Monster Muff Purse with Vinyl View Screen

Muff: a fuzzy warm tube to warm your hands

I started this project wanting to incorporate a clear vinyl view screen into a muff so that the user could send text messages or otherwise use their smartphone/device while keeping their hands warm. I had seen some

thing like this at a sporting goods store over the holidays. I thought about what type of person might use such a muff and where they would take it and I decided it needed to have a carry strap and a zipper pouch for sundry items such as a phone charger or small wallet.

Initially, I had envisioned teen/tweens going to sporting events with a muff that allowed them texting dexterity while keeping their hands toasty warm. When opened to reveal the vinyl screen, the muff was going to read “Go Sports!” or something like that – a way for the wearer to cheer on their favorite team while texting the people next to them. 😊

The final design was somewhat uncertain as I went to the fabric store searching for my muse. Thankfully, my daughter was with me and when I saw her reaction to a pink/purple/blue faux fur, I knew what the outside had to be made of. A few days and two googly eyes later, the “Monster Muff” was born. Part muff, part purse – fashionable and functional.

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty easy project so long as your sewing machine is beefy enough to go through 2 layers of fleece and 2 more layers of faux fur simultaneously.

As a seamster in training, I can sew in a (mostly) straight line and can use a rolled hem to hide a fabric edge. If you find going through my version of this project that it could be improved with a simple technique or change in the order of operations, please share!

I’m a burgeoning ‘YouTuber’, so I made a video of the process and will share the links to the video in each section so you don’t have to watch the whole thing to find one small part. (feel free to like, comment, subscribe and share! ^_^ ) Please also consider voting for this project in the ‘Sew Warm’ contest on Instructables! Thank you!


(Video at 1:00)

The materials are straight forward – I list below what I used, but the overall design is just one way of doing it. Have fun and personalize it! Muffs can be as simple as a tube of rolled up fleece. They don’t need vinyl, or straps or elastic or anything else to keep your hands snug while making fashion statement.

The numbers behind the material correlate with the image showing the needed sizes


  • Anti-pill fleece for the inner muff (1b, 2b, 3b, 5)
  • Fleece for teeth (6)
  • Faux fur for the outer muff (1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 4b)
  • Googly eyes
  • Paracord (about 36 inches or 91.4 cm)
  • Clear Vinyl (7)
  • Elastic waistband material (approx. 2 strips of 10 inches or 25.4 cm – this will be determined by how big your wrist is)
  • Zipper (7 inch or 17.8 cm)
  • Thread to match your fur and fleece


  • Sewing machine
  • Cutting tool (Scissors, rotary cutter)
  • Needle/thread
  • Something to measure with
  • Super glue

Measure twice, cut thrice (or something like that)

(Video at 1:29)


Cut out the materials to the dimensions shown.

Tips: When cutting the polar fleece, don’t pull it too tight, it stretches and does not have a straight edge when it relaxes.

When cutting faux fur, cut the material from the back and try to miss cutting the fur itself unless a trimmed look is desired. Carefully cutting the fur in this method cuts down on the mess. Have tape, or something handy to clean the fur mess as you go. I found a wig brush worked well to brush the cut hairs out of the fur.

When cutting the center section out of the pieces, use a paper template to guide your cuts, it’s much faster than measuring the fleece.

Making the Shoulder Strap

(Video at 2:55)

Sew the two strips of fur along the short edge such that the hair falls flat as you move away from the seam in either direction.

Sewing in the direction the fur lies (don’t sew against the fur, it jams the machine), make a seam of your choosing to encapsulate a piece of paracord inside the fur. This becomes the strap of the muff

Sew it inside out

(Video at 3:30)


As shown in my fantastic power-point diagrams, sew the polar fleece to the fur (fur side facing in) along the edges indicated. Then turn it right-side out. Section 6 needs to be sewn between sections 3a and 3b along the curved edge. When turned inside out, it will eventually become the Monster Muff’s toothy grin.

Attach the vinyl

(Video at 5:41)


Flatten the vinyl before cutting it – there will never be an easier step in the process to do it. To flatten wrinkled vinyl, I found it worked well to heat the vinyl using an iron on a low setting with a piece of parchment paper preventing the vinyl from sticking to the iron or backing surface. Using a flat surface, I applied pressure on the warm vinyl, pressing it flat until it cooled.

I found the polar fleece wanted to stretch and pull in the sewing machine whereas the vinyl would stick like mad to the smooth plastic of the sewing machine. To mitigate this, I placed bit of parchment paper under the vinyl. The parchment paper is easily removed when no longer needed.

