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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hippity Hoppity, Easter's On Its Way!

I love to make Mug Rugs. If you aren't familiar with what those are, they are a cross between a hot pad and a placemat. They are a personal size, big enough for a cup of coffee or tea and a bagel or croissant or whatever your little snack you like with tea or coffee is. I also used it at lunch time as a hot pad at my desk. Or afternoon snack. They are just so fun to use! I've made several (another excellent way to use up scraps) for myself, family, teacher gifts & even graduation presents. Great for a college student sitting at a small desk eating while surfing Pinterest - I mean, studying. I've even sold some just because people have seen mine and wanted one for themselves and others, and I've made them to their color requests. Since they're quilted, you can use any pattern of quilting you want. Sometimes I use straight lines, sometimes I use squiggly. To make your own, just use the same concept as the Stripey Egg tutorial below but cut your size/shape to whatever you want.

Perfect for a college student - when one side gets dirty, flip it over!
Here are a few I made as teachers gifts (even for a man teacher, the middle top one)
with scraps, the color combinations are endless!
 So for Easter, I made mug rugs for my kids and myself (still working on a color combo for the hubby). These were the first Mug Rugs I made, so I purchased the pattern from The Split Stitch (I wanted to be legit if/when I sold them), but the free Stripey Egg Mug Rug tutorial is here ) and I went to town. I quickly realized you can really make these any size or shape you want, you don't need a pattern. For the kids, I put their initials on the back and I guess I should probably put the year too so they can keep them forever. LOL.

Easter Mug Rugs

the backs

So, I'm excited for us to all use our rugs on Easter morning at breakfast. I'm thinking I will make these yummy "birds nest" breakfasts again. They were a hit the last time I made them.

I recently ordered some custom made fabric labels from Spoonflower, and I'm excited to get them. I need to stop making stuff so I can add my labels before I'm done with a project!

I've got some Easter table decor ideas that are brewin'.........stay tuned! ;)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Locks of Love

I've previously mentioned (& posted pictures) that my daughter Hayley has red hair. She gets that from me (I suppose I could also mention that her dad has cousins on his side with red hair, but since she came right from me, I'll take the credit, thank you!) My parents both had dark brown hair but all 4 of us kids had red. My 2 brothers have strawberry blonde hair with blue eyes and my sister and I had the darker, more red hair with brown eyes. I say had because unfortunately, I lost my sister to cancer a year and a half ago. I miss her terribly. I don't normally talk about her because even still just mentioning her name, it makes me cry. At least typing this I can cry in the privacy of my own home. She was a great "big sister", she could do anything. And I mean anything. She could sew curtains to building a car from scratch. Not even kidding. Even though I was more the domestically engineered type, she was the mechanically engineered type. I loved baking, she loved building. Despite our differences, we never had a problem spending time together. This is a photo of us kids (with child rank) 5 months into her cancer diagnosis. She had not lost any hair yet as she started on a pill form of chemo but she had already lost lots of weight and was not the strong, robust Robin that we all knew. 

Jeff (#2), Ryan (#4), Jill (#3) & Robin (#1)
When we bought our house 8 years ago, it was a 3 bedroom home but had a large 3 season porch at the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. Robin converted that into a master bedroom for us, doing all the work herself after work and weekends, with the occasional help of my hubby. We liked the thought of having the parents room on the opposite end from the kids. Being in my bedroom knowing it was her handiwork all around me sometimes makes me feel comforted like she's there with me, sometimes it makes me miss her all the more. 

On Wednesday nights we used to watch Hot In Cleveland and Happily Divorced together - remotely, and text each other about the funny parts. After she died, it took me a while before I could watch either show. I've recently started back up again and the first few times I did, it was hard. 

