Monday, October 31, 2011

October Tutorial Roundup

Here is a roundup of the tutorials from October in case you missed any!

The $1 Painted Horse tutorial that takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Snuggly Owl Pillow made from new and upcycled materials.

Hardboard Nursery Art for the newest little one in your life.

Bleached Out and Painted Shirt for a little something different and unique.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Leftover Mashed Potato Corn Chowder

Welcome to the second Food Friday! I'm trying to do these about every 2-3 weeks!

One night we had beef au jus sandwiches for dinner with a side of corn and mashed potatoes. Ended up making far too much mashed potatoes, and I thought it would be great to turn it into potato chowder. So today I searched for recipes. I found a couple that sounded alright and kinda put bits of this together with bits of that to come up with some seriously delicious chowder!

 Left over mashed potato and corn chowder:
2 cans of chicken broth
1 can of creamed corn
1 can of whole kernel corn (drained)
2 cans of diced white potatoes (drained)
3-4 cups of left over mashed potatoes
7 slices of bacon
4-5 cloves grated garlic (to taste)
dried parsley flakes (to taste)
salt (to taste)
paprika (to taste)
dried basil (to taste)
celery seasoning (not celery salt) (to taste)

In a large pot put in the two cans of chicken broth and start heating up. Spoon in left over mashed potatoes. Thoroughly mix together with chicken broth. Add milk, water, and butter to make a full, smooth consistency. Add in cans of corn, creamed corn, and diced white potatoes and stir. Cut slices of bacon into mixture. Grate cloves of garlic into mixture. Add about 3 tablespoons of parsley, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seasoning, and 2 teaspoons of basil. Stir and taste. All measurements are guestimates since I just sprinkled a bunch in until it looked yummy, then stirred and taste tested and added what seemed good until it tasted right.
It should look something like this:

Mashed Potato Corn Chowder
And it should taste ohhhhh sooooo yummy!!! Enjoy it! :-D
This much should feed about 8 people give or take ... The leftovers we have are in the freezer waiting for us to enjoy them another day! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bleached Out and Painted Shirt

I saw this site, and thought it would be really fun to try out. Although, I knew it could be a disaster. I mean... Me? I'm clumsy. Creative, yes. Graceful, yes. But also clumsy. Using a shirt and making something that actually looks cool using bleach might be a little too much for my butterfingers to handle. But it just looks so fun. So I had to try it!!

Add to that the freezer paper stenciling I keep seeing. On more blogs than I'm willing to link to, so I'll just link to the place I saw it originally. Then there's the reverse freezer paper stenciling.

Oh the options and ideas!!

So I wanted to combine all of these in my own unique way.

I started out with a brand new shirt. I figured this would give me the best color differences, and since the shirt would not have been worn already, if  I messed up I wouldn't do too bad of a job with the bleach/water mixture and weaken the fabric to the point of holes. Hopefully. Although after I've done this once I think it would be fine to do with a gently used shirt.

I sketched out what I wanted to put on the shirt. In this case I drew directly on the freezer paper on the paper side. I used this picture and this picture I found online as inspiration. (I used google image search and the keywords bird in a tree, then clicked the "cartoon birds in a tree" option.)
Sloppy sketch.
Then I very carefully cut out the image. I just used a pair of kids scissors. You could use regular scissors or an exacto knife or razor blade, or whatever you think would be best for your project. Since I decided to use the tree itself for a reverse stencil type thing, it didn't matter that I cut out out like that. But for a regular stencil I would probably use an exacto knife. (Or cut into the center and cut away what is not needed.)

Then I had to iron it on the shirt.
 Once the stencil is ironed on the shirt (or whatever you're putting it on), it can be set aside.
I added two branch "perches" for later additions.
The next step is to mix up the bleach and water and put it in a squirt bottle. I used 1:1 bleach to water. In retrospect, I think I would use a 70% 30% solution next time - 70% water to 30% bleach. You'll see why in a minute. So, mix up the bleach and water and put it into a squirt bottle. I bought a super cheap (97 cents at Walmart) squirt bottle to use. Great price, but I should have figured out exactly how well it works BEFORE filling it with bleach and aiming it at the shirt.
 Then I put some butchers paper inside the t-shirt, placed it in the tub, and aimed my squirt bottle at it. In retrospect I should have ironed on some wax paper to the inside of the shirt as well. I didn't think about the bleach water potentially leaching through the butcher paper and getting into the back of the shirt. I was planning on taking a picture of this, but..well...things happened very fast from here! (Back to the I should have figured out how well the squirt bottle works before doing this experiment.)

