Friday, April 29, 2011

Organizing My Recipes

Anybody out there have a cupboard that looks like this one?

Recipe books everywhere, and recipe pages printed off from the computer, torn out of magazines, or hand written. Most of my older, family recipes are in here...

WHAT A MESS!! Not to mention the fact that I could NEVER find the recipe i was looking for!

I wanted something a little tidier. I absolutely LOVE Tastebooks, but they are a little pricey, and the shipping to Canada costs more than the book itself!! I was struck by inspiration one day when i was tidying up a bookshelf and came across this:

One of the dozens of photo albums i was given as a gift - either for grad or my wedding, i can't remember. It is nice, but i never used it. Inside, it has a bunch of pages that hold 4x6 photos, with a space in the middle for the captions/descriptions.

So i turned this into my very own, personalized recipe book! It was perfect! It came with labels, stuck together in a sheet. I used the computer to print off the recipe names (i despise my handwriting) before i detached each individual slip:

Then i used the computer to type up 4x6 sheets containing the recipes and instructions, adding a little clipart to some of them to spruce them up:

And there it is! A recipe book that i can add to easily, will stand up while i'm cooking, with wipe-able pages in case they get spattered by the electric mixer! Best of all, it's 100% full of recipes i USE! And my cupboard is tidy! I can't stand to throw out recipes (just in case!), so they are nestled safely in a box somewhere. It may be overkill, but my family recipes are almost as treasured as my children!

I kept the other cookbooks, of course - i wouldn't copy recipes from them, since that work's already done. Though, to be totally geeky, i might write a list of my favorite recipes and which books they're in...

that's right, i'm crazy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Going Bananas!

In my hunt for fun foods to make out of felt, I saw many peel-able bananas, and i knew that i MUST have one! There were lots of tutorials, but most of the templates or patterns were the kind you had to pay for, and as we've established earlier, i'm cheap. Now, i have absolutely nothing against people charging for the things they've created, but when it comes to some patterns, i'd much rather save myself the five (or eight, or ten) bucks and figure it out myself. But pattern creators do a wonderful service to those who would rather pay the five bucks than take all that time and effort to figure out what works. Trust me, after this i'm just about there myself!

Anyway, i did some research and found that most banana patterns required two curved pieces and one straight piece (there are many free printable templates for a straight banana, but to me they just look more like corn on the cob with a yellow husk... easier, but not quite what i was going for). I tried to freehand a pattern for it, and what resulted was hideous. No, i don't have a photo.

So, i grabbed a REAL banana...

...peeled it down the  front center, and laid it (dry side down, of course) on some cardstock and traced it. I only used one curved piece. i may be a little nutty, but you do what you have to.

i started out taking pictures to make a tutorial, but in the end i was so frustrated that it'll have to wait until i get the desire to fine tune the pattern. I ran into a LOT of speed bumps here...

The straight piece was a little too short once i sewed them together, so i had to add about an inch to the pattern before i made the peels (i didn't have enough ivory felt to make another banana, so i had to work with it...).

I forgot to make the white inside peel slightly larger than the banana, so that it would fit inside, so i had to unstuff the banana and shrink it. Then i DID remember to make the yellow outer peel bigger than the white inner peel, but it ended up too big. And while i had intended to sew the open parts of the peel together on the machine, the hole at the bottom wasn't big enough to turn it right side out again, so i just ended up trimming the seam allowances on those parts and blanket stitching around them.

I will admit to hating it when i first saw it. It didn't turn out exactly like i'd planned, and whether it's decent or not, disappointment can taint perception. However, I have since made my peace with it, and it might just end up in the little girl's birthday gift anyway. But by the end of the day, i was so cranky i would have been quite happy to give up on bananas forever! My malice even extended to the edible variety of the fruit (of which we, thankfully, did not currently have any).

Today, i'm calm and rested, and thinking i just may try again. It's a challenge - my everest!!

Anyway, i'm sure you want to see the result (please don't laugh)!

