Monday, April 16, 2012

DIY Puzzle Mat

 Here is the long-awaited "surprise project" that I have been referring to for a couple of months!  It is a Do-It-Yourself Puzzle Mat!

I got this puzzle for Christmas and have been wanting to put it together.  Having a toddler in the house ensures that attempting it would be futile at best without some precautionary measures in place.  I looked online to see how much buying a puzzle mat would cost, then had the idea to make one myself!  The cost probably came out to be about the same as buying one of the more inexpensive ones, but it was more fun to make it myself.

Supplies I Used:
  • mailing tube about 3" in diameter
  • clear packing tape
  • velcro strips
  • colored duct tape
  • felt
  • double-fold bias tape about 1" in width
I put a lot of thought and a little bit of spontaneous "make-do" to constructing the puzzle mat.  I thought about using a PVC pipe with endcaps, but found out that Home Depot will not cut them to size.  I settled on using a mailing tube that I bought at Office Depot.  I thought about painting the ends, but didn't want to go through that since cardboard can suck up paint and might not look nice.  So, I had the idea to try duct tape which worked beautifully.

 First, I rolled red duct tape (which I already had) around the ends of the mailing tube.

 Then, I used clear packing tape to attach one end of the felt to the mailing tube.  I had already cut felt to the size that I wanted it.  Actually, I cut it before getting the mailing tube and found out that it was not wide enough which is why I put the duct tape on either end.

Then, I put peel-and-stick velcro onto the felt and rolled it up to make it stick so that the mailing tube was enclosed by the felt which was held together by the velcro.

 I cut the double-fold bias tape to size to fit around the puzzle mat and put velcro on to secure.  The strips come off; they are not attached to the felt.  I will be sewing the velcro onto the strips as they want to come off.

 Here it is, all rolled up!

 Lastly, I cut another piece of the red double-fold bias tape and taped it to one of the endcaps.

 I inserted the endcap and that made a loop to hang the puzzle mat when it is not in use.

Here is the puzzle mat being used for my puzzle.  It works just fine.  I like the bright yellow which is a great contrast without being too overbearing for the puzzle pieces.  The only thing I do not like is that the puzzle pieces stick really well to the felt which makes it hard to move multiple pieces that are connected.  I'm thinking about using wax paper or something under the pieces to allow them to slide around more easily.  It rolls up just fine.  I have not yet unrolled it to work on the puzzle some more, but I hope to do that sometime soon.
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm back!

I'm back!  Well, kinda.  I have a couple of posts nearly ready to publish, and a couple of ideas for posts.  I'm not sure when I'll really have time to get them in, but I thought give a little update on things around here.

I want to give a special "Thank you" to my friend Valerie of Valerie Write Now who remembered and acknowledged my one year "blogoversary" on Thursday, April 12th. She wrote about it on my Facebook Page and also shared my link with her Facebook friends and followers.  That made my day!  I  wanted to have a new post ready for my readers or at least pop in to say Hi, but I just didn't get to.

As usual, life is busy around here.  I have done quite a bit to get ready for my yard sale.  I have gone through all of the boxes that Robert brought into the garage and have priced everything designated for the yard sale.  Tentatively, I am scheduling the yard sale for Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th.  I'm hoping that Robert will bring me more boxes tomorrow so that I can continue getting things ready.  I won't have it until I've gone through everything (of my stuff).  Robert still has to go through all of his stuff (and the stuff that I've set aside for him to decide on).

Gracie is doing wonderfully.  Just today, she has FINALLY learned to say "Thank you" orally instead of signing it.  She's said it about 100 times just this evening.  We've been trying for months to get her to say it to no avail.  She has already said "Thanks!" which is acceptable, but when prompted to say "Thank you" has resorted to signing it.  She's cute when she does it, either way, though.  She's also learned how to pedal her tricycle.  Going outside is just about her favorite activity, whether it's going to the park (playground), playing in the backyard with the dogs, or riding one of her little vehicles down the street (sidewalk, I should say).

Gracie is also doing pretty well with the potty training.  This morning, she stayed dry and went potty twice.  I put her in a pullup for her nap and for when we went out to eat and window shopping (for a new washer and dryer).  I'm not yet to the point where I feel comfortable having her in her training panties when we're out and about.  I bought the Target brand pullups and I do not like them.  They leak when used at night.  I need to go and buy the Walmart brand which I think works better.  The price is comparable.  I'll still use the Target ones for naps and when we're away from home, but I'll use Walmart for nighttime use.

The next couple of months will continue to be busy.  We have friends coming in for a visit next week, we'll be going out of town for a family event, we hope to have that yard sale in early May, Gracie and I will be going to my nephew's graduation in May, the annual family reunion is in June, and a bunch of birthdays are in June (including my 40th <nooooooo!!!!!> and my husband's 49th - this will be the first year we've been in the same decade together).

Some of you already know this, but just in case you are interested in seeing additional photos and videos of our family (98% of them are of Gracie!), I have another blog that I use for that purpose:  Kinsey Family Blog  If you are Facebook friends with me, you already see most of the pictures.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Garlic Chicken Puffs

I found a couple of different pins on Pinterest of these Garlic Chicken Puffs.  I made them last week for an appetizer for the March Madness Games.  (Any excuse to make a new, yummy-looking recipe!)

Tangent: As of Saturday night, March 24th, all four of my Final Four picks are in the running.  Robert's picks have all been eliminated.  I only watched about 10 minutes of a game between Ohio State and North Carolina.  Gracie had a blast copying me cheering "O-Hi-O!  O-Hi-O!"

1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tubes of crescent rolls


Mix together the chicken, cream cheese, and garlic powder.

Open up the crescent rolls and cut each triangle in half.  Put a teaspoonful of chicken mix in the triangle and pull the corners up to make a little bag.  I made mine so that all of the chicken was enclosed, but the picture shows where the chicken mix is spilling out.

The recipe said that this will be enough for two tubes of crescent rolls, but I guess I put too much because one tube took care of most of the chicken.

Note:  To prepare the chicken, I baked two chicken breasts at 350 for 35 minutes.  I then put them in my Kitchen Aid mixer to shred them using the paddle attachment.  This made 1-1/2 cups of chicken.

Robert declared it a Keeper Recipe and two thumbs up. I thought they were good, too.  Gracie wouldn't even try it.

I made them again a couple of days later.  Robert had the idea of inserting a cheddar cheese cube in each puff, so I tried that.  I cut each cube in half and wrapped the chicken-cheese mixture around it before putting in the crescent rolls.  This turned out so good!!  I liked it much better than the original recipe.  The only problem is that, apparently, I didn't seal the seams up completely because the cheddar cheese leaked out on some of them.  They were still quite good!

Original Source:
Source: via Ava on Pinterest
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