Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Potato Growing Experiment, Purple Majesty (Part 1)

I have a small garden but I've never ventured into growing my own potatoes, until now.  They're already so cheap at the store that it doesn't seem to be worth all the trouble.  BUT, I saw the Purple Majesty potatoes in the Gurney's catalog and thought they looked so interesting!  I know I won't find those in the store.

So after doing a little research I decided to give them a try.

I bought a 20 gallon Smart Pot online.  The 2 lb bag of seed potatoes came in the mail.  I set them on my counter top on a plate with paper towel underneath to let them sprout for about a week.
The little sprouts are a pretty purple color.  I wonder if the plants will be purple too.

I've heard around here (USDA zone 5b) that people plant anywhere between St. Patrick's day and Easter, so April 15th seemed good to me.  It did just snow again this week after all.  First I filled the bottom 1/3 of smart pot with a mixture of Miracle Grow garden soil (I would have preferred an organic one, but oh well.  It's what Walmart had.  This one seemed a bit wood chippey.) and about 1/3 compost.  I folded down the sides of the container so they wouldn't flop around. 

 The Smart Pot website suggests one potato per 3 gallons of container, so 6-7 potatoes.  I went with 6 since I don't want to make it too crowded.  I arranged them like this, and then buried them 3-5 inches under the soil as suggested by Gurney's.  I've read you can cut big ones in half and get two but I didn't want to deal with that.

I gave them a good watering.  I'm hopping for a yummy crop this year.  I might make some purple french fries!

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Make Your Own Coconut Milk

Here's something interesting to do at home.  Make your own coconut milk!  My son is lactose intolerant.  He usually drinks almond milk so we're no strangers to non-dairy milks in our house.  I could say that I tried this because it's better than the pre-made stuff you can buy, but really we did this because we bought a coconut on a whim at the store one day and had to figure out what to do with it.  After some youtube watching and googling, here's what we did.

First, take a screwdriver and hammer it into two of the dots on your coconut to make holes.  Then let the coconut water drain out of the holes into a cup (this is not coconut milk!).  You can drink it if you want.  I've heard it's kind of good as a sports drink.  I think I might freeze it into ice cubes to use later in smoothies.

Then comes the fun part.  Put the coconut in a ziploc bag and let your kids throw it on the ground outside until it cracks.

My son was so proud of cracking it into 3 pieces!

Now you need to get the white meat off of the shell.  There are probably some easy cool ways to do this that I don't know about.  I just use a knife to cut little sections and pry off pieces like this.  Make sure your knife is sturdy.

One coconut gave me about three cups of meat.

Now all you do is either grate up the white part of the coconut, if you have the time and inclination, or just put it through your food processor and chop it up really small.  

Then add 2 parts hot water to 1 part coconut, so for this one I added 6 cups of hot water.

My food processor doesn't fit that much (oops learned that the hard way and kinda made a mess), so I added 3 cups hot water to all the coconut, processed it, strained it, and then put the coconut meat back into the food processor, added the next 3 cups of water, and strained again.

If you have cheese cloth around you could use that instead and probably get more milk out.

And you're done!  You can put it in a jar or pitcher and let it sit until the cream separate if you want to.  There should be a small amount coconut oil (maybe a couple of tablespoons) in there that will form a solid at the top.  I've been using it as a lotion.  Keep the milk in the refrigerator and use it up because it will only keep for a few days.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Storm Cloud Costume

Craftiness runs in my family apparently.  My dad recently participated in a polar bear plunge and the theme of his team was"rainbow" (like pot of gold, leprechaun, cloud, the whole thing).  My dad was the cloud, so this is what he and my mom came up with.

It's pretty awesome.  He didn't want it to be too fluffy because stuff like batting gets heavy and is hard to swim in.  He created this out of tulle, some cardboard, tape, and 1/16 inch dowels bent into a circle.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ruffle Purse

I finally (finally!) finally finished this purse that I started two years ago.  I pinned on all of those ruffles, sewed about two of them on, and threw it in a box on my shelf and forgot about it.  I had been wondering where all of those pins went...

