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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lay Family Photos!

I've been a bad girl. Actually, I've been a busy girl and that's my excuse for not blogging in a few *cough cough* months. Gulp.

I've been busy at work (YAY!). I really love my job. I work for Ingenium Aerospace in Roscoe, IL. In case you need some airplane parts, we gotcha covered. Seriously. I work with the most talented and inspiring people and every single day is a new adventure.

I've been a busy momma. My sweet tiny girl baby is going to turn 3. THREE? THREE, as in THREE YEARS OLD? How can that be? How can that possibly happen? It seems like just yesterday, she was a tiny swaddled nursling that was perm-attached to my boob. Now, she is a goddess. Just look at her:

Kerri Collins took our photos last week. What stunning work she does! Oh, and those freaking awesome boots I'm rockin? Fabulous vintage find at Moxie in DeKalb.

The other love of my life, Mr. Nitty Gritty, who bought me a sweet Ryobi 18V cordless drill for our 13th wedding anniversary. Life is good.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cast Iron Bath Tub Legs Turned Bookends

Over New Year's weekend, I visited an awesome warehouse in downtown Rockford that is chock-full of 100 year old+ architectural salvage items. We're talking doors, windows, shutters, fireplace mantles, gorgeous hardware, door knobs, drawer pulls, lighting fixtures, ceiling tiles...I could go on. Here is a sample of what I bought. The bathtub feet are right in the middle of the picture:

Outdoor Candle Holder

Old Bath Fixtures

Solid Brass Backplate
Many of these item are currently under restoration. The first project was to transform a pair of beautiful and elegant feet from a cast iron claw foot bathtub into beautifully functional bookends.

First, I cleaned the bathtub feet because they were very dusty. Then the wonderful Mr. Nitty Gritty used a wire wheel to make them nice and smooth. They turned out beautifully.

I primed them then painted them white. Easy peasie. Voila!

Sorry for the poor picture quality. Olivia has dropped my camera so many times, I am sure it is on its last leg. A new camera is in the future (hopefully).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Check Out Brio Birth!

As some of you may already know, I delivered Olivia naturally (as in NO epidural, my friends)! This would not have been possible if it were not for the informative and gentle guidance of a natural childbirth instructor. My instructor and doula was Martha Paschke, who taught Chris and me the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. Martha is still leading couples in gentle and natural childbirth, but this time it has a new name: Brio Birth. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, I urge you to check out Brio Birth.

Martha has her own natural childbirth blog: Natural Birth Geneva. She is also an experienced doula. Go check it out!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bird Seed Ornaments

Why shouldn't birds celebrate Christmas too? With a few supplies you may already have laying around the house, you can make beautiful, yet functional holiday ornaments to hang on the trees outdoors.

This is a fun and simple craft that the whole family can enjoy.

Grab some of this:

And a jar of this: (I used crunchy!)

A bunch of these:

And some willing volunteers to help with the messy parts:

Attach a generous length of floral wire to the top of each pine cone. This is how you will hang the birdseed ornaments.

Here is the messy part: Spread peanut butter over the pine cone then roll it in a bowl full of birdseed. My two year old daughter Olivia loved doing this part!

Set the seeded pine cones on a plate and place cranberries in any crevices or large gaps in the pine cone.

Attach the pine cone to a tree or hang from your eaves to attract birds. They will surely love this attractive treat!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wine Bottle Lamp

My sister and I saw some wine bottle lamps in a store over the summer and she asked me if I would make her one for Christmas. Sweeeeeet! Like I need another reason to guzzle a bottle of wine.

There are a bunch of tutorials on the web about how to make a wine bottle lamp and the ones I read were a little intimidating. The most important step is to find a glass or tile drill bit. I purchased the Bosch 4 piece Glass and Tile Drill Bit set from the Home Depot. These drill bits worked like a dream.

The second most important step is finding the right bottle of wine. I used a rather large bottle of Robert Mondavi Pinot Grigio. I chilled it, then drained the contents of the bottle directly into my gut over the course of a few hours while watching back episodes of Boardwalk Empire OnDemand. Freaking awesome series, by the way.

The next day, while sober, I washed the bottle and carefully removed the labels. I dried it as best as I could and allowed it to stabilize at room temperature for about an hour before drilling a hole on the side of the wine bottle for the lights to go in.

Safety first, chickens! Always wear eye protection and gloves when drilling anything, especially glass. Little glass fragments were flying all over the place, so I was glad I had my safety goggles on even though I looked like a dork.
Now here is the trick: the hole you drill is going to be quite small, and you have to stuff all these Christmas lights through there. What are you goning to do with that pesky female end that you aren't going to use? Cut it off!

Wait a second, you drunks! Unplug the lights first, otherwise you might be in for quite a shock. Seriously.

Here's another thing: some Christmas lights are composed of two wires intertwined and some are three wires (one being a ground wire, I guess). The first set I cut was composed of three wires, but I touched the ground wire to one of the other wires and ruined the whole string! Bogus! So I tried the next strand I had in the basement, which had only two wires. Fish the lights through the little hole, taking care not to cut your finger or the wire on the hole.

Fish them all the way through to the top of the bottle so that your little cut wires are sticking out. They need to be covered in electrical tape, or you can do what I did and drilled holes in the bottom of the cork and secured them there.

I added some liquid gasket crap I found in the garage around the hole to secure the wire.

Here is the finished product:

You likey? I might make one for myself.

