Friday, November 28, 2014

America's Test Kitchen Key Lime Bars

 This is the other dessert I made for My in laws.  It was a bit hit too.

Key Lime Bars adapted from You're Gonna Bake it After All
10 oz animal crackers
6 Tbrown sugar
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly

4 oz cream cheese, at room temp
2 tablespoons grated lime zest- about 2 small limes
2 pinches salt
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
1 c bottled key lime juice
green food coloring

1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat to 325F. line 9x13 w foil, spray w pam.  pulse crackers in food processor about 10 pulses. should equal 1 1/4 c crumbs. Add br sugar; process 10-12 pulses. If large lumpsremain, break apart with fingers. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse til crumbs evenly moistened with butter, about 10 pulses. Press crumbs  firmly into bottom of pan. Bake til deep golden brown, 18-20 min. Cool on a rack while making filling. Do not turn the oven off. While crust cools, in med bowl, stir cr cheese, zest and salt with  spatula til softened, creamy, and combined.  Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously til no lumps  remain; whisk in yolks with stand mixer. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated. The mixture will thicken slightly. add food coloring a few drops at a time to obtain desired hue of green. Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake til set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15-20 min.  Cool on rack to room temp, 1-1 1/2 hrs. Cover w foil and chill, at least 2 hrs. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Bars

I made this for when my husband's family came to visit for my mother in law's birthday.  My sister in law told me her favorite desserts were strawberry shortcake and Key lime pie.  Since I thought strawberry shortcake for a crowd might be too fussy I thought this would be a good alternative.  It was a big hit!

Strawberry Shortcake Bars via Kraft
2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
2-1/2 cu cold milk
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries plus extra for decorating top
22-1/2 graham cracker sheets

Beat pudding mixes and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in Cool Whip. Gently stir in strawberries. Break whole graham sheets crosswise in half. Arrange 15 squares on bottom of 13x9 pan; cover with 1/3 pudding mix. Repeat layers twice. top with extra halved strawberries.  Chill at least 4 hrs before serving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Taco Lasagna

The family was a bit skeptical about this dish but it turned out great! 

Taco Lasagna adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
12 no bake lasagna noodles
1 lb gr beef or turkey
3 T taco seasoning
1 egg
1 (15-oz.) small curd cottage cheese cheese
4 c  shredded Mexican or Taco blend cheese
1 (24-oz.) salsa
Optional toppings: sour cream, green onions, diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350F. In lg skillet, brown meat.  Drain and add taco seasoning. set aside. In sm bowl, mix egg and cottage cheese. In 9x13 dish, layer4 noodles, 1/3 cottage cheese, 1/3 meat, 1/3 salsa, and 1/3 cheese. Repeat  layers 2 more times. Bake uncovered 30-40 min til casserole heat and bubbly. Let stand 10 min before cutting. Top with sour cream, sliced green onions, and diced tomatoes if desired.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PB Cake Bars

a different twist on cake mix bars.  Mrblocko who claims he doesn't care for pb desserts loved this one.  Was a good summer dessert as it only required 12 min in oven.

Peanut Butter Cake Bars via Something Swanky
1 Devil's Food Cake mix
1/3 c butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 c peanut butter (I used smooth)
2 t vanilla
3 c powdered sugar
1/2 c whipping cream
optional: 2 tablespoons of milk for thinning if necessary
1 can of store-bought chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment and spray with PAM.In lg bowl mix cake mix, butter and egg. Press evenly into prepared dish. Bake 12 min. Cool completely in pan.
Meanwhile: In lg bowl combine pb and vanilla. Beat w electric mixer on med 30 sec. Add powdered sugar and whipping cream and beat until smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. If mix too thick, add 1-2 T milk to thin. Spread over cooled crust. Chill bars 30 min. Nuke frosting for 30 sec.  Make sure you've got all the foil off the top of the container. Spread  over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for 2-3 hrs before serving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ranch Pesto Bake

I finally successfully grew basil in the garden this year.  Every year I seem to kill it, but I tried this weird purple basil and I was able to harvest enough for several batches of pesto.

I used home made pesto, but I'm sure store bought would work lovely as well.

