Friday, January 1, 2016

Personalized Bath Towels

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Do you have a pile of fabric that you can't part with, but it doesn't seem like enough for a project?  How about this quick one?  My sister-in-law decorated tables with fabric from her favorite fandoms at her wedding reception, and this Dr. Who fabric had a bit left over.  I thought I might be able to do something with it for a Christmas gift, but time was getting tight and I didn't really have it in me to do a big project.  Light-bulb moment--just fancy up an already made item--in this case, bath towels.  But it would work great on flour sack towels for the kitchen too.

Supplies needed

1/3 yard of fabric (maybe less depending on the pattern of the fabric)
2 bath towels
matching thread

Since the towels and the fabric were both 100% cotton, I washed and dried them first so that uneven shrinking wouldn't cause pulled seams.   I ironed the Dr. Who fabric and started measuring. Measure the width of the towel.  Take that measurement and add an inch to the length of your decoration fabric so you'll have room to fold under the ends. 

Decide how tall you want the finished strip to be and add 1 inch (you'll fold over both edges 1/2 inch and iron--it gives you plenty of room to sew your seams). The Tardis pattern was about 3 inches tall, so I cut my fabric 4 inches.

Pin the decoration fabric to the front of your towel (make sure you pin it straight)--fold the short ends under and pin them too.  Next, just sew around all 4 edges.

Now you're done.  Total measuring/cutting/sewing time...15 minutes (for both towels).  My sister-in-law said she thought they were great.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Handel Messiah Printable

Pin It I was singing at the Christmas devotional for church and we did For Unto Us a Child is Born from Handel's Messiah--which is an awesome piece of music.  (You can check it out here)  I thought it would be a great piece to use for my Christmas art in my seasonal frame on the mantel.  Although truth be told, its been less seasonal this year and more...oh, its probably time to change up the frame, its not Easter any more.  So, if you are looking for a quick way to add some of the real meaning of Christmas to your decorations, give this one a go.  I printed it 8x10, but the file size is big enough that it should be able to print 11x14 without pixelating.  Once you click the link, find the print called Handel Chalkboard.  Merry Christmas!

Link to file, click here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Make and Freeze Thanksgiving

Pin It Thanksgiving is a great holiday.  I have great memories of helping prepare food with my mom and my grandmother.  In the last couple years, my mom and I have noticed that even doing dishes as you go all day long, there is still a mountain of dishes at the end of the meal.  I love to cook--but I hate dishes.  Even though I'm not hosting Turkey Day at my house, I love the once-a-year foods for this meal, so I'm cooking my favorites and I'm doing some tricks to make things easier.

Make and Freeze Dressing
Serves 4-5
1 pkg  herbed bread cubes
1/2 c. butter
1 c. onion, chopped (1 medium)
1 c. celery, chopped (2-3 stalks)
1 can low sodium chicken broth (14 oz)
1 tsp. sage (or poultry seasoning)

Chop up the onion and celery finely and saute in the butter in a skillet over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, until translucent and soft.  In a large mixing bowl, pour the cooked onion mixture over the breadcrumbs and stir.  Slowly pour about half of the chicken broth over bread and mix.  Add more broth until the cubes have absorbed and they are soft but not soggy.  Add the sage and stir.

Here's the time saver--at this point, you have two choices.  1.  Let the mixture come to room temperature, put it in a zipper bag and freeze it.  On Thanksgiving, you can put the mix in the nice baking dish and cover with foil and bake at 350 for about an hour or in a crock pot on low for 2-3 hours (you may need to add a bit more chicken stock as you bake).  2.  You  bake the dressing immediately then freeze and just use the microwave to reheat on meal day.

P.S.  I was watching America's Test Kitchen this morning, and they put their dressing in the bottom of the roasting pan and placed a "deconstructed" turkey (the breast and the thigh/legs) on top and baked it that way for extra turkey flavor.  Looked good to me, I might have to try that. 

Make ahead fruit pie
I'm afraid that pumpkin pie is not my thing--although I can make one (and you can do it the day before).  If you want to do pie the easy way, like me.  Make the fruit pie filling in advance and freeze it in a zipper bag.  When you are ready to make the pie, just put it in the crust and bake.  No, I don't make my own crust--Pillsbury works for me.  You CAN make and freeze an entire pie, before you bake--it just takes about 2 hours to bake from frozen (and you have to shield the edges of the crust so they don't burn).  Here's how I do pie filling for the whole year all at once.

Cranberry Sauce

If you haven't ever made your own cranberry sauce, try it this year.  It takes about 15 minutes and its so delicious.  I did some instructions a few years ago, so give it a go and throw it in the fridge or freezer until Thursday.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Super Light Packing

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You already know by now that I enjoy traveling and I pack light.  I challenged myself last month for my lightest packing adventure yet.  I was heading to Disneyland--my flight would get me there around 10:00am and my return was the next night around dinner.  Often I stay at a hotel just across the entrance, but this time I did Hotwire and ended up about a mile from the park.  Not that far, but I didn't want to take a shuttle/cab to the hotel, check in early and leave a bag and then get myself to the park (and the reverse would be true the next day--I'd give up park time to head back to to the hotel to get my bag before the airport).  I could have rented a locker at Disneyland for $7 a day both days, but like I said--packing light challenge.  So, how much do you really need for a 32 hour trip?  Turns out, not too much. 

I realize that this method probably doesn't work when traveling with small kids, but some of the tips could help cut down on a few things.  I'm a believer of "buy it there if you need it" rather than throwing in everything just in case.  You rarely end up needing it. 

