Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Graduation Gift

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My sister in law graduated from high school this past weekend.
Chris and I were kind of at a loss for what to get her as a gift,
but I stumbled across a couple different versions of candy bar cards when perusing the interweb,

and found this one on Pinterest.

I switched up the words and candy a bit,
so this is our version:

It reads:

Mary Kate, Congratulations, SWEETART. We are so proud of you for getting your WHATCHAMACALLIT (diploma?) Your eyes are not playing TWIX on you, you did it! You won't hear any SNICKERS from us, only a SYMPHONY of cheers. We know you had to overcome some MOUNDS along the way, but you have proven that you are not an AIRHEAD, or a LEMONHEAD, but a real SMARTIE! WERTHER or not you succeed is up to you. Don't let college slip through your BUTTERFINGERs. If you study EXTRA hard, hopefully you'll SKOR a PAYDAY around 100GRAND. Then, you could go on a real shopping SPREE. Just remember, you can do anything you put your mind to. You could climb the ANDES, take a WHOPPER of a trip through the STARBURST, ORBIT the MILKY WAY, or you could make a FAST BREAK for new YORK. We know that Franciscan may not be your dream school, but believe it or not, you won't ROLOver and die. It's no shocker that there will be some NERDS and GOOBERS, but you never know! Maybe you'll meet a real HOT TAMALE like Chris and Dan did. But for now, enjoy a fun, RED HOT summer. You have many GOOD AND PLENTY times ahead, and if you hit a SOUR PATCH, we're always here to be your LIFESAVERS, so TAKE 5 and enjoy the day. We love you! Hugs and (KISSES),
Chris, Meg, and Benjamin

I have to be honest, it took me shopping at three different drug stores/convenience stores/grocery stores to find all of the candy that I wanted,
but it was well worth the effort.

Couldn't resist a picture of Gram with Ben and my niece, Liliana
Congratulations, Mary Kate! We love you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Pie

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I had a crazy weekend.
We were busy all around, but it was a lot of fun.

Family and friends were around, so we ended up throwing an impromptu get together at our house.

Since it was Memorial Day yesterday,
I thought I would make what I call "Red, White, and Blue Pie."

It's pretty tasty and simple to make.
Plus, it uses fruits that are in season right now (rhubarb, strawberries, and blackberries),
so even if you don't grow them yourself,
you should be able to find them at your local farmers market or grocery store.

Red, White, and Blue Pie

For the Pie:
One 9" pie crust, uncooked
about 7 cups of rhubarb, strawberries, and blackberries (I like about equal parts of all three, but I use whatever I have), cleaned and cut up
Note: I dice my rhubarb into about 1/2"pieces and my strawberries to bite sized pieces. The blackberries I leave whole.
1/2 C of brown sugar
1/2 C of white sugar
1/2 C of AP flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
a healthy pinch of salt

For the crumb topping:
1 stick (1/2 C) of butter, chilled and cut into 1/2" cubes
3/4 C of brown sugar
3/4 C of AP flour
3/4 C of oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
a healthy pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a bowl, gently mix your fruit with all of the filling ingredients. Be careful not to break up your fruit too much.
Place rolled out pie crust in pie dish and fill with fruit mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

In the meantime, mix all of the crumb topping ingredients except for the butter in a medium bowl.
Cut in your butter with a pastry cutter (or a fork if you don't have one).
After the pie has baked for the first 20 minutes, top with your crumb mixture and place back in the oven.
Knock the oven temperature down to 325 degrees and bake for another hour, or until the filling thickens.

By the way, I put a foil lined cookie sheet underneath the pie plate, so I don't have a sticky mess in the oven.

Done and done.
And so good.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kickoff to summer Giveaway WINNER

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Congratulations to....


Southern Gal!
(I'm so happy that a fellow southern gal won! haha)

I'm looking forward to my beach vacation as well,
as in: counting down the minutes and seconds!

You'll be getting an email from me shortly about the details of receiving your prize.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered.
I enjoyed reading all of your comments.

Sounds like a lot of you have plenty of use for these wet bags!
For anyone interested interested in purchasing one,

I have just a few left in my Etsy shop.
If I sell out, I'll probably get a new batch done soon.


I hope that everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend,
To all of our military: Thank you.

Please take a minute this weekend to remember in a special way those who have died for country.
May they rest in peace.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why, Aphids? Why?

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Amongst the many questions that I will ask God when if I get to heaven,
one of them will most certainly be:
Why did you create aphids?

