Thursday, January 28, 2010

Extreme Hermit Habitat Makeover

Maybe I was inspired by the Extreme Home Makeover that was just completed a few miles from my home. (Hi, TY!) Or....maybe it was just that we have come to the realization that the two hermit crabs my parents gave my daughter in November weren't, in fact, going to die in a month or two.
But put two rowdy crabs in a small plastic cage with the requisite objects t crawl over and larger shells to change into...CROWDED!
The before (object arrangement courtesy of pushy hermit crabs):

Yeah, it made me sad to look at, too! Poor guys.

So, much to my husband's dismay, I picked up a bit more luxurious digs at Walmart. I even found a coconut fiber "climbing wall" backdrop. Now let's see if they can really do that. I've been pretty amazed with their climbing abilities on smaller things.

What do you think?

They immediately had to begin exploring their new abode. Alex (in the trendy orange, flowery shell) had to walk around and touch everything. (Such a girl!) Super Crabby just couldn't seem to move away from the new reflective surface. ("My, what a handsome fellow!") He cracks me up.

Now, if someone would just come and give my home a makeover...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creating a Bit of Spring...I'm Ready!

There's something about the image of a bird's nest that I can't resist. So when I saw Cathie Holden's beautiful "Little Wire Bird Nests" post at her "Just Something I Made" blog
I knew that I needed to try it. Visit her wonderful blog for the simple directions to this project.
A quick trip to Michael's to pick up the gun metal tone copper wire (3.99) and some beads (2.99 for a long strand), and I was set to go.
Although my first couple of attempts aren't nearly as lovely as hers (that look as if they were actually woven by tiny birds), they were such fun to make (and isn't that the whole point?). My little nests will probably end up tucked into shadow boxes with old family photos.
Just the right project to bring a touch of Spring into the last slow days of winter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Little LESS Spice in My Life Today!

Cleaning out your pantry just got one step easier! McCormick’s has a great opportunity on their website to check the age/freshness of each bottle/tin of McCormick’s spice in your stash.

I know, I know…Martha would be horrified, but I don’t follow her advice to throw all spices out and start fresh every year. And truthfully, some have a shelf life that negates the necessity of this drastic budget attack.

The newer McCormick’s spices actually have a “Best By” date on the bottom of the bottles (thank you!). If yours have a code instead, check out:

If the address on the label is Baltimore (instead of Hunt Valley) or if your spice is in a tin…brace yourself. It’s at least 15 years old (except for black pepper)! Yikes.

If your stash passes this initial test, the website offers the opportunity to type in the individual codes from the bottles to obtain the manufacture date. How cool is that? They even soften the blow of the “bad news” messages with quips such as, “You tossed out the blue eye shadow ages ago; it’s time to toss your old spices.”

So maybe today’s quick task is to go through your spice shelf. You might have some surprises (and laughs) in store.

My next mission? Find some coupons for McCormick’s spices!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry Coffeehouse Perfect

Today my daughter's second grade class performed in a "Poetry Coffeehouse" patterned after the Beatnik coffeehouses of the '60's. They each got to read two of their own poems, and the audience "snapped" instead of "clapped" their approval. (Instead of coffee, they drank hot chocolate.) Cute idea!

The challenge? They were asked to dress like Beatniks in black with berets.

Now...we don't own a beret, and the local stores certainly are filled to the brim with them. And with only a couple of days notice, my only option was (drat!) to pull out the sewing machine and figure this out! I'm a quilter, not a seamstress.

Once I simplified the lines of a pattern in my head, it wasn't difficult at all. I used a good heavyweight felt to cut the solid circle top and "donut" shape bottom from, and a matching grosgrain ribbon for the headband.

It was actually so easy that I ended up using scraps to make a matching beret for her American Girl doll, much to her delight!

The moral: take a deep breath and attack before you panic. And now she has a new item for her dress-up closet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mmmmm....Banana Bread

Banana bread is a big favorite in our house. It’s one of the first things my 7-year-old learned to bake, and now she considers it her specialty!

So when I saw that the last few bananas on the counter this morning were reeeeeeaaaally ripe, I had no other choice but to mix up a loaf. (Insert smirk here.) What I did have a choice about was what new to add. Today the new item was chocolate chips. It’s something that K4 and I have talked about before, but have never actually gotten around to trying.