The only change I made to this recipe was to add meat.

Ranch Pesto Rigatoni Bake adapted from Mostly Homemade Mom
1 box rigatoni (or other similar tube shaped pasta like cavatappi or penne, etc)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup prepared pesto
28 oz can diced tomatoes drained and slightly rinsed (I happened to have fresh)
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 c cooked shredded chicken/turkey or 1 lb cooked gr turkey/chicken or bulk sausage

Cook and drain pasta, return to pot. Stir in ranch , pesto, tomatoes, meat and one c mozzarella. Transfer pasta to 9x13 baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella . Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 15 min. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 min til cheese completely melted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

OMG Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

These are our new favorite Zucchini Cookies.  They are great warm from the oven, but even better frozen.

Chocolate Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies Recipe by Crazy for Crust
½ c butter
¼ c veg oil
½ c br sugar
½ c sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 c flour
1 t baking soda
½ t cinnamon
¼ c cocoa powder
3 c quick oats
1 c shredded zucchini (about 1 sm)

Preheat oven to 350F°. Line 2 cookie sheets w parchment paper. In med bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinn, and cocoa. Set aside. In bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, oil, and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. mix on low speed til combined. Slowly mix in dry ingred. Add oats and mix on low. Continue mixing on low and add zucchini. Mix until well combined. Scoop uniform balls onto cookie sheets. Bake 11-14 min til center no longer looks wet. Cool 10 min on sheets before removing. Yield: about 2 dozen large cookies

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crockpot Creamy Taco Chicken

This is a great way to make chicken for tacos!

3 Ingredient Crockpot Taco Chicken via The Pinning Mama
3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Can Original Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilis
4 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (can sub light)

Place chicken in slow cooker and cover with Rotel . Cook on low 6-8 hrs. 30 min before end of cook time,  shred chicken. Place cream cheese on top of chicken (do not stir). When final timer goes off, stir cream cheese into meat. Serve as tacos, on a salad, in quesadillas, over rice, in a casserole, as enchilada filling, etc.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frostbite Cookies

I made these cookies with spring mix chips inside the cookie instead of dipping them in the white chocolate. 
I did this because I had the chips and didn't know what to do with them. That and I was too lazy to dip all those cookies!

Crunchy Frostbite Cookies via Plain Chicken
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c uncooked old fashioned oats
1 1/2 c cornflakes
8 oz almond bark
1 T shortening

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat 1 c shortening at med with mixer til creamy; gradually add sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour mix, just until blended. Stir in oats and cornflakes. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2" apart, onto lightly greased baking sheets; flatten slightly. Bake 325F° 12-14 min. Cool slightly on baking sheets. Cool completely on wire rack.

Microwave almond bark and shortening in a med-size micro-safe bowl at HIGH 1 min or til white choc melts, stirring once.  Dip bottom of each cookie into bark, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies, dipped side up, on wax paper; let stand 1 hr or til almond bark sets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fudgy Choco-PB-Nana Smoothie

I've made a few frozen treats with the chocolate/pb/banana combo.  I think this one is by far my favorite.

Thick Fudgy Chocolate PB Soothie via Averie Cooks
2 large or 3 med ripe bananas, peeled and frozen into chunks (no ice necessary this way)
3/4 c vanilla unsweetened almond milk (Don't sub this with soy or cow milk)
heaping 1/3 c creamy peanut butter (don't use chunky)
1/4 c unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 t vanilla
sweetener, to taste

Add bananas,  milk, cocoa, peanut butter, vanilla, and sweetener to blender. Mix on high until smooth. Add additional milk only as necessary or until desired smoothie consistency is reached.
Serve immediately. Any leftovers taste great as popcicles!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spinach Dip Pasta Bake

I made this dish with cooked bulk sausage.  I would recommend sticking with the suggested chicken or even ground turkey/chicken.  The sausage made for a meal that was too salty for my tastes.  Mrblocko and Blockette loved it though!

