Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowman Slaughter

Wow. What a day. It ended up being busier than I expected, but it was wonderful. A family photo shoot, a quick stop at Em's house (always a highlight in any day), cooked 2 fun dinners, got to tell our dating/love story to some awesome girls, and then I just got done hosting a 7 course meal for my brother and cousin, and their fun dates.  It's been an awesome day, but it meant that I have not sat down at the computer all day until right now (other than to retrieve the recipes I needed for the dinners). 

So I thought I'd share with you two of my Pinstrosities today (with that much going on, there's bound to be at least one minor Pinstrosity, right?). The theme of the 7 course dinner tonight was snowmen. Thanks to Google Translate, our "restaurant" was "le bonhomme de neige", which we assume is french for "The Snowman". We tried to get more creative than that...but I swear that for every 3 syllables in English, there were 32 in French, and while that would have been fun, we had trouble pronouncing "le bonhomme de neige" as it was. Anyway...each course had something to do with snowmen...or they were supposed to at least...we forgot with one of the courses to assemble it. Oh well. So...here are two of the courses from tonight's meal. Tasted great but the visual appeal was a little lacking. 

The Original Pin
Mashed Potato Snowmen
Looks simple enough right? I wasn't doing the meatloaf part, but I loved the snowman mashed potato part. So I jumped into it. What could go wrong? Scoop mashed potatoes together and decorate. Well, my mashed potatoes were a little thin...so scooping them didn't really work, so we worked them into balls...sorta. And then I went to decorate them and found that I didn't have a whole jar of peppercorns like I was sure I did...so I improvised. 

The Pinstrosity
A huge thanks to Em for letting me use her plates!

Mmmm...doesn't that just look yummy. One of the other snowmen was wider than he was tall...the potatoes were just too gooey for this to really work well. This one here isn't bad, but not what I had visualized. And then...when my smart-alecky brother was served his plate he said, "Um...excuse me, but my snowman peed." I laughed, because it's true. Tonight I used instant potatoes and I added too much water...and then I didn't have any instant potato left and didn't have time to boil up a real one. Next time, I'm just making "real" potatoes. 

And then dessert. Of course it would be dessert. 

The Original Pin
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/other-dessert/holiday-cheesecake-presents.html
I actually didn't find these on Pinterest...I have a card in my cook book (don't know where I got it from), but when I did a search online just now I found the exact picture and recipe that are on my card. 

Aren't those cute? Cheesecake squares! The recipe says to cut them in rectangles, so I thought I'd just go one step further and use my circle cookie cutters and make a snowman rather than presents. That part went just fine. But I couldn't find the gel decorating icing and didn't want to use regular decorators icing...so I decided to make a raspberry syrup (basically frozen raspberries with some sugar and water...ta da. We grew up doing that with strawberries and figured raspberries would do fine, and they did). All went well until I tried to add the raspberry sauce to the snowmen cheesecakes. I tried to drizzle the sauce to look like a scarf and it looked like the snowman had had his neck slit. So then I tried to drizzle the sauce "artistically" over the snowman and it just ended up looking like the snowman had been disemboweled.  

The Pinstrosity 

Taste? Fantastic. Visual appeal? Ew. 

So maybe I didn't score high in the presentation but I think everything tasted good. I hope.

UPDATE: I posted up the entire dinner on the family cooking blog I am a part of. I uploaded pictures of the courses and the decorations, and I provided links to the recipes and directions for the diy decorations. You can find the post here: http://mowercooking.blogspot.com/2012/12/le-bonhomme-de-neige-7-course-meal.html

Friday, December 28, 2012

Shoe Revamp Tips and Tricks

Not only does Pinterest have a slew of projects to start from scratch, recipes that you need to buy all new ingredients for, and projects that call for extremely precise material, but the projects I enjoy the most are the Revamps. The ones where you have this old table and you create a window seat out of, a shirt that becomes a hand bag, or nasty thrift store pair of shoes that become one of a kind party pumps!
I am all for a deal, and this project is just that.
 If I weren't hoarding new/used shoes that together make up the entirety of my heart and soul, which they do, I am a serious shoe whore, I give all of them a little lovin' I can never stick to just one, anyways if I weren't all of those things I would have (willingly) sacrificed an afternoon and a pair of shoes to test this out. But alas, the hubbs has our one working car at his work today, and I love all my size 7 babies too dearly to put one of them on the chopping block. If I did have the car today though, you could bet your lucky beans that I would be out thrifting for a new pair. 
I look forward to saving this one for another day though.

Here is Mandy's attempt at this shoe revamp:

The Original
Turning this...


Into this!
Both photos courtesy of : http://www.lovemaegan.com/2011/11/houndstooth-shoes-diy.html

Awesome right!!! Well Mandy's didn't turn out like she was hoping, and i think there are a few things that contributed to her $1 investements ultimate demise.

The Pinstrosity
The Before:
Can I just add that I love that she used old homework as her backdrop instead of newspaper? Stickin' it to the man!

The After:


So no, not awful, and I highly doubt anyone will be on floor level investigating your shoes for accuracy in the DIY department, however there are a few things to help this go a little smoother.

