January 29, 2012

Homemaking... Without a Home?

Lately I felt a little like a homemaker. Which is odd considering:

A. I don't have a house. I have a 2 bedroom apartment.
B. I don't have a husband or family to make a home for. I don't even own a pet.
C. I don't usually enjoy crocheting and cooking so often.

I fear I am turning into a bit of cat lady (minus the cats)... Maybe I should get out more...

Moving on-- I was a little bored yesterday-- so I actually ended up crocheting some more. I made 2 mug cozies. Here is the link for the pattern. I think it came out well!




Then I started thinking about lunch/dinner. And whenever you are using the crock pot you have to plan WAY ahead. So I decided to try this recipe for chicken tacos. I changed it a little. I added a can of soup (to thicken)-- you can use cream of mushroom (I suggest LOW sodium, cause the salsa and taco seasoning have more than plenty). I also only put in 1/2 of my jar of salsa, because I wanted some leftover to put on top of the soft taco.


I combined the soup, salsa, and taco seasoning. Then I stirred it together. Then I added chicken breast cutlets. The best part is you can add them in frozen! I am cooking it on low for 6 hours. I have made this before-- so I know it's going to come out well. I can't wait to eat it!

And then the 3rd thing I did while I was bored was read some Dwight Schrute quotes. In case you've missed out on NBC's "The Office"- Dwight is probably one of the best characters in the show. Here is a link to some of his most memorable quotes (I laughed a lot). And here are some funny pics I found:





Nothing like Dwight to say it so brilliantly! Anyway, I hope this beautiful Sunday finds you well-rested and doing wonderfully!

January 28, 2012

A Drew Barrymore Kind of Day

I have officially decided that today is a "Drew Barrymore" kind of day. I never realized how many movies I owned starring her... So I've decided to watch them all in a marathon-y kind of way.

As I'm watching "Never Been Kissed", I can't help but think back to the first time I saw this movie. I kid you not-- it was in 8th grade-- IN class. That's right. I don't think our teacher knew what she was letting us watch (granted, it is only rated PG-13, but we all know Footloose is rated PG and it has quite a few bad things in it).

I tried to make some more homemade jewelry today. One was a button bracelet-- which I think came out ok. Here is the link to the DIY directions.



The other was a crocheted bracelet-- which pretty much flopped. I think the yarn was too thick:

Oh well, you win some. You lose some.

I also tried a new recipe-- Chocolate chip muffins. Here is the original link to the original recipe. I looked at some of the comments and adjusted the recipe. Here is how I made it:

1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.


2. Mix dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I will add more next time!)

3. Mix wet ingredients (separate bowl)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

4. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients (don't over-stir-- just until it's mixed-- the batter still looks lumpy)

5. Pour into muffin tins (grease tins if you're not using muffin wrappers)
6. If you would like, sprinkle some sugar and/or brown sugar on top of muffins before you bake.
6. Bake for 16-18 minutes (check middles to make sure they are done)

This recipe made about 18 muffins. Not bad. I will definitely make them again.

Hope you tried something new this weekend as well!

January 22, 2012

Crochet the Day Away.

Today it is utterly dreary outside. There is this foggy mist (is that redundant?) in the air. And, frankly, it's made me feel a little down.

So I decided to brighten my day by using some cheery, springy colors to try some new crochet projects (thanks, pinterest).

Here they are (I've attached links to patterns):

The first things I decided to make were a couple of different bookmarks. The first one is supposed to be a bookworm. Click here for the pattern.



Here it is actually in the book. I admit, it is a little bulky for the book... But on the other hand... it's kind of cute.

Here it is sticking out of the book!


The 2nd bookmark is a heart bookmark. I used a pattern for a heart (found here) and then I crocheted a long tail (goes in the book) and attached a tassel. It could be a good gift. Maybe.



The 3rd thing I made were some flower coasters. Here is the link to the original pattern. However, after I made one, I felt like it was too big. So I modified it and kind of made my own pattern (exciting, right?) Here are the finished coasters.






Here is the pattern for the coasters:

YELLOW (flower center)

Round 1: Chain 2, 6 sc in 2nd chain from hook—do not join (6 sc)
Round 2
: 2 sc in each st around—do not join (12 sc)
Round 3
: *2 sc in next st, sc in next stitch*, repeat pattern around (18 sc)

End off yellow

PETAL COLOR

Round 4: Join petal color using a sl st (anywhere on yellow), ch 1, 2 sc in same st, sc in next 2 sts, *2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts*, repeat this pattern around. Do not join. (24 sc)
Round 5:
* 2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts*, repeat this pattern around. Do not join. (30 sc)
Round 6: *sl st in next st, skip next st, 5 dc in next st*, repeat this pattern around, ending with a sl st in beg sl st (makes 10 petals)

End off, weave in ends (I’ve found it works better if you can work them in as you’re going around—it will save you time in the end)


I hope enjoy the patterns. And if you don't crochet-- you should try. There are tons of sites and YouTube videos dedicated to making it easy (if I can follow patterns and videos, anyone can)

January 14, 2012

Meet George Hamilton the 3rd

Meet my new pet, George Hamilton the 3rd. He is named after some of our country's finest leaders... George Washington (first president) and Alexander Hamilton (first secretary of the treasury). The best part about George Hamilton the 3rd is that he will never die if I forget to feed or water him. And he stores all my loose change.

