This year instead of carving a pumpkin for Halloween, I got the bright idea to carve a butternut squash. I don’t know what made me think I’d be able to easily summon enough brute strength to carve something pretty into one of these tough vegetables. Now that I’ve done it, I don’t recommend it. I see now that pumpkins are much more suitable to carving. That’s why it’s pumpkin carving, not squash carving, that became a Halloween tradition.
If you’re curious, this is how I Halloween-ified my squash. First I sliced the top off with my big chef’s knife. I planned to use a smaller knife to remove slices from the solid squash neck until it was hollow. Within a minute I had snapped my knife blade off in the squash.
I decided power tools were in order and got my drill. I didn’t get my battery-powered drill, I got my big manly drill that plugs into the wall. That worked pretty well to hollow out the neck of the squash. I drilled a bunch of holes until they all banded together and formed one big hole. Hole cooperation.
Next I flipped the squash over and cut a traditional serrated “pumpkin top” shape into the bulb at the bottom. I scooped the seeds out of the base and continued drilling down the interior length of the squash until the whole thing was hollow. Then I put the top and bottom back in place.
I tried to think of something to carve but couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t also lead to me losing a finger. I already had my drill out… so… I just drilled holes all over it. It’s a technique I used a few years ago on a pumpkin, but maybe I get bonus points for using a butternut this time? It’s way too much fun to drill holes in food with power tools. I couldn’t resist once I already had the drill laying there next to the squash. These are the drill bits I used.
Happy Halloween everybody! What did you carve this year?
I’ve had a jean jacket in my closet for a long time. I’d say over ten years. I don’t think I’ve ever actually worn it, because the fabric is so stiff and uncomfortable. I was going to donate it, but then I decided bleaching it might soften the fibers and give it a comfy, worn feel. I soaked my jacket in a bucket filled with a quart of bleach and 6 or 7 quarts of warm water for 4 hours.
The result was… meh. The jacket got quite a bit softer and more flexible, but my bleach bucket was a tad too small so I had to wad up the jacket a little to fit it in there. Although I stirred the bucket regularly, the wadding caused mottled dark splotches here and there where the bleach didn’t penetrate the fabric thoroughly (especially in the right armpit).
The worst part is that the whole jacket turned a strange yellowish green shade. It’s not that apparent in the photo above, but look at it next to standard blue denim…
I guess if there’s no regular blue denim nearby to compare it to, it doesn’t look too bad. I think I’ll keep it around for a while to see how often I end up wearing it.
Have you ever tried to bleach denim?
Happy New Year! I’m back after a nice long break. Well, a break from blogging anyway. It wasn’t really a “break”, because I was working my butt off on a bunch of projects! Exhibit A, I installed a subway tile backsplash in my kitchen.
I’ve wanted to put subway tile in my kitchen for ages, but our backsplash was painted wallpaper on top of wood paneling. You’re not supposed to hang tile on wood paneling since it expands and contracts with the weather, which can make the grout crack and the tiles pop off. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of doing it the right way—installing cement backer board before tiling. After a lot of research I found this wonderful stuff called Tavy Thin-Skin, an adhesive and fiberglass paper combo that makes any hard surface tile-able (wood, cement, laminate, existing tile, etc…). Here’s a little video if you want to see it in action. Once I peeled off the wall paper, the thin-skin worked really well to prep our paneling for tile.
Once the walls were ready, my amazing dad and mom came over with their tile saw to help me cut and hang the tile. Using a tile saw is hard. I couldn’t even cut one in half properly! Props to my dad for his cutting skills and to my mom for her mortaring skills. I could not have taken on this project without them. (By the way, this is the tile I used. Each tile has little nubs on the sides that made it easy to space the grout lines evenly.)
(Removing the granite backsplash made all the difference in the world!)
What did you do over the holidays? Did you take it easy, or are you a glutton for punishment like me?
Merry Christmas everybody! I’m taking a blogging break for the next 2 weeks, but I’ll be back with new posts on January 6th. Until then I’ll be frantically working on my 30 by 31 list, because time is running out! Before I sign off for the year I want to leave you with a quick and easy DIY gift idea.
I used to bake all the time, but once I perfected my microwave mug brownie recipe it has become the only dessert I need when I’m craving something rich and decadent. It’s really that good. I love that it only makes one, so I don’t end up with a whole pan of leftover brownies laying around to tempt me. I decided to mix up a big batch of my mug brownie mix to put in jars and give as gifts.
To make a gift-able jar of mug brownie mix, whisk the following ingredients together in a big bowl. Make sure they’re combined very well.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup cocoa powder
Then scoop the mix into a jar. The mix will make approximately 10 mug brownies, and it will perfectly fit into a 3 1/2″ x 7″ canning jar, with a half a cup of mix leftover so you can make one brownie for yourself. You’ve gotta test it out, right?
Next print out the mug brownie tag I designed for you! You can download the file right here (for personal use only please). Print it on card stock, punch a hole in one corner, and tie the tag to the jar with a bit of twine.
If you want to try out this recipe to see if you like it before making a big batch of the mix, here’s the recipe to make just one mug brownie (just leave out the caramel).
The past few weeks I’ve been working on some handmade snowflake ornaments over at the local pottery studio. I’m planning on giving some of these as Christmas gifts, although they turned out better than I expected, and now I’m tempted to keep them all for myself!
These were about as easy to make as sugar cookies. I just rolled some clay into a slab, pressed a crochet doily into it, and cut out snowflakes with a cookie cutter. I punched holes in the tops of each flake with a plastic straw.
Then the folks at the pottery studio fired them for me. My favorite thing about using the pottery studio is that I don’t have to worry about dealing with the kiln. I just put my finished pieces on a shelf, check back in a week or two, and they are magically fired. Two of my snowflakes broke during the process, but luckily I made a few extras. After they were fired, I painted a couple coats of glaze on.
One more firing, and the glazes turned out like this! I love how the glossy semi-transparent glazes collected in the crevices and made the lace texture pop.
If you don’t have access to a pottery studio, you could easily make these with air dry clay like this and paint them with watered down acrylic paints to get the color-in-the-crevices effect.