DIY Wine Cork Name Cards

I was married last year and boy what a DIY adventure that was!  I just went through some things and found a DIY name card project that I would love to share.  We had our rehearsal dinner at a French bistro and used the wine theme for our place settings.  I used wine corks that I found on Etsy as the name card holders.

This project is great for a wine or French themed wedding or party.  The product looks professional although the construction is very simple!

For this project, you will need wine corks (used are okay- check out Etsy if you don’t want to drink wine every night for next several weeks), a utility knife, printable place cards (I used Gartner’s #83004 which I picked up at Staples), a pen, and a straight edge such as a ruler.

For this project, I picked up an X-Acto knife kit from Amazon that I love and have used in other projects since.  If you are crafty, this is worth the extra money.

The first step in the project is to cut the corks.  For each cork, draw a straight line across the top using the pen and ruler.  On the bottom, draw two lines about half an inch apart.  The center point between the bottom lines should be exactly across from the top line.  Using the utility knife, cut along both bottom lines at the same time to slice the bottom flat.  This will take some strength and patience, so employ the help of friends or love ones that are not afraid of knives.  Next, run the knife across the top edge of the top line about an eighth of an inch into the cork.  Then run the knife along the bottom edge of the line, cutting out a “v” from the cork.

One note about cutting the corks is that it does take a little time to do well.  It will dull the knife over time and it is not really feasible to cut hundreds of these for an entire wedding.  A short cut I did find since I did this is using flat thumb tacks to make the bottom flat instead of cutting them.  It does not look as nice, but it will save you a lot of time and headache if you have many to make.

So you have some corks… now time to add the names!  Simply print each name on the place cards using the directions with the kit.  I used table cards and left both halves folded to make the card firmer.  Push each card into the slot on the top of the cork.  If it does not fit snugly the first time, run the utility knife across the slit again to make it a little deeper.

Fancy pants wine party ready!  For extra personalization, match the wine to name- Every family has a Boone’s Farm uncle :)

Texas Garden Favorites

Every day we inch closer to 100F here in Dallas, which makes gardening a challenge.  However, if you pick the correct hardy plants for the region, you can have delicious produce even in the heat of the summer.  Below are just a few of my favorites that succeed year after year.

Basil

With its tender, fragrant leaves, it’s hard to believe that this herb can stand up to high temperatures and dry soil.  However, this herb is actually hard to get rid of.  I added just one plant to the garden a few years ago and I have not had to plant it again since.  It blooms, seeds, and produces beautiful and delicious leaves pretty much from March to October.

If it is getting out of control, you can cut large branches off and put them in a vase in the kitchen.  The cuttings stay fresh and fragrant for weeks.  The leaves are then handy for your favorite pasta, all while creating a beautiful addition to your counter!

 

Chili Peppers

This veggie and spice is a quintessential southwestern cuisine ingredient.  Plus, it is just better fresh from the garden.   The fresh picked pepper will have more punch and a greater depth of flavor than any pepper you can get from the grocery store.

My personal favorite variety is the jalapeno, although I have successfully grown cayenne, bell, serrano, and poblano varieties as well.  Any variety will please the beginner gardener- They are really hard to mess up!

 

Okra

I’ll be honest- Okra was a tough sell for me the first year we grew it.  I’m still not appreciative of the fresh picked okra pod.  However, crisp pickled okra I will eat!  These guys also make a great gumbo.

These plants are also great for beginners.  They tolerate dry conditions and still produce 2-5 pods a week per plant.  The pods will keep coming all summer long too.  You are almost forced to pickle or freeze them because it is too much food!

 

Happy Gardening!

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Yarn in the Kitchen

My household is becoming a haven for urban hippies- We have been trying to eat more produce, particularly local produce, and we have attempted to do at least a little to reduce waste.  Both came together so perfectly in a couple of crochet projects I’ve adopted.

I stumbled across a pattern from Oh the Cuteness! for a crochet produce bag that literally took only an hour or two to make.  I only altered the handles into a draw-string.  Otherwise, I think the pattern works out great and is easy to follow.

 

You can get about two bags out of a ball of Lily Sugar N Cream cotton yarn and each one saves about a million of those plastic produce bags you get from the grocery store.  Plus it’s nice to out-hippy the customers at Whole Foods.

