Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grain-free Dark Chocolate Cookies

My daughter is constantly on Pinterest pinning divine-looking desserts.  Most of them just stay on her boards, never again to see the light of day.  This recipe from Divine Baking, however, piqued my interest enough that  I gave it a second look.  It met my grain-free criteria and looked like it could be adapted to work with what I had on hand.  A few batches and tweaks later, we had a winner. 

Amazing Flourless Dark Chocolate Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips!
My husband and son think these are amazing and say they taste like truffles.  Seriously, these are good enough that my son asked for them for his birthday INSTEAD of a cake.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from this recipe from Divine Baking

Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Ingredients:

6 oz of Baker's Bittersweet Chocolate
3 large egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar (plus 1/4 cup for coating)
1/2 of Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat or spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2.  Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

3.  Whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, dark cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in bowl and set aside.

4.  In medium bowl, beat your egg whites to soft peaks.  Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  Continue beating until your egg/sugar mixture looks like marshmallow cream.  On low speed, add in sugar/cocoa mixture.

5.  Add in lukewarm melted chocolate.  Add in chocolate chip minis.  At this point, your dough will start to stiffen as the melted chocolate cools.  Don't worry about it!

6.  Put your 1/4 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl and roll 1 rounded teaspoon (I used my small Pampered Chef scooper) of dough into a ball and roll in the sugar, then place on the baking sheet.  Repeat and don't worry as your dough gets stiffer and stiffer.  These cookies do not spread much at all, so you don't need to leave tons of room between them.

7.  Bake until puffy and the coating cracks (approximately 10 minutes).  Cool and serve.

Don't they look fabulous?
No flour and lots of chocolate...what is not to love?  These are a fabulous little cookie.  Buttercup definitely had a good eye when she pinned the recipe that inspired them.





Saturday, May 25, 2013

Definitely a "Fashion DON'T" and old enough NOT to care!

I long ago gave up trying to be fashionable, trying to be trendy, trying to be cool.  I have a wardrobe full of clothes I like, that are comfortable (unless my weight has fluctuated too much!), and that look mostly presentable.  Still, that means that I have many articles of clothing that would warrant citations from the Fashion Police...not the least of which would be my collection of overalls.

Me, mowing in a pair of my overalls!
I love my overalls.  Seriously.  I love, love, love my overalls.  If you know me in real life, you know I wear them a lot.  I wear them to do chores, I wear them to work in the yard, I take them camping, I wear them to craft.  I pretty much wear them anywhere.   I know you'll find it difficult to believe, but it is hard to find overalls.  Despite my love of them, they haven't caught on in the mainstream fashion world, so I make do with what I've been able to find over the years. I have five pairs, all of which are 8+ years or older.  

Faded, dingy, old favorites!
My favorite pair overalls is roughly 15-years old and, yesterday, finally showed unmistakable evidence of how much I love them.  I was devastated.  A big old hole right on the butt.  Not on a seam, not easily hidden, and certainly not something I could just keep wearing.  It never occurred to me, however, to toss them.  Nope...not even for a second.  After a moment of hesitation, I decided that patching holes isn't just for kids clothes.  

Isn't this the cutest fabric?  Not exactly understated, though.
I pulled out one of the last little scraps of my favorite vintage owl fabric and got to work.  First, I enlarged a flower silhouette shape on the Silhouette machine.  Then I ironed Wonder Under on the back of my fabric and loaded into the Silhouette on the cutting mat and had the Silhouette cut the shape.  After that, I ironed it onto the section of my overalls and made quick work of using a zig zag stitch to attach the patch firmly to my beloved overalls. 

Look how big that patch is!  No hiding this!
Overalls are definitely a "fashion DON'T" and having a huge flower patch on my butt is probably compounding the violation, but I truly am old enough NOT to care.  In fact, I'm just happy to have my old friends back in wearable condition. 

Holding on to things you shouldn't?  Good for you!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friendly Front Porch - Another Pinterest Inspired Project

I made a deal with myself when I realized how much time I spend on Pinterest.   I have to translate the inspiration I get from my pins into action. 

