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What you need:

  • A canvas, painted in any color you like (I used an 8×10 and I painted it black)
  • Acrylic paint
  • An old 20 oz soda bottle, washed out and dried
  • A candle and match or lighter
  • Pliers
  • Gold glue or paint
  • Mod podge or a hot glue gun

Step 1: Cut some mildly interesting shapes out of a coke bottle using scissors. Set aside. Light a candle. Gather up some of the remaining not-as-interesting scraps. Use pliers to hold these over the flame and see how they’ll react to heat. After you’ve gotten the hang of that, try it on the real thing.

Step 2: Explore your inner pyro until you’ve gotten some odd  bits. Let your odd bits cool.

Step 3: Line the edges of the odd bits with glittery, gold glue. Let them dry. If you like, warp them a little more under the flame (assuming your glue is not flammable, of course).

Step 4: Paint a canvas a color of your liking. Let dry. place your plastic bits on the canvas and mess around with their arrangement until you like them. When ready to commit, glue them down with mod podge or a hot glue gun.

Step 5: Once dry, drizzle with paint to your hearts content. Let dry and then display your pyro masterpiece on your wall.

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This is so easy and so cheap, I hardly think it counts as a craft. But it’s pretty neat, so I figured I’d include it. I first heard about it on theKitchn.

Step 1: Cut your scallions at the root, right where the white of the scallion starts to turn green. Put the roots in a jar. Fill halfway with water.  After a couple of days, you’ll see a new sprout pop on our, just like this:

Step 2: Check on your scallions every couple of days, and refill the water when it starts to get low. After a weej if two, you’l get this:

Seriously! It’s a piece of cake.

I have to apologize for my absence from the Blog-o-sphere. I’ve recently returned to work  (I had surgery at the end of January) and am having some difficulty practicing the sacred art of time management. But I’ll be back soon, I promise 🙂

The Bo Ssam Miracle


I.

Three hundred degrees

Six hours. House perfumed with pork.

Soon you will be mine

II.

Pork! Salty, crispy,

Brined all night, roasted all day,

Death by decadence.

III.

3am, I wake,

Desperately craving water.

Pork hangover win.

Recipe: Momofuku Bo Ssam 

Here are a few changes my friend Reed (who made this a week before me) came up with.

1. Rub the brine off with a towel before placing it in the oven. I use a lot of salt in my everyday life, but if I didn’t do this it would have been even too salty for me.

2. Instead of patting on the brown sugar at the end, mix it with a little warm water and spoon it over the pork for purposes of ease.

3. Serve it with this: Cool & Spicy Cucumber Salad

This is in my top 3 meals of all time. Tender, sweet, salty pork with a super crispy skin. And not very complicated, but you must be willing to wait in your house all day while it cooks. Definitely worth it.

A Little Valentine

5 Valentine’s Days ago, I asked our Math Professor and friend, Judy, to give Will a secret Valentine’s Day message that used math in some way. Together, we schemed up the perfect secret message, and then Judy encoded it using RSA encryption. We were very pleased with our scheme.

Later that night, I got a phone call from Judy, who was out to a Valentine’s Day dinner at a restaurant with her husband, Eric. “I was telling Eric about the encryption, and I realized I never included a key to decipher the code!”  Our message was unreadable, even to a math genius. She told me to stall giving him the message until she could encrypt the message the next day.

I’m not sure which part of this story I enjoy telling more: the part where Judy was just as excited as I was to make a Math Valentine for Will, or the part where Judy ran to the nearest payphone during a romantic dinner with her husband to warn me that the encryption wouldn’t work. I still think about this story each Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to give Judy and Eric a valentine this year in return.

The airplane pulls hearts which say, “A Special Valentine Delivery From Colorado.” The suitcase says “Open me,” which reveals…

That we’ve mailed ourselves to you in a suitcase to wish you Happy Valentine’s Day!

For this project you will need:

  • Cardstock (on the thicker side, to make the card sturdier)
  • A gluestick
  • An x-acto knife and/or scissors
  • A pen
  • A needle and thread
  • A picture of yourself
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue

STEP 1: If drawing isn’t normally your thing (it isn’t mine), practice drawing some airplanes, hearts, and suitcases. Once you feel confident, draw one airplane, six hearts, and a suitcase onto whatever color cardstock your heart desires.

STEP 2: Cut these images out using scissors or an X-acto knife. Write your words on your hearts. Also cut out a small rectangle, and write “Open me” on it. Erase any light pencil marks that may be on the cutouts. Don’t worry if they don’t look identical. It will just add to their charm.

STEP 3: Use your gluestick to glue your picture inside the suitcase. Also glue the “open me” sign onto the front of your suitcase. Thread your needle. Poke your needle into the bottom of the front of your plane, then through your hearts, and the back of the suitcase. Knot off the ends. If you want to make sure your hearts won’t slide up and down the thread, paint a little Mod podge or Elmer’s onto the hole where the thread inserts into the heart.

STEP 4: Pack it into an envelope with the suitcase on the bottom and the plane on the top, and send it off! I stuck an extra stamp on it just in case it was over the weight limit.

