A Pretzel-Dog Kind-O-Day

Pretzel fun

 

Scott wanted to have a fun stay-at-home baseball date night where we watch the Red Sox beat Kansas City while eating hot dogs and soft pretzels, as if we never missed a day at Fenway Park. Sadly the game was postponed due to rain. But we still had all the makings for a fun night “at the park”. We decided to proceed with our date-night anyhow.

Instead of hot dogs on regular, plain-old buns I decided to whip up some pretzel dough to make our own pretzel buns. Because A.) pretzel buns are the bomb B.) it’s combining two of our favorite parts of being at a ballgame in one fell swoop C.) you’re eating less carbs overall if you’re taking out the buns entirely and D.) they clearly don’t sell the right number of buns in a package. So, bingo…pretzel wrapped dogs it is.

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The pretzels turned out super tasty (better than expected…because I’m never a great baker) and the dough was pretty simple to make! Of course the hot dogs were right on because we got Hebrew Nationals (closest to Fenway Franks you’ll find, I think). All-in-all it was a great success and I want to show you what we did!

The recipes I used are adapted from a combination of two sites. I followed this recipe for ingredients and how-to’s up until I finished kneading for 5 minutes. I continued my journey with these steps after the dough had risen and was ready to be rolled and prepared. The second recipe is actually for a beer pretzel (yum!) but I didn’t have beer on hand….Feel free to give that one a go!

Here we go:

Combine your yeast, sugar, salt and water

Dissolve 2 1/4 tsp of yeast (or 1 pkt), 2 tbs of brown sugar, and 1 tsp of salt in 1 1/2 C. warm water.

Wait until yeast is bubbly then add flour and mix with wooden spoon until incorporated

Knead dough

Knead your dough on a clean and floured surface for 5 minutes

pretzels

Put Dough in greased bowl and cover for 45 minutes

It’s suggested to cover the dough while letting it rise. I did just that. I made sure it would be the same towel I will be using in another step…so make sure it’s clean and hair/lint free!

Pretzel Time!

Portion your dough

After a patiently awaited 45 minutes cut the dough into 8 pieces (cut in 1/2, then 1/4s, then 1/8s)

pretzels1

Roll your dough into a rope

Take a piece of dough and roll it with your hands to form a rope. From there, form it into whatever shape you wish.

To wrap a hotdog…

…Start at one end, pinch the dough to the dog, and roll until you’ve covered the hot dog how you like.

pretzel

Pretzel

Our wrapped hot dogs and pretzels ready to go!

Preheat Oven

Preheat to 450° before you begin the next few steps. The timing should be right on.

Boil Water in a shallow pan

Once boiling, carefully add 1/2 cup of baking soda. It tends to fizz and bubble a lot! Make sure not to over fill your pan with water. There should be enough to cover about half of a pretzel.

 

pretzels2

Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds

Spoon water over the pretzel to ensure they’re boiled evenly. Place directly on a towel to absorb excess moisture.

Make Egg Wash

Whip your egg yolk in a small bowl.

egg wash

One of Scotts fancy pretzels fell apart so we made pretzel sticks instead 😉

Place your pretzels on parchment lined baking sheets

Paint on the egg wash & sprinkle course sea salt if you wish. Now you’re ready to bake!

pretzel

We didn’t have course sea salt, and if you don’t either I don’t suggest regular table salt. It would bring out a funky taste IMO.

This was our hopeful attempt to be as cool as Pretzel Time or Auntie Annie’s Pretzels. I filmed a slo-mo of the most anticlimactic pretzeling ever. It’s kind-of worth a watch. Haha call this a blooper if you will…

 

..I know, I know you were hoping for this:

making-pretzels

 

I hope this has inspired you to do something fun in the kitchen. I’m not usually one to tell people to go eat hot dogs…but I do believe that we have to keep a balance and adding a hot dog to our diet once in a while is okay. 🙂

