Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Tree Appetizers

In an effort to be creative and not kill myself making Christmas appetizers I went with a common theme...Christmas trees. I had found 2 similar pins with different ingredients on Pinterest and thought why not do both? So, I did :)
There was this cheese Christmas tree and this veggie Christmas tree.


They really only took some grocery shopping and chopping to prepare. I made some changes to mine. For instance I used orange bell peppers on my veggie tree and I used pretzels instead of tomatoes on my cheese tree. Here is a picture of my finished trees. They were SUPER EASY and people were impressed :)

cheese tree & veggie tree

Close up Veggie :) Notice the star...oh yeah
Happy Pinning!

Candy Cane Name Card Holders

This was my first year hosting Christmas dinner at our home. So I probably became a little obsessive about it but I blame Pinterest for that.... Anyway, my blogging partner Val knew I was planning on making Peppermint Topiaries as my centerpieces so she sent me this pin for Candy Cane Name Card Holders! And then I had a theme! Yes, I love a good theme :)
I mean how cute are those? And they couldn't have been easier. I could go thru the steps but it would be much easier for you to just click here and follow along like I did :) 
They literally took 20 minutes start to finish, although I skipped the bow because I liked them just fine without them. I printed out the name cards on my computer and I was done! Lots of cuteness for not a lot of time or money. Win, win! Here is a picture of mine :) 

Happy Pinning!

Peppermint Topiaries

If you know me than you know I make and sell ribbon topiaries in my Etsy shop... Not So Plain Sophia Jane (shameless plug). So you know when I saw this pin, I HAD TO DO IT. And since I was hosting Christmas dinner at my house for the first time I thought they would make awesome centerpieces.
Peppermint Topiaries
Ok so since I have a good deal of topiary experience this project was pretty easy for me. I also had 90% of the materials I needed upstairs in my craft room already. But I found a great DYI tutorial that even I got some helpful tips from here. Since the pin shown above was just a link to someone else's blog showing stuff they like but not how to do anything ( I hate that). I also pinned the link I shared above here on Pinterest as well.

Now I am sure that the DIY tutorial works wonderfully but since I make topiaries a lot I did it primarily my way ;) 

My Materials:
2- 4" round white styrofoam balls (walmart 2 pack)
2 white dollar store metal buckets (small flower pot size)
2 - 12" dowel rods
2 bags of peppermints (also found at dollar store) 
1 roll red duct tape (as suggested in DIY tutorial)
Hot glue gun
Plaster of paris ( I always use this instead of styrofoam in the base)
red and white ribbon

1. Cut small strips of red duct tape and cover each styrofoam ball. I had never done this before but will am going to start doing for several reasons. It covers the ball so if there are gaps you only see the color of the tape and it keeps the styrofam from getting all over you. 
half way
2. Start hot gluing the mints on the ball. Don't worry too much about them being perfect, it won't matter once they are all on. I do suggest putting glue on the mint then sticking them on instead of glue on the ball then stick. Worked better for me. Also I needed 3 bags of mints. Each bag had about 60 mints. Each 4 inch ball needed a few more than 60. 

Start at the top
Finished one 

3. Paint your dowel rods red or white. I went with red because I was using white pots.
4. Hot glue the rod so its standing straight up in the pot. 
5. Mix and pour in plaster of paris.
6. Let it set (30 minutes)
7. Secure ball on to the top of the dowel. I put glue on the dowel before inserting it into the hole I make in the ball with scissors. Just an opening, the dowel will slide in fine on its own.
8. Add a decorative ribbon to the pot. 

Here are the final products! I think they turned out great! I also sprayed them with a clear sealant spray so they can be stored and reused next year.

Merry Christmas :)

Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Re-use Old Candles to Make New Ones

I don't know about you but I have TONS of half used jar candles around my house. They are hidden away in closets because the jars are all yucky and sooty at the top and I never have one of those long lighters to light them when the wick is too far down. But I can't seem to just throw them away because its seems too wasteful....