Every month for over a year I would take her to her appointment to have her nephrostomy tubes changed at a hospital 45 minutes away. I must admit sometimes I did this begrudgingly, as it was an emotionally exhausting day for me. I'd come home just drained, with a major headache. And then I'd feel guilty because I knew how she felt. She did so much for me during our lifetime together, that if this is what I could do for her, then I did it and I knew she appreciated it. She was deathly afraid of needles which didn't help. She only liked a few of the people there so if she got someone she didn't like, she was in a foul mood. I hate crying and try to avoid it at all costs, and usually only cry if I'm reeeally mad & then it makes me more mad that I'm crying. No matter how much she cried or anyone around me cried, I never did. I always stayed strong for her and I guess you could say I didn't cry in front of her until the day she died, right when she was gone. Now it seems,  I can't turn it off which is a whole new concept for me, my hubby and my kids.

Like me, she wasn't one for pictures ... but at one of her appointments I told her I was taking one and she better smile. At least she wasn't flipping me off which was more typical of her than a fake smile LOL.

This was at an appointment a month before Robin died. It was getting harder at the end to take her alone because she had to use a wheelchair and it helped to have someone with me. Hayley would go with me so this was a picture of us waiting for Robin to come back to the room. Apparently no one likes to have their picture taken in a hospital. :)

I still have so much more I could say about my sister but this has taken me quite a while to compose in between all the tears. This is the most I've really talked about it so for me, it's a step in the healing process. Thanks for listening.

But the point of this post was really about how my daughter did something that her aunt Robin would be very proud of, as well as we are. Back to the hair subject....it's very long and very thick. She really does get the thick part from me. Both of us have enough hair on our head for 3 people.  She's been growing it for quite some time and decided on a goal to donate 10" to Locks of Love. So this past weekend she took the plunge... had it cut off.

This was the before...

This was the during....

this was measuring the 10" donation minimum. Hayley said to add another inch
Making the first cut.....
There it is!

still plenty left!

support from her bestie, Lauren

the donation "locks"
 And the "after"....

Robin was always proud of my kids. Even though she's gone, every time they do something I know she is smiling and still proud of them. For whatever reason the person who gets to benefit from Hayley's donation, I wish them the best!

I'm hoping with 11" less of hair, that's less I have to clean out of the bathroom drain. And less shampoo. And less conditioner. And less hair in the vacuum cleaner. She sheds worse than any dog. But I love her! :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Top 'O the mornin' to you! 

I'm not Irish, but I will gladly celebrate St. Patty's day to the fullest when it comes to food. I had found a recipe earlier in the week and thought it would be perfect to make for today's breakfast. Savory Irish Breakfast Pie. Doesn't that sound great? Now for the bad news... for the life of me, I can't come up with the original recipe that I had found. I could've sworn it was an article on my nbcnews.com homepage about different pies on Pi Day. I have searched & searched that website and nothing comes up. I have Googled the name of the recipe and still can't come up with the original recipe. I had cut & pasted what I had found earlier this week in an email that I sent to my mom so that is the only source of the recipe I have. So I apologize to Greg Henry, who is the author of Savory Pies: Delicious Recipes for Seasoned Meats, Vegetables and Cheeses Baked in Perfectly Flaky Pie Crusts, the cookbook that has the recipe in it, and I will encourage everyone to buy a copy because I have it in my cart for my next order! Since this pie was so yummy, I can't wait to try others.

So, to start this wonderful dish, you will need:

Basic Pie Pastry (I make my own, recipe is here)
6 slices of bacon (to save time, I used Patrick Cudahy fully cooked bacon pieces)
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
8 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Prepare your pie crust and put into your pie dish. I used a 9" pie plate. The recipe says to peel your potatoes, but I like mine with the peels on. I thinly sliced my potatoes and put in a large saucepan with water to cover, brought to a boil but only cooked about 2 minutes. Drained and set on a paper plate covered with paper towel to blot dry. 

I filled the bottom of the pie crust with the bacon and started layering the potatoes on top. After each layer of potatoes, I sprinkled with pepper. Keep layering until you nearly fill the dish.

In a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, cream and parsley. Pour over the potatoes. Crack the remaining 4 eggs on top of the potatoes, being careful not to break. I tried to purposely put mine in 4 even spots so I could make the holes on the top crust match up better, but since they are runny and slippery, they tend to just go where they want to, little buggers!

