February 29, 2012

Teensy Pink Fairies!

Posted by Ethne~

Well, it’s Saturday and Thrifty Nana (my mom) has the kiddos.  The little darlings.  I sure am happy that I can pawn my monsters (a term of endearment; or demolition crew, a term my co-worker coined – HILARIOUS!) off on family sometimes.  I need a break from being mom every once in a while.

The lens cover doesn't automatically open all the way anymore;
I can only assume the demo crew had some hand in this.
We luuuuuv to dress ourselves.

Today, I took my freedom as an opportunity to do something for my kids.  I haven’t made any crafts lately, so I was due.  I bought a little teensy beaded fairy kit at one of my local bead shops here in big city.  I planned on putting it in the girls’ Valentine’s envelopes from the cupid fairy, but I didn’t make these in time. [Instructions for making those envelopes here.]

Fairies have kinda become our thing.  The girls’ room became a fairy haven – remember here when I made their curtain from a Tinkerbell shower curtain?  Then this September, Shaun’s folks and we took the girls to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  Aside from Emma getting lost for 20 minutes, causing my near meltdown, and then my renewed belief in humanity when a nice person returned her to us; I don’t even know her name, but GOD BLESS HER ~ we had fun otherwise.  The girls’ favorite part was meeting their favorite fairy, Twig.  Grandma D bought them fairy catchers there, and we bought a door for the base of a backyard tree where a fairy can make her home.  Magical.

The kit came together with instructions and materials.  Super convenient, but not super cheap at $8.95.  I’m not sure if you can make one of these fairies cheaper by getting materials on your own, but I’m pretty sure you can.

BECAUSE I do not see any copyright protection on the instructions, I’ll tell you about this in detail so you can make your own (sorry my pictures aren't the greatest).  You will TOTALLY want to.  They’re pretty much the cutest things ever.  If I don’t give in and give them to the girls earlier, I think they’ll arrive in the girls’ Easter baskets.

She holds her fairydust pail

Here’s what you need (if you don’t know what all of these things are, ask a person at your local bead shop or Michael’s/JoAnn’s):

3 – 2” pieces of craft wire
1 – headpin
1 – 3mm bicone crystal (a/k/a Swarovski crystals)
4 – 4mm bicone crystal
1 – 6mm pearl
1 – 4mm beadcap
1 – 5mm beadcap
1 – 8mm beadcap
1 – glass flower bead
1 – set wings
1 – 4mm round crystal
seed beads
round nose pliers
wire cutters

I suggest you match up your crystals, flower bead and seed beads so they all coordinate.  My crystals are pink and the seed beads are shimmery white.

Part 1 – Create the Legs

a.  Using one of the 2” pieces of craft wire, turn (with the round nose pliers) a small “P” loop by just rolling the wire and not making a 90 degree bend first (Fig. A)

b.  Bead on a 4mm bicone bead and then 10 seed beads. (Fig. B)

Figures A-E

c.  Bend wire to a V shape. (Fig. C)

The 'v' of the legs and also the arms, see below

d. Bead on 10 seed beads and then a 4mm bicone.  (Fig. D)

e.  Turn a small “P” loop ( with the round nose pliers) and trim wire with your wire cutters.

Part 2 – Create the Arms

f.  Using another one of the 2” pieces of craft wire, turn a small “P” loop by just rolling the wire and not making a 90 degree bend first. (See Fig. A)

g.  Bead on a 4mm bicone and 7 seed beads. (See Fig. B)

h.  Make a loop in the wire. (Fig. E)

i.  Bead on 7 seed beads and then a 4mm bicone.

j.  Turn a small “P” loop and trim with wire cutters.

Part 3 – Create the Body

k.  Using one of the 2” pieces of craft wire, turn a “P” loop (See Fig. A)

l.  Open loop and attach the center of the legs then close “P” loop. (Fig. F)

m.  String on glass flower, 5mm beadcap, wings, arms, pearl, 6mm beadcap and 3mm crystal.  (Fig. G)

Figures F-H

n.  Turn a loop at the top (wrapped loop, see instructions below) and trim wire.

Part 4 – Fairydust Pot

o.  Put a seed bead, the 4mm round crystal and 4mm beadcap on a wire headpin. (Fig. H)

p.  Make a small wrapped loop.

q.  Open one loop on the arm section (a ‘hand’), attach pot, and close loop.

