Monday, November 14, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale seems to be popping up everywhere.  Once a garnish on restaurant dishes, it is now becoming a highlight in dishes in restaurants.  Nutritionally, it is fantastic with various vitamins and minerals.
After seeing kale chips in two different medias, I knew I had to try it.
It is so simple and different it is worth a try!  You will probably want to experiment with various flavors to season them with.

For the basic version you will need kale, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I found a large bunch of kale at our local supercenter grocery area for around $2.00.

 1) Prep the kale by taking it off the hard stem.  The best way to prep the kale is by holding the stem in one hand and rub your other hand up the stem so that you gather the leaves with you as you go up the stem.

2) Wash the leaves in a colander and dry well.

3) Tear into bite sized pieces

4) Place leaves on a cookie sheet.

5) Lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

6) Bake on 350 for about 10 minutes.

You are wanting to have crisp leaves but not to over cook them so watch them carefully around the 10 minute mark.

The possibilities are endless for adding flavor to your chips.  Some options may include (but definitely not limited too) seasoning salt, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

When the sweet (but wanting to be slightly healthy) craving hits, desperation strikes!  This occurred one night when the kids were in bed and I was wanting something with carbs and sugar.  I had recently discovered that you can take a can of pumpkin and mix in a cake mix to make a pumpkin cake.  So, why can't you mix pumpkin with a coffee cake mix and make pumpkin coffee cake?
What a wonderful discovery!!!

It is very easy and the streusel addition can be adjusted to your liking.   I followed the oven temperature and baking instruction from a Martha White streusel coffee cake mix I already had on hand from a coupon deal a while back.

All you need is a coffee cake mix (with or without the streusel) and a standard size can of pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie mix).  Combine the two cake mix and pumpkin.  The batter will be thick.  Pour into the appropriate sized pan for your mix and follow the baking instructions.
Since my mix came with the streusel, I followed the instructions on how to add the streusel but I did cut back the amount by at least half.
I found that my mix needed the max amount of baking time suggested but it will also depend on your oven.  Just insert a toothpick to check that it is baked through in the center.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snack for Momma and Baby, Too!

Since my youngest is almost 10 months old, she is loving all the solid foods that she can get her hands and teeth on!  I hate buying little jars of baby food.  I also hate having to make food that she can eat and then, make myself something.
That is why the following recipe was created.  It is a snack that is nutritious for baby but can be enjoyed by momma.  Mommy can eat it as is or can make some modifications to enhance the flavor.

Avocado Hummus 

1- Medium Ripe Avocado
1- 15.5 oz can Drained Garbanzo (aka Chickpeas) Beans
3- Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3- Teaspoons Olive Oil

1) Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh.
2) Place avocado, chickpeas and lemon juice in blender.
3) Blend until combined. 
4) Stream in olive oil while blending. 
5) Puree until smooth.

Momma can add 1 teaspoon of tahini paste to every 4 tablespoons of the hummus to boost the hummus flavor.  Eat with tortilla chips, pita wedges or vegetables.

Optional: You can freeze the hummus by pouring it into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once frozen, store cubes in a gallon freezer bag. (Each cube equals 2 Tablespoons)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mossy Letters

Thanks again to Pottery Barn and multiple blogs, we have a new door decoration!  Pottery Barn is selling these mossy letters for $79.  But why spend that much when you can make it for $4?
Live Moss Letters
 I already had plywood that I cut to size to make each leg and stapled them to make our "K".  I bought the smaller package of sheet moss from the fabric store using my 40% off coupon for a total price of $4.  I wasn't willing to spend more for the largest roll of moss- figured I could make the smaller package work!
After the wood letter was formed, I cut and pieced the moss on the legs and stapled it on putting the staples on the back of the letter.  I used all of my moss with just enough for the letter to be covered on the front and sides.
Staple a ribbon on the back of the letter and hang!

If I find a cheap white satin ribbon, I will probably replace the current one (I already had that one) to give it a little more contrast.

