I did it! My adventures in creativity.

I did it! From cooking to crafts, I will share some of my adventures and experiments, both successful and not-so-successful. Hopefully along the way you can find inspiration for some projects of your own!   -Amy

Steampunk Journals

Steampunk Journal

We did it!

That's right, I said we. This time I shared my experiment with the Creative Journey Group at the Library. For those who don't know, Creative Journey is a program that meets every Tuesday from 10:00-12:00 to do various creative activities. Back in September we hopped on the Steampunk train and jazzed up some composition books (which, thanks to post-back-to-school sales only cost something like 22 cents each - score!) with leather-look covers and steampunk embellishments. It was a lot of fun and everyone's journals turned out great.


In order to make the leather-look covers (without breaking the bank on actual leather) here are the steps we followed (I found the project at flowerfoot.blogspot.com):

1)lightly spray brown cardstock with water (do not saturate - just mist)

2) crumple and unfold cardstock carefully. Repeat until the paper is as distressed as you like.

3)flatten as best you can and sponge dark brown ink. Some of us repeated step 1 at this point. Be careful, though, as the cardstock will rip if it gets too wet and crumpled.

4)flatten and allow to dry. To get the shiny leather effect, paint with a light coat of Gloss finish Mod Podge.Journal in porgressfinished journalsjournal in progress

In addition to "leathering" our covers (which were mod podged to the composition books) we also used Steampunk and Victorian stamps (in brown, gold, and silver inks), cutouts of steampunk images (free clip art), and metal bits from the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. There are any number of embellishments you could add: feathers, flowers, ribbons, etc. Let your imagination run wild!

JournalJournal in progressSteampunk Journal

Journal in progressSteampunk Journal

One thing I loved about this project was how even with the same materials, each person's finished journal was their own unique expression. This would be a fun project to do with older kids (tweens and teens would probably get a kick out of it) but would definitely be a bit too complex for the younger ones. All of the adults who made a journal really seemed to enjoy it.

We did it! We took ordinary, blah compositon books and turned them into works of art worthy of great writing. Or in my case, probably grocery lists. Whatever. Steampunking our journals was a fun and creative project that I would definitely recommend.  If you are interested in Steampunk, I would also suggest that you come to Steampunk Saturday on October 13 from 10:00-2:00 here at APL. There won't be journals, but there will be other fun Steampunk activities, costume contests, and guest speakers.  Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes for you!


Chicken Caprese Pasta

I did it!

The other night I decided to try something new for dinner, just to break us out of our rut. I also made the brave decision to just whip something up on my own instead of relying on Pinterest, my new best friend, for a recipe. What did I have on hand? Thin sliced chicken breasts, two large ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil, all of which needed to get used before it became dangerous to eat. What to make . . . well, if I added in pantry staples like spaghetti (whole wheat, of course), parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar I could whip up a pretty tasty Chicken Caprese type pasta. Here’s what I did:

Cut chicken (about 1 lb.) into bite sized pieces and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper

Dice tomatoes

Shred basil (I used a small handful. Sorry, I’m not a measurer. I just eyeball things. I’d guess it was about ½ a cup or so)

Heat 1 glug of olive oil (maybe a tablespoon) in a medium skillet over medium heat and add in chicken. Cook until evenly browned.  Add in tomatoes and several sloshes of balsamic (maybe 1/4-1/2 cup). At this point I discovered that I still had a little heavy cream in the fridge from a recent recipe, so I stirred in a glug of that as well (1-2 tablespoons). Turn heat to low and cover. 

While that was simmering and the flavors were blending I boiled my noodles.

About 5 minutes before serving I tossed in the basil and a small handful of parmesan cheese (about ¼ cup). When the noodles were ready I dumped them into the skillet and mixed it all together. After plating it I sprinkled each serving with a bit more parmesan. Yum! You definitely need to serve crusty bread with this to soak up the creamy, balsamic-y goodness.


Here’s what it looked like before plating – why I didn’t take the picture once it was plated and ready to serve I don’t know.

Chicken Caprese Pasta

I did it! I created a healthy and yummy dinner that the whole family loved! (Okay, the 5-year-old didn’t love it, but she’s going through a phase where she doesn’t like anything. The 2-year-old couldn’t get enough of it, so I consider it a success). Try it yourself and let me know how it worked for you!

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit Muffin

I did it!