Use a round cutter (I didn't have one and used a small shot glass!) to make a few holes in the top crust. You don't have to do this, it's purely for decoration and you can use whatever shape you want. Now that I think about it, I think I have a small shamrock cutter I could've used. Darn!!

Carefully put your top crust on top of your pie, making sure you don't break your yolks. I gently slid my eggs to the holes if they were close. They don't have to peak through, but it does look kinda neat. Gently brush your crust with the egg wash.

Bake at 375 for approx 45 minutes, until crust is lightly golden and the eggs & potatoes are cooked through. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serve warm or at room temperature. 

 Ta-da! It's done! Now go cut yourself a slice and enjoy with some fresh orange juice!

Print the recipe HERE. Now off to figure out what to make for dinner!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Top 'O The Weekend To Ya!

As we go into St. Patty's day weekend, I'm kicking it off with some Thin Mint Puppy Chow. Can't go wrong with chocolate and Chex mix, not to mention Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint cookies! Not that these items are exactly "Irish" foods, but the colors go with the holiday!  I found the recipe at Your Cup of Cake. I'm not a fan of white chocolate, so instead of adding the mint extract to my white chocolate (& avoiding it getting hard from adding liquid) I used mint chocolate chips and only used half the recipe amount of white chocolate.

This snack would go good watching reruns of BallyKissAngel, an older PBS series set in Ireland that we've always enjoyed. We have all seasons on DVD but if you can find it on Netflix, I'd recommend it. 

Even though I have red hair and an "Irish" temper, I actually am not Irish at all. But, I am looking forward to making more recipes to celebrate St. Patty's Day weekend.... stay tuned!

 If you don't have any Girl Scout cookies left, don't fret. I looked at a few grocery stores and lastly, my local Wal-Mart had these and they are the spitten image of Thin Mints:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring... It's a Baby Shower!

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower recently with my SIL Carrie and my sister Becky for our other SIL, Alicia. This is a long-awaited baby, let me tell ya. My baby brother is terrified to have kids. He has a super queasy stomach (and seriously, SUPER) and is not looking forward to poopy diapers, spit up, boogers, etc…. all the fun stuff that goes along with babies and kids. Every time I think about this baby arriving I just shake my head and chuckle. 

On to the fun stuff!  I also co-hosted a baby shower last summer and of course after the shower I saw tons of super cute shower ideas on Pinterest.  Murphy’s Law, right?  So when this baby shower came up, I knew exactly what I wanted the theme to be… I loved the old school library card invites and bringing a book in lieu of a shower card to start the baby’s library. Fortunately, everyone else liked the idea too. I got to work and ordered library cards off the internet and I set off to find a vintage typewriter to type the cards. Lo and behold, my very own mother had an awesome vintage Royal typewriter, complete with working ribbons for my project.  I sat that baby down on the dining room table and inserted my library card and started to type. I was gonna have fun! 

Isn't she a beauty?

Fun?  Oh. My. Gosh. I got one card done and thought this kid is going to be graduating college before I get 30 of these suckers done! I had to type slow, and plunk hard. The library card was sort of a thicker paper so it didn’t lay smoothly on the roller so it didn’t type quite as clear as I wanted. So, on to plan B: The Modern Faux Vintage Plan. I Googled a free typewriter font and downloaded that. I photocopied 4 library cards on one sheet. I opened up my Word program and blindly started typing the information making a “template” to print out on my photocopied sheet of 4 cards. Actually, I must say I did quite well and hardly had to do any tweaking. There was just no way every thing was going to match up perfectly, but I thought it looked great and was a heck of a lot faster than actually typing them! (sorry mom, I know you were excited for me to use the typewriter!)

I then set out to find a book plate template that I could send with the invitations for people to put inside the books.  I found a nice Martha Stewart one but since this baby shower was gender neutral (they had not found out the sex) I thought it was too pinkish to be neutral and since it was a PDF you could not change the color scheme. So again, I set out to make my own using Publisher. My SIL had mentioned that Hey Diddle Diddle was one of her favorite nursery rhymes as a child so I was basing the invites on that theme. I used a banner from GraphicsFairy (who by the way has awesome free graphics to use!) and a picture from the nursery rhyme. I cut those out and attached double sided photo sticker squares so they could affix the bookplate themselves and made up a little card explaining to please buy a book in lieu of a card. I then made the library card pockets out of 3 different scrapbook papers in red, blue & yellow for everything to go in. I made the guest list & return mailing labels with the same typewriter font to keep the vintage theme going. 

