Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For the love of Bacon

Trends have always interested me - it's amazing what can become popular and trendy.

Well, Bacon seems to be a trend.  You can find all manner of Bacon-related products: popcorn, lip balm, dental floss.  Go to Etsy and you'll find quite the assortment of bacon scarfs, jewlery and clothing.

My daughter, who celebrated her birthday yesterday, also happens to be a huge fan of Bacon.  And so I decided to get creative and decorate her cake with bacon. 

No, not real bacon (although you can find bacon candy).  I made bacon strips out of Gum Paste, and wanted to show you how you too can make bacon decorations!

Makin' Bacon
I purchased some Wilton's Gum Paste mix and mixed according to the directions on the container.  Just add water and powdered sugar.  Easy Peasy.

I divided the mix in half, and dyed it red, leaving the other white. Taking a small from each color, I rolled out two snakes of red, and one of white and laid them side by side (red, white, red).  Then I pinched them together. 
The great part about this step is that you WANT it to be uneven!  No worries if it's not "just so".

Then I rolled it flat - making candy bacon ribbons!

I wasn't quite sure how to decorate the cake with it, so I put a D on it for her name.

And then put strips on the sides.

She LOVED it!!! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Giveaway!

I'm in a little bit of denial.  My sweet baby girl is turning 10 today.  She told me that she is now officially a "Tween" and that in just THREE years she will be a teenager!  *gulp*

I call her my Little Miss Sassafrass.  She is all that is sweet and spunky.  She is the future of the Brainy Farm family.  She loves to head outside with the animals, REALLY wants a horse but is taking care of the rabbits for 4H and hoping to compromise with a llama soon. 

She also requested that I print her off some math worksheets for FUN for when she comes home from school on her birthday as part of her gift.  Weirdo.

In honor of my little girl, I'm doing a giveaway of a couple of items that remind me of her, and that she has enjoyed.

here's the birthday girl this morning in her special birthday outfit.

There will be 2 winners - but the entry time is limited!!!  So, you'd better hurry.

First is a copy of Book 1 of the Little House series: Little House in the Big Woods
My girlie got these last year and read them through so fast, she loves the books and the TV show!

Next is the DVD Wild Hearts Can't be Broken
My girlie was determined to ride a diving horse when she saw this and was very dissapointed to hear they weren't around anymore.  She loves horses and adventure, and truly fell in love with this story.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Security Blankets

I have always loved giving people homemade gifts.  I learned how to crochet in High School, and started making baby blankets when my cousins had babies.  I always wanted to learn to quilt, but never had the opportunity.

A couple of years ago a friend taught me the basic rag quilt - and I made my first one for a friend's new baby.  I was hooked.

Another friend had seen a fun sock monkey quilt I had made and requested one for her nephew for Christmas, since his nickname is Monkey. 

Of course, I had to make a space one for his science-loving brother.

Today I was reminded of the source of the great joy.  My friend told me that the blanket has become a true security blanket for her nephew.  He recently took it with him to an annual medical evaluation and it is one of the tools that they use when he has meltdowns and truly soothes him.  It's what he uses to cuddle up in when he's sick.

So the next time you aren't sure what to give a child, a personal quilt or blanket is always a good option.  You never know when something hand made with love is always a good gift.

And I'm going to keep this as a reminder to always stock up when I find cute fabric because you never know when you'll need it! :D

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cleaning made easy - with kids!

so we have four kids aged 9 thru 13 (almost 14 - HOLY CRAP!). our house isn't huge - but it's decent sized. i do a "cinderella day" every monday. this means that i deep clean the entire house top to bottom. since all the kids are in school, it's not THAT big of a deal. it's a pitb, but worth it. it even stays clean for like 30 minutes or so. yay!

anyhow, my cinderella day includes:

deep clean
garbages out
wash & dry basement linens
vacuum stairs from basement to main level

main floor:
deep clean
garbages out
vacuum rugs
polish floor (makes it shiny - i do this once a month or every two weeks, depending on my mood)
clean out fridge
run dishwasher
unload dishwasher
wash & dry main floor linens
refill meds & vitamins (every 2 weeks)

deep clean
garbages out
wash & dry upstairs linens
vacuum stairs from upstairs to main floor

regular stuff:
match socks

it sounds like a lot, but really, it's not. why? because my kiddos help keep up with the cleaning during the week.

