Mega inspiration wall

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Now that I have decided to do something crafty every day, the first step was to work on the craft room a bit. I didn’t have anything on the walls and was using duck tape to put up my stuff. Very un-inspiring!

At the store, we use artists canvases a lot in window display, so I had them send me home 4 big ones, 30×30. Sadly, I couldn’t find cork that size, but did find some 24 x 24, so I just had to figure out how to make the edges pretty. The fabric was in my stash, bought in 2005 when I was going to make a car seat slip cover!

I just stapled the fabric to the back and hot glued the edge to the front. I didn’t need to cover the entire canvas because the cork went over. I simply screwed the cork from the back through the cross bars. Now my cork is not only pretty, I was super easy to attach to the wall using the frame of the canvas. And because I didn’t glue all the edges of the cork (only the corners) I can tuck in things that I don’t want to damage with pins.

Now I need to fill it with inspiration! Lots of it! Finished size is 60 x 60!!!!

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My Pinterest Party

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A few weeks back, I had this idea to gather all my pin-sane friends for a Pinterest Party. I am happy to report that last night, they all brought their A-game to my house and we had a fabulous evening. As you flip through the gallery of the evening, please note that what you don’t see are the CONTAINERS, BOXES, A COOLER and several CARRIER BAGS that these ladies brought and were hidden to the sides!

There were cocktails, wine, even 2 kinds of flavored ice cubes! We started with a few savory items, but really, this was a dessert-fest! SO. MANY. SWEETS! I am still adding pins as I find them and remember them, but you can find them all in our official Pinterest Party board, which of course includes links back to the recipes or tutorials. As time permits over the next few days, I will post about my own pins and the tips that I have to add, and if any of my pinterest-buddies want to guest post about the process of making their pins, this is my invitation to do so.

 

 

 

 

Concentrating on my own crafts

For the last few months, I was moonlighting as a craft-blogger. Not here, somewhere else. It didn’t work out. I haven’t been feeling good about it for a while, and yesterday, after a disagreement with the editors and owners, I decided it was time to concentrate on THIS blog, MY blog, and keep my ideas for myself. I happen to have written a great summer entertaining post, so here it is, my content, on my blog, my way. Expect much more regular posting.

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Summer at my house is a never-ending rotation of guests at the pool.  Yet no matter how many BBQ’s we end up hosting in one week, everyone always goes home feeling like I went all out to make it special SO SPECIAL just for them…. OK, I am about to out myself here: I really don’t go to any trouble… I make my kids do it and call it CRAFTING!
Here are 5 kid-friendly craft projects that lend themselves to any entertaining occasion. Just change up the colors to match your theme: Canada Day, a birthday, etc. The best part is that it keeps the kids out of the way while you do other things and kids love to boast about their fantastic participation in the event!
Tip #1, the colored cupcake liners: This one is a bit of a make-ahead project, but you can make a whole box and keep them for the next occasion. Original idea found on the Little Wren blog.
Put a few drops of food coloring in a bowl with water, dip cupcake liners, let dry for a few hours.
Tip #2: Bunting! Nothing says party like party decor. Forget those dollar-store plastic flag banners, you can make your own bunting with 1 pack of paper napkins, a long ribbon or string and a stapler.
2 variations on the napkin-as-flags bunting
Pardon the less than stellar picture, but these are two examples of bunting I made. The checkered one was just regular napkins, cut in half to double the amount we got, just slipped over a long ribbon and secured in place with one staple. For the triangles, I used the rectangular shaped napkins, opened them up and cut them into long triangles before stapling them to a wide gros-grain ribbon. This was slightly more labour-intensive, about 2 hours instead of 10 minutes. In both cases my girls took charge of the projects.
Tip #3: Fancy ice cubes. People will go crazy for a fancy ice cube in their drink! This can be as easy as freezing colored water, freezing dark juices like cranberry or blueberry (which adds bonus flavour to the drinks) or getting really fancy and using a knife for lemon-slices like I found on the Industrious Justice blog. Again, let your kids slice up the citrus and freeze.
For a Canada Day theme, why not freeze some red berry slices? Stick to the theme colors!
Tip #4: Set the table! Yes, I am already recycling my own ideas from an earlier blog post, but trust me, you put a pretty paper runner on your picnic table and all of a sudden people think they were invited to a fancy dinner. Also, make place cards. I let my kids write all the guests’ name down on either little cards or items that relate to the theme (ie they could cut out maple leaves, or NOW you could use dollar store flags!). I also let them pick the seating arrangement. It’s very funny to see who a 9 y.o. choses to place where. It makes for funny and interesting combinations!
Tip #5: Send the cupcakes home with your guests. Did you know you can easily carry one cupcake home by putting it in a plastic drinking cup?
It’s one of the most clever tricks I have found, via Bird on a Cake blog…. Makes guests feel very special and you don’t get stuck with so many left-over cupcakes. The point it to send leftovers home. You could package left over salad in a nice big beer cup, with a plastic fork on the side. I give the kids the big bowls, a serving spoon and the containers and I let them measure out the portions. Keeps them out of the way during the clean up and the left-overs get eaten. Not to mention you score major points as the hostess-with-the-mostess!
And now that I have reveled all my secrets, nobody will be that impressed when they come to my house next time.

