Wipe Your Paws

Here is the back story on why I am in need of doggy paw wipes. This is what our backyard looked like last spring. Actually this is what our yard looks like any time it rains more than a little bit of a sprinkle.

So this is what our yard looks like now after the husband killed off all the grass last fall and didn’t get someone out here to replant it in time.

Giant mud hole, aka the backyard

Long story short, we are going to have a mud hole for a yard for the entire summer. And this little beast:

Yes, it is a dog, I promise.

still wants to play in the backyard. So, a towel by the back door just isn’t going to do every time she wants to go out and go potty.

Since I have a new baby, this also means I have lots of baby supplies, including ingredients for homemade baby wipes. They are, it turns out, good for wiping puppy paws too.

Homemade Baby Puppy Paw Wipes

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 4 Tbsp. baby bath
  • 1.5 Tbsp. baby oil
  • 3 Tbsp. baby lotion
  • 1 Roll of Bounty or Viva paper towel. Don’t bother with the cheaper stuff, it will just disintegrate and you will be mad.

Use a serrated knife to cut paper towel roll in half. Place both halves in a 9×13 pan.

Mix all the ingredients in the boiling water. Pour solution over the paper towel rolls.

Let it sit until the towels have soaked up everything and then pull out the cardboard tube.

Put each of the paper towels in an ice cream bucket or anything with a lid that snaps shut.

Voila, wet wipes for puppy paws. And maybe next summer we will have a real yard and not have to deal with this garbage.


Fabric Scrap Bonanza

And this, my friends, is why you should never throw away fabric scraps.

This one was for a friend from college

I made this one for my sister

Model Meredith shows how to carry it correctly

I am going to try to make my first little girl’s dress soon, I am thinking very simple tunic style. Probably something along these lines. Pretty sure I am going to piece a bunch of scraps together for it. That when when it goes horribly horribly wrong, no one will notice because the fabric is so crazy anyway.


Undocumented Voter Spotted in VA Polling Place

Taking the "Vote Early Vote Often" meme to a whole new level

Yes, we voted for Mittens.

No, we aren’t happy about it.

I am still in mourning for a Mitch Daniels candidacy.

I am going to be bitter for a long time.


Favorite Things: The Baby is Sleeping Edition

I am going to try to get back into this blogging thing. Baby is finally here, she is a month and a half now.

She is actually doing very well, most nights she is sleeping 10 hours straight through. But there are still some 4 am feedings and a tired mommy in the morning. So I give you some of my favorite early morning things:

Stay Dry Duo Insert (hemp liner for cloth diapers) — if you use cloth diapers, buy. these. now. They soak up so much moisture it is unreal. Dry baby = happy baby = sleeping baby.

Halo Sleep Sack — my little squirmy worm likes to flail her arms around an wake herself up. This thing is a swaddle blanket on steroids. With the super strong velcro to keep her arms tucked in, she stays asleep longer.

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper – my baby is particularly active when she is sleeping. She grunts and squeaks all night long. But along with the noise, she also likes to roll back and forth. The bassinet was a no go, she would start rocking and wake herself up all night long. This thing is great, Paired with her sleep sack, it keeps her cradled and even if she is moving, she won’t start to roll and wake herself up. It is approved for nighttime sleeping. If you have a baby that doesn’t like the bassinet, this is well worth the $60.

Vanilla Bean Coffee from World Market — I should buy stock in this stuff. Enough said.

I have found that a lot of women who are pregnant for the first time are at a loss where to start with their registries. I must say I was completely overwhelmed. But since I was at home full time since about the 3rd month of my pregnancy, I had a lot of time to do research. If you need a starting point, check out my Newborn Pinterest board to see some of the stuff I have been the most happy with.


Coconut Macaroon Cheesecake

I am a big fan of macaroons and cheesecake. This turned out to be an excellent combination. I rarely make the same cheesecake twice, but I think this one will be a repeat performer. It turned out so pretty. Just make sure you use a very sharp knife to cut it so the egg whites on top don’t get mangled when you serve it. 
Crust
  • 1 2/3 cups flaked coconut, toasted
    • to toast coconut, lay it in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes, stirring every minute keep it from burning or undercooking.
  • ½ cup ground almonds (I used almonds that had been coated with cocoa powder, this was a good choice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Cheesecake
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 eggs

Meringue

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

Topping

  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut (don’t toast this ahead of time, it will brown in the oven)
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon shortening

1. Mix almonds, 1 cup of the toasted coconut and melted butter and press into a 9 inch springform pan. Set aside.

Almonds Coconut and Butter Pressed into Crust

2. Beat cream cheese, almond extract and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Scrape the side of the bowl and the beater before adding the next egg. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 40 minutes at 350. (While it is baking do step 3) It won’t be set when you take it out, sprinkle the rest of the toasted coconut on it.

