Blanket update!

17DBD90D-7708-4540-ACB0-B3F99731F0C5I have been working hard on this adorable gift! Every morning while sipping my coffee I sit and crochet a row onto this blanet. It is a scrap blanket. I have taken the left over yarn from other blankets or projects and have been combining them to make one big beautiful baby blanket for a friend.  No pattern, because sometimes life is best with some leftovers and unplanned.  Yesterday evening I had about 4/5 of the blanet done.  Today we had some driving to do and I have 5 more rows done! The husband drives and I crochet and we listen to good music and crack funny jokes.  I have a little bit of time on my hands this weekend and am hoping to have it completed. It should be complete with about 15 more rows.  I have a bunch of different size crochet hooks. I personally prefer a metal hook to that of plastic, it has a bit more weight to it and it stays cooler in my hands as I use them. Plastic can heat up quick and then my hands can sweat and swell.  I also have trouble when my old tired hands start to wear out my grasp gets less tight. When I have a metal needle because of just a bit more weight it doesn’t slip or flip out of my grasp as quickly.

i am hoping to have the last few rows complete and then tie in the ends and put on a boarder all this weekend. Better pictures will be coming! Stay posted!

Pallet Project- New Ceiling

Two years ago my husband and I upgraded our basement bathroom in our old home. It was a half bath. It had a sink, a toilet, and some drywall walls, as well as a door. We completed the drywall and painted. We put in a tile floor.  But my favorite was the pallet wall behind the toilet.

My friends have wanted to upgrade their ceiling for a few years. But ceilings are difficult and expensive. They saw my pallet bathroom wall and I showed them some different styles that I looked up.

We have been getting together and working on it periodically for about a year. We collect pallets and have pallet parties where we work together, kids included to pull apart 30 to 50 pallets in just a few hours.

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The pallet boards have soooooo many steps! It is not a simple project or a quick project either.

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The boards get planed, cut to length and width, puttied, and sanded with two to three different sand paper grits. We start with 80 and finish with 220.

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Then they are stained and polyurethaned for a nice shine.

The boards are then put up on the ceiling. Which have created a beautiful warm country feel to their home.

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We have had so much fun with this project and It really was a great deal of work but such a wonderful life experience.

Little bits of projects

I have all over my house small to large projects started. If it isn’t gardening or crocheting or painting or sewing, it is collecting something for another project.  Usually the projects are to benefit someone else.

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This small bag of scrap yarn for instance is slowly turning into a baby blanket for a friend. I crochet a row every morning while drinking my coffee at 5 am.

CC2D5707-6212-4DB0-8286-F571F8437D91.jpegOr this interesting mess of sticks?  Nope not a mess of sticks. I have several friends and family who like flowers. And our new house has a LOT of them.  I am really big into saving seeds. Next years crop is free! I am also into free!! Lily’s are a very expensive flower. And usually you purchase them by the bulb. Which will give you flowers in a year.  But lily’s can be started by their seeds. Thus above you see a bunch of seed pods I have cut and labeled.  I give the pod three days to breakdown so it it easy to pull apart and get the seeds out.

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Seeds drying!  Then into an envelope and to my seed bin or in the mail to friends and family.

Home made butter

I would like to try to reduce the amount of sugars and chemicals that my family consumes. I have heard of a bunch of people making their own butter to reduce preservatives. This past week I had purchased a small container of heavy cream and we purchased butter just in case I messed it up.  I looked up online how to do it.

So easy!

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I got myself a canning jar with a lid and poured in half the container of the heavy cream. Screwed on the lid tight. And literally shook the jar back and forth for 15-20 minutes while updating my gardening blog information.  I had read that you will want to drain off the buttermilk at the top when 20 minutes is up. I used heavy cream and I didnt get buttermilk at the top. I added nothing to my butter, it is so light and fluffy.0A864485-EA4A-4D1C-9025-3F4111F33552

Butter in a jar! Yum!!

Winter Prep!

In our new home we have a wood burning fire place. I am so excited about having fires in the fireplace to heat our home. Its so cozy feeling.  We have a few dead trees that have already been taken down on the property. And there are several more that need to come down. Nearly free firewood! We also have here and there through out the woods, ready to go firewood stacks. It is not a whole lot of wood grand scheme speaking to completely heat the home all winter but it definitely will help us get a good feel about how much wood we might go through in a winter.

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This is our very adorable grape pergola. It has pavers under it as well. The pergola is directly opposite the back of the home and we have discussed how in the slippery snow we do not want to be fetching wood on the hillside. We have decided this is where we will stock up on wood all summer long for our cozy warm winters inside.

