Homemade Grilling Spice Rubs

November 29, 2010 | | 7 comments
NOTE: This originally appeared as a guest post at KoJo Designs on November 24th... but I'm re-posting here for reference!

Hey everyone!  I was so excited to be asked to participate in the Gifts for Guys series over here - I live in a male-dominated household so this is right up my alley!  Growing up with two sisters, figuring out gifts for men used to really intimidate me... but then I acquired a husband and had a son.  That helped me to get over it :).

It seems like whenever there is a BBQ the men seem to congregate around the grill, am I right?  I'm not sure what it is, but it's a natural phenomenon... the men hang out by the grill while the women have to keep reminding them to check the meat and not overcook it! So I decided that a set of homemade spice rubs would be a good gift for any grilling man - whether he is a beginner or more advanced!

First, I found these cute little magnetic spice containers at my local Fred Meyer, but I also found these online at the Container Store - I'm sure there are lots of options!

I decided on three very different spice mixes: a brown sugar rub, a tandoori rub (Indian flavors), and a Greek rub... but just Google "spice rub recipes" and you are sure to find something that you'll love - there are lots of them out there!

Brown Sugar Rub for Pork or Beef
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. salt
1 T. paprika
1 T. chili powder
1 T. ground black pepper

Tandoori Rub for Chicken

1 T. ginger
1 T. cumin
1 T. coriander
1 T. paprika
1 T. turmeric
1 T. salt
1 T. cayenne

Greek Rub for Chicken or Pork

2 t. oregano
1 ½ t. onion powder
1 ½ t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cornstarch
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
1 t. beef bouillion
1 t. parsley

I also made some simple labels on my computer.  I used fancy schmancy Adobe Illustrator, but you could even make labels in Paint, Photoshop Elements, or even Picnik or Picasa!  However, you can click here to download my labels.

Happy Grilling!  Thanks ladies for having me!

Gifts for Guys: Custom Spice Rubs

November 24, 2010 | | 0 comments
A few weeks ago the ladies at KoJo Designs asked me to participate in their gifts for guys series!  I was thrilled.  I do live in a male-dominated household (actually, if we count the cat, it's even, but...) so this was right up my alley.

Click over to get the details on these spice rubs for the guy that loves his grill!

Reversible Duvet Cover from Flat Sheets

November 22, 2010 | | 1 comments

I purchased this chenille bedspread from a catalog right after we got married.  It was supposed to be a queen, but it was HUGE... like huge... puddling fabric on the floor on all sides of the bed.  I really liked the idea of a white, airy bedspread for the summer, but really, we live in Oregon and we don't have much use for a light and airy bedspread.... we'd get to use it for like 3 months out of the year.  So instead, I thought I would convert it to a duvet cover so we could enjoy it more!  I'm glad that after 4.5 years I finally got around to it :).

Supplies you will need:
  • A thin bedspread and a flat sheet, OR two flat sheets that are the appropriate size for your bed.
  • A comforter.
  • 4-8 1" buttons (4 for a twin, 6 for a full/queen, probably 8 for a king).
  • Thread

Tools you will need:
  • Tape measure
  • Marking tool (pen/chalk)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
First I determined that my comforter was 85" x 85", so I decided to cut my bedspread and sheet to 90" x 90" to allow for French seams and a little wiggle room for the comforter.  I used a really pretty shimmery/charcoal colored flat sheet from Ikea.

Because I started with a bedspread and a flat sheet when I was done cutting, each piece (the bedspread and the flat sheet) still had two seamed/finished edges. See?

A duvet cover is essentially like a really giant pillow case, right?  There is going to be an open side so you can stuff your comforter in and take it out to wash, etc.  To make life easier, I decided to use an already finished edge on each the bedspread and the comforter on my open side so I didn't have to do as much hemming.

So first, with WRONG sides together (yes, this is opposite of normal, where you usually put right sides together... remember, we're doing a French seam here), sew along three edges using a 1/4" seam, leaving one side open.  When you've finished sewing along three edges, go back and trim the seam allowance to 1/8".

Now turn this super-sized pillowcase inside out so that right sides are together.  Press along the 3 sewn edges.  Now with a 5/8" seam allowance, sew along the edges of your duvet cover as shown by the diagram below.
Now you can turn it back right side out... and this thing is starting to look like a duvet cover!  The last thing left to do is to add the buttons and make button holes so you can close it up when the comforter is inside.

I used 6 buttons on my opening, so I measured the opening (happened to be 77") and divided it by 7 - you will divide your opening measurement by your number of buttons +1 (so if you have 4 buttons, divide the opening by 5, if you have 8 buttons, divide the opening by 9, etc.).  I marked on both sides of my opening every 11" (77" / 7).

