Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wax Lotus Flower

Last night, I went grocery shopping. (Pity me.) It was AWFUL.

But afterward, I got to watch Nashville and have some apple wine and white cheddar Babybel cheese. Shelby ate a lot of the cheese, which is why she is eating a lot of fruit today. Anyway, I saved the wax coverings from the cheese and made this while watching TV:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Easy Homemade Bisquick Chicken Pot Pies

Easy Homemade Bisquick Chicken Pot Pies
So, the other night, I had homemade pot pies on the menu, and the whole family was excited about it, as I haven't made pot pies in a long time, mostly because it is so time consuming. Anyway, one way to cut down on the time I spend on it is to buy premade pie crusts. I had a box of pie crusts in the fridge, I discovered right before I went shopping, so I put pot pies on the list. I really should have checked the expiration date on them, though, as I would have bought more had I known that they expired in June. Yeah. I need to clean out my fridge more.

But I digress.

So, I almost chucked the whole idea of making pot pies, especially after I realized that I was out of shortening outside of butter, and I have never made pie crust with butter. I mean, I know is possible, but mine was not room temperature, and I didn't know how the crust would turn out if I microwaved the butter. (As you can tell, I overthink things. A lot.)

I digress some more.

Anyway, I nearly decided to use my thawed chicken breast with some pasta, but the family was all like, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! WE WANT POT PIES!!!!" so I started prepping to try to make pie crust out of refrigerated butter when I saw a box of Bisquick in the cupboard. Now, the only reason I even have it is because the family is so obsessed with the 7-Up Biscuits I make out of it, so I almost never even use the stuff. I didn't know what it was capable of.

I didn't have a recipe for it, but I figured, "How hard could it be?" So, while my daughter finished prepping the filling, I made Bisquick pie dough. And, to my amazement, we did not end up with veggie and chicken stuffed biscuits. It was a little less dense than pie dough, and had a slightly different texture, but honestly, it was super easy and tasted really, really good!

I made these in a mega muffin pan, so they were very nearly the same size as a pot pie you'd buy in the frozen food section of the market.

I think next time, I am going to experiment with a Southwestern version, adding taco seasonings to the crust, and corn, cooked rice, and peppers to the filling!

Here is the recipe on my Pepperplate account: Easy Homemade Bisquick Chicken Pot Pies.
Here is a link to a PDF version of the recipe on one of my retro recipe cards: Easy Homemade Bisquick Pot Pies.

Or copy and paste from here:

    For Filling
        1 chicken breast
        1/2 cup celery, finely diced
        1/2 cup carrots, sliced
        1 pkg chicken gravy mix
    For Crust
        3 cups Bisquick
        1/2 cup melted butter
        1 cup water

    For filling
        Cut up thawed chicken breast into 1/2-inch cubes, and toss into small skillet with your favorite cooking oil (I used 2 tblsp. unsalted butter). Season to taste (I used salt, pepper, lemon pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder). Allow to cook over medium heat, stirring and flipping occasionally.
        Chop up celery and carrots and place in small saucepan. Cover with water, add salt, and bring to boil.
        In a separate saucepan, make gravy mix following package directions.
        Drain cooked vegatables and add to gravy mix. Add chicken chunks to gravy mix. Set aside.
    For Crust
        In a large bowl, combine Bisquick, melted butter, and water and knead for 1 or 2 minutes, until mixture forms a smooth ball.
        Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface as a pie crust, about 1/4-inch thick.
        Using a medium bowl as a guide, cut out 6-inch diameter circles from the dough.
        Place 6-inch circles into Mega-Size Muffin pan and press dough to sides.
        Re-roll dough and cut out 4-inch circles for pie tops.
        Fill dough-lined muffins with gravy mix, and top with upper crusts.
        Press edges of dough together gently, poke holes in the tops, and put in 400-degreeoven for 25 minutes. Makes 6 pot pies.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Checkerboard Patio!

The (mostly) finished checkerboard patio project!
I am going to tell you right now that this whole post is really a case study in just how cheap I am. Let's keep a running tally of what I spent on this project, okay?

 I saw a lovely checkerboard patio on Pinterest over a year ago, and I decided that I was going to have one - albeit, more "my" style, as in, less refined. What I mean by that is, when I do landscaping, I like it to look like it was civilized, like, 1,000 years ago and I just uncovered it or something. Rustic, I guess.

