Thursday, August 30, 2012

Get Plumped!

*Rebecca's last post in the first person went so well we decided to give it a whirl in all our posts! *

A while ago, Jill introduced me to the magic that is Lip Plumper. The clear, tingly gloss goes great over your favorite lip stain and supposedly stimulates blood flow to your lips making them plump and appear fuller. However, it can also be pretty pricey. And let's face it: we Homemade Mamas are cheap (although we like to call it "thrifty"! Sounds cuter that way!). So I would use the tube she gave me sparingly, saving it for those rare nights out.  Then I came across this post by the ever-ingenious Delighted Momma where she says you can make your own! What?! She discovered that the secret ingredient in those pricey plumpers in cinnamon oil, which is the key to stimulating blood flow for a natural plump! I tried it out and am so excited to share it with you!

What You Need:
  • Clear unscented lip gloss (though mine had a slight watermelon scent & it worked fine anyway)
  • Cinnamon oil

Add 6-7 drops of cinnamon oil to your clear lip gloss.  The original "recipe" calls for 7-8 drops of cinnamon oil. I did 8 and the result was more on the burning side of tingly (which, oddly, I kinda liked).  Start with a little - you can always add more.

More oil = more plump & more tingle
Mix it up well and apply to your lips! For those of you who have never tried a plumper before there will be a tingle but it will fade after a few minutes or so.

By the way, since I had made my plumper on the stronger side I was worried about giving the husband a smooch and having his lips start tingling. Never fear - your plumped lips will be totally smooch-able!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kolaches - A Taste of Texas

I decided to write this post a little differently. You may notice I am writing in first person for a change. I wanted to share a little back story on my family's favorite recipe.
First you may be asking what is a Kolache? They are sweet little buns filled with all sorts of delicious fillings.

We first had these tasty treats after we moved to Texas for my husband, Keith's job. There is a chain of restaurants there called The Kolache Factory. Once we tried them we were hooked. We were there almost every weekend. Whenever any of our family or friends came to visit from Chicago we would order some of every kind for them to taste. I've never met anyone who didn't love a Kolache!

After 2 1/2 years we moved to Indianapolis, again for my husbands job. We were thrilled to live a little closer to our family and friends in Chicago. I thought we would have to say good buy to our beloved Kolaches (yes they are that good!). Can you imagine my surprise when Keith told me there was a Kolache Factory just a few miles from our new home! Phew!!!! We were able to continue to feed our little habit.

A few years later we had the opportunity to move back home to Chicago. We were so happy to be back home with our family and friends. But, it wasn't long before we started missing our old friend Kolache. We even looked into having our friends in Texas and Indy shipping them to us, but it cost more to ship them than to buy tham. The homemade mama in me wouldn't let us do that. So, Keith and I started looking for kolache recipes. We couldn't find any. We started looking for bread and roll dough that we could use, but nothing was quite right.

I kept an eye out online and one day I stumbled upon a recipe on Homesick Texan . I had finally found someone who understood my obsession for Kolaches!! She has a beautiful blog full of wonderful recipes from Texas. I also just saw that she has a cookbook out! Yea! Can't wait to get it!
Homesick Texan gives a history of Kolaches and has a great recipe for making traditional ones.

We couldn't wait to try her recipe. The dough was great! It tasted almost exactly like the way we remembered it. We made a few changes. We like the dough a little sweeter so I added a little more sugar, and for some reason I always find I need more flour. We also like nontraditional fillings like the ones at the Kolache Factory. We fill ours with everything from sausages to buffalo chicken. Keith and I hope you'll give them a try!

Kolaches - Adapted from Homesick Texan


1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups of all-purpose flour (I always need 4 cups)
2 eggs for dough
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg for egg wash

This will make about 24 kolaches. I recommend doubling the recipe. They are always gone within a day or two.

1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk (105-110 degrees) sugar and one cup of flour. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.

2. In a small bowl beat the 2 eggs, slowly add the 1/2 cup of melted butter and salt.
3. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and mix.
4. Mix in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. I usually have to knead the last cup in by hand. It is a really soft, slightly sticky dough.
5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on a well floured surface. Place dough in a well greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size - about an hour.