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Sandwich and Some Crackers

So, some of you may be aware that I've been developing a new craft addiction - Felt Food! I had wanted to do this for a while, and when we got invited to a birthday party for a 3 year-old girl, i knew it was just the thing! I'll be showing you the things I've made a little bit at a time, so I can explain a bit about each. Today I'm starting with the sandwich and the crackers. I'm sure many of you could find the flaws in my blanket stitch - remember, I'm a novice. Please be kind. :)



For the bread, i traced an actual piece of bread onto some cardstock to create the pattern. I used three layers of quilt batting instead of stuffing, and i like that it keeps the bread flat.

Everything else is unstuffed - just two layers of felt and a blanket stitch.
The meat and the cheese are obviously nice and easy. i actually traced a roll of packing tape for the meat, and just cut a 4 inch square for the cheese. it took me a couple of tries to get the leaf shape for the lettuce, but i got there eventually. The tomato was a challenge, but i like how it turned out - i followed the tutorial here at One Inch World.

If you're not the type to draw your own templates, there are some free printable ones here at Snazzle Craft that are similar. I like the chips too, though i opted for a bag of saltine crackers instead.

The bag is a 12 x 5 strip of felt folded in half. I didn't have any pinking shears, so i blanket stitched around the openings just to keep everything uniform. The cream-colored label and lettering are all held on with my new best friend - Steam-A-Seam fusible webbing.

The crackers were made following this tutorial at American Felt and Craft. The only difference is that i used embroidery floss instead of thread, and made my crackers 2 inch squares instead of 2.5.

I also wanted to share something i learned while making the felt food. I kinda figured out hand sewing on my own. i think my mom may have taught me once, or i just learned by watching. Either way, I never really figured out how to finish my stitching without the knot showing.

What I've learned is probably so obvious it hurts to see a tutorial on it, but it was new to me, so maybe it's new to someone reading this.

So, you're done stitching:

Tie your knot (i do a double knot around the beginning stitches to keep them nice and secure):

Poke your needle back through the project an inch or two (make sure the needle is going between the layers and not just out through the other side):

Pull the thread so it wrinkles the edge of your project a little:

Snip it:

And straighten the edges back out so the thread disappears into the middle of the project:

No frayed knot, just smooth, endless stitches.
Stay tuned for more food fun later on!

Recipe Time: Shredded Egg Salad

Happy Monday, all! I hope you all had a fantastic Easter weekend! The dinner party at our friends' house was a blast. Sadly, i didn't get any pictures. I'm kind of upset with myself.

Anyway, one of the big consequences of easter is the dozens of boiled eggs you end up with. We didn't color many this year, but it was enough to get my craving for egg salad going!

A friend of mine told me about  her recent discovery - shredding the eggs. Like, with a cheese grater. Strange? I thought so. Time consuming? Surprisingly not. They shred so quickly, and it doesn't take up much more time than mashing them. Actually, i think mashing takes longer - at least for me.

Looks a little like mozza cheese. Does that gross anyone out??

In our house, we like to use a slightly modified devilled egg recipe to make egg salad. It gives it a little something extra. The one i have is very basic and simple:

Egg Salad

12 hard boiled eggs, shredded
4-5 tbsp. mayonnaise or miracle whip (my fave)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. mustard (NOT mustard powder. i've messed that up so many times, for some reason...)
1 tsp. vinegar
salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.

Stir  together all ingredients. Spoon onto that fresh baked bread you made with the left over dough from the Resurrection Rolls...

Consume. Yumm!!

P.S. M and i were discussing how good these would be with a bit of minced onion. I know someone who puts celery in their devilled eggs... Add whatever you like, really. Have fun!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Recipe Time: Resurrection Rolls

I discovered this recipe through Cheri at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar (one of my favorite crafty blogs). She had gotten it from Kim at Feathers From My Nest (a new-to-me blog). These are so wonderful for teaching the story of the resurrection to your children.

