Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Potato Soup

 I honestly think that there is nothing that makes my tummy happier than a hot bowl of potato soup! I originally used a recipe to make this soup, but over the years of adding a little of this and leaving out a little of that and so on, I created my own recipe.  It is so simple, and so delicious!  I made this last night for the school board members to have for lunch today when they came to observe the school.  I needed to make a ton, and luckily this recipe allows me to do that.  I started with 7 good-sized Idaho potatos (and put them in this beautiful handmade bowl a friend of mine traded me for one of my paintings. It's good to have talented friends!)  Wash and peel the potatos.

This picture is not necessary as I'm sure everyone knows what peeled potatos look like.  I just like how my peeler matches my new striped jar (in the background) and wanted to show it off.  I do love matchy things!

 Cut your potatos (action shot)

 Cube your potatos into about 1 inch pieces.  This helps them get softer, faster.
 Cover your potatos in water (I never measure this part... or really any part. Just go with it.) and add seasonings.  Really it's your own preference.  I always use seasoning salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.
 Add 5 chicken bullion cubes. This is all just to season the potatos while they boil.  We'll season to taste later.  

Boil the potatos until they are soft, then mash them up.  The steam coming up from the pot will be very hot!  Please be careful not to burn yourself.

After the potatos are boiled and mashed, add 1/3 cup of milk, 3 TBS of butter, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Once all of this is stirred in to the pot until melted, taste the soup and add more seasonings to taste.  I use more of the seasoning salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, but I also add black pepper and onion and herb flavored Mrs. Dash.

Top with more cheese (if desired, I always do) and enjoy!

To serve this to the board members today, I brought it in a crock pot.  One of the school secretaries brought my empty crock pot to me after the board had left.  She said it was a huge hit, and it was the first dish that was empty.  This is one of those foods that tastes even better the day after you cook it, so it's great to make as a make-ahead meal!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bracelets from Bottles

To start, I cut the middle out of a water bottle about an inch and a half wide.  I got some fabric and a piece of felt to wrap it.

 Cut the felt wider than the bracelet and hot glue it down.

Wrap the felt all the way around and glue it down.

Put hot glue on the inside of the bracelet and attatch the extra felt to the inside, wrapping it around the edges.

Get the fabric that you want to cover the bracelet with and wrap it the same way you did the felt.

After I wrapped the fabric, I attatched some fabric rosettes using the same technique as I did here.

I like how it turned out.   I did another one wrapped in yarn.
 Start by tying the yarn around the bracelet piece and keep wrapping.

 When you get finished wrapping it, you can leave it plain or add a pattern. I added a criss-cross pattern.

I like this one more than the other one!

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle


Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Survivor

Here in Alabama, Mother Nature is very confused.  It is January.  You know this, I know this.  The weather does not know this.  We have had beautiful, sunny, 60-something degree weather all weekend (not that I'm complaining)!    My husband and I enjoyed the day yesterday, and today decided to get a jump start on our Spring Cleaning. 

When we moved down here, we unpacked most everything, but some little things got shoved into a closet to be dealt with another day.  Today was that day.  We found things in that closet that we haven't seen in 7 months and forgot we had.  We realized that if we haven't missed any of this stuff, what was the point in keeping it?  We got our garbage bags and started filling them up.  We came across one box that held my crap projects from the most horrible class I ever took ceramics class in college.  Normally I pride myself on being crafty and artsy and creative.  However, the ceramics classes I had to take in college made me question everything.  I was really bad at it.  Surprisingly bad at it.  Nothing I made was even close to what I was trying to create.  My teacher graded my effort, thank goodness, rather than the final outcome.  I passed with a C. 

We began going through this box, laughing at my attempts at a teapot, a jar, etc.  Then I unwrapped the only thing I made in that class that I was proud of.  A little spiral pot with a lid.  The assignment was to make a perfect sphere.  That part I failed miserably.  What I succeeded at was making something that resembles a  beehive.  Getting permission from my teacher, I took that ball and ran with it.  I even made some little clay bees to attatch to the sides.  We decided to keep the little beehive after all.  It is the only survivor from the box of failed ideas.  It now sits on the bookcase downstairs. And I think it's adorable.

We met, we married, we lived...

I originally saw this idea on Pinterest, and I thought I'd try to make my own version.  I had this frame in a closet upstairs that I wasn't using, and I knew it would be perfect for this.  I typed out the words on a computer and printed them out.  The map was the only thing I had to buy ($1.99 at Walmart).  I traced out the heart shapes over the towns on the map where we met (Florence), got married (Decatur), and have lived for the past year (Hueytown, all in Alabama).  My husband really thought it was neat.  I guess it made him nostalgic, thinking about all the places we've seen and everything we've been through to get us where we are today.  It was a great conversation starter, and it brought up some great memories in each of these towns.  I made it because I thought it was pretty, but besides that, it is a great reminder of where we came from. I'm so glad we have this.