Then I saw this pin and wah-la my problem was solved!

The directions are pretty easy. 
Buy some candle wicks at Michaels ($3 for 6)...check. 
Have old used candles...check. 
Buy a new glass container of your choice ($1)....check.  
Put wick in new glass container....check (It suggests wrapping your wick around a popsicle stick at the top to keep it straight. I made due with a sparkly pipe cleaner :)

Boil water...check.
Put old candle in boiling water until it liquifies...check. 
PUT ON OVEN MITTS & pick up candle...check. 
Pour liquid candle into new container and wait..... It takes longer than I thought for it to cool. And be very careful as you pour to prevent messy wax spills. They clean up with a wet paper towel and some scrubbing btw. 
First Candle

My pipe cleaner genius

Candle #2 - I used a drinking glass...

Both candles cooling

It took over an hour for these to totally cool. I plan to layer the one on the left with another flavor of candle. But one thing at at time :) The one on the right is already being used in my kitchen. I will say that the candle on the right cooled and turned back to the light orange color it originally was. But it is doing it slowly and in a patchy fashion. It was a fancy Yankee candle so maybe the wax is different than my cheap Walmart candle on the left.  It looks cute and smells great though :)

Finished Product :)

Happy Pinning!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Yep, I am officially one of "those" people :) I can now make detergent.
In the past, all of the times I've seen people making their own home cleaning products, it involved liquids and cooking things and way too many steps for me to even consider it.

Link to Original Site

This pin however captured my attention immediately for three reasons:
1) It's all dry ingredients
2) There is only one step past pour out of a box and mix (my kind of anything)
3) And here is the real kicker, its 9 months worth of detergent for less than $20!!!!

I highly recommend going to your closest Super Wal-Mart to get everything for this project. Every ingredient is lined up right next to one another in the laundry isle, it couldn't be easier. There is no hunting for stuff you've never heard of before, no asking clueless staff where something is, its all right there. AND they sell the big glass jars too!

As for the big glass jar, definitely get the 2 gallon OR two 1 gallon jars. I tried to get away with a 1 gallon and its just not big enough. I have 4 or 5 big mason jars off to the side with what was left.

Now for making detergent, you really just empty some boxes and small tubs into a big bucket and mix. The only labor intensive part is grating the soap. I don't have a steel blade food processor as some folks in the blog comments recommended using, but grating the soap was easy and took less than 5 minutes. I tried finely grating it, but it simply wasn't worth the effort. Basic cheese grater size slivers are just fine. Mix is all up, put it in something to store it and voila!!

Now you may ask how much you need per load. Conveniently enough, two of the ingredients (the OxyClean tubs) come with little tablespoon size scoops. 1-2 scoops is all you need depending on the load size and how dirty your clothes are.

I've washed linens, our clothes and the baby's clothes all with this new detergent and I love it. It is not a fragrant detergent, but we had been using Free & Clears for the last few years, so there is no change to our laundry.

Happy Pinning!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Streusel Apple Pie with "Cinnamon Roll" Crust

'Tis the season for all things decadent. And dessert is my personal favorite place to get fancy :) I am in charge of making a pie to bring to Thanksgiving dinner and I usually do a Caramel Pecan Pie (which is pretty damn good) but I decided to do an apple pie this year all because of this pin....

Cinnamon Roll Crust 
So how awesome does that look? Pretty amazing. Unfortunately I fell victim to a typical Pinterest problem- captions! If you read this caption you think, holy crap...cinnamon rolls sliced up and made into a crust? YES PLEASE! And I did but I was WRONG. Turns out this crust is actually pie brush cinnamon and butter on the crust, roll it up, slice it and smush it into the pie plate. Not what I thought. But I did it... My advice don't bother. It looks cool but it doesn't taste like a cinnamon roll and adds nothing to the pie at all. But since I did are a few pictures :)

I thought that apple pie would go great with this fancy crust but my stepsister (baking genius) suggested a streusel topped or apple crumb pie. Loved the idea, ran to pinterest, found this one.....

