Archive | February, 2012

Snow Storm and a Wolf

28 Feb

A while ago we had a young family event out at our house.  We had about ten families come on a Saturday morning for brunch, fellowship and skating.  It was snowing which made for a gorgeous day.

While all the parents and kids were out on the rink we saw about 8 wolves head out to the left of our house and quite a way out onto the ice.  How do I know they were wolves?  you might ask-

Well, they were the size of deer but looked liked dogs.

When I ran inside to grab my camera there was only one wolf left, darn it.  Ah well at least I got a picture of one of them.  Unfortunately it was snowing pretty hard at the time.  I will just have to keep my  camera close at all times.  =)

Fabric Printing

26 Feb

It was one of those mornings where the kids NEEDED some structure since they were set on annoying the crap out of one another.  Okay kiddos- how about a craft-

I found this piece of fabric in my stash and saw that we had a few old apples.  Add some paint and we had ourselves a project to keep them busy for at least ten minutes.

Do you notice anything in the background?

Even the deer wanted in on the action.

I think it would be cool to make this into a valance on one of their bedroom windows.  Who knows if that will happen anytime soon.  What I do know is the kids had fun and didn’t end up throwing the cat over the balcony for entertainment value.  Success!

What to do with All that Venison

24 Feb


We live in deer country, and thus one of the most accessible, local, and natural meats around is venison.  Neither Caitlyn nor I currently hunt, but through our network of relationships, (i.e. the local wild game butcher who happens to be a good friend), we have been able to obtain a plethora of venison that continues to last us through the winter.  Admittedly, the abundance of venison in our diet can lead to a sense of food monotony, thus we continually look for new ways to prepare and serve venison.  Our latest idea:  Venison Fajitas.

I defrosted a few venison steaks and then let them marinade in a homemade brine consisting of hot pepper juices, garlic, salt, pepper, habanero sauce, and whatever else I felt like splashing together.  The spicy, acidic marinade added quite a zing to the gamy flavor of venison. 

Once my steaks had adequately bathed (after about a day and a half) I was ready to throw together the fajitas.  I chopped my green peppers and onions, minced a little garlic, and halved some grape tomatoes.

I let the green peppers, onion, and garlic cook for a while before adding the tomatoes so as not to turn the tomatoes to mush.  Meanwhile, I cut the steaks into strips and then added them to the skillet with the veggies.   As the meat cooked, I stirred in a fajita spice mixture to coat the veggies and meat.  Mine came out of a packet but in the past we have made our own with basic spices like paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and cumin.  Delicious.








Once the meat cooks to the desired level, simply plate the contents of the skillet into warm corn tortillas and gobble them up.  It really warms the innards.




Chocolate Mousse and Messy Kids

21 Feb

Place a half cup of milk on the stove until it just starts to boil. Set aside.

Place a whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then 30 seconds again.  It will be almost melted.

Pour the milk into the chocolate chips to completely melt the rest of the chocolate.

Set in the fridge to let cool, until it starts to harden a bit on the sides.

Whip a pint of heavy whipping cream until it is whipped =)

Make sure the chocolate is cooled enough and then fold the chocolate into the whipped cream.


This dessert takes about a half hour and is delicious.  Hope you give it a try.

Your kids will love it but you will probably have to give them a bath afterwards.

Memory Shirt and Bear

19 Feb

At the end of January, Jared’s uncle Brian suddenly passed away.  I wanted to make something for Jared’s ten year old cousin out of his uncle Brian’s shirts.  They gave me two of his shirts.

I made the first shirt into an outfit for a little bear.  Brian was a huge Chicago cubs fan =)

The second shirt I made into a nightgown for her to sleep in at night.  I cut off the sleeves and finished them off and also took in the sides so it would fit her better.

I hope these items help her remember how much her dad loved her and when she gets sad she can give the bear a little hug.


17 Feb

Here are some happy flowers to brighten up your day.

Jared got all his girls one beautiful rose for Valentines Day.

And he got me a kindle, isn’t he a great guy?

Unfortunately he just started reading the Hunger Games trilogy, so it might be at least a week or so until I REALLY get to enjoy the Kindle =)

Flower Girl Dress

15 Feb

My older sister, Courtney, was a flower girl for my Uncle Brad and Aunt Kathy’s wedding

and my little sister, Caroline, was a flower girl for my Uncle Bill and Aunt Karen’s wedding

We tried the dresses on the girls and thought it might be fun if they wear the dresses for Caroline’s upcoming wedding in June.

Sophi was in the one Courtney wore and Aleah was in the dress Caroline wore.

I will definitely have to make some major changes to Aleah’s dress because it is too big for her.

I am not certain if the girls will be wearing these dresses for the big day but they sure had fun feeling like little princesses.

