Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DIY-Sharpie dye your clothes

I've always wanted to learn how to tie dye properly.  I tried to do it once way back in elementary school, but ended up with a light grey stained shirt.  (We were going for bright purple.) 

Now that summer is showing off her vibrant hues, I once again felt inspired to try this colorful art form.  Some quick researching online showed that people were actually using Sharpie markers to dye their shirts!   The method was so simple and I had all the materials at home.  Score!  So, I decided to give this craft a try. 

Here are the materials that I used:

Here's what I did: 
  1. I placed a piece of cardboard inside my shirt so the marker wouldn't seep through.  (I only wanted one side of my shirt dyed.) Note:  You could probably also use a plastic bag too. 
  2. I channeled my inner artist and began doodling on my shirts.  Note:  I used old markers which didn't have much ink in them.  I recommend using juicy, new, fat markers.  Then you can put more ink on the shirt and get a better effect.      
  3. I stretched my t-shirt over a baking pan to catch the alcohol.  Note:  Again, you could probably just do this part with a plastic bag.
  4. I used my dropper to drip alcohol onto my design.  A couple of drops was all it took to make the marker bleed. 
  5. I let my shirt dry.
  6. I ironed my shirt to set the colors.  (Note:  This didn't work because the colors still bled when I hand washed the shirts.  Other people suggested placing your shirts briefly in the microwave or dryer.)
  7. I hand washed my shirts.
 Want to see the results?
Here's my first attempt:
My inspiration came from beach waves and fourth of July fireworks.
The design reminded hubby of a dental x-ray.
Hmm... crafty or crappy?  Not sure if I'm digging my design...

And here's my second attempt:  (This time I tried something simpler.)  

All in all the method worked relatively well.  The colors were vibrant and reminded me of watercolors.  But, the markers bled during my hand washing, resulting in staining on the back of the shirts.  Also, the rubbing alcohol and markers smelled A LOT.  So just be sure to do this in a well ventilated room!

Have you tried using sharpies to dye your clothes?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tired with a capital T

We're currently exhausted here at the PinkStripeySocks household.  Baby Chuck has been quite fussy ever since we got back.  We're not sure why.  Maybe he's getting used to the new schedule? Maybe he's going through a growth spurt?  (They say that he's supposed to have one around 9 months.)  Or maybe he's teething?

Whatever the case may be, we're trying our best to keep him happy.  That means we let him play with utensils

and prenatal vitamins.

How do other parents deal with their kids?  Eek.  Imagine having more than one child!!! 

Parents, I salute you!

Dear dad-  Don't worry!  He's always under supervision!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

(No nut) Psuedo- groundnut stew and fufu

Earlier this week I cooked my version of groundnut stew and fufu.  It's one of the dishes eaten by people in Ghana.  Now, I've never been to Africa and I've never eaten an authentic bowl of groundnut stew or fufu  before.  I learned about this dish from one of my college roommates. 

My version of groundnut stew (made with Sunbutter in a crockpot)

Great balls of fufu

Fufu is made from starchy vegetables like plantain or cassava.  It tastes like super starchy boxed mashed potatoes.  You're supposed to take the fufu in your hands and then dunk it in the stew.  Groundnut stew is an interesting dish because it pairs two unlikely ingredients:  nuts and tomatoes.  Strange right?  When I first heard about this odd pairing I had to taste it for myself.  It's surprisingly rich and delicious.  I've made this stew countless times since college, but now I substitute Sunflower butter for peanut butter.

Whenever I eat it, I always think about my college times, my old roommates, and the old rickety rowhouse house that we all shared.  I really loved living in that house.  We had a great community there.  Over a span of two years, I lived with 5 roommates, 1 subletter, a dozen or so cockroaches, several large "mice" (ok, probably rats), and 3 cats.  We housed a dozen or so large parties, countless student group meetings, and at least 180 dinners.  Our rowhouse also had a lot character.  A great wild tangle of weeds greeted us in the front yard.  Our stove was slanted and housed in a tiny tiny room separate from the kitchen. And then there was the random three-foot tall door under the staircase.  We used it to get to the laundry room in the basement. (I guess the past owners had house elves.) I remember having to crouch through it just so, otherwise I would fall down the narrow wooden stairs or my shoulders would brush up against walls covered in dust and spider webs. 

How funny that a dish from Africa makes me think of my old roommates in Baltimore.  

Curious to see what nuts and tomatoes taste like?  It's surprisingly tasty!

