Category Archives: crafts

Horse Bites: Drinks and Mocktails

Rain or shine, cold or blazing hot, it’s easy to host a casual Derby party at home for everyone. After all, getting a babysitter for Derby is harder than hitting an Exacta!

And if you’re planning on staying home with your kids anyway, have them invite all their friends! The parents will be so shocked they’ll offer to keep your kids for your anniversary, a long weekend, whatever you want. How do I know this? Because I used to do it for both my sons for New Year’s Eve. The kids had a blast, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve, anyway. Even if I’m not drinking that doesn’t protect me from all the other idiots on the road.

Whether you are planning a party for families or only for kids beverages are important. Recipes for the Oaks Lily, the Mint Julep, and the new-this-year Woodford Reserve Spires are all available on KentuckyDerby.com.


I’ll be honest – if I’m pouring simple syrup, cranberry juice, or lemonade over something I’m not using top-shelf alcohol. Straight? Sure. But for party mixes like these I’d save the budget for food and drop it a couple of rungs on on the snooty liquor scale. Anyone who’s displeased is officially elected bartender – they can run to the liquor and make their own and everyone else’s drinks. #mypartymyrules

Here are the kid-friendly versions (or the versions you give your guests who are getting too tipsy):

Lily: Cranberry juice, a splash or orange juice, and a splash or orange juice over ice. Garnish with a half-strawberry unless your kids like blackberries.

Julep: Green Kool-aid or Crystal Light (Bug Juice for you Scout Parents out there) over ice with a sprig of mint. They can eat it, rub it on their teeth to gross everyone out, throw it at each other, whatever. It cleans up easy. If you’re lucky the dog will eat it and have very fresh breath!

Spires: Lemonade over ice with a splash of cranberry juice for color. Garnish with a tiny wedge of lemon.

Nab a couple of “too cool for this party” teens and put them to work making the mocktails. Maybe show them a few scenes from “Cocktail” first (while you’re transferring everything into plastic bottles). They’ll be bragging about their bar-tending skills for a decade.

You’ve probably seen my Horse Bites series with Benedictine, Thurby Pie, Hot Brown, and Country Ham. But here’s another option: the YUMMY Mint Julep! This is one even the adults will want to try. Again, sorry for no pics. I’ll insert them if/when my docs clear me to be a semi-normal human again.

But it’s super-easy. Peel a kiwi (Makea shallow cut around the circumference and use a spoon – trust me on this one!) Then slice it. Add half a strawberry (cut side down), a blueberry, and just a leaf of mint. Now make just a cup of simple syrup (sugar or Splenda dissolved in hot water). Once it cools, pour a tiny bit on every stack. Yes, sorry, this once takes toothpicks, too. None of these fruits will brown or shrivel, so they can be done well ahead of time. If you want an adult version put bourbon in the simple syrup. But in that case make sure there’s an Adult section of the Buffet Table and an Under-21 section!

For the Thurby Pie just don’t use Bourbon in the whipped cream, and perhaps not nuts in their pie (the bourbon cooks out of the pie.) The Hot Brown will be a hit – maybe use ramekins instead of shot glasses and put two sandwich quarters in each. Kids love to dip! Benedictine and Country Ham Horse Bites are fine as they are – maybe you can get some veggies into them along the way.

Posting this after twelve-noon EST since I don’t want to encourage day-drinking, even though my Neurologist says I should give it a try. Yes, seriously! And no, I’m not giving out his name. If I do I’ll have to wait two years for my next appointment. And I’m rather fond of the margarita machine in the waiting room. #justkiddingitsinthelobby

 

My Favorite Online Stores

Did you know you can buy local and support small businesses while still enjoying the convenience of buying online? Sometimes you have to go with a huge store, but not always!

GlassGirlJen on Etsy – gorgeous pieces. We’re not talking “etched glass” here. She deeply engraves into a wide variety of glassware. This is still one my favorites for wedding gifts, but great for a first Christmas, first Christmas in your own apartment, etc.

Clever hand-crocheted items. I met this woman and her daughter at a local craft fair. She doesn’t work from patterns, she just creates it. And all of her work is beautiful and baby-proof! Message her ASAP to let her know what you want. Her prices are very reasonable!

