviously using clear soap in a clear jar and photographing it against a white wall isn't the best choice, but I was too impatient to wait until I had better props!

It will be interesting to see how the lid holds up: how long will the silicone seal last and will there be any rust.  It was a fun project, and easy to do if you have the right tools.  It would be fun to find one of the thick, old glass Mason jars with the zinc lids and make a soap dispenser out of that.  I used to have one of those but it got broken somewhere along my way.  Maybe I'll get lucky at the Sally Ann next time:)

Here are a few snapshots of other things I have done lately:

Fall window boxes for my house:

Pumpkin Spice Whoopee Pies:

Cupcakes for a birthday party with a New York theme:

Halloween cookies made by my two monkeys!

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