Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DIY Cornhole Game Boards

I wanted to make something awesome for my hubby, Matt, for his upcoming birthday.  He mentioned a cornhole set (or bean bag toss, as some of you in the Midwest call it) a couple of times, and again at our housewarming party.  I decided to give it a go, since I had already been doing a ton of painting and staining work around our house.  I figured it couldn't be too hard.  
Materials Needed for Cornhole Boards:
Two pieces of ½ inch thick plywood cut to 2-foot x 4-foot
Four, 8-foot 2×4’s
Four, 4½ – inch long, 3/8-inch long carriage bolts
Four, 3/8-inch flat washers
Four, 3/8-inch wing nuts
1 box of 2½-inch wood screws 
wood filler
Paint and Poly Sealant

I found the basic cornhole measurements on the Master Cornhole Association website so it would be competition ready.  And off I went.

Cut the 2×4’s. You will need 4 pieces at 21-inches each and 4 pieces at 4-feet each. 

Using the 4-foot and 21-inch pieces, construct the tables’ frames with wood screws.

Measure 9-inches from the top of the plywood pieces and 12-inches from the sides and mark a center point for the hole. Use a compass to draw a circle 6-inches in diameter. Cut 
the hole with a jigsaw.

Using the remaining 2x4 pieces, I cut four pieces for the legs of the boards.  They will need to be at least 12 inches long.  I rounded the opposite ends of the legs so I could fold them away for storage.  I drilled a hold in the frame and through the rounded end of the leg to attach.  I didn't get pictures of this since I was doing it alone and couldn't hold the camera and attach the legs.  The carriage bolts will fit through the holes, where you can then attach the washer and wing nut.  I then set them up, measured so they were exactly 12 inches off the ground to the top of the board, and sanded them down so they sat evenly.  I sanded the crap out of the top and sides, over and over again until they were really, really smooth.  Then you can paint them however you want.  You can add a poly coat to keep them smooth and protected. Here's the finished product.  The hubby loved them!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Avocado, Blue Cheese and Pecans

I had my last summer salad of the year, since I look towards soups and warmer, heartier lunches during the winter to keep me warm.  Now I am going to need those more than ever with the Minnesota air getting cooler and fall in full effect.  The thing I love most about this salad is its color, and it is such a cinch to make when you are busy running around for work.  But boy does it taste good!

Spinach or Mixed Green Lettuce
Strawberries, sliced
Avocado, chopped
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

1. Mix in the lettuce or spinach, strawberries, avocado, crumbled blue cheese and pecans.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Easy as pie!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade Garlic Hummus with Pine Nuts

I buy and eat hummus a lot.  Once I looked at the ingredient list, I realized this is something I could totally make on my own in larger quantities, saving us money and allowing me to put what I want in each batch.  I tested two versions of this recipe, and this one was my favorite by far.  It makes a ton so if you have a big food processor and eat a lot of hummus like me, this is perfect for you.

2 cans (16 oz.) garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), separated
1/2 cup of the liquid reserved from the beans
About two or three lemons squeezed, or 5 to 6 tablespoons of lemon juice (I used fresh lemons)
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
4 cloved of garlic, crushed or minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt - optional
1/2 cup of pine nuts

1. Drain the garbanzo beans and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.
2. Plan the first five ingredients in a food processor (beans through garlic), including salt if you are adding.
3. Turn on food processor and blend for at least three minutes.
4. With food processor on, drizzle in olive oil and blend for 30 more seconds.
5. Add pine nuts and pulse several times, mixing the nuts in but not chopping them up.  You can also sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the dip with a little olive oil.
6. Serve as a dip with chips, vegetables, or pita bread.  I love my hummus in veggie wraps and burgers.  This keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Let me know if there are other variations of hummus recipes you have tried and love!  I am always looking to expand my recipe book.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Haas Lake and Lily Pads

One of my favorite new getaways is right in our backyard.  Lola and I have been doing our morning runs through Haas Lake park, ending at the amazingly beautiful and serene Haas Lake.  Haas Lake is covered in thousands of lily pads, with gorgeous lotus flowers that bloom during the summer.

I come here sometimes just to relax and think, allowing myself to disappear in this new environment.  Moving can be tough at times, but we moved to such a beautiful and friendly place.  I am really starting to fit in, find my way around, and enjoy everything this active and wonderful place has to offer.  It is such a slow pace compared to Orange County, and trying to slow myself down has been hard.  I am realizing life is too short to speed through.  I know this is going to be the perfect place to raise our future children.  And when I need a break or just a breath of fresh air, Haas Lake is always here, waiting for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Lucy!

My best friend Vikki's baby, the adorable Miss Lucy, was turning one and I wanted to get her something special that would last.  I knew she would be getting tons of clothes and toys, but I wanted to make something for her new room.  Vikki is in the process of building a mega addition onto their house, so something cute for Lucy's room is what I settled on.  I bought a plain white canvas at Michaels, as well as wood letters and acrylic paint.  I settled on purple since I knew Vikki would be going some sort of blue, and I didn't want to totally pick the wrong blue shade.  I figured purple would be prefect.  I painted the whole canvas a darker shade of pastel purple, and painted the letters a light purple, going for the ombre look slightly.  I glued the letters on with Gorilla Glue, which I would not suggest to anyone else out there that wants to try this.  Go for Mod Podge, since it stays clear.  Gorilla glue turns white, and slightly protruded out of some of the sides of the letters.  Besides that, they turned out so cute!!

Happy Birthday Miss Lucy!!!