From prior experience, I have discovered that if the stitching is too near together when sewing vinyl, the vinyl seam becomes like a perforated sheet of paper and is prone to ripping. Before attaching the vinyl, test your stitch pattern with a small piece of vinyl to ensure it is not prone to ripping.

Roll and hem the fleece edge

(Video at 6:31)


With the vinyl attached, now make a rolled hem along each short edge of the large polar fleece section (section 5). The rolled hem hides the edge of the fleece fabric and gives a more finished look. Allow for your hem/loop to be large enough to accept your elastic bands.

Join sections

(Video at 7:10)


Join sections 1 and 2 at the bottom edge. This is easily done by placing fur faces together and sewing a straight line across the two sections.

Attach section 5 to the combined 1&2 sections as shown in the image. The edge of the vinyl should be sandwiched between section 5 and 1&2 so that your hands won’t rub on it when in the muff.

Sew the inner muff tube

(Video at 7:51)


The inner muff needs to be sewn together into a tube shape. Sew section 5 along it’s long edge to create a loop. The seam should be smooth on the inside of the muff and can be as ugly as you’d like on the outside, it will be hidden.

Magnetic clasp

(Video at 8:12)

Attach the magnetic clasp to join section 2 and 3. I would recommend a smaller magnetic clasp than I used or reinforcing the polar fleece in section 3. The clasp does not feel very durable.  Another layer of fleece backing the clasp may improve the result.


(Video at 8:51)


The zipper attaches to the top and middle of section 1 and section 2 and allows for opening into the gap between section 1 and the inner muff, section 5. This can be sewn inside out to make the seam easier. If I were going to do this again, I would incorporate section 3 into this step as shown in the figure.

Sew the inner muff to fur

(Video at 11:08)

Sew the inner muff along the outside of the fur. Don’t sew across the muff, just around the ends. This step also helps create the zipper pouch.

Front flap

(Video at 11:22)


If you have not already attached the front flap, attach it now. It should allow the zipper to be accessible on the top of the muff/purse and cover the vinyl view screen when closed.

Shoulder strap

(Video at 12:13)

I found it easier to sew the shoulder strap onto the muff by hand than by machine. It only takes a few stitches. The strap goes between sections 1 and 2.

Elastic bands

(Video at 12:25)


To add the elastic band, cut a slit in the rolled hem you created earlier. Using a skewer stick, pencil or similar long pointy object, push the elastic band through the cuff. Sew the elastic and trim to the desired length. The elastic should be long enough to go loosely around your wrist – so you can fit a finger between the elastic and your wrist without stretching the elastic.

Fluff and finish

(Video at 12:47)

The seams that are visible on the fur can be made invisible by picking the fur back out of the seams. This is easily done with something like a skewer stick or toothpick.

To attach the eyes, I used super glue. For the teeth, simply cut peaks into section 6. I trimmed some of the fur around the zipper and gave the purse a good combing.

That’s It, thanks for taking time to read my instructable. Please let me know if you have questions, I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Making,







Stop Changing Batteries – Use a Power Supply

As with many of my posts, I’ve also included a video showing the process, you can find it on YouTube.

Safety first

When it comes to safety, it pays to double check your work and error on the side of caution. I can give some guidance on how to choose equipment safe for your application, but it doesn’t mean it is safe for your person if you get in the middle of your electric circuit. if you have concerns about doing this on your own particular project, ask for help.

Some things to keep in mind for safety:

Voltage does not kill, current kills, but voltage is required to push the current along. So, while a 5 Volt 1 amp power supply may be reasonably safe to work with, a 100 volt .1amp is potentially lethal if it ‘bites’ you in the wrong spot. Ask for advice if you do not know. At all times, practice safety.

Batteries/power supplies have specific direction/polarity (positive or negative) that the moves the current along. If you wire your circuit backwards, the current will attempt to flow backwards through your device and could damage it. Check the polarity of your batteries and power supply to ensure they match. There will be more on this in a later step.

Before replacing batteries with a power supply, consider where the device or toy is used. Will it be sitting on a desk or near the bathtub? Would your kids put it in the bathtub? Will it be a shocking experience for them if they do?

The problem:

A Match

In general, batteries make my life a little more mobile and less tangled. Sometimes however, there are certain devices that I wish came with a plug. Most recently my kids got an awesome night-time toy that projects stars, the moon, galaxies, etc on the ceiling. The problem is the toy is battery operated only and there’s no automatic shutoff so when kids use it like a night-light it’s dead in a few days. I don’t like buying or replacing batteries. (Because I’m a cheapskate).

This toy just sits on the desk, so it’s a good candidate to modify to accept a DC power supply instead of batteries. This idea is not well suited to something like an R.C. Car, but in a pinch, you can use it on the remote control for your TV.


