Friday, January 25, 2013

Animal Head Pot Holder Hook

After months of fishing around in the drawer for a pot holder when cooking, I decided that it was time to add a hook above the stove. Of course I could have put up a simple hook from the hardware store but that's just not my style. ;) So instead, I put together this funky animal head pot holder hook! Not including the drying time for the paint, this came together really quickly so it is going in my quick crafting file:

Start by finding a small plastic animal that your kid no longer wants. You could also hit up the Dollar Tree if they aren't ready to part with any or if you don't have any kiddos around to steal from. You will want an animal with a long neck otherwise your pot holder will fall down. I wanted a giraffe but because of our spending freeze I had to work with what I already had which was a bunch of dinosaurs.

I ended up with what I thought was either a brachiosaurus or a brontosaurus. I googled it to be sure and discovered that the brachiosaurus has spikes down it's back and the brontosaurus never even existed! Say what?! I hate getting old and having to re-learn things. The brontosaurus was a mistake, Pluto isn't a planet, and am I the only one who was taught in grade school that a rainbow has six colors? Geesh. Anyway, I'm  probably still wrong but I'm going to call this an Apatosaurus. Moving on...

Use a utility knife to cut your animal in half just in front of the back legs. Lay the front half on the table to make sure that it lays flat and trim off any extra if necessary.

Use a small drill bit to make a hole in the back of your animal bust.

Find a small brad nail with a head that is close to the same size as the shaft (in honor of Lorelai Gilmore I am going to throw in a "dirty" here). Find the spot where you want your animal head and partially hammer in the brad with about 1/4" - 1/2" sticking out.

Give your animal head a couple coats of spray paint if you wish and allow it to dry completely. Line the nail up with the hole that you drilled in the back of your animal head and press it onto the nail. Toss on a couple of pot holders and now you have a fun surprise in your kitchen to make cooking even more enjoyable.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baked Crispy Ranch Chicken

This super easy chicken comes out flavorful and juicy every single time. I have been making this about once a week since I first tried the recipe. My picky six-year-old even loves it! 

I like to cut the chicken breasts in half like in the picture above. The thinner pieces cook more evenly and provides a better chicken-to-coating ratio.

Baked Crispy Ranch Chicken
adapted from Chef In Training

3-4 Chicken Breasts
1 cup Ranch Dressing
1 1/2 cups Plain Bread Crumbs
2 cups Corn Flakes

Use a large knife to cut through the middle of the chicken breasts as pictured above.

Put corn flakes in a large ziploc bag, seal, and lightly crush. Add bread crumbs, re-seal the bag and combine cornflakes and bread crumbs. Dump into a bowl or bread pan.

Pour ranch dressing into another bowl or bread pan.

Dip chicken breasts in dressing and coat evenly on both sides. Then immediately dip in corn flake mixture. Place in a baking pan or cookie sheet with high sides. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

Makes 6-8 Servings.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Slow-Cooker Beef Chili

This chili is so full of flavor that it instantly became a family favorite! My husband calls it "man chili" because it is so hearty you can eat it with a fork. :) 

This can be thrown together in about 15 minutes which makes it great for busy days. I cook mine on high for 4 hours but I'm sure it would also turn out amazing on low for 8 hours if you need to toss it in the crock pot before leaving for work in the morning.

Slow-Cooker Beef Chili

1 pound Ground Beef
29 oz can Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Water
2 cans (15.5 oz each) Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until browned and no longer pink in the middle. Drain.

Place ground beef and remaining ingredients into a slow-cooker. Stir until well combined. Cook on high heat for 4 hours.

Makes 6 Servings.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cutlery Recipe Card Holder

Awhile back I saw a Cutlery iPhone Stand and I thought that it was awesome but I didn't have much need for one with my crappy flip phone. Then I realized that it would make a fun holder for these Printable Vintage Recipe Cards! It could also sit on your desk and hold a family photo. :)

The blog that I originally saw this on didn't have any sort of tutorial to go along with it so I just kind of winged it and I think it turned out pretty well. You will want to find cutlery that is on the thin side otherwise you won't be able to bend it. I found these at Dollar Tree and they worked really well. I also liked the simple dot pattern since I'm not into stuff that is super ornate.

I considered soldering the utensils together but I don't know how to solder and my husband was at work so I just used some glue that is designed for all surfaces including metal. I tested it to see if it could hold heavier objects and it did just fine but I have no idea how it would hold up to the extra weight long-term. For something light weight like a recipe card, it works perfectly though!