The Pinspiration:  Beautiful project by
9 o'clock Dance of Joy
This particular idea came from a pin from via The Diary of Dave's Wife who pinned a beautiful welcome sign posted by 9 o'clock Dance of Joy

I loved the original post so much that I immediately shared it via email with Superman.  Obviously, Superman loved it, too, because the very next day I had a post with a hook!  Time for me to get my fanny moving and figure out the rest of it.


My Silhouette machine made this so easy!
 Superman was able to take a board and use his router to give me the edge I wanted and a can of spray paint and some time with my Silhouette machine later, we had a sign for the post. 


Loved it just like this, but it needed a little something else.
I loved the way the sign with the post turned out and thought it looked really sweet with the cat we already had on the porch, but I felt like it needed something else.  So, I went on to use the spray paint to update some old plastic terra cotta pots to match and they are now lining the stairs to the front porch.    Looks fabulous!   Not bad for not too much time and $10, wouldn't you agree?

It is fabulous!  This is our interpretation...friendly, isn't it??
This was a simple project (at least the parts I did!).  Honestly, I think we spent more time waiting for paint to dry than anything else.  Oh, did I mention the best part, Sam-I-Am approves, too!

Sam, likes the flowers, too!
Pinspirations!  They're great, aren't they?





Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teen Birthday Gift...Pinterest to the Rescue!

A few weeks ago, we were invited to join the celebration as a friend's daughter turned sixteen.  While I know the young woman casually, I really don't know her well, so I was stumped as to what to give her to celebrate her big day. 


Pleated Pouch and Hairband...Pinterest to the rescue!
Fortunately, I've been dedicated to actually making some of the things I pin onto Pinterest and my "Sewing Board" came to my rescue.

First, I had this little bag pinned from way back.  The original post is at Charm Stitch via How About Orange.  Her pattern is fabulous and her directions easy to follow.  It was a really quick project. 

 
Little pleated pouch with added wrist handle.
 
 I decided to add a little handle to make it a wristlet and used some contrasting fabric for the lining to make it fun.

Love the bright lining fabric...it makes the green pop, doesn't it?
I love how it turned out.  In fact, I enjoyed the project so much, I headed back to Pinterest and found another quick project I could add to the gift, using the fabric I'd already selected!

Love these hairbands from The Long Thread.  These hairbands are technically reversible, but I chose to use the same fabric on both sides.  My only concern was that the hairband fit the recipient...I used Buttercup as my fit model and it worked out--phew!

Sorry for the terrible photo...I confess I didn't think to take pictures until it
was time to leave for the party!!
 
As always, you just never know when gifting a teenager, but as the evening progressed, the recipient was wearing the hairband, so I took that as a thumbs up! 

I put the hairband in the purse and attached the card with a curly green ribbon.
Really bright and fun and really easy!
Best of all, my Pinterest boards are not just a time suck...I really do use them!  What about you?  Are you making stuff you pin?




 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Food for Thought

"Leisure is the mother of philosophy."
                               - Thomas Hobbes

Photo Credit: Joy Rickson


Don't forget to schedule time for absolutely nothing.  Your brain craves it...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Scrabble Valentine's Tiles

I wish I could find the blog that gave me this idea, but a quick trip through my Pinterest boards didn't reveal a pin, so it is going uncredited.  Still, just know I didn't think of this on my own.

Aren't these cool?
Anyway, bought these giant Scrabble tiles for family friends for Christmas and when Superman saw them, he said he could have made them.  Well, yes, he could have, but we don't have a router set up to route the individual letters, and besides, I'd already purchased the gift.

See the slightly routered edge?  I love how the grain of the pine is so clear.
Turned out, Superman was right.  These were a quick and easy project.  He made quick work of cutting "tiles" out of 1 x 6 pine board, finished the edges with his router, sprayed on a few thin coats of lacquer and handed them off to me.  


Since they were specifically for Valentine's, I decided to use
a font with more flourish than the actual Scrabble font.
(I think I actually spent more time playing with fonts on the Silhouette machine than he spent prepping the tiles!)  I applied the vinyl letters (with their appropriate points value, of course) and they were done.

Scrap wood and a little time gave us a really cool decoration!
Love them!   Best of all, we used scrap wood, had the lacquer, and the vinyl, so they were a free project!