Wall outlet power is generally alternating current, or ‘AC’. Batteries are direct current ‘DC’ and only push the current in one direction. An AC to DC power supply can change AC wall power to DC power. Many common devices that have batteries (laptops, smart phones, etc) only accept DC power. They use a AC to DC power supply to allow us to charge the device by plugging it into the wall.

Ohm’s law is a formula in electronics that relates the voltage (V, volt), current (I, amp) and resistance (R, ohm) of a circuit. Ohm’s law tells us that Voltage in an electric circuit is equal to the product of the current flowing through the circuit and the resistance of the circuit.


For a given circuit, in my case, the toy, the resistance R is a constant. If I replace my batteries with a power supply of equal voltage, then the current in the system also stays the same. This project uses this relationship to replace Voltage, V supplied by a battery with voltage supplied by a DC power supply – nothing else is changed.

Another way to think about this is that voltage is how much the power supply pushes and current is how much the device pulls the energy. If your power supply says 5 Volts and 1.5 amps, it can power a 5 Volt circuit and it won’t burn up until the device pulls more than 1.5 amps from the power supply. In a later step, I will show you how to verify the current draw of your device.

Pro tip: AAA, AA, C and D cell batteries all have the same voltage rating and are interchangeable. That is, they are interchangeable if you can make them fit. My brother and I used to wrap AA’s in paper strips to make them fit the place of a C cell 😊. The difference between the batteries is just the physically larger batteries last longer/have more ‘juice’, they don’t push more current/amperage through your system.

First step: understand what voltage your system uses and how the electricity flows.

My device has 3 AA batteries which are 1.5 volts each. All added together (assuming they are connected A to D to E to B to C to F) I should see 4.5 volts. The first thing to check is how the batteries are wired and find the beginning and end of where the energy flows.


Consider the above battery diagram. If you put your volt meter such that one lead is on A and the other D you will see either +1.5 or -1.5 volts (or something close unless your batteries are dead), Now check point A and point B do you see +/-1.5 volts or +/- 3 volts? If it is +/- 1.5 volts, then point A and B are essentially the same point and must be electrically connected. If A to B is +/- 3 volts, then you are adding the voltage from batteries #1 and #2 together. Use this same logic to trace the batteries to the end and determine if points A to F or points D to C incorporate all 3 of the batteries (+/- 4.5 volts with full charge batteries). This example are for batteries in parallel (connected A to D to E to B to C to F for example) Most of the kids toys batteries seem to come this way, but I’m sure there are exceptions. Let me know if you need some help troubleshooting the batteries for a different circuit.

Keep note of which points show you the 4.5 Volts or -4.5 volts and which voltmeter lead you are using at each point. You will need to maintain the +/- polarity when you hook up your new power supply.

To measure the current draw of your system, connect your multimeter inline with the batteries. You’ll have to disconnect one end of a battery and use your multimeter to bridge the gap between the disconnected end and where it should be. Note that current draw may change for your device if it has multiple modes of operation. For example, a computer at startup draws more current than one that is hibernating.

Step 2: Find your power supply

DC power supply

Now find a power supply that supplies the needed voltage you measured and has a high enough current rating that you won’t burn it up with your device’s amp draw.

I’ve had good luck finding power supplies at thrift stores. Some power supplies even have multiple voltage settings. In my example, I am using a 5V 1.2 Amp power supply – it is a little over-sized, but for my application, I think it will be just fine. Often times batteries at full charge put out a little more than their rated voltage as well, so that’ something else I’m considering when choosing a slightly higher voltage power supply.

Unplug the power supply, snip the plug end off (unless you are going to use it!), divide the wires and strip them at the tip. Plug in the power supply and check the voltage using your volt meter making sure to note which way gives you +4.5 or -4.5 volts (like in the previous steps example). So, if you put your red voltmeter lead on A and your black on F and saw -4.5 volts, then you want to want to see -4.5 coming out of your power supply and then whichever wire the red lead is on will go to point A.

Step 3 Assemble

You could solder, or otherwise attach the power supply to the points determined in Step 2, or like I do in my example, I fit a plug to the power supply and a jack to the toy. You may consider if you want this process to be easily reversible if you would like to add batteries later. ***NOTE*** Don’t do this with batteries in the device, take them out.****

Solder and assemble and you are done, no more need for batteries!

No Mo Batteries

Thanks for reading and happy making!


Easy access facial tissue

It’s a good idea, right? Hanging the facial tissue on the fridge? It’s easy access for the little ones, but impossible to reach (sans chair/toy/box/sibling) for the littlest. (The best part is the box doesn’t come flying at you when you quickly pull a tissue out; the box stays put! ) For your viewing pleasure, I’ve linked a YouTube video detailing how I did this. Spoiler alert: I put magnets in the box and hang it on the fridge.

