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Sunday, June 29, 2014

First Ninja Smoothie

Although I've been juicing and making smoothies for years, I've never really found a simple, easy recipe that didn't gag me-until now!  I got my brother the Ninja Prep blender for his birthday at JC Penny's.  He had been juicing a lot and the clean-up and cost was getting overwhelming.  Plus, all the pulp was getting wasted and discarded.  
At first I was really confused by the Ninja.  It took me a while to figure out the system.  Basically, there are three blades in three containers.  You just put the motor on the container and blend.  It's really good with ice and very quick.  I have other blenders but the motors don't seem as powerful as the Ninja.  
I googled at Ninja recipes and found many free and easy ones.  This recipe called for 1/2 cup yogurt, a cup of blueberries, a banana and ice.

I had all of the ingredients.  However, I used a whole cup of flavored yogurt, and more blueberries.

Just attach the top and push down.

Ready to blend!

I adapted the recipe by adding a handful of grapes, more ice, and 2% milk because the shake was too thick.

The result was great.  It tasted like a blueberry Orange Julius! It was really good. It was one of the best shakes I ever had.  Plus, it was about a hundred times easier to clean up than juicing.  I can't wait to make more.
This is the recipe website:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Sharpen Your Scissors the Easy Way

 Sharpen you scissors with foil:  I have a lot of scissors. I have everything from cuticle scissors to those extremely sharp scissors that come with the plastic protector.

Tim Holtz scissors that I got in an Ebay lot of his stuff. I have to admit I love these scissors. They cut almost anything!
  I also have a huge collection of Fiskars Paper Edger scissors.  I do have a few of the traditional scissor sharpener things which really never worked that great for me.

However, the BEST thing I've ever used to sharpen scissors, shears, etc. is used aluminium foil.  I say "used" because I don't like to waste anything but you could use new.  Basically, before I throw away used foil I just grab a pair of scissors and cut it up!  That's it. It works-try it.  Just beware when using this newly sharpened scissors because they can become razor sharp.

You can also sharpen items with sandpaper!  Try to use a fine grit.  Just cut the sandpaper and voila-sharpened scissors.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Luau Tropical Flower Pens

For our Relay for Life team for the American Cancer Society, I decided to make more flower pens.  The theme was luau and I just happened to have some artificial flowers that looked somewhat tropical.  I bought 15 pens at Walmart for about a $1.  
Supplies needed:
*faux flowers
*sharp scissors
*pliers to pull off the cap
*cheap ink pens
*heavy glue like E600 or Goop
*green floral tape (or ribbon)
For beaded pens:
*Use small mini glass beads instead of floral tape and Terrifically Tacky Tape to adhere

I had to get several pairs of small pliers to wedge off the back cap.

The end cap wasn't hard to get off but it did require some strength.  You can discard the pen caps because they will not fit back on the pens.

I finally ended up using this heavier set of pliers to do the trick. You can also throw about the cap as this is where the flowers will be shooting out.

The first thing I did was cut the faux flowers down to about two or three inches.  I have to use my super sharp Tim Holtz scissors as the plastic is quite tough. Then, I dipped that flower stem into E6oo or GOOP which is a heavy glue that glues anything to anything. If you have asthma or get headaches easily, wear a dust mask. I always wear a handkerchief around my mouth and nose because the smell of this glue is awful.
So after I coat the green plastic flower tip in glue, I jam it into the back of the pen.  I don't stick it down the ink part but to the side of it.  You can add more than one stem if you like depending on what kind of flowers you are using.  Push in the stem so just the flowers are showing.  Then, start to wrap the pen with floral tape. I use a dab of glue near the pen tip and around when I am down wrapping to seal it so it won't unwrap later.  The floral tape is a little sticky but try to smooth it down. I also added some "leaves" to make the pens look more tropical.

I also made a few pens using the tiny glass beads and Terrifically Tacky Tape.  
The tape is super sticky and kind of hard to use so mine never turn out that great.  I think you could also use a heavy glue for the beads but this could get very messy.  Also, these are not the seed beads but the extremely small beads that have no hole. (Are they still a bead? Probably not.)  You have have a shallow container slightly bigger than the pens.  Put some glass beads in and also shake some on the top. It helps to have a second container to do this a few times so you don't waste any beads.  I often end up mixing colors to use up more of the beads.  Be careful not to spill them.

The final products were a nice touch at the Relay.  We were selling tickets for baskets and raffles and no one walked off with our pens.  I will post more on our Relay later.

