I used to totally fill out those “get to know you” surveys all the time when I was in sixth grade and we had dial up Internet.  I saw this one on a website and thought it would be fun to fill in my own answers.  Takes me back to my youth!  (You know, since I’m so old and all.  Though that might actually seem true considering all of the gray hair I have … and carefully hide.)

A: is for Apple, what’s your favorite variety?
I love love Braeburns.  If I can’t find Braeburns, I’ll get Galas.

B: is for Bread, regardless of nutrition, calories, or whole grains what is your favorite type to have a nice big piece of?
I love those Hawaiian rolls.  Or those rolls from O’Charleys.  Other than that, I actually don’t eat bread as much.  (Sweets are my weakness.  Clearly.)

C: is for Cereal what is your favorite kind currently (just one!)
I rarely eat cereal, but if I were to get some right now I’d probably choose Cinnamon Life.

D: is for Doughnuts, you might not currently be eating them but what kind do you fancy?
Jelly donuts from Marsh.  My oh my.

E: is for Eggs, how would you like yours prepared?
Scrambled with cheese.  Not runny at all, thank you very much.

F: is for Fat Free, what is your favorite fat free product?
Blech.  I’m not a fan so I can’t say I have a favorite.

G: is for Groceries, where do you purchase yours at?
Usually Kroger.  Occasionally Marsh, Aldi, or Costco.

H: is for Hot Beverages, what is your favorite hot drink?
I love hot apple cider and sometimes hot chocolate hits the spot.

I: is for Ice Cream, pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
My ultimate is a vanilla base (or sweet cream).  Then add either oreos and hot carmel (DELISH) or Coldstone’s Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some.

J: is for Jams or Jellies, do you eat them, and if so what kind and flavor?
I love the all fruit spreads from Whole Foods.  But if I’m at a restaurant, I’ll take grape jelly.

K: is for Kashi, name your favorite Kashi product?
They have this Cinnamon Harvest shredded wheat that is soooo good.

L: is for Lunch, what was yours today?
A hot dog from Sam’s Club with plenty of mustard and a little ketchup.

M: is for microwave, what is your favorite microwave meal/snack?
Hmmm … I rarely eat microwave meals.  I did like those pepperoni hot pockets in college but I haven’t had one in an age.

N: is for nutrients, do you like carbs, fats, or proteins best?
Fats and proteins together.  I personally think that carbs from sweets and breads really aren’t necessary for you (that doesn’t mean I follow this policy).  In theory, I believe the best nutrients are found in fats and proteins.  In practice, I don’t often follow this but I am trying to change that.

O: is for oil, what kind do you like to use?
Prefer extra virgin olive oil and occasionally extra virgin coconut oil.  Rarely canola oil.

P: is for protein, how do you get yours?
Mainly beef and chicken.  Sometimes eggs, cheese, or lamb.  Rarely peanut butter.

Q: is for Quaker, how do you like your oats?
I can’t remember the last time I ate oatmeal.  But it would have milk, brown sugar, and maple syrup.  In all honesty, put them in a cookie and I’m happy.

R: is for roasting, what is your favorite thing to roast?
Thin asparagus with EVOO and salt is like candy to me.  I also like roasted broccoli and roasted potatoes.

S: is for sandwich, what’s your favorite kind?
When I eat a sandwich, it’s usually turkey and salami with provolone cheese and mustard.  Prefer it hot with some oil and vinegar.  (This is my standard order when I go to Penn Station for a sandwich.)

T: is for travel, how do you handle eating while traveling?
Depends where I’m going but I tend to eat out a lot.  I would prefer to eat dinner out and then make brunch in.

U: is for unique, what is one of your weirdest food combos?
I don’t know that I have many weird food combos; I’m just a picky eater.  But I do like the combinations of Wendy’s fries and chocolate frosty.

V: is for vitamins, what kind do you take?
I usually only take a MegaRed fish oil.

W: is for wasabi, yay or nay?
Never had it.  Doubt I’d like it.

X: is for XRAY. if we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
Diet Coke (that’s not food), plus some party food — chocolate covered strawberries and some M&Ms.

Y: is for youth, what food reminds you of your childhood?
My grandma’s apple cake.

Z: is for zucchini, how do you prepare it?
As a quick bread.  Ha.  I’m not crazy about the zucchini texture, but Carrabbas makes an interesting zucchini side dish that I should try sometime.


Celebrate Dad: Homemade Barbeque Sauce

Most of the guys I know are big fans of the grill.  They like cooking burgers, steak, brats, or pork and for some, barbeque is king.  So I thought it would be fun to make some homemade barbeque sauce!  This recipe is so easy (in fact, I had almost everything on hand) and you could give it with some new grill tools so Dad can make some delicious dinners all summer long.