Fabric choice: The original (which I highly recommend you read through ALL of the directions if you are going to do this, Mandy did, and she still had some hiccups, the Love Maegan original tutorial is very good) blogger used cotton fabric. For any of our sewers out there,  you would recognize this glittery fabric that Mandy used as very difficult to work with because it is slick. It just performs different and can tend to bunch at seams and what not. So that is suggestion number one, use cotton. 

How much fabric: While the original blog doesn't give you an  actual total of amount of fabric that she used, but I would venture that she went ahead an got a good solid yard. That way if something catastrophic happens, you have more on hand right then. Also you aren't scrimpin' for extra if its 11pm, you are wearing the shoes in the morning too a wedding and you are out of fabric and JoAnn's is closed. Hey!Crazier things have happened, have you read this blog?!

Glue: The original calls for Modge Podge and fabric glue, but mostly Modge Podge. This is probably one of those projects where you just can't substitute unfortunately, seems that happens a lot doesn't it?  That may have been another problem that came up for Mandy, she used 50/50 glue and water, not such a good idea, next time hold out for the real stuff, it's easier to work with, it isn't too expensive, and you will know exactly how it will perform. 

I will say that this one looks like it is a bit time consuming (the original says that as well), but if you are really wanting to revamp those old 80's pumps, (which are back in style, so maybe hold out a few years lol) than I hope you have some patience.
Another thing to think about is pattern, if you do mess up on the shoe and need to squeak in a little extra piece here and there, you are going to have a heck of a time matching things up if you are working with say Hounds tooth,  Maegan is a brave and confident woman! So maybe practice before going all out!!! Especially if you REALLY love your one of a kind fabric and it is hard to find. 

Good luck Pinstrosipeeps! Has anyone had luck with this?! Any tips or tricks?!







Thursday, December 27, 2012

Party Palate Planning

Merry 2 Days After Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day and that the holidays are treating you well. We pulled up in our driveway at 3:30 this morning from a wonderful Christmas with Cameron's parents (with a detour on the way home to the only movie theater within 200 miles that was showing Les Miserables, and 3 stops at three different stores looking for a queen size electric blanket). So now today I get to clean up our car vomit (you know...everything you crammed in your car during vacation that just gets tossed 2 feet from the door when you're unloading in the dead of night) so that we can decorate our Christmas tree tonight. We're bound and determined that we're going to do this...even if it takes us until the 4th of July. Christmas in July? I'm thinking we'll get some of the 50% off metallic wrapping paper from wally world and make a bunch of shiny tree ornaments and have a New Years Tree. That's the plan right now anyway. 

Speaking of New Years...y'all ready? Got your menu planned? The Mistletoe hung strategically so you can get your midnight kiss? Have pots and pans and spoons prepped and ready to grab and clang while running around the neighborhood (best New Years Eve tradition ever...seriously, it's so much fun, you should try it. It makes you feel like a kid and you can't help but smile)? If you're still trying to figure out what to bring to the New Years party, we thought we'd help you out by giving you some tips and tricks on some common holiday treats. 

The Original Pin
Pinned Image
http://busy-mommy.com/2009/12/cooks-ham-tortilla-christmas-tree.html
Adena submitted this food project and gave us this story: "I've had pinwheels on several occasions but never made my own. I made these for a Christmas party last weekend. I am horrible at rolling wraps and burritos, so that part was challenging enough. Also, the spinach tortillas kept peeling (which explains the hanging pieces on the finished product. I used a combination of pinwheel recipes and picked the easiest one I could find: cream cheese with Ranch seasoning packets, shredded sharp Cheddar,and deli ham and turkey."

"After I rolled the tortillas, I refrigerated them for a while so they'd be easier to cut. I cut them too fat (and my tortillas were also too fat). My sister and cousin helped build the tree. My cousin had the idea to top the tree with a clementine. The bell pepper strips were garland. They tasted fine, but the tree looked sad. :)"


The Pinstrosity

Pinwheels can be tougher than you'd think they would be. But Adena's look delicious still. I love pinwheels. One thing that helps to hold these little guys together is to make sure and spread your filling (thinly) over the entire surface of one side of the tortilla, and then roll it tight. If there is filling over the entire surface, the pinwheel holds together a little better. And then, I know others have had more success with this than I have, but I find I have to make these as close to the serving time as I can or the tortillas (especially the spinach or tomato tortillas) end up a little soggy and they fall apart more. One third tip, these often hold up better and keep their shape better if they are small, so don't fill them so much and roll them tight (after all, they aren't usually the main dish, so they don't have to be incredibly filling and big). 