From carpet to hardwood... our new stairs!

I saw an idea a few months back on a blog, Thrifty Decor Chick, where she had taken the carpet off of her stairs, stained the treads and painted the risers.  Given that our house is a very standard builder-grade home, we have carpeted stairs but I doubted that we would have anything of quality under the carpet to work with.  I inspected the stairs further by feeling through the carpet and found that we had bull-nosed treads...hmmm... maybe we do have more than plywood or something even cheaper for stairs!  Finally broke down and pulled up a little corner of carpet to see what was really under the nasty 10 year old carpet.  Well, there was no turning back... we now have a wooden staircase!

If you could have only seen the dirt and dust under the carpet!  It is so easy to keep the stairs clean now!
The following is an idea of the work, time, cost and lessons learned from the process!
1.  Expect it to take a few days- especially if you have kids and / or dogs.
Ripping up the carpet, the tack strips and padding took about 30 minutes.  Another hour was taken by finding and pulling up the staples and nails left.

The most painstaking task was scraping and sanding the treads to prep for the stain.  The treads were covered with paint overspray, spackling and debris from the builder finishing the walls before they installed the carpet.  Sanding took a few days of working on it for an hour or two at a time.  The worse part was trying to sand the paint that was at the edges of each tread.  A hand sander and a mouse sander helped but we still had some paint left that we couldn't remove without us going crazy! 

Once the stairs are cleaned of the paint/ debris, you need to sweep, wipe with damp rag, sweep and wipe again.  You need them to be as clean as possible!  Then you tape.  You will be taping a lot.  We went through one roll of Frog Tape.  (By the way, it is an okay tape but I didn't think it was much better than the blue tape.  Frog tape also sticks to itself and makes it harder to work with.)  I painted the risers first.  The taping and two coats of paint took about two naptimes (4 hours).  Let it cure a day or two then tape the risers so you can stain the treads.  I didn't tape the edges of the stairs (left and right sides) because I knew I would be painting those later.  
We stained the treads going bottom to top which took about 2 hours so we could go to bed while it dried.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FROM THE FIRST FLOOR BEFORE BEGINNING!  That includes a hammer to close the stain jar, rags for cleaning messes, etc.  
A new staircase was waiting for us in the morning!  It was awesome seeing the stained stairs.  
It took about another one to two hours to touch up our mistakes on the paint and to paint the left and right sides.  
We did not put another coat of stain or poly on the treads since we liked the color and the stain had the poly mixed in.  We will probably do a poly coat later on to get a glossier look.  Right now they are matte.

2.  Be prepared for a mess!
 The sanding created dust.  Dust travels.  Close all the doors that you can.  Cover / remove what you can.  Try to seal off the area if possible.  Where a mask, old clothes and glasses.  
I am still finding dust in weird places.  Even in rooms upstairs that had the doors closed!  

3.  If you have dogs, they may not like the new stairs!
It took some time for our Great Dane to go up and down the stairs.  They are NOT slick.  They are a different feel and sound.  Our dachshund will not go up the stairs and will only go down if there is food to be eaten!

4.  They will be nosier.  
Our daughter likes the echo that has developed without the carpet to absorb the noise.  The dog's nails will click on them and footsteps will be heard.

5.  If you are obsessive compulsive, you may not want to do this!
The stairs are not perfect.  They probably would only be perfect if we replaced all the stairs!  We have some paint and stain bleed.  We still have paint on the treads but the darker stain covered them well.
Be reasonable about how "new" you can make these old stairs look.

6.  It will cost little but make a big impact!
We had to buy the following: Frog Tape, one container of stain, sand paper for Mouse and palm sander, hand sander to hold sandpaper to do the edges.  It was about $35 for everything.  We had white paint and most of the tools.  I also bought one piece of molding to continue the toe molding and the bottom of the stairs and to hide the edge of the carpet at the top.
We had to borrow the following:  a palm sander (1/4 sheet sander)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheap Table Centerpiece

I'm sure you have seen all the fantastic tablescapes featured in catalogs, magazines and show homes.  When you look at your own table it can be daunting to think of ways to create your own cool tablescape that doesn't cost a fortune or take up the table making it unusable.   
Here are some ideas to dress up your own table.