Aphids are pesky little green bugs that love SUPER love pepper and tomato plants.
You'll often find them on the bottom sides of the leaves,
and if you don't take care of them quickly, they'll be the demise of your garden.

I started many of my vegetable plants from seed this year, 
and overall it's been a success
with two exceptions:
tomatos and peppers.

The tomato seedlings died awhile ago and had nothing to do with aphids at all,
rather with me leaving them in the hands of my husband while I left for a long weekend.

The peppers, though, I can COMPLETELY blame on aphids.
Some of them made it through to planting, though, and luckily I caught the problem pretty early on.

The only good thing about having an aphid problem is that they are pretty easy to get rid of.

There are a lot of sprays that you can use, and most of them treat the problem (kill kill kill the aphids) rather quickly.

But I'm always weary of using any chemical sprays on plants that my family and I are hoping to eat at some point.
So, I've tried a couple of different organic sprays, and this is my favorite:

Note: if you buy a spray bottle with a little filter at the bottom,
you don't have to strain the garlic out of the solution.
Organic Aphid Spray:

Fill a spray bottle (under a dollar at most home improvement and discount stores) with water about 3/4 of the way to the top,
add a squirt of biodegradable dish soap,
and a couple cloves of garlic, minced.

Mix it all together, let it sit overnight for greater strength,
and spray it on your plants.

You can use it pretty liberally,
and you might have to go back a couple of times.

The dish soap will kill the aphids
and the garlic will deter them altogether.

Be sure when you spray your plants to get under the leaves since that's where aphids love to hang.

Hope this helps you all!
Things are looking great in the garden, and I'm hoping to have an update of the progress up soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

With Fear and Trepidation

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I am trying to sew from a pattern again.

I HATE patterns.
Mostly because I'm afraid of them.

I've written before about how trying to follow a pattern for me is like trying to read a book written in a language that I don't speak.

And when I've taken on this endeavor before, it ended up somewhat disastrously,
with me ripping up the pattern and starting over from scratch, making it up myself as I went along. Thankfully, that was just a bag.

But I found a project that I just have to try,
that I can't just make up on my own...
so I'm going for it.

Because it's a gift, I'll have to keep you all in the dark for now and just share cryptic close up pictures,
but rest assured that I will tell you all about it once this person has received her (or his... no let's be honest: her) gift.

Wish me luck!
And if you have any sage words of wisdom related to pattern-following
(or you just want to leave a little encouragement for a freaked out but ambitious sewist),
please leave me some love. :)

And don't forget to enter my Kickoff to Summer Giveaway
by this Friday at midnight (EST).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kickoff to Summer Giveaway (Closed)

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Alright, here we go...

I'm psyched to be participating in the one and only Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day!
Woo Hoo!

This is a  HUGE collection of giveaways, so even if you don't want to enter this one, you should definitely check out the others over at Sew, Mama, Sew.
There are giveaways for kids and baby, accesories, home, bags, craft supplies... I mean, really, check it out.

So want to know what I'm giving away?

The pool opens this weekend. HUZZAH!
So I'm kicking off Summer by giving away one of my 'On the Go Wetbags'.

This bag is made of waterproof PUL material, so it's great to take to the pool for wet swim suits, clothes, and such.
It's also perfect for the diaper bag to contain messes.
I use mine for dirty cloth diapers.
(It fits about 4-6 cloth diapers for cloth moms out there)

So want to enter?

Okay, here are the deets:

This Giveaway is open to everyone. (WELCOME, international friends!).

To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me what you are most looking forward to this summer.

Want an extra entry? Okay! Follow me in one of the following ways: email subscription (to the right), Google connect (to the right), or "like" Handmade by Meg K on Facebook (also to the right),
then come back here and leave another comment.
If you are already a follower (thanks!), just let me know that you already do so. :)

Please, please, please leave a comment for each entry and be sure that your email is included if it is not already attached to your profile.

The Giveaway will close at midnight on May 25th.
The winner will be chosen by a random number generator, and he/she will be notified by email.
Winner sends me an address, and I ship! (by June 1st)

Easy Peasy.

Good Luck!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ben's Wooden Crate Bookshelves

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They're finished!
I finally got around to completing Ben's bookshelves yesterday
all thanks to my in laws taking Ben for the night on Wednesday.
It was truly glorious. I haven't been able to work on a project uninterrupted for that long in...
well I don't even know the last time, to be honest.

I had seen this picture a couple of months ago of front-facing bookshelves
made from a wooden pallet, and I knew that's what I wanted for Ben's room.
I decided to go for it.