The Original Pin
Cinnamon Toasted Almonds
http://latetocreate.com/2012/11/17/cinnamon-toasted-almonds-easy-recipe/


Katherine told this story about her nut fiasco. "We had decided to make these cinnamon toasted almonds for neighbor Christmas gifts. A chef i am not, so the label of EASY in bold type was especially enticing. As we gathered the ingredients my husband joked, you should submit a pinstrosity if they don't turn out. I scoffed. I dutifully mixed ingredients per the recipe, coated the almonds and popped those suckers into the oven. I even had all 4 cups of almonds on one baking sheet at one point, re-read the instructions and reluctantly decided to split the batch onto two sheets as the recipe suggested. 5 minutes in, almonds smell great baking in the oven. 8 minutes in, the sweet aroma turns slightly sour, and 10 minutes into baking the almonds are burnt and smoke is coming out through the stove burners. The almonds looked horrible with a mix of crusty black burntness and bubbly brown foam covering them. Sure these weren't presentable for neighbors but we might be able to snack on the lesser burnt pieces. My husband took a bite, and nothing! Those stupid almonds tasted like almonds! I'm calling this a level 4 fail based on how quickly they burned, how after 3 minutes out of the oven the almonds had GLUED to the pan, and how after all our hard work they just tasted like plain ol' almonds... oh. And the fact that my husband called it!" 
The Pinstrosity
Ah nuts, they didn't turn out. ;) 
For this recipe (and any that include coating an object in sugar and then baking it) I strongly suggest parchment paper. Oddly enough, I'm just discovering parchment paper and I don't know why it's taken me so long. That stuff is the best. Seriously, try it. This recipe gives you sugar coated almonds, but also a sugar coated pan. The sugar will melt and stick to the almonds some, but it's also going to melt off and stick to the pan and burn. Parchment paper will make cleanup way easier. If you notice, the original site doesn't show a picture of her pan and almonds immediately out of the oven...I imagine it's not so pretty either. 
Getting the yummy coating to stick to the nuts though...that's the real problem here. Why go to all that work to get almonds that just taste normal? I'm not a bit almond fan but I LOVE pecans (and luckily I have family members with pecan trees who love to have us come pick bags and bags). Instead of coating the nuts and then baking them here's what I do (and this could be done with any kind of nuts):

They are sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet like most candy. They are super simple to make too. Don't be scared by the fact that these need to be cooked to the soft ball stage. That scared me at first but it was really easy. I promise. All I did was I went to the wonderful world of Walmart, bought a $4.50 candy thermometer and then just cooked the glaze until the little temperature line hit the soft ball stage line. That easy. Nothing to it. You can do it. Don't be afraid. You'll be so proud of yourself afterward too. I was. And then you won't be able to quit eating these...but they're pecans...so it's healthy. :)

Ingredients
1 c. white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 c. water
2 c. pecan halves (or pieces)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

  1. Before you do anything else, prepare a flat surface to pour the nuts onto. For one batch I put wax paper on a cookie sheet, and another batch I just put the wax paper on the counter. Both worked fine.
  2. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage, stirring to keep from scorching.
  4. Quickly pour in the vanilla and then the pecans. Stir quickly to coat the nuts.
  5. Spread the nuts onto a hard surface (as prepared in step #1) and quickly separate with a fork before they harden (and stick together).
  6. Let cool and then enjoy!



The Original Pin
http://picky-palate.com/2010/12/20/kiss-pies/
Meghan sent us in her Pinstrosity involving these scrumptious morsels:  "Over the weekend I had a cookie exchange party to go to.  I was super excited when I saw this Pin and knew I HAD to try it out!!  I needed an easy to make recipe as I had a million things to do an my 21 month old daughter was having 2 friends over for a sleepover... CHAOS!!!!  This was bound to be a pinstrosity from the beginning for the following reasons:
#1- WHERE DO YOU BUY ROLL OUT PIE CRUST DOUGH?????  Seriously can anyone tell me this?? I went to 5 different stores and everyone had pie crusts in the pie tin... not roll out.  I was tempted to buy it but it would have been such a waste since I needed to make 40 plus of these mini pies.
#2 - Apparently since its December NO ONE sells Hershey Kisses... in ANY flavour! I went to another 4 stores looking for these."

"So after wasting a weeks worth of lunches I ran on on my lunch Friday and grabbed puff pastry dough and a tonne of Rolos!  I figured meh can't go wrong... can I??  Then just to make sure I wasn't heading for a huge failure I scoured Pinterest for something similar with puff pastry. And found this

Pinned Image
http://realmomkitchen.com/1337/chocolate-candy-puff-pastry-dessert/
and felt much better!!  So while my husband ran around with 3 girls under the age for 5 on Friday night I excited cut out my puff pastry, put a Rolo in the middle, pinched and twisted the top and sides and brushed them with egg... just like BOTH recipes told me!  I threw them in the oven and walked away.... Well when my timer went off I got so excited and this is what I found..."

The Pinstrosity

"The first thing that came to mind was the movie Aliens... you know how when a baby alien is hatching from the egg pods the pod pops open ... that was my it!! When I pulled them out of the oven I swear they were breathing and I actually expected little aliens to run out of my oven!  Seeing as I needed 40 plus of these alien pods I did some research (aka calling my mom) before setting out on the task of making another batch.  The next batch I made I used the egg to wet the sides of the dough before pinching them together.  I don't have a picture of the second batch but it was a little bit better than the first... as in 4 of the 16 stayed closed... So back I went to more research... (aka posting a pic on facebook and finding out what I did wrong!!).  SO for the third batch I did the same as the second batch BUT this time I poked a tiny hole in the top with a toothpick so the pastry wouldn't heat up and explode... the hot air could vent out.  This definitely was the best batch... but I still had 3 of the 16 explode like aliens.  On the upside they all tasted AMAZING!!!!"