Make it Yours @ My Backyard Eden

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pizza Play Kit

Is anyone making any toys for their kiddos this year? I saw this pizza making idea at the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, so I can't take credit for the idea. The Discovery Center had a pizza making area where the kids could make their own pizzas, put them in a pretend oven, put them in real boxes and they even had a kid-sized pizza delivery truck. Olivia loved making the pizzas so much, I knew I had to make a kit for her to play with at home.

I used fleece material purchased at JoAnn Fabrics for the crust. One yard of fleece will provide at least two small pizzas. I did not want the crust to be too flimsy, so I used InnerFuse brand double-sided stiff fusible interfacing to make the crust stable so the pizza would not be floppy.

I "sandwiched" the interfacing between two layers of fleece and used my iron to fuse them together.

Next, I used a strip of fleece to make the outer crust that goes around the pizza. I simply hot-glued the crust all along the outside edge of the fleece pizza crust.

Here is a shot of the finished crust.

I used sheets of foam purchased at Michael's to cut out the "sauce", "cheese", "pepperoni" and "vegetables."

 Here is the finished pizza with the cheese and toppings.

I asked one of our favorite local pizza places, Genoa Pizza, for a couple of small empty pizza boxes and they happily obliged.

I hope Olivia likes this present when she opens it on Christmas Day. She really enjoys "cooking" and making fun treats for us to eat!

Linking to:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cupcake Bath Fizzies

I can't wait to use one of these cute bath treats for my daughter's bath tonight. I can just hear it now: "Oooooo la-la." That's what she says when she sees fancy things, except it comes out as "Oooooo ya-ya" because she can't pronounce the letter "L" yet. She is so friggin cute. Anyway...

Let me just come out and say it, people. These cupcake bath fizzies a real pain in the ass to make. But they were worth it. What made them a pain in the ass was all the running around I had to do for special ingredients. I don't know about you, but I don't have meringue powder and citric acid just laying around the Nitty Gritty cupboard. The critic acid was the worst thing to find. I thought I could find it at my local health food store, but when I asked I got weird looks like I was asking for bomb making supplies. Jeez. I eventually found it at Duck Soup Coop, our local food co-op, and they didn't think I was weird at all! God love them!

So here's the dirty...I experimented with two different recipes for these bath fizzies. The first recipe I tried was a disaster so I'm not gonna bother telling you where I found it. I found success with Martha Stewart's bath fizzy recipe (isn't she just a goddess?).  I made a few minor tweaks and have detailed the recipe below:

You will need:
1/2 cup of citric acid
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup Epsom salts (Martha's recipe called for organic sugar)
About 6 drops of food coloring (I used blue)
10-15 drops of skin safe essential oils (I used lavender)
Spray bottle
Eye dropper for oils
A mold for the fizzies
Storage jars.

This recipe yielded 10 mini cupcakes and 8 heart-shaped fizzies.

In a large bowl, mix together your baking soda and citric acid powder. I used a whisk. Make sure you break up all the little lumps. Smart people will use a flour sifter. I do not own such fancy equipment, so I just made sure it was mixed well and there were no lumps. Add the Epsom salts and mix together well.

In your spray bottle, add some water and your food coloring. Shake well. Spray your mixture lightly until it becomes damp but not fizzy. If it starts to fizz, back off on the water. Keep mixing it up. Use your hands! That is the best way to know if you are getting the right consistency. You want the mixture to get to the point where you can pack it with your hands. There are no pictures of this step because my hands were full of bath fizzyness. Add your essential oils one drop at a time, until they smell good enough to you.

Pack into your molds and let dry for a few hours.

I used a Wilton heart candy mold and a mini-cupcake mold to make my fizzies. The two pink balls in the foreground are from the first failed recipe. I guess I shouldn't say "failed," the recipe was just very hard to work with and the mixture did not have the smooth texture like Martha's

Here they are after drying a few hours.

Bath fizzy heart:

If you want to stop here, feel free. Do not feel compelled to make the fancy "frosting" for your cupcake molded fizzies. But if you want to achieve maximum cuteness, you should proceed to the next pain in the ass process of making the meringue frosting. (You can lick the beaters!)

Meringue Frosting Recipe:

3 tablespoons of meringue powder (made by Wilton and can be purchased from Michael's)
6 tablespoons warm water
4 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Few drops of fragrance oil - optional (I skipped this step because I forgot to add it)
Few drops of skin safe coloring (I also skipped this step because I wanted white frosting)

Head on down to Michael's and pick up some meringue powder. It costs about 6 bucks and it looks like this:

Whisk the meringue powder with the warm water in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine your powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Slowly add your meringue and water mixture. With your mixer speed on medium, blend for 7 to 10 minutes until stiff peaks form.

Well, stiff peaks never formed for me because just as all the ingredients got sufficiently combined, my mixer decided to take a dump. (Insert choice words here.) Yep. It broke. Pieces fell out of it onto the counter and I was as pissed as I could be. I had to mix the rest by hand. It turned out ok but I'm definitely asking Santa for a new mixer this year, unless I'm already on his naughty list.

I used my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator to make the frosting look as fancy-like on top of the cupcake fizzies. Then to top it off (pun totally intended), I sprinkled the tops with blue sugar.

Voila! Don't you love them? I do, even though they were time consuming to make and my mixer broke. They look good enough to eat.

Here they are, boxed for gift-giving.

I have a few extra-special people in mind for this gift because I know they will appreciate all the hard work I put into making them.


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