  1. 2  28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  2. a couple of carrots
  3. a couple stalks of celery
  4. 2 onions
  5. 8 chicken drumsticks 
  6. 1 spoonful of "Better than Bouillion"  (or Bouillion cube for taste)
  7. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
  8. Bay leaves (optional)
  9. 1/4 - 1/3 jar of Sunflower butter (Our peanut butter substitution)
  10. 1 box of Fufu flour (Or, just serve over rice or with mashed potatoes)
(1)  Place the first eight ingredients into the crockpot.  (Warning:  I can't quite fit the entire two cans of tomatoes in, so I just pour the remainder in later.)
(2)  Cook in crockpot  (I make it in 6 hours.)
(3)  With about an hour left, skim out the fat, pour the rest of the tomatoes in, and add the Sunbutter.  .
(4)  Make fufu according to the directions on the box
Enjoy!  Serves 5 hungry adults 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DIY- Chalkboard table

During our final years living in Manhattan, hubby and I were poor.  In fact, we weren't just poor, we were po-- we were so poor we couldn't even afford the "or."  So when it came to furnishing our apartment, we did what we had to do.  We became trash pickers.

Yes, you read right.  We went trash picking.  As hubby and I walked around the city, we'd constantly scan over items tossed out by others.  When we spotted a piece of furniture that we liked, we would bring it back to our apartment.  The majority of our apartment was furnished that way.  We spotted our bookshelf while walking our dog outside one night.  We dragged a rather large mirror off of a pile of trash and propped it up in our dining room.  Once, we even dragged a side table off the sidewalk to a dinner with friends.  Yup, we picked up a lot of furniture from the trash.  And yes, we were really REALLY lucky that we didn't end up with a bed bug infestation.   

When we moved to Michigan, some of our trash-treasures were left to be used by my sister, some returned to the trash pile to be picked by others, and a couple pieces came with us.  Below, you'll see a dining room table that made the 800 mile trek with us:

We nabbed this baby from a student who was moving out.

Now that we're moving back East, hubby and I debated whether to bring this table back with us.  It's served us well, but we weren't sure if it was worth the moving cost.  So, hubby figured he'd try his hand at upcycling.  Here's what he did:

(1) He took the table apart.
(2) He used an electric sander to sand the table.
(3) He used wood filler to fill in all the imperfections.
(4) He sanded the table again.
(5) He painted the table with primer.
(6)  He painted the top of the table with two coats of chalkboard paint.
(7)  He put the table back together again.

And tada, here are the results:
I think it looks a lot more modern. Don't you?

I'm not sure how the chalkboard paint will fare in the long run.  
But right now I'm having a lot of fun writing on it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're baack!

We're back from our trip to the East Coast!  We logged in a lot of hours driving, touring housing, and visiting family.  Now we're exhausted and I think we'll spend the next couple of days sleeping and unwinding.  

It's definitely good to be back home.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guess what?

We're taking a short road trip back to the East Coast.  We can't wait for Baby Chuck to meet his family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Have you ever wondered how pencils are made?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chocolate covered bacon and potato chips

I finally did it.  I took the culinary plunge and dipped bacon and potato chips into chocolate.

Yum.  Heart attack and tooth decay all in one delicious package.

Here's what I did:
(1)  I cooked bacon in the microwave until they were nice and crispy.   
(2)  I melted the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler.
(3)  After the strips of bacon cooled, I dipped them into the chocolate.  Then, I placed the strips onto a cooling rack so that the excess chocolate would be able to drip off.
(4)  I dipped the potato chips into the chocolate and then also placed them onto the cooling rack.
(5)  I put the finished treats in the fridge to cool the chocolate.

These treats were delicious.  But I wasn't perfectly happy with the results, so there are definitely changes that I'll make next time.
(1) My bacon treats looked a bit like puny dog treats.  Next time I won't cut each strip in half. 
(2) As the treats cooled, the chocolate hardened onto the cooling rack.  Next time I'll just use parchment paper.
(3) There was a tad too much chocolate on the bacon and I didn't quite achieve that perfect salty sweet balance.  Next time I'll just drizzle chocolate over the bacon.

Hmm, what else should I dip in chocolate?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tulip Time Pt 4

And so ends my posts on Tulip Time.  Due to rainy weather, we were only able to attend two out of the three parades.  The Kinderparade (Children's parade) was definitely my favorite.  The children looked absolutely adorable all dressed up in their Dutch best.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tulip Time Pt 3- Quilts

I was lucky enough to visit the Holland Area Arts Council and see their quilts on display.  Each quilt was so beautifully made.  What gorgeous and vibrant colors!  What creative designs!  What intricate top stitching!  As I oohed and ahhed over each quilt, I snapped a ton of photos and Baby Chuck fell asleep.  (I don't think he's a quilt lover quite yet.)