So...to answer Meghan's questions:
1. "WHERE DO YOU BUY ROLL OUT PIE CRUST DOUGH?????" I actually haven't ever seen just a glob of pie crust dough being sold in the stores, but I have seen the uncooked pie crusts in the frozen foods section, and I think that is what the original recipe is calling for. During the year they are often by the whipped cream, but at Christmas our grocery store has them out in the center aisle freezer chest thingys. But, if you can't find those (and even if you can), I've got something even better for you. Make your own pie crust. Stick with me. I know, it's one of those things that seems too time consuming and hard, but if you're spending all the time going to a bunch of stores looking for a frozen, uncooked crust, you've got time to make pie crust. Need a good and simple recipe? Here's mine/my mom's recipe and it's yummy!

Pie crust will stick to itself much better than puff pastry, so there shouldn't be as big of a problem of them bursting open during the baking. 

2. The lack of Hershey Kisses. Now that's bizarre that you couldn't find any, because being that it is December, our store has an over abundance of them. Cordial cherry kisses, caramel filled kisses, regular kisses, etc. Walmart had them in the candy aisle, the Christmas aisle, the baking aisle, and the little center "holiday baking" stand. I'm not sure what was up in your town, that's just weird. 


The Original Pin
http://www.pipandebby.com/pip-ebby/2011/11/14/hot-cocoa-cookies.html

And then here's one of my own. Not a fail, but I do have some tips...
The Pinstrosity

My sister held a cookie exchange and I decided to try out the hot cocoa cookies I had eagerly pinned on Pinterest. The first batch seemed a little over done when I cooked them according to the recipe's directions, so I lowered the baking time by 2-3 minutes and they came out much better. These cookies were so perfectly chocolatey (which is saying something for me who is not a huge chocolate fan) and soft and gooey when they came out of the oven. I put them in a container and Em and I drove the 2 hours to my sisters house for her party, so of course the cookies cooled down during the drive. They were still good once they had cooled, but they just weren't as good or impressive. They ended up a little more crunch and the chunk of chocolate in the center had hardened back to just a chunk of chocolate and not melted awesomeness. So if you make these to take to a party, take them hot. Their not bad cool, but they just aren't anything to scream about either.

So I hope this gives you some ideas and help! All it did for me was to make me hungry...good thing I've got left over posole from Christmas (New Mexico Chrstimas food is the best!).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Em's Pinstrosity And A Reader's Christmas Tree Pin Win

We're back! 
We hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday with family and friends! 
I had an awesome holiday with friends and family, except for the part where I had a migraine for four straight days. 
Can I repeat that? Four. Days.
Relief came in many forms and if I didn't mention them I would feel ungrateful here goes;
 an awesome massage therapist, a butt ton of caffeine, some meds, some essential oils, a hot shower, a heating pad, multiple naps, dark sun glasses, and a super awesome hubby who takes care of me.
Migraine sufferers, does any of that look familiar?!
Can I get a Hallelujah that it's over!?
After a migraine like that anything is a welcome sight really, cleaning toilets? Yep! Organizing craft room?! Yep!Folding laundry?! Yep yep yep!!! All of it! Bring it on!
 You never really realize how awesome being healthy feels until you aren't. Just another amazing blessing that I get to count today!
So why tell do I tell you of my ill timed head stuffs? Because of said illness I was unable to finish our annual homemade Christmas tree :( So it still sits just like it was last Friday, untouched, barely started, and sad.
So here is my little Pinstrosity.
I want to add however that if I hadn't have gotten sick I definitely would have finished, so this is more of a time Pinstrosity than anything.

The Original
http://www.countryliving.com/homes/how-to-get-the-look/all-about-pinecones-1206?click=main_sr#slide-5

The Pinstrosity

So there you have it, my Christmas tree exactly as it stands right now. Mess included.

 Some days the crafting gods shine their blessings down on you, and a project you didn't think would work does! And then the time/inconvenience gods snicker and throw a monkey wrench in your plans and well, there goes that. 
All is well though, I think it could make a cute addition to my living room Christmas or not, so I will finish it and add it to my "Bling-ed Out Nature" decor (after I glitter it up of course) and all will be well with the world.

Now speaking of awesome ideas for non conventional Christmas trees, I wan to give a shout out to a Pin Win that Patty had this Holiday (at least someone had a Pin win this week, even if it wasn't me). There is something to be said for perseverance. You go Patty!

The Original
http://www.usfca.edu/Library/About_the_Library/


The Pin Win
On it's way to completion...

Voila!
Can I just say that Patty individually wrapped each of these books?! Herself!!! 
Patty you rock!

