This week I treated myself to a cute little dinosaur kit!
He is the same company that made my cute little dragon that is in my home page banner. They are super easy kitsch but still neat and challenging. Each box (that I’ve seen) has these neat facts on the side of the box hat require you to find your answers as you build.
The inside flaps of the box also have super basic instructions. It may be a bit too basic but I also dont see a way that would modify for slightly better clarification.
So step 1 as with building absolutely anything is to lay everything out and make sure you have all the required pieces.
This kit came with and extra (yellow) center piece, all the required pieces for construction and the glue. I like to separate out my left side pieces from my right side pieces to make construction a little easier.
The actual construction is a bit tricky. The glue is basically white glue so not super sticky at first. I find the best way to get the first 2 pieces glued is to put the one side on the center stick and add the glue then smoosh down the other side through the center stick. Then I let that dry for a minute. This prevents it from moving around too much. It does however run the rush of the glue also adhering to the center stick which is not something you want to happen.
After letting the center dry a bit, I choose 1 side and layer up everything far enough so that I can place the eyeball in and then repeat for the other side.
After a center point of boiling up the layers you get to the final layers that require the center stick. The few remaining pieces at this point do not have a slot for the center stick. If you managed to not have too much glue adhering to the center stick it’s pretty easy to gently wiggle it out. But if you enjoy glue a little too much like I do you need to find some pliers and use a little bit of gentle force to rip the center stick out.
After the center stick is out it is just a simple few small solid pieces to cover up the hole. These pieces are the most difficult because you have the line each piece up just right and let it dry before you can add the next one.
In the end, it’s a thick collection of cardboard and glue but the choices of figures are super cute. The company itself is based out of New Zealand but with a little searching you can find the kits almost anywhere on the internet.
Also, here are the answers to the facts on the box.
This past week was my vacation week. While I had grand plans to work on all sorts of things, I only managed to get my nails done. Lol
I really like using Jamberry products because it’s the only nail stuff that survives my retail workday. I never realized how rough I am on my hands and nails until I painted my nails with traditional nail polish. I’m lucky if I can get 24 hours of wear before its completely gone. With jamberry though, I’m generally about to keep a manicure for about a week before my design starts falling off.
It’s been a little chilly over in my neck of the woods. So I decided to warm up the house by making a batch of yummy chocolate chunk cookies. Basically I follow this recipe but with a few alterations because of food allergies. The largest change I make is that I can only use certain kinds of chocolate because of a peanut/tree nut allergy so I tend to use a bag of chunks instead of scouring for a chocolate bar I can actually eat.
Mixing the cookie dough in my new kitchenaide was really great after having done this recipe without a mixer so many times. The dough itself is also very good for pre baking tastes.
And here are the delicious, fresh out of the oven cookies. Most of which did not make it past bedtime.
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 sticks of salted buttered, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (or 2) tablespoons Vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra just in case
1 tablespoon instant coffee, French Vanilla is my favorite
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chunks
Take 1 of the softened sticks of butter and put into a small skillet over medium-low heat. allow it to melt and bubble. This is totally normal and will not immediately cause a fire. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it begins to turn a golden brown then remove from heat and pour all the liquid and solid butter into a heat proof bowl until needed in cookie batter. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add the other stick of butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar into a mixing bowl. Cream everything together until its combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. It may be necessary to stop mixing to scrape the sides of the bowl down. Pour in all contents (solid bits too) from the brown butter bowl and mix until combined
Add the coffee granules, baking soda, and salt one ingredient at a time and allow to mix until well combined. Slowly add the flour into the batter and allow to mix well. Once mixed, dump in 1 bag of chocolate chunks and mix well using a spoon or spatula.
Either use a greased baking sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet and drop the cookie dough onto the sheet pan. I like to use a heaping tablespoon for this. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack/surface. Bake in batches until all cookies are done and enjoy!
Here is another puzzle book that I have been into for a while. Its called paint by stickers. It’s fairly simple, you start on the page you wish to fill in and locate its (usually 2) page of stickers.
After that it basically a color by number. Each sticker corresponds to a specific spot on the puzzle. The twist is that you also need to figure out the correct orientation of sticker. So as you start placing stickers
And filling in all the spaces
You eventually see your picture.
Despite the simple instructions, these puzzles are actually tedious at times. Once the piece is pressed into place it really cant be pulled up and removed so orientation and taking your time in placing each stick is very important.
And the final picture looks something like this. Most of these books have a minimum of 12 puzzles per book. If you are looking for a twist on a classic puzzle or just something new in general, Paint by Stickers is definitely something you should try!
Probably my last ripe tomato harvest for the season. I decided to go with a long term use of turning these tomatoes into a delicious tomato jam.
These guys are pretty big and at various stages or ripe. I somewhat followed a pintrest recipe because time and ingredients were an issue.
General basis of this recipe is chop up the tomatoes, throw the other ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. The original recipe said to simmer for 4-5 hours. I really dont have that kind of time to hover over a pot waiting for liquid to evaporate so I used a higher heat for a longer period of time before switching to a simmer.
This process helped evaporate a lot of the liquid quickly in under 30 minutes and without compromising texture too much. In the end I was able to get it all done in about 2.5 hours and boy is it tastey! Through some experimentation, we discovered that our favorite way to consume this jam is to replace it as the BBQ sauce on top of Meatloaf.
