Thursday, July 26, 2012

Clean Bags

Today I'm doing a little bit of a different post. I want to share with you this great product I found out about called Clean Bags. A few months back, I received an email about these reusable tote bags. I agreed to test out a free sample, no obligation.  Since April, I've been making use of my Clean Bags at the grocery store, toting my lunch to work, taking it on picnics, and all kinds of uses. I've started to take interest in green ideas.  I installed a rain barrel in part of my garden and I signed up for my first CSA, just to name a couple of things.  The offer to try out these bags came at just the right time.

The Clean Bags are unique in that they are made with being green in mind. They are designed to protect your foods.  These bags are antibacterial, antimicrobial and lead free. Not all reusable bags can make that claim!

I have to admit, I'm really pleased with the durability of these bags.  I've been using the heck out of them and they still look brand new!
I stopped by my neighbor tonight to pick up my fruit and veggie CSA box, and I brought my Clean Bags with me. This of course gave me a great excuse to take an Instagram pic!
If Clean Bags is something that would interest you, I suggest you stop by their website and check them out! Click HERE.

**Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I received sample bags and decided, on my own, to share the product with you because I actually enjoy using it. The opinion of this product is strictly my own from my own personal experience. I like to share tips of stuff that works for me!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Black, Yellow and White Nail Art

My girlfriend Kelly recently celebrated a birthday.  Its sort of become a new tradition for us to score a Groupon or Living Social deal and go out for a fancy dinner. This year we picked up a deal for The Melting Pot, fondue restaurant.  We got all dressed up and headed to downtown Minneapolis. We were a bit early for our reservation so we went across the street to the historic Foshay Tower, which is now a W Hotel. The Foshay Tower has an observation deck on the 30th floor that has sweeping views of Minneapolis. We managed to score free entry to the deck just in time for sunset over the city. Following that, our "fondue date night" was excellent!
For an occasion like this, I couldn't just have boring blah nails, so I created this simple design to match the colors of the dress I was wearing.
For this look I polished my nails yellow. I let that coat dry, then held my black polish brush at an angle to create the two-toned look.  I completed it with white polish and a toothpick to make the dots.
Here we are together on the observation deck:
And here is one of my favorite photos of the city, the reflection in the building just adds something special to it, in my opinion anyway!

 Good times with a great friend! Happy Birthday Kelly!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wine Bottle Tiki Torches

You might not guess this from looking at me, but I'm a bit of a wine-o. A perfect night is hanging out on the patio with my girlfriends and a glass of wine. But, drinking wine means empty bottles and hanging out on the patio means mosquitoes, you know the Minnesota National Bird. When I saw a tutorial on Design Sponge for a wine bottle tiki torch I knew I had to try it.  I mean really, it solves both problems! Repurposing used wine bottles and keeps away mosquitoes. However, I did end up having to modify some things just slightly, so I made a tutorial too. Check it out!
Wine Bottle (empty and cleaned)
3/8" Threaded Rod (This was sold in 3 foot lengths. I cut it into 4-5 inch lengths with a hacksaw)
2, Hex Nuts threaded for 3/8" rod
2, #10 x 1" Zinc Plated Wood Screws 
3/4" Split Ring Hanger, threaded for a 3/8" rod
Top Plate Connector, threaded for 3/8" rod
1/2" x 3/8" Coupling
1/2" Cap (this is optional, but I recommend it)
1/2" Teflon Tape
Replacement Tiki Wick
Citronella Tiki Torch Fuel (not pictured)

Now you're thinking, what? Where the heck do I find all of this stuff?! I found it all in the plumbling section at Menards.  All of it except the threaded rod, screws, hex nuts and tiki wicks.  The threaded rod, screws and hex nuts were located in the hardware section. My Menards store didnt have tiki wicks, but I found them at Target in their seasonal outdoor section. Oh and the citronella fuel was located in the outdoors section at either Menards or Target.
It took me awhile to find the stuff at Menards.  I'm not going to lie, having no prior plumbing experience or really any sort of construction experience, I looked like a lost puppy.  But with a little patience and a lot of reading of signs on bins, I found what I needed....and felt like a rockstar! I've since made 4 more torches and now know exactly where to look for everything. It was pretty fun having my boyfriend along for a supply trip and he didnt know where to look for any of this so I got to show him.  Ooooh yeah, victory is mine!

