Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pink and Blue

I don't know if anyone else wants to see the jewelry I'm making, but I'm using this outlet as a record of what I'm learning as I go along. I figure I can look back at this in a year and be amazed at what I've accomplished. At least I hope that's the case.

I'm also using this opportunity to attempt to learn something about product photography through trial and error. First thing I've learned: I need better lighting. It might be getting close to the point where I need to invest in an off-camera flash...

Anyway, here's the latest!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

And this is why my blog has the title is does...

I settled in to make another necklace today. I actually made a different one first, but I don't like the way it turned out and I'll be taking it apart soon. Tonight I started playing with wire working. Do you like what I came up with? I do!

(Yes, I know the photography leaves a little to be desired. I wasn't concentrating on that, I was too excited to get the picture and share it!)


Thanks to my mom and mother-in-law, I can now get started on my new creative outlet, jewelry making! Both got me gifts related to the endeavor and I've jumped right in. This is a photo of my first project. I still have some things to improve, of course, but I'm really happy with how they turned out and excited to try more things!

Company for Christmas

I was a little delayed in uploading the final four images of the series due to having company for the holiday, but here they are now (along with a couple bonus recipe links).

The first night they were here, we made cheesy chicken wild rice casserole (recipe from Picky Palate), one of my favorites.

On Sunday, day 23, we made Spritz cookies. We made traditional almond flavor and a different raspberry gelatin recipe.

Christmas Eve we opened gifts and celebrated with my parents. Look at all those presents under our tree!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The First Day of Winter

It's beginning to look a lot like ... 

This is probably the first year I wouldn't have minded if we didn't have snow for Christmas. Alas, it was not to be. We weren't hit too hard by the storm yesterday, but we did get a small share of the snow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Go Marquette!

Ok, there's not really anything "Christmas" about these pictures to make them fit the 25 Days of Christmas theme, but basketball is a big part of our lives this time of year. It's something we look forward to, even when the weather leaves something to be desired, which it did today...

So I tried my hand at some amateur sports photography. Not only do I not have the right equipment to do this genre justice, I'm not fast enough, either. Still, I think I got some ok shots. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snow Day

It appears our record setting streak of days without measurable snow has sadly come to an end.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 17

I started working on our Winter artwork tonight...

Custom Pot Rack

We have a lot of pots and pans. And we just got married, so we just got even more. Our cabinet where those pots and pans were stored was beginning to look a bit icky...

We were running out of room and it was difficult to get things in and out. So I decided we needed a solution. Unfortunately, our kitchen is kinda tiny, so the options are limited. Doing some searching online, I found this idea. I thought it would be a great solution to hang the pots and pans in the cabinet.

So I went to Amazon and ordered the suggested hardware and enlisted my dad for help over the Thanksgiving weekend. Cost: $44.66 (free shipping with Prime)

That weekend arrived and we started planning and calculating and measuring. Then we noticed the rack I bought only had 6 hooks. You saw my cabinet. That's not even close to enough. So back online I went to see about ordering more hooks. That's when we discovered the nasty trick. Extra hooks cost $10 each! If I wanted 4 more hooks, I'd end up paying nearly as much as the rack itself!

Um.... time to find another solution...

So we looked at cabinet storage solutions such as this one. Good idea, but a little more than we wanted to pay at the moment. It was something we decided to keep in mind for the future, but we kept looking for more options.

There is one place in my kitchen where we decided we might be able to hang pots, at the far end by the fridge.

Theoretically the pot rack I bought would work for this purpose as well, but we'd have the same issue with extra hooks costing way too much. Time to improvise.

The first decision was how we wanted to hang it. We checked for studs and decided it would probably work to hang it from the ceiling. So we measured and then headed to the hardware store to see if we could figure something out.


Here's what we ended up with (after stopping at all three big chain hardware stores ... multiple times).
1" by 3' aluminum tube : $6.54
2 - 3 7/8" round screw hooks : $0.92
2 - 1/4x4 J bolts : $1.68
12 - 1 1/2 Steel Rings : $9.91
8 - 2 1/8" S hooks : $10.05 (still need to get a couple more, they ran out)
1/4" hex nuts (20ct, but only needed 2) : $1.04
7/8" rubber chair foot floor protectors (4 ct, only 2 needed) : $2.17
Total: $32.41

What we did

First we need to drill holes in the aluminum tube. This was the most difficult part. It's really hard to make sure the holes are in the center of the tube and lined up straight, but we winged it and it worked.