I know that there is a lot of debate among barbeque lovers.  Some like vinegar based sauces, some like ketchup based sauces, others like no sauce.  Some like to baste while cooking, others like to cook their beef or pork in the sauce (this, I do not recommend), and still others like to serve it up on the side (my personal preference).  This sauce has both ketchup AND vinegar, so I’m hoping it will please all camps in the barbeque world.

Note: since I didn’t have enough ketchup, I lowered the amounts of all other ingredients by a little bit.  And, since I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce I omitted it altogether.  Still tasted great to me!

Use these Father’s Day labels from Martha Stewart to dress up your jar of sauce.

Neely’s Barbeque Sauce Recipe (source)
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Recipe claims you’ll get 3 1/2 cups.  Even if I had all the ingredients, I would bet I’d only get 2 cups.  Mine reduced a lot.

Celebrate Dad: The Book of Awesome

Check out our first gift idea this week: a Canvas Word Cloud Gift and, if you need some tips on how to use the Wordle website, check out my post with Wordle Tips and Tricks!

How many of you are familiar with The Book of Awesome?  There is a blog as well as book one and book two.  Basically, the premise is a blog that highlights a new awesome thing each day.  For example:
#910: When you arrive at your destination just as a great song ends on the radio
#596: Driving on the highway really late at night when the roads are empty
#328: The smell of a library

Fun things that remind you to enjoy the little things of life.

So, I thought, wouldn’t this be a great idea for a Father’s Day gift?  You could make a Dad’s Book of Awesome!

All you need is some paper to create your own book.  Or you can go to your local Teacher Supply store and they should have some of those prebound, blank young author books students use at school.

Buy one for each of your kids and then have them come up with a few reasons that Dad is awesome.  Maybe something like:
#1: He makes me pancakes every Saturday.
#2: He likes to ride bikes with me.

Whatever they can come up with.  Then, they can draw pictures after each awesome thing, or include a photo.  What dad wouldn’t love this gift?  It’s a wonderful reminder that those little things he does matter.

Stay tuned for one more gift idea tomorrow and a Father’s Day Bloggy Roundup!

Wordle Tips and Tricks

Don’t you love how prompt I was when I promised this Wordle post “tomorrow”?  Apparently I like to play it fast and loose with the word tomorrow.  Today has been a busy day of taking my dog to get her Bordetella vaccine, going to a Pampered Chef party, and catching the tail end of Bible Study.  As you can see, I am busy and important.

Tomorrow I will be picking my aunt, uncle, and cousin up at the Cincinnati airport after their 17 day European vacation (Clark Griswold would be proud) and I will be using every ounce of self-control I have to not stop by IKEA.  Last time I was in Cincinnati, it took me an hour to get there from the airport and I would hate to leave them stranded there waiting for me, so alas, I will not go.  (Even though my heart yearns.)  Also, if you happened to think you could come break into my house while I am gone?  Just know that I am currently unemployed (and, therefore, broke), and have a protective Rottweiler.  Also, my neighbor is strangely protective of me as well, and really, I would not want to mess with him.

Now, onto Wordle.  This was one of my 4th and 5th graders FAVORITE websites to do in the Computer Lab last year.  I would get requests for it and many students chose to go on this website when they earned free time in class.  Anyone can use this website easily.  Have no fear!

When you go onto the Wordle website, you’ll click on the Create link at the top of the page.  You’re going to see a box that says “Paste in a bunch of text”.  Heed my words, young Jedi.  You will regret it if you don’t.  Say you accidentally misspell a word or you accidentally forget to add something.  Wordle won’t save what you’ve written and you will be sad.

Go ahead and open up a Microsoft Word document, or even Notepad or Google Docs, and type out your list of words here.  Now, I mentioned in my last post that this is a weighted list, so the more times a word is repeated, the bigger it gets.  In this case, I copied and pasted “Dad” 30 times and copied and pasted all my descriptive words 10 times each.  (Ignore the red and green squiggles.)

Notice the words “loves God”?  In order to keep those words together in your word cloud you need to join them together with that little squiggle.  ~

If you don’t, the website will count them as separate words and you will not see them together in your final graphic.

Once you’ve copied and pasted your words into the box, click “Go” underneath it.

Hooray, you have a picture!!!!

Click the “Randomize” box to see a new layout.  You can also click the “Font”, “Layout”, or “Color” tabs at the top of the page to change your settings manually.

Once you’re happy with your picture, you’re going to want to print it.  But don’t forget!  We need to print a mirror image.

Click Print.  When the box pops up, click the small check box that says “Always allow”.

In your printer box, make sure it’s printing to the correct printer, and then click “Properties” to the right of your printer name.

Click on the “Finishing” tab and then click in the box next to “Mirror Image” on the bottom right.

Click OK and then Print.

Now your image will be printed correctly!  And if you only have an inkjet printer, be sure to make a photocopy or your will have a sad canvas. 😦

I hope this explains any questions you might have about using Wordle.  Enjoy making this project!  If you have more than one child, this allows each one to be creative and choose his/her own fonts, colors, layout, and descriptive words — making each one unique!