Step 1: Gather materials:


Facial tissue box – this is not a Kleenex sponsored project, but I do like that brand

Knife – this can be a butter knife or similarly blunt object. Most likely, you could poke holes in the box with your fingers

Magnets – the magnets need to be strong enough to support the weight of the box (that’s why I use two) but not so small and strong that they would rather rip through the box than let it freely move.

Step 2: Cut and assemble

Cut slits for the magnets to go into the back of the facial tissue box.

Slide the magnets into the slits.

Step 3: Hang

Now that you’ve got it put together, hang it on the fridge or another magnetic surface. I was thinking if you had a strong magnet, you could hang this on a drywall screw (already existing behind your plaster and paint) and could basically be put up on any wall in your home.

Setting the height is all about being low enough for your 7 year old and high enough your 2 year old can’t reach it without a chair.

If you are having trouble with the magnets not staying where you put them, push down on the stack of tissues to give some pressure as you hang the box.

When the last tissue is blown, all that is left is an empty box with magnets on the backside. Simply grab the magnets and repeat the process with the new box.


Cleaning the “uncleanable” toilet


(If you’d rather not read, you can check out the toilet video here on YouTube. It’s amazing how easy it was to clean using the correct tool)

My wife and I recently moved into a home that had been sitting on the market for the better part of a year. Needless to say, the place needed a thorough cleaning. The toilet however just wouldn’t clean. Typically I use a cheap chemical cleaner that I pick up at the dollar store  (for a dollar) and a scrub brush to clean off the junk that accumulates in a toilet, but this mess wasn’t coming off. I tried scrubbing, scrubbing again and even a different harsh chemical cleaner intended to remove calcium, lime and rust deposits. NOPE. Didn’t work.

To clean our dirty home, we hired the help of a cleaning crew that boasted their ability to clean toilets such as ours. BUUUUT when the they showed up, it was a team of 1 person who didn’t bring their toilet cleaning materials. *face-palm*. She did however divulge the secret to cleaning this unsightly mess – *drumroll* a pumice stone. Now, if you’re like me, you will quickly type “what is pumice?” into your smart phone – let me save you the trouble!

Pumice is nature’s sand paper – a rock! But not just any rock, a lava rock. Pumice forms when hot lava cools so quickly the rock’s molecules don’t have time to align into their preferred crystal structures. Gas bubbles trapped during cooling help to form lots of tiny voids such that the rock looks like a piece of open-cell foam. It’s surprisingly light and brittle and you’ve likely seen it before. This is the same type of stone that is used to take dead skin or callouses off your feet- but please, get a different stone for that job.


Pumice on stick was not readily available at my local Walmart, but gloves are nearby – I picked both these items up in the home cleaning section. My gloves had a hole in them…because my sister in law used them as she remodeled our kitchen before I got around to using them. (Thanks S!)

Anyways, I was surprised with how easily the mineral deposits (that’s what I think they are anyways) were removed from the toilet bowl. It took me literally less than a minute to scrub off the majority of the build up. The only bit that gave me trouble was right where the water enters the bowl. The pumice stone is very light – surprisingly so – and it crumbles as you use it to clean the bowl under water. If you were going to work on a larger section, you may want a second stone handy, but for just a couple of dollars at Walmart, it won’t break the bank.

Clean up was easy, I threw away the remainder of the stone, gloves and washed my hands…a lot.

Happy cleaning!


Easy no-sew burlap tree skirt

It’s almost here! That magical time of year where everything changes – we bring trees in the house, put lights outside and move our budget to the red. Christmas time! Add some rustic flair to your home this year and keep your budget black with a super simple, no-sew burlap and duck-cloth tree skirt.

I made this tree skirt a couple years ago on a whim to impress my lovely wife. It worked! She even added more burlap to the tree she liked it so much. You can easily make a skirt like this in one evening if you have all the materials on hand.

Materials and Tools

  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Fabric (I used burlap and duck cloth)

Sizing the material

This is the trickiest part of the whole project. I was just ‘winging it’ and had to make a trip to the local Wal-Mart to get more fabric half-way through. However, you can estimate how much fabric to buy using the following formulas: (if math ‘ain’t your thing’, just wing it 🙂 ).


Center burlap circle – has radius ‘R’ in my example, R=24 inches.

