Close up of towels

Bath Towel Rug

I started this project back in August of 2012 on a craft day with my best friend. I found it on Pinterest and thought it looked fun and easy; little did I know how time-consuming this would be. ;) The website I found it at says it’s an eco-friendly bath rug and I had so many towels that it was no problem cutting up a few.

What you’ll need:

  • A “latch rug” canvas or gridded matting (mine was 18″ x 30″)
  • Towels you don’t mind cutting up
  • Scissors

 

Latch rug canvas and a towel
I cut up one towel at a time since I didn’t know how many I would actually need. Cutting up the towels was the hardest part of this project – my fingers were literally numb after cutting the first towel. I cut the strips about 5 inches long, maybe a little less, and between 1/4-1/2″ in width.

First time around

First towel completed
I went all the way around the edges first, and I knotted the towel strips on each square for the outer edges. I wanted to be sure it was stable and not falling apart. It’s definitely not going to fall apart. Once I got done with the first white towel, I decided I wanted to add some color.

Second towel
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At this point I’ve cut up three (3) full towels and I’m ready to keep knotting! I only knotted each strip one time through the canvas. It’s not necessary to “double knot”, in case you are wondering.

Third towel
Almost done with third towel

By the way, this is probably 2 months into the project. I did most of the work on it while I was watching/listening to lectures for school. It’s nice busy work to keep from getting distracted with Pinterest. ;)

Fourth  - hand towel
Fifth towel

As you can see, I’m keeping up with the color! Most of these are odd-ball towels that didn’t have “matches”. The turquoise color is a hand towel and made it around once. At this point I am only knotting towel strips around every other square in the canvas. It’s getting thick and it’s not necessary to put one on each square.

Sixth towel
This is sometime around Christmas and the beginning of this year. I’ve used a really pale blue, medium blue, turquoise, dark green, and now a purple towel. I was hoping this would be the last one but I ended up using part of a seventh towel. I didn’t take pictures of the cut up portions of the last towel, but I think you get the point by now!

Close up of towels
Back of rug

The last towel I used is bright green, just for fun. There are a TON of little towel pieces to clean up after you are done, and you will get them all over yourself. BUT, it’s totally worth it because you now have a new rug, recycled some old towels, and chances are, feeling pretty proud! I know I am.

Finished rug

This rug is super-soft and while it’s a nice one for a bathroom, I am using it just as decor right now. It feels wonderful and I got a great compliment from a friend on it! It was also quite a bit of fun, but it took me until the end of January to complete it. You can probably do it MUCH faster, but again, this is a “spare time” project for me and the end result is totally worth all of the numb fingers.

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Foaming Shampoo/Face Wash

So, it has been a while since I have posted anything. Working full-time and taking 18 credit hours in school is not conducive to keeping up with my blogging, but I made this shampoo today and wanted to share it. You will need a bottle with a foam pump – you can purchase one, or you can reuse one, which is what I did. I bought some Yes to Carrots baby shampoo a while back that had a foam pump on it so once I ran out of that, I rinsed the bottle, peeled the labels off, and now have a handy bottle with a pump for my shampoo. Here’s the ingredient list and the proportions that I used:

  • 2/3 to 1 cup of water (distilled, spring, whatever works – most people will say distilled, but I used spring water)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (I have the lavender scent)
  • 20-25 drops of tea tree oil

Baking soda, magic soap, water, olive oil, and tea tree oil

The first thing I did was heat up 2/3 cup of water and dissolved the baking soda. Once the baking soda was dissolved, I removed it from the heat and added the olive oil. I mixed this up, poured in the Castile soap and tea tree oil, and mixed it again using a spatula. Using a funnel, I poured this all into my empty foam bottle, filled it to the top with water for a total of about 1 cup of water, and voila!

The foam is really thick and works wonderfully!

I don’t have too many pictures of the process because it was quick and simple, but it smells wonderful and the foam is thick! I have really long hair and I don’t use any conditioner – I simply coat it with a little bit of Argan oil and let it air dry. I use the Organix brand and would love to find a brand that is more natural so any recommendations on that would be great.

You can switch up the variety of Dr. Bronner’s you use if you don’t like lavender, and you can use a different essential oil. I have a little bit of acne on my face and scalp so the tea tree oil helps out with that. I used this on my face and it feels awesome! Hope you enjoy. :)

Zucchini & summer squash "pasta" tossed with basil pesto.