Book Christmas Tree Stats:
279 books
51 layers
11 rolls of wrapping paper
10 woman hours
2 strands of lights 
And A Partridge In A Pear Tree

So no, my tree didn't get finished, but somebody (lots of somebodys actually) did get theirs finished, and this Holiday, that is good enough for me! 

Happy Wednesday Pinstrosipeeps!






Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!

We hope that you day is truly wonderful. We're taking the day off to be with family, but we did want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and your awesome submissions. You're the best! 

And since I'm still on a Calvin and Hobbes kick:
Calvin and Hobbes
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1985/12/25


Merry
Christmas

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry
Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2012

Snailed It!

Merry Christmas Eve!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful and fun holiday with beloved family and friends! 
Here is a little Pinstrosity that Nicole sent us about awesome food that is also decor! What's better than that?! 
Nothing that I can think of right now, but then again I am currently on a Christmas sugar high, so I may or may not be particularly partial haha

The Original
Link for the original picture: http://www.marthastewart.com/272494/visions-of-sugar-creatures-candy-snails
The Pinstrosity

Nicole cleverly named this one her self "Snailed It"! I love it , it fits perfectly!

The problem here is that the products she used didn't quite match up with the original, however this is one of those where I think it really just makes it stinkin' cute as opposed to an actual Pinstrosity :) 
The directions of the original say that the stickiness of the gumdrops (once you cut a small edge off the back side) are enough for them to stick to the peppermints by themselves, but just in case Nicole used frosting, you can do this but I don't think that it is necessary. 
Also, she didn't put eyes on her little guys, but I think that either way they still look like snails so those also aren't necessary. 
She used "Rip It" pieces for the antennae, instead of licorice twists, but I think they definitely do the job, so I think they can stay :)

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday with their loved ones close and happy.
 Now it's time that I go do the same!


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, and Lovely Winter Festivities Pinstrosipeeps!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Card Creativity

I don't know about the rest of you...but I'm diggin' Emilee's awesome ideas from last night. After I type this up, I'm definitely heading over to Pinterest to put things into action. 

So...my last post before Christmas. I've had this on my list of things to stress over because I wanted to do something big and fun and awesome. Well, last night I sat finishing up photo shoot edits and staring at my still undecorated tree (seriously...it has no lights or ornaments...it still looks exactly as you last saw it) and worrying over how to finish everything I needed to before Christmas, and I made a decision. I decided that I'm okay with being average today. So this post may not be super witty or inspiring, but in a way it was therapeutic for me, so I count it as a win. 

What is one thing about Christmas that many women (and some men I'm sure...but in my experience, not so much) stress over starting in September? The Family Christmas Card. What do we do? What do we wear? Will Aunt June think it's too cheesy? Will the Donald's think it's too ostentatious? Do we do a classy picture or one that shows our true side? Portrait or landscape? How can we crop out that guy picking his nose in the background that the photographer didn't notice?

Here's an awesome little Calvin and Hobbes sequence that I think many people can relate to on this very subject:
Calvin and Hobbes
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/12/14
Calvin and Hobbes
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/12/15
Calvin and Hobbes
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/12/16
Calvin and Hobbes
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/12/17

 I made our cards last year, but this year I went quick and simple and ordered cheap ones online. The photo of us is from last year, but we pretty much look the same (I'll attach our card at the end of this post). Besides, it's not how beautiful, clever, or cool the card is that matters. It's really not a competition ladies. 

Rachel sent us her Christmas Card story and the adventure she had getting it. 

"I wanted to share with you my Christmas card fiasco."

"So the past few years my husband and I have done Christmas cards with a photo of us, and this year I wanted to make it a little more interesting by including our dog, Lexie. I saw this pin of 40 Christmas Card photo ideas with dogs and thought I'd try one of them."




"I decided on this one:"

The Original Pin

"because our Lexie is a fellow German girl like the pup in the picture, and I thought it'd be pretty easy to recreate since Lexie always has a stick in her mouth anyway." 

"The first part of finding a "Christmas Tree Stick" was pretty easy. We clipped it off a try and then stuck a simple ornament on the end of it. Next we rounded Lexie up, grabbed the camera and handed her the stick. Easier said than done! I swear to you Lexie is always gathering sticks, playing fetch and gnawing on them, but this time she wanted nothing to do with it! She would not keep it in her mouth long enough to snap a single photo."

"We gave up pretty quickly, but then I had the idea to put some peanut butter on the stick, so that maybe it'll heighten her interest. I wanted to be sure to get them printed in time, which meant I only had time after work to do it. My husband gets home after it's dark out, so I had to handle both posing Lexie and taking the photo on my own." 

The Pinstrosity



"As you can see, she finally held the stick, but it was so awkward and hard to get her to pose nicely with it. In many of the pictures her eyes are freakishly bugged out and in many other you can see the peanut butter on her gums." 

"In the end, I am grateful I have a husband who knows how to use photo shop."

The Pin Spin

"Our card wasn't exactly what I had in mind but still a big hit nonetheless. If you want to try this for next year, I wold recommend peanut butter, a second hand, and someone who can use photo shop!"

