My Crazy!!!! Life

So obviously I have not  blogged in a while.  not that I’m not creating, I am. But I’m also hosting a foreign exchange student, brought one son home from the Marshall Islands then sent him off North to college, have a daughter graduating high school and heading off to college in a few short weeks, have been growing my health businesses (weight loss and essential oils so IF you have questions, just ask), and selling my home and moving the family across country, just to name a few things.  But all that aside, I thought I’d share one of my favorite South American recipes. My family (who are truly some of the pickiest eaters I know) absolutely love these.  I hope you will too.  If you try them out, leave me a note as to what you thought.

 

Chilean Meat Empanadas

Makes 60

2 lb ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
1 bundle fresh cilantro
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp salt
¼ c cooking red wine
5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 can green olives
3 small pkg raisins (soak in bowl of water for 3-4 hours ahead of time)
2 pkg dough discs (can be found in any Hispanic or Latin grocery store)

Brown up the ground beef in a pan. In a second pan, cook onion. Add salt and cayenne to beef and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add flowering tops of cilantro to onion to soften (about 1 minute) then combine onion mixture, beef, and 1 wine. Simmer on very low.

Taking a disc, spoon 1- 1 ½ tbl on meat mixture on one half of disc. Add 1 slice of egg, 1-2 olives, and 3-4 plumped raisins. Wet eadge of dough disc with raisin water, fold over do the disc creates a half moon and using a fork, press edges together.

Empanadas can be either deep fried (Chilean Country Style) or baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (Chilean City Style).

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Variations:

Cheese Empanadas

1 bundle fresh oregano
2 pkg twist cheese (mozzarella works great)

Prepare as above

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Fruit Empanadas

any type of pie filling fruits

Prepare as above

Dessert Empanadas

2 pkg prepared pudding or custard

Prepare as above

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Penny, Penny, Who Has the Penny?

I told myself that during my last two weeks of summer break with my family, that I wasn’t going to attempt any new projects. Alas, the best laid plans.

Last Friday morning, i walked into my kitchen and got fed up with the scorched back splash that is the single mar in my otherwise pristine kitchen.  I have already dropped quite a lot of dough into my kitchen and I did not want to spend much more. Out of no where came the idea for a copper back splash to pull the wood floor hues up into my black and white kitchen. I had seen several “penny” projects on Pinterest and after about 30 minutes of research, I was ready to go. 

I am lucky to already have sheet metal covering the splash area under my kitchen cabinets  so I didn’t have to prep the surface beyond wiping it down with a degreaser.  If you try this project on a non flat surface, whether vertical or horizontal, you will need to compensate by adhering a non flammable flat base to where ever you’ll be adhering the coins.

The first step to the project was cleaning the coins. You can imagine how filthy they were considering the number of hands they may have passed through since their minting. To clean the coins, I first soaked them in CLR for 20 minutes, stirring them and rubbing the dirtier specimens. After the CLR bath, I soaked the dirty (darker) coins in Coca-cola (there’s the #1 reason I won’t drink soda).

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Once the coins were stripped of as much gunk as I could chemically remove, I rinsed them and then using a sheet of white paper, I laid out my desired pattern. I needed to see in my mind how each pattern would work.

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Although my research recommended super glue as an adhesive, and knowing that I didn’t have the time or patience to hold coins upright on my vertical surface until they adhered, I chose to apply each coin using a waterproof, heat proof silicon adhesive.  It gripped the coins almost immediately and required only 24 hours to fully cure.

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I was concerned about maintaining my lines so I applied the copper glass blocks that I chose to edge the back splash area with, before I completed adhering the coins. This gave me a nice clean edge and showed me where I would need to place cut coins to finish off the rows.

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It took about 5 hours to clean and adhere the coins in a heads/tails pattern and to cut the half coins and adhere them as well.

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Now comes the hard part….waiting. The adhesive has to cure for 24 hours minimum.