Baseball Date Night
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4 C. Flour
  • 2¼ Tsp. active dry yeast = 1 pkt
  • 2 TBS. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1½ C. Warm Water
  • ½ C Baking Soda
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. Combine warm water, yeast, and brown sugar.
  2. Allow yeast to dissolve and bubble. Then add salt and stir a bit.
  3. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined.
  4. Clean and dry a good surface area so you can add flour and knead your dough.
  5. Knead dough on floured surface for those 5 minutes
  6. Grease a bowl and place kneaded dough, covered, for 45 minutes.
  7. Dough is ready when you can stick your finger in it and your print remains.
  8. Divide dough into 8 equal parts.
  9. Roll dough into long rope.
  10. Place the end of your rope on the end of your hotdog and pinch it together.
  11. Continue to wrap the rope around the hotdog until the desired amount of dog is covered.
  12. Pinch any excess dough and start a "scrap" pile.
  13. Continue wrapping as many dogs as you please or turn your rope into a regular pretzel or pretzel stick.
  14. Boil water in a shallow pan
  15. Preheat Oven to 450
  16. Slowly and carefully add baking soda to boiling water, it will bubble!
  17. Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds
  18. Place boiled pretzels on a clean towel to catch excess moisture
  19. Whip 1 egg yolk to paint an egg wash over the pretzels
  20. Place all pretzels on parchment lined baking sheet
  21. Apply egg wash and course sea salt as desired
  22. Bake for 11-13 minutes until browned.

 

 

My Corner Bookmark

On one of my days off I felt like doing something simple, fun, creative but not labor intensive. I was feeling lazy yet ambitious…what a weird combination, right? I was catching up on my Crafty Girls videos and saw one that was super useful for me, a corner bookmark. I have a small agenda book that I keep in my purse but can never find what page I’m on without taking a million years. Worry no more, problem solved!

I followed their instructions like so:

corner bookmark1

So, I didn’t get as creative with my decorations as the girls did (I think that was my combination of ambition and laziness). If I decide to pretty it up I will update! But for now…I can keep my place in my agenda book with this cute, nifty marker. Thanks Crafty Girls!

cornerbookmark2

You should do it….because why not? Use a fun newspaper article, a comic, your favorite magazine, the possibilities are endless and this is something that can be useful!

♥Amber

 

5 Minute Picture Holder Project

picture hanging proj1

Yesterday I was in a purging mood. Get. Rid. Of. Everything! I am on the minamlist track and every time I get rid of stuff (yea it’s just “stuff”) I feel like I’ve lifted 50 pounds from my shoulders. It’s so refreshing! But to make a long story short…I was sick of looking at photos that had no home. I was sticking them in tight spaces behind a frame and they would just stick out and look misplaced.

Here is the before & after:

picture hanging proj

See how cluttered it was? It’s small potatoes compared to the rest of the clutter throughout the house…but it was annoying me. It also allowed me to use some of the things in my craft drawer (meaning–less things in the craft drawer in the end!).

All I used was:

  • 3 flat wood pieces from home depot (they’re something like $.15 or $.25 a piece)
  • Clothes Pins (from the dollar store)
  • Leftover Magnetic Clipboard Clips (from dollar bin at target)
  • Wood Stain (for clothes pins)
    • You can leave them as is, paint them, stain them…whatever you want!
  • Paint Brush
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Paper bag (or newspaper…anything to protect the ground)

Most of my projects are spur of the moment and this one definitely  was.

I just so happened to see everything laying in the right place at the right time so I gave it a go.

picture hanging project

This was ridiculously easy. I just chose where to glue my pins and clips and before I knew it I was done. I didn’t even have to wait for it to dry (like I would have with Gorilla Glue). Now I can switch out the photos whenever I want and change them as the kiddos grow and things change. I’m missing a whole lot of family in these photos–but this was what I had from the holidays.

The holders also happen to match the shoe storage I have on the other side of the tv. Yayy! I think it’s the raw wood look. Anywho….hopefully I’ve inspired you to use some of the junk from you’re junk drawer ;-).

IMG_3785 IMG_3787 picture hanging

 

Have a great day!

<3 Amber

This entry was posted in DIY.

Beard King Knockoff Bib

haircutting bib1I saw this incredible video while browsing the interwebs:

My kneejerk reaction was that I had to get one for Scott. With the click of a button I was on their website and they go for $30 a piece excluding shipping. Okay, okay it’s a pretty darn good idea…I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it myself (the story of my life) but IMO $30+ is a bit high. Beard King invented it and it’s brilliant…but not all of us are about that life (spending $30 on a cape with suction cups.) SO, I’ve decided to try to make my own. I want to credit them for the idea…but I also want other people with the time and supplies to make one of their own!