I'm including my tutorial below if you're interested.
This project was virtually free for me.
The crate was certainly free,
and I had everything else.

I did buy some extra pieces of lumber (3 1x3's) for the bottom of the shelves
that didn't break the bank at about $1.50 a piece.
Oh yes, and a couple bucks for the mounting hardware.
That's it! So cheap.

I kept the "pallet look" by just using a pickling stain instead of paint,
and I did not fill any holes from the nails.
If you wanted a more finished look, I would fill those with some wood filler
and then either paint or stain darker.

But I decided I that I wanted to be able to tell that it used to be a pallet.
And it seems to fit in well with the other furniture in Ben's room.

I also added some quotes (listed at the bottom of the post) about reading that I love, some serious and some silly.
I found a TON, and it was difficult to narrow my favorites down to three,
but I did, and they're great.
And the best part of the whole thing?
Ben LOVES to take out the books.
(We'll have to work on putting them back in)
And the bottom shelf is just the right height for him right now.

He loves to read which is exciting
because I have always had a love affair with books
and I know that the love of books had a HUGE positive impact on my life.
I certainly hope this trend continues for him.

So here's how I made them!

Pallet Bookshelf Tutorial
Step One:
Hack up your pallet.
I was able to get three shelves out of mine.
Depending on the construction of the pallet, you might only be able to get two.

Step Two:
Pry off one of your boards.
You could try and use this board as your bottom piece.
I didn't for two reasons: the board was too wide and I couldn't seem to get the boards off without them splitting and I wanted a nice strong board since that's the piece on which the books will sit.
Be sure to take out all of your nails and such.


Repeat for all of the shelves.

Step Three:
Sand it down. I sanded mine thoroughly first with a coarse, then a medium, then a fine grit sandpaper.
I hate sanding. Hate. But I would rather sand than pull out splinters from Ben's hands later, yes? yes.

Step Four:
Cut the lumber for the bottom of the shelves.
Again, I used a 1x3 for each.
My shelves were about 4.5 feet long, so I cut a piece to match with my mitre saw.


Step Five:
Attach the bottom piece.

I glued mine and then nailed where the bottom piece met the braces (four).

Step Six:
Final sanding and cleaning of the shelves.
You want to make sure that you have a clean, dry, smooth surface to paint or stain.

Almost there!
Looking good, yeah?

Step Seven:
I used a white pickling stain by Minwax.
There are so many different stains out there, it's crazy.

I think it would be fun also to do a colored stain, especially since these are for a kid's room.
Follow the directions on the label of whatever product you use,
and keep in mind that you might want more coats,
the more coats, the more saturated the color.

Step Eight:
Once my stain had dried, I added my quotes.
If you have a fancy Silhouette machine of something like that, this would be really quick and neat.
I've also found this technique.
But in the end I just printed my quotes in a couple different fonts and used those as a reference to free hand the words.
I drew them on with pencil first, and then painted them on with a watered down acrylic paint.
Step Nine:
Attach your mounting hardware,
and mount to the wall.
Please use extra care when selecting your hardware and mounting furniture in a child's room.
You don't want anything to fall down on anyone,
and it's always best practice to assume that it will be pulled on.

Fill that thing with books and cozy up with a good one.

"Let us read and let us dance- two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." -Voltaire

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." -Frederick Douglass

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am NOT a Broncos Fan

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But I know some people who are!

One of my favorite families in Colorado needed bean bags for their corn hole sets (bean bag toss game thing for those of you scratching your heads).

Anywho, I've made about ten gazillion corn hole sets, so I offered to make theirs.
Bean bags are probably one of the simplest projects out there, am I right?

They sent me the fabric in the mail since they wanted Broncos stuff (which is NOT available in Pittsburgh), and the only problem is... there was WAY too much of it.

So I thought I would make a simple tote to match and carry all those bags.
Problem solved.

And it all turned out pretty cute, yes?

The straps I took off of a bag I already had that had seen much better days.

 and the zipper was purchased as a goof (I bought the wrong size, but kept it in case I needed it in future). 

I reinforced all of the fabric for extra sturdiness (is that a word?),

and added an extra panel at the bottom made with double layers of stabilizer and more Broncos fabric.

So all in all, I had the materials already except for the Broncos stuff, as, I repeat, I AM NOT A BRONCOS FAN.

I'll post more details on the bean bags soon.
Being the crazy neurotic person that I am, they are, of course, made to regulation as per the directions of the Cornhole Association of America.
Yes, they do exist.