It’s almost here guys. The big 4-0. It’s less than a month away. I’ve never been one to really freak out about birthdays, but I do have a sense of gravity with this one. Not in a bad way, though. I feel like now that my kids are getting older (11 and almost 8), I can spend some time figuring out what I want to do with the next 40 years. And that’s pretty exciting.
But, the most important part of birthdays, of course, is PRESENTS! Just kidding. Sort of. No, I’m not. I’m dead serious. I’m all about the presents. And I’m calling this the Go Big or Go Home Year. Here’s what I want.
No explanation needed right? Actually, true confession. I had a pair of these. And I lost one. It was an awful, awful feeling.
Not the first one, but any one of the last four, would be truly appreciated.
I’ve been wanting to learn to sew forever. Not easy to do if you don’t have a sewing machine, right?
I drool over this 30 pack of clay every time I go to Michaels. I just can’t get myself to shell out $30 for it.
I read an explanation of why a tripod is important to low light photography and it was very enlightening. This is a must.
I just looked back at this list. It’s a little ridiculous. But, you know what, I’m going a little selfish after 40.
I’m back on the healthy bandwagon. For the last like, week. I’ve been exercising and eating better. I still have time to fulfill my Fit by Forty proclamation. No, I haven’t updated it for about a month. I had some leftover brown bananas, so I decided to try this recipe from My Whole Food Life.
They were super easy to make. Just a few ingredients, nothing fancy, bananas, maple syrup, cocoa powder and peanut butter. I actually mixed mine with my hand mixer instead of the food processor because I lost the blade to my food processor. How do you lose the blade to your food processor, seriously? I have no clue what happened to it.
These guys are gluten free. In fact, there’s no grain in them at all. They have almost a brownie consistency and they are very chocolatey. I was planning on them for breakfast, but I think they would be better as a sweet treat after dinner. Or maybe after lunch.
Early spring in New England is not the gorgeous, green, lush, blooming landscape that I imagine other warm climes enjoy. It’s muddy and brown and rainy and there is even dirty snow still left on the ground. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t adorn your table with pretty, delicate blooms.
You literally need three things to make these. Tissue paper, scissors and either a twist tie or a pipe cleaner.
Step 1: Fold your piece of tissue paper in half, horizontally. Cut along the fold.
Step 2: Set one piece of the tissue paper that you just cut in half aside. Fold the remaining piece in half again and cut along the fold.
Step 3: Can you guess step 3? If you said fold the two halves of tissue paper in half and then cut at the folds, give yourself a prize!
Step 4: You know have 4 approximately equal size pieces of tissue paper. Stack those on top of each other.
Step 5: Accordion fold the stack of four pieces of tissue paper.
Step 6: Wrap your twist tie or pipe cleaner around the center of the accordion folded tissue paper.
Step 7: Use your scissors to round the edges of the folder paper.
Step 8: This is the hard part. Well, it’s not really hard, it just takes patience and gentleness, which at times can be hard. Am I right? You are going to gently and slowly pull apart the four pieces of tissue paper. They aren’t going to want to cooperate with you, they like being folded together. So you have to gently coax them apart. DON’T RIP THEM! Just kidding, it’s not that big of a deal if you get a little rip. Real flowers have lots of flaws. This is sort of where art meets craft. You’ve created the flower, now you have to primp it until you’re happy with how it looks. There really aren’t any instructions for this. I sort of smoothed things out and a bit and pushed some petals together and pulled others apart. Just take your time and be gentle.
Every now and then the stars align and I come up with an idea that I didn’t even see on Pinterest first, it turns out good, I take a good picture of it AND it tastes good. This is one of those times, friends. I’m obsessed with these Easter Bunny Popcorn Balls I made tonight. I’m not sure what the actual Easter Bunny is going to put in the kids Easter baskets to top this.
Popcorn Ball Recipe
(I can’t take total credit for this. My son randomly brought this recipe home with his school papers today).