On the Right side of my gray flat sheet side, I put a button hole at each marking.  On the Right side of the chenille bedspread side, I sewed a button at each marking.

Stuff your comforter inside, button it up, and you are done!

Don't you just want to crawl in?

You can see what I did with the pillow shams from the chenille bed set here.

WBCC: Chicken Chimichangas

November 19, 2010 | | 1 comments

I feel that I'm on a roll with this Weekend Batch Cooking Club thing finally!  Some regularity in posting!

This week's idea, Chicken Chimichangas, is something I adapted from one of the Don't Panic! Dinner's in the Freezer books (can't remember which one).  That link is NOT an affiliate link, by the way... just a plain ol' link.

Anyhoo... we have this fiesta chicken that we make in our crock pot that we love for chicken tacos... only it makes a LOT... so I thought, why not freeze half of it to use later?

Fiesta Chicken
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 small can of diced green chili peppers
1/2 cup hot pepper sauce

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a skillet with a little oil.  Transfer the chicken to your crock pot.

Mix the onion, chili powder, garlic powder, green chilies and hot sauce in a bowl.  Spoon mixture over meat.  Carefully pour water down the side of the cooker until the chicken is about half covered. 

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, reduce heat to low and cook another 3-4 hours.  Shred the chicken and allow to come to room temperature.  Divide among quart size freezer bags (about 2 cups of chicken per bag).  Freeze.

Serving Instructions
  1. For serving day you will need 1 cup of melted butter, flour tortillas, grated cheddar cheese, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, avocado, etc.
  2. The night before, allow chicken to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Melt butter, dip both sides of a tortilla in the butter and allow some of the excess to drip off.  Mound 1/3 c to 1/2 c of chicken in the middle of the tortilla.  Fold envelope style and place seam side down in an 9" x 13" baking dish.  Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes.  Top with cheese and return to the oven to melt.
  4. Top the finish chimichangas with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.

Edible Finger Paints

November 17, 2010 | | 3 comments

With the weather turning colder and the rains coming in I've been wondering to myself just exactly how Grady and I were going to survive the indoors for the next 6 months.  We are SUPER fortunate to have an "indoor park" available to us every Tuesday morning for a couple of hours... but that represents only 1.2% of ALL the hours in an entire week.  What to do?

The last few days have been rough... so last night I stripped him down to his diaper and turned him loose with these edible finger paints!

You will need:
  • Liquid food coloring in red, yellow, green and blue
  • Box of Jell-O pudding (3.4 oz box in vanilla, cheesecake or banana - anything white)
  • 2 cups cold milk
In a bowl, mix the pudding according to the package directions.  You'll see on the box it says it will be "soft set" in 5 minutes - that's what you want for finger paint!

Divide the pudding into four separate containers (1/2 cup in each container) and add three drops of a single color of food coloring in each container. Blend well with a spoon and paint your heart out!

Full disclosure: Grady painted for a total of 0.5 seconds and would NOT, I repeat, NOT lick his fingers or put the "paint" anywhere near his mouth... so much for that... but I'm sure some other kiddo would love it! :)

Side Note (Because what is a post from me without a random side note?): Since the inception of The CM, my posting has been erratic - I post when I have something and I don't when I don't... however, to keep myself sane through the holidays, my posting schedule will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

Fabric Rosettes Tutorial

November 15, 2010 | | 5 comments

So this self-imposed de-stash/banishment from the fabric store thing that I'm doing right now is serving two purposes:
  1. To get some projects finished that have sat half-done for way too long.
  2. To burn through some of the piles of supplies that I have - we don't like waste or clutter!
This project falls into the second category. I've got some random fabric scraps around that I'm just at a loss as to what to do with them... but this is a fun, simple and quick project.  I love that I can put these rosettes together while I'm sitting in front of the TV or something!

I actually used this video to learn how to do it. This girl does a really great job of explaining and showing - I felt like the instructions were crystal clear.  Check it out!

You can do lots of things with these rosettes, but I put them on a headband.  All I did was hot glue the rosettes to a scrap of fabric, cut it out, and hot glued it onto the headband... but I'm thinking about making some pins for my winter coat as well!

Note: The gray rosettes that I did, above, were done with t-shirt material, but in the video it looks like she's using a woven... I guess it doesn't matter, but I really like the way a knit will cling to itself.

FYI: I have forbidden myself from entering a craft/fabric store until I've finished the giant pile of half-finished projects that I have.