Wrapped Loop

This is not the easiest part of beading techniques, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it.  Follow the instructions below and you’ll be able to do it well enough to make the cute little fairy secured together.  I found it helpful to have a needle nose pliers as well as the round top pliers.  The needle nose pliers are a little easier to hold things with.

a.  You will need at least an inch of excess wire.  Place your round nose pliers above the bead and make a 90 degree bend.

b.  The position on the nose of the pliers will determine the size of your loop.  The closer to the tip, the smaller the loop.  Use your fingers to wrap the wire up and over your pliers, then pull the wire towards you to create a complete loop.

c.  Use your fingers to wind the wire around the space between the bead and the loop (I struggled getting the wrap tight, but that would get easier with practice).  Trim the excess wire close to the wrap, and press the end in.

Do you think you can do it?  If I put a little thought in and time at the bead store, I think I could come up with the materials for a boy fairy or an elf (like a mini ‘Elf on the Shelf’ – how cute would mini Lyle and Stan elves be???).  I’ve seen angels in little kits like this, but I’m going to try to come up with one of those myself rather than buy a kit. 

February 28, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Did you know that you can take a can of sweetened condensed milk, boil the can (un-opened) on high for 3 hours (make sure it is covered in water), and you have DE-LICIOUS CARAMEL!

The generic brand will do the trick!

Seriously, I tried it and it is brilliant.  Steve asked what the cost breakdown would be and a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (especially the generic brand) runs under $2.00.  And trust me, this caramel is delicious (perfect for ice cream and apples)!

Ready for some apple-dippin!

Also, I have heard that you can use a crock-pot for 8 hours, but I have not tested this option yet!  For sure the boiling in the pot option works!

This is what my first try looked like...I only boiled it for 2 hours (NOT DONE!)

Picture Book is Here!

Posted by Ethne~

My photo book from Shutterfly arrived today.  Remember how I got it free from a Target check-out coupon (a/k/a ‘catalina’)?  Well, I made it last Monday and it’s here this Monday!

What a nice complement to my bowl of apples and oranges!

And what they turned over in 1 week’s time is superb.  It’s a glossy hardcover book with cardstock thickness pages – not wimpy (ie, will hold up to 4-year-old flip-throughs even tho I think I’ll still supervise).  The picture quality on each page is nice too – not grainy at all.

The price is $29.99 which isn’t ridiculous for a 20 page 8”x8” album chock full of pictures.  Mine was free (tho I had to pay 8 clams for shipping), but 30 bucks isn’t a bad price.  Shutterfly has sales and free shipping for some purchases, too.  I’ll definitely keep this in mind for next year and gifts.

One thing I am for sure doing is a book for each of the girls of their first year.  I really tried to keep up with a photo album of them from when they were born, but I didn’t quite make it.

I definitely don’t have time or full-on interest in scrapbooking – plus that costs way more than $30 this album.  This photo book has a scrapbook look, but took way less time and cost a lot less money.

Totally WOM-worthy!

February 27, 2012

Mini Recipe: Baked Cheese Bites

Posted by Ethne~

For our all-appetizers meal last Saturday, Mel found a yummy online recipe for 2-ingredient gouda cheese bites – cheese cubes, a little garlic salt, baked into little puff pastry squares. 

Here’s all you do:

Bake little squares of puff pastry (freezer section) or croissant/biscuit dough (refrigerated section) pushed gently into a lightly greased mini muffin pan for 3 minutes at 350°.  Sprinkle the squares with a little garlic salt before baking.  Take out of the oven and push ½” - ¾” size cubes of gouda cheese into each pastry square and bake another 8 minutes till the tops are golden and the insides are gooey and melted.

NOTE: You could use about any type of cheese you want, though cheddar cheese might get a little greasy.

February 26, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Pizza Rolls

Posted by Ethne~

Saturday night Shaun and I went down to Rich and Mel’s for an evening of appetizers.  The get-together was premised upon Mel and me wanting to watch Lifetime channel’s “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” movie (Crime Edition – what a yuck he is!).  Rich and Shaun were too manly for that, though, so they played some zombie video game on the Wii.

Rich, Mel and me after their wedding

A natural consequence of getting together was a meal, of course!  Mel thought it would be fun to make a bunch of apps rather than a regular full-course meal.  And she has a bunch of cool new serving dishes from wedding gifts last September that she was jonesing to use.  We were all on board with this plan.

Being a Brit by birth (we’ve Americanized him quite a bit except for that silly worldwide obsession with soccer - j/k), Rich requested sausage rolls – sausage wrapped in puff pastry and baked till golden brown.  Mel’s online search turned up plenty of recipes, though by about the fourth page of relevant search results, ‘sausage rolls’ were being interpreted a little differently.  [As in non-food.  Ick.]  We opted for a legit recipe.  You can find lots of recipes online.

The only 2, out of 24, sausage rolls left;
we determined that had we rolled the pastry
a little tighter they would've been properly round

Mel had a recipe for homemade pizza rolls, which I knew Shaun would be all over since he loves those little ones from the grocery store freezer section.  I thought this was a great idea since homemade have got to be better for you than the store-bought ones – they are baked, not fried.

