05 January, 2017

Bourbon Glazed Smoked Ham 

So, last October, I decided I want to invest in a smoker. I was in Costco and of course it was a day they had demonstrators there for Traeger. We bought a little smoker previously that required a lot of babysitting, so I wasn’t as interested. The gentleman stopped us and asked if we’d had one. I explained that we did, but it was the kind you had to adjust the little chimney for the heat, and make sure the wood chips kept smoldering. He saw that I didn’t like it.

He then explained to me how these pellet smokers worked. I was intrigued because it reminded me of an oven! Plain and simple! The only difference was that you’d smoke your food for a little while, then you’d kick up the thermostat (this is what grasped my attention) to the temperature you needed, and roast away!
So I grabbed one, and headed home! Surprised my husband a little because he thought we wouldn’t make much use it. We put it together and set that baby up!

First project smoke some burgers! Most people aren’t aware, but I have a beef allergy *sigh*. Yes, those juicy, flavorful patties make me drool when I watch as my husband enjoys his. So, my go to for burger is, you guessed it turkey burgers. *Blah* Yep, those patties that dry up the moment you set it on the grill. The ones you push yourself to eat, because you’re starving!

So, we popped them on the grill (beef and turkey) and let them smoke for about 15 minutes. We cranked up the heat to what you’d normally grill some burgers at, and grilled away.
Because I was curious as to how juicy it would end up, I smothered my bun with just a little bit of condiments. I took my first bite, and just melted! It was perfect! I’m guessing the smoke just might have set the juices in from the little crust it formed while on smoke.

I have not been able to stop talking about smoked burgers ever since!
So, onto the star of the show HAM!

I’m sure most of y’all have received a Christmas ham before and they’ve ended up in the freezer. Well, we received TWO this last Christmas, AND we still had one in there from LAST year! So, a few days before Christmas, I pulled last years out and decided to smoke it on the grill.

I didn’t want to follow a recipe; I wanted to make my own glaze for that beauty and wing it. I decided to make a bourbon glaze. I placed some pineapple rings on the bottom of the pan and pinned some on the outside as well. It turned out SO delicious, that my family hardly ate any of our side dishes! They just devoured the ham! Now, we have 3 adults, 2 younger kids (9 and 11) who are bottomless pits, and a 10 month old grandson. You’d figure that there’d be PLENTY of leftovers (because it always seems like there is with ham), but NOPE! The leftovers from that 9½ pound ham were minuscule, and devoured within about 5 days. It was perfect cold, and not a single dry piece!

So, everyone loved it so much, they requested more. I pulled one of the remaining hams from the freezer and did it all over again!

So I’m sharing a short and sweet video here that shows the process of creating a perfectly cooked ham.
Don’t forget to subscribe, like the video and share it with your friends and family to keep more coming!

Hope you enjoy! Can't wait to hear your feedback!

Stacy - How The Blondie Made It!  

04 January, 2017

DIY Lip Scrub

Smooth and juicy lips, isn’t that what we all want in the winter time? Lips that just scream 'Kiss Me'? We all do, right? Some of you might have been born lucky with soft supple lips, but are you one of those who are born with super dry lips *raises hand*?

My poor lips require quite a bit of maintenance to bring them back to life. If I don’t, I get a little OCD and “pick” at my lips *OUCH* ! It’s probably because I’m embarrassed to show my flaky chapped lips, but then of course this just makes them look worse.

I’ve discovered I can still achieve kissable, pouty lips by doing something very important… exfoliate! Hello lustrous lips!

If you’re on a budget, and don’t want to spend a lot of money for those premade lip scrubs *not to mention they have added junk*, here’s a little DIY project to help get rid of those pesky flakes! Well pucker up baby, there IS a way for those pouty, luscious lips!

Lip scrubs are quick and easy to use, not to mention how delicious they could be. Lip scrubs are hands down my favorites! They remove the dead skin, and the oils in them help nourish the lips to make them soft and smooth. Just rub some of the product onto your dry lips, enjoy the smooth aftermath, and enjoy the yummy flavor too.