"Merry Christmas!"

Working with animals is hard...you often don't know what to expect (even if you think you). An animal can be well trained and still get camera shy. Just be patient, stay calm, be adaptive, and have treats on hand. Sometimes everything will go just as planned, and sometimes you have to adapt. I was doing a goofy shoot for fun at my aunts house, taking portraits of her chickens, when we came up with the idea of bringing in their "big mean pit bull" (Patch is the coolest dog) and posing him with the chicks. I originally had the picture in my head of Patch sitting up tall with the chicks at his feet, but he wanted to be down on the same level as the chicks. So we let him lay down and he let the chicks crawl all over him. In the end I loved that picture more than the one I originally had in my head. 
http://marquettephoto.blogspot.com/2011/03/blog-post.html

So just go with the flow and be adaptable...you might end up with something completely different from what you planned (as both Rachel and I did), but it may still be wonderful.

I hope your final Christmas and Holiday preparations are going well and that you have a season of peace and joy wherever you are. 

Snowglobe Template by The Sleeping Willow

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brain Head Pinstrosities

**Warning!**
This is quite possibly THE longest post EVER!!!!
 I got a little carried away, maybe I should have made it a two part post?!!? If you are still awake/care by the end of this, and if you received any help/positiveness here whatsoever, it will be a Christmas Miracle.
It's like the Magna Carta+War and Peace, seriously.
 My apologies.
You have been warned, carry on.
So I will be completely honest with you; After Marquette's awesome post on Tuesday, I woke up Wednesday morning, read the post, and said "Oh Crap.".
 Why is that you say? 
Because her post was awesome-sauce, pure genius and was super well thought out and written. 
It spoke to all of us in some way or another, Pinterest related or not. And well I just didn't feel I could successfully follow through after that with something worth reading. So Wednesday I did exactly what she wrote about NOT doing. I was afraid, I was afraid my post would pale in comparison to hers.
 Now please don't see this the wrong way, I love Marquette, she is my best friend and I don't feel competitive with her hardly ever (the only exception would be board/card games, I really don't like losing :o).  I just felt that anything I had to share that day wouldn't be up to par. So I skipped out, being overwhelmed in my brain head (some people just have brains, some people only have a head, I happen to have both, so I identify both) and feeling like I didn't have much to say. 
Looking back on what I was planning on writing, I realize that I was trying to do something unique and different than what we ordinary write about to make up for my self diagnosed lack of wisdom. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I see that particular post would be better saved for another day, not a bad post, it just needs to be shared at another time.
 So here I am today I went out of town with some family for the day which was a nice getaway  and had some time to think about what I would write about. What I came up with is similar in part to Marquette's post "My House Is A Pinstrosity" (if you haven't read that one it's also a good read), only this one is "Brain Head Pinstrosities". 
So is it just me or do you ever feel this undeniable, unshakable, all consuming  all encompassing  urge to do something awesome?! You plan and plan and plan, you gather everything you could possibly imagine in order to do this thing,( and then some), and then when the time comes you have literally too much going on to process it all and get ANYTHING done?! If I am the only one, well too bad, here is a whole post about that, and let me know because I obviously have some stuff to work out lol. If not, which I am hoping is the case than you see where I am coming from in all this.
Sometimes, caroosing through Pinterest your brain head ( now you have one too) just sees to much, and as humans, we want to do it all, we want to have/want/need/know/try/do/see it all, in a very short period of time.
Pinterest is the enabler for this disease. May I add here that Marquette's post on Tuesday was somewhat the opposite to this, she said if there is something that we are wanting to do , then make it happen, "Don't Be Afraid!"! Which is wonderful and great advice, but when we put our minds to it, sometimes our brain head's want to do it all RIGHT NOW. 
Like a computer trying to process too much information at once, we commence mental shutdown mode.

And for me that sometimes  that means not getting ANY of my projects done. 
So here are a few tips to help us beat the "I literally have so much going on in my brain head that I don't know where to start." days.

Home:
If your space where you work is cluttered it might disturb the creative process due to the fact that you are too focused on the mess to think straight. 
My family does what is called a "Five Minute Clean Up", turn the timer on for five minutes, clean whatever is on top of your messy space that you can in five minutes. If after five minutes it's not clean, take a five minute breather so you don't get overwhelmed and come back and do five more minutes, that's 15 minutes total, everyone has 15 minutes to spare somewhere in their day. You should then have enough space to work on something. If you don't...call TLC to be on Hoarders. jk jk 
Somedays I feel like I should have them on speed-dial.
If  your space really isn't spotless, then I say pull your project out anyways and reward your ten minute organizing spree with at least half an hour on your project. Come back to the cleaning regiment every other day until either your project is done, or your space is clean, either way you win!
Sounds like sane logic to me. 
Anyone ever read "Good Enough Housekeeping", that's what I'm talkin' about!
Supplies:
Sometimes I get really excited about a project, buy everything I need for it and then find that one of the supplies is wrong, or  couldn't find what I REALLY wanted for it  and then a heap of stuff sits in my craft pile for months at a time. Or I have all the things I need and this particular project is super time intensive, and so I put it off until I have more time (as if). 
Fail.
Go to your Pinterest board and create a board specifically of stuff you have already pinned that you have ALL the supplies for. 
No exceptions. Not a single one. Be strict with yourself. Not thread, not staples, not glue. 
NOTHING.
 Make it a jump start on your "No Spend Month" project that you pinned a year ago ;)
This lets you feel accomplished without acquiring more stuff, you are using part of your craft "stash" (which husbands love by the way), and you are accomplishing pins! Which is a win in and of itself. 
Then create a board of accomplished Pinterest projects and pin it there.
Enjoy bliss.
A little taste of my "Completed" board. I include everything from dreams, haircuts, crafts, nail polish colors, you name it ,if it's from Pinterest and I have done it, it's here!