Burlap strip – 7 inches wide by 19R long. That’s about 3 times the distance around the burlap circle. You need the strip to be 3 times longer than the center circle because when you pleat it the fabric is triple-thick (keep reading and you’ll see what I mean)

Duck cloth strip – 7 inches wide by 19(R+W). (Where W is the width of exposed burlap strip, about 4 inches)

Duck cloth ribbon – 1.5 inches wide by 6.3R (that’s about the length around the center circle)


Cutting and gluing

Cut the circle and a slit from the center radially outward. This slit allows you to wrap the skirt around the tree base. Also cut your strips.

Plug in your hot glue gun and let it heat up.


The first step is to add a hem. This step is very important because if you don’t do it you will have threads coming off your skirt and it will look a little shoddy. Compare the top of the duck cloth in the above image to the bottom; the top is hemmed. It doesn’t matter what the other edge of the cloth looks like, you won’t see it. To make a hem, simply fold over the edge and glue it down. I didn’t use a rolled hem because I wanted the hem to lay flatter.


Once your strip is hemmed, glue the burlap to the bottom of the burlap circle so that the un-hemmed edge of the strip is under the circle of burlap. I used a 2.5 inch overlap of the burlap strip and the burlap circle. The pleated circle is on top of the pleated burlap.


To pleat,  fold the strip back under itself and then double back again. Glue as you go attaching the pleated strip to itself and the circle. Watch out to keep the overlap of the strip and circle consistent as you make your way around. Try pleating without gluing and then when you get the hang of it, glue it into place. I made my pleats about 3 inches long and about an inch in-between overlapped sections. Glue the pleated sections down. Hem the strip on both ends too.

Repeat the same idea hemming the duck cloth edge and then attaching it to the underside of the burlap strip. Take care to hide all unhemmed edges.

Along the split end of the skirt, apply a thin line of glue to keep the burlap from fraying.

There is an unsightly seam on the top of your burlap circle. Cover that with a thin strip of duck cloth which has both edges hemmed.


Now all you need is a tree!


FPS Bubbles

Sometimes we let our baby sit in the sandbox with the bubble machine on – it seems to make him happy. On one such a summers day, we were toddler-sitting for a friend of ours while the bubbles rained down on the sandbox. Our young friend was less interested in getting sandy but was taken with the bright red water pistol in the water table. “No,” I say, “we don’t want to get wet today.”  My older son saw an opportunity in that dad didn’t say “No, don’t play with the water gun”, so he filled it up and began to shoot at the bubbles. Of course, I had to quickly take a turn to show how it was done 🙂 Too much fun! Here is a 30 second video showing the action.beforeafterThere isn’t much to post in terms of instructions, but this idea my son had is just too fun not to mention. All you need is a bubble maker (human or otherwise) and a water pistol. Happy shooting!



My favorite crème brûlée

Crème brûlée, the fancy way of saying ‘burnt cream’, is a delicious dessert and surprisingly simple to make. (See my video here) Growing up I didn’t expand my dessert horizons much past chocolate chip cookies and brownies. My introduction to crème brûlée was while on my honeymoon when a friend of my brother-in-law hooked my wife and I up with dinner at his upscale restaurant. Dessert came with a few samples of some of the chef’s wares. I don’t remember what the other options were, but I remember the sweet, crunchy, creamy, silky YUM of the crème brûlée.

Every so often, I eat or experience something that changes my whole outlook on a particular idea or food group—that happened this time. Crème brûlée became a hobby and I began trying to recreate that perspective altering experience.  After a few attempts, I decided that crème brûlée was a pain! As a young man without a blowtorch, I used a pizza oven and broiler to try and ‘brûlée’ the sugar (not recommended). I splashed and burned myself with water and steam on my improvised double boiler and the recipes I tried had complicated timing, cooking and mixing. Most of the time my crème brûlée tasted like eggs – blegh. Sometimes it was close. I bought a blow torch and some ramekins, tasted crème brûlée at other restaurants, but still was unsuccessful at recreating the taste I loved.

Years later, bitten by the brûlée bug again, I found a recipe by Marc Bauer of the French culinary institute – His recipe is awesome. The ingredients and methods are simple and it takes less than an hour to prepare – not including the wait-time in the fridge (about 3 hours) I learned the recipe from him on YouTube and had success the first time I tried it. I later found that Paula Dean also uses this same recipe – (it’s gotta be good if she’s fixin’ it up, ya’ll.) Looking around the web more (now knowing what to look for) I see folks using the same recipe everywhere, but with +/- 1 egg or +/- some sugar – the same essential idea though, it just depends on how much egg you want to taste in the end.

So, without further ado, here is the best recipe I have for crème brûlée today!

Step 1: Ingredients and materials



  • 4 egg yolks – if you need help separating egg yolks from whites, check out this video
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Vanilla (either 1/2 a vanilla bean or about 1 tsp extract)

Vanilla beans are great, but a little expensive. As with most things, you can purchase them in bulk online to save a little $$$.