The screw hooks were screwed into studs in the ceiling. They need to be in studs if you want them to support the weight. We were a little unsure if there were actually studs there since we didn't see much wood coming out of the holes we drilled, but since it's held for a month, I'm going to guess we're good.

The J bolt is secured in the tube with a hex nut and then hung from the screw hook. We also bought a little bit of chain in case we wanted it lower, but we ended up not using it since the hooks gave us just the right amount of distance from the ceiling.

To hang the pots, we put the steel rings on the tube (before screwing in the J bolt) and then hung S hooks from them. This ensured the pots would hang sideways and can nestle inside of each other a bit, giving us more room. If you wanted them to hang facing the wall, you could just get some bigger S hooks and put them right on the tube itself.

To dress up the rough ends of the tube a bit, we used the chair/floor protectors on the ends.

And this is the final product, all for under $35.

What do you think? Ready to tackle your own?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 16

We saw/listened to a beautiful Cantata at church today where I took this picture. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two for 1 Special

11th Day: The first wrapped present under the Christmas tree.

12th Day: Macaroni Salad for our workplace potluck.
Maybe next time I make the salad I'll post a photo montage and how-to along with the recipe. I didn't want to take the time last night. But suffice it to say if you ever need or want a pasta salad that doesn't use mayo, this one's a winner and the recipe was passed down from my grandmother.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Black Cherry Delight Popcorn

One of many awesome wedding gifts we received was a cookbook titled 101 Things to do with Popcorn. There are some interesting recipes inside and some really fun ones. I've made a couple and decided to try something new tonight. I didn't have the right ingredients for anything specific from the book, so I mixed and matched and came up with my own concoction. 

To start, you need some popped popcorn. We don't want the special butter or movie popcorn you can buy in the store because we're putting our own topping on it. So we want to start with about 1/3 cup of unpopped kernels and we're going to dump them in a regular old brown paper lunch bag. 

Fold up the top of the bag so the kernels don't come out as they pop. 

My microwave has a popcorn setting. If yours doesn't, just put it in for about 3 - 4 minutes and listen for the popping to slow. 

After the popcorn is popped comes my least favorite step. It's a little awkward, but necessary if we don't want to break our teeth. 

Using a wire rack on top of the bowl of popcorn, tip the bowl over and shake it. The unpopped kernels will fall through the wire rack. 

Once finished with that step, add about a half cup of mini marshmallows to the popcorn. 

Now it's time to mix up the topping. Heat 4 Tbl butter or margarine with 1/4 cup light corn syrup. 

Add 2 Tbl sugar and 1 packet (.3 oz) black cherry gelatin. Once well mixed and heated, remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp baking soda. This will make it fizz up a bit. 

Quickly, while the topping is still hot, pour it over the popcorn. If you let the topping cool too much, it won't melt the marshmallows. 

Then mix it up. If you want, you can let it cool on a baking sheet. If you're like me, you won't want to wait. 

Doesn't that look tasty? 

Store it in an air tight container. I don't recommend eating it all in one sitting, it's very sweet. But very tasty! 

9th Day

I know I'm a little late with this one. I remembered to take the picture right before bed, but I didn't want to stay up later to post it. So you get it today instead.

In honor of the Marquette Men's basketball team beating UW-Madison on Saturday...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pajama Brunch 2012

Today was our 2nd Annual Holiday Pajama Brunch. It was sooo much fun. 

First a little setup...

Then the guests started to arrive...
Love that red hair!

The kids had a blast playing with some new gifts...

Yum! Time to eat!

Always at least one shy one...

Aww... getting tired...

That's my boy!

Doesn't everyone play under the table?

Now an important task... 
...mixing up some reindeer food to make sure Santa's reindeer can find your house and have something to munch on while he's inside.

Can't wait to do it again next year!