Cheesy Spinach Pasta Bake adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet
1 box tube pasta like penne or cavatappi
2 chicken breasts or 1 lb ground chicken/turkey-cooked
salt and pepper
2 T flour
1/2 c sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c half and half or whole milk (I used skim)
1 pkg dry Ranch mix
5 oz. frozen spinach or half of a batch of fresh (I used a bag of fresh spinach)
1.25 c shredded mozzarella

spray 9x13 dish. Cook pasta per box. Drain. Dice chicken, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over chicken and toss to coat. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Meanwhile, in lg bowl, mix sour cream, cream cheese, Ranch mix, milk and spinach. Add cooked pasta and chicken to the spinach mixt and stir all together. Transfer to prepared dish. Top w cheese, bake 375F 10 min.  Broil 2-3 min to brown cheese.  Let stand at room temp 10 min before serving.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Toenail Cake

I found this photo someone posted when they were forced to bring a dessert to some sort of social event.  I thought it was hilarious so I posted it on Facebook, joking that I was going to make it for my husband's family reunion.  My husband's uncle dared me to make it, to which I happily obliged.

I'm not sure everyone got the humor, but it made me laugh. 

Here's the recipe I used:
Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake via Pioneer Woman
2 c Flour
2 c Sugar
1/4 t Salt
4 T (heaping) Cocoa
2 sticks Butter
1 c Boiling Water
1/2 c Buttermilk (I used buttermilk powder and milk)
2 Beaten Eggs
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Vanilla
toenail (optional)

1/2 c Finely Chopped Pecans
1-3/4 stick Butter
4 T (heaping) Cocoa
6 T Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 C) Powdered Sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir.Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil 30 sec, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mix, and stir lightly to cool. In measuring cup, pour buttermilk and beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mix into butter/chocolate mix. Pour into 18x13" sheet cake pan and bake 350F 20 min. While cake's baking, make icing. Chop pecans. Melt butter in pan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir. Add the pecans and optional toenail, stir, and pour over warm cake.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cornbread Hotdog Buns

While this recipe was good in theory, it didn't hold together very well. The buns kept splitting completely into two pieces. It was very tasty though.  Messy, but tasty.

Cornbread hot dog buns via honestly yum
4 c bread flour (or all purpose)
1 c cornmeal
1 t salt
1- 1/4 oz. packet active dry yeast
1 c warm water
1/4 c veg oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 csugar
3 eggs
2 c grilled corn, finely chopped (I used frozen, thawed corn)
3-4 grilled jalapenos, deseeded and finely chopped (I roasted mine under the broiler)

In mixer with hook attachment, add yeast and warm water. Mix on low speed to combine. In separate bowl, combine bread flour, corn meal, and salt .Pour half  flour mixt into mixer and mix on low for a few seconds just to combine the flour and liquid. Add oil, honey, sugar and two eggs. mix. Add  corn and jalapenos. Add remaining flour on low til dough begins to come off sides of bowl. Turn speed to med and mix 5 min. Turn dough onto floured surface and roll into ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover bowl with a towel and let rise for 1 hr.Remove dough from bowl and cut into even parts until you get 16 even balls. Shape into logs about 4" long. Grease  18″ x 13″ baking sheet and sprinkle a layer of cornmeal on bottom. Lay logs of dough in side by side. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hr.
Preheat oven to 375F. Brush tops of buns with beaten egg and lightly sprinkle corn meal over top.
Bake 20 min til gold brown on top. Allow to cool and remove and separate buns.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blockette's Necklace

Blockette designed this necklace over the summer.
 I put the whole thing together for her because working with tiny jump rings can be tricky for an almost 9 year old (at the time).
She fell in love with this giant bag of key charms.  
I love how the whole thing looks antique-y, but the charms are made of plastic!

Looking at the necklace now, the keys are just the right size for fairy houses. 
 No wonder she likes them so much!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fake Butterfingers

 I made this over the summer for a quick no bake treat.  It does require some time in front of the stove, but it's only for a few min.  The bars are worth it!

