Friday, December 31, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
What better to bring to your office during the week before Christmas than candy!
Caramel Marshmallow Balls
I got the recipe from here but my recommendation is to only use 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks). Also, be careful not to let the caramel burn.
Bob go the recipe from here.
Sugar-Free Chocolate Dipped Fruit & Pretzels
Stacy's recipe is here. Note that adding agave will make the chocolate more stiff/crumbly and less spreadable. The sweetness of the apples counters the slight bitterness of the sugar-free chocolate well, but pretzels are probably best left saved for regular chocolate only.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Stacy and I baked sugar cookies. They baked up a lot wider and rounder than expected.
- To make the red and black cookies we used gel food coloring. We used liquid food coloring for the green cookies.
- For the pine trees, we made 2 trees, cut one in half, and spackled with icing.
- For the black tree, we made a small circle cookie, cut it in half, and used it as a tree stand.
- For the Charlie Brown and Lucy cookies, we dyed white icing with food coloring to get yellow, blue, black and pink.
- For our mortar/icing, we used white Betty Crocker Easy Squeeze Decorating Icing
Note: We'll add shaved coconut for snow to the Snoopy display. We use cake-takers to transport the cookies.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
to make these ornaments at a holiday party!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
- Do a watercolor painting for the card's front, i.e. poinsettias.
- Scan the painting.
- Import the picture into Microsoft PowerPoint, resize to fit onto blank cards, and add a red outline*.
- Design a message for the interior of the card, i.e. "Happy Holidays"
- Print and cut out cover and card's interior. Secure to blank cards with a glue stick.
- Print out address labels if desired.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Gifts-In-A-Jar by Stacy
1-Pint jars she made:
- Mexican Fiesta Dip Mix
- Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix (see recipe below)
She bought flameless candles** - just as great-smelling as regular candles but zero mess, zero stress. She decorated them by hot-gluing a thicker ribbon and then a thinner ribbon around the candles, finishing with a bow.
Pet Portraits by Jess
The portraits were created using watercolor paint. You can see them by clicking here.
UPDATE: Jess finally made her gifts-in-a-jar too! It took 3 hours (surprisingly long).
*Mexican Hot Cocoa Recipe for Pint-Size Jars
- Ingredients to make 3 jars:
- 5 cups powdered milk
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tsp powdered vanilla non-dairy creamer
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- To fill gift jars:
- Mix all ingredients and divide equally among three pint-sized jars
- Use tulle or other fabric on lid of jar and tie on a decorative bow
- To make hot cocoa:
- Combine 2 1/2 tbsp mix per 1 cup boiling water and stir
- Each pint-size jar makes about 6 servings of hot cocoa
For more gift-in-a-jar ideas, see this example and this other example and this further example and yet another example.
**Note: "Flameless candles" are also called "electric candles" or "battery-operated candles." They have an LED light instead of a flame.
Monday, November 29, 2010
See this example from Martha Stewart.
Steps: Get a foam wreath shape and wrap it with green ribbon, securing ribbon with hot glue. Then make flowers with red ribbon - cut three strips and secure them together in the middle with floral wire to create a six-petaled flower. Hot-glue the flowers to the wreath and use white straight pins for the stamen. Afterwards, wrap small white ribbon around the entire wreath. Using larger ribbon, make three large loops and secure in the middle to make a large bow. To finish, tie three bells in the center of the bow.
For Jess' Wreath*
See this YouTube example. Jess' wreath is similar to Bob's except it has a smaller circle (less ornaments) and it has a long metal and ribbon hanger.
Steps: Thread medium-sized ornaments onto circle made from clothes hanger. Tie on smaller ornaments. Wrap large white ribbon around wire. Tie on more ornaments where needed for fullness using floral wire. Wrap white feather boa around wreath (you can use tinsel instead). Wrap ribbon around rest of hanger to form vertical wreath hanger and secure ribbon with hot glue. To finish, make a bow by forming two loops and use a small piece of ribbon to bind them in the middle.
3) Jess' wreath used 27 medium-sized and 20 small-sized ornaments. Bob's used at least 50 ornaments.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 cup wheat flour*
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbs low fat buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (can omit)
- 1/4 tsp orange extract**
- Zest of half a lemon (can use orange zest instead)
- 1 cup blueberries***
- Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut butter into dry mix using a pastry blender.
- Mix the remaining wet ingredients except for the berries in another bowl.
- Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir to mix them together.
- Fold in the blueberries.
- Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.****
- Bake for 18 minutes.
*Instead of using 2 cups white flour, I used 1 cup of white and 1 cup of wheat to make these scones more healthy.
**Instead of using orange extract, you can squeeze a little orange or lemon juice in and reduce the amount of buttermilk.
***If using frozen blueberries, warm them to room temp by running warm water over them.
****Be gentle with this kind of dough - over-working it will make it tough.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Here's how to make both a pumpkin and an apple pie and have them cook in the oven simultaneously.