Valentine’s day gift anyone? What boyfriend/fiance/husband wouldn’t want to save time and the hassle of cleaning up after shaving? Especially men with serious beards! Or how about women who like to maintain their bangs? Think about how useful this can be.

It looks like a few others have had similar ideas. Amazon sells these–but only in the U.K:

Carlton Nonstick Hair Cutting Cloak Umbrella Cape Salon Barber Hairdressing Gown Family For Adult Haircut Barber Cloak Overclothes Cape Haircut Dye Hair Bibs Haircut Cape Khak

Hair Catch Cape Icc-40 Blue (Japan Import)

In other words…we can’t have them–Let’s make our own!

Here’s what I used:

  • Hair cutting cape
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Suction cups with hooks
  • Sewing machine (you can totally do it by hand too)

Evidently, I find IMovie quite entertaining. I’d never used it before but with the click of a few buttons I had this silly little video:

In Detail:

I started by measuring my cape and figuring out how much I would cut off of each side.

Haircutting Bib

I decided I needed 9 or so inches from both sides. *(See Critique)

Haircutting Bib

I measured out the size for my pocket to use for later (9″x11″). I folded the material at the top, made the pocket two layers, and cut off additional fabric. When your pocket is attached you’ll notice that having two layers allows for an additional storage pocket, say, for a razor & comb.

haircutting bib

haircutting bibThen I  added the suction cups.

I cut two decent sized x’s on either side of the cape opposite the part that goes around your neck.

haircutting bib

Then, I poked them through and glued them to the fabric.

haircutting bib

Be sure not to over-glue it!

I proceeded to lightly iron my cape because I knew that sewing would be difficult in such a wrinkled state. I was very patient at first, using it at a moderately low temperature. Of course, I got impatient and turned up the heat. Oops…don’t try that at home.

haircutting bib

Make your loops: Most haircutting capes come with a loop on one side for hanging at the salon. This cape had one, so I finagled the other side into one by taking out some stitches, unfolding the little piece of fabric and turning it into a loop. It’s definitely smaller than the other side but it will serve its purpose.

haircutting bib

I pinned the pocket where I wanted it to be on the apron. I put it on the under side so it won’t get hair stuck in it during shaving/trimming.

haircutting bib

Sew your pocket on however you desire. I broke out my sewing machine. I’m not very proficient at sewing but it got the job done.haircutting bib

Add the magnetic buttons.  Simply cut two holes for the stakes and push them through. There should be an additional piece  to protect the side where the stakes will fold over. Add that piece and tighten.

haircutting bib

The Finished Product:

haircutting bib

haircutting bib

This was really a spur of the moment project and it took me hardly any time. It’s definitely imperfect…there are dangling strings in different places and of course a burn hole (which I need to sew!) but it’s still saving the hassle of cleaning up after shaving. Yahoo!

* A Couple Critiques:

  • The hubs wishes it was a bit shorter and I agree. When I make my next one  I will take 9″ from the bottom as well. This way the cape won’t cover your reflection when you stick the suction cups to the mirror and there will be more of a hammock effect when it’s hanging.
  • A different fabric will probably be more long lasting. The one I used is a silk-like material because it’s what I had on hand. The capes from Sally’s will probably work out even better.

haircutting bib

Overall, this project can cost around $17 and that’s being liberal.  Yay for half the cost and a fun, new DIY project to add to the mix!

  • My suction cups are from target ($2.99)
  • Sally’s sells capes (for between $5-10).
  • Magnetic buttons are sold at Wal-Mart ($4) but you also might get lucky and find them at the dollar store.

An overview of what you need to do:

Beard King Knockoff Bib
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Make the cape about 20-25" wide by cutting the sides Cut the extra fabric to the size you'd like your pocket/bag for the bib (I made mine 9"x11") Make hooks on the button side (to hang on suction cups when if you need a break of any sort) Prepare to fix any imperfections you may have in your cape (mine was used and had some rips). Attach suction cups, pocket & magnetic buttons.
Recipe type: Crafty
Serves: 1 Hair Catching Bib
Ingredients
  • A Cape
  • 2 Suction Cups
  • 1 Magnetic button (or close of choice)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • White pencil for marking
  • Tape Measure
  • Thread & needle or Sewing Machine
Instructions
  1. Make the cape about 20-25" wide by cutting the sides off
  2. Cut the extra fabric to the size you'd like your pocket/bag for the bib (I made mine 9"x11")
  3. Make loops (on the side that fastens around your neck) for hanging on suction cups if you need a break of any sort
  4. Prepare to fix any imperfections you may have in your cape (mine was used and had some rips)
  5. Make holes & push suction cups through
  6. Glue Suction Cups to fabric
  7. Sew pocket onto underside of bib (you'll know based on the suction cups)
  8. Attach magnetic buttons to bag while contents inside
  9. Voila!
This entry was posted in DIY.

Essential Oil & Other Natural Ideas for the Minimalist in you

lavendar

This is my ridiculous list of weird habits and things I do around the house for health, beauty & cleanliness.

I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the minimalist natural cleaners and essential oils over the past few years. I love the idea of keeping a bleach free home. For my birthday last year my family gave me an Amazon giftcard which I promptly used to purchase a shiny new oil diffuser/humidifier.  Thank-you!!!Mammoth Air Purifier Serenity® Aromatherapy Essential Oil Ultrasonic Diffuser & Humidifier 135mL with LED, Cool Mist, Whisper Quiet, Green Scented Essential Oil Fragrance Scent Spa Diffusers with Replacement Warranty - light Wood / Bamboo

At first I purchased the “Mammoth”. It was beautiful, but I clearly hadn’t read the description telling me it only held 135 ml of water! That only lasts about an hour if you keep it going. Even if you keep it on intermittent it didn’t last very long!

So I decided to return it which meant I had to wait for another one to get here. Grr! But that’s the biggest first world problem ever. Meanwhile, I ordered a 500ml, super simple humidifier. It lights up all fancy and can change colors and stuff, but I don’t really use that part of it.

I love, love, love having a humidifier that can handle essential oils. There’s a ratio of 2-3 drops per 100ml of water so that the machine doesn’t clog. It’s a great product.

Along with the humidifier I purchased a set of essential oils. I shopped and shopped around until I found something that was still good quality at a good price.

In conjunction with the humidifier I also use my  candle warmer. It looks gross because I put coconut oil in it as a carrier oil. I think it has a pleasant smell and it burns nicely. There aren’t as many benefits from the oils from just using a heating element like this one, which is why I bought the humidifer/diffuser.

Here’s a fun cheat sheet that breaks down what the oils are good for and how to use them properly:

Pin this Essential Oil Uses Chart so you'll always have it handy! It includes scent, uses, healing benefits and mood associated with each essential oils ★facebook.com/purasentials★:

I don’t have all of these oils. In fact I only have; Lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, orange & frankincense but that is enough for me to get used to for now.

Beauty treatments - yogurt for skin and hair

Quirky  things I do before I shower & wash my hair:

1. I put yogurt on my scalp and bring it through to my ends. I usually use Greek yogurt (unflavored–or else
it’s sticky) because that’s what I usually have on hand.

2. I put yogurt on my face. I have to prepare myself for the cold, but it’s worth it because I know the benefits.

3. I use an essential oil mixture for my scalp when I’m not using yogurt. In a jar I combined jojoba and castor oil as carriers and added rosemary and frankincense essentials.  This particular recipe recommends adding  cedarwood and progessence oil, too.

Honestly, I am lucky to have pretty thick hair (but it’s oh-so-porous). So on days that I don’t wash my hair I’ll occasionally throw some of the oil mixture on my scalp in places you can’t see. Why? It’s good for me and it smells good! If I don’t go the oil route I use my most recent obsession; Wella’s “Dry Me” dry shampoo. That’s definitely not on my natural list…but it smells awesome.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Frankincense Essential Oil and how to apply it in the best way. Features the Essentially 4-U Purple Roll On Bottle:

Back to cleaning–I also love making refresher sprays with vinegar and my oil of choice. I use this spray for Nessa’s dog bed, my bed, and other areas with fabric surfaces (curtains, carpets, couches, etc). It’s the bomb.com and you no longer need to buy all that Febreeze stuff.