Now, what’s the process you ask?
Well, it involves a steaming (but not too hot) washcloth, a soft toothbrush, some lip balm (I prefer Blistex Medicated), and some Aquaphor. I like the Aquaphor because it keeps the moisture in your lips, while allowing much needed oxygen to your lips.

·       First, apply some lip balm to serve as barrier.
·       Then take your steamy washcloth (remember, you DON’T want it too hot, because you may burn your lips *been there, done that and its not pleasant*). Place the washcloth over your lips and hold it until it start to cool down. The heat helps soften the dead skin and preps the lips for the next step.
·       Next is exfoliation. Take a soft toothbrush (you may just use your finger or damp washcloth too) and start to gently rub it over your lips. This will remove all the flakes and you will be left with uber soft, smooth, kissable, pouty lips. Please note, just make sure you dont rub too much! Otherwise you just end up with raw and sore lips.
·       After youre done brushing, *you’ll be tempted to eat the mixture – it’s pretty darn tasty* rinse your lips with warm water.
·       Next, take your Aquaphor (or your favorite lip balm) and apply generously.

This little potion of perfection that I love, consists of brown sugar, honey, coconut, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. You can omit the essential oils and still achieve luscious lips, but I like the healing properties they give as well.

1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of honey (I prefer local, raw honey)
*mix these two until they form a homogenous mixture*
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
*Mix everything together and if you need to, you can add some more coconut oil to smooth out and blend the mixture better.*
At this point, I recommend adding about 3 drops of doTERRA peppermint oil. Feel free to change your essential oils to suit your taste, but ONLY use those that are certified as pure essential oils, and ONLY ones that are suitable for ingestion (you can tell by looking at your bottle and if it has nutrition facts, then you know it’s okay to ingest).. I recommend doTERRA and you can order them from my website here.
You can even add about 5 drops of pure vanilla extract, to giver yours a light vanilla mint flavor!
*Want to make them even more pouty? You can even add a dash of cinnamon, or cayenne if you want to naturally “plump” your lips!*

Now that you’re done mixing, you just need to transfer to a little container.

The benefits of using honey and coconut oil is because they are known for their moisturizing properties and the brown sugar helps gently remove the dead skin.

Pucker up baby! This is all you need to achieve the perfect, soft, smooth lips! Rub some lip scrub, gently brush your lips, pop on some lip balm and embrace your new, irresistibly pouty lips!

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy this! I’d love to see your before and after photo’s if you try this!


06 October, 2014

Hocus Pocus Spell Book


Tis' done!  My creation is complete!  

A tutorial to make your own Hocus Pocus spell book. 

These two would be the original from the actual movie.

So, I have have always loved Hocus Pocus and the "book".  I mean seriously, who doesn't like the movie and the Sanderson Sisters?  I decided that I wanted to be Winifred Sanderson for Halloween this year.  My friend is going dress up as Mary and my sister is going to attempt Sarah.  

I just LOVE that book... so I decided to make my own!  

I went to a thrift store and found a large hard back book that would be large enough to hold standard, copy paper.  I had cut out the pages, which you don't need to really do, because you can just dye the edges of the page, but i just wanted to have it look more authentic.  I also took out all the binding.  I'm just picky like that, aaaaand tend to be a perfectionist.  Haha!  

I took just plain copy paper, crumpled them up, then coffee dyed them.  The reason I used coffee was because it makes them darker aaaand it's just faster.  I mean, who doesn't want to dye them quicker?  I'm just an impatient person.  Ha! 

How did I get these pages to look so awesome?  Well, for starters, preheat your oven to 200 degrees.  
I really should have printed my little spells on my pages (with a laser printer) and dyed the pages, buuuuut, I didn't think that far ahead.  

I smoothed out the crumpled paper, placed a page onto a cookie sheet.  I have silicone mats for my cookie sheets and greatly recommend using them for easy "peeling" of the paper from the pan.  

I took instant coffee and put about 10 heaping tablespoons into 2 cups of warm water.  I then took a mop like paint brush, dipped it into the coffee mixture and put it all over the top of the sheet of paper.  Being careful not to take out all the wrinkles in the paper.  I focused on just slopping it onto the paper in some areas to make it a little more darker in that area.  

You don't want to have it too wet, just enough to wet the whole sheet.  

