Saturday, March 2, 2013

Annie's Healthier Cookies

Carrots, whole wheat and orange peel? Sound like a weird combination? And in the form of a cookie?

That's what I though too. But wait until you try them.

 I had a roommate named Annie. I only lived with her for a term but I learned that cookies could be healthy and tasty at the same time. She shared this recipe with me. And look at the natural orange color! Lovely. Okay, okay, so they still have 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar. But carrots and whole wheat! Makes them healthy, right? At least,  healtheir, is how I justify it to my husband.

Annie's Healthier Cookies
Yield: 24-30 cookies

1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C raw carrots, scrubbed clean and unpeeled and grated finely
2 tsp orange rind, grated finely
2 C whole-wheat flour


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with wooden spoon.
  3. Add vanilla and egg. Mix.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix to combine.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy! 
Note: These cookies are a bit drier than what you may be used to and should be eaten with 2 days while they are still fresh.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Magazine Rack Doll Crib

Make your own wood baby crib for under $10!

I love to thrift shop. We live on a tight budget and so if I want to add anything to my home it's usually from a garage sale, thrift store or found used online. While the kids and I were shopping for baskets and bins and such we came across this magazine rack. My 6 year old daughter immediately said what I had already thought in my head but didn't want to say aloud (so I didn't spoil the 3 year olds birthday present),

 "It's a crib!" 

Proud mamma moment. She could see the potential this dusty object had.

So I bought it for $5.60, on sale and stored it at home until I had the right moment to clean and fix it up. 

With one can of spray paint, handmade bedding and a birthday later, she now has a sturdy doll crib. I have to remind her that she is too big too sit in it or it will break. And the girls have discovered that Otis, the rabbit, likes to comfortably lay in it too.

To make your own doll bed from a magazine rack takes about 1 hour of your time.

First clean off the magazine rack. Then cut out any middle dividers. 

As you can see this one had a divider on the bottom too. This took the longest to remove because the base of this rack is very thin wood (hence the reason Cecily can't sit in it). So I finally figured out that it was stapled (and not glued) and I was able to pry it off with a metal scraper. 

 Then spray paint the whole thing! And don't do it in windy weather (like it says on the can) or you'll get drips! Ugh. I hate drips. If you want, embellish with a sticker or silhouette (I used my cameo to cut the vinyl to create a silhouette). Cecily is our little butterfly (she has blossomed from the caterpillar she was 2 years ago here). I used nearly an entire can of spray paint. I think this was apple green by Rustoleum.

Then make some bedding. If you'd like me to post a tutorial for this bedding leave a comment and I'll add some more photos and details. It's basically a reversible pad with batting in the middle and embellished with piping (I thought it was safer to try do do piping for the first time on a doll bed instead of real bedding). It was fairly simple to do.

 The reverse side of bedding.

Total budget:
$5.60 for magazine rack
$3.50 spray paint, with coupon at Joann's
FREE fabric and batting from stash

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Love Day!

For reasons just beyond the lack of motivation this year I wasn't into Valentine's much this year. I did not make a new fancy breakfast, I didn't decorate our mini mailboxes and put sweet notes out for the kids or hubby. I should still do the latter. I've kept it pretty simple.

But I did manage to come up with something different with the kids Valentine's this year. We were going to do the lightsaber valentine, the crayon heart or army man. But I couldn't get the photo uploaded in time. I didn't have time to melt and make crayons and I couldn't find army men that were inexpensive enough or were too large or too small. (of course, this is all the night before because that's the way I roll). So I bought what was available (beyond candy and usual cards). These only took a few extra minutes to create beyond signing names on the pre-made kind. And I like that they are a candy alternative.

So I found these little stretchy lizards and frogs in the party aisle at Target when I was looking for army men.  My son loves lizards but we couldn't think of a saying that involved lizards and Valentine's Day (other than this one). But they were stretchy! And with my 2nd grade sons concerns that he didn't want to give the wrong impression that he loved the girls in his class we decided to keep it to a friendship. Hence the saying.

I don't have a color printer otherwise these could look way cuter. So cardstock from my stash, scissors or paper cutter and a printer are all you need. $10 to give out 54 cards between my two school aged children.  ($2 for a pack of 12). And not only are they stretchy but they're sticky too! So I didn't bother with tape, ties or glue. They stick right to the paper.

"Our friendship stretches every day!"

Perhaps I should have added, "Happy Valentine's Day!" Next time.

 My daughter dug this idea so much she changed her mind about the light saber card and I went out and bought more of these little critters.  They each signed their names and chose a specific color for each classmate. Hmmmm, sounds like how their mom shops for gifts :)

Here's looking at you kid.

No need for tape. They stick right to the paper. However, they do stick to each my kids were very concerned about being able to pass them out quickly enough and not get confused about who got which color. I'll guess I'll hear about it after I pick them up from school today. 

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Subway style pallet sign

I've seen a lot of of pallet projects around the web. In fact, I thought about starting a pin board just for them. I know the wood is junky quality wood but it lends itself to awesome rustic looking projects....and they're generally free if you can find a free pallet.

