Thursday, September 29, 2011

Couch Makeover

Something has been bothering me for years.  It's my couch.  I bought it over 10 years ago when I got my first apartment.  It was on sale, functional, and has a sleeper bed for guests.  When I first bought it I didn't mind the crazy colors in the paint swish pattern, circa 1985.  However, as I get older my tastes change and it really bothers me now.

The problem is I can't rationalize buying a new couch, when there isn't anything wrong with this one.  Eventually it will become a "basement" couch, if we ever buy a house with a finished basement :)  It is also becoming worn in the cushions, and very pilly.  My youngest son decided to pull some of the pills and made a small run in the cushion.  This was the perfect excuse for a makeover.

I originally bought a one piece Sure Fit slip cover in chocolate brown.  It looked fine, but the back corners just wouldn't tuck properly. 

It was only about $60.00 and I wondered if I could make it work.  After about an hour of debating, I went and bought the more expensive two piece Sure Fit slip cover.  It was $120.00 but after coupons I paid $100.00.  I think it is well worth it, but you can judge for yourself.  I also opted for a lighter taupe color and new accent pillows.

Now I think I can live with this for another decade!  Happy Thursday everyone :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

As I get older, I realized my eye make-up doesn't stay on all day.  I would apply it in the morning and by mid-afternoon, it was either gone or fallen down below my eyes.  I was frustrated!  I tried all kinds of "long lasting" eye products.  What I discovered was, I needed an eye primer.

Ok that being said, there are a lot of primers out there.  After watching a QVC presentation for Laura Geller's eye primer, I was game for giving it a try.  It came last week.  The next morning, I added it as a 3 second part of my routine.  I applied my eye make-up, and at the end of the day, my eye make-up was still in place.  For the last week, I used all different kinds of eye shadow and liner, the result was the same.  This product is a winner.

You can find it on QVC.  Do a product search for Laura Geller's eye spackle waterproof primer.  I ordered the light shade.  It is well worth the twenty something price tag.  Now I don't have to buy special long wearing liners and shadows.  The other benefit, the eye shadows were a truer color.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Snowman Kits

Last winter I got this great idea to make snowman kits.  A snowman kit, is simply the items needed to decorate a snowman, put together in a cute storage bag.  I thought it would make a fabulous gift idea for anyone who plays outdoors during the winter, and who has access to snow. 

I researched the kits online and was startled to find out they can cost upward of $30.00.  I knew with a little thought, creative shopping, and a bit of craftiness I could make this come to life at a much lower cost.  So here it is, my version of a snowman kit, that cost around $5.00 to make.

These kits are a wonderful gift idea for the holidays, a winter birthday, and a great teacher gift.  I know here in New York State, we have outdoor recess all year, and what a great thing to have the kids do together to promote teamwork.

The reason I am posting this now (in September) is most stores will start to put out the winter hats and scarves within a few weeks.  Stock up on the supplies now, and assemble the kits later on.

Linking to these parties.
Items you will need to assemble your kit:

cloth storage bag or tote
wooden or plastic carrot
hat (found at a dollar store)
scarf (found at a dollar store)
5 medium wooden discs, about 2 1/2 inch diameter
4 small wooden discs, about 1 3/4 inch diameter

Step one:  Decorate a cloth tote bag with a winter scene (let the kids help paint or draw), or sew a simple bag with festive fabric.  I made four storage bags, from one yard of snowflake material.

Step two:  Paint the wooden discs with a black craft paint.  The medium discs will be for the eyes and three buttons.  The small discs will be for the mouth.

Step three:  Print a cute hang tag onto card stock, listing the contents, and explaining the purpose of the kit.  Place all contents into bag.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grandma's Fried Noodles (Spaetzle with Carmalized Pearl Onions)

When I first started dating Jay, our first big family dinner was Christmas Eve. We had been together about three months, and I had only met his parents. I was introduced to new traditions and cuisine. Jay is Polish and Christmas Eve dinner is a really big deal. It really is wonderful food, very fatty food, but very delicious. Of course there was Pierogi, but one dish I became obsessed with was Jay's Grandmother's fried noodles.

The fried noodles are firm but tender, sauteed in a massive amount of butter and onions. They were the perfect starchy side dish for the dinner. Then I found out, we only get them at Christmas. WHAT?!? Grandma makes them during the holidays. She makes them ahead of time and brings them on Christmas Eve to his parents, which are then re-heated. It seemed to be a mystery.

Over the years, I always took some home for leftovers. Jay and I would fight over them. After many conversations with Grandma, she said she would teach the women how to make them. Well last year, my mother-in-law learned, but I was out of town for the lesson. Seeing I will be out town for a while, I realized, I won't be able to learn the recipe. Bummer :(

Then a few months ago, while talking about the fried noodles, I learned they are spaetzle. What is a German dumpling doing at a Polish dinner? Anyhow, I found a box of spaetzle in the international food aisle at the grocery store. Perfect!!! I can make them myself.