DIY Butterfingers via Chocolate Covered Katie
1/4 c honey (bars will hold together better if you use corn syrup)
1 T molasses
3.5 T sugar
1 c smooth pb
1.5 c flake cereal
pinch of salt
2/3 c chocolate chips

line 8x8 pan with parchment.  combine 1st 3 ingred in sm sauce pan.  let come to a boil and boil 1 min, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Quickly stir in pb and salt until encorporated, then quickly add in flakes.  Stir so they are coated completely.  It's ok to crush the flakes in the process.  Press into prepared pan.  Melt chips in microwave at 30 sec intervals, stirring between, until melted.  Pour over bars.  Chill in freezer for 30 min, until chocolate just set.  You want the chocolate to be slightly hard, but not totally frozen.  If you wait until the chocolate is fully hardened it will shatter and split off the top of your bars when you slice.  Cut into 12 pieces.  Store in freezer.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Peach Crisp Smoothie or Popsicles

I made a double batch of this smoothie one night for dessert and we froze what we couldn't drink in popsicle molds.  This smoothie tastes just like it sounds - like a peach crisp! 

Peach Crisp Smoothie adapted from My Happy Place
1/2 banana- frozen
1 frozen peach - I used frozen peaches
small handful of raw walnuts
1 t vanilla
1 t pure maple syrup or pancake syrup
2 T  quick cooking oats
1/2t cinnamon
2 T unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add ice or milk as needed. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. Makes one large smoothie.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Apple Poppy Seed Slaw

This dish was our veggie side of choice until the garden started producing stuff for us to eat.  I think it was the first slaw I've made that Mrblocko actually liked.  I got so excited that he liked it that I made it so often we got a bit sick of it.  I'm sure come spring we will be craving it again along side a big fat juice burger right off the grill.

Apple Poppy Seed Slaw adapted from Damn Delicious and Simply Scratch
about 1/2 head green cabbage and 1/2 head red cabbage- sliced to form shreds
2-3 carrots, shredded
1 medium sized Granny Smith apple, julienned
1 medium sized Fuji apple, julienned

2 T mayo
3 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T poppy seeds
1-2 T Honey to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

in large bowl combine first 3 ingredients.  In small bowl combine dressing ingredients.  toss slaw mixture with dressing.  Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes:  We like our slaw on the dry side.  If you like a more runny slaw, feel free to double the dressing ingredients.  Also, make sure to taste the dressing before putting it on the veggies.  For some reason, each batch I've made requires a different amount of honey.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Honey Bun Bread-Teacher Gift

I made these for year end teacher gifts.  My mini loaf pans must have been smaller than the ones suggested as they overflowed.  Make sure to bake these loaves on a baking sheet to prevent any oven disasters!

Honey Bun Bread via Positively Splendid
For the cake
1 plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream (preferably full fat)
3/4 vegetable oil
4 large eggs

For the filling
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
5 tablespoons honey, divided

For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk (plus 1 teaspoon, if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour (5) 5x3x2" mini loaf pans. Set pans aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs. Mix on low until ingredients are combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 2 minutes more, until batter is thick and smooth.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans.
Fill each of the 5 prepared pans about 1/4 full with the batter, and sprinkle each with about 2 teaspoons of the filling. Cover the filling layer with another layer of batter, distributing the remaining batter evenly among the 5 pans. Sprinkle each pans with another layer of filling, dividing the filling evenly among each pan. Drizzle each loaf with 1 tablespoon honey, and then use a knife to gently swirl the filling and honey into the top layer of batter.
Bake the loaves for approximately 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes.
While loaves are cooling, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and vanilla in a small bowl, stirring well to combine. If needed, add an additional teaspoon milk so glaze is thick but of a drizzling consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaves.

This bread can also be prepared in 2 standard-sized loaf pans. Increase the baking time accordingly.
Prepared loaves can be wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost to room temperature before serving.

Notes: Link to printable gift tag - "It's been a sweet year"  via  Skip to my Lou

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

America's Test Kitchen Vegetarian Chili

I am so severely backed up from things I made over the summer that I've decided I'm just going to post recipes instead of  writing up a fancy post.  Most of the recipes I made don't even have pictures.  I'm mainly putting them up on the blog for future reference.

Without further ado:
America's Test Kitchen Chili via  Cookbook Project
1 lb. (2 1/2 cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexican chiles
1/2 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarse
4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 - 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 lb. onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp. ground cumin
7 c. water
2/3 c. medium-grind bulgur
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Bring 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons salt, and beans to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse well. Wipe out pot.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 F. Arrange anchos and New Mexican chiles on rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool, about 5 minutes. Stem and seed anchos and New Mexican chiles. Working in batches, grind toasted chiles, mushrooms, and oregano in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground.

