Wednesday, March 30, 2011

R.A.D. Self-Defense

Over the course of the last week I have been taking a self-defense class hosted by a local police department. Is is called Rape Aggression Defense or R.A.D.

This class is for women only. The men you see pictured are both police officers who have been specially trained to teach this course. Women are taught basic self-defense tactics to use in a dangerous situation. The class lasted for 3 hours a night for 4 nights.

The first night we did classroom time. We reviewed a PowerPoint presentation and discussed helpful information to help us become more aware of our surroundings and how to avoid danger.

The second night we focused on Upper Body moves, like punching and blocking. We practiced these over and over to try to train our muscles to remember how to do it. We each got one-on-one time with an instructor to make sure we were using proper technique.

The third night we focused on our Lower Body moves like kicks. We also learned how to handle fighting on the ground.

The last night was basically the final exam. They like to call it "Fight Night." Each student will go into the gymnasium and fight three police officers, all men. They run the student through three scenarios (not all at once) and the student has to fight her way out. I can't tell you how scary it was! But I can tell you that I felt so proud of myself when I punched, kicked, and head-butted my way out of an attack by a Marine!

We were all wearing protective gear, so no one was hurt. They video taped our fights so we could watch ourselves to see our areas of weakness. I had a coach by my side the whole time reminding me what I learned. Even the attackers would remind me of things to help me. In one scenario I was trying to get to the door and one of the attackers, Sy, was punching me and I blocked all of his hits. He finally said yelled, "Jenny! Why aren't you hitting me?" and I said, "Because you told us to avoid a fight! I'm trying to get away!" He said, "I'm hitting you. We're ALREADY fighting." So I punched him really hard in the face and ran away. :)

I would recommended this class to any woman. After just four classes I think differently. I have made small changes that I think will help me be safer and more alert. I went into one of the scariest parts of D.C. today for a pre-employment drug screening. Before R.A.D. I would have been terrified. Instead, I walked down the street looking confident and developing a plan.

Oh, and in case you are a little timid, the youngest student in our class was 12. She was like a little Praying Mantis, all skinny little arms and legs. But she did it!! She was awesome! (She's in the Cookie Monster shirt in the picture.)

To find a course in your area check out their Program Locator.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Last St. Patty's Post of the Season: Food

Chance and I are threw a little St. Patrick's Day get-together/BYU v. Gonzaga viewing party last Saturday and I was really excited about the food. I made a bunch of desserts and concocted a well-themed appetizer to throw into the mix.

Lucky Charms Treats
Jello/Poke Cake

Carrots, Cauliflower, and Broccoli w/Ranch Dip

The Desserts:
I made Rice Krispy Treats but instead of RK I used Lucky Charms. Thanks to the fabulous, talented ladies at eighteen25 I used their printable and attached it to the top.

3 TB Margarine or butter
1 bag (4 cups) of marshmallows
6 cups of cereal

**The recipe indicated that they recommend fresh marshmallows. They do NOT recommend "diet, reduced calorie, or tub margarine."
Melt the butter in a big 'ol sauce pan over low heat. (You're going to add 6 cups of cereal, so it needs to be a big pan).
Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add the cereal and stir until well coated. Using wax paper or a buttered spoon press the mix into a 13x9 pan.
Cut into squares once it has cooled.

The marshmallows that are in the Lucky Charms added just the right amount of flavor. I'll never go back to basic Rice Krispy Treats.

Next, I made a three layer cake to mimic the Irish flag. (If you can't tell I have TOTALLY embraced their flag this year as I celebrate.) Thanks to Google Analytics I learned that someone in Belfast, Northern Ireland has stopped by my blog. I would LOVE to learn more about St. Patrick's day there, so feel free to comment!
I used a cookie cutter to guide the sprinkles into a shamrock shape.
This cake was what I call a Jello Cake and what my darling MIL calls a Poke Cake. (Can't you just hear her Southern accent wrapping itself around "Poke Cake." She's too cute.)

I bought a white cake mix. Actually, I bought two boxes. I did this because one box says it will make two 8" round pans. I needed three. I should have just spread the one mix into three pans. However, since I made two boxes, I used the left over batter and made about 12 cupcakes. Sadly the taste was really bland so the cupcakes were kind of a flop!

Now, listen. On the box it says to separate your eggs and only use the whites. Last time I didn't do this. It turns out the yolk will make your "white" cake yellow. Lesson learned: Follow directions!

