Posts Tagged ‘how to’

DIY Hidden Velcro Stick-Ons to Hold Down Outdoor Table Cloths

DIY Hidden Velcro Stick-Ons to Hold Down Picnic Table Cloths

Table cloths smacking you in the face and interrupting a good meal is a constant recurring problem here in Oklahoma. You can try setting all the food up on top to hold the cloth down, but inevitably the wind catches any and all corners that are not sealed and thus begins the never ending hold down war. I don’t know about you, but it’s time we showed that wind who’s boss! It’s time we did it in a way that wasn’t cheesy with table cloth weights or random plastic clips. Instead of forcing the tie downs to be a part of the table decor (their usually ugly anyway!), let’s hide em away so that they don’t distract from your beautiful spread.

And that’s where these babies come in: Velcro Dot Sticky-Back Fasteners.

Sometimes being married to an intern-architect helps out in the most random ways! We’ve had these velcro dots saved away in our craft drawer just waiting for a re-purpose. I think I bought them for a project in college!? Cale had the idea when we were setting up for our Spring Music Yard Party and I think he’s pretty much a genius!

STEP 1: Pick one corner of your table cloth to start with. Place one dot sticky side down and velcro side up on the table where you want the cloth to lay.

STEP 2: Place a second dot on top of the first dot you put on the table velcro side down and sticky side up. It’s like making a velcro sandwich. :)

STEP 3: Smooth out the table cloth over the velcro dot sandwich and it should automatically stick to the second dot you applied in Step 2.

STEP 4: Repeat steps 1-3 on all corners of the table cloth including any middle areas that might need some extra tie down help (especially if your table cloth is really long and rectangular).

* Obviously we are showing you a sample of using the dots to velcro two table cloths together, but we did use the dots directly on the table on the first table cloth layer and it worked out perfectly! Just make sure you don’t mind rubbing off any leftover sticky glue from the dots stuck directly onto your table.

The best part about this DIY is that there is no sewing, no glueing, no pre-crafting, pre-prep involved! Simply purchase the Velcro Dots for your next outdoor get-together and you are done! Depending on the size and strength you can generally find packages of 12 sets for around $4.00 in most office supply or craft stores. You could even buy a big batch in bulk if you really want too?! The Velcro Dots are simple, easy, AND aesthetically pleasing! I promise once you’ve gotten em in place, the picnic table cloth flying away will be the least of your hosting worries!

Doesn’t Cale make a sexy hand model?! :)

May your outdoor gatherings be filled with delicious food and hassle free table cloths!

From The Farm

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Make It Yours: Make & Bake One-Skillet Potpie

Finally a one pot potpie! Lists basic Ingredients that you can mix and match per your liking along with healtheir substitutions like a whole wheat & olive oil crust!

More and more I’m not really a “recipe girl”. I like to use recipes as a guideline, and then substitute my favorite ingredients and flavors to make a recipe my own. Typically it’s hard to find just “one” recipe I like. I tend to find several with different pieces and parts that sound good, and throw them together to make one awesome meal. So, in an effort to keep my options open, but still stick to the basics, I’m going to be breaking down recipes to their basic measurements. You fill in your favorite meats, sauces, and veggies to truly make it your own!  At our house we definitely aim to use the healthiest ingredients, but sometimes it just comes down to what is on hand!

Now, get in there and own that potpie!

Everyone loves a potpie (unless you don’t like pie and if that is the case there is just something wrong with you!)! The thing I love about potpies is that they are so versatile. From the crust to the meat and vegetables you can mix and match or pull out leftovers in your fridge.

** Keep in mind I’m providing the quantities you’ll need of each ingredient, but feel free to substitute meats, seasonings, vegetables, sauce and crust to taste.

  • Meat: 1 lb; chicken, stew meat, or hamburger.
  • Seasoning: 1 teaspoon; Parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, celery seed or celery salt, and cayenne pepper (if you like a kick!).
  • Vegetables: 2 cups (1 cup each) of vegetables; typically we like a combo of peas and carrots, but you can also use corn, asparagus, green beans, etc.
  • Creamy Sauce: Typically 1/2 cup; of skim milk, whole milk, or even coconut milk + 1 cup of broth; chicken, beef, or vegetable + 2 tablespoons; of flour for thickness.
  • Cheese: 1/2 cup; low-fat cheddar, but substituting some other sharp cheese like Munster or even swiss maybe fun to try?
  • Crust: 1) Make a basic pie crust the old fashioned way with butter and flour, 2) Substitute regular flour with whole wheat and butter with olive oil (delish!), or 3) purchase a pie crust from the store and have it ready to go!
  • Additional: 1/2 cup; onion finely chopped.