Zucchini & Summer Squash “Pasta”

I recently used Groupon for the first time. A fellow Oxfam American Action Corps member shared a deal where you could get a 1-month subscription of organic produce from a local farm for $39.00. Since I made the switch to a vegetarian diet I have been struggling with veggies. Since I don’t know what I like, buying them at a grocery store is very tough, and I haven’t ventured out to a farmer’s market yet. (I have social anxiety issues, and really, it’s hot here in Texas.) So I signed up for this produce delivery and have vowed to eat every single item in the box.

Summer squash, zucchini, basil pesto, Asiago cheese, and pizza sauce for good measure.

I would like to mention that I have never eaten zucchini or summer squash before so I was very hesitant about this idea. I have seen people rave about eating substitute pasta so I felt it was a worthy endeavor. I had some leftover pesto to toss the finished product in.

I started cutting the veggies into thin slices as I didn’t have a julienne slicer.

I read in some comments at different food sites that you should cut the seeds out, so I did. I have since learned that you can leave them in so I will try that when I cook them again.

I sliced them as thin and uniform as possible.

Since I have never cooked either of these before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I cut them as uniformly as possible so they would cook evenly, though that didn’t turn out to be an issue at all. This is one of each vegetable chopped up and ready to throw in some boiling water.

Put the “pasta” into a pan of boiling water with some sea salt.

Bring the water back to a boil and boil for about one minute.

I boiled the “pasta” for about a minute or so which was the most recommended cooking method for this type of veggie. With the exception of chopping it up, this was almost faster than making angel hair pasta.

Drain the veggies and quickly rinse with cold water.

Remove the pan from heat and drain the “pasta”; rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. I believe this helps retain nutrients as well as texture.

Zucchini & summer squash “pasta” tossed with basil pesto.

The next time I make the pesto I will add a post about it. I absolutely LOVE the stuff and it’s so easy to make as healthy as you need it to be. I tossed my finished “pasta” with pesto and topped it with some Asiago cheese. This batch of pesto was made with basil, Asiago cheese (instead of Parmesan), olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds. I just had the seeds leftover so I threw them in at the last minute. This was such a wonderful and refreshing dinner and I am so proud of myself for eating these veggies! They truthfully did not have a taste to themselves, so much that I felt like I should have added more salt. I would never have touched this as a kid, and I wouldn’t expect my nephew to eat it in this form. If I had made the slices much thinner, more like pasta, he might have tried it with spaghetti sauce. Kudos to Groupon and organic produce delivery. :)

Sweet and spicy, all-natural cough remedy.

Homemade Cough Remedy

I am largely free of commercial medication. I don’t like pills or feeling medicated, but I don’t get sick much so this is never a problem. When my allergies act up I tend to get a small, chesty cough. I haven’t actively looked for anything to fix this but I stumbled upon a pin the other day that looked promising.

The recipe comes from the blog, Good Food Matters. Since I have no expertise in this area, I didn’t stray from the recipe except to make a double batch. ;)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons local honey

Local honey, apple cider vinegar, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper.

When I found the recipe I was delighted that I had ALL of the ingredients. Local honey is preferred due to its pollen content – I try to eat the stuff every single day. Here in Austin we have delicious wildflower honeys! An organic apple cider vinegar is preferred, but I had cheap stuff for my hair rinse and that’s what I used.

I used a small glass jar with an airtight lid.

I am not sure what size the container is, but I made a double batch of the above listed ingredients. This jar fit that with room to spare and I mixed it all up in here, as well.

Ginger and cayenne pepper.

First I put the ground ginger and cayenne pepper into the container. At this point I have only put enough for one batch. After I mixed it all up I decided it was so delicious I would just fill the jar up.

ACV, water, and dry ingredients.

Stir the apple cider vinegar and water in with the dry ingredients and mix well. Mine did not dissolve all the way, but I don’t think that is necessary. The next step is to add the honey and stir well, or shake vigorously.

Sweet and spicy, all-natural cough remedy.

The blog’s author says to take 1 teaspoon as needed for a cough. I had a bit of a cough today and took some with much success! The true test will be the next time my boyfriend gets sick, so I will update then. In the meantime, this is great to kick that allergy or summer cold cough!

