Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Re-purposed Chicken Waterer

We had two of these metal waterers just sitting in our barn, not being used for anything.  So, I came up with this idea.  
And truly I love it!  I have only had to water these flowers once since I planted them and its been almost a month; these waterers are great because they hold moisture for the plants and when it rains the bottom "tray" holds extra water for the plants to "suck" in.
Materials Needed:
-metal watering can
-double loop chain {about twice as long as you want your plant to hang}
-wire cutter
-drill with drill bit {just a little larger than the diameter of your chain}
-plant of choice {you could do flowers, herbs, lettuces, etc.}
1.  Drill one hole through the waterer on each side; I recommend that you do this on either side of the top handle for added strength.
You can just barely see the hole I drilled
about 1 inch below where the handle is attached.
2. Use the wire cutter to cut the end link on both ends of the chain, then use the pliers to bend the links out enough so they will be able to loop into the holes you drilled.  Loop both end links into either side of the waterer.
3. Add soil and plant to waterer; you don't need any  drainage material or extra holes since these waterers already have a hole to let out water.
I recommend not watering your freshly planted plants until they are already hanging where you want them, so they aren't too heavy for you to hold up to hang.
4. Unloop one side of the chain from the waterer, hold the plant up to the branch where you want it to hang and loop the chain over the branch, then place the open chain link back into the hole.
Adjust the waterer so that it hangs level, water plant and enjoy!
I also think since I hung my flowers from trees the little bit of shade that they get throughout the day may help them to retain water too.
You could also hang these from a hook on a porch, deck, post, etc.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Green Onion Dip

This is a super delicious dip; I usually serve it with fresh veggies, although it would also be great with crackers, pretzels or even as a sandwich or wrap spread!

The first time I made this recipe it was for my sister's bachlorette party.  It was a huge hit!  Its so easy to make and is better than any dip you can buy in the store!  Enjoy!

I found this recipe from AllRecipes.

-1 cup mayo {I always use Miracle Whip}
-1 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
-1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 garlic clove, minced

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, food processor or by hand.  {If blending or using a food processor, blend until the dip reaches your desired constancy.}
2. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  

*Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Enjoy with fresh veggies, crackers, pretzels, chips or on a sandwich!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Apple Brandy

This is a fun way to flavor your own brandy; I found the recipe from Taste of Home.  Its great on ice as a sipping drink.  

It is a little sweet for my tastes so I think next time I would cut the sugar to 3 cups; or maybe serve it with club soda or seltzer.

I think it would be great to make this with your home-grown apples or apples from a local orchard!
Ingredients:  {recipe makes about 2 quarts}
-4 cups sugar
-2 cup water
-4 lbs. apples {I used 11 average sized apples}, sliced
-1 liter brandy
-3 whole cloves
-1 cinnamon stick {about 3 inches long}
-Additional whole cloves and cinnamon sticks for storing, optional

1. In a large pan, combine sugar and water.  Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar.
2. Place apples {I started with only 9 of the apples, just to be sure the container wouldn't overflow from the liquids} in a large plastic or glass container {I used a gallon sized pitcher}.
3. Pour the brandy over the apples.
4. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick.
5. Pour in the sugar and water mixture.
At this point I squeezed in the remaining 2 apples I had saved.
6. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 weeks, stirring or shaking once a week.  {I just placed mine on a shelf in a closet off of the kitchen where I knew no one would knock it over.}
7. Strain brandy mixture; discard apples and spices {I composted mine}.
8. Pour into glass bottles {I used canning jars and the empty liquor bottle below}.
9. Place 3 whole cloves and 1 cinnamon stick in each bottle.  Enjoy!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate Marvel Cake

This is a favorite with the family!  I love that there is no oil or butter in the cake itself, just in the frosting.  The cake is moist and delicious!  Its definitely a keeper and I have been making it for birthdays and just because for about 4 years now!  Enjoy!

I found this original recipe from AllRecipes.

Ingredients for Cake:
-1 cup strong brewed coffee
-1 cup milk
-8 ounces pureed baby food prunes  {or you could put about 1/2 cup pitted prunes in a liquid measuring cup and pour hot water over them to the 1/2 cup line, allow to sit for 20 minutes to soften, then puree}
-4 egg whites {last time I made this I used 2 whole eggs instead of 4 egg whites, I think it turned out the same}
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups flour
-2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting:  
{I usually double the frosting recipe for a layer cake; although I end up with extra, maybe 1 1/2 hatch would be better?}
-6 tbsp butter, softened
-2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 tbsp milk
-2 tbsp strong brewed coffee
-1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine coffee, milk, prunes, egg whites and vanilla in a large bowl.
2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the liquid mixture.
3. Beat until smooth, batter will be thin.
4. Pour into two oiled 9 inch spring form pans or one 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.
6. Cool for 10 minutes in pans, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
7. For frosting, beat all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Frost cake as you normally would.
8. Enjoy!
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

I just totally blanked out about taking pictures when I made these tasty oyster crackers, so sorry no pictures; but truly this recipe is super easy!  Enjoy!

