Monday, December 24, 2012

Yarn Project #2: Yarn Wrapped Ornament

yarn ornaments

Merry Christmas! Yes! It has taken me this long to write another post about all of my yarn projects. Ironically I have been swamped with Christmas projects that have kept me too busy to post about  said Christmas projects.

Here's an easy peasy yarn wrapped ornament for all of you procrastinators and last minute doers like me. If you are just putting your tree up today and want an extra little something to adorn it's branches, than this tutorial is for you, fellow stragglers.

how to make a yarn ornament

1. Begin with any simple, cheap ornament. I found these at the dollar store. One of the reasons I picked glittery ornaments was to help the yarn naturally cling to the round object.

2. Add a dab of hot glue and stick the beginning of your yarn to it.

This is so easy, right?

3. Wrap. And wrap and wrap and wrap. And just when you think you are done wrapping... wrap some more.

4. Leave the tip of the ornament exposed so you still have something to hang the ornament with.

5. Tie that shit in a knot. A little tiny one that you can easily tuck away under the many layers of wrapping that you've joyously done.

6. There is no step 6! But if you would like a step 6, tie a piece of string through the loop of the ornament. I used twine.

Hang your balls on your tree and enjoy!

This was such an easy and inexpensive way to add a tailored Christmas detail to my decorating this year.

What colors would you make your own yarn wrapped ornaments in?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yarn Project #1: Yarn Wrapped Branches

For some reason this winter I have the idea stuck in my head that yarn is the shit and that I needed to make a million different holiday yarn projects. I came close to a million at about 4 yarn projects.

Thankfully my projects involved a glue gun, not knitting needles and although I can't knit to save my life, I still managed to use as much yarn as any grandma out there (apologies to young knitters everywhere).

Yarn has a cozy quality, which is why I think it appeals to me in the winter time.

Welcome to my yarn world. This... is Yarn Project #1: Yarn Wrapped Branches.

First you must find the finest of branches, hand selected and foraged from a nearby forest. It's best if you ask your local redneck (in my case it was my husband) to assist you on this excursion.

Next you must pluck all stray and measly twigs off the body of your branch. There's no use in keeping them because it's near impossible to wrap these little suckers with yarn. Unless you are sadistic and would enjoy 10 hours of delicate yarn wrapping.

To each their own!

Use a glue gun to strengthen any weak points on your (near perfect) branch.

You will also need the finest of yarns, any color of your choosing. In this case I chose a luxurious polyester yarn that I obtained at the cost of $2.50. I bought a particularly huge roll because of all the crafting I would be doing thanks to my millions of yarn ideas.

Begin your project with burning the crap out of your fingertips by getting hot glue all over them.

Now that we have that out of the way, place a dab of hot glue onto the end of your branch and stick the beginning of your yarn to the glue. In my case I didn't worry about getting right to the end since I knew I'd be putting my branches into some sort of vase.

Don't cut a length of yarn from the roll, just leave the roll whole.

Begin to wrap the yarn around the branch. Don't wrap too tightly or you'll be giving yourself more work since you're thinning out the width of the yarn strand. Don't make it too loose or you'll end up with a mess. And be careful not to wrap the yarn around the branch in a manner that ends up undoing the "natural" twist in the yarn strand.

Is that too many rules? Consider it advice, then.

Occasionally place a very tiny dab of hot glue along the branch to help secure it in place as you go.

Eventually you'll come to a crossroads. It's okay, just choose a side and stick with it. When you reach one of the branch ends you'll need to glue the tip and snip the yarn. Or is it snip the yarn and glue the tip? Either way, it happens.

Now glue your new end of yarn to the crotch of the stick. Wrap the yarn around a few times before beginning to wrap up the other side of the branch. This helps cover up your glue spot.

Once I reached the tip I placed a dab of glue on the end and let it cool slightly. Then I squeezed it with my fingertips to cover the end of the yarn and prevent it from fraying.

Look! You have a stick! Albeit a useless stick, but it's a pretty one nonetheless.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to Fold a Towel

Getting a nicely folded towel used to be a mystery to me. It was like a cruel origami trick and no two folded towels ever ended up the same size or shape. I put an end to the mystery a few years ago when I decided to actually research if there was a real way people actually folded their towels (that's my inner nerd speaking). All that time I assumed it was just a talent people had and those of us in the world who didn't have this special talent were forever doomed to have messy looking closets and poorly folded towels. (aren't I good at making the ordinary sound so tragic!?)

Well the tragedy ends here, my friends! I've made my towel folding instructions into simple Pin-able step-by-steps!

Folding a Bath Towel

How to fold a towel

1. Lay your towel out on your largest "work" surface (in my case it's my puny kitchen table - I usually use the bed but my dog got there first). Step 1A: Kick your dog off your bed.

