Fall Wreath

Happy (day after) Thanksgiving!  I was seriously behind on my Thanksgiving crafts this year.  I meant to make a few things in the beginning of November, but didn’t have time to head out to Michael’s or JoAnne Fabric to get supplies.  But, I was finally able to find some time last weekend to make the trip.  In addition to getting some fall craft supplies, I was also able to stock up on some holiday supplies, which is always good.  Although we are nosediving right into the holiday season,  I still wanted to post this super cute fall wreath I made yesterday on Thanksgiving.  There are still a few days left in “fall” (aka November!).

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Materials:

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Styrofoam wreath 12″ diameter
Yarn (you want the color to look like a snowy branch)
Felt squares (fall foliage colors)
Squirrel ornament
Mini pinecones and acorns
64″ Burlap ribbon
Pencil
Hot glue gun & extra glue sticks

Directions:

1. Freehand or using a printed template, trace and cut out multiple leaves out of your fall foliage color felts.  I ended up cutting out 4 of each color (20 total).

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2. Using the hot glue gun, glue the yarn onto the styrofoam wreath.  You’ll need to keep the yarn together, so I just looped the entire bundle through the wreath each time.  I would also put a small line of hot glue on the top and underside of the wreath, and wrap the yarn around the wreath, attaching with the glue.  This is a tedious process, but necessary so the yarn doesn’t slip around.  When I arrived back at the beginning, I did another quick loop with the yarn around the styrofoam to make sure I didn’t have any of the styrofoam peaking through.  The second go does not have to be as tight as the first.

3. Once your yarn is set, arrange your leaves how you’d like to them to be clustered.

4. Flip the cluster of leaves over (kind of like flipping a pancake) and glue the cluster together.  You can do this by seeing which parts of the leaf overlap another and just glue that little part.  Your cluster should basically be one entity when you pick it up.

5. Glue your cluster of leaves onto the wreath, leaving space for your squirrel ornament.

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6. Glue on your squirrel ornament, pinecones, and acorn.

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7. Take your burlap ribbon and loop it into the wreath.  Tie a bow at the top and hang!

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My Book Review Blog

For the past five years or so I’ve been keeping another WordPress blog about books that I read.  Because that blog is so old and I don’t really want to post a million book posts in one go on this blog, every time I post a book review on that blog, I’m going to post a quick notice on Laur of All Trades with a link to the review if you’d like to take a look.

My first co-post is for a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Enjoy!

Felted Fish Tank

I received a Fido Felts for my birthday from my boyfriend’s parents and I was very excited. I had never tried felting and it seemed like a really cool new craft to try.  I also love dogs, so I was excited to make the mini felted dogs the kit offered.  If you’re not familiar with felting, it’s pretty simple.  You take some wool and essentially stab and shape it with a needle until it’s in the shape you want.  The dogs from the kit are actually quite difficult to make, but I still had a good time making them.

Recently my grandfather has been in the hospital and a rehabilitation center, so I wanted to get him something.  He lives on the other side of the country, so it’s not easy for me to visit.  I figured flowers are very cliche, and I like making things.  I did a lot of googling on things I could make or get for him other than flowers and I came across a post on radmegan where she made a goldfish aquarium.  I thought this was a great idea!  My grandparents have a huge fish tank in their living room, so I thought this might give my grandfather a touch of home at the hospital.  I made some tweaks to what radmegan did, so here is my take on a felted fish tank.

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Materials:

Felt for felting – specifically orange, yellow, black and white felt
Felting kit (needles, styrofoam, etc)
Large jar (I used an old pickle jar)
Blue ribbon
Aquarium gravel
Pipe cleaners – blue for fish stands, green for plants, purple for starfish
Silver & white small pom poms
Hot glue gun

Instructions:

  1. Ensure your jar is clean.  If you’re using a repurposed jar, there might be lingering smells, so be sure to clean thoroughly.  If you want to keep the top, you can definitely do that, but I find it difficult to completely remove smells from the jar top.
  2. Felt your fish.  I created a large goldfish and two smaller yellow fish. I used this tutorial on Youtube and thought it was very helpful.  The changes I made were that I added felt eyes by felting some white onto the body and then two small black dots inside.  I also added a smile.  For the yellow fish, I did not add a top dorsel fin and I made their tails slightly longer than the goldfish.

