Sunday Sketches

Pastels have been my newest obsession this summer. My grandmother was an amazing artist and although she worked mostly with oil paints and painting on china, she did occasionally work with pastels. I find them to be both challenging and forgiving at the same time.

This will be my first submission for ‘s Sunday Sketches. This week’s theme is ‘joy’ and since working in my garden brings me such joy, I decided to enter this piece.

I hope you find joy in the little things this week.

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Home made granola – Yum!

I am still combating the burned lunch smell I inadvertently created in my kitchen yesterday (you can see my FB page for details on that stunning move) so I decided it was a great morning to make up a batch of this amazing smelling and even better tasting granola.  I am hoping this will help push out the smokey smell.

This recipe is so easy to make, and while it may seem expensive to buy the ingredients at first, keep in mind that what you purchase will make several batches.  Have you bought organic granola at the super market?  Now THAT can be expensive.  I figure this recipe cuts that cost in half, and you know exactly what it is in it.  You can also taylor it to your own tastes or dietary needs.  And I have to say that this is the best tasting granola I have ever eaten, really!

Here is what you will need:


4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick oats)

3 teaspoons of coriander or cinnamon

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (or honey)

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 cup raisins

Preheat  your oven to 285 degrees.

Mix together the oats, sunflower seeds, spice (I used coriander today), and flaked or shredded coconut.

In a small sauce pan on low/med heat, melt the coconut oil into the maple syrup or honey – keep an eye on this as it can easily burn.  You really just want to melt the coconut oil.


Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.  Mix well.

Pour this over the dry oat mixture, being sure to add slowly and mix well so all the dry ingredients are well coated.



Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned.


Remove from the oven and immediately stir your granola around.  This will prevent sticking to the pan as it cools.  Now, add your 1 cup of raisins and cool.  Store in and air tight container.


Almonds or other nuts can also be added to your granola along with flax or sesame seeds.  If you do add 1 cup of nuts, I would recommend reducing the oats to just 3 cups.  Enjoy!!

Now I am off to research other ways to remove a smoke smell from your home – wish me luck!

Printed “D” ring fabric belt

I love wearing fun, brightly colored belts; I think it adds so much to a cute outfit.  I recently made a super cute belt using a fabric remnant I found at my local fabric store and two 1 1/2 inch “D” rings that I purchased for about $3.

The project took me about 30 minutes and was super easy.


Here are the instructions to make one for yourself.

You will need :

fabric remnant of your choice

fusible interfacing

2 D rings (1 1/2 − 2 inch size, depending on how big you like your buckle)

First, take your waist measurement.  I took mine around my hips, as this is where the waistline of my jeans typically falls. For me this was 34 inches.   Add 6 inches to this measurement; this will be the length of your belt.  Now cut a strip of fabric that is 3 inches wide by  your measured length plus 6 inches.   So for my belt, I cut a strip of fabric that was 40 inches long by 3 inches wide.


Next, you will need to cut your fusible interfacing.  For the length of this piece, take your waist measurement and subtract one inch.   The width of this piece should be 2 inches.  So my piece measured 33 by 2 inches.


The next step is to iron the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, leaving the extra 6 inches without interfacing.  This will be the part of the belt that goes through the D rings. The interfacing gives the fabric a bit of bulk and helps give the belt a bit more structure.  Be sure to use a press cloth when doing this so you do not get any adhesive on your iron.

** My interfacing is one sided, meaning that the iron on adhesive is on one side only.  Be sure to put this side down onto the wrong side of your fabric**


Next, fold the edges of the fabric around the interfacing (and beyond) and press.  This will give you about a 1/4 inch hem.


Press the edges of each end over about 1/4 of an inch as well.


Your next step is to repeat this 1/4 inch  hem with the second strip of printed fabric.  This piece has no interfacing.

Now, put these two strips together and pin up on both sides.


Now you will need to stitch the two pieces together using a 1/8 inch seam.  Here you can have some fun with your thread color.  You can use a contrasting thread color for some fun.  I used a matching thread here.

Hem all 4 sides.


Ok, almost finished!  Next, you will take your  two D rings and thread them onto the end of your belt that has the interfacing ( you can tell which end this is because it will feel a bit heavier).  Loop your end around by about 1 inch and sew a double seam.



And there you have it!  A cute, patterned belt for just a few dollars.  You can mix it up and use 2 different strips of coordinating fabrics to make a reversible belt.

These make great additions to any wardrobe and super holiday gifts.



Potato Chip Chicken – my version of fast food. :)

Do you have picky eaters in your house?  I certainly do!  This is one recipe that all of my kiddos will eat, and my husband likes them too.  🙂

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is that I can use the left over potato chip crumbs that nobody wants to eat, yet no one will throw away.  This makes perfect use of those leftovers!!

Here is what you will need:

12 chicken tenders

1/2 tsp season salt

1 bag of potato chip crumbs (sometimes I will combine bags or add some fresh chips so I will have enough to coat the chicken).


First step is to crush up those potato chip crumbs with a rolling pin


Next, cut up the chicken into nugget sized pieces


Add the season salt right to the potato chip bag with the potato chip crumbs.  Shake up to mix well.  Now add the chicken pieces and shake the bag to coat the chicken.

IMG_4807**Shake, shake, shake**

Empty your bag out onto a cookie sheet and spread around so the pieces are not touching


Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes, then turn pieces over.  Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes and check to be sure they are fully cooked by cutting one open.

That is all!  So easy and much better for all of us than fast food!


Try it and let us know what you think!!