I did it. Not to sound boastful, but they came out pretty darn good. Not knowing the exact amount of butter, onions, etc, I winged it. It is a perfect side dish to chicken, fish, or sausage. So here is my version of Grandma's fried noodles.

recipe (serves 6)

1 box of spaetzle (10.5 oz, found in the international food aisle)
4 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup pearl onion
salt and pepper to taste

Boil spaetzle according to manufacturers instructions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, carmalize onions with 2 tablespoons of butter. This takes about 15 minutes or so over medium low heat. When the noodles are tender, drain and add to onions. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. pepper). Saute in butter for about 3 to 5 minutes until the noodles turn a nice golden brown.

They re-heat easily in the microwave or skillet. If they are a little dry just add another tablespoon of butter when heating.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wholesome Wednesday (Fudgy Frosting-Scratch Recipe)

So how does a chocolate frosted cupcake make it onto Wholesome Wednesday?  When it is a scratch recipe with ingredients that can all be pronounced without a degree in chemistry.

Over the past few years, I have become more aware of the ingredients in the food we ingest.  It started when we had a scare with my youngest son, thinking he may be diabetic.  I started reading labels very diligently.  What I noticed was the obscene amount of preservatives and chemicals in everyday foods. 

I don't want to get started on my soap box about the cost of eating healthy.  I have made sacrifices in other areas of our budget, so I can buy organic when possible.  Even sometimes those items have a some unwanted preservatives in them too.  I am trying to get back to basics.  Basics meaning, cooking and baking with ingredients in the most natural form as possible.  So I wanted to make a treat for the boys for going back to school.  I decided on cupcakes, but scratch ones with a scratch frosting.

I don't mind having treats in the house.  I do mind all the extra junk.  This recipe has five ingredients, all already in most pantries and refrigerators.  Now I know we can't eliminate chemicals in all our foods.  However, if we start to eliminate it where we can, we are on our way to healthier lives.

recipe (enough to frost 24 cupcakes or 8 inch layer cake)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
6 tbsp. boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powder sugar

In a large bowl, combine cocoa and water until a soft paste forms.  You may need to add a bit more water depending on humidity.  Add butter and vanilla, cream together.  Slowly add powder sugar until just combined.  Don't over beat it or it will lighten in color.  Spread over cake or brownies.

Being Featured on Money Dearest

My blog has provided opportunities to share craft ideas, recipes, and useless knowledge.  The blogging community is really nice and supportive of fellow bloggers.

Well, on this Friday, September 9th, My Little Blogspot with be featured on Money Dearest.  She has a great blog on saving money.  Who doesn't need to save a little here and there.  She gives tips about couponing, give aways, and basic budgeting. 

I am being featured with my "Fried" Ice Cream dessert.  It is budget friendly for entertaining or treating yourself.  This will only cost about $1.15 per serving.  This dessert at a restaurant would easily cost $3.99 per serving. 

So go ahead and check out Money Dearest.  Show here some support, leave a comment telling her who sent you, and get some great tips in return.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fired Up For A Sewing Project

One of things I managed to accomplish while on vacation was an amplifier cover.  My oldest son plays electric guitar, and for his birthday we gave him an amplifier.  The amplifier did not come with a cover, and when I went shopping online I was shocked.  A basic plastic cover was $24.99. Yeah, I wasn't paying that. 

So off to the fabric store.  After several debates back and forth, Adam settled on fabric with flames.  I thought it was perfect, very rock 'n roll! 

So I simply measured each side of the amp, top, front, and back.  I added an inch all the way around; cut out the pieces.  I pinned them wrong sides together, turned it inside out and checked the fit.  Finally, I turned it back to the pinned edges, sewed 1/4" seem allowance, and finished it with 1/8" hem.  Perfect!!

My son was thrilled, and I was pleased.  I am not a sewer, but I was determined to make this work.  My cost about $4.00 for a yard of fabric. Linking to these parties.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Melting Moments

Let's take a moment......aaahhhh...didn't that feel good?  It would be even more enjoyable if you had a cinnamon sugar melting moment to eat. 

While I was home, I had the chance to look through one of my mom's older cookbooks.  Many of the recipes are quite strange, but this one stuck out.  It's a cookie called melting moments.  The original recipe didn't include cinnamon in the batter, or the cinnamon sugar to roll the cookie in.  Those additions were my little experiment. 

My alterations were a success.  I made them and left one out for each boy, and a few for my parents.  I didn't say much, just that I made cookies.  I knew I had a hit, when my dad, asked if the rest on the cookie sheet were going anyplace special.  I responded with a no, and he immediately had three more!

This recipe is super simple.  It produces a soft cookie with a nice hint of cinnamon.  I also liked that it has no egg, for those who have allergies.  The recipe can also be double quite simply, but I liked that it only made 18.  Sometimes making a whole batch is just a little too much.  Give it a try and enjoy your own moment :)

Linking to these parties.

recipe (yields 18 standard cookies)

1/2 c. butter

5 tbsp. powder sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon & 3 tbsp. sugar (for cinnamon sugar to roll the cookies in)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine cinnamon and granulated sugar to make the topping; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and powder sugar. Add vanilla, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and flour. Stir until just combined. Form 1 inch balls of batter and roll into cinnamon sugar. Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Either with a fork or your palm, push lightly to flatten the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on the cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container.