4-5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup white vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
4 (or more) Mason Jars w/lids
Rinse and chop all tomatoes. I also removed all the seeds. Place chopped tomatoes into a medium stock pot on medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until the pot begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir frequently for 30-40 minutes. This help to evaporate the liquid faster. Once it begins to look a little thicker, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Once the texture has thickened up to a jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Prepare and clean mason jars. Be sure to dry out all wetness from cleaning. Carefully transfer the jam into each mason jar. Allow to comletely cool before adding lids and refrigerating jars.
While looking through my facebook memories this past week it has come to my attention the in the past I have completed some of my prized puzzles around this time of the year. In commemoration of their completion I give you my completed puzzle master pieces!
This first puzzle has a two part story.
PART 1: 2 years ago I was gifted this puzzle by some friends/roommates so that we could have something neat to have over our little Bar area. Unfortunately I have lost the picture of the this puzzle displayed over the bar so heres an image of the completed puzzle via internet searching.
During the building process, my roommate’s dog thought that the puzzle pieces were treats. I quickly realized that I was missing some pieces because the dog ate them. I still framed and hung the mostly completed puzzle that way while I pondered which way would be the best to fill in those holes.
PART 2: About a year later I had a grand idea hit me, find derpy/goofy pictures of my roommate’s dog and fit them into the holes he ate. I looked through all the photos I had access to and printed off copies of these 4.
I then strategically cut and placed these pictures into the holes of the puzzle.
after everything was secured into place and back in the frame I re-hung it.
I started my week by picking a bunch of ripe heirloom tomatoes from my garden. Since there was a lot of them I decided to let them sit for a week to soften up so I could make homemade tomato sauce.
I started by cutting, trimming and peeling all the tomatoes. I then smooshed all the chunks through a wire mesh strainer to make all the seeds and white parts easier to remove from the tomatoes.
Added all my spices and let it simmer for a while. It really smelled wonderful while this was simmering. Even my dog Taco was interested.
The final result! A little thicker than normal but it looked great over the pasta for dinner. ❤
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Minimum of 4 large tomatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut into smaller pieces
5-6 basil leaves, thinly cut, or 1 Tablespoon of dry basil
4 cloves of garlic, minced or in little chunks
1/2 tablespoon dehydrated onion, or 1/4 of diced onion
1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Wire mesh strainer
Cut and peel all tomatoes. Skin must be removed. It is also helpful to pull out as many seeds as possible. Cut tomatoes into small wedges and smoosh each wedge through a wire mesh strainer over a sauce pan. This should help get the remaining seeds and any other under ripe pieces out of the way. L`et it begin to cook on medium-low heat.
Chiffonade 5-6 Basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon of dry basil and add to pot. Also chop garlic and add to pot. I tend to go with something a little larger than a mince because my family likes to chomp on garlic. Measure out and add remaining spices to pot. Increase heat to medium. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Stir occassionally and taste test to adjust the seasonings. If the sauce is still too thin, you can add a can of petite diced tomatoes or sliced zucchinni or any other vegetable to help it along.
After 30 minutes is up, I begin cooking my Pasta. I allow the sauce to continue to simmer until the noodles are cooked. Once the noodles are cooked, plate up and enjoy!
I used a recipe that I found on pintrest and made a few alterations. For starters, I had to double the recipe for the amount of cucumbers I harvested. Due to availability, I could not get ahold of mustard seeds so I used ground mustard instead. I also did not submerge the jars into water to seal them.
The brine itself smelled so very yummy while it was simmering. Very aromatic! Since I did not want to locate, unbury, and clean the large canning pot I had to go with a refrigerator pickling method. After the brine was ready to come off the heat, I allowed it to cool.
After the brine was cooled it was time to fill and close the jars. 3 jars in total for this harvest and more are still growing.
Pickled Mexican Sour Gerhkins
Mexhican sour gerhkins, rinsed and cut in half
1 Small Onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar (5% acidity)
1/2 cup Sugar, I used Cane Sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds, I used ground mustard which requires another 1/2 tablespoon
1 teaspoon celery seeds, add more or less to your liking
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, add more or less to your liking
Rinse off the mexican sour gerhkins. These can be pickled whole but I prefere to cut them all in half. Pat dry with a towel and place into a bowl filled with some kosher salt. This will help dry them out a little bit. Leave in bowl for an hour. Remove from bowl and rinse off excess salt. Add onion slices to cucumebr and set aside until ready.
Add apple cider vinegar, sugar, and all spices in a sauce pan. Allow the brine to come to a boil over medium-low heat. Stirring occassionaly until all the sugar has been dissolved. Then remove from heat and allow to cool a little bit before pouring
Clean and prepare the Mason jars. Then evenly distribute the gerhkin and onion mixture int each mason jar. After the Brine has cooled off a little bit carefully begin pouring the liquid into each mason jar. Each jar should be filled enough to submerge all the gerhkins and onions.
Place clean lids piece onto jars and allow to refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This allows the flavor to get into the gerhkins and onions. Dont forget to give the jar a shake to redistribute the flavors.
This week I had a family member in the hospital. So I’ve spent quite a bit a time sitting around, reading, and waiting. To break up some of the reading time, I got this nifty engraving kit to work on while I’m here passing time.
Today I was just hooked on it and finished. Not bad for about 5 hours of work. Now to figure out how I’d like to go about framing it.