Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cookie Dough Frosting: You heard me, COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING!

Okay, I though I had my act together.  I decided to buy store bought frosting to make D's cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet in order to save time.   I found out it helps if you actually bring the frosting home after purchasing it...ops.

So, in a panic I went to my favorite frosting recipe found on Our Best Bites.  It is the BEST!  Creamy, velvety, smooth and so easy.  It is different from other recipes because you cook part of it first and you use granulated sugar NOT powdered sugar.  It makes a creamy white frosting, and I knew I wanted a brown color, so I decided to try brown sugar instead of white.  The consistency looked good, and then I tasted it....YUM!  It tasted like cookie dough (duh, butter, brown sugar and vanilla taste like cookies).  I think this will now be my favorite.

COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING (modified from Our Best Bites)
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated/white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a sauce pan whisk and cook flour and milk over medium heat until it comes to a boil and thickens into a thick paste (trust me the paste is where the magic is at).  Put in a bowl and chill in fridge until COMPLETELY cold.

Once the paste has chilled, In a mixing bowl combine sugars and butter.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Next add the chilled paste mixture and vanilla.  Beat it for 7-8 min (that is why an electric stand mixer works best) scraping down the sides occasionally.  It may look like a complete disaster to begin with, DON'T GIVE UP!  Just keep mixing it and it suddenly, magically comes together.  The finished frosting  should be smooth and no longer grainy.  If it is still grainy, mix it a little longer.  (for other trouble shooting check out the Best Bites website, they seriously rock in the recipe category, oh and they have a chocolate version of the frosting and it is divine.)

The finished frosting is soft and easy to work with.  Because it is soft, it is not ideal for intricate details, but I'll take flavor over fluff any day.  I think it would also be yummy with mini-chocolate chips mixed in.....just something to think about.

So, want to see our cake?  D called it VOLCANO ISLAND.  

 I really did let him help frost/decorate it so it is not perfect, but I think it turned out cute.  I covered the bottom layer with crushed nella wafers.  I made the volcano out of the "Barbie" skirt baking pan.  After frosting, we covered it in crushed oreo cookies (minus the cream filling).  We then poured homemade strawberry glaze over the top.  D loved it, and That was all that mattered.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Wow, okay I have been absent a little too long.  Maybe I can catch up on some of my past craft projects later, but right now we are getting ready for Christmas.  This year that means a new Christmas tree.

Here is a picture of us decorating our old tree.  It was small and skinny (perfect for our tiny little house).  Kent and I made most of the ornaments when we were first married.  We spent months cutting and painting the wooden stars, mittens, hearts, trees and snowmen.  The tree had a real primitive (code for a little rough) look to it.  I loved it, but the tree fell apart.  The new tree we found (on crazy cheap clearance) had colored lights and when I realized the old ointments wouldn't match, I was pretty sad.

I decided I still wanted a mostly handmade Christmas tree, but I didn't have the time (or lack of children) to make it happen.  So, here is our 50/50 tree.  It is a fun mix of our keepsake ornaments from years past, store bought (shatter proof) ornaments and homemade ornaments.  I wasn't sure it would be cute, but now that it is up, I really like it too.

 Here is a pic of the crochet stars I made.  With only 3 rounds, they are very simple and quick to make.  Here is a link:  http://jellywares.blogspot.com/2010/11/jelly-xmas-star-tutorial.html
 These little felt birds were the fastest and cheapest ornaments I made.  They are made out of stiff felt (about $0.70 a sheet) and you get 12-13 birds per sheet.  I added a sequence and bead for eyes on some of the birds, but they look cute without eyes too.
 The pattern for this comes from family fun.  http://familyfun.go.com/christmas/christmas-ornaments/buildable-bird-674956/

I think the crochet snowflakes were the most fun to make.  I made two different styles.  http://sarahlondon.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/simple-snowflake/ I made this style out of a sparkly yarn (Christmas always needs a little bit of sparkle).

This snowflake was a little more involved (but not difficult) that the one above, and I think I like it a little more.  I followed the instructions at the bottom of the blog post on starching the snowflakes (both patterns).  Trust me, it makes a HUGE difference.  I put a towel on my ironing board, pinned the points out and sprayed them with starch.  http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/crochet-snowflake.html

Lastly, I made the fun twisty garland for the tree.  http://www.purlbee.com/twisted-felt-garland-necklace/
 I didn't make it out of the real wool felt though, $60 for the project was just too steep.
Overall, I like it.  I don't like the hangers I used, and I might add ribbon hangers if I get the energy.  I also think I'll continue to add to the tree every year swapping out the store bought baubles for home-made, but this will do for now.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

D's favorite Bread Pudding

Are you craving a big cinnamon, vanilla, gooey, warm, mouthwatering bowl of comfort?  Then you will love this.  Ooooooh, it is sooo good.  D is a bread pudding freak.  The kid would eat it exclusively if I let him.  So, after many different recipes and attempts, this is my favorite recipe for Bread Pudding. 

