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!