The recipe is great! The pie was delicious if I do say so myself.... Here are pictures of my pie...Yum!

The Finished Product!

Happy Pinning!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homemade Foaming Baby Wash

Now we both have successfully completed this pin, and I plan to use the concept for all other soaps in my house as this works great!
All of you need is an empty foaming soap dispenser and a little bit of soap.

Put about an inch of soap in the bottom of the empty soap dispenser.
Fill the rest with water (Leave some space for the top of the dispenser).
Turn it every which way until the soap is mixed completely with the water.
*No shaking*

This is a great way to make any regular soap last significantly longer. Just be sure to label the bottle otherwise people in the household will have no idea whats what :)

Bacon Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

Just like most of my cooking posts, this recipe was created for the slow cooker J This couldn’t be any easier or more delicious!
Recipe Link

I have made this more than once and I like my version of the recipe a little better.

First off, I use turkey bacon. We aren’t huge ret meat eaters in our house, so turkey bacon is a must in most situations.

Also, instead of ½ a cup of BBQ sauce (not enough at all!), I use half a bottle. Gives the chicken a little more sauce to soak in and gives you a little gravy type product to pore over for serving.

Lastly, the recipe calls for 1-2 apples, I’ve never used 2 apples. The first time I only used one and it was fine. The other times I’ve used 1.5 apples and I did like that a little better. Once you grate an entire apple, it is actually a lot of apple!

This recipe is sure to please the masses. I have made this with sweet potatoes & sweet potato fries, either way, it’s a yummy dinner!

Easy Home Cleaning Pins

I have tried a couple of simple around the house kind of pins recently so I thought I would just put them all together in one post. Here goes...

1. Swiffer Wet Jet Solution Bottle- If you have a Swiffer Wet Jet you know that the solution bottles are $5 a piece and if you have a lot of tile or hard wood..they go fast. You are also limited to the types of solution that Swiffer makes. This pin was simple and it totally worksDip the tip of an empty Swiffer Wetjet solution bottle into boiling water for about 10 seconds and the lid twists off (use a towel). Refill with your preferred cleaning solution at appropriate dilution and re-cap.
So simple. So cost effective.

2. Clean Your Oven- My oven isn't to grimy but my toaster oven is another story.... So I decided to use this pin.

I followed the directions including the "set the timer for 15 minutes" part. Since it was a toaster oven it wasn't a huge area to be cleaned, but alas when I wiped there was still some grime. Even when I scrubbed. So it worked but it wasn't the miracle cure I was expecting. So off to Pinterest to search for another pin...I am thinking I am going to try this one next. I'll let you know how it goes. 

3. Getting White Stains Out of a Wood Table- A few years ago (pre-baby) we had a raging cook out at our house for a friends 30th birthday. There were many adult beverages involved and a lot of food. A very well meaning male friend cooked a ton of burgers and such and then put the VERY hot plate directly on my wood table. I , of course, did not realize this until the next day whilst cleaning up and came across these....

My table "before" trying the pin
So I decided to try this pin:

It was very simple and I followed the somewhat vague but useful steps. I made sure to use a white towel. I was about to use blue but then flashed to that scene in Bridget Jones Diary where she uses blue twine to make soup... So I went with white. 
This is what my table looked like after the ironing and oiling. Its seems to have fixed 2 of the spots and someone created another..? I will say that my iron is a P.O.S. so that could have something to do with it. So this one wasn't totally successful. I will probably be trying the mayonnaise method from the same site...

My table "after" 
Happy Pinning!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baked Club Pinwheels

So while on the hunt for yummy shower food for a baby shower I came across this pin....Baked Club Pinwheels.

Seeing as that I wasn't pregnant too long ago I knew that plain cold cuts were out of the question for the guest of honor but baked (heated up to kill any possible uckies) would be A-Ok. So I added these to my menu. 