Mel found a yummy online recipe for 2-ingredient gouda cheese bites – cheese cubes, a little garlic salt, baked into little puff pastry squares.  [I’ll give you the recipe for these in a mini post.]  Nummers.

We made a queso dip with a little twist – the Velveeta white queso cheese block instead of regular Velveeta + a drained can of RoTel tomatoes (they have chilis in them) + 1 1lb. package of breakfast sausage – crumbled and pre-cooked.  We baked it in a small crock pot till the cheesy queso was hot and creamy and perfect for dipping with tortilla chips. [A second recipe in this post - you're welcome.]

My Velveeta cheese cuber


I brought veggies and fruit but I made marshmallow-cream cheese dip for the fruit and homemade ranch dip for the veggies, so we weren’t really making those a healthy part of our apps meal.  For the marshmallow-cream cheese dip, mix 1 block of room temperature cream cheese with one jar of marshmallow cream with a mixer or whisk until fully mixed and creamy.  I thought it was a little too gooey for dipping so I added 1-2 tsp. of white corn syrup and 1-2 tsp. of vanilla extract.  [3rd recipe - that's right, I'm the model of benevolence]

We ate until we were practically stuffed to the gills and we loved every second of it.  Surprisingly I was able to stay awake through the entire Drew Peterson movie (what with all that food in my belly), but that’s probably because he is so disgustingly creep-tastic that I was too scared to shut my eyes.  Seriously Wom Friends, if your spouse is a possessive, manipulative, violent psycho, get out and kick ‘em to the curb, STAT.

But back on track – those pizza rolls are so good that Shaun has requested that I make them for lunch today – and seeing that I usually stock these ingredients, he’s a lucky man.  Here’s what ya do:

You’ll Need:

Pretty much any pizza ingredients of your choice, but we used –

1 lb. sausage
1 package pepperoni
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 packages egg roll wrappers
4 cups of shredded pizza/mozzarella cheese
2 jars of pizza sauce

To Make:

Crumble and brown the sausage in a frying pan over medium heat until cooked through.  Take out and allow to cool in a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion, green pepper and red pepper in the same pan you used for the sausage.  The sausage drippings will give the veggies fabulous flavor.  When the veggies are tender, put in the same bowl as the sausage and allow to cool.

When the veggies are cool, mix in the pepperoni, cheese and sauce – you don’t want the cheese to melt so that’s why you let the meat and veg cool.  You can sprinkle in some basil or oregano if you’d like.

Place an egg roll wrapper onto a flat surface – we used a large cutting board on the countertop.  Take your finger and dip in a little water (we kept water in a small dish right by our work station) and wet all four edges of the wrapper.  Take ¼ cup of the pizza mix (we just used a ¼ cup measuring cup) and lightly ball it into your hands.  Place the mix onto the center of the wrapper and roll it into a tight log, think egg roll shape, sealing all the edges as securely as you can – putting the water on helps seal up the edges so the mix doesn’t leak out when they bake.

Rolling while listening to the 'Spice Girls Station' on
Pandora Radio courtesy of Rich; we may or may
not have sung along

Place egg rolls on a lightly-greased tin-foil covered baking sheet.

Pre-heat oven to 350° while you finish making all the rolls.  The recipe makes about 34 of those large rolls, so if you’re having a big party, this is great to feed your guests.  If you don’t use them all, freeze them and use later (I recommend from experience that when you freeze these, you put them on a corn-starch sprinkled cookie sheet and freeze them individually so none are touching each other.  When frozen, put into a freezer bag.  They won’t stick to each other and you can use them in whatever quantity you’d like later.)

Baking these isn’t an exact science.  The rolls won’t brown on the tops, they will brown on the bottoms so you just can’t peek into the oven and know.  We baked the rolls for 5 min. and then pulled the rolls out of the oven.  We gently turned one or two of them over to see if the bottoms were golden.  They were, so we flipped them all over.  If they aren’t, put them back in the oven for another minute or two or however many necessary.  Put the golden flipped rolls back into the oven for another 5-ish minutes until the second side is golden and the centers are gooey and hot.

These aren’t hard to make, they just take a little while to pre-cook the filling and wrap up.

NOTES: If you don’t want the 34 large rolls, halve the recipe.  Mel bought 2 pkg. of egg roll wrappers and we didn’t use them all.  The nice thing is that these wrappers freeze quite well for re-use in the future.  If you want smaller size rolls, use wonton wrappers (and pan fry them in canola/olive oil - the wonton wrappers don't bake as well as the egg roll ones do).  I’d probably halve the recipe for wonton wrappers, though, unless you’re having a large crowd.  Wrapping up those little wonton size rolls with the full-size recipe is gonna take a while.  Or get a second set of hands to help out.