9 cups of Plain popcorn, popped
4 T of butter
1 package mini marshmallows
1. Put your popped popcorn in a large bowl. Really large. Maybe you might want to use two bowls. I did.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
3. Stir in the marshmallows until melted.
4. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. If you used two bowls, distribute the mixture evenly in both bowls.
5. Mix the popcorn into the marshmallow mixture. This doesn’t have to be super exact. Do your best. You have a chance to distribute more evenly in the next step.
6. IMPORTANT! Don’t touch the popcorn until you have buttered your hands. AND keep the butter nearby so that you can rebutter. Yes, this is one of those times when I am trying to save you from the mistake I made. Cause I didn’t butter my hands at first. It wasn’t pretty. With your buttered hands, mold the popcorn into balls.
7. Wrap the popcorn balls in clear cellophane.
Now that you have your popcorn balls all done, it’s time to make some ears. This is easy. Grab some white construction paper and some pink construction. Cut out white ear shapes and then slightly smaller pink ear shapes. Glue the pink ear shape inside the white ear shape… Here, look:
Easy, right? Next, I grabbed the old hot glue gun and some toothpicks. I stuck two toothpicks into each popcorn ball, dabbed a smidge of hot glue on the toothpick and then stuck the ears to the toothpicks. And, so, the masterpiece Easter Bunny popcorn balls were born.
This is a hard time of year for making dinner. I don’t want winter food, and it’s too cold for salads and grilling (yes, it snowed all day Saturday here). This Kielbasa and Cabbage skillet dinner hit the spot.
The hardest part of making this meal is cutting up the cabbage. Who knew? I should google the proper way to cut it properly.
Kielbasa & Cabbage Skillet
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 Onion, cut in large pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 T Vinegar
1 T Chili P0wder
1 T Olive Oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet to medium high.
2. Cut kielbasa into bite size pieces and add to pan. Allow to brown for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add cabbage and remaining ingredients to skillet and stir to mix. Continue cooking until cabbage begins to wilt, or longer if you prefer the cabbage softer.
I have a first to announce. This is the first craft project I have done that I had sore muscles from. But it was totally worth it!
The sore muscles were my shoulders and they were sore from the repetitive motion of wrapping yarn around the wreath form. For like 40 minutes. Not easy, folks.
Here is what the before of the wreath looked like:
I ripped that poor guy apart. You know I’m going to want to make a new one in the fall anyway, so no harm done. Except to the wreath. That was really harmed.
So a quick tutorial on how to take a wreath from fall to spring without spending more than $2.00. Yes, this cost me $2.00. Crazy, right?
Yarn in the coloring of your choosing (Free cause I already had some, but at MOST $6 if you don’t happen to have any yarn and if you don’t have any yarn, SHAME ON YOU!)
Felt Flowers ($2.00, fifty cents each for four sheets of felt, 3 in flower colors and 1 color for the center, like yellow)
Wreath Form (you can buy one of these pretty cheap at your craft store, or rip the burlap off of your old one like I did OR you can use a stinkin pool noodle! Google it!)
1. Wrap your wreath form in the yarn of your choice. Pretend that you are training for the crafting Olympics and you need mad shoulder muscles in order to kick crafter butt and win the gold. That’s so silly. I didn’t pretend that at all. That would be ridiculous. Seriously, it takes about 30-40 minutes to wrap the whole thing.
2. Use these instructionsto make your felt flowers. These are time consuming as well, so you might want to break this down into a two night crafting extravaganza.
3. Pick where you would like to place your flowers on your wreath and hot glue them on. Tada! Done.
I thought about adding something, a bunny, a bunting, an initial… But I really like how simple this is. It suits me.
Felt – a color of your choosing and then something that would work for the inside part of flower, like yellow
The first thing you have to do to make these lovely flowers is to cut up the felt. Yes, you have to use a ruler. No, it’s not my favorite part either. I’ll break it down as best I can. With the felt horizontal, you will cut three strips that are 1.5 inches wide, then two strips that are 1.25 inches wide and one strip that is 1 inch wide. Not so bad, right? Next you’re going to cut each strip into squares. Measure the 1.5 inch strips into 1.5 inch segments, the 1.25 inch strips into 1.25 inch segments and the 1 inch strip into 1 inch segments. Get it? Just sort of? Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be exactly right as long as you end up with three different size squares.