Amazon – I do have a caveat, however. Amazon lets OTHER companies sell through them now. Unless you have bought from that particular company before don’t chance it for a holiday gift. I ordered a cute Tshirt in an XL. I’m not a fan of the skin-tight T. This one is so small enough for a ten-year-old. So now I’m searching Pinterest for a way to up-size the shirt.¬† I do ADORE Amazon Prime though, since I do MUCH more last-minute shopping these days. ALSO, it’s one of the best places to find the best new indie-published books you won’t find in bookstore! SO many great authors are going the indie route. Lisa Tapp, Joan Kayse, and Ian Eviston to name just a few!

Target – I love Target because I can order online and select “ship to store” for free. This means that even if everything is already IN my store someone will gather it up for me. I pay online and just pick it up at the service desk. No impulse shopping, no forgetting I went in with a list and a price limit. Which is good, since THIS just happened:

Primary – This is my new addiction. Right now they only make basic clothes in solid colors (MANY colors!) with no labels (school-friendly) for kids. I want an adult line. I wouldn’t wear anything else most days. And it’s very high-quality with reasonable prices. They even have two weights for many of their pieces, so I can buy a hoodies for kiddos in Texas AND Kentucky. Sew on a few jingle bells for Christmas, add make temporary Contac paper or Duck Tape cut-outs for holidays, and one red T shirt can be cleverly current all year!

ThinkGeek – Is there anyone in your family who loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fallout, Game of Thrones, or other things not everyone else is quite as passionate about? I owned a communicator pin and Vulcan ears when the folks at ThinkGeek were in diapers, so I could spend hours browsing this store. This may well end up as a gift this year for one of my Fallout fans.
SteveSpanglerScience – This is a great gift site for adults and kids. Once I bought several items from this shop and left them in the Reading Room – kind of the home base for our docs, where they’d hang their coats, pick up their patient lists, and do computer work. They were a hit! My dad LOVES all these things. He’s an Engineer, and uses a couple of the toys to analyze his new students or faculty while he’s chatting with them.

Newegg.com – I don’t go here without being given a link. It’s computer parts. As in, you take your CPU apart and put things in. My sons tell me they have GREAT deals. If you have a computer nerd on your list send them the link to browse. They’ll be excited!

Nerium – Awesome stuff. My husband uses the same cheap shampoo to wash his hair, face, and body. I swear. I only very recently got him started on a leave-in conditioner, which he LOVES. After thirty-one years I’m finally getting him to take a couple of baby steps towards taking care of himself. He takes EHT (brain booster) daily because his mother died of Alzheimer’s. He uses the Youth Factor powder because I told him he could drink a bottle of this fruit-flavored stuff a day or he could eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day. He chose the powder. I ADORE leafy green veggies, and my memory loss is all pain and medication induced.

So I use the stuff that makes me look good ūüôā Night Cream and Firm are the products that someone would have to pry from my cold, dead hands. This time of year we always have discounted Gift Packs for as long as they last. If I had to guess I’d say 75% of sales are people stocking up on their favorites for cheap and 25% actual gifts. Have you ever bought something intending to gift it. . . then kept it for yourself? *waving hand wildly*

So shop, shop away! But since my sweet, wonderful grandmother went full-out crazy every Christmas (which led to a woman she hired to do her shopping maxing out her credit cards her last Christmas at home and then just saying everything was stolen from the trunk) I’m a calm shopper. I plan ahead, I shop evenly for my children, and Michael and I have never shopped for each other. Not since the year we got engaged.

Some people do three gifts, for the three wise men. My personal favorite (and the one Michael is holding me to even though this is our first year with a granddaughter) is Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. Yes, of course both Michael and Mom have asked me exactly HOW I know what Emma wants. Well, I’ve known it since before she was born. They’d just better take pictures in Austin to PROVE it!

 

I took creative license on this one, but it works.I hope everyone had a geat Thanksgiving!

Exciting New Hobbies!