  1. Make/Prepare pie crust so it is ready to go. Look for a variety of pie crust recipe links in the ingredients list above or you can probably find a good one in any standard cookbook you’ve got laying around. (If I am making the pie crust from scratch I like to make two at a time so that I can freeze one, and have it ready to go the next time I want to make a potpie. Saves a TON of time and cleanup!)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375. If you are not using a oven save skillet you’ll just have to use a pan to cook the meat as well as grease a 9″ pie pan.
  3. Heat up the skillet with a dab of olive oil. Cook the onions until clear, add in the meat, and cook thoroughly through. Remember you are going to bake the meat as well so if things are slightly pink the meat will finish up nicely in the baking process.
  4. Step 3: Add harder vegetables (like carrots) and cook for 5 minutes, until softened (if you can stick them with a fork or toothpick they are done!).
  5. Add flour, whisk in for about 30 seconds, and then pour in milk and broth. Let simmer until the creamy sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk in cheese, additional seasonings (to taste), and other softer vegetables like peas or asparagus.  Stir until the cheese is melted.
  7. If baking in a SKILLET: Center the pie crust over the filling and tuck the extra parts draping over the side in. I typically use a spoon to help me get down in there since the ingredients will be hot! If baking in a PIE PLATE: Pour filling into prepared pie plate. Center the pie crust over the filling and tuck the extra parts draping over the side in.
  8. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out dry. (I like to use the baking time to cleanup so that by the time you are ready to sit down cleanup is practically done!)

Here are some yummy references of potpies I used to come up with my own version.

Let us know what you think about this new little series and ways that we can help clarify things? I’m always open to trying different ingredients or suggestions to make prep for a homemade meal easier and faster.

Now get in there and make yourself a homemade potpie. You can do it!

From The Farm

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Pipe Smoking 101


There is nothing quite so luxurious as smoking a pipe. It’s a James Bond; “shaken not stirred,” type statement. I know who I am and what I’m about, that I can state it casually. To me pipes are about an image, enjoyment, relaxation and fun. That’s why I smoke one, and that’s why I would recommend it to any man or woman that wants to try something new, something from a bygone age.

I started dreaming of smoking a pipe in the second year of our marriage. I would watch old Humphrey Bogart movies and Cary Grant films and the desire to know that time, to have Sean Connery’s accent, Cary Grants humor and Bogart’s sex appeal. But I settled for a pipe, and it was one of the greatest choices I’ve made.

The basic startup items for a novice pipe smoker are…

  • Pipe
  • Tobacco
  • Accessories to help with that first experience

I recommend buying a second hand pipe, or if you have a pipe smoker you know possibly borrowing or buying one from them. There are many advantages to buying used vs. new pipes as a beginner.

  • First, used pipes are already broken in, or tempered. A new pipe will need to be cared for more specifically and your flavor and quality of smoke can be affected if not done properly.
  • Secondly second hand pipes are cheaper, money isn’t the only consideration but it is one nonetheless, why spend $50 – $300 on a new pipe when you can pick up a used one for $10-$30 and determine if pipe smoking is right for you.

My first pipe was a second hand pipe from an antique shop; I still smoke it and love it today. Here are a few links to great places to purchase new and second hand pipes…

A few things to know when buying second hand pipes, these may seem obvious but need to be watched when picking out a good used pipe. None of the new pipes should have these defects and if they do, send it back immediately.

  • Cracks or large chips in the stem or bowl
  • Used or baked on tobacco in the bowl, this means that pipe was probably not well cared for and it may just need cleaning. But I find it nasty and unprofessional to sell a used pipe without cleaning it.
  • Broken or cracked stem, heavy bite marks or disfiguration of the stem
  • Finally, you should be able to pull the stem and bowl apart and look inside for cleanliness, a filter, and any cracks or broken edges

Not all pipes will have filters, neither of my two favorite pipes do. Other things to look for in a pipe are.

  • The fit, how it fits in your hand and how comfortable you feel with it in the smoking position
  • Style, this is completely up to you, I tend to like Dublin and Billiard shaped pipes see the image below from the Pipe Rack for shapes and styles
  • Draw, the pipe should have a good draw; which means a good flow of air when puffed

Again, pipes are a statement of who you are and what you like. So picking one is like picking a good hat or that perfect pair of boots it takes time and thought. But when you find it, it’s yours and only yours and you’ll tell stories about your first pipe and how you found it. Now that I’ve got you searching the Internet for pipes and defining your style, let’s talk tobacco.