The supporting cast


  • Blow torch
  • Ramekins – I buy these at the dollar store…for a dollar each 😉 . Mine are a little deep – and I think they take a longer to cook that way. You can probably make the crème brûlée in any glass, pyrex, stone, etc…bakeware.
  • Baking dish that the ramekins can sit in
  • Hot water – you will put hot water around the ramekin when you bake it
  • Oven for baking
  • Towel (or paper towel) to line the baking dish – this just keeps the ramekins from sliding around.
  • Sauce pan to heat the cream
  • Thermometer (helpful, but optional)

Step 2: Beat the eggs and heat the cream

(Start the oven pre-heating to 325 degrees F and boil a pan of water)

First, mix the cream and vanilla in the saucepan and put it on the stove to start heating. You’ll heat it until it reaches about 135 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, just put your finger in the cream; if you can hold your finger in it, it’s not ready, but when it’s too hot to touch, it’s ready. Be careful not to boil your cream.

While the cream is heating, mix the 1/3 cup of sugar and the 4 egg yolks together. Mix until smooth – ish. It doesn’t take very long.

Step 3: Mix, bake and refrigerate

Once the cream is heated, pour just a little bit of cream into your egg/sugar mixture. If you pour in too much, you may cook your egg. I just slosh a little in and mix, then a little more and mix, then a little more, etc. When you have about ½ cup of the cream mixed in with the egg/sugar mix, then you can use a strainer and dump in the rest of the cream. Mix well.

Take this mixture and ladle it into your ramekins. Use a blowtorch to pop the bubbles on the top of the liquid in the ramekins. (The bubbles make your crème brûlée a little lumpy looking).

Snapshot 5 (8-5-2016 11-42 PM)

Place the ramekins in a baking dish (be sure to line the baking dish with a paper towel or something to keep the ramekins from sliding) and then fill the baking dish with boiling hot water to at least ½ the height of the ramekin. Be careful not to get water in your crème brûlée or you will have portions of cooked egg.

Snapshot 6 (8-5-2016 11-43 PM)

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 325 degrees F. The amount of time you bake it isn’t as critical as how ‘jiggily’ the crème brûlée is when it is cooked. Going into the oven, the filling wiggles like….cream, it is very liquidy. When cooked, the crème brûlée jiggles like jello/gelatin. Watch the video to see this.

When done, put the crème brûlée in the fridge to cool – about 3 hours or so. It can sit in there much longer (days even) so you could make this a couple days before a party and just have it ready to go. It will begin to dry out if left in the refrigerator too long.

Step 4: Brûlée and serve

Take the custard from the fridge and put sugar on it to coat the top. The excess sugar you can simply dump off; what sticks is what you need. Using your blowtorch, move back and forth slowly and evenly to melt and brown/burn the sugar. Experiment a little to see how ‘brûlée -ed’ you like it.


Grab a spoon, find a friend and share!


Leather bracelet – brass ring and hitch

My dad’s aunt’s father (I’m not sure what to call him) was a shoemaker in Mattighofen, Austria. In the 1970’s my Aunt made a visit to Austria and she brought back some of her dad’s leather. Basically sitting in the basement since then, the leather is nearly 50 years old but still in great condition! When my dad inherited it, he passed it on to his kids (Thanks Dad!).

Using the family leather, my sister-law made this brass ring style bracelet for my wife a year ago for Christmas – We all agree that it looks pretty cool. She got the idea looking at pictures of a Joanna Gaines (fixer-upper on HGTV) bracelet and tried to figure out how it was made. Nice job ‘D’!

My wife wanted me to try to make a few more of these to send to her sisters so I figured I’d share my attempt with ya’ll. Keep reading below for details on how to reproduce this stylish leather bracelet. If you’re going to make this, check out the video – some parts are just so much easier to see than explain.

Step 1: Gather your materials


  • Brass ring – I got mine at JoAnn Fabrics, but you can probably find something similar at most craft stores.
  • Hitch fastener – Again, JoAnn Fabrics – they keep them in the scrapbooking section
  • Cutting tool – You can get by with any razor-edged blade, but I like the rotary cutter for long, straight cuts and a utility knife for detail work.
  • Punching tool – A punching tool would be very useful, I don’t have one, so I substituted my drill. *CAUTION* The drill can be a very bad idea if you’re not careful – see step 3 for details.
  • Leather strap – I used a 1-inch wide strip cut from a larger piece but feel free to match your width to your style and brass ring. The length of the strap is about 1.5 times the circumference of your wrist. We will trim it in Step 3.