It’s cheap and easy to make your own body scrub. In fact, I bet you have all or most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now! I’ve made this for myself, and given it as a gift too. I think the most fun part of making your own scrub is that you can customize it with whatever extract or essential oil you like best. These instructions are from The Instructables.

1. Gather your ingredients and equiptment. You need:

  • Olive oil
  • Baking soda
  • White sugar (everyday table sugar)
  •  Brown sugar or turbinado sugar or coarse cane sugar
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Essential oil or vanilla extract
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Clean jar or plastic bag

2. Scoop 3 spoonfuls of white sugar into the bowl, and 3 spoonfuls of brown sugar (or turbinado, or coarse cane sugar). Mix them together.

3. Mix in a spoonful of salt (helps to exfoliate the skin) and a spoonful of baking soda (makes the skin nice and soft). Stir until thoroughly combined.

4. Stir in a spoonful of oil. Add 1/2 a spoonful of oil at a time until the scrub has a slushie-like consistency. As in, the oil is well distributed, but there is not a pool of oil floating on top. The amount of oil you need depends on the coarseness and the types of salt and sugar you are using, but as a very general reference, I needed 4 1/2 spoonfuls.

5. Add a a few drops essential oil or a couple teaspoons vanilla extract and stir well. Add a few more if you want a stronger smell!

6. Package it up in a cute jar or in a plastic bag. Enjoy!

I am boarderline about telling you this story because it’s gross, but I really can’t help myself.

Last month, I had a craving for black bean pumpkin soup. Sounds delicious, right? Nutty black beans, creamy pumpkin, topped off with some cubes of pan fried ham. I had some extra black beans, so I increased the bean to pumpkin ratio, then cooked it all up and pureed part of it to make it have a more interesting consistency.

It tasted great. But it looked exactly like a giant bowl of steaming shit.

Will and I put up a large textbook as a divider so we couldn’t see each other eat. Watching your significant other eat it is even worse that watching yourself eat it. We called it “Two Stantons and One Cup (of Soup).”

Ever since then I’ve been paranoid that I will make another soup that will look horrific. For 20 minutes, I debated whether to use my immersion blender on my Winter White Bean Soup. I worry the texture won’t be interesting enough without blending, but we all know what happens when we mix ROY G BIV together, I thought. Fortunately the soup looks appetizing, pretty even, and tastes even better.

I made this soup for my friend Amy’s birthday this weekend. Amy and her husband Matt, our friends Tyson and Kristina, and Will and me rented a condo in the mountains and holed up for the weekend with some games, birthday cake, and beer. Here’s the birthday girl, enjoying her serenade.

Our condo came with a jacuzzi, which I don’t think any of us realized was just a glorified bathtub that would not fit 6 of us. Despite the lack of room, none of us could shake the necessity of giving Amy a champagne toast in a jacuzzi. So we all put on our swimsuits and stood in the hot tub, crammed like sardines while toasting our friend. Sadly, I lack any pictures of this. But believe me when I say that a good night was had by all.

WINTER WHITE BEAN SOUP (made by me, inspired by my fridge and pantry)

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

3 large carrots, coarsely chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

8 cups chicken broth (separated into 4 cups and 4 cups)

2 cups uncooked barley

3 cans (15 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, 1/2 cup juice reserved

1 cup Italian parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon ground sage

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

1 large turkey kielbasa, chopped coarsley

Parmesan rind (if you’ve got it optional)

12 oz baby spinach

RECIPE

Put heavy bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add olive oil. Get the olive oil hot, then add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute until onion becomes soft and translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.

While vegetables saute, place 2 cups barley in a medium saucepan. Cover with 4 cups chicken broth. Simmer for 30-40 mins until barley is tender.

Add remaining 4 cups chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, and parsley to pot. Remove from heat. Blend about 3/4 the soup with an immersion blender, then stir and return to heat. Add sage, pepper, kielbasa, and parmesan rind. Simmer until barley is done.

When barley is finished, add to soup. Place a handful of raw spinach in each serving bowl. Pour soup over spinach and stir as it wilts. Enjoy.

T-Shirt Necklace

I am trying to do craft projects that are on the easier side since I am still relatively new to crafting. This necklace is a piece of cake! All you need is an old t-shirt, a safety pin, and some scissors. I followed this video to learn the basic design, and then I followed these instructions to add in the braid.

Step 1: Cut the bottom hem off your tshirt and discard it. Cut the torso of the tshirt into 10 strips about 1/2 inch in width. (Its okay if your strips are uneven. They’re going to roll up on themselves anyway).

Step 2: Place the fabric loops around your hands and stretch them out.

Step 3: Next, you’ll make a fabric braid to go in your necklace. Make a cut across 3 of your fabric loops to turn them into fabric strips. Lay them on top of each other, then put a safety pin through one of their ends. Then pin the safety pin to the bottom of your pant leg. This will help anchor the fabric so you can pull it taut as you braid. Remember, you want to stretch out that fabric now so it doesn’t stretch out later! Braid your fabric.


Knot off or sew the ends of your fabric braid together. Cut a fabric strip from your leftover tshirt a few inches long. Line up your loops and braid, and tie your fabric strip perpendicularly around them a few times to hold the necklace together.  And now, you’re done! Enjoy your brand new funky fabric necklace.