I found this guy on the shelf at Target during their holiday clearance sale. He was the only one left. And, lucky for me, he only cost $5. Quite a steal!

And, yes, I know he is a reindeer pig. And red and green. But after I packed all the other Christmas items away, I couldn't bring myself to put him up. So he is happily sitting out, still collecting any loose change I have.


And here is my pinterest project of the week. This is one I actually made up by myself. It's for Valentine's Day.

I bought 3 wooden hearts from Hobby Lobby. The small ones were 2 for $1. The large one was $1.50.


I painted each one a different color. Then I mod podged on cute scrapbook paper (this particular paper was one sheet that cost $0.44)


Then I hot glued ribbon on the backs-- attaching them together and enabling me to hang them on the wall. They make me happy!


And I also tried my hand at jewelry making. It didn't come out the best, but it is wearable as either a bracelet or a necklace.


I also bought the beads (shaped like little roses-- it's hard to tell) at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $1.25.


Here it is as a necklace-- but I think I'll wear it more often as a bracelet because I already have plenty of necklaces. (Sorry for the horrid picture of my neck-- it's surprising to take pictures of yourself and not realize your neck looks that way!)


And the best part is that today is only Saturday-- and it's a 3 day weekend from school! I can't wait to try out some other new things!

January 11, 2012

Snail Mail

Ahhhhhh snail mail. Does anything beat getting a letter in the mail? Well, today I got my answer to that very question.

The only thing that beats getting a letter in the mail is getting a DESTROYED letter in the mail.

And the fact that it came in a plastic "personal apology" bag from the USPS. Classy, as always.

And people wonder why USPS is a slowly sinking ship. Strangely, I've never had an email arrive in such a destroyed format...

(Here you can see the letter inside of the plastic bag-- I had to add the blue part to keep my personal information personal)


The apology bag. It states, "We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service. (what were they doing with it-- eating it???) We hope this incident did not inconvenience you. (nah-- I didn't need that important letter from my insurance)"

And it goes on to make further apologies. Oh well. A little late for that. But I'm glad that I now know that the USPS does in fact CARE about my mail.



Ok, now this is the part that tickled me the most. Inside, the letter says "Facts: What does American Fidelity Corporation do with your personal information?" And I'm guessing I would have found out. All I could think was "well apparently they give it away to everyone." I sure hope none of my private info is missing from this letter. I could become a victim of identity theft!

And there you have it-- what happens when your letter gets destroyed. Who knew?

January 8, 2012

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

If It's one thing I love-- it's coffee.

And, wouldn't you know it, I also love cake.

And the 3rd thing I love (ok, I love a lot-- Jesus commanded us) is CHOCOLATE!

So when I stumbled upon the recipe for a chocolate chip coffee cake, I was totally game. I love cake and chocolate. And what more could I want than to eat a piece of delicious cake while drinking a delicious cup of coffee! So I am attaching the link to the original recipe here. Just so you know, I did not make this up-- I merely tried it.

Here is the finished product:



Needless to say, the recipe says to wait until room temperature-- but I had to dig in while it was fresh out of the oven. It tasted delicious! It's a good thing I've started working out again, because I'm pretty sure this would make me fat.

Also, some of my chocolate chips on top got a little well done-- I was waiting for the batter to cook through-- it is a thick coffee cake.

Here are the ingredients:

Cake Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup room temp butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (don't worry, you won't taste it-- also, I used low fat)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (I didn't measure-- I sprinkled with leisure)

Topping Ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" square pan
2. Mix dry cake ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt)
3. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl (use mixer) until fluffy. Add eggs (1 at a time). Add sour cream. Add vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients slowly.
5. Mix up topping ingredients in separate bowl.
6. Pour 1/2 the mixture into pan. (I was really bad at guessing how much 1/2 was. Also, my mixture was super thick-- so I had to work to spread it around)
7. Sprinkle 1/2 the topping mixture onto the batter (essentially this is the middle of your cake) and add chocolate chips too.
8. Pour the remaining batter over the top. Add the remaining topping mixture on top. Add chocolate chips at your leisure.
9. Bake 40 minutes (I kept checking mine because my oven gets super hot) or until edges are browned and toothpick comes out clean.
10. Eat with a fork... or your hands.
11. Drink coffee and be merry.