I poured the batter into three 8" round pans and cooked according to directions. Then after I took them out of the oven I used a fork and poked a bunch of holes into two of the cakes. Make your jello using 1 C of boiling water and 1/2 cup of cold water. I poured the orange jello on one cake, the lime on another, and I left the last one white. Let this cool for about three hours.

I placed the Orange on bottom and frosted the top with cool whip. Next the white, and finally the green. Then frost the whole thing in cool whip. Now when you cut, it looks like the flag. Oh, and it's delicious.

I normally make this in a 13x9 pan with strawberry jello. It is always a hit. Always.

As for the appetizers:
Following my Irish flag inspiration, I laid the broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots out on a platter in their individual color groups. I placed the ranch dressing right in the middle of the cauliflower since it, too, is white. I set it on the table and before I could get a picture people were digging in. I'm not too sad; it was just a really successful appetizer! You can imagine it though; I've given you more than enough images of Ireland's flag!

Since this was something of a potluck our friends brought some pretty amazing things too.

Jill made an ice cream cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. (In my family that's called Grasshopper Pie). She was in the kitchen cutting pieces for people all night long!

Britni made some delicious chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. (Her husband cooks and she makes desserts. They NEVER disappoint!)

And the piece-de-resistance, the show-stopper, the "oh my gosh HOW did you DO that?!" was the Leprechaun Trap Cake made by TMJ. She saw the tutorial on Not Martha, and decided that she had to try it.

Making this cake was quite an adventure and I desperately hope that she blogs about it. If she does; I won't let you miss it! If she doesn't, I'll be sure to tell you the story later on!

Friday, March 25, 2011

In the Works

Well friends, I feel like I haven't posted in a while. I was on a roll with St. Patrick's Day Decor and now I have hit a patch where I have new projects coming up, but nothing quite done. So here's a little sneak peak at my upcoming projects:

End Table/Magazine Rack:

I bought this little beauty at the Goodwill for $15. I plan to try my hand at repairing and refinishing wood. I'm excited because if it turns out well, it will serve a great purpose in our living room. If not, I will have hopefully learned some valuable lessons in the process. Either way, you'll hear about it!

Metal Refinishing:
So I found this great spray primer at Wal-Mart. It's a Rustoleum primer/top coat specifically for rusty metal. I have a metal shower caddy and a toothbrush holder that are both rusting. It is SO annoying. When you manufacture a shower caddy you should assume that it could, possibly, get wet. Anyway...I bought the primer and a can of Oil-Rubbed Bronze (You bloggers know the famous ORB!). Again, I have never attempted to make rusty metal look like new. Could be an adventure.

Random Piece of Wood

Seriously. I live in an apartment complex, and I could see this piece of wood from my kitchen window. It sat in the grass for over a month before I finally went and snagged it up. It even has pretty beveled edges. I'm still waiting for inspiration to strike. You should have seen the look on my husband's face when I told him I brought in a  random piece of wood from outside. Classic.

I'm preparing to throw a baby shower next month and I got all my inspiration for the decor/theme from a gift bag I saw at Target. I can't wait to tell you about all my ideas!

As always, I have a couple of sewing projects on the docket. My SIL is pregnant and due in June. So I'm making one of my famous rag quilts.

I just got a Joann's coupon for 25% off my total purchase. Yeah, nuts I know! But Maybe I should stay away from craft/fabric stores until some (or at least one?) of these projects are complete. Yeah, right. Even if I had the will power to stay away TMJ will want to go, and I'm a good friend so I would go with her. It's a sickness people, and this blog replaces a support group.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Wreath

 Some friends and I were totally inspired when we saw this wreath on The Magic of Ordinary Things.

We had already taken care of St. Patty's day decor so we decided to use this idea for a new spring wreath. 
I had no idea how much fabric it would take so I went to see TMJ. We dove into her endless stash of scrap fabric and got a couple yards out just to be safe. 
Using my rotary cutter I cut strips that were roughly 3" by 1". I got bored so I only cut one yard of fabric. Using a metal hanger we made a circle shape and I set out to tie knots around the hanger. 

During this process I learned a couple of things. 
1. It's okay if your strips aren't all exactly the same; in fact it's good.
2. The next time I did this I cut the strips a little longer and a little thinner. Roughly 4" by 3/4." Next time I will cut them even thinner. 
3. A small wreath only took about 3/4 of a yard. 

