Monday, November 18, 2013


for our fall backyard movie night I chose Arachnophobia.  I hadn't seen this movie since I was a kid!  I remember being a little scared when I first saw it, and it still has its creepy feeling when all the real spiders are running around, but it was pretty corny, so that was fun!
I did a big no-no and tried stuff I hadn't done for a crowd before.  I never have good luck when I just throw together an idea for a recipe, especially for a party.  I will test a recipe out until we're sick of it so I know how to do it, but this time I just threw caution to the wind and hoped for the best, and if it didn't work out I had Matt's corn dogs to fall back on, but it all came together great :)
while I have made beer pretzels before, I only did 8.  I made 24 this time, and set out a bunch of dipping sauces - a variety of mustards, "cheese" sauce, caramel, and chocolate - they doubled as a savory and a sweet treat.  it's a nice little versatile "snack" :)
I made Rolo pretzel spiders which is not quite a first time "recipe" either, but I took a chance that they would turn out in a nice spider configuration, and they did :)  I tried melting the Rolo and sticking the pretzels in, but that didn't work so I used candy melts to glue the legs to the candy.  chocolate and pretzels seem to be a hit combination at movie night so I'm glad I did them.
a new thing I did that I hadn't tested out before was kettle corn.  I used coconut oil and bacon drippings, stirred in some sugar and salt with the popcorn kernels and shook it all together on the stove in a big pot until it was done.  this one didn't come out as awesome as I thought it would, but it was okay.  some people really liked it so I'm happy I tried it.
Harlan & Hailey                                                  Judy and Kathy
Reagan, David, and Dad                              Larry, Marie & Joel
Kim, Amanda & Michael                                           Matt & me
Hailey, Kim, Amanda and me                 Matt making corn dogs
Marie and me                         Dad with a spider on his shoulder
Marie and Jack                                   Pawpaw making Leo "fly"
Leo waiting to have a pretzel                                Mom and Jack

the weather was nice, the food turn out great, the new speakers sounded wonderful and everyone enjoyed themselves :)  another success!

Monday, October 14, 2013

monster truck party

for Leo's 3rd birthday party we did a monster truck theme.  he's been talking about his monster truck birthday party all month!  he was definitely excited :)
I did the date decider, save the date, and invitation through punchbowl - I'm really liking that site :)
I love how the cake came out - probably the best cake I've done for Leo.  it was 4 layers - 2 blue suede and 2 Funfetti with cream cheese frosting, dusted with cookie crumb dirt and chocolate rocks.
I knew Leo would want to play with the cool scene, so I made the top part removable so he could play with it while we ate the cake.  he tracked the dirt all over the table and ate handfuls of rocks - he really enjoyed himself with that :)
I set my cake stand on a tray that I put over an old tire I had in the garage and added more dirt to the tray to hold some chocolate cookies that looked kinda like tires.
the balloons were such a hit last year that I had to do a bunch of those again.  with the help of a Sandi Masori Balloons video I made an arch into the kitchen.  my lips are still feeling funny from all the latex powder :\  but it was worth it.  next time I'd use the compressor... and not do it in the middle of the night when I have to be quiet ;)  surprisingly, I only popped one and no one woke up!
I also used some punch balloons to tie open the curtains.  I thought the red, yellow, and green looked sorta like a signal light?
when we brought Leo in to see all the decorations the thing he was most drawn to was the dollar store monster truck cut outs that took no effort at all to put up...  go figure!
I packaged up some caramel corn, honey roasted peanuts, and cookies in some cellophane bags printed with trucks, tied them with some black and white ribbon, and added key chains I made for the party favors.
I had something else in mind when I was ordering the key chains online, but I made them work and they turned out kinda cute.
since we're pretty much maxed out on space and we already have a ton of toys, I thought giving Leo one big toy that everyone could chip in on would be a good idea, so we got him a Power Wheels Jeep that can stay in the garage.  he loved it... after everyone stopped staring at him.
on Leo's actual birthday we'll be on vacation in Galveston, so I'm saving him a picture book I made from a bunch of Google images of monster trucks.  it's been wrapped up in our bedroom for a little while and when ever he sees his present he tells me about his monster truck party - who was coming, what we were gonna eat, and then describes monster trucks in general for a pretty long stretch of time.  I keep telling him that present has to wait until we go to Galveston and that starts up a whole new conversation about going to the beach, playing in the water, dragons moving into sandcastles... I hope the weather is nice for us!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


how have I not seen zefrank before now??  it's an excellent time kill... which I don't really have time for!  I started with True Facts and have been watching other stuff he does once in a while.  I really liked this one from ashow that I watched yesterday :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

fresh shaken

I've been making my own whipped cream for a while because it tastes so much better than what ya buy at the store, but I would end up with leftover heavy cream that would just spoil in the fridge if I forgot to use it all up before we ate all our dessert.  felt like such a waste.  even more so when I found out I could make butter from soured heavy cream...  gah!  who knows how much potential butter I've tossed throughout the holidays :(
anyway, so I tried it on half of a quart of cream that got lost in the back of the fridge and was about a month out of date... it was the best butter I've ever had!  also, the best arm workout.  win win win :)
I used the mixer the first time which gets the job done much faster, but I think if I'm going to be eating more butter I should get a good work out first and just shake it in a jar ;)

