Monday, April 30, 2012

Ian's Virtual Fishy Tank

I was hoping this little video for cats would keep him busier than two minutes... It's a youtube video that's exclusively a variety of different fish tanks to entertain your cat that I thought would work better...

We'll have to keep working on it...


The weekend went too fast! Especially since Russ had to go into work on Saturday... after the cake class it just seemed like Saturday was mostly over! I managed to make it to Michael's because I had a 40% off coupon that was going to expire and I thought for sure there would be something that I wanted to spend it on.

While moseying along the aisles not looking for anything in particular I stumbled upon some mini wooden blocks that were in the shapes of pyramids, spheres, half-spheres, and cubes and was immediately reminded of something I saw in TJ Maxx not too long ago that I had wanted to emulate. 

The wheels began to turn and I gathered my supplies for this "puzzling" project. Now my shapes don't look exactly like puzzles like the inspiration piece above but, I think it turned out similar and just as interesting. 

I found a cheap shadowbox/ collectible case and bought my wooden shapes.


Plus: gold leafing pen and/or gold craft paint, glue gun, black cardstock (or color of your choice)

I already had some gold craft paint and a gold leafing pen at home.

The gold paint was very very watery and only seemed to give them a slight gold glitter. I was after more gold than that I I waited patiently for the paint to dry.

I used my gold leafing pen and rubbed it on a paper towel and quickly rubbed down the surface of the blocks. I wanted a gold twinge instead of the all-gold puzzles in the inspiration piece. 

The paper towel method worked out pretty well and here's the before and after:

After gold leafing the rest of the pieces I was finally ready for gluing. 

I was going to measure the distance and make sure the pieces were evenly spaced but decided ultimately to eye-ball it. What's fun about this is you can place the pieces in any order you like and whatever appeals to your eyes the most.

Then I adhered the black cardstock to the case backing (as you can see the backing got ripped from the paper that had been inside it, the glue ripped the paper... oh well, it's covered up).

Then I pieced it all together and hung it up!

I might paint the frame black later on down the road but I think it looks pretty cool for now.... 

This project cost me:

Wooden Pieces: 2.99
Shadowbox:        4.19 (with coupon)
Glue gun:             2.79
Glue sticks:          3.99 (MORE than the glue gun...?)
Paint: already owned
Cardstock: already owned
Total: 13.96

Not too shabby! :D

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book of Love

Today's cake decorating class went on longer than usual because of a few class hiccups. One, the icing she gave us to practice roses with (which I was doing completely awful with) had powdery chunks in it which caused everyone's piping tips to clog. Two, the adults in the class are more disjointed than a class of ADHD kids during craft time. It's so frustrating because I'm working hard, trying to pay attention to the instructor and people are asking dumb questions she already answered and talking.

Anyways, here's the finished book cake. We had to pick three words to write on it so I just chose a simple 'I Love You." Clever, I know. 

What I'm really proud of on this cake is my awesome shell border. That technique was giving me the hardest time last week and I think I nailed it this week! Woo hoo!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Open Up A Cake... Err, Book.

It's been a busy afternoon: baking my cake, practicing piping techniques, and cleaning up the huge mess that I tend to make in the kitchen.

I covered my cake board with the provided green foil.

I mixed together the batter.

Then, I flung some mini cupcake liners into the batter because they toppled out of the cabinet! What are the chances?

Into the oven...

And done!

I had to shave some of the top off to make it flatter... and try hard not to eat the leftovers...

Russ gets a cupcake 'treat' for later... get it? Because the cupcake liners are Halloween?  There's a jack-o-lantern on the bottom... it's all I had!

This is for practicing piping icing. 1) it doesn't go bad. 2) it's infinitely reusable...

3) it's not the same as royal icing... and 4) after a few minutes it gets so hot from your hand that it turns liquidy... and clean up is a... royal pain. 

It made the edges look rougher than with actual icing. I've heard that it's supposed to work just the same but I beg to differ. 

This goofy looking stuff is apricot glaze that you're supposed to microwave and coat the cake with to seal it. It makes the cake last longer.

I feel ready for a nap!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Precious Gems

I stumbled upon a blog one time and the author was participating in a photo project that centered around the question, "What would you grab if you had to evacuate your home?" I thought it was really interesting and I've wanted to create my own version for a long time.

It forced me to think about what's in my home that's really important and what could be replaced. Strangely, I don't have too many items in my apartment that can't be replaced. A lot of my really treasured and precious items are at home, safe and sound in boxes (that would be an even more difficult decision). 

These are my items (and I'm taking it for granted that Russ and Ian are safely out of the house and my wedding rings are on my finger...).

Five Things I Would Grab:

1.) My great-grandmother's pearl necklace that was passed on to me.
2.) All of Russ and my boot camp letters. They're something I will treasure forever.
3.) Mac... is technically replaceable but mostly NOT. He's got my professional wedding photos, ALL of my writing, and ALL of my photos I've taken. He's precious. Yes, he.
4.) Handkerchief given to my by my other grandmother that she's held onto since childhood.
5.) Angel wing necklace my mom bought for me when we were visiting Kentucky last year.

So, what's your five things?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freshen Up

I love using things I already own and moving things around in new ways. So, that's what I decided to do today.

I moved the white box to the top of the shelf to allow for storage of different odds and ends that always seem to end up there... like Russ' sunglasses. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pinterest Recipe: Cookie Dough Oreo Brownies

These are so easy, I don't even think you can call it baking. And the verdict: TOO much. They were better, to me, the day after because everything wasn't so hot, gooey, and overwhelming. It just had so much going on, they were just too rich and chocolately. Now, I love me some chocolate and if I think it's too much... it's too much.