Other useful things

  • marking tool
  • ruler
  • straight edge you can cut along.
  • wood and clamps (if you don’t have a leather punch)

Step 2: Find where the ball hitch goes

This is probably the most difficult part; measuring what size to make the bracelet.

Holding the brass ring on your wrist, loop the leather strap through and back down to overlap the leather. You should have two strips of leather on one side and a single strip of leather on the other. loop the single strip through the other side of the brass ring and then back under your wrist. The hitch point(s) are on the bottom side of your wrist directly opposite the brass ring. there should be 3 layers of leather at that point.



The side with two strips will be joined together with the hitch fastener, the third single strip will be what fastens over the hitch. If this is confusing, just watch the video, it will be clearer. The ball hitch should go on the opposite (bottom) side of your wrist. Mark this location and how far you overlapped. A colored pencil or marking stick is helpful for this part – just be sure it can come off without damaging your leather.

Step 3: Drilling the holes, or “man, I wish I had a leather punch”

There are 2 small holes (~1/8 inch) which are for the hitch fastener to go through, 4 large holes (~1/4 inch) for the center cutouts – the holes give a rounded look to the center cutouts. there is also a final larger hole used for latching over the hitch.

The hitch joints and latch were marked in step 2. The 4 large holes are centered 1/2 – inch to 5/8 inch on either side of these hitch points.


Seriously, a leather punch would be nice. But…if you’re like me and don’t have one and it’s not in the budget to buy one right away, you can make it work with a drill. *CAUTION* if you simply try to hold the leather and drill a hole in it, you run the risk of ripping up your leather and your fingers.

To make the holes, first I trace a pattern on the wood indicating where my hole is going to go. I drill completely through this board where I marked.

Place the leather strap on the template, lining up the mark on the leather with the hole in the template. Lay another piece of wood on the leather strip and clamp it fast – be careful your leather does not shift during clamping. With the leather sandwiched between the wood blocks, drill through the backside of your pattern block to make the holes.


Step 4: Make the center cutout

Now connect the edges of the larger 1/4 inch holes using your cutting tool and optional straightedge.

You may need to trim up the rough edges – just make it look pretty good, it’s a rustic looking piece after all.

Step 5: Assembly

Loop the brass ring into the strap with the ‘good’ side of your leather facing outwards. Attach the ball hitch so that the ball end is on the short end of the loop.



To put it on, place the ring on your wrist and loop the lose end of the leather strap around your wrist, through the ring and ‘hitch’ it to the ball hitch.


Thanks for reading!


Guar gum bubbles + wand

I love bubbles, they are relaxing, mesmerizing even, to watch. They are swirling rainbow orbs that just float where the wind takes them. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by bubbles and I remember how excited I was at our ‘bubble-ology’ class in grade school. However, pretty much the first thing I learned about bubbles was a lie. I distinctly remember my grade school teachers telling/showing me how bubbles always form a sphere, even if they are blown through a square wand. As you can see in the above photo, and my how-to video, none of these bubbles are spheres – most of them only ‘blobs’. I imagine many of you have lived believing the same lie. I set you free. Also, turns out the Earth is not a perfect sphere either. You’re welcome.

NightHawkInLight had an awesome video on Instructables where he makes bubbles the size of train cars! One of the comments to his -ible was from BubbleMama who shared another bubble recipe using guar gum. And that’s essentially the recipe that I’ve been using since. claims credit for making some of the first/best guar gum recipes, so I’d better give a shout out to them too. Their site has tons of information about bubbles and I absolutely recommend checking them out. Thank you all for posting!

My family has spent hours blowing/chasing/popping these bubbles with brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents – everyone. Some of them have taken the recipe and shared it too – it’s just so much fun. Part of my reason for posting a well-known recipe is to put it up on my blog where my family can always find it when they need it. This bubble recipe is really easy to make, you can make it up in minutes (see the video here) and it can be used immediately or days later. Some folks make bubble making into a true science – that’s not for me, but this recipe is very forgiving, you can ‘eyeball’ the ingredients and still have it turn out great!

One note on this recipe, I live in the Eastern united states where it is quite humid most of the summer. I tried this same recipe in higher elevation desert country and found the bubbles popped too quickly (except for the time we did bubbles at a pool party). I think the humidity plays a big part in how well the bubbles work.

Step 1: Ingredients


For the ‘bubble juice’

  • 1 Gallon of hot tap water
  • ½ tbsp. Guar Gum
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 C. Dish soap. I have had good luck with Dawn’s Platinum Power Clean – green or blue
  • 1.5 tbsp. rubbing alcohol (optional)

Most of these ingredients are pretty easy to come by – with exception of guar gum. Anytime I travel somewhere, I forget to pack the guar gum and I find myself buying it again. Usually I eventually find it a bulk or whole food’s store. As a general rule, if the grocery store smells like incense, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find some.