Monday morning, I was anxious to go again, especially since Saturday all I could do was stare at my half-baked project. The next step was to degrease the wall again, removing any excess adhesive, double checking that all the coins were firmly attached, and prepping the surface for grouting.

The best way to remove silicon adhesive is to spray the area with WD40, so after a good coating of the oil and letting it stand for 10-15 minutes, the scrubbing commenced with some steel wool.

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Here’s a trick that I learned out of desperation.  After scrubbing with WD40, tackle the wall with Magic Eraser or even better a generic version of Magic Eraser.  It shined up the coins beautifully, even removing some very stubborn darkening AND it removed the even more stubborn adhesive from tiny crevices in the coins.

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Once the wall was dry, the grout was ready to be applied. I chose a charcoal non sanded grout since the crevices between coins is very tiny and I wanted the grout to match the counter tops.  2 cups of powder grout and 2/3 of a cup of water (mixed to toothpaste consistency) was spread over the back splash. The non-sanded grout doesn’t require a lot of pressing to get into seams and the grout went on in about 10 minutes.

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Then I had to wait again for the grout to set. Those 20 minute intervals were killing me.

As soon as that timer went off, I was attacking the wall with a wet cheesecloth.  I prefer cheesecloth because it won’t pull uncured grout out of seams.

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Several passes with clean, damp clothes and another scrub down with my handy miracle Magic Eraser and my penny back splash was complete.

Just to be safe, I didn’t cook on the back burners of my stove for another 24 hours so that the grout had a chance to completely cure.

Clean up is easy. A damp cloth removes any grime or grease or stain and the coins withstand excessive heat.  They turn a lovely shade of blue when they heat up but they quickly cool down and do not retain heat.

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I love the focal point the back splash now gives the kitchen. And it’s fun to watch the “chefs” try to pick out the different pennies in the wall as they cook over the stove top.  I loved using 2009 Lincoln commemorative pennies, the standard issues, several Canadian pennies, 1945 “one cents”, and the one rare Indian head penny (circa 1880s). Definitely a project I would undertake again.

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Quilting for the Bride

I took a break from blogging this summer as I sent off one son to Oklahoma City, two exchange daughters to The Netherlands and Italy respectively, planned a wedding with my oldest son and ran through all the Senior rigamarole with my daughter. On top of that, I added in an out-of-state book signing and a health coach convention across country. Something had to be set aside and I’m afraid it was my craft blog.  But I’m back for a quick visit before the craziness of school starting takes over my household (just 10 short days away).

I did manage to do some crafting this summer.  One thing I truly enjoy are family traditions.  My family has a wonderful tradition to welcome new brides. The women of the family gather together and tie and/or piece together a quilt for the bride. I couldn’t let my son marry without implementing this tradition for my beautiful new daughter-in-law and it was a wonderful means of introducing her to many of her new female family members.

Katelyn (my DIL) picked the colors, and per tradition, I and my mother did the fabric shopping. I was a bit concerned since the colors were lime, teal, and chocolate.  Thank heavens for my very experienced mother.

We found these great materials at JoAnn’s

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The chocolate polka dot became decorator pillows and window valances.  The solid teal and the lime paisley are the quilt.  I also found a lime queen sized sheet at WalMart that I bought for the quilt backing.  So much easier and neater than pieced 45″ or 60″ material.

The quilt design is pretty simple…

Lime and teal paisley center bordered by solid teal on three sides and backed by solid lime.

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Since the couples bed is a Queen, I cut the topper material to match the queen size flat sheet I used for the backing.

When the day of the bridal shower arrived, all the women of my family who lived close by gathered, along with Katelyn to tie her new quilt. (Kudos to my husband for building me a great collapsible quilting frame).

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We tied the topper to the backing with lime green embroidery thread (3 strands) and followed the paisley print on the topper as our guide (I have quilting patterns but did not need them for this particular quilt.

HINT: Instead of buying an expensive quilting pattern, use white sheets and cut your own tie pattern in the sheet. It’s cheaper and a king size flat sheet will produce 4-6 different patterns.