3. Process walnuts in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeño(s), garlic, and soy sauce in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

4. Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add ground chile mixture and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rinsed beans and water and bring to boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 45 minutes.

5. Remove pot from oven. Stir in bulgur, ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Cover pot and return to oven. Cook until beans are fully tender, about 2 hours.

6. Remove pot from oven, stir chili well, and let stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. (Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

Notes: Mrblocko thought this was pretty darn good for having no meat, but he still thought it'd be better with a pound of ground beef in it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Goal Accomplished

At the beginning of the year I talked about wanting to run a mile without stopping.  It sounds so incredibly silly, but it's something that I have NEVER been able to do. 

I began "training" once the weather wasn't so horrible.  Heh.  That wound up not being until around May.

It was horrible.  I jogged slower than I could walk.  I thought I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen.  I would alternate walking and running 6 times each for the distance of a mile and a half. 

Gradually, I made the walking distances shorter, and the running longer. 

I didn't feel like garbage after I ran.  I could actually catch my breath as I walked.  I was finally able to pick up my running pace too.



Intense pain in my heel, arch and shin.

A trip to the dr revealed that I had Plantar Fasciitis.


I'd been doing all the right things.  Gradually building up to increased activities, wearing the right type of shoes, doing the right types of stretches.  I'm just that lucky girl that this sort of thing happens to.

So I bought some special inserts for my shoes, and I stopped running for a month.

When I started back up again, I felt I lost all the progress I'd made.  Plus, my foot hurt something awful afterwards.

Of course I did what any normal person would do in a situation like this, signed myself and Blockette up for a mile race.  Yeah.  I'm nutty like that. 

I had speed walked 3 miles no problem for something for church a few weeks prior with minimal foot pain.  My husband thought I was a bit looney, for signing up, but I'm pretty sure he think's I'm looney all the time!  ;)  I figured if I was in a lot of pain, I'd just walk.

The race was on the 26th of October. 

I ran the WHOLE way!!!

Without stopping once.

Now it took me almost 15 min to run the darn thing, but I ran.


Non-athletic girl.

I ran.

Even more amazing was I felt I could have run even faster.  I slowed down to a super slow jog because Blockette needed to walk at the halfway point.  I told her that I had 30 years on her, and if I could do it, so could she.

When we knew we were coming up to the finish line I asked her if we should have a strong finish and she hesitated, but then wanted to know if she could try to beat me.  I said of course.  She was 2.2 seconds faster than me. 

It's funny how accomplishing a little goal can make you feel so awesome.  I hung my little ribbon on the fridge so I can see it everyday.

I've set myself a new goal.  I'm going to try to run a 5k a year from now.  Which seems totally crazy.  But then again, so did running a mile a year ago.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween 2014

This year Blockette wanted to be Athena.  I think this was the first year I said, "Yeah, I can do that!"
without hesitation.

 Everything just sort of fell together.  AND I spent less than $10 on supplies.  Over half that cost was because I bought 3 different shades of gold paint in order to get the color I wanted.

The owl was borrowed from my mom.  The tunic was from last year's Medusa costume.  I already had the purple fabric.

 Blockette's armor was a plastic black and silver colored breast plate armor I found at the dollar store.  Medusa's head is also a dollar store find.  I made the medallion out of paper mache.  Barbie and the medallion both got a base coat of matte black spray paint before being dry brushed with several different coats of gold acrylic paint.  Since the breast plate was already black, it saved me the spray paint step.  I gave everything a coat of clear matte spray paint too.
 If you look closely at Medusa, you can see that each of her hair braid snakes have green eyes.  Also, her eyes glow in the dark, courtesy of some blue glow in the dark nail polish.

Then, there is THE HELMET....

I'm so proud of this thing.  It's made of cardboard, paper mache, brown paper bags and paper towels.  oh yeah...and the bristles of a broom.  The pictures do NOT do it justice.  It looks WAY cooler in person.  I followed these tutorials from Constructables and Instructables, for the construction of the helmet.  Then, because I hadn't done papermache for nearly 30 years, I followed these instructions from DLTK.