I was so pleased with the way the bags turned out, that I decided I would use the general pattern to create a hanging produce basket for my kitchen.  Basically, I used the scheme to double the loops in another row so that I could make it wider.

I then used a ring for holding cross-stitch fabric as the top support.  I connected three yarn chains to the top to hang it up.  Voila!  A banana hammock!

It’s a pretty addition to the kitchen.  Isn’t it great when function meets fashion?

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Yarn Junkie

I haven’t posted in a while, but I have still been a busy yarn junkie!  My yarn has been piling up in random places in the house to the point where I figured it was time to buy it a new home.  Luckily, JoAnn Fabrics is having a huge sale on baskets this week.

new_yarn_basket

I don’t think that my dachshund Dakota is impressed.

My visit to JoAnn was very fruitful, as I was able to pick up some odds and ends for an upcoming design (I’m very excited!).

odds_and_ends

Are those tiny bells on the right?  Yes’m they are, and I’m super excited to use them!  My husband doesn’t understand how anyone could get so excited about buttons, but that’s what we crafty people do!

Can we play now???  Sorry, I have to go throw a ball for a tiny furball.  Stay tuned for some upcoming projects!

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Big Kitty! Tiger Hat

It only took me a few months, but I finally completed my first crochet pattern!  My pattern is the Tiger Hat that I showed back in April.

Tiger_hat_on_chair

The pattern is available for free in pdf format from this site:  Click here to download

If you try it out and have questions, feel free to email me at jackie@epicbunny.com

 

I have a banner!

My plain-jane text banner was finally replaced with a watercolor bunny banner today!  This painting was created by me, but major kudos to the person that knows where it is from.  This is a rough reproduction of the opening picture in Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit.  Mine is a little less epic, except when you consider I made mine in middle school.

It has been a long time since I have done any painting, although I can’t say I was really that good at it.  I would be up for a little Painting with a Twist however- I’ll bring the Chardonnay.

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Frijoles Borrachos! (Drunken Beans)

Donde esta la fiesta?!

I love the Southwest’s love of beans.  Pinto and black beans are so filling and delicious, they are the perfect side or even the main dish.  Over the past few years, I have been searching for the perfect bean recipe, one that competes with the spicy, rich beans we get from the best Tex-Mex joints here in Dallas.  Finally I think I have adapted and perfected a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that will make any get-together a fiesta!  This recipe is not difficult, but it does take patience as the best pinto beans are made over two days (and just get better with time).

Shiner-Drunk Beans

1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried mexican oregano
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 cup beer, preferably Shiner Bock
3 cups water
1 lb dried pinto beans
12 oz thick sliced bacon (nothing smokey)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
garnishes (optional) : cilantro, avocado, lime, tortilla strips, diced jalapenos, cotija

DAY 1 – Salt-Soak the Beans

The first day is an easy one.  Rinse the beans and pick over for any small stones or bad beans.  In a large bowl, add the beans, two tablespoons of salt, and about a gallon of water.  Just leave the bowl out overnight to soak.  Soaking time of about 24 hours is best!  You will see the beans start to swell a little and the skins will soften.  You may also sense they are smiling after their day at the spa.

Soaking Pinto Beans 2


DAY 2 – Start cooking!

Give the beans a good rinse after their salt-soak.  Set them aside in a colander while you make the rest of the recipe.

1. Cut the bacon into 1 inch squares and add to a skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the bacon is cooked, but not crispy.  Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the cooked bacon to the crock pot, taking care to drain some of the extra grease off before you move it.  Once the bacon is transfered, pour out all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan.

Bacon for Frijoles
2.  Add the onion, garlic, oregano, chipotles, and chili powder to the remaining bacon grease in the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and a little browned.  Stir in the beer, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Take a swig from the remaining beer in the bottle and pat yourself on the back-  The beans aren’t the only ones that deserve a day at the spa and a delicious Shiner.  Turn down the heat if the beer gets above a simmer.  After about 5 minutes, when the beer sauce has thickened, transfer the contents to the crock pot.

Mixed Spices and Shiner
3. Pour the drained beans into the crock pot.  Start pouring in the water, but stop when you have just covered all of the contents.  This will be between 2.5 to 3 cups of water (you don’t have to use all 3).  Now stir in the brown sugar to dissolve.  Drink the rest of that Shiner in the bottle.  Mmmmm!