  3. Once your fish are complete,  take the green pipe cleaners and mold them into a wavy pattern for the plants.  I used 4 pipe cleaners that were cut down a little, but depending on the size of your jar you may want more or less.  Fold the bottom of the pipe cleaner into an “L” shape and using the glue gun, glue the bottom part of the “L” onto the bottom of the jar.
  4.  Use the hot glue gun to glue pipe cleaners onto the fish.  You’ll want to cut your pipe cleaners to the lengths you’d like your fish to be at.  Then, fold the pipe cleaners in a “]” shape, glue gunning the top part to the bottom of the fish, and (when that part is dry) the bottom to the bottom of the jar. I used the same pipe cleaner for the two small yellow fish.

bottom-of-tank15. Once the glue is dry, pour your aquarium gravel into the bottom of the jar until the glued bottoms of the fish and plants are no longer visible.
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6. Create a starfish out of pipe cleaners and place into jar.
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7. Take one or two silver and white pom poms and drop into jar (I imagined these as sea urchins).
8. Lastly, take your blue ribbon and tie it around the top of the jar.  I glue gunned it down in a few places so it would not slip around.
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9. Enjoy!

“Pulled Pork” AKA BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies with All of the Slaws!

This sandwich, as the post title states, is a vegetarian take on pulled pork.  Personally, I find it just as delicious and it’s super easy to make.  It makes a great lunch because you can simply make it the night before and you’ll have plenty to bring for a few days of lunches.  Plus, it’s great because it goes great with a variety of different slaws, which I’ll include below too.

BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
BBQ sauce of your choosing (4-5 tbsp is good – feel free to add more/less. I like more.)
Olive Oil cooking spray
Buns (for sandwich)
Some kind of slaw (directions below)

Directions:

  1. Wash and skin sweet potatoes.  I usually just like to cut off the top/bottom of the potatoes and remove any weird spots from the skin.
  2. Shred potatoes.  You can either use a cheese grater for this, or you can use a spiralizer machine.  The spiralizer machine will cut your potatoes into curls, but I usually just take the curls and chop them up a little.  This is the easiest way, but the cheese grater method makes it a little more like a pulled pork texture.  I’d say if you’re making this for a party, use the cheese grater.  If you’re making it for yourself, use the spiralizer.

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  3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Once it’s heated up, cook your potatoes for 10 minutes.  Stirring semi-constantly.
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  4. After the 10 minutes, add your BBQ sauce and cook while stirring for another  5 minutes.
  5. You’re done!  Time to make the slaw.

For the slaw, I’m not the biggest fan of regular coleslaw (too much mayo), but I’m sure this will taste just fine with that.  I prefer vinegar based slaws, so here are a few I’ve made and I think taste really great with the BBQ sweet potatoes.

Clean Eating Mango Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet and salty flavor to your sammy.  I found this recipe on iFoodReal.

Ingredients:
1 lb white cabbage, shredded (thinly sliced is fine too)
1 large mango, diced
3 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp white vinegar (or 2 if you’re like me and love vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:  Combine all ingredients and toss in a large bowl!

Red Cabbage Slaw

This is a nice crunchy and colorful slaw to add to your BBQ sweet potatoes.  I found this recipe on Real Housemoms.

Ingredients:
1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions: Toss ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Ginger Lime Asian Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet, but tangy flavor.  It’s a bit more involved than the first two, but it’s worth it.  I found this recipe on Real Food Real Deals.

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Ingredients:
8 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Directions:

    1. Combine cabbage, carrots, apple, salt, and lime juice into a large bowl.
    2. In a medium skillet, cook the onion, in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.
    3. In a bowl, mix together remaining tbsp of olive oil, honey, and rice vinegar.  Add the veggies from the pan.
    4. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Halloween Crow Wreath

My favorite season, Fall, is here and Halloween is fast approaching.  I’m not afraid to admit that I essentially love everything “basic” about this season.  Although I do find pumpkin spice lattes a bit too sweet, I love decorating, going to pumpkin patches, and the impending chilly weather (but in SF it’s more like the weather finally matches the season).  In the past I had put some maize corn on our door as a decoration, but last year I saw some really cute fall wreaths on Pinterest and decided to make my own.  Here’s how you can make this really cute wreath yourself!