Finished smoothie cups - I just covered the top of the bowl and stuck it in the freezer.

Smoothie Cups & Smoothie Recipe

I have never been a smoothie fan, mostly because I am lazy. It just seems like so much effort to wake up every morning and WORK to make a breakfast that is supposed to give you energy to work. You know what I mean? I tend to prefer oatmeal (it’s pretty quick) or the classic “no breakfast” routine. Unfortunately, that is not something my body can take anymore and I’m looking for ways to branch out into other meals besides dinner. (It is so unhealthy to just eat that one meal at the end of the day and it’s something I’ve done for years. I am not a huge advocate of 6+ meals or anything, but two is a bare minimum for myself these days.)

I found the pin not long before I had a fainting spell I attribute to low iron intake. A couple of people have recommended that I throw leafy greens into a smoothie and drink it to boost my iron levels, so when I was prepping food for my first week of classes (that’s this week!) I decided I would give these a shot. The recipe is brought to you from the blog Muffin Tin Mania. You should definitely check this one out in your spare time! Tons of great recipes using a muffin pan. Who doesn’t enjoy perfect portions? Anyway, I changed up the fruit in the cups and I mixed up my smoothie a bit differently, but seriously… amazing.

It looks intimidating to me, to be honest.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 cups frozen peaches & raspberries

I froze fresh raspberries and a peach for my fruit.

The author of the recipe used 2 cups of frozen mangoes instead of the raspberries and peaches. I am not a huge fan of mangoes so I decided I would try it out with my favorite fruits. I bought some strawberries as well, but the raspberries and peach turned out to  be 2 cups of fruit. I chopped the peach and mixed it with the raspberries to freeze for a while. I probably didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to use the fruit frozen for consistency. :P

Coconut water (not milk!), almonds in the mini chopper, and fresh mint.

The recipe says to mix everything in the order listed, and that is exactly what I did. I chopped my almonds a bit to spare my blender some pain, then I poured them into the blender with the coconut water and 2 cups of spinach. I gave this a few pulses to start blending up the nuts.

Baby spinach and celery stalks, pre-chop.

I chopped up 2 stalks of celery and put them in the blender with the fresh mint. I gave that a few more pulses and moved on. It’s pretty green at this point.

Frozen fruit, orange, and honey & ginger powder in the back.

I tossed in half an orange, and I left most of the pith on as well. I added the honey and ginger in with the orange – I recommend buying local honey if possible. I buy different varieties of honey local to Austin, and I LOVE wildflower honeys. I blended this together real quick, then added the frozen raspberries and peach.

This is NOT the smoothie; this is the mixture going into the muffin pan.

I have a 5-cup blender and it was just able to hold all of this green goodness. I will note that my almonds are not extremely fine so they are still visible and have a crunch to them in the finished smoothie. This does not bother me at all, but just a heads up for anyone with picky tastes. This is easy to fix by chopping them in a food processor.

I filled 12 muffin cups and put it in the freezer overnight.

The whole blender filled 12 muffin cups in a pan. It was just a little bit too much but no problem at all. I overfilled some of mine a bit and I’m glad I did. It’s so delicious I don’t want to waste any. I froze mine overnight.

Out of the freezer the next morning, they are slightly red!

Mine did not turn out as green as the author’s, thanks to my raspberries. They have a bright red layer on top that just begs to be licked – they are also sticky from the honey and fruit mixture. At first they were stuck in there, so I just set the bottom of the muffin pan in some warm water and loosened them up a bit. I used a fork to start prying and then they easily popped out.

Finished smoothie cups – I just covered the top of the bowl and stuck it in the freezer.

I have recently switched to a vegetarian diet, and I have cut out most processed foods. Since I am trying to cram a lot of nutrients into my meals, I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to value-add. The author mixed 2 smoothie cups with 1 cup of coconut water, or water. Here’s how I did mine:

The components of a delicious, healthy breakfast!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Smoothie Cups
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 whole banana

Smoothie with banana and almond milk.

I chopped the banana up a bit, and just to make my blender’s poor life a little easier, I cut the frozen cups into quarters. You could probably make them in mini muffin pans and save yourself some trouble. I poured in 1 cup of almond milk and blended it up. It was so wonderful! It tastes clean – can food taste clean?! The mint is very refreshing and the sweetness of my favorite fruits combined with the honey mask the taste of any veggies. I am going to keep making these and I have a feeling I am going to be hooked!

