I love DIY projects, especially those that give new life, purpose and beauty to old things!

August 18, 2013

Repurposed Metal Tool Box

So, I just wanted to share the new life this tool box has as a table top accessory.  Not only does it look beautiful, but it's also functional as a plant holder and it can hold your glass of lemonade or cup of coffee!

The lovely greenery of this great country yard help the tool box look right at home! 

I'm always amazed at how beautiful old things can look if we just give them a new job to do. I'm always looking for an old thing I can use when I have a need for something functional or when I'm looking for any new items to decorate! 

Hope you'll look around and see you can upcycle something, giving your surroundings a more interesting look!

January 06, 2013

No Knead Bread...FAST!

Ever been in the mood to make bread but then found out you had to let it "rest" overnight!??
Crusty exterior with soft light inside, but not to doughy. Great for sandwiches too!
Well, since I'm not the world's best planner when it comes to cooking, do not own (or plan to ever own) a bread machine, this happened to many a times.  Frustrated I set out to find a way to make bread on a whim, and make it without a huge production.

Thus....this simple recipe I perfected after making it only three times!

3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tsp Kosher salt
1 1/4-oz envelope RapidRise Highly Active Yeast( I use Fleischmann's)
1 3/4 Cups warm water

REST TIME: 2 hrs
BAKE TIME: 40 mins @ 450 degrees

 MIX all ingredients with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Dough will be sticky.

LET REST for 2 hours in airtight container. I put mine inside my microwave.  It will about double or triple in size. 

KNEAD dough just until bubbles are gone and dough is smooth...about a minute.
At this point you could add flavors like: cheeses, garlic, olives, ect.  This is right before kneading and forming into a loaf. I've only added garlic, but plan to experiment with adding other flavors!

SHAPE into bread shape(s).  You can make one or two loaves.
 Here is shaped it into two loaves.
 COVER bread loosely with crinkled foil. I crimp the edges of foil to the side of the pan and with a long spoon lift the middle to make a "tent" for  over the bread.  If you skip this you may burn it!
 BAKE  on cookie sheet at 450 for 35 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake 5 more minutes until golden brown.

Result, beautiful and delicious bread with a nice crust and soft inside.  This bread is not so think so you can slice it for sandwiches, or in rounds for crostini! ENJOY!!!

Pasta Puttanesca

This meatless dish could not be easier to make and more delicious and healthy!
I love making with thin spaghetti or a flat noodle. The fresh parsley and basil give it an amazing flavor and aroma that is just irresistible! I first had this when my good friend, Debbie K. made this for me years ago in Fremont, CA. 

I've added a few other ingredients I love, like the olives, parsley, and the capers, but the essence of the dish is the pasta, tomatoes, basil, and the wine.

Pasta - I use thin spaghetti, about 7oz/half a box.
1 Tbsp EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)
4 Tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces (very chunky)
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 Tsp Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup White wine
1/2 cup Basil, chopped
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 Tbsp Capers
S&P to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat EVOO and add pepper flakes and garlic and as soon as the garlic starts to brown and you can smell it, add the tomatoes.  Cook tomatoes for just a couple of minutes and add the wine and the rest of the ingredients.  Season with S&P to taste and turn off the heat and cover the pan, letting the tomatoes cook in the steam for 5-10 minutes.
Serve over hot pasta and enjoy.  I love having a glass of white wine with this dish.

December 16, 2012

DIY Gift Tags

Gift tags are like birthday candles and umbrellas, everyone has them but can't find when you need them! And in my case, I can never seem to have "right" ones!!

Well, being that it's so easy to make/cut your own tags, why not just do that when you need them? 
So, here are some examples I've done for this Christmas, but that I'm now (that I saw the light!) planning to use throughout the year!

Find shapes of tags you want to make, or use cookie cutters, jar lids, and just trace them on cardboard (I use recycled boxes from cereal, crackers, or alike!). 

Save and use/upcycle interesting papers you get from all kinds of sources, save scraps of craft paper to make different shapes and size tags for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Housewarming, or ANY other gift tag-requiring event!