The second key ingredient to a good smoke is your tobacco. This is one of those areas where a little trial and error comes in. Each person likes different flavors and different types of tobacco. From very rich dark flavors to light and fruity flavors tobacco is much to the taste and like of the smoker, so here are some basic types and descriptions for your reference in picking a tobacco, or tobacco blend. Keep in mind most tobacco you find in the shops is a blend of two or more of these tobaccos with possible additional flavors added.

  • Virginia: one of the basic tobacco types used in most blends, it ranges from a light yellow color to medium brown. The lighter colors tend to have a spicy flavor while the darker colors tend to have a deeper more complex taste.
  • Burley: the opposite of a Virginia in its oils and sugar ratio, being high oil low sugar. Burleys tend to have a nutty flavor.
  • Carolina: similar to a Virginia but not as rich, a more diluted tobacco.
  • Maryland: A mild tobacco, used often in blends.
  • Orientals/Turkish: A broad group of tobacco’s used to “spice up” a blend, and are often quite fragrant.
    This is a simple list there are others and some non-tobacco elements that are used as well. A great way to learn about tobaccos and to start to develop a personal preference is to try them out, spend time in your local tobacco shop talking to the owner and other pipe enthusiasts, you’ll learn a lot and possibly make a few friends in the process.

Smoking a pipe as I said before is making a statement, it’s about taking time to think and to listen and so don’t expect to smoke your first pipe in 10 minutes. Grab a beer or a manly cocktail, and settle down in your favorite chair, it’s time to enjoy your pipe.

Step 1. Filling the bowl of the pipe. This is the hardest part, but has the most affect on the rest of your smoking experience. Fill the bowl loosely with tobacco and press or pack it lightly with the tamper. The tobacco should compress half way down the bowl. Fill again to the top and pack with the tamper once again, more firmly this time. Now the bowl of your pipe is about ¾ full of tobacco. Finally top of the pipe with a last layer of tobacco and pack it with the tamper, there should only be a small space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco.

Step 2. Testing the pack. Put the pipe to your mouth and draw through it as if smoking. Don’t light the pipe yet. If the air is flowing freely through the tobacco and pipe then your pack is ready to light. If the air is not flowing freely and it’s difficult to draw on the pipe then empty your pipe and re-pack using less pressure with each tamping this time.

Step 3. To light your pipe, use a wooden match or pipe lighter. I like matches, they have a style that I enjoy, more old fashioned. But a lighter works just as well. If using a match let it burn for a second after striking to let the sulphur burn away. Then gently draw on the pipe while moving the match in a circular motion over the surface of the tobacco. You want an even and complete lighting of the top layer of tobacco. Some will tell you to let this first lighting go out, they call this the false light. When breaking in a pipe I follow this rule, but on my older pipes I often get a good light and just let it smolder for a moment, then start puffing.

Step 4. Smoking your pipe is leisurely, and slow. Slow steady puffs, this is not a race it’s a casual stroll with friends. A good comment to make here is that tobacco smoke similar to cigar smoke is not to be inhaled like a cigarette. These tobaccos are stronger and blended more for flavor and enjoyment, so bring the smoke into your mouth taste it, like wine rolling it on your tongue and then release it into the air.

Smoking your pipe should take 30-45 minutes at least, and enjoying it should add even a little more time. So don’t hurry the worst thing a beginner pipe smoker does is smoke 3 bowl full’s of tobacco in an hour and wonder why your head is hurting and your tongue is burning. Slow and steady is the proper and most enjoyable way to smoke a pipe.


  • The pipe is going to go out, especially as your getting started and learning the feel of packing and lighting. You’ll get halfway through a bowl and realize your just sucking air, not a problem follow step 3 and keep going.
  • The pipe get’s too hot for your hand, let it go out, and give it a second relight and keep smoking.
  • If the pipe starts getting wet, or gurgling, you start to get tobacco juice in your mouth or any combination of these means that there is too much moisture in the stem of the pipe. Take a pipe cleaner and run it into the stem and let is draw out the moisture for a second or two. Try and keep your mouth dry while smoking to keep this from happening.
  • When finished smoking, let the pipe cool before cleaning. Never “knock” a pipe out into your hand or on a hard surface. This can lead to stress fractures in the pipe bowl and stem, which will affect the draw and eventually may crack the pipe completely, rendering it unusable.

I hope this helps those who might be interested in smoking a pipe to get started, and for others maybe it was just a fun read. I’m by no means an expert in pipes or tobacco’s and smoking is something I enjoy but it’s not for everyone. So here are a list of links that helped me get started and which informed this post and it’s images.

Let me know your smoking stories and any advice that you would like to add for the new smoker in the comments below.