Uncooked Beans
4. Cover the crock pot and turn on to the low setting.  The beans are best if cooked for at least 12 hours.  This may mean that you make this the over the night before and reheat when ready to serve (This is okay!  They get better with time!).  You should check the beans every several hours to make sure that the water level has not decreased so much as to expose and burn any beans.  Stir it if beans pop out, and add just a little water if it seems the level is getting low.

One hour before serving:  Keep the crock pot on low, but move the lid so that the steam can escape.  Allow the bean sauce to reduce.  Add any garnishes or extras to the beans.

Finished Frijoles 2

Finally, enjoy!

 

Instant Gratification Radishes

Texas has seen a very mild winter which led to a very early garden this year.  Maybe it was the lack of sunlight that messed with our judgement, but we went way out of our comfort zone to plant a different set of veggies this year.  The most surprising pick was radishes.  These red little guys are have a satisfying crispness followed by a kick-in-pants spiciness.  The best part is that we already get to harvest them, just a month after planting.

radishes

If you are thinking about planting radishes this year, it is not too late.  They are ready for harvest about 20-30 days after planting, leaving time for several rounds.  Most of the other garden plants have not grown large yet, so sowing a few rows of radishes in between other plants also works well if you sow them early.

The snails and caterpillars are merciless, so you will have to work a little to control them.  I don’t have much advice on the caterpillars except to check under leaves occasionally and toss them into your least favorite neighbor’s yard.  Snails, I found, can be controlled by rolled oats.  For about a dollar’s worth of delicious fiber, you can put up a fairly effective snail barrier.  The snails apparently love them some oats for dinner, bloat up, and die.  I haven’t actually seen any dead escargot, but I have noticed they have laid off the veggies.  For a dollar, I can’t really complain.

Mmmmm… Time to eat some radishes!

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DIY Mason Jar Soap Pump

Recently my husband did a magical renovation to our guest bath.  It turns out that you can indeed build cabinet doors yourself… or at least he can.  When he did finished the construction, I swooped in to decorate.  What we ended up with was a beautiful shabby chic (and very girly) cottage bathroom.

The finishing touch was this DIY project that is so easy that I did it myself without touching a single power tool.

If you have a mason jar at home that you always thought had great potential to be a soap pump, you can make one yourself with only a nail, hammer, pliers, and a plastic soap pump with a top that matches your bathroom.  This pump I purchased at Target for $0.99.

You will need to punch a hole in the top of the jar lid that is just big enough for the soap pump to fit through.  If you like power tools, and you are good with them, by all means, please cut a hole in the top of the mason jar with a drill. I am a wuss so I used a nail and a hammer, punching tiny holes around in a circle in the lid.   I then used in the pliers to bend any sharp edges down towards the inside of the jar.

Now is the time to pour the soap from your plastic store-bought bottle into the mason jar.  (You will end up with a mess if you don’t!)  Then cut the top of the plastic bottle just below the part where the pump screws on.  The beauty is that all of this plastic will be hidden under the lid and screw ring on the jar, so you don’t have to worry about leaving too much.  I used a utility knife to cut the bottle – be careful!  The craft is ruined by visits to the ER.

Push the plastic top of the soap bottle into the jar lid and then screw on the pump handle and VOILA!!!  Your bathroom is now perfect!

If you try this out, please let me know how it turned out!

Raaar! It’s a hat!

I picked up crochet at the beginning of the year, and it turns out there is more to make than sweaters and scarves. With such a fantastic community on the interwebs, I’ve found patterns or ideas for everything from cute little animals to a pillow with boobs on it. However, I find myself gravitating towards animal hats; they are so trendy right now as accessories, and quite honestly, they are overwhelmingly adorable. I don’t even think men can resist a stitched hat that looks like a critter.

After looking at some others’ patterns, I decided to try out my own. What I came up with is a tiger beanie with earflaps.

Tiger_hat_on_chair

It’s a shame it’s not colder out. With the hot Texas sun in this picture, it doesn’t capture the hat’s coziness. It unfortunately does capture my overgrown grass.

tiger_hat_on_plant_stand

I’m very excited to contribute to the Ravelry community, so I’m working on putting the pattern together. It will be free whenever it is completed. I’d love to hear what y’all think about it.

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