1.  Look at a picture of a table that you like how it was dressed up.  What are the key elements that you like?  Do you have something similar to those things in any area of your house?  

2.  Use live plants or clippings from your yard (or someone else's with their permission).  House plants can be transformed just by transferring them into a new container that may work better with your dining room decor.  Simple clippings like budding branches and single flowers can make great statements as well as add some color.  

3.  Candles.  What else needs to be said?  Pick different heights to make it more interesting but try to stick with the same color palette.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day lanterns

Here is an easy way to transform Ikea lanterns!  I made these for Valentine's day but after the holiday, you can keep the ribbon on to dress them up a little.

Just take the glass off of the metal holder and hot glue the ribbon either around the top or bottom of the glass.
Hot glue Valentine heart candy on the ribbon.

Quick Valentine's craft!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Singed flower headband

I have seen these flowers all over and have been dying to make one.  Finally came up with an excuse to make one!  I made a headband and singed flower to go on the headband for my daughter's birthday.
Its not hard!  Slightly intimidating since you are "playing" with fire!
1) Find polysatin fabric and cut it in imperfect circles.  You will need about 8-15 circles varying in size.
2) Find a candle that sits in a shallow candle holder.  Light the candle
3) Hold the fabric edge of the circle close to the flame.  You will see the fabric melt and curl some.
4) Keep turning the fabric edge above the flame until the entire edge is melted and curled up.  If you have the flame heat the fabric further into the circle it will cause the fabric to curl more creating a nice dimension

5) Cover a plastic headband with ribbon- use a low temp glue gun.

6) Use a low temp glue gun to glue each fabric circle on top of each other.  Begin with the largest on bottom and work up to the smallest on top.  As you glue, you can manipulate the fabric to so that it gathers some in the center where the glue is causing the flower to have more dimension.

7) Glue the flower to the headband with a low temp glue gun.

(Note: some people like to add tulle in between some of the fabric layers.  I didn't have tulle on hand so I did not do it.)

For those that don't prefer colored pancakes...

While my daughter was enjoying rainbow pancakes, I was enjoying my own kind of pancakes.  These are similar to the IHOP version of the Harvest Grain N' Nut pancakes but with some healthier alternatives!
I typically experiment with different nuts and flour ratios each time I make them.  Feel free to play around with the recipe!

3/4 c. oats (try to use regular oats)
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (you can use a mix of wheat and white flour too)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. skim milk
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 c. applesauce ( you can also do a mix of applesauce and oil)
2 eggs
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c. nuts ( I have been using all pecans because that is what I had on hand but you can mix it up with walnuts and almonds too)

Mix the milk and vinegar together and let it set for about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients to the milk mixture.  Stir until just mixed.  Heat griddle and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour batter on griddle and what for bubbles to appear on surface.  Check for underside to be darker brown.  Flip pancake.  Cook other side until it is a darker brown color.

Rainbow Pancakes

Occasionally, I will be posting awesome recipes and cooking / baking ideas.  For my almost 3 year old daughter, we have been working on color recognition.  She knows most of her colors already, but I am using books and projects to reinforce what she knows and to learn the other colors she is not too sure of (grey, black, brown, etc).
The other day we made rainbow pancakes.  I had found them on another blog (not sure which one- sorry!) and thought it would be a great way to work with various colors and get to eat them!
Begin by using your standard pancake recipe.  We love this Fluffy Pancake recipe from


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray


  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

After you have mixed the batter, divide the batter into little bowls.  We used 6 bowls for red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.  I only colored enough batter to make one small pancake for each color.  (My husband and I were okay with plain and boring pancakes!)