Monday, February 4, 2013

An Old Standby Gets An Athletic Update

I've been using this backpack pattern for more than a year now and I just love it.  When I found out our gym was having a gift exchange as part of the Christmas party, I immediately thought of this backpack.  The real problem?  Finding the perfect fabric.  I logged on to Spoonflower, where I sourced this Doctor Who fabric, and found this amazing kettlebell fabric!  Perfect for Crossfitters, wouldn't you say?

I love kettlebells
Trust me, it really isn't this bright!
Then I headed to Hancock Fabrics, got some coordinating fabric (solid grey, in this case) and made two of these bags...one for someone at our gym and one for my sister!

I love the way this turned out (both times!)
Isn't it cute?  I love it!


Nice big pocket which zips shut.
It is the perfect combination of looks and function, with a zipper pocket on the outside, and it is washable.

See, not nearly as bright as the image would have you think!
Drawstring opening at the top forms the black straps so the straps won't show dirt.  The perfect little backpack!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Food for Thought



"Very well, then, let us live while we live, and enjoy to the fullest whatever of adventure or pleasure each new day brings, since any day may be our last, and we shall be dead for a considerable while."
                                                           
                                                                                    -Jefferson Turck
                                                                                                The Lost Continent by
                                                                                                Edgar Rice Burroughs

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Can't Believe January is Already Finished!

Can you believe it?  We're already done with January and heading into February.  The holiday decorations have been packed up for almost a month and spring seems to be right around the corner.  I can't believe it.  Tonight I'm pulling down my New Year's decorations, but before I do, I thought I'd let you see them.

"Be always at war with your vices,
at peace with your neighbors,
and let each new year find you a better man"
--Benjamin Franklin
 
First, our inspirational quote...this quote replaced "'Twas the night before Christmas..."   (You can still see the North Star left from the Christmas quote.)  Now it is time for me to come up with a quote about love for Valentine's.

Nice photo, right?  (Not!)
These little Ikea tea lights are a perfect place to add seasonal sayings.  Different fonts, different sayings, different looks.


Loved how this project turned out!

Finally, this actually turned out to be my favorite "decoration".  I used 3M stickers to put a poster board with the heading "In 2013, I'd like to..." on the wall, put out a box of sharpies and left my family to do what they chose.  It was so fun to see what each of us wanted to do...

Sewing, computers, savings, rock climbing, and
deadlifts, butterfly pull-ups, reading more...it is a varied list.

Everything from better performance at the gym and saving money...

Horses, gardens, vegetables, savings, a pull-up, a muscle up, single-unders.
Then, there are the specific ones: 6:30 mile, 350 deadlift (yeah, right!), etc.
To improving other skills and gaining new one...I loved "get even more cats"!  It was really great to see what everyone was interested in as the month progressed.  What will be even more interesting?  To see how much we have accomplished by the end of the year!

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Absence Did NOT Make the Heart Grow Fonder...

When Superman came home in November, he was so happy to be home and so grateful to be out of his CHU ("Containerized Housing Unit") that he found most of our home "perfect".  Most of our home.  That rosy view of things did NOT extend to our stairs. 

Ugly Carpet, Squeaky Stairs
Nope, every time he went up or down the stairs, he got more and more disgruntled with them.  He started researching "How to Replace Your Stairs" online.  He started watching a lot of YouTube videos.  He started looking at materials at Home Depot and Lowe's.  He started his campaign to convince me it could be done in one day.  (Hey!  It was an important point...all the bedrooms are upstairs!)

Not one of the treads was made with a single board.  No wonder
the darned things squeaked and felt wobbly!!
Finally, the disgusting (yes, disgusting) carpet was ripped up and we quickly discovered that a) there was a good reason the stairs never seemed firm and b) of course, it was going to be bigger job than Superman had anticipated.

Hey, let's just use leftover 2 x 4s!!

The treads weren't actually treads...they were made of scrap wood left over from the initial construction of our home.

Ooh, yeah, let's use leftover particle board siding for the risers, too!

The risers weren't right, either...they were actually made of leftover siding and just turned around.  Fabulous construction, isn't it?  We were appalled.




The view from the top of the stairs...stipped down to the stringer.  Three
stairs at a time, so the upstairs wasn't cut off for too long.

So, it was all the way down to the stringers and starting from scratch...poor Superman!  He enlisted some child labor, though, the job went quickly.