While the dough is rising, get your fillings ready. Some of our favorites are:
-Buffalo chicken and blue cheese
-ham and cheese
-cheese and hotdogs (cut in half)
-sausage and cheese
-milk chocolate
-pepperoni, pizza sauce and mozerella
-chopped chicken and alfredo or pesto
-chicken curry
-spinach and feta
The possibilities are endless! We haven't found anything we don't like in a kolache!

After dough has risen, punch it down and pull off egg-sized pieces. In your hands, roll pieces into balls and then flatten to about 4 inches in diameter.

Spoon about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbls of filling.

Close dough around filling. Pinch it shut and place seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 20 min. Preheat oven 375 degrees.

Beat the third egg. Before you bake the kolaches, brush with egg. If you are making a couple different flavors, you may want to mark them. We sprinkled Italian seasoning on top of the pizza flavored one, and paprika on the cheese and chorizo kolaches.

To make the more traditional Kolaches, make flattened balls of dough. Let them rise. Right before you bake them gently make a little well in the center and fill with low sugar preserves.

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. They will be lightly golden brown when they are done.

Let them cool on cooling rack. They will be very hot!

Ben gives them a big thumbs up!
I hope you'll give this recipe a try! I know you'll love them as much as my family! (But you have been warned, they are soooo addictive!!!)
Thanks for reading!!
~ Rebecca
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

T-shirt Rag Rug!

Bet you didn't think we could find another use for old t-shirts, but we did! We were inspired to create this rug after finding a tutorial for making hula hoop rag rugs using t-shirts. They were super cute, but made circle rugs. We couldn't think of a place that we wanted a small circular rug, so we figured we could make a rectangular loom to make a small rug for the back door. We liked the idea of recycling t-shirts to make a rug that would be earth friendly and super soft!

For the loom we decided to use a sheet of foam core. It is firm, and is easy to cut notches along the edges to hold the weft. (Weft is the string that you weave through.) We also used old t-shirts, and yarn.

The foam core we found had a 1 x 1 inch grid on the back of it. Along the top and bottom of the loom we cut a small notch every inch using a serrated bread knife.

Next we strung the weft. We used yarn, but you could also use string. We took the yarn up and down the loom. The front is on the left and the back is on the right. We took the yarn up, behind, over and then down. We continued until the whole board was covered, keeping the string taught, but not tight.

Here is a drawing of how we threaded the weft incase we weren't clear enough above. Hope this helps!

Next we got the shirts ready. We cut the bottom hem off. Then we cut strips off the bottom, making lots of loops. We gave each loop a tug to roll the fabric.

To start weaving, we threaded the loop through the first string. We then secured the string back on the notch.

Then we started weaving.

Over and under - back and forth.

When we were ready for the next loop, we slip knotted it through the last one and kept on weaving.

The hardest part was keeping the tension even.

We left a few inches at either end to tie off the rug.

To tie it off we carefully cut the string at the back.

Then we tied the yarn together. We tied the two strings that were next to each other with 3 or 4 knots.

And the rug was done. At this point we could either cut the strings or leave them on for fringe.

Of course Rocky immediately claimed the rug for his own!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Buttons & Bobby Pins

Over the years we have inherited all sorts of treasures from family members. Furniture, clothes, even old fabric and sewing notions.Our favorite so far has been the tins of buttons that once belonged to our grandmother. We love pawing through the tins and seeing what unusual buttons she saved. And while may not have a jacket or blouse that needs one of these gems, we knew that they needed to be shown off!   That's when we decided to make cute hair pins out of them!

 What You Need:
  • Buttons
  • Bobby Pins
  • Glue Gun

  This is so simple, it's embarrassing.  Simply adhere the buttons of your choice onto a bobby pin with hot glue. Yeah...simple, right? You could sew them onto the pin first, but we found that that wasn't really necesary.

Some of our buttons had loops on the backs instead of button holes, so we were able to thread the bobby pin through the loop and then add hot glue for extra sturdiness.