i divided the house into four zones: kitchen, bathrooms, basement, living / dining / family room (which includes picking up dog poo outside). each kid gets one zone to do for two weeks. at first, i thought they were doing a good job and i wasn't checking on the chores as often. DUMB MOVE on my part! when i finally did, the toilets were nasty (and i only have ONE boy - who can't aim to save his sweet little life!) and the sinks had gobs of toothpaste in them; bookshelves were messy; etc. what the heck? when i sat them down, they questioned, "you have to wipe down the toilet and sinks EVERY day when you have bathroom? i didn't know that!" egads ...

thus, i decided to fix this little 'problem'. i put together lists for each room. each list included the following categories: "the xxxx is clean when ..."; "the xxxx is deep cleaned"; and "monthy to-dos for the xxxx". i went above and beyond and printed out each list for each person in the house. they were laminated (and put on pretty / handsome paper, of course!) and put them on d-rings. each family member has a copy of all the lists on these. now there is NO excuse for anyone to not know what is required and when!
this is the 4 pages together - there is a list on both sides of the pages. they are laminated so things can be checked off as they are completed.

an example of one of the pages up close
oh this has been so great for our family! i know have a 'checklist' to look at when i check the kids' zones at night and in the mornings. if i'm in a nice mood, i tell them what still needs done. if i'm in one of THOSE moods, i tell them to look at their lists and figure it out.

it's nice not having to do it all every day. just "cinderella day".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

let's eat!

Menu Planning
Family Menu Board Tutorial

i've been seeing a lot of menu boards around 'town' lately. so many different ones to look at and so many different concepts - weekly, two-weekly (is that a word?), monthly, you name it. i fell in love with one i saw - made by kimbo at a girl and a glue gun.

her whole concept made me happy. EXCEPT i want my kids to be able to help more with meals around here. i don't like either having to recite the recipe to them (because i have it in my head) or let them use my precious laptop or ipad in the kitchen. near all of those liquids. liquids that don't stay where they're supposed to. just the thought of that makes me cry! (SO not a pretty picture)

so i took kimbo's idea and ran with it. my idea was to type up all of my recipes, group them into categories (11, to be exact), and print the recipes so they can be easily accessed. i got all of my supplies together and got started. i was under the assumption that it wouldn't take much time. i was mistaken! big time. i had forgotten that i would need to type in every recipe. in all my 'spare' time.

 the supplies - gosh there were a lot of them! :)

magnetic calendar, magnets, lots of rings, cardstock (it is SO hard to find 11 different colors in multi-packs!), hole reinforcers 

i was able to find the calendar at walmart - it was about $10. sweet!

i polled the family members to find out their favorite meals. i gathered recipes for each meal, others 'i' love, and also some that my mom had made for us when we were kids. nostalgia and all that. i separated the recipes into 11 categories (the reason i needed 11 different colors):
  • seafood
  • breakfast
  • mexican
  • italian
  • pork
  • poultry
  • asian
  • side dishes & vegetables
  • breads & soups
  • desserts
  • beef
it took more time than i had planned for to type everything up. of course, i had to use my own special logo (thanks to wonderful teresa!) - it's a cupcake with a tiara. it's a princess thing.

aalong with typing up each recipe, i typed each recipe title and a menu category title page. i also put a special page into each category with cooking measurements - 3 teaspoons equals 1 Tablespoon; 1 cup equals 8 oz of liquid ingredients and 16 T of dry ingredients.

the 11 categories - recipes typed, title pages, recipe titles, and measurement pages in their respective colors.

close-up. you can see the titles of the recipes. i also made quite a few empty recipe title cards for each category - in case i find more recipes we want to use or for new recipes we want to try.  

measurement pages - it made more sense for our family to have one measurement page per category rather than one for the entire menu board.

i printed the recipes 2 to a page. i could have done 4 to a page, but with the kids using the recipes, i wanted to make sure the print was maximized and the readability was increased. i figured if i made it too small, i 'd get the excuses of "i can't read it, mom - it's too small!", etc.

i cut each page in 1/2 - the original size of the paper was 8 1/2 by 11.

after each card was cut, i punched a single hole in the top left hand corner. then i put a hole reinforcer on the BACK SIDE of the card. as you can see below, i tried putting it on the front of the card, but on the back, it was less noticeable. and that made me happy.
hint - after punching a hole in the first card, use it as a guide to punch the rest of the cards so that they are all laying quite nicely on the ring and aren't jabber-wocky.