Single Crust (for pumpkin pie)
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup Crisco*
- 3 tbs water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup Crisco*
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled
- 4 Macintosh apples, peeled
- 1/2 of a lemon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 + 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
- 1 (14 oz) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
- 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- Combine ingredients for pie crusts using a pastry blender and form into balls (1 ball for pumpkin pie, 1 ball for bottom of apple pie, 1 smaller ball for top of apple pie).
- Chill pie crust in refrigerator for one hour.
- For pumpkin pie: Combine all pumpkin pie filling ingredients.
- For apple pie: Slice apples into 10-12 pieces per apple, squeeze with lemon juice to keep fresh and combine sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
- Remove bottom pie crusts from refrigerator and place into pie tins.
- For pumpkin pie: Add pie fillings.
- For apple pie: Add 1/2 of apple slices, add 1/2 of sugar mixture, add rest of apples, add rest of sugar mixture.
- For apple pie: Place top crust piece over pie and use beaten egg or cold water to attach it to bottom crust, then cut top crust to vent.
- Brush pie crusts with beaten egg or melted butter to encourage browning.
- Place both pies in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Next, bake both pies in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- For pumpkin pie: Remove from oven - knife inserted in center should come out clean. Cool on wire rack. Store in refrigerator when cool.
- For apple pie: Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 10 minutes - Crust should be golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
*Note 1: Use the bars of Crisco for easier measuring
**Note 2: I actually baked these pies both at 375 degrees for 10 mins, then at 425 degrees for 15 mins, then at 350 degrees for 23 mins, removed the pumpkin pie, then baked the apple pie at 375 degrees for 10 mins to finish it off - the recipe above is easier.
Monday, November 22, 2010
- Bookbinding glue (can use any white glue)
- Foam brushes (to spread glue)
- Cardstock paper (for book pages and covers)
- Scrapbook paper (for covers)
- Paper-cutter and cutting mat (scissors work but are much slower)
- Xacto knife (a box-cutter will work)
- Book (to use as a base for drilling holes)
- Electric drill
- Ribbon (to bind book pages together)
- Yarn needle
- Stickers (optional)
- Cut letter-size paper or cardstock in half horizontally with the paper cutter to make your pages
- To make your front cover, take a piece of letter-size cardstock and cut it in half. Then apply glue to it and wrap your decorative scrapbook paper around it. Secure your folded scrapbook paper with glue. Cover the inside of your cover with another sheet of cardstock and glue down for a finished look. Do the same for your back cover.
- To attach all the pages together, drill three holes through the entire stack. Put a phonebook or other disposable book underneath to avoid drilling through your table.
- Use the ribbon to tie everything together and finish with a bow.
- Place the entire book under something heavy until it is completely dry, then crease the front cover so you can open your book easily.
Photos: Jessica's (top), Jen's (middle), Stacy's (bottom)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
- Oreo Double-Stuffed Cookies
- Tube of White Icing (use to hold candies together and for eyes)
- Reeses Mini Peanutbutter Cups (use as tummies)
- Milk Duds (use as heads)
- Candy Corn (use whole candies as tail feathers and wings and trim candies to make beaks)
(Left) Turkey by Itself;
(Right) Katie and Stacy w/ Turkeys
Monday, November 15, 2010
*Note: If you profit in any way from your cards or use them commercially, using someone else's artwork is copyright infringement.
For mine (left), I used one strip of about 1 1/4 yeards of heavy fabric cut 16 inches wide (2 of those inches were for seam allowances). I simply folded down where I was going to hem the edges with an iron and then sewed away.
For Jen's, she used two different fabrics to make a revisible Thanksgiving/Winter table runner. She simply sewed the fabric right-sides together along three edges, turned the fabric right-side out, and hand-sewed the fourth edge.
For Stacy's (bottom), she used two different fabrics too, but to make her runner extra long, she joined her fabric at the middle of her runner and sewed it together on the bias to make the seam less obvious.
I basically hemmed a rectangle then folded one long side over and sewed it to make a pocket for the rod to go through.
Note: For heavy fabric, you may have to adjust/increase the tension on your sewing machine.
Helpful link: Table Runner Tutorial
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Procedure: We carved pumpkins. First we carved around the stems with a large knife, entered our pumpkins, then removed their seeds and gooey insides with a pumpkin-carving spoon. I lightly drew my design on my pumpkin with a brown marker, then cut it out with thin pumpkin-carving knives. Stacy printed her design out on her printer, traced her design by pricking through the paper, then cut out where she'd pinned with a pumpkin-carving knife.