Anyway, that first picture is the (mostly) finished checkerboard patio that me, my Tommy Lee, and the kids put together over the weekends for the past month. I need to finish painting the table, a task I might get to this weekend... or maybe not.

The picture to the right is what I started with: a relatively flat (hahahahaha!) plot of ground and 110 12"x12" concrete pavers I got off Craigslist for $80 plus $20 in gas to a friend for hauling them in his truck. So, we're at $100 so far.

 As you can see from this picture, the ground really isn't all that level. It rolls.

 I tried to get everybody to lay them out corner to corner, but I wasn't after perfection, just neatness. After all, I wanted it to (eventually) look like some ancient civilization made this thing and I found it and utilized it. And that's why I didn't dig up the whole area, fill with sand, level, add dirt between the bricks, and sod over it. Well, that, and I am very, very, very cheap.

 So, then, for our anniversary, Tommy Lee bought me a patio umbrella, so I needed a table for it. So, my Tommy Lee started building me one out of scrap lumber my dad brought home from the mill he works at and Redwood decking boards that we got for free from Craigslist. The umbrella was on sale for $40 and we spent $30 in gas to get the decking boards in Spokane. Total spent: $170.

 Because I didn't want to pay to have the ground leveled or have sand brought in, my son and I dug the pavers down until they were flat with the ground and relatively level. You can see in this pic to the right where we've sunk down the pavers underneath the table's base.

 With the table finished (Tommy Lee spent three days in his spare time building it... maybe over building it, as it takes 3 to 4 strong guys to move it), we stuck in the umbrella to see what it looked like.

 Super cute, right?

And then we finished sinking in all the pavers...

 Added some lights, which I already had from the wedding...

 And some cute colored LED lights we bought on clearance at Target ($20). Total spent: $190.

 My camera decided it didn't want to take decent pictures of the lights at night, even though it will take pictures of lightning and the moon behind clouds and whatever.

 It's really pretty all lit up like that; these pictures don't do it justice.
 Played with the camera settings a little and got a slightly better photo. **Le Sigh**

 I went back out the next day and took some more pictures after adding some flowers in pots ($15). Total spent: $205.
 And then we painted a tire (free... had it just hanging around) teal and white ($7 for spray paint... total spent: $212.
 And I planted a bunch of annuals in it. The plants were on clearance at the local greenhouse. I got a bunch of marigolds and several kinds of daisies, fuchsia, and some snapdragons.

 Total for the new flowers? $15. Total spent: $227.
 I then spray painted stripes on the table base with spray paint. It took one can of orange paint, one can of teal (what was left over from the tire), and three cans of white. Paint cost: $20 (not counting the teal, which I already counted). Total spent: $247.
 I spent $10 at the dollar store to put in solar lights around the perimeter. Total spent: $257.
So that's it. I painted some glass jars I have been saving for another project with the leftover paint, so I need more paint to finish painting the top and base of the table, which Tommy Lee says that he has somewhere, but he's been busy working, so I sort of have to wait for him.

I have a couple more things to do out there, but I really love how it turned out, and it cost less than $300 to do it.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pyrography - iPhone4 Case

Custom wood burned iPhone4 wooden case - pyrography is awesome!
I have wanted to have a wooden iPhone case from the first moment that I realized that my iPhone that Verizon gave to me for free would need one in order to take a call and not drop it. (Seems to me that is normal cell phone activity - the ability to take a call and stay on the line until you're through - but, in the case of iPhone 4... apparently no.)

In any case (pun intended), I wanted a wooden iPhone case because I thought that it would be pretty unique, especially when I got done customizing it with pyrography, the art of burning designs into wood...something I have done quite extensively in the past but that I haven't done in years due to work, college, graduate school, etc, etc, etc.

Anyway... so I bought a wooden case off of Amazon some time ago, but I never got around to putting the design on it before my 2-year-old broke the case. Broke the back of the iPhone, too, come think of it. Recently, I bought another wooden case and, this time, I actually did the pyrography work.

I had decided long ago that I wanted to memorialize my car - my 1971 Ford LTD Brougham - on the iPhone case, so I printed out a scaled outline version of the car from the front - where it looks really angry and mean, TBH - and taped it to the outside of the phone and then drew over the lines with a ballpoint pen. Here is what it looked like at that point:

You can sort of see the outline there in that shot.