Three Cheers for a Special Lady

November 14, 2010 | | 1 comments
On Monday I started preparing this post by thinking about the good things that were coming to us in the week ahead... and I did find three things, but they are pretty ordinary things that I could be thankful for on any given week.  However, something much larger impacted me this week, and I think she deserves all three cheers to herself.

After I had Grady, I joined a mother's Bible study at a friend's church.  It's a really large church with a really large Bible study, so you were put in a small group of 10ish women, led by a mentor mom.  An experienced mom and spiritual rock star, if you will :).  I didn't participate in the Bible study this school year, but I found out earlier this week that my former mentor mom, Kim, had passed away rather unexpectedly last Friday.  The details are insignificant, but ultimately, I was so blessed to know her, and I'm so thankful that I was able to honor her by attending her memorial service on Thursday.  That hour I spent remembering her impacted me forever.  So here are my three cheers to Kim... (two big lessons she taught me, with lots of smaller ones weaved in).

1. Do it all with grace. Be consistent - in good times and in bad.  Kim had MS.  That alone is a million reasons to be ticked off... but she wasn't.  I'm sure she had her roller coaster of emotions about life, like we all do, but I just have so much respect for people that can still put other people first, even in the midst of their own crises.  I'm not so good at this.  I think I wear my ups and downs on my sleeve sometimes.

2. Love Unconditionally.  Its funny, but at the service three of her four children referenced being "difficult" at times and thanked her for not giving up on them.  I don't think that any of her children have children of her own yet, so this one made me smile.  As a mother, is there really any other way to love?  I don't think so, but maybe some parents are conditional (how sad).  It was also so touching for me to see how much they loved her... and I just thought about all the times me and my sisters said or did mean things to my parents.  I guess it just reassured me that even when our kids seem to hate us, at the end of the day, if we just keep plugging along as parents and love unconditionally, we will get through to them.  Even if it is after we are gone.

Over the last several months I have thought about Kim a lot. I knew she wasn't a mentor mom this year due to some health issues, but I knew she was still praying for me.  That's just who she was.  I often thought about giving her a call, but didn't because I would get busy doing something else.  In a very small way I regret not taking the time, but I actually really don't because I know she wasn't the kind of person that felt neglected or forgotten by people - she just loved us anyway (unconditionally!).
I hope that her family will get a chance to read this.  When I showed up at the memorial we were asked to write memories on cards... and I have to say that the pen did not flow freely!  But after having a few days to reflect, I've been able to gel my thoughts.

Something to think about this week if you are a parent... what kind of legacy are you leaving for your children? :)

Three Cheers: Friendly Reminders, Night Walks, Ducks

November 07, 2010 | | 2 comments
I've always really liked Cheri's idea of "Sunshine Sundays" where she shares some special things from the week that she is thankful for... so I'm starting my own version of that: Three Cheers!  Every Sunday I'll share three things from MY week that I am grateful for.

Friendly Reminders from Unexpected Places
This week I got a comment from a new blogger (like a one-weeker!).  I clicked over to her new blog to check it out, and she is doing something called 30 Days of Giving Thanks.  Each day this month she shares something she is thankful for.  Iris reminded me that people that stop to show gratitude are usually the most positive people you know... and when you are consistently grateful, it takes the focus off of the things that aren't so good - usually things we don't have any control over!  In part, that is the inspiration for this new series, Three Cheers, which will force me to look for the special in everyday life.

Night Walks

In Oregon, the rainy season usually starts about now... but this week we had a string of really warm days - like almost 70!  It has been really pleasant well into the evening - we it's been nice to take Grady for a walk just as he starts to get cranky :).

Undefeated Ducks!

Yesterday, my husband and I were fortunate enough to go to the Duck game (for the non-sports fans we're talking about the University of Oregon Ducks / college football) in Eugene, where we beat crushed the Washington Huskies.  We both graduated from the University of Oregon and we try to make it to one game a year.  It was a fun time, and the rain that was predicted actually held off until much later in the evening... so we even stayed dry!

WBCC: Cheesy Garlic Bread

November 05, 2010 | | 1 comments

This is one of our new favorite side dishes... and lucky for you it just dawned on me that it is totally freezable!

A funny story about this bread: I was pretty sure I made up this recipe in my own brain.  I made it a couple of weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner and she said, "Oh! I used to love when my mom made this with dinner!"  So much for original thinking :).

