Monday, December 28, 2015

The Conversation Starter {A Penny Floor Tutorial}

Your front entrance is a reflection of you.  Ours invites you to give us your thoughts...And - we might even give you a penny for them. What does yours say?

The first time I told Huz I wanted a penny floor, I was totally shut down.  So we pursued other options. An entryway floor takes a beating - so it had to be something that held up well, could take some water (hello snow boots melting all over the floor), looked good with brick, and could be laid over a cement floor.  After a lot of shopping he decided maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all!

I did a lot of research before we started. When Huz started coming around to liking this idea, I needed to have a plan! I talked to flooring experts, construction guru's and anybody who had ever heard of a penny-embellished anything.  Some people looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head while others were intrigued.   After a lot of talking about pros and cons (we had never tiled anything before), he decided we would try the penny floor.  

Yes, yes, yes!  

This is what we came up with for a supply list:

  • PL 400 construction adhesive
  • Caulk gun
  • 1/16th" trowel
  • A LOT of Pennies 
  • Polyurethane (we used a matte finish)
  • Paint brush

We started things off with PL 400 adhesive.  Draw a couple lines of it out of the tube spaced a couple inches apart and spread it with a trowel.  We advise working in a 12"x12" space at a time. Huz drew a line on the floor a foot from the wall for a frame of reference.  You don't want the wet adhesive to dry before you set your pennies in place. You may also need a break after you get a square foot done.  Or your kneecaps may be ready to fall off.  (His words, not mine).

We laid our pennies right up next to each other - not leaving any space between them.  If you want to grout between your pennies after they are laid you can leave bigger spaces or create designs.  Here is a close-up of ours. We used a staggered pattern. We chose not to go all new, or all heads up, or anything like that.  The pattern with colors of pennies was random.  We like the mix of dirty, bright and everything in between.

Once you get started make sure you have some talented help around to take the wrappers off the pennies.  This is an important and time-consuming job.  You can't lay pennies that are still wrapped in paper.  But you CAN unwrap them while you're watching football. This is a perfectly good reason to let your kids watch TV. Free labor + no complaints. Sounds like a win to me.

Midway through our project we ran into a snafu with our pennies.  We got a $200 batch and they were all brand-new 2015 pennies.  Bright and shiny.  So I set out doing more research and figured out how to age them.  I put some in bleach.  This brings out the blue color.  I put some in vinegar - this blackened them. I also put some in salt. These didn't yield as quick of results so I'd stick with bleach or vinegar if you need to discolor pennies. This was slow-going so we also went back to the bank to get more while keeping the shiny ones until we were done. This meant we unwrapped a lot more pennies than we actually used, but the show had to go on!
Here is Huz making good use of time at one of my handmade markets - unwrapping pennies while I work my booth.  He is the muscles behind every booth setup and tear down.  I love how supportive he is.  All that and good looks too.  What a lucky girl I am!

Once you finally finish adhering all the pennies, it's time to apply the sealant. Brush this on evenly.  We did three coats to adequately fill in the gaps between the pennies.

Make sure you allow this to fully dry in between coats.  We waited about 24 hours between applications and used a fan to assist drying. A boat flotation cushion works well to kneel on.  Oh, and if you do this in the winter like we did, we highly recommend opening your windows for ventilation. It gets chilly but the sealer is really strong-smelling.

Huz insisted on laying all the pennies himself.  It ended up being about 250 square feet. My job was to keep him well supplied on homemade pies. What a deal!  I'm thrilled with how it turned out.  *swoon*

50,000 pennies: $500
Adhesive + sealer: $150
Labor (88 hours): PRICELESS

The largest cost of this project is the time investment.  Its truly a labor of love. If you have covered anything in pennies, I'd love to see it!  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Apple Scones + Maple Frosting #Recipe

When you get rained out from Farmer's Market I highly suggest another pot of coffee and some scones.  At this time of year I think of any reason I can to use an apple.  I usually double this batch so we have some leftovers since I have a child who refuses to eat cereal for breakfast. And he grew over 5" in the last year so filling him up is a challenge.  These apple scones with maple frosting are kid tested and finger licking good!

Apple Scones
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
12 TB butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 heavy whipping cream
1 cup apples chopped

Maple Frosting
3 TB butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons maple syrup (or substitute 1 teaspoon imitation maple flavoring)
1 teaspoon milk

Cut butter into flour with pastry blender.  Add sugar, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir until evenly distributed then stir in chopped apples.  When I was zesting my orange into the flour mixture my son asked why I was putting "the scraps" into our scones.  Boys! At least he recognizes good compost material when he see's it.  ;)

Stir in heavy whipping cream and beaten eggs.  If you prefer traditional scones you can shape your dough and cut into wedges. I prefer to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of milk and drop them onto the baking stone.  Less mess on my kitchen counter!  Bake at 425* for 13-15 minutes.

For the frosting, melt butter, stir in powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk until smooth.  Drizzle over warm scones. Enjoy this yummy fall twist on a traditional scone.  What's your favorite apple recipe?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Jalapeno Poppers #Recipe

The peppers are getting ripe in my garden, how about yours?  Well if you've never had these little babies, you'll want to try them.  These have been a favorite for us this summer.