2. Now you’re going to cut out a circle. I used a spaghetti sauce bottom to trace out a circle and my circle was about 3 inches in diameter.
3. Up next are the petals. I read tutorials on how to do this and was advised that using a hot glue gun would result in burnt fingertips. And it does. But I did it anyway because I am not patient. So, if you choose to use a glue gun, as I did, be prepared for a few hurt fingertips. My other piece of advice with the glue gun is a little goes a long way. Too much glue will look messy. Trust me on that. To make the petals you are going to take your squares and cut them into little pentagons, or some shape close to that.
Once you’ve cut out the pentagon, place some glue in the bottom middle and then fold the two bottom sides into the glue. It will look petal-like when you are done. Repeat this about 4 million times. Just kidding. But it will feel like that before you are done with all of the petals.
3. Now the fun part! Assemble the flowers! You’re going to attach the largest petals to the outside rim of the circle that you cut out. Place it so that where the petal starts to open is at the edge of the circle.
Attach them all the way around with the glue gun keeping them as close together as possible. Once the outer rim is complete, use the second largest petals for the middle and then the smallest petals for the inner part.
4. The last part is to make the inner yellow part of the flower. I basically just cut a really skinny strip of yellow felt. It was as thin as I could cut, sort of a little thicker than embroidery floss. I took that and rolled into a little ring and glued it in the middle.
And voila! It’s done. I have plans for these pretty little flowers. Stay tuned!
The last time I bought myself a mattress, I was very pregnant with my daughter who is turning 11 this year. It was time for a new mattress. Funny side story, I was petrified that my new mattress would be ruined if my water broke while I was sleeping, so I put a plastic shower curtain under the fitted sheet. You have no idea how uncomfortable and hot and loud it is to sleep on a plastic sheet.
As we’ve discussed, I’ve made this the Year of the Bedroom. I started in this corner and the bed moved in to 2nd place because I could NOT take the old mattress anymore. I woke up everyday with aches and pains and I swear, I don’t think I had dreams anymore. How sad is that?
I learned a few things from mattress shopping.
1. Don’t drag your head with a lot of pre-shopping on the internet. You can’t pick out a mattress on-line. Don’t try. Check out prices, but don’t go crazy trying to figure out what you like. I think it’s best to go to the store with an open mind. You might *think* you like a plush bed, but when you lie on one, you might be surprised.
2. When you get to the store, ask to test one mattress at each level of firmness. We went to Sleepy’s and when we walked in the salesman asked what we were looking for. I said I had no idea and he pointed me to three beds in the corner and told me to try each one. One was super plush and soft, one was very firm and the third was in the middle (Goldilocks, anyone??). The most comfortable to me was the middle of the road guy. That immediately cut our options by about 1/3.
3. Spend some money on the mattress. After sleeping on a bad mattress for a long time, I knew I didn’t want to go cheap. Once I had picked out the firmness that I liked, I tried three different mattresses at different price points. The cheapest was not comfortable. AT ALL. The most expensive was negligibly more comfortable, but WAY more expensive. So, I went with the middle price point. We ended up spending $1,500 and that included taking the old mattress away.
4. Ask for freebies! We got free pillows and a free mattress cover.
5. When the guys deliver your mattress, remember to put the bed skirt on before they put the mattress on top of the box spring. I didn’t and I am dreading the task of putting that thing on! I so wish I had thought of it at the time. Speaking of the delivery day, clean under the bed before the guys get there. It would have been extremely embarrassing if I had forgotten to do that.
All in all, we were in the mattress store for about 20 minutes. I’m not exaggerating, I swear. And I can’t tell you how much I love my new mattress. It is so comfortable and I wake up feeling so good in the morning. Like, I actually rested for 8 hours straight. It’s definitely in an investment, but I’m glad we finally did it!