As Seen on Pinterest: Mrs. Figby takes a stab at Fauxtisserie chicken

Does this rosemary make my butt look big?

When my friend, professional writer and blogger extraordinaire Mrs. Figby emailed me to ask if she could submit a post for As Seen on Pinterest, of course, I said yes. When she told me she was going to COOK something, I was both laughing and terrified at the same time. I love her. I adore her. She is the only person I have ever said ‘Wanna meet me in Paris?’ to and met her in Paris a month later. Buuuuuut – a cook she is not. Furthermore, most of her activities in the kitchen usually result in injury to herself. Even washing dishes. I’m not exaggerating, the woman slices of fingers open on a monthly basis. I am happy to report that her Fauxtisserie experience resulted in no injuries and – I’ll be darned! – turned out great!

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To say that I’m not a cook is to understate the matter by a large margin. I am so not a cook that once, when I tried to make what seemed like a very simple fish recipe, my then-15-year-old son had to step in and rescue the whole thing. (How was I supposed to know you have to make sure fish is dried off and also fully thawed before you try to fry it?) I am so not a cook that I find microwave burritos intimidatingly challenging. I mean…cover with a paper towel? What does that even mean? Should it be damp to keep in moisture? Do I wrap it around the burrito, or just put it loosely on top?

You see my point.

I also dislike cooking, in general. Even throwing some baby carrots in a ziplock for my daughter’s lunch feels like too much effort for food sometimes. Despite this dislike, I have a “creative” streak, which I put in quotation marks because, although I am driven by the desire to be creative, it does not often pan out. I spent years not having to be creative because I cancelled my Martha Stewart Living subscription in 1995, and Pinterest didn’t exist, so I didn’t know what I was missing. Now Pinterest has awakened the kraken of creativity inside me. My “creaken” if you will. I mean…all the adorable projects! Felt! Crochet! T shirt scarves! And the delicious food! With Nutella! Apparently I’m very susceptible to visual stimuli, because Pinterest is straight up porn to me. (And to my creaken, obviously.)

So the other day I was surfing Pinterest instead of doing my work (like I do, often) and I saw this “fauxtisserie slow-cooker chicken” (see what she did there? Fauxtisserie? Har!), which promises to be every bit as delicious as the rotisserie chicken you buy from Costco or your grocery store or wherever, except you make it in your crock pot and it’s super easy. (Not as easy as just buying a rotisserie chicken at the store, but let’s not quibble.)

It looked so easy even I could do it. PLUS, my husband, D, (who works long days in the city and then commutes home on New Jersey transit and THEN cooks dinner for our family of 5 every night because we have to eat and that’s the only way it’s going to happen) is away on a week-long business trip and having at least one home-cooked meal in a 6-day span seemed like a good idea. If I (or my creaken) could pull it off, that is.

Thus, I give you the “Mrs. Figby Ill-Conceived Attempt at Cooking The First Whole Chicken of Her Entire Life Via Directions Found on Pinterest”:

The ingredients list is so short, I didn’t even have to write it down: 1 chicken, fresh rosemary, fresh garlic, and some kind of salt-based seasoning. I’m using Dizzy Pig rub because it is freaking DELICIOUS and comes in numerous flavors.

This one says 'poulrty' on the label, which even *I* know means chicken

 

I have a giant pimpin watch because I live in Jersey.