Oh to own one of these lovely works of art.  I imagine their bright colors must bring lots of cheer on those cold and grey Michigan mornings.   Here are my five favorite quilts from the show: 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Five funny food pictures

(1)  Jelly Bean Art
Kristen Cumings recreated famous paintings like The Mona Lisa, Starry Night, and Girl with a Pearl Earring using only jelly beans.  Each tasty work of art took about 50-60 hours of work.  Even though onlookers may feel tempted to take a lick (or a bite), they really shouldn't.  Cumings used spray adhesive to stick jelly beans onto a canvas and coated the entire canvas with acrylic.  [seen on Foodiggity]

(2) "Made in America" skillets  
I love Michigan.  I also love eating.  A Michigan shaped cast iron skillet seems like a nice way to celebrate both loves.  [seen on Foodiggity]

(3) Lickable lift
Remember that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate factory where everyone gets to lick wallpaper?  Well, it's no longer a dream.  The world's first Lickable lift was installed in London about a month ago.  Its walls are covered with a little over a thousand Jaffa cookies.  Worried about germs?  Don't be.  Once a person has licked a cookie, a bell boy removes it from the wall.  [seen on Foodiggity]


(4) Candy Bike
I'm sure any 5-year-old... or 31-year-old girl would love this sweet ride, created by Brooklyn-based artist Britta Hope. [seen on Foodiggity]

(5) Sausage recorder
Adam Niklewicz created this Polish sausage recorder that even plays sweet music!  Can you imagine hubby playing this instrument in church?  [seen on Foodiggity]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tulip Time Pt 2

Yesterday the rainy skies cleared and we were able to walk outside and enjoy the sights and tastes of Tulip Time.

I can't wait till I get to eat real food!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bucket List- Tulip Time Pt 1

This past Sunday hubby attended his final graduation ceremony.
Bye bye hubby!

While he was away, Baby Chuck and I took a stroll around town to admire the tulips and enjoy Tulip Time.  Unfortunately, many of the tulips looked like this:

Oh no!  It's a stem fest!

We kept looking until we finally found some blooming tulips.  I saw other families plopping their babies in front of the tulips to take photos, so I did the same thing with Baby Chuck.  He seemed to enjoy it.

Look mom!  We found some!

Get the diaper bag.  I'm going to sneak some tulips back for dad!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Birthday reflections

Last week I celebrated my 31st birthday. 

I don't know about you, but there's something about birthdays and New Years that makes me feel reflective.  Maybe you feel it too?  I find myself thinking about who I am and where I am and what I'm doing.  And then I dream about who I want to be, and where I want to be, and what I want to be doing in the future.

I'm currently reading Parker Palmer's book, Let Your Life Speak.  Here's one of my favorite passages so far:

"Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be.  As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human seeks-we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.  True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as 'the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need.'"

I'm not sure where that meeting place is, but I'm going to try to spend this year finding it.

Hope you had a good weekend! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

8 months old

Whenever I place Baby Chuck on the floor or on the bed, he inevitably ends up like this:

What can I say?  I like big baby butts.

He plops face down and then wiggles his bum and legs.  Sometimes he'll try to push himself up with his arms.  We think he does all this because really wants to crawl.  He's working so hard to move about, but right now he just stays put and flops like a fish.

Here are 8 facts about Baby Chuck in honor of his 8 month birthday:
(1)  He's currently teething.  Two of his top chompers are working very hard to get out.

(2)  His favorite foods are oat cheerios, mashed peas, and avocados.

(3)  His least favorite foods are carrots, apples, and banana. 

(4)  He's currently going through a momma's boy phase.  He really likes being held by momma.  (Sorry, hubby!)

(5)  Baby Chuck dislikes riding in the stroller.  The Ergo carrier is his ride of choice.  Bet you can guess who does the carrying...  (See 4) 

(6)  He can finally put his feet in his mouth.  Hooray!  Hubby and I call him our little Asian gymnast because he's so stretchy and flexible.       

(7)  He currently takes 2 naps a day.  I love nap time a whoooole lot.

(8) Baby Chuck loves it when hubby reads to him.  He just laughs and laughs at hubby's funny sounds and faces.

Happy 8 month birthday, Baby Chuck!  We love you very much.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DIY- Baking Soda Deoderizer

I have a love-hate relationship with Baby Chuck's cloth diapers.  I love using them because they help us to save money and they allow us to put less waste into landfills.  Plus, they're so colorful! 

Ah, ain't nothing prettier than a bunch of newly washed cloth diapers.

And yet, I also find myself hating them.  When they're soiled, they're just so darn stinky.  Pee eww.  Ever since Baby Chuck started eating solid foods, his waste has taken on a different odor.  Hubby describes the smell like "cinammony dead cat," whereas I think it's more of a "sweet week-old fish."  

Our last load of soiled diapers was so pungent that I almost passed out on my way down to the laundry room.  Hubby suggested that I wear a double vent gas mask next time, but I figured I'd just open a box of baking soda and leave it next to our diaper pail.  But then, after finding this deodorizer and this DIY air freshener, I felt inspired to make something similar.  I poured baking soda into an old jam jar, cut out two heart shaped vents from a piece of fabric, and then sealed the jar up. 

Smells, be gone!


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