Board Organization:
This one is easy:
Pick 7 pins it doesn't matter the size, cost or the theme (Party, Recipes To Try, Crafts, Home Improvements  Clothes etc.) Put those seven items in a "Work In Progress" board or "What's Next" board, this way you know what is first to get done, or first of your priorities, once something is done, it can move to the "Completed" or "Accomplished" board, and you can then add a new pin to the board. 
**I say you can do this with any pin, which you can, but generally I just add projects, because it keeps me on track of what I am currently working on,or what I need to do next. For example right now would probably be lots of Christmas or New Year's stuff, but once the new year rolls around it might be New Year's Resolutions and stuff for Valentine's Day.**
My "What's Next" Board

Difficulty:
Occasionally I pin something that I absolutely LOVE. Like to die for. But it's big, and expensive, and time intensive. And awesome, did I mention awesome?
This one is tricky, because sometimes, your life will literally NOT calm down anytime soon.
 You just had twins, your mother in law is here for the foreseeable future, and then your hubby is on a vacation  business trip, then school starts, then it's the family Labor Day party, then it's camel sitting for the neighbor and then Christmas, and then you start all that over again, minus the twins hopefully.
Get my gist? 
Also I feel like most people's lives really are like that (camel and all), or they feel  like their lives are like that, so this will probably apply to most of you.
What to do then? There are two options.
One, take every spare moment you have to work on this project, or save up, or prepare for this project and just hammer through it as fast as humanly possible, even if it means letting your kids watch a few too many Dora cartoons for a week. If it is important to you, you will make it happen, remember, don't be afraid!!!
This is what a friend of mine does, and well she is amazing, four kids, camel farm, and  still gets stuff done son! P.S. Her kids now hate Dora, jk jk.
Or, take it by months. Month one-seven ( I told you it was expensive), save, scrimp, and study for the follow-through.
Month eight-ten, gather supplies and the troops. Sometimes these projects take an army. Make it happen people, provide semi-perfect cookies as compensation. If there is sugar, they will come.
Month eleven through 483.5, carry out said plan/project. 
I have a partition that I have been working on since probably February since I first dreamed it up. It isn't finished but I work on it every few weeks and slowly but surely it is coming together, and when it is done I will surely show it off, I have had help from my husband on this one, because well it is too big to do by myself, and it makes the work go by faster.
If I want it done badly enough, I find time for it. 
A project I have been planning for for a while now, I still haven't decided how I want to do this one.


Holy Long Post Batman
So there it is, your survival guide on what to do when your brain head doesn't know what to do. Entirely too long, but hopefully it will help when you are feeling Pinterest Overwhelmed.

I hope you have a Happy Friday (what's left of it), and Hooray! We made it through the Apocalypse! 




Thursday, December 20, 2012

Candy Tray

Short and sweet today. 
This pin took Pinterest by storm and seemed pretty easy (famous last words):

The Original Pin
http://tuttobellablog.com/2011/12/19/diy-serving-tray-2/
Well...this is how it came out for Tanya ...

The Pinstrosity

Tanya says, "Surely you've seen those cute little trays that people have made out of peppermint candies.  You're supposed to unwrap the candies, arrange them on a baking sheet, and then bake for 350   8 to 10 minutes so the candies will melt into a lovely little sheet."

"I arranged my peppermints into two small-ish squares thinking I could use them as a tray for giveaway cookies.  Followed the instructions. 350 for 8 minutes."

"And then - my cute little squares turned into an UGLY mess.  Really ugly.
I tried to make the best of it by making swirly designs with a skewer, but I think this batch may end up being used in Peppermint Bark or something..."

I've been curious about this project, but after my success with these hard candy suckers...



I figured this was possible. 

The trick here is to watch it. The candies won't melt, won't melt, won't melt...then all the sudden they'll start melting fast. I learned with the suckers to not just trust the time specified for melting the candies. Every oven works just a little different from the next. It looks like to me that the candy tray got left in the oven just a few minutes too long.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't be Afraid

The quote is by Walter Bagehot, but I have no idea who to give credit to for the creation of this graphic...
I've searched and searched. I love it though.

