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21  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Kettle corn on: June 07, 2009 10:32:16 PM
Friends always act amazed when I mention the phrase "homemade kettle corn," so I thought I'd post a quick tute here.

You need:

Big saucepan or small stockpot with a lid
About 1/3 c. popcorn
About 1/4 c. sugar
Enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/8 inch deep
Salt

Pull the battery out of your smoke alarm and turn on the exhaust fan above your stove before you start, because you are probably going to screw up and burn this the first couple of times you do it. Like anything else, it gets easier with practice.

Cover the bottom of the pan with oil. Throw in three kernels of popcorn and heat until they all pop. Dump in popcorn and sugar, stir quickly, and cover. Remove from heat and shake vigorously every three seconds.

Once corn pops (which takes about five minutes), dump it into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with salt, and enjoy.

I make this all the time. It's super easy, and if you let it cool down and then store it in a sealed container, it will stay fresh and crispy for several days.
22  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / UPDATED: You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy.... on: June 07, 2009 09:40:27 PM
UPDATE: Thanks to a winter storm, I was off school, so today -- nearly eight months after starting this project -- I got out my paints and finished the rest of the band. I think the little guys turned out pretty cute:



I especially like the contrast between their cutesy-innocent accessories (dragonfly, sunflower, snail, mushrooms, etc.) and their rock-and-roll-all-night makeup. I couldn't resist making Peter's mushrooms look a little psychedelic....

Through a bizarre stream-of-consciousness intersection of pop culture icons, I came up with the most gloriously ludicrous idea I have ever had, and I was powerless to resist the urge to make it reality.

I'd been looking for lawn gnomes for several months, having had an inexplicable compulsion to paint a few to scatter around my garden. With that in mind, on the way back from visiting family in Illinois last month, I insisted that my husband stop at Sullivan Pottery on Route 66 in Missouri.

I hit the mother lode. I wound up buying five gnomes in two different sizes, all at bargain-basement prices (I think the cheapest was $5, and the most expensive was $10).

Surveying my little platoon of smiling concrete sprites, I found myself thinking, "That's like the lawn gnome version of the Something-Or-Other Army." The term I was trying to come up with was "Terra Cotta Army," but what kept popping into my head instead was "KISS Army."

You can guess what happened next:



I'm still working on his bandmates, but I couldn't resist posting the Paul Stanley Tribute Gnome. I don't really know why I started with Paul Stanley. I think I just like his makeup.



I thought about painting KISS-style clothing on the gnomes, but their little jackets and stuff are pretty well-defined, which makes it hard to get too cute with the paint job without it being really obvious. As I thought about it, I decided that the only thing more ridiculous than a KISS Army lawn gnome was a KISS Army lawn gnome who looked like a perfectly normal, garden-variety gnome in every aspect except his makeup and membership patch.



I'd originally chosen to ignore the imperfection in the concrete on his foot, but the more I thought about all the times I've stepped in poop while turning compost, the more I decided it made perfect sense for a garden gnome to have something on his shoe.



His pants are shiny and black because his little concrete butt was so carefully rendered that I decided he really deserved a pair of arseless chaps just to show it off, but once I started painting them, they didn't look quite right, so I just turned them into leather pants instead. (Actually, I'm not sure the goal was for them to look quite right. I think I would worry about myself -- a LOT -- if I saw a lawn gnome wearing arseless chaps and thought, "Yeah ... that looks about right." But they didn't look wrong in quite the right way, either.)

I'll update this post as I finish the other gnomes.

23  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Green Man lawn gnome on: January 29, 2009 10:39:37 AM
This is how a bored English teacher spends her third consecutive snow day:



Plan A was to make a psychedelic lawn gnome (think Janis Joplins Porsche meets J.K. Rowling) inspired by some crazy earthy-hippie-celestial stationery I have but then I noticed that my little concrete companions beard and bangs had kind of a leafy texture and I adore the Green Man so of course I had to scrap my original plans and go for a more mythical look.

The metallic paint on his hat, legs and feet sort of overpowered his face, so I added just a little iridescent glitter paint to his beard and eyes after I finished. Now he looks like what youd get if RuPaul gave the Green Man a makeover. Not that theres anything wrong with that.

He still needs a coat of lacquer before he goes outside to keep an eye on the garden. Im also thinking of picking up some crazy-looking ceramic mushrooms from Garden Ridge for him to tend.
24  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Where the Wild Shoes Are on: December 29, 2008 11:24:55 PM
I felt a creative outburst coming on this evening, so I went to Payless and bought a pair of Chuck Taylor knockoffs. Using some leftover paint and a Sharpie, I dressed them up to match the mural in my office:







I'm not entirely happy with the shading on the Wild Thing -- which turned out a bit dark, especially after I applied a coat of clear nail polish as a sort of sealer over it -- but I think they'll be fun to wear to school. My sophomores love it when I wear something a little bit unusual, so I'm sure they'll find hand-painted shoes amusing.

P.S.: Here's the link to the mural, in case you're curious: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=177669.0.
25  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Theft-resistant sunflower pens on: October 14, 2008 11:33:34 PM
I recently landed myself a gig teaching sophomore English at a high school a mile and a half from my house. I love my kids, but their irresponsibility is about to drive me nuts: They can't seem to remember to bring ANYTHING to class. Their previous teacher spoiled them rotten by supplying them with pencils and paper every day. The problem is that they never remember to return the pencils when they're done using them, so keeping them supplied with writing instruments can get quite expensive.