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Materials:

materialsStyrofoam “donut circle” – 12in diameter
1 yard black ribbon
2 yards chevron orange and white ribbon
Toy crow
Gold felt pen
1 ft twine
Hot glue gun & extra glue
Black felt square
Small piece of fabric of your pattern choice – I purchased 1 yard at the store because I knew I’d use it again, but really you only need enough to make your crow a large enough hat.

Instructions:

1. Start with the chevron orange ribbon and styrofoam. Using the hot glue gun, glue the beginning end to what you’ll deem the back of the wreath. Then, slowly wrap the ribbon around the styrofoam.  Every two wrap-arounds, use the hot glue gun to glue down the ribbon.  In the image below, I would put a small line of glue where the ribbon is hitting the styrofoam.  Do this until you have again reached your starting point (it’s OK if it overlaps a little), and make sure the end part of the ribbon is glued on the back.

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2. Take the twine and measure the length you’ll have the “boo” sign reach one side of the styrofoam to the other and cut.  You’ll want a bit of slack so it looks like the sign is hanging.  Do NOT glue on styrofoam yet.

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3. Cut out three small triangles from the black felt and write out “BOO” with each letter on a separate triangle.

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4. Using the hot glue gun, glue each triangle onto the twine.  Once the glue has dried, glue the twine onto styrofoam at the points where you previously measured.

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5. Time to make a cute hat for your crow!  Take a piece of fabric and roll it into a cylinder hat shape that is an appropriate size for the crow.  Use the hot glue gun to glue it together.  If you’d like, you can take a piece of twine and make a bottom liner for the hat and glue on with the hot glue gun.  Once you’ve created your hat, glue onto the crow.  I found the easiest way to do this was to put some glue on the crow’s head approximately how wide the hat is and press down lightly.

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6. Hot glue gun your crow onto the wreath wherever you’d like him to sit.  I also took some twine and feathered the edges to make it look as though he was sitting on a broom.  Hot glue gun that near his feet!

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7.  Lastly, figure out where you’d like to hang the wreath.  Take your black ribbon and loop in around the top of your wreath and tie the top into a nice bow.  You can shorten your ribbon if you’d like the wreath to hang higher. boo-close-up

8. Hang your wreath and enjoy!  Happy Halloween!

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Imperfect Produce

Do you live in California? Do you live in the Bay Area?  Do you eat produce?  Awesome, keep reading.  BUT, even if you don’t live on those areas you should still keep reading to see if there is something similar in your area.  If you don’t eat produce, well, you can probably stop reading.

So what IS Imperfect Produce? Basically, they take produce that is not “pretty” enough for the grocery store and sell it to you!  The best part? They deliver.

Tons of produce is rejected from grocery stores just because it doesn’t look nice.  Perhaps the potatoes are a weird shape, there’s a scar on the zucchini, or the onion is too small.  These are all reasons perfectly good food will be rejected by the grocery store and then ultimately discarded!

With Imperfect, you can choose what size box you want as well as the contents of your box.  You can choose a mixed box, just fruit, or just veggies.  Each week you customize your box by choosing the type and quantity of produce you’d like to receive.  Then, you pay on the amount and type of produce you choose, plus a small shipping fee. In San Francisco, it’s $5 and they ship to you every Tuesday evening, so when you wake up Wednesday morning, you have produce!  It’s been a pretty great service so far.  The produce is great quality and the delivery is very reliable.  There is no monthly fee, and if you go away you can choose to skip a week or two.

We’ve been able to try out some new recipes that I normally wouldn’t have tried out because I wasn’t familiar with a recipe for the vegetable.  This has forced me to go out of my comfort zone and try some new things.  Fennel is now a favorite of mine!  Two recipes I was able to try out were this cabbage recipe and this cauliflower recipe.  The cabbage and cauliflower came from our Imperfect box.  So if you’re in the Bay Area, I’d definitely recommend Imperfect, and if you live outside of the Bay Area, I’d recommend searching for something similar near you.

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Our produce box! Each week it comes with some info about why the produce is ugly, the company, and a featured recipe.

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Fennel, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Lemons, Peaches, Nectarines, Zucchini, Lettuce, and Cantaloupe!