Finished artwork. :)

“Black Hole” Crayon Art

Since this is an ever-changing project, I feel compelled to share multiple instances of it while I work out different techniques. On my first crayon art project I attempted to make circles with the crayons to create a “sunburst” effect. It didn’t turn out the way I initially envisioned it in my head, but I absolutely loved the finished product. Though I like to think they are all open to interpretation, it reminds me of a solar flare. Since I had a second piece of canvas and extra crayons, I decided to create something that was darker, but still keeping with the theme.

When I started this piece of art I was thinking about galaxies and nebulas. I see tons of images of space all over Pinterest that inspire me and by the time I was done with the project it had turned into a black hole. Still, I love the artwork and I am so fascinated by “painting” with crayons! I have yet to work on the crayon art that has the crayons actually attached to the canvas, but I will get to that one day. For now, I am going to keep playing with this technique.

Greens, blues, purples, and violets with grey, black, & white.

Crayons & glitter with stretched canvas.

Since I used yellows, oranges, and reds in the last artwork, and both will be going on a wall in my office at work, I wanted to use the cooler end of the color spectrum in this piece. I used two colors that tie in both pieces, though they are not both pictured in the posts – yellow green and red violet. The red violet was my “flare” in the first piece, and the yellow green had two bright splashes in the base color. I did the same with the yellow green in this piece as you will see.

Blue green, blue, cerulean, and indigo – base colors.

The base colors of this piece are mostly blues. Again, I did not take pictures of the boring task of removing the crayon wrappers, but it must be done to paint this way! I started with cerulean (unintentionally), then did a blue layer, then a blue green layer, and finally used the indigo to create a “night sky” look.

The first layer of cerulean crayon.

The second layer with blue, in addition to the cerulean.

The third and fourth layer with blue green and indigo, plus blue & cerulean.

To get the “smears”, I just heated the crayons and rolled them across the canvas until the wax dried – very quickly. The lines I was able to draw by heating the point of the crayon, letting the wax pool, then dragging quickly while heating with the dryer.

I continued to add more blues in the base to give it a very full background.

As I did in the first project, I let the ends of the crayons drip down the edges and I moved the wax around and down by blowing on it with the dryer. It’s pretty easy to do and another reason I am glad I only have a travel-size hair dryer. Any additional power would have blown the wax too much.

I added the first neutral, grey. You can also see the first smear of yellow green.

I will admit that when I started adding the grey I got a little bit nervous. The last project didn’t have any neutral colors in it so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping the gray would mix well with the other colors and lighten it up a bit, but it was too dark a grey I think. I soldiered on, though.

The background is now filled in with blues and grey.

Once I filled in the entire piece of canvas with the blues and grey, I was ready to add other colors. At this point I haven’t used any glitter as I wanted to reserve that for the “stars” in the galaxy. I haven’t figured out that I am going for the black hole just yet, but it’s not too long before it takes shape.

The start of a black hole – it’s very intense here.

I used gold glitter in the “black hole”. It started out looking very intimidating. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to turn it into anything or if I would have to pivot on the idea. Fortunately, there are still a few colors to go and plenty of time to move the wax around.

I started by adding green that spreads vertically between the black and the yellow green.

Some of the different galaxy/nebula images are done in beautiful green colors so I wanted to add some green in to create a “gas cloud” type of look. I also thought it would blend the yellow green and blue green into the picture nicely.

The next color was blue violet which I used to blend with the indigo.

Since I blended the green into the yellow- and blue green, I decided to use the blue violet to blend into the indigo and black. It also blends nicely with the grey. I used a light green glitter on the green wax, and I used a light pink glitter on the blue violet wax. So far there are just a few sprinkles of glitter, but it’s starting to come together a bit more and I am less nervous about the whole project.

I’ve added violet and red violet now to round out the colors I’m using.

The last colors, minus white, I added were the violet and red violet. They weren’t really used to blend anything specifically, but I used them to form a sort of “cloud” around the black hole to separate it from the blue “sky”. I used the same light pink glitter on the violet, and I used a red glitter on the red violet. Now I just need to add in the white touches and finish it up.

I’ve added white around the “color clouds” and the black hole.