The recipe is so simple and the ingredients couldn't be easier. I found that ordering a 1/4 lb of each deli meat with a medium cut slice worked out just great. It was about 4-5 pieces of each which is what the recipe called for. 

I actually made it up and wrapped it in Saran Wrap and refrigerated it. When guests started arriving I preheated the oven and then put it in (not in the Saran Wrap...duh ;) . It was perfect timing for the food to be served. But I do strongly suggest that you wait AT LEAST the 5 minutes suggested before cutting maybe even 10 minutes because the cheese is very melty and gooey (oh yeah). 

Sadly this got eaten too quickly for me to take a picture of the finished product. And there were no you know it was GOOD :) 

Happy Pinning! 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel Thingys

Ok so this pin is a personal favorite of mine from back in the day. I originally stole the recipe from my stepsister, Jenny. And for years after bringing them to one party people would ask for the "Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Thingys"( and yes I still call them that...why not :). I lost the scrap piece of paper I wrote it on years ago and would concoct something from memory. Needless to say when I saw this pin I was thrilled to have the recipe again!

This was a very easy pin for me to complete seeing as I had made them before. Although I appreciated the step by step recipe regardless. This version used 2 pretzels to create a sort of sandwich and it was even better than what I had originally made because it gave them more structure and little more saltiness and crunch. 

They were of course fabulous and addictive. I believe my friend Chelsey called me a "chocolate peanut butter goddess". I'll take it :)   

My Peanut Butter Pretzel Thingys
Happy Pinning!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Make Up Brush Holder

I don't know about you but my make up area is always a mess. I have a small hand me down vanity and no matter what I do it always seems cluttered. I have bought a few different plastic organizers over the years and end up getting rid of them.

I also use Bare Minerals makeup so I have a lot of make up brushes that end up all over the place. So when I saw this pin, I thought I have to try it.

Pinterest Make Up Brush Holder

So this was about the easiest pin I have done yet (other than the command hook pins). I had to find a glass container that I liked and buy some coffee. I found the square glass holder at the dollar store. Yup $1. And then I bought the cheapest coffee at the grocery store ($4 for the bag, I used about half). Now I LOVE coffee so I was pleased with the ascetic look of it as well as the smell of the coffee beans. If you don't like the smell of the beans you could use decorative rocks or glass beads. Both can be found in the craft section of Walmart or at any craft store. All in all I spent $5! 

So here is my finished project. I love it! Its cute and it keeps all my brushes in one place! Highly recommend this pin :) 

My Make Up Brush Holder
Happy Pinning!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Onesie Bouquet

Martha Stewart upped the baby shower game when she thought up the "onesie bouquet". Now the cute laundry basket idea (you know the one with the itsy bitsy clothes on the pins on the line in the hamper) has a contender to deal with.
Anyway, I saw one of these at a shower recently and decided to incorporate it into my baby shower for my BFF. But seeing that I wanted to make the all the decorations useful, I decided to make it more of a floral basket instead of a bouquet.

Here is a pin for the bouquet....

Pinterest Pinned Bouquet

So, I found a really cute lavender woven basket at Michael's that had a canvas liner with large pastel buttons attached. "Cute as a Button" was my theme so I immediately snatched it up. Then I bought 2 floral arrangement stryofoamy cubes. I also bought an assortment of flowers that matched my theme and bunch of cute onesies, bibs, socks and hats in the same color scheme. Roll up the onesies, use some floral tape to attach to floral wire and stick them in the foam cubes. Then added in fabric flowers to fill in the gaps. 

Close Up

Finished Onesie Flower Basket ala' Tiffany
Happy Pinning!

Discovery Bottles

In preparation for this year’s Christmas list, I stumbled across a post somewhere online stating they were encouraging a “battery free Christmas” for their kids. This got me to thinking how much I love my son’s toys that make zero noise unless he’s banging them against something else (frequent occurrence). Now that he is older, he is quickly learning where the on and off buttons are for all of his noisy toys and has no problem turning things back on after mommy turns them off.