Mexican Food, Chili, and Taco Dip from One Meal

 Mexican food into chili/dip: WHen I make tacos, I buy a few pounds of ground beef.  If you haven't noticed the price is not going down. I buy a large container of the taco seasoning at a discount store or Sam's club.  I brown the meat with a little oil, water, and a lot of the seasoning together.  I also usually add onion powder and more cumin and salt to taste.  Then, I cut up tomatoes, onions, green peppers, colored peppers, lettuce, and sometimes hot peppers.  I buy the soft and hard tacos.  I also put out, chopped up olives, sour cream, salsa, and cheese.  I like to make my own guacamole if avocados are on sale and ripe. A co-worker told me to use my electric burner to brown the soft tacos instead of a pan.  Just wipe it off first. It's kind of cool to see them start to puff up.
After the meal, I have a lot of left overs.  The next day, I use the lettuce as a base for a Mexican salad.  I will still have a ton of food left over.

Mexican Layer Dip Recipe 
*1 block cream cheese
*1 cup sour cream
*1 packet taco seasoning
-MIX together (I use a hand mixer)
In a glass pan, spread mixture on the bottom layer.  On top of that, put a layer of ground beef.  (Not too much!)
Top the beef layer with lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes.
Serve with tortilla chips.

You will still have leftovers even when you make the dip.  Here's what I do for my chili:
I throw everything leftover into a plastic freezer bag together: meat, peppers, hot peppers, and onions.  Usually, I will throw out any olives and lettuce still remaining.  Sometimes I do toss in the cheese too.  Then, when I go to make my huge pot of chili, I am good to go.  After two or three Mexican dinners, I have a lot of beef, peppers, and onions.  I also add tomato pasta, dark kidney beans, and some other ingredients to my chili.  However, I always get compliments on the flavor.  Someday I'll put my full chili recipe on a post.  I like to use masa as a thickener but I haven't had any for a few months.
Here's a "real" Mexican chili recipe with chocolate in it...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bug & Garden Party Decorations

It's been a busy year to say the least.  It's hard to believe that at this time last year we were waiting for our dear Sydney to be born.  Now, she is a beautiful 11 month old almost ready to turn one!  I can imagine life without her.  Jackson is almost three going on 25.  He is funnier and cuter than ever.

In the Woods!                                                       Four Months
Now, we are getting ready for their birthday party on Saturday.  It will be a dual Bug and Garden theme since their birthdays are less than a week apart.  I am not that concerned about games at the party since they have an in-ground pool. However, I have been up to my neck in terms of the decorations.  Here's a little of what I've been working on:

For my co-workers: this is the display board that I "salvaged" from the garbage in the library.  Due to my rep as a "hoarder" people tried to prevent me from taking and repurposing this cardboard display. However, I wanted to do another photo board like I did with all of Jackie's birth to 11 month photos. [Jackson and I just found his pictures in his closet.  He loved looking through them saying, "That is me." ] I simply painted the board with black chalkboard paint, printed the pictures, and then used velcro dots to adhere to the board.  I will embellish with more flowers or bugs at my sister's house.
I started to work on invitations. However, my sister ended up printing out a picture collage and making the invitations herself.  I will use the snails though as part of the decorations.  This snail is from the Cricut cartridge "Create a Critter."
I made some random flowers from the basic Cricut cartridge that was loaded on my Expression 2.

This is the adorable bee from Create a Critter. That was the first cartridge and I think still my favorite.

This daisy is from A Child's Year.  My sister wants the main flower to be daisies but I made a lot of different flowers.  I used a Martha Steward 1/2 inch punch for the center of the flower out of scrap paper.  

I made a few tissue paper flowers but my sister wanted me to focus on daisies.  These are so easy to make.  When I taught art I remember doing this project with 2nd graders. So easy!  All you do is cut different size circles out of tissue paper, fold them into half moons and then hold punch.  Run a green piper cleaner through the two holes and crunch the tissue paper.  You can make them a lot of different ways.  Here's a link if you want to use a stapler.
I've also had several mishaps. It seems like the ONLY paper than I can use with my Cricut is the $5 Colorbok paper from Walmark.  I wanted to use a light blue shade (above) but it was a softer paper and just got torn up.  I did change to a new blade but I seem to ruin any non-Colorbok paper than I try to use.  Luckily, I really like the Colorbok colors and texture so it's not a huge deal. I wonder though if other people have those issues. Sometimes I want to put my foot through my Cricut and Gypsy.  I did use the Gypsy to search for things I wanted.  I also cut the shadow image on the bee and I had to re-cut that.  
I am planning to assemble the kids' favors and water balloons at my sister's as I'm going to stay overnight before the party.  I am afraid that we will run out of time (again!)  Okay, I better get back to work on the decorations.