So, here's what I took:
1 regular size cross-body purse
1 t shirt
1 pr underwear
Rain jacket (it folds up into its own pocket, from LL Bean)
Make up:  mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow stick, sponge, blush, moisturizer (I rarely wear more than that anyway)
Hair pick, ribbon and elastic
I wore the same pants and the same shoes both days--I do that at home all the time--don't you? No?  Oh well, the jig is up for me then.

Here's how I compacted my toiletries.  You know those tiny zip bags that extra buttons come in when you buy new clothes?  I used those.  I had enough moisturizer for bedtime and getting ready.  For the deodorant, I sliced off a bit and smooshed it around in the zipper bag--then split the bag wide open when I used it and rubbed it on my skin.  Too "redneck"?  Maybe--but it worked.  My toothbrush came prepasted (it was like dehydrated paste, but you could just use a mini zipper bag).  I also did a bag with medicine.  As a bonus, the toothbrush was disposable and the mascara was at its end, so I tossed them before I came home.  Hotels come with shampoo and conditioner, so for one night--it works. 

That's it.  Two days, no luggage and a purse smaller than my everyday bag.  I brought home more than I took with a few souvenirs (it is Disney after all).  I enjoyed every moment in the park!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Travel Printable

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Its no secret to my friends and family that I like to travel.  I'm a fan of going to familiar places over and over as well as exploring new ones.  I love Disneyland and the beach and food and getting stamps in my passport.  I'm also getting more adventurous--Segway tour in Rome; awesome!  Cooking lesson in Florence; highly recommend.  Surfing in Hawaii; wow, there is some cardio!  I'm in the midst of changing up some of the pictures and decorations in my living room and thought I'd do something in a frame about travel.  I found this quote (attributed to someone named Susan Sontag) and thought it fit my personality.  I've made 3 versions--one with a map as the background, one in sparkly gold and the other in a more subtle gold.  The high resolution jpgs will print nicely on shiny photo paper.  Click the Google link below for the high rez files (they are called Travel Print).



Friday, July 24, 2015

Fresh Lime Squeeze

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I gave up diet Coke (again) a couple months ago.  Most of the time I don't miss it, but sometimes you just want an icy cold drink with lime-y goodness mixed in.  This week I've found a superior substitute! 

Earlier this week I escaped to the Uintas and the Mirror Lake Highway for some hiking and stopped by the town of Kamas on the way home for lunch.  

The Hi Mountain Drug store has a soda fountain and restaurant that is adorable, and I highly recommend a stop (its only about 40 minutes from Salt Lake; well worth the drive).  After hiking all morning, I ordered the Fresh Lime Squeeze--boy was it tasty.  I watched the server mix it up and asked her what was in it--pretty simple stuff (which I generally have in the house anyway, except the soda).  So, now I'm hooked on this new beverage. 

What you'll need:
Fresh limes
Seltzer water
Simple Syrup (instructions below)
Ice or a chilled glass

Make the simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heating over medium heat until the sugar is all dissolved and the liquid is perfectly clear (I made a 1 c. sugar/1 c. water batch so I could make several glasses without having to make up syrup each time).

In a chilled glass, add 4 Tablespoons of simple syrup and the juice of 1 1/2  limes and 1 1/2 cups of seltzer.  You can add more syrup if you want it sweeter or more lime juice if you like it tart.  I think I'm going to swing by the store and pick up some of "pellet" style ice--I think it would make it even better.  I picked up my limes at the Hispanic grocery store because they always have them for less $ (I bought a bag of 15 for about $1).

Sit outside and enjoy the summer sun and the tart lime of your fresh lime squeeze--and head to the Mirror Lake Highway--its gorgeous up there. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer BBQ

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I received products at no charge for this post from  BzzAgent, but all opinions are mine.

May was pretty rainy around here--not too many opportunities for outdoor eating, but I was determined to have a "summer meal" anyway.   Smith's grocery store has a Red, White and BBQ event going on at their stores this month.  Lots of ideas for outdoor cooking.  I went for the classic steak. 

I got the meat out and into the McMormick's Grill Mates Brown Sugar and Bourbon seasoning packet and let the meat marinate for about 30 minutes while I got other stuff done for the meal.  I followed the America's Test Kitchen advice on cooking awesome steak.  I took the meat out of the marinade and used paper towels to dry it off thoroughly.  I sliced the steak into 2 pieces and placed it on a wire rack in a cookie sheet.  I used a meat thermometer that has the probe that goes in the  meat and the wire that goes outside of the oven.  I baked the steak at 275 for about 25 minutes, until the temperature of the meat was 105. 

I used a cast iron grill pan and got it super hot.  I put my baked steak on the hot pan and cooked for 2 minutes per side.  Take the meat out and tent it with foil to let it rest before serving. I ended up with a perfectly medium steak--nice pink, but not bloody red.  The marinade flavor was faint, so next time I might marinate overnight.

I added a wedge salad on the side along with a baked potato and corn on the cob.  I garnished the steak with some crunchy bits called Kroger Top'ems--I liked the crunch, but the mesquite flavor was a bit strong.  They'd be good on a salad or even on the baked potato. 

Wedge salad with blue cheese, red onion, red grapes, bacon and balsamic vinaigrette.

 And as a side note--Bzz Agent sent me some Sriracha Ketchup, which I tried another day in some fry sauce.  Kicky and delicious.