Let the glue cool and harden, then you're ready to show off your fabulous vintage buttons!

These might even make cute bookmarks!
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bracelets...Made From Toothbrushes!

This is one of those projects that we tried mostly because, well...we could. Bracelets made out of toothbrushes - we had to try it! We cant resist any project that we get to melt things that we probably shouldn't! (I think we get that from our dad!)

They turned out so well. When we wore them out, no one ever guessed that they were made of toothbrushes. You can recycle whatever old toothbrushes you have around the house, or buy new ones like we did. The kids loved them as well. Our boys thought their Spongebob toothbrushes would make awesome bracelets. Surprisingly we really didn't want Spongebob bracelets, so we kept our eyes out at the dollar store until we found these. $1 for for 5 clear toothbrushes! What a deal! The clear plastic brushes are supposed to be easier to shape, so you may want to give them a try!

First you will want to remove the bristles with tweezers or pliers. This was much easier than we expected. Like tweezing really bushy eyebrows!

While you are tweezing, boil a large pot of water (wide enough for your toothbrushes. Once the water is boiling, drop the toothbrushes in. Boil them for about 3 minutes until they soften up. We didn't notice any weird smells while boiling them, but you may want to open a window while you do this step.

Some sites had you take the toothbrushes out of the water and use a mug to shape the toothbrush into a bracelet. Our toothbrushes cooled almost instantly and couldn't mold them. We found that we could shape them using two pairs of metal tongs and the side of the pot. The toothbrushes molded very easily when we could keep them hot. Just be careful, because everything is hot!

We have been having so much fun sporting these funky bracelets this summer! Definitely wearing them to our next trip to the dentist office!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Homemade Powdered Sugar

You know by now that nothing gets us more excited than finding our we can make homemade versions of things we normally would buy in the store! But powdered sugar seemed like one of those things you just HAVE to buy. There's no way you can make your own....right? WRONG! Just like brown sugar, you can DEFINITELY make your own! Homemade Powdered sugar is not only one of the easiest things you can make, but it is also cheaper than the store bought stuff! Plus you can make just what you need, so you know it will always be fresh! (Thanks to My New Old School for this great idea!)


What You Need:
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • Blender or Food Processor
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch (optional)

In your blender or food processor, add the sugar and cornstarch (if using it). Supposedly commercial powdered sugar has cornstarch in it to help prevent it from clumping.Blend it up for about 30 seconds or so. Check on it and blending more if needed.

Ta-Da! You now have powdered sugar! Crazy, right???

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Easy Casting with Kids!

While at the doctors office the other day, we found this fun project in a copy of Family Fun magazine. It was this easy method of casting objects to make signs or plaques to hang in your kids rooms. We had wanted to try casting before but many other methods seemed a little complicated, especially for kids. This was was very easy, a great project for older kids. Younger kids might need a little help. You can use any hard objects to make impressions. We used some treasures we found at the beach. Next time our boys want to use Lego mini figures!

What you need:

play dough (or other similar dough)
plaster of paris
objects that you want to make impressions of
paperclip to make a hanger for your plaque
pen to draw letters or other shapes

You could find a container, and line it with the play dough, to use as a mold, but we just made a free formed shape with the play dough on two sheets of foil. Make a lip around all the edges at least a 1/2 inch high.

Wrap the foil up around the dough for a little more support on the sides.

Now press your objects into the dough.

We decided to write our last name in the dough using a pen. If you want letters, make sure you draw them backwards and make sure they are smooth and clear.

Mix your plaster of paris according to your package's directions. Pour into the dough mold. We stuck a paper clip in to use as a hanger.

Let the plaster set up for 20 - 25 minutes (read your package's directions). Then peel away the play dough. There was a little play dough stuck on the plaster. We used a blob of dough to dab off the bits that were stuck on. Let your cast dry completely. Then you can paint it or leave it natural!

We recommend either using a disposable container to mix your plaster of paris, or remember to clean out your container right away. We forgot and now have a hard lump of plaster in our glass measuring cup...with a plastic spoon stuck in it!

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