The best way to get me to attempt something and to put my whole soul into it is to tell me that I am not able to do it or that it can't be done. "Home school students fall behind in their education and have no social skills." "No one succeeds without a high school diploma." "No one can finish that burrito in one sitting." "No one can scare me." Those were each statements that have been said to me over time, and for some reason my brain hears things like that as personal challenges and something in me must prove them wrong. So I did. If we limit ourselves to only what other people think we're capable of we miss out on so much of life. Don't be afraid to think beyond the normal or to reach beyond your normal grasp. 

Where am I going with this? Our Christmas Tree. I was in line at the grocery store and I overheard the conversation the two women behind me were having. 

Woman: "We really want to put up a tree this year, but we just can't afford one right now." 

Friend: "I know! They are all so expensive." 

I felt compelled to butt in..."You can get a free permit from the Forest Service to go cut your own Pinon Pine tree."

Woman: "Yeah, but then you have to buy a tree stand and we can't even afford that. Besides, we don't have a truck to haul the tree in."

Me: "Just find a bucket to put the tree in and then stabilize the tree by putting rocks in the bucket around the trunk. And we have a Geo Metro...we just tie the tree to the top. It's a lot of fun, your kids would love it."

Friend: "That just won't work. Those roads are too bad for a little car and I'm sure the bucket would tip over."

I saw at this point that the woman was convinced by her friend. so I just wished them a Merry Christmas and that was the end of it...I wasn't going to argue about Christmas Trees. But it made me sad that the woman was going to miss out on such a fun part of Christmas because she had been easily convinced that she couldn't do something that I knew could be done. 

Last year was our first Christmas by ourselves and we wanted to put up a tree (more than just the little 2 foot  table tree left over from our tiny UofA apartment days), but we didn't have the money to just go buy a tree. Luckily my mother jumped in and told us about the free tree permits. We were all over that with the one simple word: free. We went and got our permit the next day and then headed to the grocery store where we ran into some people we knew from church. We excitedly told them about getting the tree permit and they said, "Who's truck are you going to use? There's no way your little car is going to make it!" We just laughed and said we'd manage. Proving people wrong about our little car is one of our favorite things. Why? We drive a Geo Metro. You know...the little clown cars that run on hamster power rather than horse power. We love our little car and it has served us well over the years. 

So the next day we bundled up, grabbed our saw and rope and drove up the snowy roads into the mountains. We passed truck after truck pulled off the road, surrounded by families hauling in their trees. They gave us funny looks, but we pushed on. We went as far up the mountain as we safely could, away from where most people get their trees...so we knew we'd have a better chance of finding the "perfect" tree, and started tromping around. Cameron finally found the tree, cut it down, slapped the permit sticker on it, and we tied it to the top of the car. 
He likes making faces when I'm taking pictures...don't most people?


We loved looking at everyone's faces as we came back down the mountain in our tiny car with a tree tied to the top. 

We got home and went to put the tree up and realized that we had completely forgotten to buy a tree stand. Not wanting to make another trip out (especially as the store is 1/2 an hour away) we got looking around the house and yard. I found an old wooden planter bucket and had Cameron gather some bricks from our fire ring and we went to work. We stacked the bricks in as tight as we could, poured gravel out of the driveway into the cracks, and then stacked more bricks on top to hide the gravel. That tree would not budge...it wasn't going anywhere. It wasn't conventional, but we loved it. It gave such a fun look to the tree. I know there are some that will look at it right now and cringe...but we're okay with that. We love it and that's good enough for us. Everyone doesn't have to share the same likes and dislikes. 



It's amazing even after you do something that people tell you it can't be done. We had friends laugh that we were going to go cut a tree in our Geo...but we had a marvelous time. This year I found the tree and we went through the same process as the year before. 



See the Mini Mowers in the tree? We were so sad we forgot to bring them on our tree cutting adventure...so now they get to hang out in the tree until we decorate it (and maybe even after). And then there to the left of the tree is our ribbon of cards...any card we get (birthday, graduation, wedding announcement, Christmas) goes on the ribbon with a clothespin.
I love how tall it is! We don't have the lights or decorations on it yet (some friends dropped in right after we put the tree up-and living as far out as we do, that's a big deal-so we all drove up to town for pizza), but I'm pretty excited about our tree this year. Is it the most perfect tree? No. But we love it. It's the memories created around getting the tree and decorating it that matter more to us than how magazine perfect it looks. As Cameron's dad says, "It has character." 

So why am I telling you about our Christmas trees and my need to prove that things are possible? Why am I telling you to not limit yourselves to others perceptions? Because that's what our blog is all about. Being courageous, being creative, being adaptable, and being able to laugh at yourself. Pinterest shows you what your homes, crafts, and food should look like and what you should perceive there. Fail sites show you projects that have gone wrong and tell you not to attempt them. Stores show you what your Christmas should look like and what to do and buy. We want to show you that yes, there are bumps in the road and things aren't always picture perfect, but that doesn't mean you have failed or that it's the end. Don't be afraid to try again. Don't be afraid to try something new or different. Don't be afraid to have your own style. Don't be afraid to think beyond the normal or to reach beyond your normal grasp. 

Don't be afraid. 

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