I know some of you are thinking, "Ewwwww, soggy bread?"  I thought so too until I tried it.  YUMMM!   Honestly, I don't know why I haven't shared it with all of you yet.   It is NOT low-cal, but better than many others that call for 2 sticks of butter and heavy cream.  It is super easy, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.  

(Don't get too jealous of my 1970's formica countertop.  I know you want it too.) 

D's Favorite Bread Pudding

1 loaf stale bread (about 8 cups.  I usually use french bread, but in the picture above I used leftover homemade bread...can you believe it, LEFTOVER!)
4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup (or 4 Tbs./1/2 a stick) butter melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

I usually tear the bread up into bite size pieces if I am using a chewer french bread, but for a homemade style bread I cut it into bite sized cubes.  I then dump the big pile of bread into my large bowl and let them dry out just a bit.  NOT until it is hard, just a little dry to the touch.  Drying it out is not a necessary step, but I think it helps the bread soak up more of the milk/egg mixture.

Next, mix all the remaining ingredients.  I just use my 8 cup mixing bowl.  No need to use extra dishes :)

Pour the mils/egg mixture over the bread and gently mix making sure each piece of bread is coated.  Let it sit about 3 min. 

While the bread is soaking, butter a 9x13" baking dish.  Are you wondering when you turn on the oven?  Almost.....  Pour the soggy bread into the baking dish and put it in a COLD OVEN.  That's right, DON'T preheat the oven.  After you get the pudding in the oven, turn it to 350 and bake it for 1 hour.  

There are very few things that smell better than bread pudding baking.  Warm vanilla, cinnamon, bread....Mmmmmm.  (Good thing I have a bowl right now or I might get a craving)

Now, you can stop there and eat it as is.... but why not guild the lily.  

Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1 cup heavy cream

Bring to a boil and add

1/4 cup butter (the other half of the stick you used for the bread pudding)
2 tsp. vanilla

Serve warm over bread pudding.

Oh, it takes good to over the top.  

How about 1 more picture?

Now wipe the drool off the keyboard and go make some!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For my 3 Super Heroes

I decided my 3 guys needed Captain America shirts for the upcoming 4th of July.  I used freezer paper as a stencil.  There are lots of great tutorials out there on using freezer paper as a stencil, but here is one I like from I am Momma-Hear me roar.  

Simple concept.  You cut out the design you want.  You pull-out the part of the image you want painted (usually the positive of the image, leaving the negative).  You then iron the freezer paper on your shirt shinny side down (again using the negative part of the stencil).  The little bit of wax on the freezer paper seals the stencil to the shirt and prevents the paint from leaking through (usually) keeping your lines nice and clean.  

It is really pretty fun to do.  I use my Silhouette Machine to cut my freezer paper out (so I can get a very detailed stencil) but you can also use any image and an exacto knife.  It is a really fun way to personalize clothing.  

After the stencil is ironed on securely, you just paint (inside the stencil) with fabric paint until your image looks good.  Because this shirt was a darker color, it took 3 coats of red paint to get mine looking right.

I think my little heroes (and my big hero) will look extra festive this 4th.  

And just incase you were wondering, I will not be matching K for Independence Day.  I don't think I could rock the Betsy Ross Skirt like she can.

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simple skirts

I taught a small class tonight on simple skirts.  These little cuties are quick, easy and very satisfying to make.

The first one I showed was a simple tiered skirt.
 I found the pattern at http://www.chicaandjo.com/2009/05/28/sew-a-tiered-ruffled-skirt/.  On their tutorial they have a handy little skirt measurement calculation tool.  You type in your waist measurement, length and how many tiers you want and presto, you have all the measurements you need for this cute little skirt.

She does fantastic job with the rest of the tutorial, so I would just follow her.  However, there is another easy way to make this skirt, especially if you want more fullness.