Jalapeno Poppers
10-12 jalapeno peppers
Softened cream cheese
Turkey Bacon

Cut the stem off peppers, slice in half and take seeds out.  I recommend wearing gloves if you have some otherwise you can "burn" your hands. If you don't have gloves try to get most of the seeds out with a spoon so the oils don't get on your hands.  Fill both halves with cream cheese and press them back together, try to match each pepper up with its original other half so you don't lose any cream cheese while grilling.  Wrap bacon around outside and slide on the skewer.  Grill these for about 10 minutes on each side.  Slide off the skewer and enjoy over a game of Scrabble.  Huz says not to eat a dozen of these all by yourself. There are some unpleasant side effects when consumed in that quantity.  Everything in moderation, right?  Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Floppy Eared Rabbit #PDF Pattern

This pattern design was born out of a desire to give my son a floppy eared rabbit per his request.  He is an animal lover and his need to try and catch, observe, trap and research animals is never ending.  He is regularly on the hunt for one moving creature or another and loves regular stops at the pet store.  He also loves stuffed animals and really, his theory is you can never have too many.  This was my compromise on the pet, a stuffed animal.

I designed this pattern to be very simple. My sewing students have made them and love them. You can add details like eyes, nose, a tail, a tummy, the options are endless.  The pattern is available in PDF form so you can download it now and be playing with them tonight.  Have fun and enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Banana RagaMuffin Recipe

It's Valentine's morning and I decided to make some banana muffins for my favorite little loves.  I mashed my bananas and started assembling ingredients only to remember that I had used up all the sugar earlier this week and hadn't restocked yet.  That is not impressive #housewifing at all. The bad news is we live off the beaten path and "civilization" is 10-20 minutes away, depending on what you need.  The good news is I live next door to my in-laws and my mother-in-law is always well stocked on things when I do an oopsie and am in the middle of a recipe. I'll admit, this is not the first time I've called on her for items out of her pantry. So I texted her and O ran over for the sugar.  Save!

The music was loud and we had a pretty good dance party going on in the kitchen. Baran was doing dishes and whenever he does, the music is blasting.  I'm cool with that, I mean my tween is doing dishes.  We both have some pretty sweet moves too.  We were listening to this song. "Cause we all right, and we ok.  And we gonna make it to another day.  Just hold on to what you believe. Don't let go." While I was waiting on my sugar and dancing to the beat, I decided to tidy up the kitchen and dump the coffee grounds into my compost bowl.  I am a multi-tasking queen. And yes I make my own dirt in the compost bin, even if its just freezing into a big pile at the moment.  Oops again, I dumped my coffee grounds into my muffin bowl I had started instead of the compost bowl. Major #fail. 
I was so surprised at this recent turn of events that I screamed.  Kind of like the scream when you see a huge spider. The boys came running and were grossed out by the coffee grounds in their Valentine's muffins so I had to start over.  The good news is, I didn't have to do the walk of shame and ask my MIL for more sugar.  I hadn't added it yet.  God's grace is so wonderful!  This is what happens when I try to cook before I have consumed enough coffee.  #oofta

So, here's my recipe. I know its says banana bread, but you can put it in muffin tins and cook it for 20-23 minutes and it pretty much rocks just like that. I typically cut the sugar in half.  Hey, bananas are sweet and trust me, the boys don't even miss the extra sugar. O also likes an oatmeal cinnamon crumble on the top so I combine about 2/3 cups of oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 TB melted butter to make the crumble to add to the top once they are in the muffin tins.
So, if you are feeling a little ragamuffin-ish, I highly recommend giving this a try after you are properly caffeinated.  Now to go make pot #2 and give some muffins to my in-laws. Happy Valentine's Day and Don't Let Go!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Slinky Valentine

Valentine's can be a lot of fun to make.  Last year we made pom-pom monsters. O loved making those and still would rather give some-THING instead of candy so we decided to do a slinky this year.

They were pretty simple.  We found a big bag of slinky's that were reasonably priced in a party supply store.  I used blank business card stock for the card and made a message with address labels.  
If you have Avery 5160 address labels here is a printable.  Use a paper hole puncher in the upper left corner.  Add your message to the back and slide on the slinky.  

A super easy project that a second grader can assemble himself and no sugar involved. Woot!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Smittens: A Sweater to Mittens Tutorial

1-2 Sweaters
1/4 yard fleece fabric for lining
Seam allowance is 1/4”
Mitten Pattern

1. Cut 2 of sweater fabric for each piece and 2 of lining for each piece. Also cut cuffs off sweater allowing 1/2" for seam allowance.

2. Pin top and bottom of hand piece #2 and #3 sewing to notch on thumb side, as shown. I cut my notches off and just mark them with a fabric marker and sew to the pin.

3. Flip front open and pin back to front.  Stitch all the way around the mitten.  Stitch up to thumb seam from both sides leaving thumb free. 

4. Repeat sewing assembly for lining pieces. Sew cuff to lining.

5. Place lining inside mitten.  Fold cuff over and stitch in the ditch on side seams.

6. Hand sew button(s) on.

Now go make another pair and give a sweater a new life as smittens!