I then popped the cookie sheet into the 200 degree oven and baked it for about 5 minutes, or until mostly dry to where you can handle the page without ripping it.  Don't over-bake it, because you don't want to burn it.  

Baking the paper you ask??  Yes, this will give it a more aged look and darken the edges of the paper more.  At this time, you can just let it dry completely outside of the oven, or as I mentioned earlier... I am picky... well, this is where my perfectionism came out.  I took the paper, flipped it over and did a little dying on the backside.  Now you don't HAVE to do it this way, but the more authentic looking, the more happy I am.  I then baked it a little longer to where I could handle it without ripping and let the paper dry completely.  

After it had dried, I crumpled it up again and smoothed it out.  Doing this allowed some of the edges to tear slightly, or even a little of the it fall off a little bit.  This just gave it more authenticity.  

I then bound the pages together, glued some card-stock to the front and back pages (just about a 2-inch section on the page itself) and modge podged the remaining part of the page to the inside of the book.  Sorry, I didn't take a picture of that part.  

Next!  I started on the outside of the book and wanted to make the part that goes over the eye.  I drew out where I wanted the stitches and the eye first on my book.  Then started on closure of the book.  

I purchased some Premo clay in silver that can be baked, some little hinges which was a pain to look for, but had great luck finding some cute ones in the scrapbook isle.  I took the little brads that were included with the hinges, put them through the holes and curled the ends to give the clay something to hold onto.  I did my design for the whole thing and then carefully pressed the hinges into place.  Make sure they are metal though, because remember, you will be baking this!  Same goes for the bead, make sure it is a glass bead!  

I then just popped it in the oven at the recommended time, pulled it out and let it cool.  Then took a black paint, painted it on the piece and then took a damp paper towel and gently wiped it off to where the black was just in the crevices.  This gives it a tarnished look 

I needed to see where the eye would go, so I placed the closure on the book where I needed it to go, and started on the eye.  I found the plastic [doll] eye on Etsy.com because like I said before, I'm picky and wanted a more realistic looking eye.  

I used air dry clay (like model magic, but used a different brand because I needed more) to shape the eye socket, brow bone and the eye lid.  I shaped it around the eye leaving the bottom of the eye open so I could remove the eye.  

I took hot glue and put two lines alongside my lines I drew on the book earlier.  I needed a little gully for the stitches.  Don't mind the scribbled out lines, that's just my pickiness (is that even a word?) kicking in.    

The front of the book is supposed to represent skin, so I took some more air dry clay and worked it around the hot glue lines and blended them into the book to blend it in smoothly.  I then let the eye and the stitch lines dry overnight.  

The next morning I finished the eye by putting a layer of Premo clay to shape it up more and then smoothed it onto the book like I did with the stitches.  You have to make sure your little closure will fit over the eye.  I popped out the eye and baked it for the recommended time.  

Pretty good eh?  After it was baked and cooled down, I glued it down with some E6000 because that stuff is strong!  Next I needed to make the snakes.  Again, I used silver Premo clay, baked them for the recommended time and then dry brushed those with some black paint also.  Don't glue your snakes or the closure on yet!  

I painted a layer of light brown all over the book to cover up the original print.  
Now since it is supposed to represent skin, I bought some tan tissue paper that I found in the wrapping paper section and crumpled it up really good.  I had torn it into pieces (about the size of your hand, or into strips) and then took some Modge Podge and put it on the book and in the crevices of the stitches.  I put 2 layers on because one just wasn't enough.  I pulled little parts up and shaped it where the snakes will go, because it has a look where the snakes were biting it.  Then put a thin layer of Modge Podge (by the way, I used matte) all over the book again to seal it in.  

Next, I took a dark brown (burnt umber) and dry brushed it into the crevices and deep areas and lightly over the whole book to get it where the wrinkles are.  You don't want it too look too dark, so I took a damp paper towel and blended it into the book a little more so it mainly just stayed in the crevices.  I put another thin coat of Modge Podge over it.  

I took some waxed thread and stitched up the "lacerations".  I dry brushed a little of the burnt umber over the stitches to make them look a little aged as well.  

After the Modge Podge is dry, it's time to start gluing the snakes and closure on.  I roughed up the backsides of the snakes and the claw portion of the closure and glued them on with the E6000.  
Let dry.  