One other thing I do is save/reuse EVERY ribbon, string, or anything that can be used to wrap/tie gifts! Like below the brown/white rope ribbon was save from something else.
I also save tags from things I buy as templates to duplicate the shapes.  Making your tags makes gifts that much more special I think!  
Merry Christmas and happy gift tag making!!

HomeMade Croutons

HomeMade Croutons

These deliciously crunchy & tasty little morsels are made out of old bread, from my own homemade bread, but you can use any bread you have! I'm actually not a big fan of croutons, unless they're homemade! Store-bought croutons are always either too hard or too light and void of substance, to me!

Half loaf of bread.  Here I used my own homemade bread.  Denser crustier bread works best.
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste

BAKE: 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with foil.
Slice bread lengthwise, like you're going to make a sandwich, then into slices at an angle,  and  finally into bite size cubes.

In a bowl just big enough for croutons or in a plastic bag and drizzle croutons with oil while tossing to get a bit of oil on each crouton.  Then sprinkle salt & pepper to taste. And finally sprinkle garlic and onion powder, while tossing.

Spread on single layer on foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Check them and see they're to your liking, and if not, bake for another two minutes.  ENJOY!!

November 27, 2012

Turkey Orzo Soup

Turkey Orzo Soup

Did you save your turkey carcass??
By The Way, there should be another name for carcass when it's used for cooking! I'm just saying.

Hope you did, I ALWAYS do and then we have turkey noodle (orzo) soup all weekend following Thanksgiving! I use orzo because the regular noodles soak up too much liquid and then become super large and soggy.  Using orzo was my later mother-in-law, Carolyn's idea - not mine!

Turkey carcass (I also use the carcass of store-bought rotisserie chicken)
4 cups chopped celery
4 cups chopped carrots
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp dry thyme (or 4 fresh sprigs)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup green onion, chopped - optional
Tabasco sauce, to taste - optional

MAKES: 10-15 large bowls

In large pot add enough water to cover the carcass.  Gently boil with onions and salt until meat falls off the bone, about 1 hr or so.

Remove/skim as much of the fat from the top as possible. 
Take out all the bones and let them cool, then remove as much of the meat as possible and put it back in the broth.

Add the celery and carrots and cook another 20 minutes or so until they are tender. While veggies are cooking, cook orzo according to package directions, then add to soup. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. DONE!!

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I love adding freshly chopped green onions on top and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce for a bit of kick. ENJOY!!

October 15, 2012

DIY Dragon Pillow Case

So, Toothless is my grandson West's FAVORITE dragon of all time!! So, I had to make him a soft pillow case so he could go to sleep every night with his favorite dragon and dream of riding him!

I found a what I thought would be an easy template for me to  trace, cut and stitch on. 
This TEMPLATE fit what I wanted just perfectly! 

1. Trace shape from screen on paper, or print and cut.
2. Spray adhesive on back of paper so it stick to your fabric, but still PIN in place for cutting ease.
3. Pin fabric cut out onto pillow case panel and stitch in place with a zig-zag stitch appropriate for your fabric. Here I used a narrow zig zag in med length and was easy to go around tight shapes
4.  You can add a matching/coordinating ribbon if you like, and here the back was from an old pillow case with an eyelet trip so I used a ribbon on that.

 My grandson's words when he opened the gift were "I LOVE IT....I LOVE MY DRAGON!!" Wow, what more can you ask for. Absolutely nothing!

And here, wearing his dragon slayer's gear and face painting, is my inspiration for making this pillow case. Note the amazing Toothless dragon on his cake, made my his mom!

