Upcycled Rag Rug

Do you need to cover a bare floor? Is your beige carpeting looking a trifle dull? The solution...stick a rug on it. Oh, but rugs are expensive....
Not quite! That is, if you do what your great-grandmothers did when they needed to cover floor space. They made rag rugs! It may sound difficult, and a bit old fashioned, but if you can thread a needle and know how to braid, you're in business.

First, you need to start off with fabric. You can use old sheets or blankets, fabric scraps or even clothes destined for the garbage can or donation pile. (If you wanted to make a rug for a bathroom, an interesting idea would be to use old towels and scraps of terrycloth) I used some fabric that I had on hand, leftovers from muslins for my Senior Collection project from last year (awful poly-blends that weren't fit to be used for anything else - but were just fine for a rug!). It essentially does not matter what you use; as long as you like the colors and you can cut or tear them into 2-3 inch wide strips.

After you tear your fabric into 2-3 inch strips, secure three of the strips together by placing just a few stitches on the end to secure them. Now, braid, taking the rightmost strip across and then the left ( or whatever braiding method feels most comfortable to you).
When you run out of a fabric strip, attach another one to the end with a few stitches to hold them in place.Eventually you will end up with a HUGE long length of braided fabric.

Now comes the fun part. Curl an end of your fabric braid and secure with a few stitches on the underside. Make sure the braided flat area is face-up and face down. You'll stitch on the edges. Flip over your rug and continue to spiral it, stitching in between braids (make sure that you are stitching right in between, otherwise your rug won't sit flat). To add different colored strips, simply attach a different braid at the end of a circle.

You can make your rug as big or as small as you like; the more braid you add, the larger it will be. To finish off your rug, simply tuck under the edge of the end and add a few stitches.

Now you have a handmade rug that cost you nothing except for your time and a few scraps.

Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

It's quite a popular stress reliever; pop a few bubbles of packing material and the whole day feels a little better. Of course, it has more practical purposes. I've had many a package arrive safely due to the loveliness that is bubble wrap.

Did you know it was originally designed as wallpaper? It was created in 1957 by engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes; they later discovered wallpaper made of bubbles didn't quite work.

Did you know, "there's an app for that" for Blackberry, Android and iPhone?

You can even pop it virtually online!

So today, in appreciation, pop some bubble wrap (whether real or virtual) or use it to ship a package. Or, of course, you could always use it as the creators originally intended and stick it on a wall.

Happy Bubble Wrap Day!

Look ! It's a Tooth!

Is it truly random find time again, Marcy? Must you bother us so with another creepy thing that you have come across online?

Why yes, yes of course! When one comes across a lovely random bit for sale unexpectedly, one must share, of course!

And what is it today? Why, only earrings made from human teeth! I stumbled across these little jewels while surfing Etsy for pretty little baubles ....

Kind of gives you a little shiver down the spine...hmmmm?

RIP Jack Lalanne

A really inspiring person passed recently. Jack Lalanne, whose dedication to health and fitness inspired us all, passed of pnuemonia at 96. His life was evidence of how full and rich your life can still be, no matter your age. May his example of a full life continue to inspire us all! RIP Jack Lalane.

It's Random Find Time!

It's been a while since I've done a random discovery entry. Today as I was flitting around online I happened to discover unpainted porcelain doll parts for sale. I don't know why these freak me out a little bit, but it may have to do with a slight aversion to porcelain dolls....

Or it could be that there is something about these photos that remind me of Dexter a la the first season's ice truck killer. Does anyone else get that impression?

Ps- these are brought to you by shopgoodwill.com, however, the auction may be over by the time you read this...

Comfort Food For a Chilly Day

January is always a month that I crave comfort foods. When that biting frigid wind tears through me and I crunch across frozen ground, I always want to tear into something warm and filling.
Unfortunately, warm and filling unusually means very fattening. However, this vegetarian version of chicken pot pie isn't too bad at all. The worst part of it is the delightful bits of puff pastry on top, so if you can find a whole wheat variety you can totally justify it.

A side note : Meat eaters can totally sub in some sliced up chicken breast. And those adverse to processed veggie meat and/or watching the budget could totally sub in 2 cans white beans or 1 package tofu.

