Category Archives: Books

DIY Trophy Display {& Pinboard}

This has been a crazy week, packed full of projects that didn’t go quite as planned.  Which seems to be my lot in life, anyway, but one project that did go off without a hitch was a trophy display shelf I made for Bug’s room.  Wanna know why???  Because I pulled the plan from this little book!

I’ve had Ana’s book in my hands for months now, and had been trying to decide what to build first.  I was in Bug’s room trying to organize her many soccer trophies and medals when it hit me!  The entryway mirror on page 37 would be perfect… with a few modifications, of course.  Instead of a mirror, I decided to use a cork board so Bug could pin up pictures and mementos.

I followed Ana’s plans pretty closely, and I used my Kreg Jig to put it all together.  Man!  I love that thing.  It makes all my projects so much easier.

I cut out the top and bottom shelf supports with my jigsaw–and some help from Mr. Type2Fun.  We found it easier to cut the decorative edge from a long board FIRST, then cut the straight end to the final dimensions.  If you have a scroll saw, you won’t need to do this, because you’ll be able to make precise cuts on small pieces of wood.  Our set up isn’t ideal, so this is what worked for us.  Then we attached the supports with screws through the back of the frame.

My nail gun is another tool I couldn’t live without.  I used it to attach my top and bottom shelf to the supports, once they were screwed into the frame.

Now here’s where I modified Ana’s plan just a bit.  I mitered the ends of some 1/2″ cove molding and attached it to the inside of the frame, flush with the edges of the board.

That way, when I flipped the frame over, I had a channel all the way around for my cork board to sit in.  Then I gave the whole thing a coat of primer and white paint.

While my frame was drying, I cut a piece of cork board to fit inside the frame and gave it a coat of  paint in my base color.  We chose Refreshing Pool from Behr, as that is what we used on Bug’s bed.  After the cork was dry, I used a spray adhesive to attach it to some foam core I had laying around.  The reason that I did this was that the roll of cork I purchased was pretty thin.  If you pick up a thicker cork, you may not need the foam core.  Then I used a razor blade to cut the foam core to the size of the cork.

To add some visual interest (and because I’ve always wanted to try it) I decided to stencil the cork board.  I picked up this stencil at Hobby Lobby using my 40% off coupon.

I used a dense foam roller and some leftover white paint.  I made sure the roller was not dripping with paint, but had a good amount on it.  It took a couple of passes, and I can’t say it was perfect, but after touching up a few spots, I was pretty happy with it.

Once all the paint was dry, I enlisted Mr. Type2Fun’s help to nail a piece of fiberboard to the back.  Then we added 4 hooks to the bottom to hold medals and ribbons.

To hang the shelf on Bug’s wall, we drilled holes in the sides of the frame with a countersink bit, like this…

Then we used drywall screws and heavy duty wall anchors to attach the shelf to the wall.

Because I hate looking at screws, we used button plugs to cover the holes.  I just tapped them in with a rubber mallet and used some white paint to touch them up.  Easy peasy, and so much better than exposed screw heads.

Now Bug has the perfect place to display all those hard earned trophies and medals AND she can pin up her keepsakes as well.

All in all, this was a pretty easy project.  I’d say that the cuts we had to make with the jigsaw for the shelf supports were the hardest part.  What I love about Ana’s plans is that they are easy to follow and easy to customize to fit your needs… and on a week like the last one, I needed an easy project!

Have any of you tackled any of the cool plans from Ana’s book?  I’d love to hear about it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies {& The Raven Boys}

Today, I will not step foot in the garage.  I probably won’t even get out my sewing machine.  Why, you ask?  Well, as much as I love crafting, I love reading just a smidge more.  And today, this arrived in my mailbox…

I have been waiting months for this book to come out.  Maggie Stiefvater is a brilliant author.  I have documented my love of all things Maggie here.  So, naturally, I preordered The Raven Boys ages ago, and have been anxiously awaiting its arrival.  Now that it’s here, I will probably do nothing but read… and eat cookies.  Which reminds me!  If you love cookies, I’ve got a fabulous cookie recipe to share today.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (8 oz.) bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis, frozen

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir (by hand) into butter mixture until well blended.

The secret to these cookies is these little guys.  They are so yummy.  I freeze them before I add them to my cookie dough, so they will hold their shape in the cookie.  So after your cookie dough is all thoroughly mixed, add your chocolate chips and your Reese’s PB Cups.  Yes, I use a whole bag.  These are not healthy in the least.

Then I roll my cookies into about 1 1/2″ balls and place them about 2-3 inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake them about 8-10 minutes (9 minutes is perfect in my oven).  You want the cookie to look done.  It shouldn’t still be doughy in the middle, but don’t overcook.  I wouldn’t go any longer than 10 minutes on these.

Then I remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  These are a little like brownies, so you can eat them hot, but you’d better do it on a plate.  They will fall apart pretty easily until cooled.

My kids love them warm with a big glass of milk.  Even Bug, who is not a fan of chocolate, loves these cookies.  So hopefully I’ve inspired you to bake up a batch of these amazing cookies, and possibly even read The Raven Boys.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing today!  ;-)

November Cakes… in August

Let me introduce you to my BFF, Maggie.  (My husband is rolling his eyes right now.)  Okay, so we aren’t technically BFF’s.  In fact, Maggie has no idea who I am, but thanks to her Twitter feed, I know a lot about her.  So every time she says something witty on her blog or Twitter, I always tell my family all about Maggie’s (we’re on a first name basis) funny stories.

Maggie also happens to be my favorite YA author.  I first fell in love with her storytelling when I read Lament.  Most recently, she has released a fabulous book called The Scorpio Races.  It is my new favorite book.  I love it fervently.  In fact, I love it so much, that I allowed my daughter, Bug, to read it.  Bug is an avid reader, but she is not yet 12, so I am very picky about content.  In fact, I haven’t let her read some of Maggie’s other books (Shiver) just yet.  Sorry, Maggie.  Bug loves The Scorpio Races as much as I do.  So when Maggie posted the recipe for the November Cakes that make an appearance in The Scorpio Races, we knew we MUST make them.

We followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I don’t have a stand mixer.  This meant that Bug and I had to knead the dough by hand for a reeeaaallly long time.  We also had to add a little more flour to make it more manageable.  I’m not sure that step would have been necessary if we weren’t doing it by hand, but we did add about 3/4 cup more flour than called for.

Once the dough had risen the requisite hour, we rolled it out spread out the filling, and made our rolls.  I softened the butter for the filling, rather than melting it.  Then I mixed it with the orange extract and spread it on the dough.  It was easier to spread that way, and I didn’t have to worry about it running all over the place.

These were very similar to cinnamon rolls.  In fact, they roll up the same way, but are baked in muffin tins.  Once they were all baked up, we added the glaze, which was soooo  yummy.  There may or may not have been lots of little fingers trying to mop up the leftover glaze.

I think we nailed it.  They were a great first bread roll recipe for Bug.  They were so yummy.  We had them for dessert…  and for breakfast the next day.  I know they are more of an autumn-ish recipe, but these were light enough for summer.  They were much less sweet than my cinnamon rolls, which made them devilishly easy to keep eating.  I highly recommend reading the book and baking up a batch of these yummy rolls.  Even if you don’t get around to the book (GASP!), these cakes are worth the effort.