2. Working with the longest length ("hot dog" length), fold one side of your towel in towards the center of the towel.

3. Fold the other "half" of your towel into towards the center of the towel. You want both folds to meet edge to edge in the center of your towel, but without overlapping each other.

4. Now take the long ends of the towel and fold them into the middle ("hamburger" length). When you bring your folds into the middle, be sure to leave a small gap of space between your folds to allow room for your next fold.

how to fold a towel

If things get too close together and too "bunchy" then your towel will end up looking lumpy. If you folded too far apart, your towel will be very loose. Practice makes perfect and eventually you will get the "technique" down. You'll be a towel folding CHAMP!

5. Fold your towel in half again ("hamburger" length). This leaves you with two smoothly folded ends at the "back" of the towel, and one lovely rounded end at the "front" of the towel.
how to fold a towel

Now repeat those steps a few hundred more times and voila! Bask in your masterpiece!

how to fold a towel

Folding a Hand Towel

Just like the steps above but on a much more manageable scale!

how to fold a hand towel

Folding a Cloth

Cloths are always a pain. They're so darn small and they never hold their shape. But fret no more! This simple fold works for cloths too. Everything lines up nicely and doesn't flop open as soon as you close the closet door.

This folding method also lets you show off any nice piping or decorative detail on the edge of your cloth too.

how to fold a cloth

Now don't you feel like a pro!?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dad's Chili

The Best Chili Recipe

Considering the fact that it snowed out yesterday, I'd say it's a sure bet it's chili weather. Not chilly, but chili. In my opinion (and I have many), weather should often be referred to by what you eat and drink.

"Yes this is definitely squash soup weather".

"Today is a hot chocolate kind of day".

Well today... is a chili day. And not just any chili; Dad's Chili. I'm sure it comes as no surprise at this point when I tell you I got this recipe from my dad. It wasn't until my twenties that I discovered what his secret ingredient is in his chili. I'm sorry that you had to wait until your twenties (or beyond) to find out dad's secret ingredient too.

This chili isn't your average chili. It has tang and bite to it that activates every tastebud sensory on your tongue.

You'll find the full recipe at the bottom of the post.

So let's begin...

Here are your ingredients. Please ignore the fact that I omit the meat, forgot the cooking oil and have included too many cans of beans

First get a dirty looking pan like mine and heat oil in the pan on medium-high heat.

Brown one pound of ground meat and season it as you please. I used turkey meat and seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, whatever smells like chili in my cupboard.

Chop one red pepper and one green pepper. Large dice is perfectly acceptable. You don't want to chop them too small anyways. We want our chili to be HEARTY! Make you strong like ox.

If you didn't say that with a heavy accent then you didn't say it right.

Chop one large onion. Large dice as well. I save my onion chopping for last because if they're going to make me cry I don't want it to be in front of the other vegetables.

Actually I save it for last so that I honestly don't have to cry my way through the rest of the veggie chopping. It's just easier that way.

Don't you agree?

Add your veggies to the slow cooker. What was once a boring empty slow cooker is now the start of your amazing chili. Yeee!

Add two cans of diced tomatoes. Sometimes I cheat and use the "chili ready" kind. I think all that means is that the tomatoes are a little spicy.

Add one can of kidney beans and one can of pinto beans (not pictured because I forgot to document that step).

Add your delicious cooked ground meat to your slow cooker. Look! There are the pinto beans!

Here comes the fun part... Yeah that's ketchup. I add about 2 cups. You think that's bad? My dad uses a whole bottle.

This is what I call my "secret ingredient". Because who the heck expects ketchup to be in your chili recipe?

Quick fact: did you know that ketchup was invented by the Chinese in the 1600's?

So just add your Chinese condiment to your Mexican dish and no one has to know. Just tell people your secret ingredient dates back to ancient China. It makes you sound sophisticated and mysterious.

The Best Chili

Season it! Salt and pepper to taste, 2 table spoons garlic powder, and uh... like 6 tablespoons chili powder. I use a lot of it. As I heard on the Food Network once: "season like a democrat - liberally".

Stir that baby.

I cooked mine on high for 6 hours. Because I'm impatient. But you can also cook it on low for 8 hours if you have that kind of time.

Don't peak! I peaked a time or two. Or three.

Chili Recipe

Delicious! The glory of a slow cooker!

I like my chili with cornbread. How about you? What do you like to eat with your chili?