Cheesy Garlic Bread

3-4 large cloves garlic (to your taste preferences), minced
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar + mozzarella, or whatever you like)
1 loaf of French bread, cut in half lengthwise
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded cheese and mayonnaise.  Start with the 1/2 cup of mayo and add more if needed.  You really just need it to act as a binder, it doesn't need to be soupy.  
  2. In a coffee mug, put the minced garlic and the butter.  Melt butter in your microwave.  Pour the melty butter/garlic mixture in with the cheese/mayo mixture and combine.  
  3. Spread liberally on each half of your French bread.
  4. Place the bread halves, cheese side up on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until the topping has hardened.
  5. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil and return to the freezer.
Serving Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread, topping side up on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Turn on your broiler.  Broil bread just until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
  3. Slice and serve!
Weekend Batch Cooking Club is a collection of recipes that can be easily frozen for you to enjoy later!  I provide the basic recipe so you can double, triple or quadruple it to work for you!  The idea is that if you batch cook one thing a week to add to your freezer, you will always have lots of easy options on hand, eliminating the "what's for dinner?" panic!

Toddler Shape Recognition Game

November 04, 2010 | | 3 comments
If you're not in the exact same life stage that I am... then I've got nuthin' for ya today.  But if you have a toddler, I have a creative activity for you!

Grady knows his colors really well, and now he is working on his shapes.  I wanted a way to make it interactive and fun for him to identify his shapes, so I made up this little game.

You will need:
  • Scrapbook paper scraps in varying colors - papers that are predominantly one color are best (as in, a piece that is red and blue striped won't work well)
  • Laminating sheets - I had them leftover from my re-writable to do lists
I cut various shapes from my scrapbook papers: hearts, stars, crescents, rectangles, squares, triangles, circles, etc.  I also did them in various colors.  If I had a yellow square, I tried to make sure that I didn't do a yellow rectangle as well - too confusing for the little guy!

Then I sandwiched them between two laminating sheets, and cut them out.

To play, I spread them out on the floor and would call out shapes for him to bring me.  For an added level of difficulty I would specify the color, "Bring me the green triangle."

For a twist, you could have your little person tell YOU what shapes to bring THEM.  Grady got a huge kick out of this this afternoon.  I think I'll be stashing this away to bring out on the tough days as a diversion tactic!

FYI: I have forbidden myself from entering a craft/fabric store until I've finished the giant pile of half-finished projects that I have.

I'm linking this to: 

My Everday Hero

November 03, 2010 | | 1 comments

"A few days late, and a dollar short" should be the name of this post.  I know we're a few days post-Halloween already, but I still wanted to show off the firefighter costume I made for Grady.

Ohhhh, yeah. That's right. 100%, genuine Pleather.

I had big plans for a jacket AND pants, but ended up nixing the pants due to time, and the fact that the jacket was really stiff and I just couldn't imagine Grady cooperating and sitting in his car seat with crinkly pants on.

I sincerely hope I never have to sew with Pleather again.  Not the easiest stuff to deal with - no pins, limited ironing abilities.... but I was totally stoked to find the reflective strips at the fabric store - how fun?!

I'm pretty good at pants without a pattern, but this was my first shot at a top without a pattern.  It was a little challenging, but it has given me a little more confidence!

Thanks for visiting!

I'm linking this to:
Make It Wear It at The Train to Crazy

I dyed

November 02, 2010 | | 6 comments
I had a love affair with spray paint (which has really cooled down lately)... but I've got a new one heating up: fabric dye!  Wow, why have I never tried this before?  I'll never look at a chunk of fabric the same again.

Honestly, dying fabric had just never really crossed my mind, but I'm redecorating my living room on a dime and I was just sick of looking at my old curtains.  They were not jiving with my new color scheme.  Here is a picture of the old (sorry for the poor quality photo).

They were a really light tan and I had sewn black grosgrain ribbon down both sides of each curtain.  The sofa, wall and curtain color were all so similar, it was kind of blah.  Since I've introduced some chocolate brown and greens into the decor, I thought maybe some darker curtains would pop off the wall a bit.  I used RIT Dye in Dark Brown.  The color came out quite a bit lighter than the way it looked on the box (you are supposed to use two boxes of dye for dark colors), but I actually really like the way it turned out.

Here they are, close up.  The new curtain is on the left, the old is on the right.  They are just simple curtains from Ikea.

So only $4 in fabric dye later, I have (nearly) brand new curtains!!

I'm doing really well on my self-imposed de-stashing. This is project #4!!

Thanks for visiting!

I'm linking this to:
Thrifty Decor Chick Before & After Party
Between Naps on The Porch
The Girl Creative 
Making The World Cuter
Skip To My Lou 
Sumo's Sweet Stuff
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