I took some of the clay and made a little mold of my pinky finger for the fingers that are on the spine of the book.  I pressed some Premo clay into it and poked small holes (big enough for a needle to go through) through the lower half for stitching.  Bake them as instructed.  
Sorry I didn't take pictures of that part either.  Once they were cooled, I painted them with the light brown/tan and then dry brushed the burnt umber on it to give it an aged look also.  

I cut some wax string that was a long enough to put through the holes and look like they were stitches.  I glued down the fingers with the E6000 glue and also put little dabs along where the strings would go for the stitches.  I then took some more tissue paper and modge podged over the ends of the strings to look as though the strings were under the skin.  

And this is my finished project!  

Not bad eh?  

In comparison to the original, I think I got it pretty close.  :)  The only thing I wish I could achieve, is the to make the eye move!  All in all, it took a pretty good 20-30 hours total to make this.  

Hope you enjoyed my tutorial and that it helps you create your own!  

17 November, 2013

Soap! Just plain 'ol soap!

Soap!  Just plain 'ol soap!!

Okay, so I have been making my own handmade laundry soap for my family for about a year and a half now.  Let me just say I LOVE IT!!!  
My husband is even a fan (considering we save at least $20 per month on purchasing pre-made laundry soap).  
We have saved bunches of $$$ while enjoying the clean smell in my home as it is simmering.  I have had many friends ask me "how do you do that, how do you make laundry soap"?  

Well my friends, here it is!  Here's the skinny on how this old girl (well, not that old, but feels like it sometimes) makes hers!  

Here's what you need, but don't mind my unsightly bananas in the background: 

1 C. borax 

1 C. Washing Soda (To make your own, *See instructions below*) 

1 bar of your favorite bar/bath soap 

3-4 Tbsp. per gallon (or to your liking) of your favorite scent booster (like Downy Un-stopables) *optional* (Or, you can even use essential oils and put about 20 drops per batch.)  

2 gallons water, divided into two separate gallons 

1 large stockpot (preferably one to devote to soap making) 

ALSO!  You will need empty containers that will hold 2 gallons worth of laundry soap, or enough containers combined that will hold that amount.  Some people prefer empty containers like old laundry containers, gallon jugs from juice, etc., which is fine, but keep in mind you will have 2 gallons worth of soap you need to fill those up with!  

*But for me, I like to go to my local bakery and ask them for their empty frosting buckets (don't laugh at my lazy 2 gallon markings).  They usually don't even charge me for them since they just get tossed in the trash.  Or, I will end up paying a buck or two.   They are the perfect size and are about 3.5 to 4 gallons each.  The frosting buckets can be sealed, makes it easier to occasionally mix it back up and give it a good stir to reduce the lumps (yes, it tends to clump up a little, like a boogery mess), and it makes it easier for me to just scoop a 1/2 cup from it for each load.*  

Start by grating your soap and placing it in your pot.  You can do this by hand (maybe hire on the kids for a late night in return), by food processor, or as I like to do mine... with my handy dandy Salad Shooter!  Yes, I STILL have one and I love it!  

Now, you will fill up your pot with 1 gallon of hot water (don't mind my little "4-gallon" mark, that's my lazy way of filling it up, and besides I like to do mine in large batches).  (Note:  I normally make an 8 gallon batch each time, so don't let the large batches scare ya!)  

You then set your stove to about medium heat to allow it to simmer until all of the grated pieces of soap are all dissolved.  At this time, if I don't have any washing soda, this is where I would make some.  *See directions below* 

At this time, if you are the kind that absolutely loves the smell of fresh, clean clothes, now is a good time to add those scent booster beads!  You can always go the route of actually making your laundry soap first, and then adding it later (because they dissolve so well) to your liking.  Also, if you are choosing to put in any essential oils, I recommend putting them in after you remove from the heat. 

Once it's all dissolved, take your Borax and Washing Soda and slowly (I mean SLOWLY) pour it in as you are stirring.  Keep it on a medium/high heat and allow it to simmer a little longer, just until it starts to coagulate (thicken) a little.