OK, now that you have your supplies together and your threaded rod cut into pieces, lets get your base set up.
Start by screwing your connector plate to your fence post (or other wood surface, where you intend to hang your torch---please be mindful that it is an open flame! Do not place your torch anywhere that could ignite surrounding things such as bushes, trees, etc)
1. Take your 2 wood screws and secure connector plate to post
2. Screw hex nuts to both ends of threaded rod.  Move the screws closer to the center of rod so that we can attach the connector plate and ring to the ends.
3. Connect the rod to the already secured connector plate.  Move the hex nut on that end all the way up to the connector plate.
4. Attached split ring hanger to the opposite end of the rod. Screw this in until the end of the rod is flush with the inside of the ring. Then, secure with the other hex nut.

Now lets prepare your bottle:
 Begin by taking the coupler and teflon tape. The coupler is a bit small to fit inside your wine bottle, so you will need to wrap the base with teflon tape.  You will wrap the thicker part of the base with the tape until it fits snuggly inside your bottle.  This is what will hold the tiki wick in place. Just keep wrapping with tape, keeping the tape as flat as possible. After a few wraps, you can test it in the bottle.  Keep wrapping until it fits snug and secure.
Once your coupler is properly wrapped you can pull it back out, thread the wick through and then put it back in.  You can also fill it with citronella fuel before reinserting the wick.  However, I waited until my bottle was securely hung before doing that. 

Next, you will open the screws on the split ring, place your bottle in between the ring and then tighten the screws.  BE CAREFUL not to tighten them too tight, you don't want to break the glass!! Just tighten each side until it holds the bottle securely.
**Note: the 3/4" split ring fits most wine bottles.  It fit all of mine. However, you can always go up to a 1" split ring if you have a larger bottle, or a 1/2" split ring if you are using a smaller bottle.
At this point, I pulled out the wick again and used a funnel to pour in my citronella fuel. Then reinsert the wick.
When not using the torches, you will place the cap on the wick.  DO NOT make the mistake I made...I pushed the cap down onto the wick, which them pushed the wick out of the coupler into the bottom of the bottle.  I had to fish it out with a skewer, it was just a hot mess. 
When you put the cap on make sure to just gently set it on top of the wick.  The cap is optional, but I recommend using it to help keep your wick dry from dew and rain when you arent burning it.
One last tip, I do also recommend letting your wick sit in the oil, in the bottle, before you start to burn it.  In other words, I know you are excited that you just hung up your torch, but wait about 10 minutes and then marvel in your awesomeness.

That's all there is to it! Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sheltie Cupcakes

Recently I was asked to create some "Pup Cakes", similar to the ones I did as part of my 31 Random Acts of Kindness. However instead of those pups, the client was looking for cupcakes that looked like Shelties. She was giving them as a gift to someone who had a beloved sheltie dog. So I googled some pictures of shelties, and this is my interpretation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mountain Dew and Doritos Cake

My boyfriend David says that I have odd tastes in food. He often thinks that flavor combinations I think sound good, sound awful.  He says that my tastes in food are "bougie".  According to Urban Dictionary, bougie means "anything that is perceived as "upscale" from a blue collar point of view. 'Bougie' (pronounced boo'-she) is a hacked truncation of the word Bourgeoisie, which refers to the middle-class in Europe, but refers to a more affluent class level in the United States." 
So I have to ask, does the combination of Mountain Dew and a cake....sound bougie to you?

Mountain Dew and Doritos Cake

Makes 1, 6 inch 2 layer cake and 12 cupcakes or 24 cupcakes

Cake and/or Cupcakes:
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups Mountain Dew
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together except Mountain Dew. Once ingredients are combined well, slowly pour in the Mountain Dew.
Pour mix into prepared pan and/or lined cupcake pan
Bake cupcakes for 14-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Bake 6 inch cake for 35 minutes or until aa toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool before frosting.