Although I know I’ll “get in trouble” for baking without her while she’s at school, I think that she’ll forgive me once she tastes it!

I'm sure everyone has the recipe for basic banana bread, but just in case you don't...I'll share mine.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 or 4 medium size ripe bananas, mashed (a bit over a cup)

1/3 cup butter

2 tablespoon milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the mashed bananas, butter and milk. Beat with an electric mixer on low until well-incorporated, then on high speed for 2 minutes.

Add eggs, remaining flour and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into into a buttered loaf pan, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 55 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Fuzzy Valentine

Here is the finished product from the pom pom craziness. I have to admit I rather like it.

It was difficult to stop running my fingers across the soft fringe. It reminds me of the (shudder) shag carpets in the 1960’s when I was little.

It was a fun, quick project, and…yes…there is Valentine-colored fuzz all over the sofa and carpet. My vacuum cleaner may not be too happy with me tomorrow!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A "Heart Felt" Project for the Brownies

SCREECHING halt! Today is Brownie meeting day. so other projects go on the back burner!

The girls are going to make Valentine cards to deliver to the local nursing home next month. It’s their favorite project every year, and we always have lots of pretty hand drawn cards and smiles to share.

We’re also going to make felt Valentine lapel pins for the mothers (or to keep for themselves). I precut cardboard hearts for the backing, to which they’ll tape safety pins, using the "negative" from the cut outs to trace hearts onto felt. On the front, they will glue a red felt heart cut with pinking shears. Then I provide them with beads, sequins and glue and let their imaginations fly. They always come up with things I would never think to do. It’s a joy to watch!

Note to Self: Next time I won't show them my sample pin, since they all liked it so much it was copied. The finished products all turned out cute and slightly unique, and the girls enjoyed the project.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Forms Found

We happily found wreath forms for our pom poms at Michael’s. I purchased a smaller one for K4’s room, since I’m predicting that she may get tired of making these little fuzzy wonders before she has too many. :)

She chose a multi-color yarn to use for hers, which will probably be just adorable.

After her friends’ birthday party this morning, and then braving the cold to sell a few more Girl Scout cookies, we retreated back home for hot cocoa and a pom pom making session.

Just in case you were wondering… a quick explanation: The reason we sometimes call my daughter K4 is that she’s the fourth girl in the immediate family to have a name that begins with the letter “K”. My sister is K1, I’m K2, my youngest niece is K3 and my DD is K4.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pom Pom Madness

Oh, my goodness. This is ridiculously fun! I’ve been making yarn pom poms for the last couple of hours, inspired by a project that I saw on

If the end product turns out, I’ll post a photo of it for you to see. It’s been so long since I’ve made a pom pom that I forgot what mindless enjoyment it can be. My daughter even got distracted from her computer roaming enough to come over to see what I was doing. (That, in itself was worth it. J ).

After watching me make one, she knew exactly what to do (not brain surgery, after all), and was asking to try it. She would have gladly sat the rest of the night and “pommed” with me, but alas it was time to get ready for bed.

Of course, she wanted to know what project we could do in Girl Scout Brownies with this new discovery. I guess I need to work that into a future meetings’ craft. Luckily, our troop members are all BIG on crafts, so I wouldn’t dare have a meeting without one.

So it was off to Dreamland, with a promise of a trip to Michael’s tomorrow to pick out whatever color yarn she likes. She’ll probably have a bit of trouble getting to sleep with her head filled with project ideas. Takes after her mom that way.

I'm making my poms rather "shaggy", rather than tight and small to see if I can get a softer overall look for the project. Next time I'm sure I'll try to other method.

I’m planning on using mostly red, with a bit of pink and white for my Valentine color scheme. Granted, still a fun, tchochke wreath…but perhaps a bit less girly than all pink. I was originally planning this as a surprise decoration for K4’s bedroom door…but it now seems she has her own plans in mind with her new talent. That’s just fine with me. Mommy is so glad to have a crafting buddy!

So…as long as I was getting carried away tonight, I thought I might as well begin the blog I’ve been thinking about. I admit to being one of those people who always has several “irons in the fire” (and then wonders why I don’t have more time, ha ha).

We’ll see how this goes. Hope that you try making a pom or two yourself. It could be a new addiction!