Xerox Transfer Technique

I am pleased to welcome Joanne DeWald from Of The Forest to our Critter Craft Corner.  Here Joann explains the very cool technique of XEROX TRANSFER.  
Be sure to visit Joann’s website here –
I used to test the boundaries of the laser printer where i worked as a graphic designer. Always trying to print on thicker and more unusual paper. It had it’s limits though, so i was so excited when I discovered this XEROX TRANSFER TECHNIQUE. Not only does this work with paper or cardboard that’s too thick to go through a machine but also with three dimensional objects, cloth, etc. Pretty much anything you can think of !
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Recently I created place settings and table graphics for an upcoming holiday get together using xerox transfers. My friends names transferred onto some local river rocks, a leaf graphic onto napkins, the leaf graphic carried over onto a terra cotta pot i’ll be using for utensils and some “naughty and nice” signs warning them of the healthy and not so healthy food choices.
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When I first read about xerox transfers the technique was to use “Chartpak blender markers”. I visited my little local art supply store and bought the handful that they had in stock. I discovered though that this technique uses them up rather quickly and when i went back for more I found that Chartpak no longer sells them. With a little research I learned that the active ingredient in the blender markers is “Xylene” and it can be purchased at a hardware store. I got mine at Lowe’s Home Improvement store. I now have Xylene for life but hopefully you’ll be able to find a smaller can. Make sure you follow all the safety guidelines on the can and use in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.
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So … to get started with your xerox transfer, first create your graphic in your computer. Most important is to flip your image so that you are seeing a mirror image before you print it out. You must print on a laser printer. This will not work with an ink jet print. Gather together tape, Xylene, the object you will be transferring onto, your xerox and a bone folder (used for bookbinding and scrapbooking. If you don’t have a bone folder you can use the back of a spoon.)
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Since I already had the Chartpak blender markers, which were now dried up, I use those to dip into the Xylene. You can use a Q-tip. Flip the xerox over onto the object or paper you are transferring onto and tape into place. On the blank back of the xerox, apply the Xylene. Don’t over soak it or your image will run (This is actually a cool effect if that’s what you want though. It sorta looks like a watercolor image). When you apply the Xylene you will start to see the image through the paper so you’ll be able to make sure you cover the whole image area. As soon as you’ve Xylened the entire image, use the bone folder or spoon and rub over the back of the paper. As long as your image is taped in place you can peek underneath and see how it’s going. When you’ve transferred your image, pull your xerox up and let dry. I’ve only shown black and white xeroxes here but you can do this with color too. Some colors transfer better than others. Some, such as red, come out more faded. I actually prefer when things don’t transfer perfectly and look a little rough and faded.
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thank you to jeffrey mitchell and patrick schintz for letting me use their drawings.
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Joanne DeWald

Dress Up Wardrobe by Mammagranate

I am excited to have guest bloggers Sarah and Mandi from Mammagranate here in the Critter Craft Corner today.  Here they show us how to turn an old cabinet into a swaggy dress up wardrobe for your little prince and princesses!

Be sure to check out their blog at

Where do you keep your kids dress up clothes? We were cramming ours into a toy chest for years. All the little Velcro pieces sticking to everything causing a large clump of messy wrinkled dress up dresses. I pretended that this didn’t drive me crazy but the truth is that it did. Then I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was not only adorable but also so practical. The original source for this picture is I love the opportunity to organize something. I also love the opportunity to upgrade something that I am not using and give it a new purpose so this seemed like the perfect project. All of the items I used for this project came from my house.  I actually didn’t buy anything.



You Need:
tall bookshelf
paint sample size
small paint roller
paint brush
piece of wood
The mirror came from our guest room closet (it had tiny plastic brackets holding it into place). I got a screw driver out and took it down. I took it to a hardware store and they cut a few inches off of it for under $5. When we bought our house I noticed a closet rod in the linen closet which I thought was a little weird but I left it up for the time being. Now I knew exactly what to do with it so I took it down. I found a piece of scrap mdf in the garage that I also took to a hardware store and they cut to size. I even found left over purple and pink sample size paint cans that I had left over from another project.  First I took out all of the drawers out of the dresser except for the bottom one.
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Next I removed the drawer guides. I used a medium grit sanding block to lightly sand just to give the surface a little texture. This step helps to ensure the paint will stick to the surface. I hate this step but I always force myself to do it. The first step of painting I used a paint brush to cut in all of the corners and edges. Then I used a small paint roller to paint the rest of it. I use a smooth surface paint roller to give it a smooth finish. Spray paint can also work well but it was too cold to drag the dresser outside so I rolled it. When you use a roller you want to make sure you don’t push down too hard because that will leave lines in the finish.  I like to use semi-gloss finish paint when I paint furniture. This makes it easier to wipe down. I had to give the dresser three coats of paint. I let each coat dry overnight.
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This is because I only had time to work on this project after kids were in the bed. It will tell you exactly how long to wait between coats on the can. The dresser was already painted black so there was no need to prime but if you are painting bare wood you need to either prime it or use paint with a primer in it. I left the top black and used a dragging technique to add some pink to it. I did this by dipping a scrub brush onto the paint and slowly dragging it across the top of the dresser.
Last I drilled three holes on the opposite side that I hung the mirror and I mounted three drawer pulls.
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 Next I took out the bottom drawer and removed the handle. I painted it pink on the face and purple on the inside. I only painted the inside because it had black paint splatters from when I spray painted it black five years ago. I knew my older daughter would think it was dirty and to appease her need for things to be fancy I decided to paint it. Next I used a drill with the screwdriver bit and screwed the adjustable closet rod in. I had my husband help me hold it in place while I screwed it in. Next I hung the mirror on one side.  I reused the plastic brackets and screws that were used to hang it in the closet.   Finally I laid the piece of wood in place and I put three nails across the back to hold it into place.
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Last I drilled three holes on the opposite side that I hung the mirror and I mounted three drawer pulls.
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  Finally I laid the piece of wood in place and I put three nails across the back to hold it into place.