To the right of the pergola I have cleared out an area to place down some pallets to then stack the wood. Stacking wood directly on the ground encourages the wood to rot at a much more rapid rate as well as easy access for animals to make their homes.

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Pallet space cleared out! Now to drag the pallets that are in the woods up here and through the lilies to their new home to hold wood!

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Pallet number one is in place. I write myself a to do list every day and each day I write-move two logs. It is an attainable goal each day, keep your goals short and simple and organized so that the overall goals work well. I gather up sticks from the yard every time the wind blows or it rains. My stacks are looking small but I only started three months ago and I work 2 jobs outside the home, so they are looking great! Today I brought three branches over to trim to fire place size pieces.

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It may not seem like much to some but everyone has to start somewhere and to me it feels perfect!

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My kindling stacking is started on the pavers to the left of the logs. The newspaper we have in the garage away from rain and bugs.

RickabaughReviews frugal tip: just moved-saved ALL the paper we wrapped our breakables in, immediately started a box of fireplace/firepit paper. I carefully flattened out every single sheet in order to save space.

8/6/18 Update: today for winter prep I brought up one, yes just one large log to my new wood stacking location. But don’t be too disappointed I also picked up a bunch of sticks from the yard and added them to the kindling pile.  I choose to work on most my projects a little bit every day, I don’t overwhelm myself. I keep trying and keep working and I have found I never really disappoint myself. The best part is my husband is always very impressed and very encouraging!

 

 

 

Adding More Garden

My husband and I recently purchased a new home. It came with 4 average sized raised veggie garden beds and an enormous amount of decorative landscaping in the way of flowers and ground cover and a bunch more flowers. Watch my ever so slow process of turning some of these flower beds into veggie beds.

This is our current veggie garden space.

F8621D4C-4A21-46F9-A58C-0E5B40B7C48D.jpegThe landscaping is very beautiful at our new home.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful flowers and lilies.  A lot of lilies, which is great because they are perennials. Which means they will come up year after year.  Considering we just got a hive of honey bees this is great news for them. I am allergic to pollen so it isn’t as wonderful as it may seem. Part of the property has a six foot privacy fence.  In front of this fence is about four feet deep worth of plants, some flowers, some not. Most of the distance of the fence line gets a fair amount of sun and for at least 50 feet of the fence I would like to turn it into garden space.  This adds up to adding about 200 square feet of garden space.  Does not seem like a whole lot to a bunch of the homesteaders out there who have many acres but I have one acre, and half of it is wooded .The very nice part about having a raised bed up against a fence is the ability to better brace the plants for the crazy amount of wind and rain storms that the Pennsylvania climate has. In the last seven years that my husband and I have been trying out this gardening hobby, at least twice a year we are running outside into the storm with rope and scissors to prop back up and tie up the sweet corn.

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This is some of the space that I would like to transform.

Step one-start taking out some of the hostas.  The first part of removal but trying to keep as much dirt in the space as possible is to trim away the leaves so we can see the roots that need to be dug out.

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This one hosta came out over this past weekend.  Monday I cut down three more Hostas.

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The leaves I put into the compost and the roots I put in a specific area in the woods. I will not mind if they root in this area.  I just tossed them all in the area. Hostas are extremely hardy and I would not be surprised if they took  to the area.

We lived at our old home for 8 years and I tried to remove a hosta in the front flower bed twice a year for all eight years. I am hoping I do not have as much trouble at our new home.

8/6/18 Update:

I am a very busy person with lots of projects.  For example I am currently having our robotic automatic vacuum the upstairs, boiling eggs for my salad tomorrow at work, updating my blog with my right hand and making butter with my left hand.

Making my garden bigger today involved finding a big rock and bringing up from the woods.  I know not a whole lot on that effort today. But I also started to trim down one of the three pine trees that have a great deal of dead branches throughout them and are blocking a lot of light from my garden area. These three trees will eventually be coming down, not just because they are blocking light and have a bunch of dead branches but also because of two other main reasons. 1- I am very allergic to pine trees, sad but yes we have fake Christmas trees. Also they block my vision of keeping an eye on my dog, Belle, when I am outside. If they were in the woods, and there are a few, I would leave them. Every time I try to do yard work with her within 2 minutes I am panicking because I can not see her, EVERY time she is on the other side of the pine trees. In addition that is a great location for another raised veggie bed! Long story short, I cut some branches to let in light for the new veggie bed.