Dish soap can also be tricky. I use Dawn’s Platinum Power Clean- I’ve seen others use the same. I like it because Dawn is always promoting how their soap is used to clean baby ducks covered in crude oil from tanker spills. I figure I can sleep better knowing the full cup of dish soap I just dumped on my lawn is good for the environment! *cough*

For the wand


  • 2 Dowels
  • Cotton Rope – at least 4 feet, but more is more fun…until there is too much, then it’s knot 😉 .
  • Eye hook (optional)

Step 2: Make the mix


The only tricky part is mixing the guar gum into the water. If you dump it straight in, it will clump up – kind of like when you use flour or corn starch to thicken a soup or gravy, you need to mix it with something else first to prevent lumps. That’s where the optional rubbing alcohol comes in. Mix the rubbing alcohol with the guar gum until it is all smooth and ‘liquidy,’ then start your tap water stirring and pour it in. Pour the guar gum mix into the hot tap water- not the other way around.

Pouring Guar

Now, still stirring, mix in the dish soap.

Pour the soap

Drop in the baking powder while you are still mixing. I haven’t made a science of it so I just eyeball what looks like about 1 tsp. In the video, I show me adding the baking powder before the soap – I don’t think the order of any of these ingredients really matters – except that the guar gum goes into the water.

Adding Powder

Step 3: Make the bubble wand

Really, all you need is a continuous loop of something that holds the bubble juice on. A strip of plastic probably won’t work, but a loop of cotton rope works great!

eye hook

If you are not using eye hooks, just tie the rope around the dowel, or drill a hole and thread it through. My biggest bubbles have been made using a long bit of rope on two large fishing poles – I hold it in place with tape – it doesn’t have to be fancy, just a continuous bit of rope.

Step 4: Round up the kids (big kids too) and make some bubbles!

Learning to make bubbles takes just a little practice. I find it works well when you hold the dowel tips together so the rope clings together. Dip it in, lift up slowly so as to let some of the excess drain off and then slowly open your dowels. If there’s no wind, walk back slowly with the dowels apart. If there is a slight wind, just stand there. If there is a big wind, the big bubbles get ripped apart – try a smaller loop, or loops, of cotton rope.



Easy (5-min) ramen with egg (and vegetables) your kids will love!

Ramen noodles, or the equivalent, are found all over the world by many names. They are a quick easy meal that can be served warm, fried, as soup, a side or straight from the package. I’ve done them all, but my ‘go-to’ (and my kid’s favorite) way to eat ramen is as a soup cooked with an egg. The kids like it so much, I’ve found I can put vegetables in it and they still ask for more! I can’t say it’s healthy, but it does add substance and vitamins to a favorite ‘quick and easy” meal. This can be done, including prepwork, in under 5 minutes.

See below or check out my YouTube channel for one of my favorite ways to fix up ramen, then leave a comment telling me how you do it. Enjoy!



  • Pack of ramen noodles – may be called by another name in your region (I prefer chicken flavor)
  • Water (according to package instructions – 2 cups for me)
  • An Egg
  • Veggies –(Some ideas: spinach, kale, shredded carrots, peas)

Step 1:

Measure the water per your package instructions – add the seasoning packet and bring to a boil. Starting with hot tap water speeds up the process. Prep your vegetables while you wait.

Snapshot 1 (7-20-2016 11-08 PM)

Step 2:

When boiling, add the noodles. Sometimes it helps to break them up a little; it makes serving the ramen a little easier. Keep the heat on and bring to a boil.

Snapshot 2 (7-20-2016 11-09 PM)

Step 3:

Crack an egg into the boiling soup/water and then using a utensil, beat the egg up so it mixes slightly with the noodles – don’t mix it too well, just enough to break the yolk and mix the egg throughout. The boiling water is more than hot enough to cook the egg in a  minute or so.

Snapshot 3 (7-20-2016 11-10 PM)

Step 4:

Add your vegetables. If you like veggies, feel free to experiment, otherwise just put in some torn up spinach or kale and/or some shredded carrots. Peas alone work well too. Don’t overdue it though, it’s ramen with veggies, not veggies with ramen – the kids know the difference and won’t eat it if the ratios are too skewed – small victory!

Snapshot 4 (7-20-2016 11-12 PM)

You can add any vegetable you want, but some vegetables, like celery and zucchini, would do well to be sautéed before being added to what is otherwise a pretty “soft” meal. An under-cooked onion would probably stand out as a crunchy intruder.

Serve in bowls, and enjoy! If it is too hot for the kids, toss in an ice cube.