Fair warning:  If you just dump it in, be prepared for a foamy mess all over your stove and get stuck in between the glass on your oven door from the crazy mess.  I mean, I don't know that this could happen, but possibly.  Okay, so it did happen to me and I have the lovely little white streak inside the glass on my oven door to prove it.  Ha ha!  But, don't blame me because I did warn you

Meanwhile, put 1 gallon of cold water into your bucket and set it aside.  Here you can see my two buckets and once again my lazy markings for my 2 gallon mark.  

When it has begun to coagulate, you can now pour them evenly into your buckets!  Give them a good stir to mix them up.  And right now they seem really liquidy/sorta-kinda lumpy, but in about 24 hours, it will be so much thicker!  You will need to give them a good stir and moosh up the more solid parts before you start using it.  I find that every once in a while I just need to give it a good squish to keep it from being too solid.  
I just stick my hand in and squish it real good all over!  Yes, I actually do that!  Haha!  

And there ya have it!  Here in my picture is showing you the 8 gallons I just made!  I just use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup for each load unless I'm doing something really stinky, or if I'm doing towels.  I will use a little more in addition.  

For what I bought in supplies I spent $10.00 for an 8-pack (about $1.25 per bar) of soap, $3.00 (about $.32 per cup) for the big box of Borax, and about $6.00 for a 12 pound (about $.25 per cup) bag of Baking soda.  So, I just spent on my 8 gallons of laundry detergent about $7.28!!  
Seriously some awesome savings!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that this helps all my friends who are always asking me for my recipe.  :)  I enjoy it, my family enjoys it and I'm sure you will too!

As an added note:  This is great to use with High Efficiency washers and produces low suds.  I was asking my repairman whom I was getting parts from about homemade laundry soap and if they've ever seen problems.  He said that he's seen less problems with homemade soap then commercially made soap and actually recommended it.  

He also mentioned that with high efficiency washers, to actually not use liquid fabric softener in them because that is one of the main reasons that cause your washer to stink and it causes a lot of build up that is hard to get out unless you tear it apart.  I believe this because when we were tearing apart our top loading washer to try and fix it, it had a horrible layer of film that was the softener.  The only way we could get it off, was by scraping it off.  

We ended up getting my well loved front loader finally since our top loader finally bit the dust and caused us to take it out back and shoot it!  


***Making your own washing soda*** 

Turning this... 
Into this!

You might be wondering "now why in the world would she make washing soda, when you can just buy it in the laundry isle"?  Well, because I'm cheap like that and I tend to buy these big bags at Costco when I'm running low, not to mention, it is cheaper to make it!  

Baking soda vs. washing soda
Baking soda neutralizes odors and is a fabric softener.  
Washing soda helps to soften your water (so the hard water doesn't interfere with your detergent's effectiveness) and it is great at removing grease and other tough stains.  

Here's what you need:  
Baking soda, a metal baking pan or cookie sheet and your oven!  Yes, that simple!  

Step 1
First, take a large cookie sheet and spread about 2-3 cups of baking soda on it to where there is just a thin layer.  That way the heat can penetrate all of it more quickly and you won't have your oven on for very long.  If you're wanting to make more to actually store for later, I recommend using 2 pans.  That way you can ensure that it will all turn out right.  

Step 2
Heat your oven to 400-450° F (about 200-230° C).  
Place the pan(s) of baking soda into your heated oven and allow them to heat for about 1 hour, or until the temperature of the soda reaches 400° F.  Where not all ovens are the same and depending on how much you are making, can vary quite a bit, so this is just to be used as a general guideline.  
I stir mine around once or twice just to be sure it would all be heated through evenly.  

Step 3
How do you know it's done?  This part can be a little tricky.  
Baking soda is fluffy, slightly shiny and is a lot more powdery.  
Washing soda is not fluffy, grainy and more dull
You may want to have some baking soda out to compare.  
But just remember that if you just measure 1 cup (or what you're needing for your mix) and bake it, it will not equal the original cup you first measured out.  Yes, it will be a little less because of the chemical reaction.  

Step 4
Remove your pan of "washing soda" from the oven, allow it to cool, then use it in your laundry soap or put it away in a good sealing container that is labeled for later use.  

And you're done!!