I tried some new things including a zippered pocket (via this tutorial).  The bag is loosely based on this simple pattern from Crap I've Made.  The ruffles are inspired by this very cute  Bustle Backpack, although I used jersey knit so they won't fray.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Owl Tree Valentines Box from an Oatmeal Can

Here's my daughter's Valentine's Day mailbox creation!  She used it in Kindergarten.  We had a lot of fun making it together.  I love that with an oatmeal can you can pop off the top when your child gets home so you have easy access to the cards and goodies inside.


To make your own Owl Tree Valentine's Box, you need:
  • an empty oatmeal can
  • branches (either a cardboard tube of glowsticks, or a paper towel tube or toilet paper tubes)
  • brown craft paint (we used both brown and tan paint)
  • craft foam sheets, or construction paper (green, red, pink, orange, black)
  • hot glue

Since my daughter gave out glowstick bracelets with her valentines' cards, we already had a tube to use for the branches.  We found the bracelets in the dollar section at Target and they look like this:
If you don't have that, then use a paper towel roll or some toilet paper rolls instead.  All you have to do is cut the tube in half on a diagonal (so your branches will be angled up).  The black wrapper on the tube peels off easily.

Hot glue those onto the oatmeal can.  (Actually in hindsight I might try something stronger that hot glue, like E-6000 maybe.   One branch fell off at school).

Cut a hole in the oatmeal can.  I recommend making it big because with Pinterest you never know what kinds of big crazy valentine's creations your kid is going to get.

Then paint the whole thing brown.  I just dipped the brush in both tan and brown to give it a streaky brown wood look.

Then I had my daughter write her name and draw leaves and hearts on the foam craft sheets. I helped her cut them out.  She liked making "heart fruits" to go on the tree.  I just free-handed the owl.  Use a hole punch to make the eyes really round.

Then glue it all on.  My daughter liked finding places to stick everything.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 LDS Primary Scripture Theme

I've been working on getting the primary room ready for the new year, and while printing up this year's scripture, I happened to notice that I could make this year's scripture (Malachi 4:6) into a heart shape.  I thought it was cute, so I'm sharing it with you.

Here's the link to the file in Word
(it'll be one page when downloaded, although google drive thinks it's two)

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sugarplum Drops Recipe

When I was a kid my grandma used to mail us a tin of homemade Christmas cookies every year.  We'd keep them in the refrigerator and mom would let us each have one every day until they were gone.  One of my favorites was Sugarplum Drops.  They combine the flavor of dried fruits and nuts and sugar - so tasty!  When I saw a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, it brought back all of those Christmas memories.  Here's my version.

Sugarplum Drops 

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine Jan 2008

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pecans
1 cup whole natural almonds
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or use colored sugar for a festive look)

In a food processor, combine the fruits and nuts and pulse until you get a course mixture, about one minute.  Add orange juice and continue to pulse until the mixture sticks together (like the photo), about 15 seconds.  

Shape the mixture into one inch balls and roll in sugar.  Refrigerate.
Makes 40 sugarplum drops.

caloriecount.about.com tells me that each one is 52 calories, 7.2 g carbs, and 0.9 g fiber.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Baby Proofing a Book Shelf Tutorial

With my first baby, we didn't have any book shelves where she played, but we protected one of our shelves with our DVD player on it using velcro and a piece of sheer fabric.  Then with my son, we just dealt with the book destruction that comes with kids and books.  You know all those people who say baby proofing is just for lazy parents who can't teach their kids no?  Well whatever.  I tried that.  We lost some books with my son.  No matter how many times you say no, they still want to try to rip paper because it's just so much fun, apparently.  Eventually he grew out of it.  Even today every once in a while I'll look and see my husband, standing in front of the book shelves, frowning and sighing about all the ripped covers.  Sad.