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 soap (18 uses–1 soap) I am here to rant and rave about it. Let me start by telling you that a giant container of tea tree 18-in-1 sits in my shower and I use it for shaving cream & body wash. Scott uses it for shampoo. And of course there’s the famous debate over the 18-in-1 soap and vinegar combination. Should you or should you not combine the two? Generally castille soap curdles when mixed with vinegar, so it’s not advised. However, I’ve added a little bit to my soap and never had an issue. That being said, it’s probably easiest to avoid the situation all together and have two separate spray bottles. One for Dr. Bronner’s and one for vinegar. Vinegar is ridiculously useful to have on its own anyway.

Dr. Bronner's soap

This website gives a comprehensive list of products that shouldn’t be combined along with great alternatives.

Natural Ingredients to Avoid Combining: Why You Need to Avoid Castile Soap, Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Hydrogen Peroxide!

Have I mentioned hydrogen peroxide? Here I go again. I love the way it fizzes when it’s working hard. If you have a minute, spray some into your sink and listen for the bubbles (or maybe you’re ridiculously clean and leave no germs behind when you brush your teeth).  Oh the things I find entertaining….

H202 I love you!

It’s such a versatile product. So versatile in fact that one moment you can swish it in your mouth and the next you can clean your toilet, counters, bathtub, floors and so on.

I could go on all day with the things I do around the house. I could also spend weeks experimenting with new oil recipes. This stuff seriously fascinates me! I have to say most importantly that you can’t believe everything that you read. If one website is telling you to ingest essential oils and one is telling you not to, I’d go with the latter. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Do your research!

Ps: Don’t get my started on baking soda… I bought this bag at costco a while back. I use it for everything!

Did I mention that it’s 13.5 lbs and large enough to clean an in-ground pool full of water? Yikes.

Now go and try something new!

<3 Amber

 

Fix your Keurig at Home

keurig

So, my mom’s Keurig sounded like it was dying. It would start a brew cycle and then die out just before the water started dripping. Once in a while it would produce mayyybe a 1/4 cup of coffee…when it felt like it. I decided I really wanted my morning coffee and  I’m sure she was getting tired of dealing with a broken Keurig. I did a whole lot o’ research and tried a few different things to get it up and running again. There are a lot of different components to the Kuerig and I tried everything that I could from top-to-bottom, front-to-back, without breaking the darn thing!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 2 separate cups of super-hot water
  2. A philips-head screw driver
  3. Pliers
  4. A flavor injector

Flavor Injector

I bought this one from Bed Bath & Beyond for under $5

It comes with two needle-like attachments.

UPDATE: Found same thing at the Dollar Tree!

 

Here’s What I Did:

First: Empty Water Reservoir, Remove Excess Water & Force Water through Filter

Use your fun (needle-less) flavor injector to suck up any water left behind in the bottom from the reservoir. Wipe the crevices with a cloth.Then, force very hot water through the filter with the empty reservoir attached.

keurig

This is a good step to take when you don’t want to bother with taking the bottom apart.

Second: Prep the Coffee Maker

Remove the water reservoir, unplug it and lay it on its side atop a towel.

Better Latte than Never

While doing everything else, take apart the k-cup holder and soak it in hot water.

Third: Open the Bottom

Use a Philips-head screwdriver to open the bottom. Inside you’ll see a flexible tube with a metal ring around it. Next, remove the screws on the black cap over the flexi-tube.

betterlattethannever

betterlattethannever

Fourth: Detach the Flexi-tube

Take out the flexi-tube by using the pliers to move the metal ring up the tube. Squeeze the two separate pieces together to loosen and move the clip.
keurig1

Fifth: Clean Flexi-tube & Filter

Once the metal ring is moved you can wiggle the tube off of its base.

To clean the filter you can take it apart & soak it in your hot water. When you put it back together ensure that the flat piece on the bottom is sticking into the rubber properly. You don’t want that black piece to move around at all. I made the mistake of not checking that and had to re-do this entire process.

Reattach the bottom

betterlattethannever

Sixth: Clean and Unclog K-Cup “Poker”

Attach the needle-head and use hot water to clean in and around the k-cup needle.

keurig

Seventh: Unclog the side piping

Force air through both holes as shown. The rightmost hole goes directly to the water reservoir opening and the leftmost hole goes to the piping inside the Keurig. Before beginning, shut the top and put a cup down to catch any water that is forced out.