-2 (12 oz.) packages oyster crackers
-1 cup vegetable oil {I always use canola}
-1 1/2 tbsp dry ranch dressing mix {you can buy it or make your own: Ranch Mix #1 or Ranch Mix #2}
-1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
-1 tsp dried dill
-1/2 tsp garlic salt {I don't usually have garlic salt in the house so I use 1/2 tsp salt plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder, you can use less if you are worried about the "garlickiness"}

Another Option:
Make these with half oyster crackers and half plain goldfish crackers {we like the whole wheat ones}

1. Place oyster crackers in a very large mixing bowl.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour oil over crackers.
3. Sprinkle on the ranch mix, lemon pepper, dill and garlic salt.
4. Toss well to evenly coat all crackers.
5. Spread on a large baking sheet {I always use foil or parchment paper so its quick cleanup and you can use the foil/paper to funnel the crackers into a container later.}
6. Toast crackers in preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes, stir every five minutes to toast evenly.  {I don't always stir them, sometimes I forget and then they're done.}
7. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Customized Dinosaur Hoodie

This project has been a big hit among the little people in our family.  And to tell you the truth, I think I might like one for myself too! 

You could also alter this project to make another favorite animal, a cat with whiskers coming off the hood, dog with droopy ears, a bear, a horse with yarn in place of the spikes, the possibilities are endless!  Have fun!

These are so simple to make.  Sorry, I didn't take a ton of pictures when making these, so if something doesn't make sense please ask questions.

HeatnBond Ultrahold 
-hooded sweatshirt, whatever size needed
-felt, 1 or 2 colors, for the spikes and claws (the amount you will need will depend on the size of the sweatshirt you are using)
-chalk or fabric marking marker with disappearing ink
-scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
-measuring tape or ruler
-paper and pencil for making spike pattern
-sewing machine
-sewing pins
-thread that matches the largest spikes
-HeatnBond Ultrahold
-fusible interfacing
-iron and ironing board


1. Find the center of the back of your sweatshirt and mark with your chalk or marker the center from the top/front of the hood to the bottom/back of the back on the outside of the shirt.

2. Measure the length of that line from the top/front of the hood to the bottom/back of the shirt.  This will determine the number and size of your spikes.  {On the blue and gray shirts I made the spikes have 3 inch sides. The red one's spikes have 2 inch sides.}  To find out how many spikes you need, decide what size your spikes are going to be (its up to you) and how many will fit end to end down that center line.  Its better to figure less rather than more; you can always put a little space between them.  Don't try to squeeze too many in you'll make more work for yourself.

3. Making your spike pattern: Now these aren't really triangle shapes they are actually diamonds. Take the triangle size you want to use and mirror it to make a perfect diamond.  {I just cut a triangle with 3 inch sides out of a paper that was folded; just place one side of the triangle tight against the folded edge and do not cut on the fold.}
4. Once you have the pattern cut out, you can use it to cut out your felt diamonds (one diamond for each spike).

5. Now, cut out smaller diamonds out of the fusible interfacing (if you aren't going to use your spike pattern again you can just evenly trim that diamond on all sides to make it smaller for your interfacing pattern or just make a smaller pattern using the same method).  

6. Center interfacing diamond on each felt diamond and iron it to adhere.  Repeat for all spikes.

7. Place the prepared felt diamonds on the center of the back of the shirt using the center line as a guide.  Pin all spikes in place, moving if needed to make them equally spaced.
8. With all spikes pinned in place carefully sew from the top/front of the hood to the bottom/back of the shirt following you marked center line down the center of each diamond spike.
 9. Iron the spikes closed.  {If you want you can cut triangles of the HeatnBond the size of half of your interfacing diamond and iron those triangles to half of the open spike diamonds, then remove the paper backing and iron the spikes closed and this way you won't have to pin them or worry about them moving when you sew them.}
10. Using the matching thread in your sewing machine, sew around the closed spikes one at a time. {I just moved from one spike to the next without cutting my thread and then just trimmed all the threads at the end.}  If you are only doing one color of spikes you are done!  Congrats!

11. If doing two colored spikes: 
Next, iron HeatnBond to the back of the felt that is going to be your second color of your spikes.  Using half of your interfacing pattern (just half of the diamond, a triangle), cut out twice as many smaller triangles out of the HeatnBond backed felt as you did spike diamonds.

12. Remove the paper backing from the HeatnBond, carefully center a triangle on a larger spike and iron on well (don't move your iron too much because it could make the triangle slip off center); repeat for all other spikes on both sides.  If you are not doing the "paws" on the front you are done!  Congrats to you!
13. For the paws:  
Draw a pattern for your paws, using the front pocket as a guide for the line. (Notice the curve line on my pattern, it follows the curve of the pocket.) 
14. Iron HeatnBond to felt the color of your large spikes and cut out two "paws", but be sure to flip the pattern over so that they are mirrored (like your shoes, the same size and shape but flipped).

15. Remove the paper backing and iron the paw to each of the front pockets.  (This is cute and would be awesome if you were doing a bear, cat, dog or some other kind of animal hoodie.  But here we are doing DINOSAURS so we needed to add claws!)

16. Iron some HeatnBond to the smaller triangle spike color and cut out your claws (for mine there were a total of 6 claws), just eyeball it.
17. Remove the paper backing and iron the claws on top of the paw's "fingers".  You are done!  Enjoy!

*You could add a cool zipper pull if you would like; something to go with the dinosaur/animal theme or maybe even the name of the person the hoodie is for.

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