Like I said, my mixture was super thick-- I'm not sure if there is something you can add to help thin it down-- I'm not a pastry chef. But the cake ended up puffing WAY more then I expected and filled up the entire pan. It was pretty exciting. I hope you'll try it-- delicious, I promise.

January 7, 2012

Resolute

I think when the new year rolls around, everyone is so ready to start fresh. I don't know why you can't just start fresh whenever you feel like it-- people are funny that way. It's like-- "Oh! The new year is coming up, so I better enjoy eating poorly while I can, before I start my new diet." I don't know why people don't just jump into the pool instead of wading in slowly.

Anyway, 2 years ago I made like 7 new year resolutions. And you know what? I kept them. Every. Single. One.

Last year, I felt lazy. So you know how many I made? None. And you know what? I kept it. Piece. Of. Cake.

Now, this year, I've made a few more. Here they are:

1. Exercise. (Notice I didn't specify how many times a week- or to what extent. This is the secret to being successful in your resolutions. Being vague)

2. Pray more/Read Bible more. (I think this is pretty self explanatory)

3. Blog more. (and this is my second post this year. I'm off to a good start)

4. Do something off my bucket list. (How hard can that be?)

5. Journal more. (a few years ago I made a resolution to write in my journal daily. It started out fabulous. And then it just became annoying. I'm hoping that if I just tell myself to write occasionally, then I will enjoy it more)

6. Finish illustrating Heather's book. (I am going to get it done!)


7. Try 1 pinterest project a week. (now for those you not in the "pinterest" know, you must know, it is by far my favorite website ever. It is a crafty person's dream. It's my motivation to get up on Saturday morning and my motivation to get work done-- it's basically my reward. Anyway, it's this online site where you can post pics. You can make online bulletin boards. You can have one board just for recipes. One board for craft ideas. One board for baby ideas (even if you don't have a baby yet). I have a board just for classroom ideas. I love it. Check it out here if you want to see more. But anyway-- my pinterest doesn't have to cost me money. I just want to try and do 1 new thing a week. Last week's project was my Valentine wreath:

I think it came out quite well for a first attempt! Here are some of the things I made with the help of pinterest last year:

Cheap Christmas decoration


Hanging picture frames for the mom


Bird picture for my niece on canvas

Anyway, those are (for the most part), my new year resolutions. I will try and be resolute in keeping them. And I figured, posting them on my blog would help me keep them. It couldn't hurt.

Did you decide to become resolute in something this year?

January 2, 2012

The Mysteries of Life

So I thought with it being January and all-- I would begin this year by pondering the mysteries of life...

And mostly, I am referring to the mystery of how to keep a potted plant alive. When I graduated college, I moved in with a close friend, and my mother gave me a potted spider plant to keep.

I pretty much killed it.

Now before I continue this story, I think you should know my opinion about plants. Plants are good for a few things-- but for keeping in one's house? No.

Plants are good for climbing.

Plants are good for camouflage.

Plants are made for pulling.
But I don't think plants should be kept indoors. It's like keeping an exotic animal in the zoo...


So anyway- back to my story (remember, the plant was pretty much dead)

So I moved back home for awhile and took the plant back to my mother.

The plant performed a Lazarus and came back to life. Not only did it come back to life-- it flourished. Apparently my mother is the saving grace to house plants.

And then I moved away again-- and I happily took my spider plant with me. This time I wasn't going to let it die!

And then I noticed the plant (which had 2 stalks) didn't really stand up very well. So I quickly hustled to Walmart to purchase some potting soil. I even called my mother to ask which kind. Then I lovingly spread the soil around the base of the plant to help support it. I left the plant by my only window and went on my merry way.

Then I noticed some of the leaves were turning brown and withering. I asked my mom, she suggested the plant was getting to warm-- so I quickly shuffled it away from the window.

A few weeks later I noticed again that more leaves were dying. It was with a heavy heart that I had to remove one of the stalks that had died. But there was still 1 left! I felt hopeful.

I asked my mother and she suggested that I was over-watering. So I took out its watering device and proceeded to water it once a week. I even stuck my finger in the soil to make sure it wasn't too wet (and I hate getting my hands dirty).

And then I noticed the plant leaves kept withering... But I thought maybe-- just maybe-- it would pull through.

And then I went on Christmas break (for 1.5 weeks). And this is what I came home to:
I have come to many conclusions from this life experience:
1. Plants are hard to take care of.
2. I shouldn't take care of your plants. Or any plants, for that matter.
3. You should try to remember living things in your house if you go on a vacation.
4. From now on I should buy fake plants. All the glory of a live one-- without the hassle.

Sadly, I will have to dispose of the deceased body of my plant very soon. And then all I will have left is an empty pot... and the joy-filled memories of the great times my plant and I had together.