You’ll feel more pressure on the left one. Make sure there aren’t any gaps around the injector and the rubber. You’ll hear a bubbling noise.

betterlattethannever

If yours is clogged you’ll see lots of coffee grinds or other gunk in the catching cup.

Eighth: Clean K-cup Holder

Use the needle attachment to force water through the holes in the k-cup holder.

keurig

Lastly: Run a Combination of Vinegar and Water through Machine

This “descales” and cleanses the machine. Keep adding water until the vinegar smell is gone. You may have to fill the reservoir 3-4 times. This is the true test to see if your Keurig will run a full cycle.

Keurig

It should fill the WHOLE cup now! Yay!

Now: You deserve a coffee!

For me it was well worth the effort because I got my coffee and we saved lots of money in the process.

Win-win

 

Signature

 

 

 

<3 Amber

“Muddy Buddy” Christmas Treats

Make up a better name...annd GO!

Muddy Buddies are a deliciously nice way to say you’re thinking of someone over the holidays. Put them in a fun jar and give them to your friends or neighbors (or both, if you’re lucky!).

This stuff is almost effortless to make. But hey, it’s the thought that counts right? 😉 Get creative and make up a shiny, new name for these things. They’re so good that they deserve a better one than Muddy Buddies….annd GO!

All you need is:

  • 3 Cups Chex
  • 2 Cubes of Almond Bark (chocolate)
  • 1 Packet of Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 Tbs Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Tbs Powdered Suga
  • 12 Minutes
  • Love        -The Beetles

This recipe filled two old 24 oz sauce jars!


 

Ingredients:

muddy buddies

Make a double boiler by placing a heat-safebowl on top of a large pan. Fill pan 1/4 of the way with water so that it can steam-heat the bowl on top. Melt your butter, PB, & almond bark.

Once melted, incorporate the Chex into the bowl.

Be careful when you remove the bowl because the steam will come rolling out from the bottom.

muddy buddies

Lay the mix on parchment paper to cool:

muddy buddies

While it’s cooling, mix 2 tbs powdered sugar and 1/2 of the Jello packet in a large ziplock:

muddy buddies

Dump the cooled Chex into the bag and shake until each piece looks nicely dusted.

Put them into baggies or jars…if it makes it that far!

muddy buddies

Tips:

  • Make your own powdered sugar in the blender. Blend regular granulated sugar on high until powdery.
  • Rub peppermint oil in the jar caps if they still have their original “scent” after washing. It really works!
  • Add  another 1/4-1/2 cup of Chex if you want a less concentrated chocolate flavor (& if you want more volume).
  • Add less Chex if you want a more concentrated “chocolatey” version.
  • To make a whiter, more powdery version, add a whole package of Vanilla Pudding mix per batch.

Powdered Sugar:muddy buddies

I’m going to experiment with popcorn, corn flakes and rice cereal since I have some left in the cupboard. I will let you know if it’s worth adding to your next batch of Muddy Buddies! ‘Til then….enjoy!

I was inspired to make these after reading the blog: www.therecipecritic.com. I changed up some of the ingredients based on what I had on hand, but ultimately wouldn’t have made them without this inspiration! So, thanks!


Update: If you want a healthier version here are a few ideas:

  • Substitute one of the almond bark cubes with dark chocolate chips
  • Substitute the butter with coconut oil
  • Substitute half of the pudding packet with protein powder so the mix was half protein half pudding.
  • This way is still super tasty, but it’s not quite as caloric. I tried doing all dark chocolate and all protein powder…in my opinion it was not nearly as good. So keep it at halvsies and you can hardly tell the difference. 😉 yummy!

I filled 1 1/4 of the almond bark tray cubes with chocolate chips to measure. Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_3245

Signature

<3 Amber

DIY Holiday Gift Idea Under $10

better latte than never

better latte than neverFor my cousins birthday I wanted to make her something that she would be able to enjoy for years to come. I saw string art from several different sources and decided that I had all resources necessary to make one of my own!

This was my original inspiration from JoAnn Fabrics:

Inspiration

Then I did a bit more digging on pinterest and saw this:

Better Latte than Never

Since my cousin is so crafty I decided to make this in a way that allowed her to give it the final creative touches. I did the first part of the project, similar to the star from JoAnns, and sent her the stuff to finish it!