I got 2 cups of butter from 1 quart of heavy whipping cream, with about 2 cups whey leftover, which is apparently what "traditional" buttermilk is. makes me think I could use the whey in place of water with powdered buttermilk for a richer buttermilk pie.  I'm so excited for holiday baking!
"traditional" buttermilk
my arms are incredibly sore after an hour+ of shaking, and it's not really cheaper for me to make the butter and buttermilk (unless I get a good deal on cream), but it's so much better when it's homemade so I'll be making it for the holidays and special stuff... or maybe when I need a good workout :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

scalloped washcloth pattern

I saw some dishcloths online and wanted to make my own as washcloths for Mother's Day with some cotton twine I had.  I studied the picture and came up with how to do it.  while writing my pattern it seemed a little difficult to follow, but this is really an easy one to do - I just don't know how to write it out so it's not confusing!
a cotton yarn like Sugar and Cream with a size 5.5mm hook works well with this pattern.

ch = chain
dc = double crochet
sc = single crochet
sk = skip
sl st = slip stitch
st = stitch

round 1:
12 sc into loop, pull tail tight, sl st into 1st st to join round

round 2:
ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 2 corner)
*1 dc in next 3 sts, ch 2 to make corner, repeat from * 3 times
sl st in top of the first dc (the ch 3) to join round, and sl st into ch 2 corner space
total of 12 dc sts (including beginning ch 3)

rounds 3-8:
ch 3 (counts as first dc)
1 dc, ch 2, 2 dc into corner space
*1 dc in between each dc from previous row
2 dc into the ch 2 corner space, ch 2, 2 dc into same ch 2 corner space
repeat from * 2 more times
1 dc in between each dc on the last side
sl st to join into first dc (the ch 3 from beginning of row), and sl st into ch 2 corner space
total of 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, and 84 dc sts (including beginning ch 3)

round 9:
ch 3 (counts as first dc)
8 dc into ch 2 corner space
side: (sk 2 dc sts and sc in between dc sts, sk 2 dc sts and do 7 dc in between dc sts) - repeat 3 times
corner: (sk 2 dc sts and sc in between dc sts, 9 dc into ch 2 corner space - you'll be skipping 3 dc sts this time)
repeat side and corner for the next 2 sides
repeat side once more, then sl st into the top of the ch 3 of the 1st corner to join round
weave in ends
total of 168 sts (including beginning ch 3)

if you want to add a loop to hang the washcloth from, when you get to the 4th corner, between the 4th and 5th dc, make a ch 10 and sl st to the first chain, then continue in the pattern.

once you get the hang of these, they whip up in no time.  this one is sort of a mindless project for me, but I think a video might work better to see that than my written pattern.  I will try to work on that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

laundry detergent

I've been seeing ways to make laundry detergent for a long time, and just never got around to making any.  I finally accumulated the last few ingredients I needed for this recipe from How Does She? (minus the scent crystals) and then sat on it all for a few more days before mixing it all up!  some days I'm just not up for extra projects.
I had baked the baking soda to make washing soda back when I made pretzels, so grating the Zote was the next most time consuming part.  great arm workout, though.  I can't imagine if I'd made the full recipe with two bars of Zote!  this would have been a 2 day project so I could rest up after the first bar was grated ;)
the Zote smells pretty good, kinda lemon-y, but I can't really tell that there's a scent after the clothes have been washed, which is fine.  I couldn't find the white bar so I went with pink, and after I got the pink I found the white.  way it goes!  so next batch I'll use the white in case the pink tints our clothes, as was suggested by someone else online.  I haven't noticed anything turning pink, but I'd rather be safe than sorry with a house of non-pink-wearers.
it made quite a lot more detergent than I was expecting (this is a 8QT mixing bowl!), so halving the recipe worked out fine, but I had to go find a larger container to hold it all so I didn't have a bunch of smaller containers full of detergent on top of the washer.
what I really like is I hardly have to use any at all so it should last a while before I need to make more.