I will share my bookplate... click HERE.

Now comes my favorite part – the menu! We wanted to go with book titled foods. My SIL had mentioned she loved anything BBQ, so our local Sam’s Club has THE BEST shredded BBQ pork for sammies. That was going to be our main food. Then we had meatballs, pasta salad, cheese & crackers, grapes, deviled eggs, ham/pickle roll ups and veggie & dip “shots”. I had my daughter print out and cut pictures of actual book covers and adhere them to pieces of cardboard (cereal boxes) to set by the foods.

Green Eggs & Ham!

Macaroni Salad

Recipe can be found on the FOOD STUFF tab of the site

Grape Caterpillars

Carrie made some really cute platters with fabrics
Veggies from Mr. McGregor's Garden (Peter Rabbit)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

I really liked the idea of drinking out of recycled Starbucks bottles and the super cute paper straws, so I commissioned everyone to drink the Starbucks Frappucinos! I did not participate in this drinking challenge – I love coffee but can not handle it cold. So kudos to everyone that helped! I did however soak most of the bottles, removed the labels and the gooey glue. I then ordered the super cute paper straws (after much research to find the best priced ones!) here on Amazon. We had a punch made of Pomegranate Raspberry juice and Sierra Mist. I seem to not have a picture of the bottles filled with a cute straw. :(

Our dessert buffet consisted of cream puffs, cake pops, French Silk Pie (another thing I ended up without a picture of) and again, a Pinterest idea I really liked was the Mason jar desserts. I originally decided to make a wonderful Cream Puff Cake dessert in them but after doing a trial run first, we determined that it was too difficult to eat that out of the jar. Plastic cutlery would definitely not work. So I came up with an alternate Pinterest recipe of a Lemon Raspberry cheesecake found here. Wowza, I’m not even a lemon fan and I thought they were yummy and very easy to eat (maybe even a little too easy!) :)

another cute platter Carrie made for the Three Blind Mice

Blind Mice

Puff The Magic Dragon cream puffs

Pop Goes The Weasel

the delicious Cream Puff cakes that got the axe... sniff sniff!

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecakes

Another idea we liked was the recycled jars made into decorative jars by painting the lids and adding a decorative knob. They’re so pretty! So I made a few of those and we did a candy buffet and had licorice, Swedish fish, M&M’s and gummy bears. They were a big hit with the kids in attendance!

We realize people aren’t really into doing the whole game thing, so we just had one game of “Who Did That?” and I had asked the mothers of the Parents-to-Be to give me a list of 10 things both of them did before they were 7. I compiled the list and the guests had to guess who did what. It looked like this:

The rest of the shower was spent gabbing, giving advice, telling baby stories, opening gifts and enjoying each other’s company. I think a good time was had by all. :)

The soon-to-be cousins watching the gift opening

For party favors I wanted to do something homemade again. I had made tissue covers for the guests at the last shower I co-hosted and they were a big hit. I do believe everyone appreciates a homemade item and I wanted to give something that people were actually going to use and not throw in the bathroom cupboard or the Goodwill box. You know, all those candles, hand lotions, shower gels etc. that are usually the party favors. So this time I went with spa corn bags. I made tags that had the microwave directions or freezer directions (depending on you plan to use it) and said thanks for attending Alicia’s baby shower. With several different fabric choices, I think everyone enjoyed getting one!

 This was a cute rolling crate Carrie made to take the books home in:

Thanks so much Carrie & Becky for your help with the shower. Congrats to Joe & Alicia, and I can’t wait to meet my new niece or nephew! 

Jill, Mom-to-be Alicia, Carrie & Becky (& someone who isn't ready for an internet debut!)

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 Hope you enjoyed our baby shower!

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