 

Here I am getting ready to rinse the chicken (which peed raw chicken juice all over the floor just before this photo was taken.) Did you know you’re supposed to rinse chickens? I didn’t. Thank God the instructions mentioned it—and also drying, because I never would have dried it, either. My 16-year-old son, who is home from school with a sinus infection, took this picture, then lectured me about always rinsing whole meats. How does he know these things?

Does this rosemary make my butt look big?

 

Next, you’re supposed to stuff rosemary and garlic under the skin. I clearly don’t understand how, exactly to do this, because this chicken looks like a murder victim found in an abandoned factory in Newark. Also, that little knife I was using is about as sharp as the pointy file thingie on nail clippers that you use to get the dirt out from under your fingernails.

After shoving rosemary and garlic every which way but loose, I sprinkled copious amounts of Dizzy Pig rub on it and…rubbed it.

Here it is, in the pot, with the rub on, tits up. The recipe is VERY ADAMANT that it goes in tits up. Also, it’s sitting on three balled up…uh…balls (hehe) of tinfoil. Which, if my eldest son were reading this, would pedantically say is actually made from aluminum, not tin. Apparently the balls of tinfoil are to keep the chicken off the bottom of the crockpot.

Is it cooking? It doesn’t look like anything is happening. Mmmm, wine!

Then you put it on low for 7 or 8 hours.

I wasn’t completely sure it would actually cook. I mean, I didn’t add any water or stock or butter or oil or anything. And it seemed like it took hours for the crockpot to feel hot on the outside. But when the kids all got home (and the sick one got out of bed) they kept gushing about how good it smelled in the kitchen and when is dinner already!? God! We’re starving to death! A good sign, no?

At just over 7 hours in the crockpot, I stuck in a thermometer, and it was right at 165 degrees, which is the temperature of Chicken That Won’t Kill You. I had a big knife with which to carve it, but the poor creature (the chicken, not the knife) totally fell apart on its own…and off the bone. Holy juicy deliciousness…

The breasts were a tiny bit dry, but the dark meat was to DIE for. My three kids and I demolished all but one wing and one breast. It took about 10 minutes
because we’re animals like that.

Yay, creaken!

As Seen on Pinterest: the good and the not so good

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Today I bring you a double post: 2 guest bloggers, Susan and Amy, who had very different results with their attempts to try something on Pinterest. Let’s start with the good, shall we?

Susan is my most precise and detail-oriented friend. She is famous for her amazing parties that inevitably involve a chart and post-its to indicate the location of dishes on the table. One time, just for kicks, her friend Laure and  I mixed up all the post it’s and hid the master chart. She was not pleased! So it’s not surprise that she picked a stunningly pretty project. Here is it, in her own words:

Actual picture of Suzie's rainbow fruit platter

Source: http://sistersstuff.blogspot.com/2011/03/healthy-not-so-healthy-st-pattys-day.html

Browsing through Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, I found this cute way of serving fruit for a chocolate fondue, in a rainbow shape.  I deviated a little from the original post as I had a child over that has a lot of food allergies and therefore many fruits had to be avoided.  Thus, my rainbow colours are not in the correct order  :)     The look of the kids’ faces when I brought out the fruit platter and the chocolate fountain was priceless!  To be repeated.

 

On the other hand, my friend Amy is the complete opposite. She is very much like me: a do-er. But pos-it notes, not so much! So when she told me she had attempted the now infamous grilled-chees in the side-ways toaster pin, I knew we were in for a treat! Let me remind you of what we are talking about, then I’ll let Amy tell you how it all went:


the infamous Side-ways toaster Pinterest grilled-cheese


Source: http://www.grilledcheesesocial.com/

6:47am.
Three kids downstairs, dressed.
Husband ran to corner to buy milk for coffee.
English muffins in toaster.
“I hate English muffins”.
(here we go)
Microwave beeps.  Egg ready for egg sandwich.
“I hate egg sandwiches.  Especially on English muffins.”
“Can I make my own breakfast?”
It’s now 6:52am.  You have to be in the car by 7am to make it to the bus on time.  If you can make your own breakfast in the next twelve seconds, we have a deal.
Endless shuffling with slices of swiss and whole wheat.  Walks over to George Foreman, still encrusted with last nights morrocan marvel chicken.
“How in the world (yes, I cleaned it up for you) am I supposed to make grilled cheese now?”
I heroically turn the toaster on its side.  Put the grilled cheese in the toaster.  I saw it on Pinterest.
“Mum, are you SURE this is a good idea?”
Yes, I promise you it’ll work, I saw it on Pinterest.
Husband: Do you want your latte in a to-go cup?
Me (in my head): No. I want to leisurely sit on the promenade deck and sip it while leafing through Italian Vogue.  That’s why I am breaking lasagna noodles into a crockpot before 7am.
Me (in real life): Thanks, Sweetie, that’d be great.
Kitchen fills with smoke.
They didn’t mention this on Pinterest.
Somehow, grilled cheese managed to not cook and to smoke up kitchen.
Take raw grilled cheese and toss in microwave hoping no one would notice.
“This grilled cheese is soggy.”
“How come you never make English muffins?”
Morals of the Story:  Don’t believe everything you see on Pinterest, If you don’t clean the George Foreman as soon as you’re finished using it you have only yourself to thank, Husbands that make coffee in the morning are the best, Twelve year old boys should not be allowed to watch the Food Network.
Come back tomorrow for Mrs. Figby’s EPIC Fauxtisserie chicken. I have to post it right before the weekend because it will allow you to enjoy it for several days!

As Seen on Pinterest: Guest Post #1 Melissa’s Pepperoni Cheese Stick Rolls

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I’m Pinterest obsessed. And I’m dealing invites left and right like the best crack-dealer on the corner. In fact, I have hooked so many of my friends, they are chomping at the bit the submit guest posts for the As Seen on Pinterest series. The only reason Melissa got first dibs is that she wrote it AND submitted a picture first.

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Because of my new addiction to Pinterest, I find myself browsing through tons of recipes that look good to me but am not sure I will ever have the time to make. I actually have a huge archive box of recipes from magazines, newspapers, online recipes and scribbles on paper of recipes that sound amazing but Ithink i have only made about 10% of them. But it’s my hobby and I do love reading cookbooks and thinking of extravagant menus to make based on my collection.

Last week, I was browsing through pintrest when I came across this recipe for Pepperonni Cheese Stick Roll Up and they looked delish. I pinned it and made a mental note to make them. While I was at the grocery store yesterday, I found the dough on sale (you are supposed to use croissant dough) and it reminded me of the recipe. I promptly bought the dough and the other two ingredients i needed: cheese sticks and pepperonni (Yves Veggie). I was also toying with the idea of adding tomato sauce…….

I made them as an addition to supper in case they weren’t good. I added a small amount of tomato sauce to give it some added flavor. I made 8 of them, four with pepperoni and four without. This is the picture of what was left by the time I went to take a picture. they were really yummy! The only thing is that if you put too much cheese, it oozes put when cooking. But i tucked the cheese back in and they were yummy!!!

Definatly something I would make again!

As Seen on Pinterest: Cheesy Mushroom pull-apart bread

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We are all doing it. Pinning things on Pinterest and thinking: I have to try that, I can totally make that, this looks great…. Last night, I had a dinner consisting of all recipes I saw on Pinterest and a photobooth for the kids, which was also inspired by a few pins I saw. So, this new series of posts will be just that: As Seen on Pinterest. What happens when you actually try to make something you see on your boards.

I already have a few in reserve, but let’s start with the absolute crowd favorite: the Cheesy Mushroom Pull Apart Bread
(PS as a rule, I will try to link to the originator of the project, not the pinner)

I took a loaf of whole-wheat kamut bread from the very granola-bakery in the village and cut it as instructed.
  *TIP: for the cross-cuts, instead of struggling with the knife, I used my kitchen shears! Snip Snip! I made those cross-cuts in no time, and the bread didn’t tear or rip.

 I used provolone slices and cut them into strips, which I layed into all the cuts, both ways….. we liked it extra cheesy! I happened to have fresh rosemary instead of thyme, personally, I love mushrooms and rosemary, and since it got all eaten up, I’m going to guess the guests did too!
 The finished product. I should have taken a picture of people digging in! One of the kids pretty much made a main course out of it, and we had to leave a knife in it because once we got to the ‘core’ of the bread, people’s hands were getting a bit messy! but this recipe was super easy and the final product looked as good as the pin!