After cheesecake comes out of the oven the first time, sprinkle with the rest of the toasted coconut

3. Beat room temperature egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. If you have an electric mixer, this does not take long, maybe a minute or two. Then add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running until stiff peaks form. I let mine go to long and it got a little too stiff which makes it hard to spread.

Whip egg whites not quit this long. These were really stiff and hard to spread.

4. Gently spread egg white mixture on top of the cheesecake. You can smooth it out or leave the peaks, mine was too clumped to leave it unsmoothed. Once you are satisfied with how it looks, spread the untoasted coconut on top. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes till the coconut starts to brown.

Egg Whites and Coconut should just start to turn brown when it is done

5. Let it cool on a wire rack for about an hour. Then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Just before serving, melt the chocolate and shortening and mix together till smooth. I usually do this in the microwave at 40% power, stirring every minute. Drizzle chocolate over the top and stick it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to harden the chocolate.

Dump chocolate on it after it has cooled. It really does look like a coconut macaroon cookie when it is finished.

Recipe originally published in Better Homes and Gardens

 


Mod Podge Cabinet Handles

I have a new kitchen. No really, the whole thing has been gutted and rebuilt by my husband over the past couple of months. See proof here.  I really like the handles and pulls that stores like Anthropologie and World Market have. But I am just unwilling to spend sometimes as much as $7/handle for what they are selling. So I started looking up craft blogs to see if I could find some inspiration to make my own. I found some that were very cool, but more complex than I wanted. I wanted something somewhat uniform, but still had visual interest. Then I ran across an article where someone had Mod Podged a picture frame and decided it would be neat to try that with handles.

I used basic $1.99/2 wooden knobs for the cabinets. For the drawers, I really preferred to get pulls, so I bought the cheap gold colored metal ones, with a wooden middle. So after several (no really, a lot) of attempts to get rubbed oil spray paint to stay on shiny metal pulls. After a lot of sanding and several light coats of spray paint I got the paint to stay on. I just had to be careful not to nick it before I got the acrylic coat on at the end.

The tools. Use a sponge brush to apply the Mod Podge

After I had the spray paint on all the knobs, I went to work cutting out newspaper articles line by line and sometimes word by word. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to get them to lie flat when you Mod Podge them. Then I sat in front of the TV and used Mod Podge to carefully cover the tops of the knobs. Covering the entire knob proved too difficult with too many curved surfaces. The paper kept wrinkling and looking really bad.

For the pulls, I wrapped small strips around the middles until the entire piece of wood was covered. After letting it all dry over night, I covered all the surfaces with 3 coats of acrylic. These knobs are going to be in the kitchen, so they will probably be exposed to water quite a bit. I didn’t want the paper to start coming up.

And here are the finished products:

Finished Products

I am really happy with how the pulls turned out

There were 9 pulls total

and 22 knobs total

still a little bit of paint peeking out on top, but that is okay.

Now let’s see how long it takes for said handles to become attached to the cabinets. If you want to make something like these for yourself, feel free to ask questions and I will be happy to explain anything that was unclear.


Sweet Pepper and Steak Burritos

These fajitas are best on flour tortillas with guacamole and sour cream. I think they give Chipotle burritos a run for their money with the flavor. I am sure some people would disagree, but I enjoy being able to make food in my own house that tastes just as good, if not better, than stuff from a a restaurant.

I adapted recipes for the meat and rice from here and here.

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 pounds skirt steak

It looks prettier before you pulverize it into smitherines.

Mix all the ingredients together and blend in either a blender or food processor. Marinate the meat in the sauce for at least an hour. Leaving it marinate overnight works best.

Sweet Pepper and Rice

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 16-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Colorful!

While the grill is heating up to cook the meat, cook rice and set aside. Dice the onions, pepper and mince the garlic.

Saute till they're just barely soft.

Sauté onions and bell peppers for 3-4 minutes in oil over medium heat, till just they just start to get soft. Add garlic, sauté a minute more.

Texas Pete > Tabasco Sauce

Add the black beans, vinegar and Tabasco or cayenne. Add a little bit of water so the beans won’t stick to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

This rice is pretty good to eat just by itself.

Stir in rice and oregano. Add salt and pepper if you want to, I usually find it doesn’t really need it.

mmmmm steak

While you are cooking the rice, send your husband outside to cook the steak. I’d do it myself, but I don’t know how to work a grill. Feminists must hate me. So for directions on cooking the meat….grill until it is as done as you like it. After you take it off the grill, let it rest for about 5 minutes then thinly slice it into bite sized pieces.

Another happy customer.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa if you want. Or be boring and just eat the meat and rice on a tortilla like my husband.