String Art

The wood piece was leftover “scrap” from the console table we built. I also had the spray paint on hand from a previous project. The clothespins & nail kits were from DollarTree & the picture hangers were from WalMart. 

What you need:

  • One wooden board
  • Small nails
  • String
  • Picture hanging wire and hooks
  • Saw Tooth picture hanger
  • Clothespins
  • Spray Paint
  • Time: to let paint dry

 Total: About $9

First:

I spray painted the wood since it had lots of imperfections. Normally I’m a sucker for natural wood, but there was no salvaging this guy!

String Art

BetterLatteThanNever

Second:

I printed a large picture of a heart and measured dots as a guide for the nails.

Third:

I put a nail on the top and the bottom of the heart to anchor it down for hammer-time.

better latte than never

Fourth:

I continued hammering nails approximately where I put my marks. Sometimes I improvised because I thought it would look better. The most important thing to remember is the height of the nail. Don’t get too excited and hammer it in too far!

Better latte than never

Fifth:

Take off the paper! This is a good way to tell if any of the nails need more hammering because any loose ones will want to pop out with the pulling of the paper.

Better Latte Than NeverSixth:

Attach hooks and picture-hanging wire to the bottom of the board. I put the hooks pretty close to the edge to give more room for clothes pins. To attach them you just twist them into place. I did not predrill holes for the screw eyes, ya know, I used my really strong carpenter hands. (hah)

Better Latte Than Never

Seventh:

Attach saw-tooth hanger on the back of the frame. Make sure to measure half-way!

better latte than never

Eighth:

Add the clips of your choice. I chose plain wooden clothes pins. Add any embellishments you’d like on the pins. If I had glitter I would have mod-podged the front of each clip and sprinkled glitter on each of them.

I used my clips to attach a birthday note and directions for my cousin to finish the project. It was almost as if we were able to do a craft “together” even thought we’re miles apart.

Last:

Hang anything you want from the clothespins!

better latte than never

Send this version to someone who might want to finish it. Otherwise, continue on to lace the nails with string!

This is what mine looked like before and after I sent it. She sent me a photo of her finished product. The best part is that this gift inspired she and her mom to hang everything in her room that has been waiting to go on the wall for years. Yay! I love sparking inspiration and creativity. I’ll take that as a win in my book!

string art

Here are a few hanging ideas to get the creative juices flowin’:

Photos

Necklaces

Cards or mail

Artwork

Lightweight scarves

Single socks (if you hang it in your laundry room)

Headbands

Herbs for drying

Kitchen towels

Hats

Ornaments or decorations

This entry was posted in DIY.

Simple DIY Shoe Organizing Solution

Wooden Milk Crate Shoe Storage

Original “Pinspiration” is from:

Elsie and Emma over at  “A Beautiful Mess

I saw their use of the milk crates (below) and knew I had to make something of that nature!

Pinspiration

 

My Finished Product:

What I Used:

Qty. Item
3

1 pkg

1 pkg

4 or 5

1

1 pkg

Wooden Milk Crates

Mending Plate Double Wide 2″ Zinc4 pack

Mending Plate 2″ Zinc 4 pack

Legs (reasonable height)

Guerilla Glue

Short screws for attaching boxes together

 

 

 

 

Acquiring these items:

I acquired 2 of my wooden boxes from Joann’s, and the other from Home Depot. I  bought all three of them with valid coupons while they were on sale. This brought the cost down to less than $8.75 per box. Be sure to check Craigslist or your local thrift store for good deals, too.

The legs I used came with our entertainment center. We removed them from the entertainment center for aesthetic reasons. Legs are not necessary for this piece but I wanted a solution to my flip flop mess! The legs allow you to slide the flip flops right underneath, creating extra storage. You can use any legs that tickle your fancy.

Steps:

Step One:

Set your boxes up how you want them to be stacked. These were my brainstorms:

Shoe Storage

Shoe Storage Shoe Storage Shoe Storage Shoe Storage Shoe Storage Shoe Storage

I was originally set on making a bench…but I decided to keep the shudder around for another project in the house.

Step Two:

Lay boxes face-down exactly as you want them.

Attach first double wide bracket to what will be the very bottom of the boxes. I did the top part first.