February 23, 2012

Beer & Clamato

Posted by Ethne~

Shaun is appalled by this post.  He doesn’t understand.  He’s not from North Dakota.  Minnesota boys are prissy when it comes to the subject of beer.  I won’t even get started.

Not that Shaun dislikes beer, mind you.  In fact, Shaun, Lori, Steve & I have a long and gloried history with this beverage, but those are Riot Girls tales for another day.  Shaun and I are of one mind that when we get home from work, a beer is quite satisfying while we cook up dinner.  Sometimes we opt for wine, but we are red-blooded Americans after all, which means ya gotta love beer.

I almost didn't recognize Steve without a button-down shirt on!

My fam in MI are Budweiser loyalists.  I don’t have much commentary on this particular beer since I’m not from MI.

My MN-bred father is a connoisseur of Glueck and Leinenkugel’s beers.  Leinie’s is one of Shaun’s go-to faves.  And I’ll concede that when it comes to a day at Target Field watching a Twins game in the beautiful big city sunshine, a tall Glueck beer is a gift from Heaven above.  Ding dang y’all!  (Is it weird that I fondly associate the smell of spilled beer and peanut shells ground into my jeans with the sport of baseball?)

My dad talking in yet another picture; Whit and I literally
say "no talking" when we take pictures of him.  My Twins shirt
says "MEET ME IN THE DUGOUT".  I'm that classy.

My co-worker calls Schell’s beer the ‘nectar of the gods’.  If you’re ever in New Ulm, MN, where Schell’s is brewed, take a tour through their brewery.  It’s charming.  Seriously.

Here’s why Shaun hates this post.  I’m not much of a beer drinker AT ALL and the only way I drink a beer (except at Target Field) is if there is a splash of Clamato tomato juice cocktail in the beer.  Shaun thinks it’s gross, as do just about any other people who aren’t from ND.  Shaun is especially disgusted that I drink Michelob Ultra beer.  He says I shouldn’t be allowed to call it beer.  He says it’s more like pee, but since he can’t make any claim to having consumed urine, this argument is without merit.  

Thrifty Nana calls it ‘Red Beer’ or ‘Bloody Beer’ but I think those names are dumb (no offense to TN).  I call it Beer & Clamato seeing as I like transparent names for things (remember how annoyed I am that grocery store check-out coupons are called ‘catalinas’?).  Shaun tells me that Budweiser makes B & C canned together, but since I’m not from MI, I’ve never tried it.  [They obviously serve Bud in MN, I just don’t drink it.]  Shaun also tells me that if you put a raw egg into a B & C it’s called a ‘Red Eye’.  Nasty.

B & C (sans raw egg) is REALLY GOOD.  I recommend that you try it.  But the only people I’ve ever known who actually like B & C are from ND.  [If you are from another state and like B & C, please comment below.]  It’s kinda like how North Dakotans and Minnesotans call carbonated beverages (a/k/a soda pop) ‘POP’ and everyone else in the whole country calls it ‘SODA’.  This I really don’t get.  Pop is only one syllable so it’s the way better term.  Or how some people call green mint ice cream with chocolate bits ‘MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP’ and others call it ‘PEPPERMINT BON BON’.  [If you are an expert in these colloquialisms, please explain below.]

(a/k/a Diet Coke) (a/k/a POP)

Beer & Clamato.  If you want to fit into my home state, you ND wannabes out there, you better whet your palate.  [Don’t knock ND you haters, it’s just about the only state in the Union that’s not in the red – hello oil boom!  That’s back-atcha to those east coast kids my 6th grade elementary school class was ‘pen pals’ with, who told us all about what Nintendo and wheeled suitcases were since they didn’t think technology had made it out to us yet.  Not kidding.  Even at 11 years old, we knew enough to be completely offended.  SNAP!]

February 22, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Mur-Man is getting close to the age of doing away with the crib and converting to a toddler bed.  However, my Mur-Man has no desire to crawl out and my mom (thrifty G-Ma) says you hold off until necessary.

My girlfriend Holly however…has done the conversion for Super F and came up with a great idea.  Utilizing a thrifty tent from Wal-Mart (or really anywhere) that fits perfectly into the toddler bed.  It makes bed-time fun, and keeps Super F in bed!

WHAT A GREAT IDEA!  And the best part is that it is FUN (especially in Super F’s room…it matches the great outdoors theme).

I also noticed the IKEA bedding immediately!  LOVE IT!

 PERFECTION!  So, who knows…Mur-Man may have a tent bed too some day!  Thank you Holly for the tip!