The helmet took about 3 weeks, including researching and planning.  It was a lot of hurry up and wait because I'd cut something out and then have to wait because my model was in school, or because I was waiting for the layers of paper mache or coats of paint to dry.

A fun side note: the circular medallion like objects on the helmet are cut from paper towels!  They gave the perfect amount of texture when dry brushed with gold paint.

The bristles on top of the helmet are from a broom.  I thought about painting them red, but was afraid it might not turn out right, so I left them black.  I think the contrast looks very striking.

Finally, I used the handle from the broom for the spear.  The tip of the spear is cut from a sheet of glittery craft foam that had a sticker backing.

Blockette wanted to wear sandals trick or treating.  I told her that her toes would freeze and fall off.  Instead we decided that it would be ok for her to wear her tennis shoes.  After all, they were Nike. Nike was the goddess of victory, and Blockette thought the pun was really cool!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Back to Blogging

Now that the crazy pumpkin nonsense is gone, I'm going to get back to blogging on a semi regular basis. 

I'm so glad that I took a break from blogging over the summer.  It was our busiest summer yet.  Blockette went to two different summer camps, and I chaperoned at one of them. (I think I'm still recovering from the excessive singing of the Frozen soundtrack.)  We also had summer dollar movies, vacation bible school, a trip to visit my mom, and Blockette was in a musical.  It felt like we were go go go all the time.


Once school started back up, I didn't much feel like blogging either.  

Mid August, one of our cats, Basil, began to get very sick.  
Two days before school started we found out he had colon cancer, and we had to put him to sleep. 

I always thought Basil was more of Mrblocko's cat, than mine. 

 I didn't realize how much of a role he played in my day to day life at home until he was gone. 

 It's taken me a few months to just stop looking for him when I pass his usual hiding spots. 

 That silly little furball left a pretty big hole in my heart.  

In order to keep my mind off missing the little guy, I decided to take on some big projects.  The first one being re-doing our spare/computer room.

Here's a bit of a before picture:

The room was this horrible green that was somewhere between lime and pea soup.  Why I chose that color, I have no idea.  It gave everything in the room this yellow hue.  BLECK!

And lets not get started on the computer hutch.  It was about 12 years old.  You know, from the days when monitors were so huge two cats could sit on top of it with no problem.  The hutch took up nearly half that room. 

Blockette had also outgrown her small little brown table.  While she has a desk in her own room, there are times where she wants to work next to me while I'm on the computer.

Finally, the biggest reason for redoing this room was for my mom.  When she would come to visit she'd have to sleep on a air mattress on the floor.  We actually WANT her to come see us so I thought it was high time she had an actual bed.

And here are the afters:

I picked out a purple for the walls that has a bit of grey in it.  Then I painted all the trim and the closet doors white so the grey in the paint wouldn't overwhelm the room.  The closet doors were essentially the same color as the door to the room and the floor. 

The desks, shelves and chairs were from IKEA.  I put the desks together all by my onsies.  Mrblocko helped with the shelves though.

Then I went through my stack of unframed cross stitches, bought some inexpensive frames, and hung them up on the wall.  The framing isn't the best job ever, but it's much more satisfying having the cross stitches up on the wall than lamenting in a drawer. The walls still look a little bit bare.  I have every confidence that I'll find more things to hang up as time goes on.

I also had some fun with spray paint.  That crate, in the picture above, next to the used to be bright spring green.  I sprayed it with a gray paint that's supposed to give it a hammered look.  Eventually, I want to get a piece of plywood cut to fit the top so it functions more like a nightstand.

Also, if you look at the first picture, there's a mirror.  We had it hanging up at our previous house, and I hadn't been able to find a home for it since we moved into this one 8 years ago.  I spray painted it black and dry brushed white paint once the black paint had dried.  It has this mottled gray look that ALMOST looks like stone...if you squint.  It also makes me happy to see it hanging on the wall.

The room looks so much bigger, and brighter too!  While it's not magazine perfect, it works so much better for our family's needs.  I can't help but pat myself on the back for the results of my hard work!