As a special treat for the family I decided to make bacon egg and cheese biscuit muffins that I found on Pinterest (where else . . .). This recipe originally came from the blog Cooking with my Kid (you can find it at http://www.cookingwithmykid.com/recipes/bacon-egg-cheese-biscuit-muffins-veggie-option/). Here’s the recipe:

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit Muffins

Prep Time:5 mins Cooking Time: 20 to 25 mins

1 package biscuit dough (10 biscuits)
3 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup of shredded cheddar
4 slices bacon (we used turkey bacon and veggie bacon)
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon in a pan or in the oven until it’s almost done. Chop into small bits and set aside. (Note: if using veggie bacon do not cook it ahead – simply defrosted it and chopped it up.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together eggs and milk, a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper to taste and set aside. Meanwhile, roll out each biscuit until it’s slightly bigger than the circumference of your muffin tin. Grease the muffin tin with cooking spray and push one biscuit into each muffin cup being sure to push it all the way down and to the sides. Leave the ridge hanging over the edge. Divide the cheese evenly in each of the biscuit cups and then pour egg in, filling each cup only 1/2 way. They will look empty but resist the urge to top them off. You must account for the biscuits puffing up – otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands. Sprinkle bacon atop of the egg and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until biscuits are golden and eggs are set. Use a butter knife to loosen each muffin and serve warm.

Here’s how they looked:

bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit muffin

These bad boys were seriously delicious, but I did learn a few things that I will pass on to you:

1)      I’d suggest using jumbo muffin tins. I had difficulty getting all of the egg mixture into the cups without overflow.

2)      Also suggested: Use a drip pan. (You know, a cookie sheet under the muffin tin to catch any drips.) I had serious problems with overflow. So bad that there are currently several little egg mounds still cooking on the bottom of my oven whenever I use it. I know, gross. I really need to clean it but it’s too darn hot. And I’m too lazy. Even though it has a self cleaning feature. Don’t judge!

I did it! I cooked a super yummy breakfast that the whole family loved! Even the 5-year-old was nuts about them, which says something. Try it yourself and let me know how it worked for you!


Summer Wreath

I did it! At our house we like to have something different on the door for each season. Winter is no problem, what with the holidays - snowmen, wreaths, easy-peasy. Summer has always been a bit more of a challenge for me. Especially since I am frugal, and when I see seasonal decorations for sale I generally tend to gasp dramatically and say to myself, “They want HOW MUCH for that? Ridiculous!” And so for years now summer (okay, spring, too) has had to make do with a metal hat/birdhouse thingy with flowers on it. That fell off the nail almost every time we shut the door. Which meant that most of the time it was sitting down at the bottom of the door waiting to attack the ankles of anyone foolish enough to open our screen door.  Sort of like a not-so-cute decorative burglar alarm. Well, this year I decided enough was enough. I saw a cute wreath on Pinterest and figured, “I can do that. It will be a fun project with the 5-year-old.”

A few days later, off to Hobby Lobby we went to gather our materials. Here’s what we needed to make two wreathes (the 5-year-old wanted one for the front door and one for the back door). All prices are approximate - my memory isn’t what it used to be, and of course I didn’t save the receipt:

2 foam wreath forms $5.00 each

2 skeins fun fur yarn (I have also seen it called eyelash yarn) $5.00 each

1 spool ribbon $4.00

2 bunches silk flowers $8.00 each

To make the wreath all I did was wrap the wreath form with the yarn, making sure that each loop was close enough so that no white showed through. If you can score a green wreath form, you wouldn’t have to be quite as careful as I was. I thought that the 5-year-old would get into helping with this portion of the project, but she thought it was boring and scampered off. So I wrapped alone. It’s pretty mindless, though, so I was able to catch up on some DVRd episodes of House Hunters International while I wrapped. To secure the end once I was finished wrapping I simply tucked it through earlier loops. In hindsight, it would have been even easier to simply shoot it with a staple on the backside of the wreath. Next time.

Once the form was greened up, it was time to decorate it. Cut a long piece of ribbon, loop it around the wreath twice and tie a bow at the top. The next part was the 5-year-old’s favorite: the flowers! Cut the flowers from the bunch so that they have a short stem, and poke the wire into the wreath wherever you want the flower to be placed. It doesn’t get much easier than that! Here is the result of our (mostly my) efforts.

summer wreath

It looks really cute, and since I used a coupon for some of the materials and we had yarn, ribbon, and flowers left over each wreath cost less than $20.00. This is an idea that you can use for almost any season/holiday. I’m thinking red, white, and blue yarn with little flags for the 4th of July; autumnal colors with clusters of leaves for fall; black and orange with pumpkins, black cats, and/or witches hats and broomsticks for Halloween; green with ornaments for Christmas; white with snowflakes for winter; red and white with hearts for Valentine’s Day; white and green with clover for St. Patrick’s Day . . . somebody stop me!

I did it! I made a seriously cute seasonal door wreath for much less than I’d have to pay in the store. And even though the 5-year-old wasn’t a ton of help, she’s really proud of “her” wreaths. The 2-year-old could not care less. Try it yourself and let me know how it worked for you!