With baby number three, we have two bookshelves in our main living space, and I was considering moving them into my craft room just to keep them out of her reach, but there's really not a great space in there for them.  As she's crawling and on the verge of walking, the shelves seem to be a favorite area, and I can see that she's starting to notice the joys of paper-ripping.  The other day I found my youngest baby with a choking-sized piece of Robert Jordan's Crown of Swords cover in her mouth, so something had to be done.

There probably isn't such a thing as a baby proof bookshelf, but this is what I did to make my bookshelves baby-resistant.

What you need:
-Enough fabric to cover your shelves.  You should probably measure before going to the store, if you're a planner like that. I picked up 3 1/4 yards of chevron printed burlap at Walmart (didn't measure first, so I hoped it was enough and it is more than enough).  I guess burlap in the fall is a trendy thing, or something? I would not use any stretchy fabric.
-Coordinating thread.  I used tan.
-Grommets (buy the pack of whichever size you like that has the grommet installing kit if you don't already have one)
-7/8 inch cup or mug hooks (4 or more for each shelf) these are the ones I used, but in silver color.
-Felt scraps

 First, measure the open area of your book shelf that you want to cover.  Then cut your fabric with 1 1/2 inches extra on each side.  If you are not using something that unravels like burlap, you may want to make a smaller seam allowance.
When you are cutting burlap, I would not use your nicest scissors as I've heard it can dull them quickly.  My really old dull scissors still cut it just fine.

Using a very hot iron (cotton setting), press the seams in twice on two opposite sides (turn under 3/4 of an inch each time), then sew them with a top stitch.  I had my machine set with a sturdy needle to stitch length 2 and a narrow zig zag.  Then press the other two sides in twice and sew them.

Next, set the grommets in each corner, following the directions on your packaging.  I stitched on a small piece of felt in each corner to give the material more strength before setting the grommets.  Make sure they are close enough to the edge that your cup hooks will fit over your seam edge and into the hole.  Hold a cup hook up to the edge to make sure before you put the grommet in.  I avoided putting it right on the seam as much as I could since it would be uneven.

Here's a good video for setting grommets that you can refer to.

Then hold your panel up to the shelf and hold up a hook and figure out where you'd like to screw the hook in.  Mine look like this:
You should probably pre-drill your holes, but I got lazy and didn't so I kinda split one a tiny bit.  Oops!  The others went in with no problems.

Place all four hooks and put up your panel.  If you want a book, just slide the grommet out of the hook and then replace it.  If you don't want hooks, consider sticky velcro, or even tension rods as an alternative.

No more book eating in my house.

Credit goes to my friend Abby for the idea.  I think she has something similar at her house!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Class Treats

I volunteered to help in my daughter's 1st grade classroom this year (not sure what I was thinking with a 4 year old and an 8 month old at home), so they called me up for the Halloween party.

I was in charge of treats this year, so I scoured pinterest and here's what they're having!

 donuts+ vampire teeth + M&Ms + royal icing (to keep the eyes on)

Little Hug Fruit Barrels + crepe paper streamers + hot glue + googly eyes

Friday, October 25, 2013

Link and Zelda Kids Costumes

I've loved the Zelda games since I was a little kid, and my daughter has started playing the newest one, so we chose a Zelda theme for Halloween this year. It took a lot of convincing for my son to be link.  I've been working on psyching him up for it since August.  What finally convinced him was the shield (which he calls a fire shield?  I think he thinks the Hylian Crest is fire) and the potion bottle.  Spiderman doesn't have those!!  haha

I made these without a pattern, and I thought about making one and posting it here, but it's just way too much work with a baby in the house, so just pictures will have to do.

The Link shield comes from this youtube video.  I used corrugated cardboard, acrylic paint, flat marbles, and craft foam instead of the things they recommend.

The best part is that our baby is a Zelda Cucco!