From the Farm

Pipe Image via The Pipe Rack

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Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes: (fake) Canning with Jennifer Jo


Due to being 8 months pregnant canning this year has been a little bit harder than I had expected. I have not been able to tryout as many new recipes as I had originally hoped, but I was recently looking up some recipes for canning Sun Dried Tomatoes and found Jennifer Jo with Mama’s Minutia. A momma of four she’s been busy canning and preserving all summer long. I was super excited when she agreed to share her easy recipe for Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes in our “Canning with…” Series. Especially since it’s SUPER simple and doesn’t require actual “canning”. Since each batch is fairly small (2 oven trays full = about 2 pint jars) Jennifer just freezes her tomatoes in a jar and calls it good. Maybe this makes me a sellout canner, but this 100 degree weather has my ankles so swollen I swear they could be a prop in the up and coming The Hobbit Movie (minus the hairy feet of course!).

So bare with me this year! I’m cutting canning corners wherever I can (Ha!)! ;)

Why does Jennifer love these tomatoes?

They’re delicious! Meaty and flavorful and chewy and sweet. They add a wallop of a flavor punch. They are easy to make—no peeling or seeding the tomatoes. They use up lots of in-season herbs. They roast while you sleep.

Read More…

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A Week of Garden Guest Posts at Curbly


This week we are excited to announce that we are posting a week of gardening advice at Curbly! Last January Meg met Chris, the editor-in-chief, at ALT Summit, and hit it off immediately. With a love for creating homemade design to personalize his home and life Chris is a maker, writer, and crafter in the most manly of ways! We joked about how it’s ok for real men to wear pink, love musicals, and still know how to swing a hammer! ;)

“Curbly is a Web community for people who love where they live. Curbly is the best place to share pictures of your home, find design ideas, and get expert home-improvement advice.

Everyone should have a happy, beautiful home. With the right tools and know-how, every person can create a place that fits their personality. Curbly helps you bring out the best in your home.” – Curbly About Page

Here is a sneak peak of the topics we will be covering. Check back cause we’ll be updating the links throughout the week and/or look for our garden post header with the set of three plants (at the top of this post) at Curbly.

It’s time to get inspired, get outside, and get gardening! You can do it!

  1. How to: Choose the Best Spot for Your Garden
  2. Good vs. Bad Soil: How to Prep Soil for Your Garden
  3. Top 4 Things to Consider When Picking Plants for Your Garden
  4. DIY Upcycled Garden Weed Block
  5. Roundup: DIY Trellis Ideas

The first post is already live so hop on over and tell the Curbly crew we said hello! ;)

From the Farm

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2011 Garden Checklist: October

GCHL FreeDwnld

Winterization is the theme for September and October. As you finish up your fall gardening, you should start looking at the plants and things around your home that need to be prepared/protected from the cold.

I hope this helps as we move toward the winter months. If you winterize properly you’ll see a much quicker greening of your garden and a fuller more aggressive growth the next spring. Even though we don’t have frost on the windows yet, that time is just around the corner. So be prepared now and get ready for a beautiful garden this coming spring!

Click HERE to download our October, 2011 Garden Checklist!

From the Farm


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2011 Garden Checklist: August

Garden CKL 8.01.2011_August

Let’s just say it; “Here in the Midwest it’s HOT!” But with these little tips and tricks our garden can beat the heat and those veggies can last into the winter. Summer and I have a love/hate relationship. I love summer for the beautiful puff ball clouds and the long days, for the joys of the harvest and the way everything seems to just slow down a little bit as if the world senses we should pause and enjoy. I hate summer for the long heat waves and droughts and the daily work of watering. It’s summers like this that really get to you… In the Midwest it’s so hot my poor plants are wilting from the top down even as I pour the water to them. Luckily I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to keep my little green friends happy. Mulch is a big one, a strong watering schedule, and a good hat! I’ve got my favorite big brimmed straw hat… I look like a crazy old man wandering around the garden (somewhere in between Gandalf and Wild Bill)! So now that I’ve rambled along, another side affect of the heat and the south, I’ll let you get to your Garden Checklist.

Read More…

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2011 Garden Checklist: July

July, 2011 Garden Checklist

If you like to garden even a tiny bit July has got to be one of your favorite months! For those of us here in the Midwest life seems to slow down some with the summer heat wave and yet all our hard planning, weeding, and watering is finally paying off.

Read More…

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DIY: Recycled Coffee Bag Christmas Stars


This year I was determined more than ever to step up my wifely duty of over the top, whimsical, Christmas decor. :) Christmas always comes and goes so quickly so I had to really make time this year to get down and crafty!

DIY: Splitting Iris Bulbs


Iris are one of the most hardy flowers we have here in the hot, dry plains of Oklahoma and definitely one of the prettiest when properly used in your landscaping plan.

High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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