Next, I dug out my old, trusty wood burning tool and plugged it in and set to work. I realized that, unlike my first wooden case, this one has a coating of some sort on it. So, I cut through it with a precision screwdriver and finished the design... and I realized it was missing something, so I freehand burned in a crescent moon, three retro-looking stars, and the '71 at the bottom. Then I put a coat of clear spray paint on it to seal it, and, once dry, I Super Glued the two pieces around the phone so that the baby won't be able to get it off if she gets a hold of the phone again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pulled Pork Sandwiches Recipe

Super yummy, spicy pulled pork sandwiches!
I have never been a big pork fan, but this is one way that I actually enjoy it... and the whole family loves it, too... and I live with a bunch of picky eaters! Though this recipe does take some planning to pull off, it isn't difficult in the least.

Here is a link to a PDF download of this recipe on a stylish, printable, retro recipe card:
Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Or you can copy from my Pepperplate account:
Clicky clicky here

Or you can copy and paste from here:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
[For Spice Rub]
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar

[For Brine Solution]
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon spice rub (above)
2 quarts water (approximately)

[For Pork Bake]
1 pork loin (about 2 lbs)
2 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 Walla Walla sweet onion
1 Anaheim pepper
1 jalapeno pepper

[for spice rub]
Mix all spice rub ingredients together and mix well to combine.

[for brine solution]
Mix 1/2 cup salt into 2 quarts of water and mix until completely dissolved. Add 1 tablespoon spice rub mix. Place pork into brine solution and add more water if needed so that pork is covered. Put a lid on the pot and put in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

[for pork loin]
After brining time is up, remove loin from brine solution and pat dry with paper towels. Rub down generously with spice rub on all sides. Place in baking pan (fat side up) and surround with chopped vegetables. Cover pan with tin foil and bake at 225 degrees for 8 hours.

Remove from pan and place pork loin in shallow bowl and shred with tongs or two forks. Serve on potato buns with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, BBQ sauce, or whatever you choose.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies!
 These are my favorite chocolate chip cookies, bar none. They are soft, not too sweet, and not too crumb-y. I love them, and they never last very long around my house.

I'm attaching the recipe on one of my recipe cards as an image and as a .PDF file you can print on card stock and cut out. Or you can copy and paste it:

These babies never last very long!

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in brown sugar and egg and continue beating until creamed. Mix in vanilla and sour cream and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat dry mixture into wet mixture 1/4 cup at a time until completely combined. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts (if you're using them).

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies will get a very light golden brown but will still be pretty pale.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size you make them. ;-)

Click for larger view!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rehabbed Washing Machine Update

 I have been utterly SWAMPED with work, so I haven't done very many really creative projects here lately outside of the band, marketing videos for work, and some graphics for work here or there. But, my previous creative projects are taking care of themselves... well, with some water.

As you may recall from a previous post, my Tommy Lee and I rehabbed these old wringer washing machines, brushing off the dirt and giving them a coat of red paint. I also planted lots and lots of all white petunias in them, with the hope that they would look like soap bubbles pouring out of them. Now that the petunias have had a chance to grow, I really think that they are starting to look like soap bubbling over the top. What do you think?

I bought WAAAAAY too may petunias. After giving my Mom a flat of them, I still had this may left over from the project!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Windowsill Herb Garden

 Last February when I got my tax refund, I bought these cute planter sets at Target, one group of teal and one group of dark orange-red ones. They're three plastic planters set in a matching water tray, and I realized while still at the store that you can pull the planters off the tray and mix and match the things. So, I did. And then I planted herbs in them.

Maybe I just wasn't thinking, but it took me quite a while to figure out what I had planted. I mean, I knew what I planted at the time, but, after a few weeks, I forgot what was in each planter and the next thing I knew, I was waiting for the sprouts to get a little bigger to figure out what they were. I know I planted two kinds of parsley, oregano, two types of basil, and chives. One of the basils and the chives didn't make it past the sprout stage, so I swapped them out for a store-bought oregano plant (not knowing that one of my surviving sprouts was oregano) and green onions (the tips about growing them from store-bought kitchen scrap totally works, although you can skip the stinky water and just toss them in some good dirt, seriously).