So with that being said, I am now always on the lookout for battery free toys. I have come across various postings for Discovery Bottles on Pinterest, but this one blog came with various examples to try.


I decided to make these bottles on a Thursday and my Pinning partner in crime asked I bring them over for our MNI (Mom’s Night In) the upcoming weekend. So I had to get busy! To start, I had to find and buy 6 bottles for the project. I wanted a little variety in my bottles so I had 2 diet cokes, 2 Sierra Mists, 1 bottle of water and 1 Sobe. Once I had drank and washed 6 bottles….I was ready for work (did you think I was going to say something about the bathroom?? That too J)

Besides a quick trip to Wal-Mart to collect some basics, a new glue gun, some glitter and buttons, I was all set. Below are the Discovery bottles I created.
1.       Water & Buttons – Good for shaking
2.       Water, Food Coloring and Baby Oil – Shake it up and watch the colored water separate from the oil
3.       Stale Mini Marshmallows – I have no clue how old they were because they were in the original packaging and stale enough they make a great shaker!
4.       Water, Food Coloring and Glitter – Shiny and Pretty J
5.       Pasta Noodles & Colored Pasta Noodles – GREAT for shaking and finding the colors
6.       Water, Food Coloring and Soap – Still can’t get this one quite right (explanation further down)

I made them all Friday night and by Monday, I am down to 4 bottles, the last two are goners.

Directions: To start, you add your ‘ingredients’ to an empty bottle, apply hot glue to the cap, screw back on. Shake & Enjoy.

Seems easy enough. However when liquids are involved, getting a solid seal can be difficult. So apply the cap quickly and with LOTS of pressure!
I found this to be true any time soap was involved. Not sure if it’s the general pressure or what, but I can’t get it to work. I’ve tried twice, no luck.

The pasta bottle was by far my favorite and it was lost within 12 hours of being finished L If you have a toddler, you know how easy it is to lose something.

To dye the pasta, I simply filled a few different bowels with water plus a good amount of food coloring. The more food coloring, the darker the pasta will be. You can adjust as you go. Same with time, the longer they soak, the darker they’ll be. I let them sit somewhere between 30-60 minutes, checking on them ever so often. I then drained each bowl and set the pasta out on paper towels to dry overnight. By morning, they were colorful and dry and ready to be mixed with plain pasta for a nice mix in the bottle.

I plan to remake the pasta and make some more as my son is enjoying the different bottles and mommy enjoys the lack of music, Spanish, ABC songs and counting J I feel like I am limiting his learning by saying that out loud LOL.

Val's Discovery Bottles
Hello - Just adding my 2 ¢ :)
When Val told me about these discovery bottles I immediately wanted photos and I made her bring them to my house. (where the macaroni bottle is apparently still hiding..) Anyway, I knew I had to make them once I saw them.
While we were out shopping together Val pointed out a 6 pack of Voss water bottles. They came in a carrier and were a great size, so I bought them. The pack was $6 so it was basically like buying 6 sodas. Anyway, I made my bottles and I love how they turned out. I did the following bottles
 1) Water & Baby Oil - I colored the water red for some reason so it kinda looks like blood...oops
2) Water & Glitter
3) Water & Buttons
4) Macaroni - I also dyed my pasta so I could be just like Val :)
5) Rice & Random Objects - kinda like an Eye Spy 
6) Beads
Tiffany's Discovery Bottles
Happy Pinning!
Val & Tiffany

Easy BBQ Pulled Pork

As I stated in my first food post, I am learning to LOVE my slow cooker. I came across a two-for-one in my book; a slow cooker meal with less than 5 ingredients! It seriously doesn’t get any easier than this!

As you can see from the Pinned image below, there are really only 4 Ingredients.

