Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh how I love Black Friday

photo by flickr user: denipet

My love affair with Black Friday started 3 years ago.  I'm not sure exactly what brought me to think about braving the sales, but I remember waking up ridiculously early to stop at Target before work to get Guitar Hero.  It may have been Guitar Hero 2.  Since then I've been hooked. 

Last year I did some online shopping at Kohls right around midnight then went to Target, Gamestop, Best Buy, and a few other random stores as well as got a delicious breakfast out.  I also dragged DBF and one of his good friends along for the ride.  It was a blast and this year I got even more serious about it. 

Since Halloween I have been religiously checking Gotta Deal and Black Friday for the most recent leaked ad scans (at gotta deal you have to find the scans in the forums) and have been working up my Black Friday plan of attack.  I've been pouring over the ad scans (multiple times for many of them) and making my list and checking it a million times.  Today I've finalized my plans for the day (which are extra complicated since its also my birthday) and you can check out my finalized plan of attack.  The highlighted items are my most important purchases, the things that I want the most.  I'm super excited for the day and I'll be sure to post and show you guys my loot sometime over the weekend.  I'm also excited to start creating things with the cricut machine which you will see lots of over the coming weeks no doubt. 

Anyone else this obsessed over Black Friday and want to share your plans for the day?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh Fudge!

The last Christmas present I let you guys see was a failure.  Complete and total failure.  It's currently in the box to go to goodwill when I stop being a lazy bum.  Maybe someone else can figure out how to salvage it.  Now that that idea has been scrapped, I've been doing practice runs of some kitchen stuff for Christmas presents.  I fail far less in the kitchen than at the decoupage table :)  Well except for the shortbread fiasco, but that's not what we're talking about here.

So I've been making fudge.  Not fancy fudge with chocolate and sugar and a candy thermometer, but super duper easy fudge courtesy of my best friend's fudge recipe.

All it calls for is one can of sweetened condensed milk, one bag of chocolate chips, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Her original recipe didn't call for the vanilla, but I think it makes for a smoother flavor.  You can also add in mix-ins as you see fit.  My first batch had coconut shreds and walnuts in it (and no vanilla).  The second batch I made included the vanilla and left out the walnuts.

Here's how you make it: (no pics because I flaked and forgot to take some)

1.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  I don't have a double boiler or the fixins to make an ad hoc double boiler (which is a metal mixing bowl on top of a pot with some water in it) so I used the microwave.  I used a glass bowl and melted the chocolate at half power in two spurts of 1 minute and a few more of 30 seconds, stirring in between until it was melted smooth.

2.  Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

3.  Add in any mix-ins like nuts.

4.  Spread in a foil lined and greased 9x9 or 8x8 baking dish.

5.  Chill for at least 1 hour.

And voila!  You have delicious ridiculously easy fudge!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Beginning of Christmas Presents

Wow! Look at me go! Two posts in one week. Today I didn't have to work until the afternoon so I spent my morning organizing my kitchen and working on my sister's Christmas present. I decided about a month back that I would make her a decoupage recipe box and fill it with recipes. I spent the past week slowly copying some recipes out onto cards while I kept forgetting to buy the supplies I needed to decoupage. I finally picked up a brush yesterday and now I can share this craft with you.

Here are my supplies. Some old food magazines, a wooden recipe box, a foam brush, and Elmer's white glue.

I had already cut out pictures of tasty looking food so I just mixed up some decoupage paste (just added some water to the glue) and started painting the glue on the box and slapping pictures on.

After all the pictures got glued on and dried, I did a total of three topcoats (drying in between)

All in all, I don't think that I'm very happy with how it turned out. It just looks sloppy. I think part of my problem was feeling the need to cover every last space. I think it would have looked better if I left some of the wood showing. My decoupage needs some work. I think I'll be scrapping this and making her a scarf and some fudge instead.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My first Scarf

I can't knit or crochet. Well I can crochet a single line but I've never been able to hook them together. A few Christmases ago a co-worker tried to teach me, but after a few lunch sessions it became apparent I was bad at it. I haven't tried knitting, but I suspect that it will be much the same.

When I decided to start a teen craft series at the library I work at in January, I thought of the perfect January craft- a scarf. But not knowing how to knit or crochet, I went on a hunt for a scarf I could make and teach to teens without these skills. Once again Martha saved me on my craft hunt and I ran across this awesome scarf. Tonight, I set about making a practice run to see if I could use it for my first craft program.

Martha's instructions called for a bulky weight yarn which is apparently listed on the package (who knew?!) so I picked out this extra bulky weight yarn.

It was super soft and a pretty mix of blue and green.

I started out cutting 12 pieces of yarn that were 140 inches each. I didn't realize how huge that was until I had the tape measure stretched almost the entire length of my living room! I'm glad that I did the cutting at home where I had plenty of space (and have recently vacuumed).

Then you make four bunches of yarn with three strands in each. Tie two of these bunches together with a square knot with about 6 inches left at the end. Then do the same with the other two. Secure it somehow. Martha suggests tacking it to a piece of foam board, I didn't have that at home, so I just picked one of my heavier books and used it as a weight to hold the ends in place while I continued.

Take the two center bunches and tie them in a square knot about an inch down. An inch down from that center knot, tie the two left most bunches together with a square knot and then the two right most bunches with a square knot. You keep following this pattern until you get the the end and have about 6 inches of spare yarn and two knots like when you started. Simple!

I think I started out with wider intervals in the beginning and it definitely looked a lot better when I was keeping my knots closer together. I also wound up with uneven strands at the end and had to trim a little to make the scarf even. You wind up with a beautiful and simple scarf. It's very thin and long so is easily wrapped around the neck a few times as you see in Martha's picture.

This would make a great gift, and fairly inexpensive if you get a skein of yarn on sale or with a coupon. Give it a try!