Brackets

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe Organizing Solution

 

 

Step Three:

Attach the second bracket to the bottom. Don’t tighten it all the way until the very end (sometimes tightening can lead to an imbalance of the boxes in the beginning…perhaps this is my lack of expertise in woodworking/crooked drilling habits).

Shoe Organizing Solution

Step Four:

I drove short screws through each bar on my vertical box to secure each horizontal box like so:

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe organizing

Step Five:

Attach brackets to secure both horizontal boxes together (both functional and aesthetic purpose).

Shoe Organizing Solution

Follow up with a bracket on the other side.

Shoe Organizing Solution

Shoe Organizing Solution

Step Six:

Attach a small bracket to secure the top of the back side.

Shoe Organizing Solution

Step Seven:

Prepare to glue on the legs (unless you want to screw them in…in which case I can’t help you!).

I put the legs on how I wanted them beforehand:

IMG_2478

Guerilla Glue works best with a dampened wooden surface, so I used a damp rag to wet both the leg and the box where they will meet.

Shoe Organizing Solution

Don’t use too much glue because it expands and spreads a lot!

Shoe Organizing Solution

Step Eight:

Allow legs to dry over night (use something to weigh them down).

Shoe Organizing Solution

The latest take on “modern art”:

IMG_2488

Remember how I said lay out the legs the way you want them before gluing? Well…oops. I glued one of them on backwards and it ruined the whole look. Luckily, there is a trick to undoing your nicely done glue job: Acetone.

Shoe Organizing Solution

Thankfully that was my biggest “fail” of this project. I hadn’t painted, so I didn’t need to worry about the acetone stripping the color. Maybe someday I’ll decide I want to paint it…but for now I’m enjoying the two toned, natural look!

Here’s the final product with the leg glued on properly:

Wooden Milk Crate Shoe Storage

shoe storage

 

 

What I did differently than my friends at A Beautiful Mess:

I attached my crate together to make it a more stable unit.

I added legs to the bottom  for additional storage, for the look, and because I planned on putting it right near a floor vent (to avoid airflow restriction).

I left the boxes raw with no paint or color because I liked the purity of the wood.

I used the highest part of the crate as a catch-all for keys, sunglasses and other things.

 

Thanks for joining me! Happy building. 😉

 


 

Signature <3 Amber

This entry was posted in DIY.

Simple Tension Rod Shoe Storage

Tension Rod Storage

This is a ridiculously simple way to store your shoes in an inconspicuous area. It’s easily customizable to your shoe organizing needs. You can choose the height of each “shelf” and it’s great for renters not looking to damage the walls. My landlord specifically asked that we not use command hooks or any similar products, so tension rods it is!(^Clearly I need to add another shelf–I’ll update the post when I do!)

Here’s how to do it:


Step One:

Buy two tension rods. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for $2.37 a piece. If you plan on doing multiple levels buy accordingly (2 rods per level).

Tension Rod Storage

Step Two:

Clear the area where you will be putting the rods. I put mine on the side of my closet where there was underutilized space…or should I say sloppily utilized space?

                              Tension Rod Storage                                              Tension Rod Storage

Step Three:

Time to tighten the rods!  There is a trick to this. First, make sure the rubber feet on either end are pushed down firmly. As for tightening I recommend keeping one end higher than the other to start. Tighten as much as you can at the diagonal. This allows you to accentuate the tightening  so that when you finally level the rod, it will stay PUT!

Tension Rod Storage

I know, it’s not mind blowing at all…it’s just something that took me ten successful fails to recognize. Here’s to saving you time (cheers!).

Now you should have two successfully parallel rods ready to hold lots of shoes.

Step Four:

Line up your shoes. This solved my boot problem. Too many boots, too little space. Absolutely a first world problem.

With this setup I preferred my boots facing me. It helps having the wall as support for my boot-legs (pool noodles are helpful tools also).Evidently, my closet is only wide enough for 3.5 pairs of boots, so I chose to stack my shorties.

IMG_2559

Pool Noodle

Tension Rod Storage

Tension Rod Storage

Tip:

If you’re using this for shoes and not boots, you can stagger them to fit more onto each layer like so:

The straight line looks a bit more crisp, but ultimately won’t fit as many shoes. It’s up to you to choose your style!Tension Rod Storage

Thanks for stopping by! Happy organizing 🙂


         

          Signature <3 Amber

This entry was posted in DIY.