Valentine Flower

12 Feb

Here is a easy and beautiful craft for you to make for your Valentine this Tuesday.

1.  Stack 10 pieces of tissue paper of a variety of colors. Using scissors, cut the stack into the shape of a dog bone, about 4 inches long.

2.  Push a pipe cleaner up through the center of each bone until all are skewered on the stem. Fan them around so they don’t lay one on top of another, but create a circle shape.

3.  Bend down the top end of the pipe cleaner to keep the petals on.

4.  Pinch the bases of the petals so each bone makes two heart shapes, then squeeze and shape the petals into a flower. You can create open blooms or closed buds.

5.  To keep the flower from sliding down the stem, wrap the pipe cleaner three times around the base of the flower.

Ain’t they pretty?

Hope you all have a great Valentines Day and get to share it with your sweetheart.

Absolutely A-Line

10 Feb

I received the most lovely package the in the mail a couple weeks ago.  It was from a friend and follower of my blog.

She sent me some adorable flannel to make pajamas for the girls as well as a great book:

The book came with one easy pattern and in the book was a bunch of different ways to use the pattern.

I chose to make the dress that was featured on the front.  And I finally got to use some fabric I got during my Duluth birthday trip.

I love the frill on the bottom.

It is a bit big on her but I don’t want to make it smaller, it will just fit her eventually I guess.

Gymnastics Bar How-To

8 Feb

Repost: We still get frequent inquiries into the construction of our gymnastics bar, and some readers have asked some very good questions.  Thus, we’ve decided to repost with some added explanation and photos toward the end.  Also, read the comment thread to follow the discussion.

A number of people have inquired about how I constructed the gymnastics bar, so rather than answer each question individually, we decided to devote a post to explaining the gymnastics bar project.

First the materials:

The structure I used requires 6 – 8 ft. 2×4’s.  Head to your local lumberyard or check the rafters in the garage for all that lumber leftover from the last project.

You’ll need a rod for the bar.  I used a fairly heavy duty 1.5 inch dowel rod I’d gotten at a yard sale.  Like most things purchased at a yard sale, it came in handy one day.

To drill the holes in the vertical support beams for the crossbar to fit in to, I used a spade bit attachment on my power drill.  Spade bits come in a variety of sizes, just get one wider than the diameter of the dowel rod.

While you’re at the hardware store getting your spade bit, grab some primer and the paint colors you want for the bar.

…Oh, and some screws, you know, to screw everything together.

The basic procedure:

Disclaimer:  I am assuming a basic knowledge of carpentry when I give these instructions thus they are not as detailed as they could be.  If you need more insight, ask your next door neighbor.

First, make the support beams.  Cut three of the 8 ft. 2×4’s into 4 ft. boards.  You should now have six – 4 ft. boards.  Two of these boards will be your straight vertical supports and the other four boards will be the angled support beams that attach flush with the  edge of the vertical beam and flush with the ground.  See the picture for clarification.  I made these angled cuts with just a skill saw and they are kind of sloppy.  A chop saw is the best tool for the job.

You may now screw these sets together and you will have two structures that look like ‘A’s but with a vertical beam in the center extending beyond the diagonal supports.

In the vertical supports you may now drill your holes near the top of the vertical beam using your spade bit.  Drill the hole at the same height on each support, this ensures your bar will be level.  I didn’t drill the hole all the way through each 2×4 but I did drill about on inch deep into each support.

You should now build your rectangular base that the support beams will screw in to.  I built my base 6 feet long by 4 feet across, thus cutting my boards to these lengths. Screw these boards together into a perfect rectangle.

You may now set your A-shaped support posts onto the rectangular base.  These supports should sit directly across from each other, centered on the 6 foot long sides, thus there will be about 4 feet between them.  Decide exactly where you want these to sit on the base, and mark accordingly before screwing down.  Based on where you decide to set your support posts, you should now be able to calculate the length to cut your bar.  Remember the bar will sit about 1 inch deep into each support post.  Factor this in when measuring the distance across between the posts.  Cut the dowel rod accordingly.  Figure it out.

You should now have made all your necessary measurements and cuts.  You can screw the whole thing together if you want, but you may need to assemble it all in the room you plan to leave it.  it doesn’t fit easily through doors.  And yes, I would even put a few screws through the vertical posts into the ends of the bar, just for good measure. (As you can see, I painted mine before screwing it into the base, no big deal).


As you can see, I added two screws through the post into each end of the bar. This should keep the bar from twisting. One might also fill the space with wood glue if necessary.

DSC_5110 DSC_5109

The above photos show how I increased lateral support by extending a post out perpendicular to the frame, aligned with the center support.  I then ran a support down diagonally from the center support to the additional board on the ground.

Prime and paint.  (Oh, and you can putty the screw holes is you want, but only if you’re trying to impress your daughter’s friend’s dad.)

Have fun!