Take your waist measurement (for K that was 20") and multiply it by 1.5 (that = 30).  You then multiply each consecutive tier by 1.5.  ( So, tier 2= 45; tier 3=67.5...etc)  That is how you determine the width of each tier.  For the length you take your length (for K 18") and divide that by the Number of tiers (3 here).  So, each tier would be 6" wide.  Now add an extra 1.5-2" to the top tier to allow for the elastic casing.  Sew it all up like they did in the tutorial above.

Now for K's Betsy Ross skirt.  It was found at:  http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/cutting-corners/2011/06/28/its-cinch-skirt/.  This little skirt is VERY easy and quick (like 30 min or so to make, no gathering!). I just followed her instructions; however at our class tonight someone had an excellent insight.  Instead of making vertical casing for the gather you could hem the skirt BEFORE you sew it into a tube, then finish off the two sides (serge or zigzag).  You would then make the tube for the skirt, but make an extra large seam (a little wider than your ribbon).  Next press the seam open and stitch down each side of the seam flap.  Thread the ribbon through the holes and finish as usual.  (Hope that makes sense)

 K is pretty excited to wear this little baby for the 4th of July.

Happy Crafting all!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fancy pens

I did this little project with the kids.  We have done it in the past (Christmas gifts), and we thought it would be fun to do for Grandpa's birthday too.  It is a fun, easy to do with the kids.  An added bonus is the clay is not as messy as you might think.    

Check out these beauties.

Here are the supplies
-bake clay (like Sculpty, Filmo or generic brand)
-Pens in ROUND plastic tube (I read the "crystal" bic pens do not work, the simpler the better.  No plastic finger grippers or anything.)
-An oven to bake the clay

Pull the ink part of the pen out.  I know the pictures are lousy, but can you see that I pulled the black tip out of the pen? Set the ink part aside and toss the lid.

You need to work the clay when you get it out of the plastic.  I usually cut off a small section of clay and then pinch, smoosh, kneed and roll it until it is very soft and pliable.  Next, I roll my clay into a long skinny snake (kids love making long skinny snakes)

Again, sorry for the poor photo quality, but take the clay snake and wrap it around your pen.  The way you wrap it will affect the look of the finished pen.  This pen had a tiger look, so I went with a very random pattern.  I twisted the clay around one direction, attached it to the clay in the round above then switched directions.  Go all the way down the pen.  

Now add more colors.  Just follow the windy lines you already made.  

Done wrapping.  Can you see that it is not completely covered, and it is still very lumpy.  Now grab the pen and squeeze it in our hand up and down the entire pen.  It will still be very lumpy, but the clay should be stuck to the pen better (don't skip this step, your clay could roll right off in the next step).

Now roll your pen until it is smooth and all the gaps are filled in.  Apply a little pressure if the gaps are not filling in (if the gaps are too big, you can add a bit of clay).  I like to taper the very end of the pen (just like the body of the pen does).  I just hold the pen at an angle with one hand and roll it a bit with the other.   

Make sure the tube is clear of any clay.  I like to cut the end of the pen clean so the ink tube will fit in nicely.  If there is clay in it, use a toothpick to clean it out.  Make sure the back end of the pen is covered too.  

Ta-dah.  (Don't worry I noticed the little hole and fixed it).  

Next I take a pan, put on a small strip of aluminum foil and bake the pen for 15 min at 275.  

 Want to jazz it up a bit?  The kids REALLY love this.  When the pen is done being formed (BEFORE you bake it) shake a small amount of fine glitter out on your surface.  Then roll the pen in it.  I usually roll the pen until all the glitter is cleaned up and stuck to the pen.  

Be sure you don't use too much glitter.  It can overwhelm your design very easily.  A very small amount does a lot.  

Not interested in glitter, how about a marbleized look? This is probably the easiest to do.  

Take two lumps of clay and squish them together a bit. You want it to be striped but not mixed in.  Roll that into a long snake and wrap it around the pen.  Squeeze the clay on and roll just like the other pens.   

Hours later, the kids had fun and we had 10 new fancy pens.  Some for grandpa's birthday (the University my dad works for has a tiger mascot hence the tiger pens) and a few for them (because they need one too).  

These fancy pens are so fun for the kids to make and give to people as small gifts.  We paired the pens with fun notebooks for a quick teacher gift.  We have also customized notebooks and pens to give as gifts to other kids (who love to have things of their very own).  The clay also makes the pen a bit thicker making it easier for little hands to hold. 

Hope you have fun making fancy pens of your own.  

Happy Crafting.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

T-shirt yoga pants

There are not many things more comfy than a worn t-shirt.  So, how about a pair of comfy yoga pants made out of a comfy t-shirt?  Sounds pretty awesome right?  Let me tell you it is pretty awesome, really comfy and super easy to do.