From left top row: T-Fighter Spacecraft by Neuralclone and AGirlCalledBob, Gotham City Skyline by Stacy, Ghost and Tombstone, Jack Skellington by Mox_E, Scary Cat by Jess, Batman by Nick
Cat Credits: It's the notorious Froy from CrochetKitten.com!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Stacy and Nick went all out with a Batman-themed house! You could modify their procedures to make a custom sign and projector image for any holiday.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Procedure: First, cut and hem muslin to fit your window. Next, paint your ghost or other shape onto muslin. Stacy used Adobe Illustrator software to print her design on paper in tile mode, traced her design onto her curtain with a Sharpie, and then filled it in with paint. I free-handed my designs directly onto my curtains with black paint.
After your designs are completely dry, cut and hem the chiffon to fit your window and sew it to the muslin, layering it so that the chiffon goes over the painted side of your muslin. Attach your project to a curtain rod in any way you choose (you could use clips; I sewed tie-ribbons to mine; Stacy sewed a rod pocket into hers). Hang with the chiffon side facing out for a great spooky display your neighbors can see and appreciate.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Leveling a Round Cake and Preparing it for Fondant: Remove the cake from its cake pan; we used a pound cake. Use a long, non-serrated or very mildly serrated knife to cut off the unlevel, dome portion of the cake. Start cutting at the lowest part and go across. If you don’t get it completely level, don’t worry. Now flip the cake over. You always want the seared side up.
Take a buttercream icing and a long icing spatula and apply the icing to the sides of the cake, then the top. Do not worry about making it look good. Now take flat wide tool (such as a chop) and scoop most of the icing off the sides, and then the top. You just want a level surface for your fondant, even if it’s a thin layer and the cake shows through. Don’t use too much icing or your fondant will bubble.
Applying the Fondant: Use two long wide spatulas to move the cake to your cake serving plate. Stick both spatulas with downward pressure under your cake, move to the cake plate, and push down as you quickly move the spatulas out from underneath the cake one at a time. If you remove the spatulas slowly your cake will crumble.
Now it’s time for fondant! Use confectioner’s sugar to dust your rolling surface. Pull the fondant with your hands to warm it and then roll it into a large ball. Place it on your rolling surface and roll it out. If you want to pick it up and turn it 90 degrees, add a little more powdered sugar underneath. When it’s big enough to cover your whole cake, drape it once over your rolling pin and carry it to your cake.
Now it’s time to put the fondant on your cake! Start unrolling the fondant over the cake at the side closest to you and drape it over the rest. Set the rolling pin aside. Tap the fondant down around your cake. The fondant is like rubber, so pull and stretch it to get it to do what you want; don’t fold it. Tap it down around the base of your cake. If you get a fold, pull and stretch the fondant away from the cake, then tap it down. Cut the excess fondant away from the cake with the pointy tip of a knife.
Piping the Trim: Use a Ziploc bag with a princess piping tip and your buttercream icing. Pipe the icing in small dots/dollops around the base of your cake. Pipe a tiny bit of icing on top of your cake to secure your fondant flower to your cake. You could also use Vodka to secure two pieces of fondant to each other.
Note: If you are trying to cover a square cake the process is different. For a square cake, cut out one square of fondant for the top and four rectangles for the sides. Apply them to your cake and seal the edges with piped icing.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Socks/Slippers Project: Buy an easy fleece sock/slipper pattern. Alternatively, cut out for each slipper:
- A) Sole - Piece for around the bottom of your foot
- B) Heel - Piece going frombottom of your heel to 4 inches above your ankle
- C) Top - Piece for over the top of your foot going from the tip of your toes to 4 inches above your ankle
Be sure to cut out the pieces so the direction of most stretch runs across them, not top-to-bottom. Now sew the sole piece to the heel piece, right-sides together, along the base of the heel. Next, turn the seam allowances in towards the heel piece and sew, this time using a zigzag stitch. Now, unfold the sole-heel combination and pin to the top piece with wrong-sides facing out. Sew all the way around the outside of the slipper leaving an opening at the top for your foot to enter. Turn the slipper right-side out. The only thing left is sewing the cuff - Fold about one inch of the cuff inside the slipper and sew all the way around the cuff once. Done!
For those who do not know how to load a sewing machine: Here are some general instructions – you will still need your sewing machine’s manual. Turn your machine on. Load thread onto a bobbin using the bobbin-winder on the top of your machine. Now, load the bobbin into the chamber underneath your machine. Next, load your spool of thread on top of your machine and follow your manual’s directions to get it to come out near the sewing needle. For my machine, the thread has to be caught by a little hook at the top of the machine, and then feed down and around a knob, then up and through a hook, then down and through another hook. Next thread your sewing needle from front to back and hook the thread throug the foot. To get the thread from the bobbin underneath up, turn the knob on the side of your machine until the needle comes down and hooks and loops that thread. Keep turning the knob and it will bring up the thread. Pull both of the threads (the one coming from the top and the one coming from underneath) up and away from you and your machine so they won’t slip away. Place the foot down to clamp your fabric under the needle. Begin sewing!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
You could do this project with pawprints, handprints, or any other kind of print.