I apparently opened the squirt nozzle too much and had it doing a strong precise streaming aim, instead of a misting aim. OOPS! I wanted, and needed, a mist. So while I was figuring out how to fix this problem  I had bleach water soaking into parts of the shirt, and, unfortunately, soaking the freezer paper as well. I had to work quickly to figure out what went wrong. Lesson learned for next time! So, I finished squirting the area I wanted bleached, and the paper was soaked in the process, and was left to soak for too long (thanks to not knowing what I was doing). Like I said earlier, I would do a 70/30 solution next time instead. I think I would have better control over the bleaching process that way.

So, yeah. VERY fast is how this all happened. Before I knew it I had to rinse the shirt or risk not having a shirt left. NO time for pictures here. I'll hopefully get one next time I try this.

Unfortunately the bleach being so strong, and me not knowing what I was doing, meant that the shirt did not turn out how I had planned. However, I think it still looks pretty neat. After thoroughly rinsing the shirt in the tub I threw it in the washer (with some other stuff that needed to get washed anyway...I don't have time to do one shirt at a time in the wash!) and only used laundry detergent - no fabric softener. Since I'm not done with the shirt yet, I don't want to put anything into the fabric that might thwart paint adhering.
No picture for the washing and drying steps since looking at my washer and dryer is the last thing I want to do, so I'm sure you don't care to see it.

While the laundry was going I sketched up two birds ("love birds") to use as freezer paper stencils. This time not caring about the birds that gets cut out, only the part that they get cut out of.
See the light lines around/under the birds? That's where I lightly sketched where the tree branches are to know exactly where to place the birds.

Here's what the shirt looks like all clean and dry.

See the speckles on the sleeves? Yes, that WAS on purpose. Same with the inside of the neck/back (which you can see from the other side too of course.)
A close up of the heart tree.

Then time to iron again! (Let's all shout for joy.."yaaaaay") The new stencil of the birds had to be ironed onto the shirt in the right place. This meant a lot of laying it down, and slight adjustments to make sure it was correctly lined up.

I did not cut out where the beaks are on purpose. I'm going to do something else for those.
Put wax paper (wax side facing UP) inside the shirt so that the paint doesn't bleed through. I used glittery "puffy" fabric paints instead of fabric paint pens. Why? Because I want the birds to kind of... standing out. Not be flush to the shirt. I painted one with a mixture of plain magenta puffy paint and purple sparkles, and the other with a mixture of blue puffy paint and green sparkles.
Let dry a bit before peeling away the ironed on freezer paper.
I decided to outline the entire heart tree with a permanent marker. The wax paper inside the shirt comes in handy here as well to make sure the permanent marker doesn't bleed through the paper. Instead of permanent marker you could also use a fabric paint pen. I used a brown permanent marker, but it looks more like black (in the picture, and in person). Since I no longer had the stencil (it fell apart when I rinsed the shirt in the tub) I had to rely on my memory of what I drew, and the faint lines I could see. I also had to change it a little here and there from the original to make up for the changes that happened in the bleaching process.
For the feet I used a permanent fine point black marker.

For the beak I did some hand stitching. I don't really know how to explain what I did since it was basically free-form/free-hand with no real plan.
Stitching the beak with variegated yellow/orange thread.
Beak on the left slightly open (the "girl" is talking), while the one on the right is closed (the "boy" is listening...hahahaha)
For the eyes I used a super fine tipped permanent marker for each one. I know, not exciting. I might add a bead or rhinestone later. We'll see.

Here's a couple pictures of the completed shirt.
Please don't mind my bra straps. I was too excited about the shirt being done and wanting to post this to care at the moment!
Also excuse my unkempt look and the pictures being in the bathroom. It was night so pictures outside weren't an option, and there weren't many other places in the house to go at the time!
A close-up of the finished product.
I really love how the shirt ended up!

See how the sleeves hit the top of my hand? Yeah...I'd JUST pulled them down. They aren't really long enough. Neither is the body. I have this problem constantly with shirts because of my height (5'11"). I'll likely add some kind of fabric to the bottom of the sleeves and the bottom of the body to make them longer. But that will wait for some other day. And be a separate tutorial of it's own.
I'm sorry this one was so long! There were several steps involved, though. And, to my defense, the shirt was NOT hard to do at ALL. The longest parts: deciding what I was going to do, waiting for the shirt to go through the washer and dryer, and waiting for the paint to dry. If I had already had a clear idea of what to do, or could/did print up my design on the paper instead of having to sketch it by hand, and if I take out washing/drying and paint drying time it probably took an entire 1.5 hours to do. The next one I do will be WAY faster, and probably (hopefully) look better. But I like it a lot! I'll be wearing it every chance I get, I'm sure! :-D

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting ready for Halloween? 5 Fun Ideas Roundup

Here is a gathering of my favorite 5 quick and easy projects, in no particular order. I've been loving these and I think they are perfect for Halloween.  All of them can be made pretty quickly and easily, so last minute isn't a problem! And even if you don't "do" Halloween, many (if not all) of them could be altered slightly to make it fit your life and personality.