The white made it appear more “cloud-like”, and I sprinkled silver glitter in the white wax. You may notice that at this point the picture has flipped vertically. I didn’t have the other pictures and I forgot which end I had up.

Finished artwork. :)

To add some finishing touches to the piece, I added some additional white around the black hole and I used the dryer to blend it both into the black and into the color. I also went back and added some touch-ups of the blue base toward the corners. I moved some wax around in the center to finish it off. The last thing I did was spray it with a couple of coats of gloss Mod Podge sealer. This is so the glitter won’t come off. I absolutely love the finished project!! I’m not sure if I love it as much as the “Solar Flare” but it’s obviously a close second. ;)

Notice my hideous cutting skills!

Chewy Vanilla Cherry Almond Bars

Don’t you hate when you find something you love on Pinterest, then forget to pin it? Well, I found a recipe for some chewy energy bars a while back that had dried cherries in them and apparently I forgot to pin the recipe. I have looked all over for it, but decided to just search “dried cherries” on Pinterest. I did not find what I was looking for but I found something better – almonds, dried cherries, and dates. I love cherries and dried cherries are no different. I also happen to love dates, but I find they are too sweet to eat by themselves. This is a wonderful way to cut the sweetness and still get some yummy dates in my diet.

The recipe was found at Creative Juices for Decor and she says they are a homemade version of Cherry Pie LaraBars. I’ve personally never eaten a Lara Bar, as I normally don’t buy into diet foods and prepackaged anything. Apparently this is a pretty wholesome brand, but nothing beats homemade and they are cheaper from scratch if you’ve got time to make them. I changed the recipe up by adding one ingredient: vanilla bean paste.

Ingredient List:

  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried pitted cherries
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Almonds, dried sweet cherries (no sugar added), and Medjool dates.

Dried sweet cherries – found in the bulk section, prepacked so I bought a few.

Medjool dates, found in the bulk section.

The first thing you’ll want to do is chop the almonds if you bought whole ones. The recipe says to chop them in the food processor but that is quite frankly too much noise for me, so I hand chopped them in a mini chopper.

Chopped almonds using my mini food chopper. I love this thing!

You’ll also want to pit the dates. I will admit that I did not even think about pitting mine (I’ve even eaten these things before!) and didn’t realize it until I turned the food processor on with the cherries and dates inside. Turns out that is a very handy way to pit the things, though! With a few good pulses I was able to pick all of the pits out and continue on my way to “energy” bar bliss. :)

Cherries and whole dates in the food processor – 1 cup of each.

The cherries and dates will form a ball, more or less.

Once you mix the cherries and dates really well, the recipe says to transfer the fruit mixture into a mixer with the almonds. I do not own a Kitchen Aid mixer and my hand mixer was probably not interested in this project. I put the fruit mixture in a large glass bowl, then I added in the chopped almonds and the vanilla bean paste.

Fruit mixture, chopped almonds, and vanilla bean paste.

Instead of using a mixer, I just started by chopping it all together with a wooden spoon. This was not an exact science and it didn’t need to look pretty. I’m not sharing. :P

Fruit mixture combined with nuts and vanilla.

After I got it chopped really well, I used my hands to knead the rest of the almonds in. Then I put the mixture on a piece of wax paper and placed another piece on top so I could spread it out. For some reason I also do not own a rolling pin (ikr?) so I just used my hands to press the mixture out between the wax paper. I used the bottom of one of the mixing cups to flatten it.

Mixture in between two pieces of wax paper to spread it out.

This is the first spread of fruit mixture.

I used a pizza cutter to cut the bars into rectangles. Again, I’ve never eaten a LaraBar so I don’t know the accurate size. Mine were not all uniform and I got 7 bars out of it.

First cut of bars and remaining mixture.

I just cut the rectangles and then re-rolled the mixture to cut it again. It was pretty easy to do and didn’t take long at all.

I stored mine in between wax paper layers in a glass pan with a lid.

Notice my hideous cutting skills!

I was extremely impressed with these bars! I am now interested in trying various flavors because it’s a great snack and they don’t take long. These cost approximately $10 to make, and that is an exaggerated amount because I am too lazy to do the real math on the cost. They taste great and I am glad I added the vanilla in. I am storing them in the refrigerator and I am trying my best not to eat them all tonight. Seriously delicious! :)

"Solar Flare" artwork ready to be hung in my office!