Old China cabinet to new

This piece of furniture was built by my husbands’ grandfather and great-grandfather for his grandmother, to hold her fine china. Since we recently purchased his Aunt and Uncle’s home we were asked if we wanted it. It has been in their (now ours) basement for many years. We said we would love to refinish it, not sure what for though. Our old home had two beautiful corner built-ins in the dining room where I kept my china. We talked it over a bunch and we are going to also use it as a China cabinet. Very exciting. Watch as We transform her beauty!

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This is where my new China cabinet begins.  My wonderful husband brought it up from the basement in the state in which you see it.  Drawer and doors were not attached and sanding had already been started.

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The sanding process is hot and tiring but I am very lucky that I am able to use the hand sander which makes quick work.  Also it makes a great deal of a mess.  RickabaughReviews recommends sanding outdoors.  As I am sanding not only am I taking the top layer of stain off but I am also evening out all the dings and scratches as much as possible without trying to take away to much of the board itself.  It is old and not very stable.

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At this point you can see that I have the whole one side sanded to the smoothness that I desire.  When my right hand gets tired of holding the vibrating sander, I am able to switch hands.  My useless left hand has a bit of use in it.  When sanding with the sander in my right hand I use my left hand running it over the freshly sanded areas making sure they are smooth to the touch, it also helps me find small scratches or dents that are not showing up visually, which might show up drastically once the dark stain is placed on the cabinet. When sanding with the sander in my left hand I am doing the same constant checking of the smoothness of the freshly sanded areas with my right hand.

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You can see in this photo that I have some of the trim pieces on the front of the cabinet sanded.  I also was able to tell that many years ago when she was put together, they might not have used all the same type of wood, so it will be interesting to watch how this project turns out. The several layers of paint on the shelves are the next to go!

Citri-Strip QCG731 Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel, 1-Quart

This is the paint stripper we used. I was worried because this is a very old piece but we have been very careful. And it has dried out for over a week since we used the stripper on the tops and bottoms and sides of shelves. It is so easy to use! We also have used this stripper to resurface our steel tub at our old house.

It works amazing! RickabaughReviews Approves! And we keep it on hand, I am always in the middle of several projects and you never know when you will need it next.

When applying the thick yet surprisingly runny stripper we use, super cheap, disposable brushes that you get by the bag. Once you spread the stripper onto the surface it sticks really well. When you are done using the stripper for the day, dispose of the brush. The stripper starts working immediately. It is like science class all over again watching the chemical reactions.

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This paint stripper doesn’t smell as bad as past stripper. But my husband has been helping me out a lot with this project. He has stated that you should have a drop cloth of some kind, we use newspaper-free-disposable “drop cloth”.  We use a multi tool as a scrapper. I will try to get a photo of the tool later.

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This the drawer for the bottom of the China cabinet. Yes I will need to decide on new drawer pulls.

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Starting the sanding process of the drawer.  The original wood grain is so pretty!

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I sit on a small gardening stool which really saves the back.  I encourage everyone to make their projects easier for themselves.  I rotate the drawer and am no longer bending over to sand the other side.

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The drawer pull marks are very deep in the wood so instead of compromising the integrity of the drawer with drastic sanding, I will need to find some larger pulls to cover the indentations. This may pose a challenge.

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Only the front has been sanded so far.  I use a small palm sander and you can also see my excellent fold up gardening seat in this photo. It has so many pockets to hold all your go to gardening tools.  I have a bunch of projects going on all the time.  Some days I get in hours of project time and other days I get 10 minutes.

Spoiler Alert!! Rickabaugh review on Mission Impossible-Fallout

Do you like movies? Do you like action? Do you like pretty people? Do you like the good guys to win? This movie has all of this and more! Tom C. still looks good. Alec B. handsome as ever. Rebecca F. , Michelle M., Vanessa K., and Angela B. Beautiful and graceful as always ladies with great hair!!! Ving R. And Simon P. Some of my favorite adorable supporting comic relief, when I see you boys it makes me smile at the team devotion. Henry C. You played an ok good guy and you tricked me, making me think you were a good guy, the cell phone was your tell. I was sad they made such a pretty man to be the villain. I was only slightly sad when you took the hook to the face. But you played a great bad guy.

Loved the action! As usual! It was not too graphic to give night mares, its a fun suspenseful movie that made me hold my breath at moments.

The motorcycling chase scenes were very cool at the lower level and high speeds. I felt like I was riding the motorcycle.

Sometimes I find the sounds of vehicles just a bit too loud in the theater, despite the loudness at some points, RickabaughReviews Approves!

Silly Cake for all occasions!