First up is

Maggie from Midwestern {Sewing} Girl. She and Simple Simon swapped blogs for a day so the post is actually on Simple Simon's blog (who I also love the blog of!). Sorry if that was confusing! She (Maggie) made a great pillow case candy bag!

Next up is

Little Lizard King. She came up with this great hooded cape pattern that would be perfect for many different Halloween costumes! Love her patterns!

(I'm going to be making my toddler's costume using this ruffled booty sun suit pattern of hers.)

Having a fun Halloween get together? Then you should check out

Carolina from Always Expect Moore. If we were going to throw a party I would definitely make one of these spider web frames!

This next one isn't something to wear or display, but something to EAT! YUMMM (Anyone that knows me knows how much I love food. Seriously. Did you notice I've been doing Food Fridays?!)

A Pocket Full of Buttons has been making these fabulous Halloween inspired bento boxes. How fun can they be!?

And finally we have another yummy treat that could be great for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or a fall themed party of any variety!

The Chocolate Room made these sweet (literally!) cake pops that look like pumpkins! I've been dying to make some cake pops and this just might be my first foray into the cake pop world! Don't they look yummy!? Nom!Nom!Nom!

I hope you enjoy these great tutorials, patterns, and yummy ideas as much as I do! Be inspired to create something. :-D
**Disclaimer: None of the pictures in this post belong to me. They all go to their respective blog owners. I have recieved permission from the blog owners to post pictures and buttons from their blogs.**

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hardboard Nursery Art

I was inspired by Lil Blue Boo to make a piece of nursery art for my soon-to-be-here grand-nephew. Great-nephew? hmmm Not sure which one it is. Either way it makes me feel old. I can hardly believe my little baby niece is old enough to be married and having a child. Crazy how quickly time flies!!

Anyway, I've gotten off topic. Here and here are examples of Lil Blue Boo's nursery art. I don't think mine turned out as fantastical as hers do...but then again this is the first one I've done!
It really wasn't terribly difficult. And I don't think it takes a huge amount of skill (Can you hold a paintbrush? Use painters tape? How about cut ribbon? Know how to squirt out glue? Then you can do it too!! ;-) )

The supplies I used to construct my experiment piece of art:
Paint brushes
Paint pens (silver and black)
Painter's tape
Letters printed from the printer
Little wooden letters
Glue (hot glue gun, or E6000, my personal favorite)
Canvas (In this case chip board but you could also use regular canvas or a piece of wood)

Base look of canvas was done using brown, green, and tan paint squirted on randomly and then sort of blotched/blended together. To do this I used the largest paintbrush I had and squished it into the paint bouncing around the canvas here and there. Really super duper sloppy. Let mostly dry, then add a little more of whatever color you think it's lacking (in my case, "pure" green, and "pure" brown), and blotch all over. Then let the second layer mostly dry, and do the same process one more time. Unless you're happy with how it looks after the second layer!

Next put painters tape down in a random way to tape off areas you don't want to get painted. Then paint the areas you do want to get painted.
blue painters tape, wet brown, green, and tan paint
Remove the painters tape when the newly painted areas are at least 95% dry. Make sure to practically lay the tape flat on itself to get a crisp clean line.  Add embellishments as you like. At this point I used a medium tipped silver paint pen to add dashed lines and dots, glued on camouflage ribbon making sure to glue the ends on the backside of the chip board, then painted on a leaf-less tree.
The start of a first sergeants patch being painted on.
Add more embellishments while the paint dries. I used clip art in Word for the tank, and found the owl online, and printed them both in color. Then I used the medium tipped silver paint pen to write in some words.
I finished off the sergeants patch using a medium tipped black paint pen, wrote in a few more words with the silver paint pen and then worked on the name. For the name I used a pencil and traced around the letters onto the chip board using the letters I printed off the computer as well as wooden letters I bought for pretty cheap at Wal-mart. I painted the letters on the chip board in with a fine tipped black paint pen, then traced around that with the medium tipped silver paint pen. After all that was dry I painted in the larger letters with blue paint so they would stand out. What you can't see is that off to the side I was painting the wooden letters the same green that I used in the blotching process, and for the one stripe.