 So, what I have ended up with is the two types of parsley (flat leaf and curled), two planters of  the same kind of oregano (I think), green onions, a separate planter (there in the yellow pot) of chives, and a plant I can't identify. I figure it must be one of the basil plants, but it really doesn't look like basil. Since I only remember planting the basil, parsley, chives, and oregano, I still have no idea what it is. I might have planted something else and don't remember; might not have, too. They mystery plant is on the far right in the second photo.
In any case, I have to say that cooking with fresh herbs makes all my dishes taste better. The parsley and oregano in particular make my pasta dishes taste AMAZING, especially fettuccine alfredo! Wow!

I think I may replant these into a very large planter to keep in a sunny spot inside and try my hand at some other herbs now, too. Maybe rosemary or thyme...

Yorkdale 4' Window Box - White - Planters (Google Affiliate Ad)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rehabbed Wringer Washing Machines

Repurposed and rehabbed retro wringer washing machines!
This isn't so much a how-to post but a "hey-I-did-this" sort of post. :-)

When we first started working on the property, there was an old, abandoned house here; been vacant since 1968 or something. It was beyond repair, but we saved what we could from it and carefully tore it down. Two of the things we found were these old wringer washing machines. Now, things were made with real quality back then, so, it wouldn't have surprised me that we could have made at least one of these work, if we would have wanted, despite that they sat outside for at least 30+ years.

The porcelain tubs were still in really great shape, as were the insides, and one of them even had the wringer attachment and lid! I immediately decided to rehab them into flower planters.

That was last April (as in 2012), and I, along with my auto painter husband, Tommy Lee, finally got around to finishing them. The boys moved them out front, we cleaned them up, scuffed them, and painted with regular red spray paint. I then filled the bottoms with rocks, topped with potting soil and filled them up with white candytuft and white vine petunias so that, later this summer when the flowers really get to growing and blooming, it'll look like soap bubbles pouring out of them!

Before we started
Amid the process

Just about done with one of them!


Filled with candytuft and petunias

With the wringer

They look so cute and retro!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

DIY Valentine's Scratch Tickets

So, for Valentine's Day this year, I did something I saw on Pinterest: I made these awesome, homemade scratch tickets!

They're actually really simple: Just print out some graphics with hearts on them onto cardstock, and write your "prizes" on them. While your ink's drying, mix up your paint, which is 1 part dishwashing soap to two parts acrylic paint. I used silver, but you could use any color, like pink or red or whatever. My mix was one tablespoon dish soap to two tablespoons silver acrylic paint, and that was WAY too much. I still have a jar of this stuff.

Anyway, the next step is cover every part of the Valentine card that will be scratched off with a layer of white crayon; in my case, I colored over all my hearts.

Then, paint over your hearts with a small paintbrush. The paint has to be pretty thick, but not abnormally so. I also found that the wax from the crayon kept the paint in place a little bit. But neatness still counts!

They have to dry for about an hour or so because the dish soap retards the drying process.

And it actually works! I'd show you how they look scratched off, but, well, the prizes are personal. :D

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creamsicle Cookies!

So, over on Pinterest, I saw a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies, so, for the Superbowl, I knew I had to make them. The recipe was easy to find then, but the sites since been taken down as an "attack site," whatever that means. So, go ahead and click the link to the Pin, if you want, but skip clicking to the site, k?

Anyhoomers, that picture there is of my Orange Creamsicle Cookies, and, let me tell you what: they are AH-MAY-ZING. They totally taste like an "orange-ier" version of that creamy, frozen, ice cream delicacy you remember from childhood.

I've put the recipe on one of my recipe cards, which you can download as a 300 DPI PDF file:

Or, copy and paste:

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (OR 2 sticks butter) [I used butter flavor Crisco.]
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange zest (about 2 oranges' worth)
2 tablespoons orange juice*
1 bag vanilla chips

*I found that the mixture was too dry when I put in all the dry ingredients into the wet ones, so, since I had zested oranges just sitting around, I squeezed those a little and added the juice to the mixture. This was NOT part of the recipe I used. The juice might make your cookies a little "orange heavy" for your tastes, so, decide for yourself.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

In another bowl, cream together your butter/shortening and sugars. When well mixed, beat in egg, vanilla, and orange juice (if you're using it).

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing well between each addition.

Stir in orange zest and vanilla chips until well incorporated.

Roll dough into small balls and place about 1.5" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Do not let them overcook!

Let cool on baking pan for a few minutes before removing to rack or tray to finish cooling.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on how large of cookie balls you roll.