“Solar Flare” Crayon Art

I loved “colors” as a kid, and nothing was more exciting than opening a fresh box of Crayola Crayons and getting to work on a coloring book. Now that I am grown I still love color, but I don’t really have much time for coloring. In my hours of browsing through Pinterest I have come across several different varieties of crayon art that I am in love with. Two of my favorite pieces of art can be found at these sites: the blog My Chocolate Moments and a glorious seller on Etsy, JKCreate. Who knew melting crayons would be so wonderful?! Anyway, I decided I’d give this a shot. It is my first attempt at real artwork, so I was a bit nervous. It turned out fine, though.

We needed artwork to put on the walls in my office so I decided I wanted something original on my wall. We have a small office and my coworker and I wanted to put art on the 3 walls we have to brighten the room. We have a window that looks out into the lobby of our office building and we have a skylight that gives some sunlight into our office. It’s not real sunlight, but it’s a natural glow. When I started to pick out the items for the artwork I was thinking about a sunburst with glitter around the edges of each circle burst.

Canvas, crayons, superfine glitter, hair dryer.

Superfine glitters. I picked these up at Hobby Lobby.

 

 

The glitter package had some really pretty red & pink colors so I decided to throw in some red and violet crayons. I didn’t take a picture of the boring part, but I had to peel the wrapper off of the crayons which is a little bit of a pain. No worries, though. Idle hands are the Devil’s playground. It’s easy work to do. In my head I am still envisioning a sunburst but I am seriously underestimating my ability to melt & quickly twirl crayons.

Unwrapped base colors in yellow to red orange, silver to orange glitters.

First “bursts” in yellow – these were pretty hard to do and kept getting harder.

I purchased a travel-size hair dryer for this project. I actually don’t use a hair dryer for myself so I wasn’t interested in spending a lot of money for one. I am glad I made this decision because any bigger and it probably would have burned my fingers. It took about a minute to get a really good drip and you have to twirl quickly because: 1) if you take the hair dryer away they cool very quickly, and 2) if you leave the hair dryer on it blows the wax all over the canvas. This comes in handy later but for now I am just thinking “bursts”.

Yellow, Golden Yellow, Apricot, Orange

As I twirled each crayon in a circle, I sprinkled glitter around the edges of the bursts. I used silver glitter around the edges of yellow, gold around the edges of the golden yellow, bronze around the apricot, and copper around the orange. Again, another reason I am glad I purchased a cheap dryer (about $13.00) is that it is covered in glitter. :) I am not great at photography and these are all taken on a cell phone camera, so I didn’t take a ton of pictures of the process. It was tough to get pictures of the twirling action but I used my fingers and heated the ends of the crayons to get the circles.

Circles have started spreading from the dryer and I’ve started painting some of the crayons on.

 

There is one smear of yellow green crayon on the far right and it was too green for the project. I left it and later added one other smear of yellow green on the other side and it looks great. By this point I am just trying to get it mostly filled in with the yellow to orange colors before I add in my red, red violet, and violet red. I have already used some red orange and scarlet in the above photo. I wanted the edges to have a drip so they wouldn’t be plain. I did this by hanging the pointed edges of the crayon right at the edge and blowing on them until they pooled up, then using the dryer to spread it down the edges. It worked really well this way.

This is after I’ve finished adding the red-violets.

 

I didn’t get pictures of the red to violet red parts, but I twirled a couple of smaller pieces of the red and violet red to make small flares, and then got the tips really melted and drew lines through and around the bursts. This is how I got the colors to the one spot towards the top in this picture. I turned it upside down later and like it the other way around.

“Solar Flare” artwork ready to be hung in my office!

I signed the upper right corner (yeah, it’s at the top! what of it?) and I sprayed it with a Gloss Mod Podge sealer. I did this so the glitter wouldn’t come off. I absolutely love it! I am going to make a second one and I will post more about that project later! I am so excited and my boss loves it. This was such a fun project and I definitely recommend giving it a shot when you have some free time. It would be really fun with a group of friends!

finished1

Red Lentil, Rice, & Potato Stew

Okay, I admit that this did not come from Pinterest. I bought some spices and shenanigans at the Savory Spice Shop and I wanted to find a use for this tomato & honey powder I bought. The tomato & honey powder is a mixture intended for a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, but I knew I would find another use for it. I liked the idea of something creamy so I modeled the recipe after the Tikka Masala. I pretty much threw together some of my favorite foods with some spices.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium Yukon potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter*
  • 1 package tomato & honey powder (OR 8 ounces tomato sauce & 1 teaspoon honey)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream*
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere Ethiopian style seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

*If you are not a strict vegan and don’t mind the honey powder, the butter can be replaced with coconut or palm oil and the sour cream can be removed to make this without animal fats. I am personally a fan of  butter and dairy products, though.