Mountain Dew Buttercream
4 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/8 cup Mountain Dew
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp lime juice

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add in Mountain Dew and juices.  Continue beating until smooth.  If consistency is too thick, add Mountain Dew, 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
If you would like to color your frosting like mine is in the photos, divide the icing into 2 separate bowls, add lime green to one bowl and lemon yellow food coloring to the other. I piped the green swirls on first and topped with yellow.

Top your cupcakes and cake with Nacho Cheese Doritos.  Then, when you taste the awesome flavor combo, accept the fact that you are now, officially, just as bougie as me. Lucky.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Graduation Cupcakes

Earlier in June, the local high school seniors were celebrating their graduations.  I was asked to do cupcakes for a grad party.  The senior graduating was from the local Maple Grove High School. She was going on to attend the University of St Thomas. She is also an avid painter and violinist. I did cupcakes to represent her high school, her college, and a little bit of her personality.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rhubarb, Pineapple, Raspberry Pie

Recently my parents came to visit. While helping me with my gardens, my stepdad, Gary, mentioned my rhubarb was ready to be picked. I actually only have rhubarb because it was here when we moved into the house. Gary mentioned that rhubarb would make a great pie. A few days later, I was standing in front of the refrigerator, staring at it with the door open, like your mother always yells at you not to do, trying to figure out something to eat. Thats when I decided to make a pie.  I picked the rhubarb and got everything together.  But just rhubarb?  Nah! I grabbed a container of raspberries and a can of pineapple chunks too. Let me tell you, this was one delicious pie. I wanted to eat the whole thing by myself, but I saved a few slices for my boyfriend, David. Unfortunately, my parents had already gone back to Wisconsin....sorry Gary. 

Rhubarb, Pineapple, Raspberry Pie
Makes one 9.5 inch pie

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 quart raspberries
1/2 can pineapple chunks, drained (the big can, or 1 whole small can)
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 double pie crust (I made mine from scratch using this Martha Stewart recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Roll your first pie crust over the pie plate.
3. Combine rhubarb, raspberries, pineaple, sugar, and flour in a bowl.  Mix well, coating all of the fruit.
4. Pour fruit mixture into pie and spread out evenly.
5. Cut butter into small chunks and place on top of fruit mixture.
6. Cover mixture with second pie crust.  I rolled my dough over the pie and cut the scraps and center pieces with a small cookie cutter.  I used the cut scraps to create a decorative edge.
7. Place pie on bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Reduce oven temperature to 350, and continue baking for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. 
This pie is excellent warm or cold.

(PS, Im also in loooooove with instagram, here's a pic I took during the process!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Nails

Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day and I've coordinated my nails for the celebration!
For the ring finger, I started with a white base. Once dry I added two stripes of red. Once that was dry I polished the tip with blue. I used a toothpick and that silver polish pictured to make the stars.

I hope you have a fun and safe holiday!

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Girl on Fire Nails

There are just too many good books to read this summer! I'm working my way through 50 Shades of Grey (obviously, who isn't?!) and The Hunger Games.  While other, more, shall we say serious, books like In Defense of Food and the Seven Secrets of Synchronicity sit sadly on my nightstand, gathering dust.
To jump on The Hunger Games band wagon I did my interpretation of Girl on Fire nails!
I started by using blue painters tape over my tips, except the ring finger. I then applied the black polish to my nails and removed the tape. I gave my now bare tips a quick coat of white, then topped with China Glaze Electrify. To create the the "flame" on my ring finger I followed this tutorial from Oh So Pretty.  I used white as a base and then layered on Electrify.  
If I did this manicure again, I would do a skinnier tip. The thick glitter tip actually drove me a little bit nuts.  The funny thing is, I have some kind of nail art, or at least plain black nails almost every day, however this particular manicure got tons, and I mean tons of attention...from men. I work with 100+ men, not to mention the countless others I see in the airport hangars, and everyone had a compliment on these nails.  It was insane. It actually made me a little self conscious that so many males were noticing my hands! Ha ha! So if you give this style a shot, be prepared for some attention!
With that said, I have the 3rd book of 50 Shades to finish....brace yourselves, there will be a future post about those books too!


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