Thursday and Friday I’ll be sharing with you two more homemade gift ideas.  And Saturday I might do a little bloggy roundup!

Celebrate Dad: Word Cloud Gift

Has anyone else felt that shift in the time-space continuum?  Because that’s the only way I can explain getting calls for THREE (count them … THREE) interviews today.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’m just positive something must be going on in the universe.  Although I will start complaining if I don’t get any of these jobs.  Because that’s just mean.

So this week I’m going to share with you ideas for three homemade gifts for dad.  The first one is a word cloud all about dad.  Word clouds are becoming more and more popular; some libraries use them in their catalogs and some websites use them as tag clouds.  A word cloud is a visual weighted list.  The more often a word is repeated, the bigger it gets in the cloud.  So I thought this would make a great gift for dad.

You’re going to create your word cloud for dad using the website Wordle.  I’ll give you several tips on using the website tomorrow.  I made a list of 10 attributes I appreciated about my dad and created my word cloud and then I printed it on my laser printer.  If you don’t have a laser printer, make sure you make a photocopy of it as inkjet printing will not work for this project.  Also, make sure you print it as a mirror image.  (I will show you how to do that tomorrow if you aren’t sure.)

Making a word cloud isn’t enough for me.  You could easily put it in a frame, but I wanted to make it a little extra special.  So I used a gel medium and canvas to make it special!  This is how I did it.

What you’ll need:

A painted canvas (I used a canvas panel because it was cheaper), a brayer, a paint brush, Golden Gel Medium, and my printed word cloud.  (I do have two panels in this picture because I wanted one in case I messed up.  Which is good I did!)

First thing you’ll do is coat that canvas up well with your gel medium.  Since I had never done this before, I have some hints I’ll share along the way so you don’t make the same mistakes!  Hint: only coat the area you’ll be placing the picture over (i.e. don’t do the whole thing like I did).

(Flashlight in the background optional.)

Next, lay your word cloud graphic face down on the painted canvas.  Now you’ll see why it needed to be printed as a mirror image!  Hint: trim away the paper without words.  (Again, don’t do what I did.)

Now take your brayer (or improvise with a rolling pin) and make sure all the air bubbles are out.

Let this sit for at least an hour to dry.

Then take some water and wet the paper.  I like to use a squeeze bottle for this, but do whatever is easiest for you.  Hint: You really don’t need to get it this wet.  This was practically drowning — unnecessary.

Now take the paper off with your fingers.  This may take awhile, just be patient.  Also, don’t rub too hard or you may take bits of the letters off.  Also, not covering your entire canvas with the extra paper will help with the time!

You may want to keep adding water as needed to help you get that paper off.

Keep working at it and you’ll end up with something like this:

It’s not all the way dry in this picture, which explains the splotchiness.

Stay tuned tomorrow for some tips on using Wordle to make your world cloud.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wicked Awesome Wednesday

Domestic Wish List

As I take a break from procrastinate my bedroom and bedroom closet organization (before and after pictures to come later), I thought I’d share a few things on my domestic wish list.  You know, in case you’re feeling charitable. 🙂

(Because it’s totally normal to buy something expensive for someone you’ve never met.)

First on my list is the KopyKake Projector.  I love making decorated cookies (and someday I’ll share with you the roll sugar cookie dough I swear by) but I have a hard time decorating them.  A KopyKake projector projects the image on the cookie so you can basically trace it onto the cookie.  Genius!!  This model is the K1000-G and is $425.  Definitely not in my budget right now.


Next on my list is the Silhouette cutter.  I currently own (read: took from my mom) a Cricut cutter.  It’s great, but I love the Silhouette’s ability to make your own designs and also to download new designs on the cheap.  You can not only cut paper, but fabric, vinyl, and work with rhinestones and heat transfer.  The Silhouette SD is currently available for only $249.99, which I would jump on if I were employed.  In the mean time, I’ll just keep entering all the Silhouette giveaways on my favorite blogs. 🙂

I would like every color (hey, if I’m making a wish list I might as well go big) of disco dust.  Disco dust is sparkly edible glitter for cookies and cakes.

A Cuisinart ice-cream maker.  (Does this really need an explanation?)

Finally, the Kitchenaid Pasta Excellence mixer attachments.  I really want to make my own pasta sometime.  While I know I can do it without these attachments, it’s just not as fun!

Later this week I’ll show you what I’ve actually accomplished upstairs.  Hopefully by this time tomorrow the laundry will be done, I’ll be able to walk in my closet, and everything will be clean and organized.

Weekday Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

While at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I picked up some delicious tomato basil soup.  I knew that despite the fact that the high today was 86 degrees, I had to make grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch.

Grilled cheese is always made better with bacon.  So, after buttering my slices of bread, I added cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, and some bacon.

After heating up my soup (I love to drink my soup out of coffee cups), I enjoyed a tasty lunch.  I didn’t even mind that it was sweltering outside!