3 forks
2 spoons

Rubber Mallet

Start by bending the spoons (the feet) at an angle as shown above. These spoons were pretty weak in that spot so I was able to do that part by hand.

Now you need to move up an inch and bend it back the other way. This part was a little trickier since the spoon was stronger in that spot. Clamp the spoon to a work table with the spoon positioned so that the edge of the table is right where you want it to bend. Then whack it with a rubber mallet until it is bent to the correct angle. I didn't feel like rummaging through the garage looking for our mallet so I just used a hammer which works fine but it does scratch the metal.

When you are finished bending it, the handle should be straight up as in the photo above.

Now put a thin layer of glue on the spoons and one of the forks just in the area that they will be joined together (in holy matrimony). Let them dry separately for 15 minutes then press them together. It takes about 2 hours for the adhesive to really bond so every once in awhile I would notice that it was slipping and I had to re-position it. I had it sitting next to my computer while I was working so it wasn't a big deal but it is definitely something that you want to keep an eye on. Don't worry if some of the glue squishes out. It is kind of rubbery when it dries so it is easy to remove the excess later. I tried clamping them together while it was drying but it didn't work very well since the utensils curve a bit instead of it being a flat surface. 

While that part is drying you can start bending the forks (arms). To get the straightest bend I used needle nose pliers and held them parallel to the tines with the nose positioned where I wanted it to bend. Start by bending them all at the base...

...then bend again about half an inch up.

Use two pairs of pliers to bend the neck to kind of a "Z" shape like above.

Bend the far right tine of one of the forks all the way in. Do the same to the far left tine of the other fork. This will hold your recipe card in place and keep it from slipping down.

Once the bottom half of your little guy is dry (you don't want to add the weight of the arms before the base is ready to support them) hold the fork arms up to the body where they are going to be placed and angle the Z curve a little bit until the hands are positioned correctly. Make sure that the tines that are bent in all of the way are on the bottom of each hand. Then glue those in place using the same method as you did gluing the bottom half and check it periodically for the first couple of hours to make sure they aren't slipping. You may also want to lay it face down over the corner of a book to take off some of the weight while it is drying. Allow the glue to fully cure for 24 hours before placing anything heavy on it.

I think he turned out pretty stinkin' cute! Of course, usually when I am excited about a project and think people will really like it, that is the project that ends up only getting one comment (usually from my mom) and not a single pin. At that point I realize that my style which I see as "fun and quirky" isn't always appreciated by others. Lol! I'm sure there are at least a few kindred spirits out there who will enjoy it though. ;)

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

90 Day Challenge

Do you set New Year's resolutions? I hardly ever do since I never seem to stick to them. However, January 1st is a convenient time to start tracking things so sometimes I use this day to make changes. This year Shelby and I have decided to have a 90 Day Challenge. A year is a reeeaalllly long time to stay focused and motivated. Ninety days is much more manageable. So we are going to do a series of four 90 day challenges this year. With each new challenge we can either become more strict or more lenient about something or we can switch to an entirely different goal all together.


For this challenge my goals are:

  • Get Healthy - I want to eat better including more whole foods (making stuff from scratch instead of using processed items) and working out.
  • Read the Bible everyday.
  • Spend only on necessities - I won't be spending any money on clothing, home decor, beauty products, fast food, etc. (it will be similar to the Spending Fast) which means I will be working through my craft stash, re-purposing items, and finishing projects that I already purchased the supplies for. I will also be tracking every single penny that comes in and goes out so that we can have a clear picture of where our money is going and what we can cut back on.
  • Make one new shop item every week - I really want to have more variety in the shop to attract more people and keep things fresh.
  • Write one quality blog post every week - Since the shop has become my main source of income it will be taking priority over the blog for a bit while I build my inventory. When I do blog, I want to make sure that I am focusing more on quality instead of quantity. I don't want to bore you with mediocre posts just so that I can say I posted five times this week.
  • No recreational Pinterest or Facebook - I will still be using these to promote the blog and other fun things I come across but I won't be wasting time aimlessly browsing.
I hope to have more than one shop item and blog post every week but I am starting out with a manageable goal. Kind of like the Debt Snowball where you start by paying off your smallest debts first so that you can build momentum. I am starting with a small goal so that I can work my way up to a bigger goal without becoming overwhelmed and discouraged right away. I also made a checklist for each of us to track our progress every week and I taped it to the fridge so that we can be reminded of it all the time.

So what do you think? Have you set a year-long resolution or do you want to join me in a 90-day challenge? Either way, I would love to hear about what you are hoping to change! On April 1st I will check back in with how we did on this challenge and what the goals are for the next one.

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