i got everything cut, punched, organized, and ready to laminate. i love laminated things - they're washable. and we aren't neat cookers. i used to think we were, until i started looking thru cookbooks. wow.

i turned on the laminator and waited for it to heat up. and waited. and waited. i swear it takes forever for that sucker to heat up! at least it does when i'm dying to use it.
still waiting ...

i got the green light. let's go!

i laminated everything at once - recipe cards, recipe titles, cover pages. basically, i sat at the laminator for three days straight. ok, not that long, but it seemed that way. i'm not laminating anything else for a while ... ;)
after everything was laminated, i cut things apart and sorted it all. i then punched holes thru the recipe cards where the hole was that i had already punched. i did it this way because if you punch a hole in something that is already laminated, there is a greater tendency for it to get air in the laminated portion and make it look cloudy. then i put each category of recipe cards on a ring.
at this point, i realized that the calendar needed numbers. and magnets to hold up the recipe titles. yeah, i could have written the numbers and put magnets on the back of the recipe titles, but that's not how i roll. so i typed up the numbers of the month, printed them out, and laminated them. i put magnets on the back of each number. i also found some sparkly little 'dots' that i fell in love with. i put magnets on the back of each of them and am using them to hold up the recipe titles. did i mention they're SPARKLY?!?

the dates and one night of dinner on the board

up close - it's so SPARKLY!! i LOVE it!

i was just about ready to put the whole thing together. but i couldn't just write the names of the month out, could i? noooo! of course not! i needed to print out the name of each month with my sweet cricut (i LOVE scal - the coolest program ever). i got each month printed out, glued it onto a white sheet of cardstock. then glued THAT onto a black sheet of cardstock. for some continuity. just go with it.

i laminated each of the month's names but they looked a wee bit plain. so i looked thru my stash of buttons and found buttons to 'represent' each month.

yeah, i know that october is usually signified by orange, green, or bats. but it's MY birthday month, so a crown it is. i am a princess, remember. my oldest freaked out (she is more anal ocd than i am)

i put the monthly menu together. the month of february was done! sparkly magnets and all.

now to hang it on the wall ... we have the perfect spot! a wall in the kitchen. the menu board is now mounted there - complete with recipes hanging underneath.

to store everything, i'm utilizing an index card storage box. it will hang out on top of the fridge - all the recipe titles that i'm not using will be stored in there - along with the other names of the month.

Friday, February 3, 2012

sneak peek - what could it be?

i am DYING to share this project with you guys - it's been a true LABOR of love (i.e. - it took longer than i thought it would). it will get used every day - by me and by the kids. YAY!! here's a sneak peek ... what do you think it is?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Welcome The Princess - a new contributor

YEAH!  My good friend Jannet (The Princess)  is joining the BFW blog as a regular contributor.  She's AWESOME, and I'm excited to have her join me as we work to bring you more frequent and regular content.

Here she is!
greetings, brainy farm wife fans! my name is jannet and i am so very excited to be a part of teresa's venture. :) she consistently amazes me at the things she comes up with and her insight. i call her my "dr. phaura" (dr. phil and dr. laura combined).

i've been married to my mr. wonderful for over 17 years and am continually impressed that he puts up with me. i'm crazy, a total pink lover, a believer that i'm a princess, and love to have fun (and sleep). together, we had four goofy kids in less than five years. told you i'm crazy!! "roni" is almost 14; "bug" just turned 12; "weasel" is 10; and "boo" is 9.

as for me, i'm an arizona transplant that now lives in colorado. before moving here 18 months ago, i had never really lived more than 15 miles away from the house i grew up in. so this was a h-u-g-e change. i'm the oldest of seven kids (5 boys and 1 girl) and love being the boss in charge of things.

i'm a stay at home mom to the kiddos - who are all in school ALL DAY LONG!! not that i don't love the kids, but it's nice to have me time and then be ready to enjoy them when they get home. or at least be prepared for the joy that will come when they arrive.

i love to try new things - from foods to crafts. i have my own playroom that i create in. i enjoy cleaning, organizing, sleeping (napping is my best talent!), and finding solutions to problems - total trial and error. i'm an anything but typical  girly girl - anything pink, sparkly, glittery, or shiny gets my attention (have you seen up? instead of "squirrel", i'm distracted with "sparkles") but i also have a dream of owning a harley fat boy some day and i have my own gun; i save scary movies & tv shows for watching when mr. wonderful is out of town.

i'm giddy with joy at the idea of sharing some of my thoughts with you ... i look forward to getting to know you all!