Dad's Chili Recipe:

1 lb ground meat (I used turkey)
1 green pepper, diced large
1 red pepper, diced large
1 large onion, diced large
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups ketchup
6 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste (or 1-2 tsp. each)

  • Heat a pan with oil on med-high heat and cook the ground meat. Season to taste.
  • Add your chopped vegetables to the slow cooker along with the beans and cooked meat.
  • Combine the ketchup, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to slow cooker.
  • Stir ingredients together.
  • Set slow cooker on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nothing but a Used-Up Old Sheet!

cleaning tips

Oh! But they're so much more than that! That's right, I'm using exclamation marks to express my enthusiasm for... used dryer sheets.

Am I the only one that finds this stuff exciting?

Haven't you ever wondered if anything more could become of those used dryer sheets?

Here are my top 10 re-uses for used-up old dryer sheets!

UNO. Removing Deodorant Marks

I'm not talkin' pit stains, I'm talkin' the white crap you get all over your shirt. It's a conundrum. Like what came first: the chicken or the egg? What goes on first: the shirt or the deodorant? Because either way you look at it you're kinda screwed. You are bound to get that stuff all over your shirt.

If, or should I say when you get deodorant marks on your shirt, just take a dry, used dryer sheet and start rubbing the marks away. Like magic!

DOS. Remove Stink

It's not a miracle worker - your husband's hockey gear isn't going to smell like roses. But it works great inside of stinky shoes, diaper bags, at the bottom of garbage bins, your husband's rank truck, old musty stuff. You can also put one in your vacuum bag or dresser drawers for a light fresh scent.

Take them with you if you're traveling. You'll be able to keep your clean clothes fresh and prevent all your dirty duds from stinking up the rest of your luggage.

TRES. Bug Repellent

It's true! Some might beg to differ, but I wouldn't knock it 'till you try it. Tuck a used sheet in your belt loop - or better yet - make a new fashion statement by fashioning a belt out of dryer sheets!

I'm just full of ideas!

QUATRO. Anti Static

Well that's their main purpose, isn't it? You can wipe your blinds to help keep dust from collecting so quickly. Run them through your hair for a quick static-fix. They also make great replacement Swiffer sheets.

CINCO. Pots and Pans

Make cleaning up burnt up food from pots and pans a breeze but soaking them with a dryer sheet. Thank goodness I don't need logical explanations for everything because this one has me stumped.

SEIS. Buffer

Shine up scummy shower doors, spotty glasses, or chrome faucets with a few buffs with the ol' dryer sheet.

SIETE. Duster

Dust your furniture, dust your TV, dust your computer, dust... well... anything that needs dusting. Just be sure to use them on glass screens only as it can potentially damage any other type of screen.

You can also wipe away pet hair from clothes and fabric furniture.

OCHO. Fire Kindling

This is where you can actually re-purpose a few used items from your laundry and bathroom. Take an empty toilet paper roll and stuff it with used dryer sheets and the lint from your dryer.

You have just created fire kindling.

NUEVE. Sewing Aid

Keep threads from tangling and make threading your needle a little easier by wiping your thread with the dryer sheet.

DIEZ. Bathroom Rings

I wasn't sure how to word that. But you know the annoying and embarrassing ring in your toilet? Use a dryer sheet and gently scrub away. It helps keep that stubborn ring from returning so easily.

But please, wear gloves.

And you know what!? You just saved yourself some money!

It might seem like a hassle to save all these dryer sheets for those odd times you'll use them, but think about the fact that even just "storing" them is repurposing them because they freshen any space, closet or drawer.

And you know something else? You just learned how to count to ten in Spanish. How amazing are you!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Welcome to My World!

Welcome to my first ever blog post on what will be my adventures of becoming the next Martha!

A self-appointed title, at best. But nonetheless a title I pursue relentlessly.

What better way to get to know each other quickly, like a sour first date, then to tell you all the things I am currently obsessing over and make you listen (or in this case read) about them all!? Actually I have more obsessions than I posted here but far too many than I could bother cramming into a reasonable time frame.

If you haven't yet read my About section, then please feel free to make your way over there and get to know more about me and why I decided to fire up this snazzy little blog.

Here it is, folks, my current obsessions! The things I think about tirelessly, the things that make me warm and fuzzy on the inside, the things that without fail catch my attention every time. My "porn".

Black and White

My go-to color combination. Some call it "safe" or "easy" - I call it "comfortable" and it always keeps drawing me back. Sorry, color.

Anything Wood

If it acts like wood, looks like wood, smells like wood then I love it! It's beautiful, it's natural and it compliments just about anything.

Pho & Potatoes

Have you ever had Pho? It's amazing. And if you love basil as much as me than you'll love any excuse to put it all over anything you eat, including Pho. Actually, basil is amazing on french fries too.

I'm also obsessed with basil.

I'm really learning that there are no logical explanations for obsessions.

What are your current obsessions!?

black and white: 134 anything wood: 12345 pho & potatoes: 1245