Potatoes, tomato & honey powder, Berbere Ethiopian style seasoning, lemon, butter, sour cream, & baby spinach

Directions:

Prepare tomato & honey powder by mixing with 8 ounces of water; set aside.

Tomato & honey powder mixed with water, lemon, sour cream, baby spinach

Rinse lentils and rice, then combine in a large stock pan. Add vegetable broth and 1-2 cups of water, depending in how thin you like your stew. Bring to a boil, then simmer until rice is tender. While this is cooking, you can start the potatoes.

Red lentils & brown rice cooked in vegetable broth

In a cast iron skillet, melt butter and seasonings. Mash 1 clove of garlic and saute in skillet. Chop the potatoes in the shape of your choice – I sliced mine but dicing would be great, too. Add to the skillet and cook potatoes until they are just soft.

Sliced potatoes sauteed in butter, a clove of garlic, and Berbere Ethiopian style seasoning

Add the lemon juice, salt, and tomato paste mixture to the potatoes in the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add sour cream and continue cooking until potatoes are tender.

Tomato paste combined with potatoes

Potatoes with tomato paste and sour cream

Once the potatoes are tender, you will combine the potatoes with the lentils & rice.

Brown rice and red lentils before potatoes are mixed in.

Red lentil, rice, & potato stew served with baby spinach.

I am a picture failure and did not get a picture of the whole pot after it was finished. However, I served mine with some of my marinated mozzarella balls and some baby spinach. It was so delicious that I had 2 bowls. It was mildly spicy and just a little bit sweet. I enjoyed it and I will have some leftovers for a couple of days which makes me happy. It’s one of those dishes that is going to be better the second time around, I believe!

Homemade Watercolors Drying

Homemade Watercolors: Baking Soda, Vinegar, Corn Starch, & Corn Syrup

I recently stumbled upon a recipe for homemade watercolors. Now, I don’t have any children in my house, but I do have a nephew and the opportunity to make things for him that are non-toxic is something that I cannot pass up. I found the idea at Meet the Dubiens – she made rainbow watercolors that are beautiful! I didn’t have rainbow gel colors, so I just used what I had. Apparently what I had was the Wilton bland flower collection: golden yellow, rose petal, violet, cornflower blue, leaf green, and forest green.

I bought the containers at the Dollar General for $2.00. The lids snap on – they are a little big for the amount the recipe  makes, but it’s no big deal. They worked fine! Each color calls for: 2 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon lite corn syrup. I mixed them all in a small bowl.

I had to use a little more vinegar than the recipe called for. The first color I made was purple and I accidentally left out part of the corn starch. It was super thin and would never have dried! I realized it quickly, washed it down the drain, and started over. I wish I could adequately explain the correct consistency – it starts to take a solid shape when you let it set, but it turns back liquid when you stir it around. It’s fun. :)

Notice it almost hangs off of the fork. It will still easily pour into your containers. It’s almost fun to play with it like this! As far as the amount of gel food coloring to use, it depends on how dark you want your colors. Remember, they are watercolors so they will appear muted on paper!

When I poured them into their containers, the color started to “separate” as they dried. I made my first three colors and decided to wait a while before I started again. I gave them time to dry and be sure it wasn’t messed up. Obviously, the separation freaked me out a bit.

Once dried, they still appear separated, but I don’t think it’s going to affect them much. After the first three colors dried, I was more comfortable finishing up the project.

I threw together 5 more colors and they are now drying on my kitchen cabinet. The first three colors are completely dry (after about 48 hours) and I can try them out anytime I want!

Notice on the far right, the blue almost looks powdery. That is completely dried out. I will post some pictures when I get around to painting them. In the meantime, I am allowing my other colors to dry and trying to decide what to paint!