My husband and I have moved about 10 times in the 10 years we've been married. That's an average of once a year! As much as I hate moving,  I like the diversity in the places we've lived and grown our family together. As a 10 year anniversary gift I wanted to make Tyler a way to demonstrate this. I've seen several projects on Pinterest that I wanted to try. But then the thought came to me to use the pallet. I originally intended to use the pallet for a shelf (which I did, and I'll show you later) but I didn't want to waste the remaining wood. So I created this rustic looking subway art pallet sign. And I'm pretty happy about how it turned out. And better yet? The husband really digs it too. If you don't want to use family addresses you could use family rules, quotes or whatever to create the subway tile look. I was inspired by House of Smiths and this too.

It is a fairly simple but tedious project. I have to admit it took me more than one day to complete this project. So here goes the tutorial.

1. Find your pallet. This particular one was found by the side of a lake by my father. I drove it home attached to the top of my minvan. You can ask sales clerks outside of stores if you can take one of theirs. I know they recycle them sometimes but other times they just throw them out for scraps. The more character it has the better looking....but also more sanding.

2. Take it apart. First cut off the ends (as shown by Ana White). Save for those for another project (I have one I'll show you later). Then take each board off the main frame. This will take some muscle and a hammer or crow bar. Sometimes the nails are so weathered and rusted they're hard to get out of the boards. Do not throw any leftover wood away yet. You'll need most of it.

3. Once you have the amount of boards you'd like, cut them down to roughly the same size using a jigsaw.

4. Now, using two of the smaller, but sturdy, boards, flip it over so it lays flat. Arrange the other boards going across these two boards in the order you'd like so they fit snuggly.

5. Now, nail them onto those two back boards (as seen in photo). Glue with gorilla glue or wood glue, if necessary. Some of my boards were warped and did not lay flush so I filled in the gaps with instant drying gorilla glue (which puffs up a lot...but I am impatient and it doesn't show on the back anyhow).

6. Now sand away until it's smooth enough to paint on and is safe to handle.

7. Next, add hooks. The first hooks I added were very wimpy and fell out when I hung it. Keep in mind, these pallets are not lightweight and need very sturdy and strong hooks to hang it up.

8. Now for the fun part. Design your subway art. I used my silhouette cameo to design and cut out the vinyl. If you do not have one of these cutting machines check out Pinterest for other ideas that use stencils, paper rubbing and other alternative methods.

9. Be sure to measure each board (length and height) so you know how much room you have to add the text. Then play with different fonts and move around the text until you see what fits and looks right. I created a workspace that was the size of the pallet on the screen, just so I could see how it all fit. But my cutting mat is only 12"x 24" so I cut in different phases. I used Bookman old style (in bold) and Bodoni MT Black for the fonts. These addresses are not in chronological order. I wanted to make sure they all fit and looked good.

10. To save money I used contact paper. Unfortunately, mine was clear so it was really hard to see the lettering from the backing. If you use this, I recommend buying a dark contact paper. I set the blade to 1. Technically with vinyl you don't need to use the mat (I learned that the hard mat is so cut up now) and had it double cut.

Once you have it all "printed" and cut each address out. So you have a bunch of strips of addresses or quotes or whatever it is on each board.

11. Once your letters are all cut weed out the centers of each letter. But be careful. Keep the little fillings of each letter in like the middle of the "e" and "A's" and "R's" etc. Don't lose those or you'll have to cut them again or make it up or just not use them.

12. Now add transfer paper to the top. Or, to save money, I used painters tape. It worked really nicely. My lettering was just under the width of the thick painters tape. It's just sticky enough to hold it together but not so sticky that it won't peel off.

Using the plastic scraper (or pampered chef dish scraper, or credit card or whatever works) press down the tape over the contact lettering firm and in the same direction.

13. Once it is stuck nicely carefully peel off the solid color of the contact paper. Throw that away.

You can barely see the letters transferred onto the tape. This is why colored contact paper would have been easier.

14. Now transfer the lettering to the board. Be sure it's centered. I made the mistake of being a little off centered on a few of mine and now it bugs me a bit. Using your scraper, gently scrape over the tape to adhere it to the wood nicely. Some of these boards have holes or really rough spots so make sure it's stuck all the way with no air pockets or gaps that paint can escape through. Then gently pull off the tape and the contact lettering will remain on the wood. Now you're ready to paint!

15. Pick your paint colors. I painted two layers so if you don't like the first color, re-mix and paint over it. Then it'll leave an even more rustic look. Use a foam brush or a regular paint brush and acrylic paints.

16. Paint over the lettering. Stay within the lines. Try to paint on top of, with blobs, dabbing. If you swipe it has a greater chance of getting underneath the vinyl and blurring your lettering.

17. Allow to dry before adding the next coat.

18. Once you're done painting allow to dry completely for several hours. Then gently peel off contact paper. Peel off in the opposite direction, slowly pulling back and not up so it doesn't accidentally pick up some of the paint with it. Then weed out the little filler letters (as seen in the "0).

19. And you're done! It's certainly not perfect, but neither am I so it works. Notice how there is only room for 2-3 more addresses!! Hint, hint to the husband. We've moved enough times!

Please, pin away. And do not hesitate to ask if you have any technical questions.

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