Ah, this is what treads and risers are supposed to look like!
Superman kept his promise and were replaced in a day.  The end of the first day saw first phase of the project completed...but not before "someone" let the crowbar fall back behind the stairs and slide all the way to the bottom step.

And off comes the riser to retrieve the crowbar...and a few screws that were
dropped along the way...
A little "de" construction was necessary to actually finish the job for the day.  (Still not sure which of the men bears responsibility for the crowbar mishap...it is dependent upon which one of them you ask!)  Finally, to finish the job, the next day, Superman added stained bullnose treads and finished risers.

Aren't they gorgeous?  Best of all, they're so sturdy and quiet! 
Functional beauty...absolutely fabulous!
And, just like that, we went from disgusting stairs to beautiful stairs.  Well worth the inconvenience, wouldn't you say?


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine's Craftiness

I saw this post of The Peanut Paintshop on Pinterest.  She's selling these and if you don't have the time or the inclination to make your own, you should head over to her shop at www.thepeanutpaintshop.com and buy some.

Still, I'm always on the lookout for new crafts, so I decided I had to make my own. 


Five $0.79 hearts from Hobby Lobby and $1.50 in ribbon from Hancock Fabrics and I was ready to go for less than $6.00.  We had the paints at home and Buttercup and I enjoyed an afternoon of crafting and chick flicks.  What could be better? 


The names are painted on, instead of using vinyl letters.
Anyway, I used my Silhouette machine to cut vinyls of everyone's names and used the negative space to create stencils.  (I could have just used red vinyl, but I decided to practice the whole "painting with stencils" instead.)   So, the names are painted on the hearts.
 
I played around with the colors of conversation hearts,
just made them deeper.
A quick clear coat and they were ready...I sewed the ribbon to a D-ring I had in my stash, stapled the hearts to the ribbon and, viola!, a super cute (and super inexpensive) Valentine's decoration.


Oh, and they turned out so well, I made another set for my sister-in-law, paying special attention to the baby arriving this summer. 


Boy or girl?  We've got it covered!

The names on the little hearts?  If it is a boy, my nephew thinks it should be named "Lightning McQueen" and if it is a girl, "Sparkles".   Works for me!


Doesn't every home office have an xBox?
P.S.  In case you're wondering what Superman was doing during all my craftiness, I'd have to say he was embarrassing his son...yes, he's trying get up to speed on the latest xBox games.  Valiant says Superman is a "noob", poor guy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to Blogging after a Four-Month Hiatus!

It has been four months plus since my last blog post.  You know how people always say things like, "Oh, I can't believe how much time has passed?"  Um, I am not going to say that!  I can completely believe it.  We've had a crazy busy past four months and I'm actually glad that things have finally calmed down enough that I have the time to blog again. 

Let me catch you up:

Superman is home for good!  Woot!  Yes, indeed!  After almost three years (!) of contracting overseas, Superman came home.  Best of all, we managed to "sneak" him home a month earlier than the kids expected!  We pulled off the last, best suprise of the journey.  The kids thought their dad was coming home on December 1, so imagine the surprise when the two younger kids registered the sound of my car pulling into the garage, registered the sound of the door opening, didn't even look up when someone walked up the stairs, and then caught sight of their dad!  It was amazing.  We kept the surprises going by inviting Charming to meet up with us for dinner and got to see the look on his face when he walked into the restaurant and saw his father!  Seriously, being able to surprise your adult and almost adult children is NOT easy and oh-so fun...

The spider knew my secret!

The next night we had dinner at the house and the boys decided to play around with Nagle family deadlifts.  (Seriously, Crossfit families are just weird!)

Boys will be boys...the hardest part?  Holding on to the bar!
Charming deadlifted Superman...

"I've got you, Dad!"
Then Valiant stepped up to deadlift Superman...

Valiant was up next...
Then Superman deadlifted little Buttercup.  With...


Buttercup had no problem holding on!
...and without the bar!

But she found it a little more difficult to be the bar!
Then life began to settle back into normal-for-us Nagle5 craziness.  Man, it is good to have Superman home!

I hope you'll enjoy the ride as I fast forward you through the holidays and the projects and the other good stuff that makes up a normal life...I'll give you a few hints of what is coming up:  Scrabble, stairs, bed, hearts, and frames!