I had used all red fabric on our practice wreath. So when I was done I jokingly bent it in the middle. I wanted TMJ to know how much I <3 her.

So, armed with this new knowledge I headed off to the fabric store. I found a really cute piece of scrapbook paper that felt very springy to me. I used it as my color inspiration. I got five fabrics.

I sat down in front of the TV that night and cut all five into strips. I divided them as best I could into five different bags. Then, the girls came over and we started tying.

Here's my wreath at the end of tying. I didn't like how big the circle was so I waited for inspiration to strike. 

Andrea and TMJ with their works-in-progress.

The always brilliant, Michelle, with her Easter Egg wreath. Now I feel inspired.

Michelle and I tied some of our strips together and then tied them to the wreath to create stripes. Can you believe that four women started out with the exact same materials and ended up with four completely different creations?!

I'll make sure to post a picture once it goes on the door!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Last Minute Decor

So, last month I tried my hand at a project I saw on Thrifty Decorating. I failed at it. I really need Nikki to come sit with me or something while I do it. At any rate, it involved cutting a piece of foam board into a rectangular frame shape. So I had this foam board sitting around and a big, empty space on my wall. We've invited people over for a little party on Saturday and I really wanted to have something up. Out of desperation I took some scrap fabric that I love, my trusty mod podge, and my foam board. Here the result:

My supplies:

I cut the fabric into random sizes and mod podged it on to the board. I would recommend going around the edges first and then covering the rest to create a random pattern. I would also warn that the mod podge you put under the fabric is more important that the mod podge on top. The under layer acts as the glue and will keep the raw edges down.

Mid-way through:



This project was essentially free because I already owned all the supplies. It only took an hour and that it because I was on the phone the whole time I worked on it!

Since it's St. Patrick's Day I'd like to leave you with an Irish Blessing:
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
and my trouble avoid you wherever you go. 

I'm linking up to Thrifty Decorating's linky party Thrifty Thursday.

TMJ's take on Pot O Gold

You may have noticed that I do a ton of craft projects with my dear TMJ. I <3 her. Anywho, I wanted to show you how she took the Pot 'O Gold and made it uniquely her own.

Pot 'O Gold:

You have to remember that she is a seamstress. So she has enough fabric to start her own store. It made so much sense for her to make her rainbow out of fabric instead of painting one. Unfortunately, we live in apartments that have very little natural light, so my pictures are always heavy on flash. For that, I apologize.

I really need to show you here holiday blocks. Actually, I have a key to her place...I could just sneak in and take a few pictures. Hmm. I'll get back to you on that. :)

We were apparently blogging at the same time. That's how we roll. Anyway, here is the link to her blog post about the same subject.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Posting and Pinterest

In case you missed my VERY exciting news: I was featured as a guest poster on Thrifty Decorating. Nikki is a Super Mom who homeschools her kids, does all kinds of awesome crafts and creative decorating around the house, AND finds time to blog about it! I was honored that she asked me to share with her readers. Below is a copy of my post. Please check out Thrifty Decorating; I promise you'll be inspired!
Do you ever see something online that you want to remember later? Nikki posts craft projects constantly that I want to copy! So I email myself links all the time. I actually had a whole folder in my email dedicated to links I had sent myself. It was out of hand!
Luck was on my side, however, when I was introduced to Pinterest.
Pinterest (a combination of the words Pin and Interest) is a website where you can create virtual pin boards for all the links you want to save for yourself. I have a board dedicated to crafts I want to try. I have another board for fashion that I love.
Here is a screen shot of my Pin Boards.

Once you sign up you’ll get a button on your browser to allow you to Pin items without going to the actual Pinterest website. You’ll also find that it is a social site. It connects you with some of your friends who are using Pinterest. You can “follow” people and see the things they pin as well.
I’d like to warn you of a couple surprises.
1.When you sign up it will ask you to grant access to your Facebook. I HATED this idea. I have eliminated virtually every item on Facebook that wants to access my information. I was so intrigued by this website, however, that I gave in. It is this step that connects you with your friends that are already Pinning. You can also go into your account and disable the access to Facebook after your account it created.
2.This website is still in beta mode; so you have to request an invite or receive an invite from a current user.

I’d be happy to send invites to anyone who is interested. Leave me a comment if you'd like an invite.