The original recipe can be found here under the name "Slutty Brownies." I... didn't like that name. I don't know about you but I don't want to eat "slutty" anything. Sounds weird. And the original recipe called for ice cream to be placed on top too! Where's my insulin, right? 

That being said... I would so make these again...

Cookie Dough Oreo Brownies

1 Box of cookie mix, 
1 Box of brownie mix, 
2 Eggs,
2 Packs of Oreos (double stuffed ones are even better if you can find them)
Some oil 
& your favourite ice-cream (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°F
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper or spray with pam.
Follow the instructions on the cookie mix box & stir furiously until you have gooey cookie dough, I usually add a little extra water and oil to what they suggest, it just keeps it moist as you'll be baking it for longer than suggested. An extra teaspoon of each is just right. 
Squidge (technical term) the cookie dough into a lined baking tray, until it covers the bottom. 

Cover this layer with your Oreos. Don't use the broken ones, eat them as you go. This recipe is too glorious to use substandard Oreos. 
Mix up your brownie batter. Just stick to the recipe on the box for this one & pour over your Oreos.
Bake for 30 mins.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. 
When its still a little bit warm, use the paper to lift your creation out of the tray and rest it on a chopping board. 
Use a large, sharp knife to cut it into manageable chunks, sections, slabs... 

This picture was taken the next day when they weren't crazy-gooey.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend News and a New Debut...

So my blog redesign is FINALLY up after a nearly all-day-long ordeal of trying to put it together and I absolutely love it. I never thought I could really put together something so adorable! I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do. 

Other than that, this weekend was my first cake decorating class and I must say that I'm surprised that my hand and arm is sore from the three hour class! I would have taken pictures but it was a small class (only 12 of us) and it would've been a little awkward. I'm going to post a few pictures this week if I can get around to practicing my techniques I learned (after my arm and hand rests up for a while!). 

And yesterday Russ and I went on a bowling-then-sushi date in a huge rainstorm that lasted for hours.

Russ bowled a turkey and I bowled... well, as if I were a turkey. It was massively horrible. I think my highest was 116... yeah... It also didn't help that my hand was sore from class (that's my excuse, okay?!).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can You Just Fix Everything This Time?

This morning I went to the fridge and... my milk was not as cold as usual. Then, I checked the freezer and my breakfast sandwiches were getting soft! Alas, the motor wasn't running.

And then... 

fridge puddle and Ian's fluffy head in my shot.

So, that ordeal took up the entire day. Maintenance was prompt and relatively timely (is two+ hours timely for a fridge fix?). Also, how great is it that instead of breaking down when we had no food (yesterday), it decided to crap out today after we went to the grocery yesterday evening. 

Oh... apartment living... so so wonderful. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DIY Sock Monkey

For my brother's birthday last year I made him a Gene Simmons sock monkey. He loved it so  much that I decided to make the remaining KISS band members for him for Christmas. 

Now, I'm not the greatest at tutorials because it's super hard to do the project, take pictures of each step, AND take good pictures of each step. So, I'm going to link the the site where I first learned how to make sock monkeys (made one for Russ' an my anniversary back when we were dating and he thought I bought it somewhere!). 

Go here for better directions because I missed a step or two, I'm sure. 

Annnnd sorry for the terrible pictures... my camera just isn't what it used to be.

1.) Take your sock of choice, turn it inside out and lie ti flat with the heel of the foot part facing up. You can use knee socks if there's a pattern you especially like but you'll just have to cut off some extra fabric at the top unless you want your sock monkey to be disproportionate and awkward-looking. 

I then mark off where I want the legs to be sewn with a chalk pencil or, in this case, a marker if the fabric is dark like mine. Take care to make sure it won't bleed through if you use a marker. 

2.) Sew from the toe in a "U" shape to create the legs.

3.) Cut the slit between the legs and turn it right side out.

4.) Take the second sock and sew the arms... which is a step I didn't show (duh, Ashley!) and refer to the link.

5.) Take the upper part of the sock for his/her tail and ears.

I chose to make an ear pattern out of cardstock to insure that I had the same size ears after sewing... I have ended up with weirdo looking ears before. 

6.) Turn everything right side out and stuff. Take care to use small pieces of batting for a more uniform look. Large pieces will make it look lumpy and no one wants a lumpy monkey.

7.) Once properly stuffed, close the head of the monkey first. I then like to make it look like my monkey has a neck so I just sew a basic line by hand around his neck and then pull it like you're strangling him and tie a knot in the back (this sounds weird to type out). 

Sewing the ears and arms are probably the most pain-in-the-butt steps of this thing. You have to make sure each side is positioned at the same height so you don't look like you have a FrankenMonkey. 

8.) The heel of the second sock ends up being the sock monkey's mouth. I used a basic back stitch (I think that's what it's called... dunno, I suck at sewing) to make a slight smirky-smile with some heavy thread. You can also use yarn, I just didn't have any and thought the thread looked cleaner. 

9.) Pin it to his/her face and sew around the perimeter. Make sure to leave an opening so you can stuff some batting in there to give him/her a 3D face. I think it looks better like this:

Next, sew on his/her glorious button eyes and you have yourself a sweet little sock monkey that hopefully doesn't look like anything Mary Shelley imagined. 

Though, I took my monkeys a step further and added some badassery and awesomeness. 

And on Christmas morning, the band was reunited. (Does anyone else see 'reunited' and your brain automatically goes "and it feels so gooooood"? Mine does.)