Vegetarian Chicken Pot Pie

1 package puff pastry, thawed according to directions
1 package frozen mixed veggie blend of your choice, thawed ( could use the "mixed veggies" or a "california blend" - whatever you like as long as it doesn't have a prepared sauce included - or you could chop up an assortment of your favorite fresh veggies)
1 package Mock Chicken Strips, if frozen, thawed (I used Morningstar Farms Chix Fajita strips)
1 vegetable bouillon cube reconstituted in 2 cups of boiling water (you could substitute broth or stock)
2 Tablespoons of flour
2 Tablespoons of Oil or Butter ( Depends on how healthy you want to make this)
1 sprig of fresh Rosemary
1 sprig of fresh Thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

First, pull out a large skillet or saucepan. Add your oil or butter and allow to heat thoroughly. (This means that if you are using butter, your butter is thoroughly melted and starts to bubble a bit) Add your flour one tablespoon at a time, whisking it in thoroughly in before adding the next tablespoon. Now here is the tricky part - if you don't cook the flour enough you will taste the flour in the gravy. You'll know when the flour is cooked because it will smell a bit nutty and be light brown. Add your veggie chicken and veggie blend at this point and allow to cook for a little bit. Add your reconstituted bouillon, your herbs, salt and pepper. Using a spoon, stir a bit to make sure that nothing is stuck to the bottom of your pan. Allow to simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350*F. Lightly spray a large pie dish or other pan (as long as your pan is big enough to hold all your filling it doesn't matter the size or shape). Pour or ladle your filling into your dish. Now, with the puff pastry you have several options. You can cut it into strips and make a lattice-like cover, you can just unfold it and plop it right on your pan, cut off the excess and cut a few vents into it. Or, if you want to get creative ( also known as wanting to impress someone you're serving this to ) you can use cookie cutters to create designs using the holes the cutters make and the shapes they cut out. It's your pie - do what you want to do with it! Lastly, you are going to pop this into the oven until the puff pastry is brown, crusty and delicious. It should take about 20 minutes, but every oven is a bit different.

Serve with a bit of crunchy salad and/or crispy rolls and enjoy!

PS- makes enough for four depending on how hungry everyone is.

What Medical Folks were Really Testing in the 50's

I happened to glimpse the video below yesterday. It's essentially a video of an "average" housewife from the 1950s (actual footage that just came out mind you) taking part in a medical experiment. I find it thought provoking for several reasons. Apparently, we all have the potential to sound like flower children from the 1960s when under the influence. Secondly, it's amazing how innocuous something may appear when it first makes its debut, regardless of potential danger, especially in the wrong hands.

Consider that cocaine was once used in "health tonics"; heroin was invented to be a less addictive painkiller than morphine. Even now, vitamins and drugs (both over the counter and prescriptive) that were and are considered "necessary to health" are frequently taken off the market to prevent heart attacks or other serious side effects. I wonder what present health trend will end up as hazardous to our health next? What do you think?

My Words on a Cup of Coffee

I have a generous love of coffee. My love extends to all incarnations of this delicious brew. I enjoy cold coffee beverages in the summer and hot coffee in the winter. I even have a cup of decaf in the evenings on occasion. If the beans my brew came from are halfway decent, I'll even drink it sans additives (ie, black). Two pieces of the latest coffee news came to my ears yesterday. One, coffee prevents diabetes in women according to researchers at UCLA. Two, Starbucks is releasing a new size that is akin to drinking a quart of coffee...

Why is this of interest to anyone? Well, apparently Starbucks must've had some advance knowledge of this research, because their Trenta size...is almost the amount of coffee a lady needs to consume to get her diabetes prevention on. Coincidence? Who knows? only the marketing execs of Starbucks.

So, until next time, folks, I'll tip my large (justified) mug of coffee to you and wish you the best of a coffee bean filled kind of day!

What to Do When You Are Snowed In!

If you live in the South or have been watching the national newscasts, then I'm sure you are aware of the fact that Atlanta has been blasted with winter storms. Snow and ice covered this shocked southern city and left us all a bit unprepared. Here in Atlanta, we don't have a huge caravan of salters and snowplows to call up at a moments snowflake; the whole city shuts down. These photos were all taken at what should have been rush hour (notice the empty streets)...

This couple was taking their wee babe sledding in a canoe in Piedmont Park.

A moment of inspiration for a local art student maybe? I think it's supposed to be a plow.

In honor of the cold weather here in the ATL I'm sharing a delish and inside-warming recipe for Corn Chowder and a link to a recipe for butter cake
(I ate a bit of this butter cake warm without the powdered sugar and made without the zest - delish.) These should keep you warm until it is safe to venture out again...

Corn Chowder(Brought to you by Cait - check out her blog here)

2/3 cup dry Kasha (ground buckwheat)
2 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 large red potato
1 clove garlic
3 small shallots
1 orange bell pepper
1 red sweet chili

2 c low-sodium veg broth
2 c water
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream

olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt, pepper
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

Roast dry Kasha and cumin seeds/ground cumin for a few minutes on the stove but do not let burn. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in large pot, then sautee garlic, and shallots until soft...I may add 1/2 an onion during this part next time too. Then throw in the corn and potatoes and sautee them for a few more minutes. Add in the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, and liquids and bring to a boil, then dump in the Kasha/cumin mixture and cook until just tender. Add in the peppers and let simmer until all veggies and grains are cooked through. Mix in the lime juice, the last Tbsp of butter, and cilantro leaves at the last minute, just stirring the pot a few times before serving.