GREAT prompts over at Mama Kat’s this week! There were at least three I was ready to tackle, but of course that’s my problem: I want to tackle everything, and just can’t physically do it. I’ve been in constant pain since 2009. I haven’t been able to work since 2011. I’m still battling to get disability benefits.

But even after all that time I still really want to do it all. If it can be done in 15 minute increments and allows me to lie down for twenty out of twenty-four hours I can do it. Oh, and it can’t involve any lifting, pushing, or pulling, or really much movement at all. I’m like a grumpy talking statue – reclining bitch, perhaps? Oh, and I have a bad tremor. It’s in both hands, and it gets worse the harder I try to hold my hand steady.

Keep all that in mind while you look at just a few of the hobbies I want to pick up. I have Pinterest boards for all of them. I’m sure everyone who knows me squirts hot coffee out their nose when they see a new pin from me. At least I’m entertaining!

Crocheting or knitting

DIY Sturdy Crochet Slipper Boots Free Pattern from SMP Craft.

Aren’t these just PERFECT as Christmas gifts for the entire family? I’d only be able to work on them on really light pain days, though. I get a bit “stabby” when the pain is bad, and someone could lose an eye.

raising chickens

Fun way to identify your birds!  Charm Leg Bands are enjoyable to see on your feathered friends...

I did a lot of research on this. I was going to make a dust bath, a sprout-munching area, little jackets for them so they couldn’t peck each other. . . and then I remembered I’m not really that fond of eggs after all.

gardening

Plants for Shade - Shade Plants - 10 Varieties That Thrive Where the Sun Don't Shine - Bob Vila

I used to LOVE gardening. If I had a frustrating day at work I’d get out the hoe, the pruners, or maybe even the chainsaw! I had everything mulched beautifully, edged with brick, and thriving. Of course now I can barely get anything into a hanging basket, let alone the ground. And then it dies in a couple of weeks anyway because I forget to water it. I can remember to feed the dogs and let them out for potty breaks, but adding in medications every four hours pretty much uses up all the brain cells not saying OUCH!

crafts with wood

Love the use of these old crates stacked and mounted with caster wheels

I haven’t given up on this one yet. My husband’s not wild about the idea of someone with a tremor using a table saw or circular saw or whatever is in the basement, but I’ve got such GREAT ideas it’s a shame to waste them!

 

exercise while dangling from big silk ribbons

classes-3

I’ve never really been flexible or coordinated, but this really makes me wish I could give it a try. My neurosurgeon would probably fire me for being an idiot, though (hopefully after he repaired my spine.)

paint rocks

make a whole bunch of these and put them everywhere in the garden

I know someone who does beautiful, intricate paintings on rocks. I’d just like to do little hearts or flowers or inspirational, uplifting sayings. Then I’d leave then all over town where people usually run or walk their dogs so they could pick them up when they’re having a bad day, then leave them for someone else to find later.

sew/quilt

Repurpose an old men's shirt.

This dress is supposedly made from a man’s shirt. I guess if you’re a size zero and buy a men’s XXL shirt it might work.¬† These sorts of things just sucker me in because of frugality. Few things make me happier than a bargain!

 

refinishing/upcyling furniture

Little Dresser To Cute Cabinet ... gutting the whole thing since she was missing a drawer anyway & added shelving & then open frame doors to complete the look

Yes, I’m the one cruising everyone’s trash the night before pickup. My husband is quite thankful I can’t actually pick up anything of significant size. I did try to talk him into fetching me a free piano last week, but I had to back down after he walked me through our house with a tape measure and proved we had nowhere to put it.

I’ll stop there, but feel free to drop by my Pinterest account next time you need a giggle. I am the most random pinner ever! I really didn’t think Pinterest was going to be a big thing when it started, so I have boards like “Good Ideas” and “Nom Nom Nom”. Yeah, it’s totally down the rabbit hole there, but it’s my happy place. Oh, one more!

making fairy houses

fairy house from oatmeal container, bark, pinecones

I’ve actually done two, but I don’t think either of them survived the winter. Gonna have to research this a bit further.More natural stuff like bark, milkweed pods, and mushrooms? More plastic and polymer clay? Or just twenty coats of polyurethane instead of ten?

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