Teaching is all about stealing good ideas, so I swiped one from the office, where one of the secretaries has attached all the pens to silk flowers and stashed them in a vase on the counter. I'm crazy about sunflowers and bees, so for about $10 worth of materials and some paint leftover from another project, I threw together this functional little decoration for my desk:



It's still possible that somebody will make off with a pen once in a while, but the large blossoms make it less likely.
26  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Bees and bugs on: July 20, 2008 10:14:38 PM
I've been promising myself for a long time that I would sit down and figure out how to make a sling-type purse. I finally rummaged through my fabric stash tonight and came up with this:



It's reversible. Also, my rat terrier apparently thinks there's a cookie inside it:



Action shot (please overlook my disheveled appearance -- we spent an hour and a half working in the yard this evening, so the purse was kind of my present to myself for weeding my poor neglected garden):



It's not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well, especially considering I just made up the pattern as I went along and was totally flying by the seat of my pants. I really like that bee fabric. In real life, it's more of a periwinkle blue, and the VW fabric is a lot darker/more vibrant. I hadn't originally planned to mix the patterns together like that -- I was just going to make one side bees and the other side Beetles -- but for some reason, I really liked how the colors looked next to each other.
27  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 26 ENTRIES / Tiki monkeys on: April 03, 2008 09:37:18 PM
What do you get when you cross two pairs of baby socks and a silk lei with a pair of flip-flops?



Tiki monkey shoes, of course!

Action shot:



And the ingredients:



My husband was along at the dollar store when I bought this stuff. He thought I was nuts when I explained what it was for. I spent $4 on materials ($1 for each pair of socks, $1 for the flip-flops, and $1 for the lei), not counting the needles, thread, a bit of fiberfill, and a scrap of black yarn, all of which I already had in my craft closet. I'm not sure how practical these will be or how well they'll hold up, but I think they make pretty good house slippers.

I wish the lei had been bright pink to match the monkeys, but they didn't have any in the right shade.

28  CRAFTING FOR GOOD AND NOT EVIL / Crafty Charitable/Social Causes / Jammies for GIs on: March 08, 2008 06:27:14 PM
I just found out about a neat project that somebody is doing to help soldiers in Iraq. Details are at http://gipajamaparty.blogspot.com/ (scroll down to the Feb. 14 entry for information) ... but the upshot is that a woman is collecting plain T-shirts and pajama bottoms with no writing (I assume prints are OK) to send to Iraq to save wounded soldiers from the indignity of wearing hospital gowns that leave their butts hanging out for the world to see.

She's trying to collect 5,000 pairs of pajama pants and T-shirts and ship them to Iraq by March 31.

As soon as I heard about it, I envisioned hundreds of Craftster junkies firing up their sewing machines and making fabulous pajama pants to send to the troops, so I thought I'd pass this along.
29  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Route 66 auto seat cover on: January 11, 2008 06:49:41 PM
I bought a new car on Wednesday. Since trading in my old car meant giving up the big Route 66 shield stickers that graced its front doors, I decided to pimp my new ride with some new Route 66 gear. I found a set of floormats at a souvenir shop, but I couldn't find a source for Route 66 seatcovers ... so I asked myself, "What should a good Craftster girl do in this situation?"

I rummaged around in the closet, came up with some road-themed fabric I had left from some other projects, and spent most of this evening whipping up this little project:





It was dark when I finished, so it's a little hard to see much about it from the action shots. Here's a better shot of the seatcover itself:



I used newsprint and a tape measure to make a pattern based on the seat itself. It's made out of woven cotton fabric and is backed and lined with white muslin, so it's completely washable. I didn't have anything better, so I sewed some red satin ribbon (another leftover) into the layers to make the ties.

It's not perfect, but it should protect the upholstery a little bit, and I definitely like it better than the seatcovers I saw at the auto-supply stores. I expect it will be a big hit at the Route 66 festival next year. Smiley
30  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 23 ENTRIES / What's That Buzz? on: December 04, 2007 10:06:21 PM
For my "Super Ugly to Super Awesome" project, I used an old chair that I'd tried (and failed) to repaint once before. I got about a fourth of the way into the project and then abandoned it, and the chair sat around here in its half-finished condition for years. It moved with us in that condition. It was awful. I finally got sick of looking at it and decided to use the Craftster challenge as an excuse to do something about it.

I used a bee theme on this one because we'd just harvested honey when I started the new paint job, and I was really amped up about our hive. I think it turned out pretty cool.

Here it is, in all its glory:



Finished front.



Finished back.





Closeups of back.





Closeups of front.



Closeup of seat.

And a couple of before shots. I'd been trying to do a Route 66 theme, but I started this thing before we actually drove 66, and I just didn't get it. I was also using some techniques and types of paint that were ill-suited to the project. (Note to self: Slick pen is NOT a suitable choice for painting furniture, no matter how much you think it might be at 3 a.m. I thought I would NEVER get that stuff scraped off so I could repaint it!)

I think you can see why I ditched the first horrid paint job before I finished:





I forgot to put the cost in when I posted. I had the chair already (and originally got it for free from my parents, who found it and three others on a curb somewhere and reglued them for me when I was in college), and all the paint is just leftovers from other projects, so the total cost was ... FREE!
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