I am not a professional baker, I can follow the directions on the back of the cake mix box. But its not fun enough for the birthday surprise I had in mind. Watch the transformation, and find out how I like some of the baking ideas I have read about on the internet and all those fun baking shows. The Rickabaugh reviews are in!

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I have a cake pan, but it is the usual large rectangle. Not too much fun. I would eventually like to get myself some more different sized cake pans. But for now with my beautiful multiuse cake plate that is round, I wanted a round cake. So I used the two pie plates I have, given to me by my gramma. One is much smaller than the other and I feel pretty sure its considered depression glass. It still works!

Snack Pack Pudding, Chocolate, 4 Count – 3.25 oz Cups (Pack of 12)

I wanted a layered cake and realizing that I did not have enough store bought frosting and I wasnt sure if I had the ingredients to make some ftom scratch, searched the cabinets-found chocolate pudding snacks! I have chocolate cake.  We will see if with chocolate pudding in between the layers will be good.

IT WAS AMAZING!!

I ended up trimming the tops of the two small cakes “pies” so that they would stack nice. The trimmed off portions went into a bowl and then I crumbled them up real small and added two pudding snacks. Mixed well, using a knife spread it on thick hoping my baking experiment would work. It was sticky and held the two cakes together perfect. I highly recommend this super yummy invention. Also I trimmed the tops but I did not trim the sides to be perfectly straight. It wasn’t a huge mistake but when putting the icing on it was incredibly difficult. It looked cool and weird and different and that was great. But once is enough.

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Pillsbury Moist Supreme Premium Cake Mix, Devil’s Food, 15.25 oz

It might not be the most expensive or fancy but it hit the chocolate cake fix for all who had some! I highly recommended this brand.

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Most of the supplies are in order. I had a bunch of mixing of icing colors and so I did that while the cake was cooking. Next time I will do it while the cake is cooling. My icing was hardening up while the cake was cooling.

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Pretty cake plate! And my round pie plates. I also recommend remembering to grease and flour your glass plates before putting in the batter. I forgot and had to only do a small patch job.

If part of your cake gets stuck in the pan-don’t fret about it! Scoop it out shove it in the cake hole and slap some icing on it. Everyone will rave how good it tastes.

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Got my food coloring! The back of the boxes have great suggestions on how much of which colors you can combine to make color schemes that match your style. I personally do not have a color mixing wheel in my head.

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This is a very basic Icing bag set. The basic set such as this is not for fancy cakes, if you make your own very thick and heavy icing you can get adequate function from the tips but if the icing is too thick it just bends the plastic projections which are there to give you a specific design, so unfortunately I have found plastic tips for icing bags sets to be slightly counterproductive. Plastic icing bags, yes easy to wash but difficult to get a good amount of use out of all of the icing you have. I have a bit of arthritis in my hands and wrists and the plastic is difficult to use and hold and tires out my hands quickly. There may be a day when I pull out all my pennies and get a good set but considering I make one crazy cake every other year, I will not get good use out of it. I can figure out cheats until I need to start making a cake a week.

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I saw this totally cool trick to use cling wrap and line up two to three colors of icing then put it in your icing bag to make super cool multicolored flowers. I was being stingy on icing so I used just orange and purple. The concept is excellent and is so cool. It did not work well for this project because the icing I had was not stiff enough and I ran out of icing. Next cake I think I just might make my own icing, then I can double the mix amount and not worry about running out.

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Separating out the icing. Realized to make the most of the icing and wash one less bowl and one less fork, put the food coloring right in the icing container.

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Colors turned out excellent. I used very few drops of food coloring (between 2 to 6) to try to reduce the amount of stains that might happen with 5 small kids eating cake. Bolder, brighter colors need more food coloring. More food coloring means you might not get it out of their new birthday dress, also some kids have sensitivities to food coloring.

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This is how I watched the multicolored flowers started on a baking how to.  I suggest have someone help you with holding down the cling wrap-if cling wrap has always been your enemy. A good trick might be to chilling all the icing to make it less runny and easier to manipulate. Also if you have any burrito wrapping skills, now is the time to show them off.

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A trick I have never tried before that a friend who makes a lot of cakes suggested to me once, wax paper on a piece of cardboard.

Works Amazing!

Make sure you use two or more pieces that over lap just slightly in the middle of the cake. I was able to get away with just two because it was a small, not super heavy cake.

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Centered the bottom pie plate cake layer in the middle of the wax paper and card board. As you can see I trimmed the top of the cake to make it flat to easily layer on the pudding mix and then the top pie plate layer. It was flat but not level, which in the end product will make your cake look even less level. If you are a perfectionist get a ruler to help you out. I am a bit go with the flow, it doesn’t have to be perfect-it will be delicious straight or crooked.