These recipes should warm you up in a jiffy, whether encased in snow in the South, or just to warm you up on a chilly, rainy day.

Woohoo....Read the interview!

Hey, everyone I'm on Associated Content! Read the interview!

Click here

Lentils: It's what's for Dinner

Many set healthy eating as a goal for a new year. Below is an amazing recipe for lentils, which are low fat, low in calories, high in fiber and very delish. Perfect for any eating plan you may be on. Lentils are also super cheap, so if your goal is cutting into the grocery bill, they are a great option. They aren't from my recipe experimentation, they are from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. I recieved it as a holiday gift (Thanks Hal, Barb and family!) and so far every recipe has turned out fantastic! It's a great book to have on hand even if you aren't vegetarian. Anyway, this recipe here has my modifications added to it...

Braised Lentils, Spanish Style (apparently I'm on a Spanish kick!)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon Spanish Paprika ( pimenton)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup whatever wine you have on hand (the recipe calls for dry red - I used the last of some Pinot Grigio I had on hand and it still turned out great!)
2 cups of veggie bouillon reconstituted ( or veggie stock, whatever you have on hand)
1 cup of dried lentils
salt and pepper to taste

Pour your oil in a pan and heat at medium. Toss in your onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently about 5 minutes or so or until your onion is nice and soft. Add your garlic and paprika and cook for about another minute. Then, add the rest of your ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to low. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water or stock if it starts to look dry. They will look nice and saucy when they are done, so be a little frugal with adding.

When they are done, serve them over rice with a big plate o' veggies or even by themselves. This recipe makes four, so if there are leftovers, that is fine. I had them the next day on top of a baked potato and they were even better.

So enjoy and good luck with your New Year!

The Man with the Golden Dream

In the choices we make everyday, there is the possibility of both plunging into obscurity, and rising out of the murk and mildew with a new chance and lease in life. Oftentimes, the results of these choices seem totally up to chance, or lucky, if you will. Take for instance the life of Ted Williams. He is a prime example of not knowing what life will throw at you next. After addiction took away his life and led to a life on the streets, he was plucked out of obscurity and granted a new lease in life thanks to a few lucky breaks and the internet.

It's a reminder of how far we all could fall; that we all are just a few choices from having nothing. And yet, it is also a glimmer of hope. A realization that no matter how far that you fall, there is still hope on the other side. Another story that really inspires. What inspires you?

How sweet is this photo of him reunited with his mom?

A video of what helped to launch him into his new life...click here

Want to see interviews with Ted Williams on...
The Today Show

January Reflections

Every year I make the same New Year's resolution, and every year I keep it. No, I do not have the amazing willpower and strength of a superhero. No, I am not a saint. What are these goals I achieve every year? I set the bar really high... my resolution each year is not to make one.

According to statistics, 22% of those who make a resolution give up by the first week, and 40% forget about it by the end of January.

After wearing yourself out over the holidays, why do that to yourself? Probably the best thing to do is to decide to make a positive change, and just do it. Take up your banner for a new you, and charge, whether it's the middle of August or February or June. Take life and make it yours.

Just my thoughts and reflections almost a week past January first.

Keep your New Year's Resolution!

You know that New Year's Resolution? The one to eat healthier? Well, nothing is healthier than a bit of greens! I experimented a bit this evening and came up with a healthy way to get your kale on!

First, prep yourself your favorite rice (for two people) according to the package directions.

Then prep your Kale. You'll need a good solid bunch...

Cut off one leaf and fold in half...

Cut along the tough stem...

Do this for all your leaves of kale.
Roughly tear up the leaves and place in a bowl. Rinse thoroughly and spin in a salad spinner if you have one.

Then, roughly chop up an onion. Place in large skillet or pan with about two tablespoons or so of oil. Cook until translucent...

It's Chorizo time! I used a vegetarian Chorizo, but if you wanted to use the real thing feel free, but it won't be quite as healthy...

Open the package and cut away the casing so what you have looks simply like ground up goodness...

Add to the pan of onions and cook until lightly browned. Add about a half a cup of good red wine (a spanish one would be best) For a great extra tang you could also add vinegar of your choosing. Cook for a few minutes and then add the kale. Depending on your pan, you may need to add it in two batches. Add the first half and let wilt, then add the rest.

Cover your cooking unit for a short while to allow the kale to steam and wilt. When it is done it will look something like this...

Serve over rice with a bit of cheese on top... some shredded Manchego would be nice. I used a cheddar blend which was the only thing I had on hand.

Share with a friend and get your greens on!