This is not my creation and the credit goes to my friend Carol Ann (I'n not sure where she got it from).  That said, I am sure I do many things different than she showed me/I remember.  This is just the basic idea, you can do with it what-ever you want with it.

There are 2 different ways to do this, so I'll give a few options for you.   I'll try to make this as painless as possible, so there are lots of pictures.  :)

Here are your supplies:
- a t-shirt (preferably one 2 sizes larger than the wearer wears in a shirt.  My daughter wears a size 5, so I need to use a size 7.  I think this shirt was a little smaller than that, but there is wiggle room)
 - scissors or a rotary cutter (just something to cut with)
 - sewing machine or serger (I used a serger, but a sewing machine would work great too)

 1.  Cut the sleeves off of the shirt.  Cut about 1/2" from the seam leaving the seam itself on the sleeve.
 See no sleeves.  DON'T throw them away.  You will need them later.  
 2.  Cut the neck hole out.  I lined my ruler up with the edge of the neck ribbing and cut strait across.  You could easily do this with scissors too.  Toss the neck hole.
 3.  Measure the bottom of the t-shirt and find the halfway point.  Then cut the shirt in half, strait up the middle.
 How are these going to be pants you ask?
 Put the two arm holes together... does that help?  Can you see it coming together now?
 4.  Take the sleeve and cut a strait line up from the bottom of the armpit up.
 5.  Do you see how the sleeve has a slight slant to it?  I am going to cut that part off too.  I just lined my ruler up with the farthest edge and squared it up.  (Carol Ann just cut the seam out and left the slant, I found it easier to square everything up.  Your call)
 There it is.  1/2 the waist band.  I took this part and made sure it would stretch around my little K.  It fit fantastic.  (hello little baby toes)
6.  Sew the long cut/side seams (the outside leg seams).  
 7.  Turn one of the legs RIGHT-SIDE out and put it inside the other leg matching up the side seams.  (So the legs are RIGHT-SIDES together with one inside the other...clear as mud?  Hello little man,  I'll be with you in a minute.)
 8.  Pin and stitch the U shape.  That will be the crotch seam.
 It looks strange, but works fantastic.  
 Pull the leg out and presto, pants.  
 9.  Take the sleeves (or waist band) and sew them end to end right-sides together.
 See the tube.  
 10.  Okay, this part seems a bit strange, but pin the waist band WRONG-SIDE out to the pants WRONG-SIDE out.  (Usually you sew things right sides together).  The waist band might be smaller than the pants.  Pin the waistband in quarters equally around the pants.  Stretch the waistband slightly to the same length of the pants as you stitch.

(As a side note, I think I might try to sew it with the pants RIGHT-SIDE out next time so the seam is on the inside.  It pokes out every once and awhile.  That said, it all works)
 Turn the pants right side out and gasp... looks like you did it wrong but you didn't :)
 Fold the top down.  Ahhhh, much better.  
11.  Try on cute pants.  My little girl wanted to keeps hers on all day they were so comfy.   
WHEW!  You made it.... Ready for the variation?

This time take a shirt with a fun logo or something on it that you don't want to cut in half.
 Same as before, cut off sleeves and neck.  Square up the sleeves and cut into waist bands (same as the one above)  The difference?
Instead of cutting up the middle of the shirt, cut the shirt up both sides.  Leaving a front and back to the shirt.  
 Fold the shirt front/back in 1/2.  See looks like the other one.
 This time I matched the two shirts RIGHT-SIDES together, matching up the arm holes (crotch seams).  Sew the large U shape.  DO THIS 2 TIMES, for front and back.  (Another way to look at this is you are turning the shirt inside out and sewing the arm holes, and only the arm holes, shut.)
 It will look pretty strange if you have never sewn pants before.  Just line up the inside of the crotch seams.  There's the pants!
 Now pin and sew up the inseam of the pants.
 TADA!  Pants.  Now just add the waist band in (see steps 9 & 10 above).  You could also fold the waist band in half before you sew it, and make a casing to put elastic in.  I like the elastic free option.  It doesn't bunch or twist, and I seem to run out of elastic all the time....

This is a fun look for things like sports t-shirts, super-hero t's or any other pattern you want to wear on the side of your legg :)
 There you have it.  Hope it was clear.  This really is an easy pattern.  If you are nervous, just grab an old t-shirt and go for it.  What have you got to loose?  Let me know if you have any questions

Happy Crafting!