I attached the painted wooden letters with some glue, added in some more words with the black fine tipped paint pen, and touched up all of the black outlines of the blue letters. Once that was dry I added in some silver dots in a sort of patterned fashion. If I had brads, I might have added those to all of the major points of the letters as if they were being held up by them. Also added in: a black painted in "picture corner" in the lower right hand corner. Why? Because I accidentally got black paint on my hand, and then smudged it on the picture. Oops!! Oh well... I think it looks cute.
A close-up of the letters. It's kinda hard to tell, but the E is up off of the canvas.
A close-up of the owl in the tree and the striped area.
So...There you have it! My first attempt at a personalized hardboard nursery art piece. I hope my niece and her husband like it! Her husband probably will since there's military stuff on there. ;-)
This is the perfect personalized gift to give to someone expecting a baby.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meatloaf Yumminess!

Welcome to the first Food Friday! I'm going to attempt to make a food post every two to three weeks. I might even have a guest blogger stop by with some yummy ideas and recipes!

Personally, I don't *love* the typical meatloaf. Thankfully, this isn't your typical dry and boring meatloaf recipe!!

~3 lbs of ground beef of your choice
~1 lb of ground turkey of your choice
~2 eggs
~1 tsp (ish) of Worcestershire sauce
~1 c (ish) of your favorite bread crumbs
~1 can stewed tomatoes **
~Parsley - how much I add depends on if I have fresh, or if I'm using dried.
~Mashed potatoes - approximately 4 - 6 cups

~Other spices such as steak seasoning, or oregano, or tarragon, or whatever else you think smells good.
~In this version of my standard meatloaf I added all the typical ingredients, but I also added a shredded sweet pepper. Why shredded, you ask?! Because if it was NOT shredded (into itty bitty nothingness, I might add) My husband and daughter would have whined and complained that there was a pepper in the meatloaf. Since it was shredded up to nothingness and added it's yummy good flavor without them knowing it - they were none the wiser and enjoyed it! ***Side note - this trick works in MANY dishes, and with MANY different "disliked" foods. I even do it with stuff I don't like (cauliflower) and when it's all mixed/cooked into whatever the food is you typically don't notice. A great way to eat more veggies without forcing the veggies down!
~Garlic in whatever form you like. I prefer pressed or shredded cloves over powdered or garlic salt. Personal opinion - it just tastes better! For this much meat I'd use probably 4-5 cloves.

Turn oven on to 375 degrees.
In a large casserole dish put the meat (both kinds), eggs, worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, stewed tomatoes, parsley, and whatever optional ingredients you would like to add.
Take off any/all rings (and likely bracelets too) - cleaning meat out of your jewelry is NOT fun, but it's even less fun to have meat rotting inside your jewelry because you couldn't get it all out. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. It's kinda nice to squish it all together -  great way to get frustration out!
In a separate bowl make/mix mashed potatoes (I prefer using the instant kind, but however you prefer them, use that kind!).
Make sure meatloaf is completely mixed together, and the bread crumbs, seasonings, and whatever veggies you've added (including the stewed tomatoes) are nice and squished up and evenly distributed throughout. Pat the top to be fairly even and smooth.
Wash your hands - they'll be full of meatyness at this point.
Evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meatloaf. Trust me, you want the stuff to be all sitting in the large casserole dish fairly evenly. Otherwise you'll end up with meat spots less/more cooked than others, and the potatoes might burn in's just best to have it even!
Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate. Bake for another 30 minutes. The potatoes will take on a sort of crust around the edges, and the meatloaf juices will be bubbling up the sides.
Take out, let it cool down for a few minutes (long enough to get out plates and forks and heat up a side veggie like corn or whatever else you want to eat!), cut up, serve, and eat! You will NOT need ketchup on it. As a matter of fact, you'll probably thoroughly enjoy how it tastes without ketchup on it.

mmmmmmmmm Good stuff! This much meatloaf will feed 8-10 pretty hungry people. You could cut all the ingredients in half for a smaller amount or freeze some for later. I'm not sure how good it is after being frozen since it never lasts that long around here!

**If you want your meatloaf to not be SO juicy then you can drain the can of stewed tomatoes. I prefer all the juice, and then everyone uses it as a sort of gravy.

P.S. Leftovers are JUST as good as the original night. YUM!
Please excuse my blurry pictures I took using my cell phone. :)