Add food coloring to each bowl to make the color your prefer.  Stir well.  Pour into a griddle, keeping the colors separate.  Cook as normal.

My little girl loved them!  She ate all of them and didn't even use syrup!
(Be warned... she was CRAZY after eating them!  Maybe there is an argument for artificial coloring causing attention deficit problems!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blog Following

Now a days, everyone is creating a blog.  There are so many out there with great ideas and money saving posts.  How do you read and follow all of them?  If you have a google email (gmail) account, it is quite easy.  Log into your account.  At the top left of your email page, you will see several options (calendar, documents, etc) 

You are looking for "Reader".  If you don't see it at the top, choose "more" and find "Reader" under the drop down selection.  

In Reader, find "Add Subscription" on the upper left.  You can type in blog names (crafty 2 and a half girls) or blog URL's (

 Google will add the subscription you entered and you can see all your blog subscriptions listed on the lower left.  I have listed some blogs I follow on the right side of my blog.
Each time you log into Google Reader, it will show which subscriptions have new posts.  An easy and quick way to follow all your favorite blogs

Magnetic Menus

When I do my grocery shopping, I try to shop for about two weeks worth of dinners.  This allows for better budgeting, ease of planning and a more sane mommy!  To keep track of the meals I planned, I created a magnetic menu that adapted from The Amazing Mess.
Just take paint chips, and write the days of the week and menu items on them.  I used magnets from business that we either frequent or were given to us.   Most people have them on their fridge but don't really use them for their information.  I cut the magnets into 1/4 inch strips the length of the paint chip.  Using white glue, glue the magnet to the back of the paint chip.  Let dry and organize on your fridge.  You can see how they are aligned on our fridge for two weeks worth of meals.  (Make sure your husband understands it is not lunch and dinner for two weeks- only dinners!)

Paint Chip crafts

Who would have guessed that the free paint chips at your local home improvement store would result in great crafts and projects?
At I Can Teach My Child, she used paint chips to create a fan to help teach her child his colors.  I worked with that idea and made a paint chip key ring for my daughter to use to learn her colors and match them with colors in books we read.  Lowe's Home Improvement Valspar paint has one color paint chip squares that are perfect for this.  We picked out chips that corresponded to the colors of the rainbow as well as grey, black and brown.  Punch a hole in the center of the bottom and thread them on a keychain.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rag Quilt and Rag Quilt Letters and Numbers

On my wish list of crafts to make is a rag quilt.  Thanks to my sister finding this idea, I can now start with a smaller version of a rag quilt by making letters and numbers using the same techniques.  
In a line
I would love to be able to make a "Happy Birthday" banner with the letters for my upcoming daughter's birthday.  If you have some time, try it out!  Post a comment and pictures if you are successful at the rag quilt or rag quilt letters!
The steps to making the rag quilt letters and numbers can be found at Oh So Happy Together.
If you have more time, try making this full rag quilt at I Can Teach My Child.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Craftiness Reborn

Since having my second daughter, I have not had much time or thought devoted to creativity.  With the holidays completed and the assistance of my family, creativity has been reborn!  I have subscribed to various blogs with a tremendous amount of ideas that I have completed and that have helped spurn my recent bout of craftiness.  
Here are a few ideas/ projects that I have completed:
Added felt flowers to plain Christmas stockings that were on the Christmas clearance 
Apron and Chef hat for my daughter's birthday.  Used a McCalls pattern and clearance fabric about $2 a yard.

Made matching fleece owl hats for the girls.  (another McCall's pattern and remnant fabric)

Valentine's Day decorations

You can find the instructions for the sweetheart frame at My Creative Departure

Instructions for the tissue paper balls can be found at The Idea Room

You can find the instruction to make this sign at The Idea Room blog

Still learning, editing and creating...

I literally just created and began blogging within the last hour.  (Nap time is a precious time!)  Please overlook the boring format for now.  When time allows, I will be able to create a much nicer looking blog.