The women had fun swapping stories, getting to know Katelyn, and catching up as they tied together.

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I don’t know what we enjoyed more, the accomplishment of a tied and ready-to-be-bound quilt or the visiting.

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Once the quilt was tied, it was up to me to bind the edges.  I opted for a blanket binding with a edging machine stitch.  It took several hours to pin the thin binding, but the finished look is very professional and clean looking.

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The edges are a three point and ensure that there is a crisp edge to the corners and that there will be no unraveling.

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Viola!! The finished quilt, all tied, bound, and ready to be delivered to the bride and groom.

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I’ll post a picture of the completed quilt set on the bed as soon as the newlyweds send me one.

Another Prom Dress

I have a hard time saying NO.  Even though I had a trip to get ready for, a writing deadline, clients to contact before I disappeared for the weekend, AND the event I was asked to sew for was a little over a week away, I still agreed to sew up a Grecian style Prom dress. At least, I l;earned some new sewing tricks AND the dress turned out beautiful.  Can’t wait to post pictures of the “belles of the ball” this coming weekend in all my creations.

This dress went from concept to reality in 3 days.

ImageCutting out is always the most tedious and boring step (in my opinion).

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To create the Grecian pleats, I had to cover the bodice and Empire waist form with a pleated layer.  Good thing… it’s gorgeous. Bad thing… it shrinks the dress dimensions.  Lesson learned as I had to put expanders into the back of the dress.

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The skirt required both a slip (under sheer skirt), a skirt, and an overlaid sheer drape. Not sure my machine still loves me.

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At least the finished dress is dreamy and the young dancer is pleased with my creation for her.

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Now to do some alterations for two more young Prom goers.

 

Trash to Treasure

A couple of years ago, I bought this “not too exciting” garden swing. I really wanted to have a place to sit and read and visit when the temperatures were nice.

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It lasted about 8 months.  The high winds in our area quickly tore off the canopy so we  moved the swing under a large mulberry tree.  Within another year, the sling was faded and by the end of 3 years, the sling had rotted and all that was left was the metal frame which was loose and useless.  I still really wanted a swing, especially for my daughter who loves to read outside.

BUT, I didn’t want to go buy another swing that really didn’t appeal to me aesthetically and would certainly suffer the same fate in our harsh weather.  I didn’t want to make do. Also, any fabric I used on the swing would have to be removable so that the elements didn’t destroy it as quickly as they had the original.

Some friends of ours had recently purchased a wooden swing and while I liked the look, it wasn’t the most comfortable place to sit. I had really liked the sling back style  of my own swing.

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Then it hit me, why didn’t I combine the two styles.  I already had a sling back frame. How hard could it be to make a wooden swing from that?

I purchased 12 1x4x10s and some metal brackets and went to work. It was quite the experience to drill into metal and fit slats across a curved frame.  I reenforced every two slats with a metal bracket through the bottom of the frame and into the wood.

Next,  I cut slats and angled the back of the swing in an Adirondack style so that the swing reclined at the angle I wished.

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While the wooden swing now had the right angle and height and slant, it was not going to be comfortable to sit on long term, especially for my garden reader.

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A quick trip to Hobby Lobby and I had bright cushions that make for a wonderful haven out in the garden.  My daughter has claimed the space as her own.

Now…to finish up the landscaping in the backyard.  Looks like I already have a new project in mind for this spring.

 

I had so much fun…

…On my recent Photo Walk. Even with the broken nails, skinned knees and elbows, blisters, and bruises, the event was totally worth it. I think I am even more in love with my camera and I was pleasantly surprised to discover areas of my community that I was completely unaware of.  I live here

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Dry, arid, windy, dusty desert.  Yet less than 20 minutes away, I discovered this

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and this

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and this

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while all along I was only expecting to see this

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Want to see more of my amazing Photo Walk?  Check out Twitter or Instagram under #highdesertphotowalk and leave me some comments telling me what you think.  If you’re interested in participating in the April Photo Walk, leave a comment here and I’ll send you details.