Wanna know a secret?

If you put a wooden spoon over a boiling pot, it won't boil over.  Thank you, Pinterest!

I had read this, but didn't believe it.  It actually works.  I was making Kraft macaroni and cheese. You know, the kind in the blue box that 5 year olds love? Yeah, that one.  I have a bad habit of walking away from a pot on the stove and then it boils over making that very scary sizzle noise.  I thought that this time I'd at least try the wooden spoon trick.  It never once got even close to boiling over.  If anyone knows the science behind this, I'd love to hear it!  I am amazed.

French Braid... On the side

I am so proud of myself.  I finally did something with my hair other than wearing it straight or curly.  That's all I've known to do with it for nearly 24 years.  My husband and I were getting ready to have our Saturday out and about, and I really just wanted to feel pretty.  I'm tired of always looking the same.  My best friend can take her hair and pull it low to the side and put three boby pins in it and it will look beautiful.  Well I wanted to do that too.  But my layers were too short to all make it.  But then I tried a side "french" braid.  I started braiding it, and each time I twisted it, I picked up more hair.  When I finally reached the other side, I put a ponytail holder in it and hoped for the best.  To my astonishment, it worked! I had the pretty, low side thingy going on that I love on other people!  And the back looked pretty darn cute if I do say so myself! 
To jazz it up even more, I clipped in a red rose that I made from felt (you can find that tutorial from my Valentine's Wreath post here)

Here it is from the front, along with my wonderful husband, who was nice enough to take pictures of the back of my head because my arms don't bend that way! =)

Valentine's Day Wreath

To make a Valentine's Day wreath, I used some slightly off white yarn, three sheets of red felt (one sheet for each flower), and a wreath form I got from JoAnn's

 Wrap the wreath form completely with the yarn.  This part takes forever, so grab a glass of wine, pop in a movie, and enjoy the quiet time.

Once you have the wreath wrapped, start making your flowers.  Cut your sheet of felt into four strips, then divide each strip into three squares. Cut the squares into circles. You will use twelve circles per flower.

 Take one circle, and fold it in half...

 Fold in one third of the half...

Fold up the bottom third.  You will make an "N"  or "Z" shape depending on how you look at it. Hot glue inside the folds to keep them together. Repeat this with 5 more circles.

 Glue your 6 circles onto another circle (to give them a base)

Fold four more circles the same way you did the first 6.  Cut the point off the fold and save it for later. You will use it.

Glue the 4 cut folded pieces around a spiral made from the last circle.  I didn't take pictures of making the spiral, but it's very simple:   Take your last circle. Cut it into a spiral. Roll the spiral up onto itself.  It will look like what is in the center of this flower.

Repeat the process to make the other two flowers.  Grab the pieces left over from cutting the points off the folds in a previous step.  They will look like smaller circles.  We will make petals out of these.

Put a dab of glue at the bottom of one of the circles and pinch it sealed to make a petal shape.

I put three of these petals between the top two flowers and three more between the bottom two flowers.
 And there you have a simple, elegant Valentine's Day wreath.  Great thing about this is that nothing is attatched the wreath form so after Valentine's Day is over, I can unwrap the form, and change it for St. Patrick's Day and other holidays!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pizza Sticks

This has become one of my husband's favorite meals.  He'll ask for it whenever we don't have anything big planned for dinner.  That's fine with me because it's cheaper than going out and so simple to make.  Plus, it tastes amazing!

Cast of Characters: Pepperoni (regular size), string cheese, and crescent rolls

The scariest part of the whole processes: opening the can of crescent rolls.  I have a friend who never makes these unless he has someone over that will open the can for him! It always makes me jump whenever it finally pops open.

 After you open the crescent rolls, go ahead and open the packages of string cheese.  If you wait and do them one at a time, your hands will be really slippery from handling the dough.  It can be hard to open the string cheese after that. This is really just a time saver.

 Place one piece of cheese on the straight, flat side of the roll.

 Put three pepperoni pieces onto the piece of cheese.

 Roll the sides of the crescent roll in on top of the cheese and roll it up.  Try to cover it so that none of the cheese is showing.

 Do this with all eight and bake according to your crescent roll package instructions.  Mine say 375 for 8-10 minutes.

 They will come out golden and delicious looking.

You can serve them with ranch or marinara sauce for dipping.  Yummy!