Another Giveaway

I can't resist! I just can't. I need to win this for my husband. So here are the details:
Women Who Do it All is hosting a giveaway for a Light Scoop. It's a very cool product to help diffuse light for photography.
This is one of my favorite crafty blogs. Check her out.
Here's a sample of what it can do. Picture provided by WWDIA.

I will stop entering contests now. I just so happened that these last two were things I would really, really use!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rag Quilt Tutorial

*Caution: This post is long. I wanted all the info in one post so you could easily refer back to it at a later date. 

Step One: Pick the fabric
I like to find one really cute patterned flannel as my base. I use that pattern to inspire two coordinating solid color flannels. I buy a yard of each fabric. You won’t use the full yard for all of them but I like it because then my strips are automatically the same length.

Step Two: Cut the fabric
I cut my fabric into strips for a typical baby quilt. I always use my trusty rotary cutter. When you get really gutsy you can tear flannel. If you tear in the right direction it is a breeze, if's no good. So I cut because I am a coward. :)

-I cut the patterned fabric into 7 inch wide sections. It gives me six strips that are 7” x 36”.
-I pick one of the solids and cut it into 5 inch strips. I cut six strips that are 5” x 36”.
-Finally, the last solid (generally the darkest) is cut into 3 inch strips. I cut eight strips that are 3” x 36”.
**Note: You can cut as many strips as you want but make sure you cut an even number.

If you decide to make multiple blankets you can save time by doing all the cutting at one time and all the sewing at one time.

Step Three: Lay the strips together
Grab two of each of your strips. The solids don’t really have a right and wrong side, which is lovely, so place them on top of one another. Now take your two patterned strips and place them WRONG sides together. You should now be looking at three double thick strips. Make sense? I hope so. Do that again for all your strips. (From now on when I say strip I mean the double thick one you are looking at now.)

I didn't take pictures of the cutting process because I did that before I decided to write a tutorial. He he. But in the next step you can see how I sew the double thick layers.

Step Four: Sew!
Check to see if your pattern has a visible up or down. For example, see my birds? I don’t want them upside down so I make sure they all face the same way. 

(I didn’t do this carefully enough so my birds were upside down here. I’m using TMJ’s “seam ripper” aka box cutter. It is quite efficient but you need to be careful and gutsy.)

Pick two of your strips and sew them together using a wide seam allowance. I actually take the edge of the fabric to the very largest seam allowance visible on my machine. 

HUGE seam allowance:

Two layers of brown, two of green. See? (remember two layers=1 strip)

Once you have sewn the strips together one side will look like a proper quilt. 

The other side of the quilt has visible raw edges. It is completely counter intuitive! Your gut says to hide the raw edges. Your gut is wrong! J

 I generally sew the smallest strip to the middle strip then the middle to the largest. (This seems nitpicky but it will make sure your pattern doesn’t get messed up.) I’ll put that set of three strips to the side and do that whole process again with my remaining strips. I do that because smaller chunks are more manageable. It isn’t totally necessary.
Now sew your groups of three together. (You’ll have one extra of the small strip. I like it this way because it means I have one on each end of the blanket, like a frame of sorts.) At this point you should be like, “Dude! It looks like a blanket!”

Last but not least, sew around the edges. I lay open the edges of the strips as I sew over them. I don’t think it’s totally necessary but it makes life easier on your sewing machine. I also use the large seam allowance here because you’ll be cutting everywhere!

Did you notice that I NEVER used the word PIN? Bwah ha ha. That’s right; I don’t pin. Also, your lines don’t have to be perfectly straight. No one will know if you mess up a little! Heck, your cuts don’t even have to be totally straight! It’s awesome!

Step Five: Cut
Now you are going to clip the raw edges about every half inch or so.
(For this picture I held the scissors with my foot. That's how much I love you guys.)

I bought scissors specifically for rag quilts. They have short blades and are spring loaded to save your hand from cramping. I bought mine with a coupon from Joann’s. I think I spent $10 but it was totally worth it for me. I have made a ton of these blankets.

Most scissors are strong enough to go through 4 layers of flannel so I will cut two at once. It just makes sense. (My words don't make as much sense here as the picture.) 