September 04, 2012

Hearty Veggie Soup

 This wonderful soup is as delicious as it is versatile!
The base is potatoes, white beans, garlic & tomatoes.  After that you can add pretty much anything you have in your fridge.
2-3 Medium russet potatoes, cubed into bite size cubes
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 zucchini or squash
3 Galic cloves, finely chopped
1 Cup chopped parsley or cilantro
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 14.5-oz can petite chopped tomatoes, you could add fresh as well.
1 15oz can Cannellini (or white) beans
8 cups water or broth (I use water), and sometimes a splash of red wine.
 Salt & Pepper to taste.
1.  Chop and measure everything.  It's so much easier when you have everything ready to go in!
2.  Heat the oil and add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a pot big enough to fit all the ingredients and be able to stir.
3.  When garlic starts to brown and you can smell it, add the potatoes and onions. Cook about 3 mins while mixing them around.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients, EXCEPT BEANS & PARSLEY/CILANTRO. Cook for about 25 mins until carrots and potatoes are tender, then add beans and salt & pepper to taste.
5. Let the beans cook in the soup for about 5 mins.  Turn off heat and add the parsley or cilantro and blend some of the soup if you wish.
Here is a version where IF you blend part of the soup it can be a bit thicker but the taste is pretty much the same. I use my immersion blender and place it in about three spots and blend for a few seconds just to give the soup a thicker body. When adding your water or broth use your own judgement to get the consistency you like.

Here is about how big I chop my veggies.
 You can really use almost any veggie you like.  Sometimes I use broccoli instead of zucchini, you can add mushrooms too. One thing I don't use is celery. It just gives a flavor I prefer in other soups, like chicken noodle.

After cooking the soup for about 25-30 mins I add the beans and let them get heated, about 5 mins and it's ready to enjoy.

August 24, 2012

Yard MakeOver on a BUDGET!!

Okay, so I don't claim to be an "expert" in gardening... but I do profess to LOVE gardening.  And just BEING IN the garden is a bliss for me!  All my troubles disappear when I'm in my garden.
 Here I'm starting with the AFTER...where the cosmos grew taller than me this year. This is a SIDE YARD by the way.
AFTER: Heavenly morning & evening walks took place here!
As a lover of gardening, and a frugal domestic diva, of course I always try to find ways to transform my garden (garden areas) with the least amount of money or effort.
Here you see what I mean.  A few seed packets of Cosmos & Sweet William completely transformed this side yard in my house.

One thing that works for me is to spend a little time before & after I have to go to "work".  It both clears my mind at the start, and relieves stress at the end of the day!
This is how it started out. You can see some stepping stones (it's what I saw)  next to the fence, which I ended up moving to the middle and arranging in curvy pathway.
BEFORE: You can see the end of the gate at the end...looking toward the street. 
When I first saw this I could "see" the possibilites!
It's nice to have a place to sit, rest, and enjoy he journey of a growing garden.
This is looking toward the backyard...notice the tall pine trees in the background.
An apple tree was later planted right before the trees. It was grafted with 3 types of apples!

Here you still see the pine trees but the Cosmos are just loving it here! The only drawback about Cosmos is that they're annuals.  You just got to take them out at the end of the season, but you get to start over with something NEW! :)

This space evolved as the years passed and different beautiful flowers grow here, inlcluden even an apple tree.

What I did
Basically all I did here was just dig up around the whole area to loosen the dirt. Then I moved the "pavers" (anything I found around the yard) to form the path I wanted. I also installed a drip irrigation system to water things. Once I planted (scattered) the seeds and added other plants here and there as I came across something on the "discount shelf" a Lowe's it pretty much just evolved to what you see.

Enjoy playing in YOUR garden!

August 19, 2012

Easy Guacamole

This guacamole is not just easy to make and's also beautiful!
This is just one avocado's worth but for a big party it's almost part of the
centerpiece it's so pretty to look at.

1 large avocado (for every 3-4 people.  Less if serving other dip or hors d'oeuvres.
1 lg tomato, diced
1/3 onion, any type
1 Serrano pepper, finely chopped
(or 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, for hot. Less if you want it mild)
1/2 chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
salt & pepper to taste

After cutting around the avocado, get the pit with your knife.

To get pit off the knife, tap the back of the knife on a cutting board, or similar surface.

 Score the inside/flesh of the the avocado into small squares and coop out with a spoon.

Season all ingredients and gently mix to combine.

Here are some delicious tacos made with store-bought rotisserie chicken, but this beautiful thing can also be used as a TOPPING on any grilled MEAT or as part of any SALAD (make less spicy for this one)...oh, and who could forget with lovely crunchy CHIPS!