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The “FUN” part of icing was next. It was difficult and so messy and looked crazy bad! I was texting updates to my husband who was off site and he had strong doubts about the outcome.

Tie dyed looks crazy bad before it looks good, every time, but it will turn out awesome!

Best term for how you put the icing on would be “glob” but you need to glob on the colors starting in the center of the top of the cake. Change colors going in a spiral from the center the whole way around the top and down the sides.

You can see that I left spaces in between the colors so as to not mix them all up on the spoons I was using to place it on the cake. I used a toothpick to smear the icing colors together to leave no showing chocolate cake. And it helped to level out the icing globs.

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Touching globs! 😂

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By the time I got to the bottom of the cake I was tired and ran out of different colors. Its still rough looking at this point, don’t get discouraged! The next step is the fun transformation-will pick you up-step!

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Clean toothpick! Start in the top center every single time. If you are really concerned about perfect mixing with drawing the tookpick through the cake, clean off the toothpick every time you start at the top middle and draw out to the edge and then down the side.

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Instant Tie Dye!! You can stop here and everyone will ooohhhh and aaahhhh! But I thought sprinkles will take it to the next level. They didn’t stick too well so they were everywhere in the kitchen.

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Now is when the cardboard and wax paper come into play.  Use two hands and put the cake and wax paper and cardboard on top of your nice clean cake stand. If it is a large cake get a helper. Its not as fun to eat cake off of the floor.

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In this photo you can see how I gently and slowly slid out the cardboard. At this point you can see very easily where your cake is on the plate through the wax paper. If you have to move the cake to center it on the plate use the wax paper and tug just a bit, slow and steady.

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When your cake is where you want it on the plate, take one side of wax paper out at a time. If you pull with two hands and slow and steady  the wax paper shouldn’t tear and stick under the cake.

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Cake on a plate! Just a bit more decorating I think!

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Remember that little bit of icing I put aside? This is where it comes in.

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Icing tip I used.

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I snipped off the end of the cling wrap and just slid icing and cling wrap into the plastic decorating bag, which greatly added in clean up-wasn’t too messy.

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Sqwished the icing to the end. A great tip I received from a baker friend was once the icing is in the bag( this is for right handed people) have the small icing tip in your left hand. Take the large open end in your right hand twist the end sealing the bag shut and creating a stable holding situation as well as controlling the pressure in your dominant hand, wrist, and arm. That useless left hand, wrist and arm hold the small delicate tip steady as I decorate. When I lose pressure in the bag, more pressure needs to be made. This is done by twisting the big end, that was twisted shut and held twisted between my right thumb and right pointer finger, twisting the plastic bag naturally pushes extra icing down to the decorating tip, descreasing the amount of space in the bag and increasing the amount of pressure in the bag. Once again giving you the adequate amount of icing and flow.

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I desired to have a purple and orange flower trim around the bottom of the cake. The cake was plenty busy so this small detail was lost on the overall look, but it was a great learning experience. The icing I choose for this cake was delicious but not thick and firm so the flowers were runny, so I ended up making less of a flower trim and more of a funky ribbon of color at the bottom.

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Sprinkles are fun looking. Very messy and bounce off of cakes sides when you toss them at cakes. Thus sprinkles everywhere. And if there is a drop of water anywhere near a rogue sprinkle you have streaks of color all over the counter and the floor, and if you get them on the bottom of your socks they get transferred to carpeting. Then the dog licks the found spinkles and next thing you know there is a strange green spot on the brand new carpeting.

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Add the candles when birthday subject is near! Until then keep it safe from harm with the lid.

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Ready to PARTY!!!

Kid tested, Miller Family and Rickabaugh’s approve!

How I Save Money on Groceries

You have to eat to live. Prices of groceries continue to climb but our pay checks do not. Here is a few tips to help the grocery bill go down but still fill up your tummy.

1. Cut coupons-I cut out all the coupons, what I don’t need or use I give to friends and family.

2. Take advantage of your local grocery store rewards club.  Our membership comes with gas rewards points and we are able to load free items to our card.

3. Ibotta-it is a free app that you can load to your cell phone. It is not instantaneous, but you can cash out as soon as $20.00. Which you can get in gift cards or they can transfer it directly to your pay pal account.

4. Checkout 51- another free app that you can load to your phone. Similar to Ibotta they have tons of different locations to shop from. It is as simple as snapping a photo of your receipt. We always make our selections in the app right before we leave for the store and submit our receipts directly after we get home from the store. Different coupons have different expiration dates and times.