As you can see from the Pinned image below, there are really only 4 Ingredients.
1.       Pork Butt – I used 3.5 pounds for 4 people and had a little left over
2.       Bottle of BBQ Sauce – Sweet Baby Rays really is my favorite and this recipe called for it!
3.       1 Can of Diet Pepsi
4.       Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
That’s it.

The recipe called for 1 can of diet Pepsi and ½ a bottle of BBQ Sauce. I would suggest modifying that a little as the sauce around the meat was more liquid than sauce. I would suggest flipping the two and doing ½ a can of soda and the whole bottle of BBQ sauce.

Nonetheless, I simply poured some warm BBQ sauce over the pulled pork before eating and it was delicious.

Yarn Wreaths

Val and I had MNI this past weekend. M.N.I= Mommies Night In. Our husbands for some reason went camping in western MD in the middle of November. So to celebrate our freedom, we spend all day together trying to tire our toddlers out and then drink wine and hang out once they go to bed.

This time we decided it was the perfect opportunity to be crafty and try some pins. After a few emails of links and pins and discussion, we decided to go with "Yarn Wreaths". There are tons of pins on Pinterest of these things and after reading up and looking at pictures we decided, how hard could it be?
Click here to link to the tutorial

So with our 2 under 2 toddlers in tow we scoured a craft store for the supplies needed. The supplies were simple, cheap and easy to find... 14" wreath (we ended up with straw wreaths), a few sheets of craft felt , a bag of fake pearls and a roll of yarn. We both chose off white yarn because we really liked the look of this wreath. Cost about $13 total per wreath....which was great. And kind of surprising considering sellers on Etsy are selling them for $40-$50....but we soon learned why.

When we finally put our kids to bed, we broke out a bottle of wine and our craft store goodies. And then we reread the tutorial to figure out what to do. Let me say that at the top of this tutorial "Danielle" says "I am smitten with yarn wreaths and I just want to keep making them.!" Yeah well guess what Danielle DIDN'T LONG it takes to wrap yarn around a 14" wreath! Needless to say 2 hours later Val and I were much less in love with this project than we were when we started. And down a bottle of wine...only a bottle because the yarn wrapping SERIOUSLY inhibited our drinking :(

Now we are pretty coordinated ladies but damn if we didn't have a time trying to wrap yarn around a wreath without tangling it. It turns out you basically have to toss the whole roll of yarn repeated through the center of the wreath to wrap the yarn. I some how created a mini yarn disaster out of my roll but Val came out unscathed.We did learn that the messier you wrap your yarn the better it looks and covers the wreath underneath.

At about a hour in, my hand holding the wreath was cramping and my wrapping arm was feeling the burn!(I will mention that I got MY wreath wrapped first even with a yarn disaster....hee hee.)By the end of the wreath I was worn out but we had not yet made the all important felt flowers to decorate the wreath so we kept on crafting.

The felt flowers were SUPER simple and I thought the tutorial gave great directions and visuals. The craft felt was 29¢ per sheet and worked great, although it limited our color choices. Val went with burgundy and burnt orange. I went with red and green. We both made about 6 felt roses in 30 minutes.  (Never ask Val to cut a circle out of a square piece of felt... :) And then I cut out a few leaves and we were ready to finish our wreaths. It took a few minutes to figure out how to arrange them to look the best and then we hot glued them. And we were done....3 hours later!

Tiffany's Finished Yarn Wreath

Val's Finished Product

Don't get me wrong, I love my finished product. But after reading through tons of tutorials, no one mentioned that it would be so time intensive. I don't think I could make tons and tons of these wreaths but I might make a few more as gifts. However, I will try to buy slightly wider yarn and perhaps the 12" wreath instead.

Oh and as a side note both Val and I tried a method to hang our wreaths that Val pinned. You use a Command hook upside down on the inside of your door and hook the ribbon around it. Its super easy and you have the option of adjusting the placement of the wreath. Here is the link :)
Happy Pinning!