Step Six: Wash/Dry
Place your beautiful blanket in the washer. To avoid an unbalanced load I wash it with a hand towel. Don’t wash it with anything else! This bad boy is going to generate a ton of lint and loose thread. Since the majority of the blankets I make are for babies I like to make sure I use dye-free, fragrance-free detergent. I bought a bottle of All Free and Clear that I use for these quilts.
For drying: Make sure your lint trap is empty! Dry it alone or with that one little hand towel.

Step Seven: Shake it like a Polaroid picture
I take it out of the dryer and shake the crap out of it. Lint and thread will be everywhere. Your lint trap might be fuller than you have ever seen it.
The floor after the shaking step: And my lint trap.

Oh. You want more lint? Okay! 

If it doesn’t look like a hot mess then you are smarter than I am.

Step Eight: Repeat Steps 6 and 7
This is optional. However, washing and drying it multiple times will make it easier for your gift recipient. This blanket will soften and fray with every wash. I find that after two washes the amount of lint generated is much more manageable.

Step Nine: Lint Roll
I lay the blanket on the floor and use my lint roller to clean it up. I actually received a sweater shaver for Christmas. I use this too. I LOVE it. Now your blanket will have the nice, clean look you have been hoping for. 

Frayed side:

Flat side:

I have also typed up a “Rag Quilt Care Sheet” for my gift recipients. It lets them know what to expect when washing and it reassures them that I have washed their blanket with baby in mind!

Step Ten: Comment
Come back here and share your success! I seriously can’t wait to see your projects. I would flip out to learn I actually inspired/taught someone to make a blanket! 

Rag Quilt Care Sheet

This obviously has a lot of our own flair but you can feel free to copy as much as you like! This is corresponding to the next post, my Rag Quilt Tutorial.
Me working on a rag quilt...

Apparently you have done something to merit a gift! Perhaps you are now a parent? Maybe you’re another year older? Is it Christmas/Hanukkah? In any event, the Hammocks have given you a rag quilt for some reason. Yahoo! There are a couple of things you might want to know about the care of your treasured gift.

1. It has been washed and dried twice. We used All Free and Clear Detergent just in case you have an allergy or you are using this on a baby. We did not use liquid fabric softener but we did use a mildly scented dryer sheet (Bounce Brand).

2. Both times it was dried it filled up our lint trap. This is not uncommon. Since the edges are frayed it can take a few washes before it stops shedding and creating lint balls the size of small animals.

3. To clean it up after its second washing we used a lint roller and a sweater shaver. You probably won’t need to do this since it looks fine after being washed, but we wanted it to look brand new for you!

**TIP: When you wash it for the first time: wash it alone. If you suspect it will create a balance problem in your washer try washing it with a hand towel of a similar color. After you have washed and dried it you can determine if you will need to repeat this process. Hopefully not!

We hope you enjoy your gift. It was made especially for you!

IHeart Organizing

IHeart Organizing is doing a label maker giveaway. Oh friends. I need this. I drooled over a label maker a Costco. I've been such a good girl! Anywho, I can get a second entry into the drawing by posting about this giveaway here at my little ol' blog. This is a great blog that I love following. I'm sure I would have spread the word eventually anyway. Check her out!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post at Thrifty Decorating

I'm so excited to be guest posting over at Thrifty Decorating today. I adore Nikki and I know you will too so check out her blog!

Here are just a few of her ideas that have inspired me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Flameless Luminary Redo

Febreze has this cool product called a Flameless Luminary. It is a very Asian inspired air freshener/LED candle.

The air freshener portion is scented paper. You can buy different scents and they come in various patterns. I bought the luminary starter kit on clearance, with a coupon. It was awesome. Then I got the refills at my local grocery store. For some reason they had a TON on clearance. I bought the Willow Blossom scent for two reasons. 1. I like the scent. 2. The paper is plain white.

I have gotten different scents/patterns in the past but I might be fully converted to WB. Here's why:

I got out a new luminary refill and some shamrock stamps.

With ten minutes and a little green and orange ink I got this:

Side 2:

Side 3:

and Side 4:

As you can see, I didn't go in with a plan. Three of the sides are really similar. Side 3 was kind of a fail because of the texture on the paper, but I just put it in the back! Always a bright side :D

I turned the light on for the pictures. I feel like it blanched out the color of the orange. Here it looks yellowy but it really is straight-up orange. I also "hid" only one four leaf clover on the whole thing.

Here's a view with two sides visible. An extra treat for the readers ;)


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