Since it's Easter tomorrow, and we'll be busy with a gathering of friends (all of us who don't have family around), tonight was our last opportunity to sit down and really talk to our kids about the real meaning of Easter. So we bumped up our Family Home Evening and made rolls together, and while we made them we talked about the Easter story. This is the kind of lesson kids and dads love anyway - the treat IS the lesson!

Kim and Cheri used pre-made, frozen rolls to make thiers. It makes them quick and easy, for sure. But, if you're cheap like me and don't mind a little extra time and mess, make your own dough! If you've got a bread maker, even better (i don't... wish i did, though)!

On the first batch, I used my mom's sweet dough recipe she uses for cinnamon rolls, but i found that it was just too much sugar (but my husband loved it!). I liked them a lot better with just a plain old bread dough recipe, and they were still plenty sweet. So use your favorite roll/bread recipe, or if you don't have one, you can use this one i got off of a sachet of Fleishmann's yeast!

Bread dough
  • 5½ c. flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 envelopes quick-rise yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. water
  • ½ c. milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
In large bowl, combine 2 c. flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
Heat water, milk, and butter until very warm. Stir into dry ingredients.
Beat two minutes at medium speed. Add 1 c. flour. Beat at high speed for two minutes.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead onto lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (abt. ten minutes)
Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.
Divide into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. This recipe is supposed to make two loaves of bread - i got 18 rolls and a small loaf (since i just couldn't resist plain and delicious fresh baked bread!).

Follow this link to find Kim's instructions for the rest.

Happy Easter!

"... Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen..."
Luke 24:5-6


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shopping With the Kids

Wow, has it really been that long since i posted? Sorry, folks! my bad. I *have* been doing some fun stuff, and have been taking pictures along the way, but i've been too busy to actually get on the blog to post  them. Anyone who has three children can probably relate.

I've been trying my hand at felt food, putting some cute things together for a little girl's birthday party:

I'm no expert at the blanket stitch, but i'm learning, and it's been fun. When i'm done, i'll post more.

Today, I went shopping with the boys. Shopping with a bunch of kids isn't always easy to do. Okay, it's never easy, the level of difficulty just varies. Today, in an effort to keep the whining, crying, screaming, begging, etc. to a minimum, i made the boys shopping lists to distract them.

I  know lots of people will use clip-art or drawings of things, and they look great. I had been thinking for a while about making a list from the weekly flyer, since i play the sales as much as i can, and rarely pay full-price for things in this town (living so far from a discount grocery store is pretty lame).

So i gathered my materials...

... cut out the pictures of the things i wanted to buy...

... then glued them onto a blank sheet of paper.

Since i have two boys old enough to search, i separated the pictures and had them each looking for different things in each department. I kept the prices on the pictures because i figure it never hurts to expose them to numbers and cost.

I even would have let the boys help glue the pictures on to the paper if they hadn't been throwing tantrums immediately beforehand.

When we got to the store, the boys had a lot of fun hunting up and down the eisles for their items:

The lists stopped E from his usual routine of pulling things off the shelf every ten seconds saying, "we NEED this, mom!" and trying to throw it in the cart, and there was no begging or whining. The boys knew what we were there to buy, and thoroughly enjoyed being made a part of the shopping experiance.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Dragon" Party Armour Part 1: Viking Hats

For our "How to Train Your Dragon" birthday party, we had all the children outfitted like little vikings.

Today I'm going to show you how to make the viking hats. I missed taking photos of some of the steps, but hopefully i describe it well enough so you can figure it out.

You'll need:

Silver Duct Tape
Masking Tape (thinner is better - i think mine was about 3/4 inch)
Cardboard - sheets or a box, whatever you have
Box Cutter
Hot glue gun or super strong craft glue

Measure around your child's head and add 1/2 - 1 inch to the measurement. then measure across the top from the forehead to the back where you'd like the hat to sit, then subtract about two - three inches. Cut two strips of cardboard 2 inches wide in those measurements. I found all but one of the 2-5 year olds at the party fit the hats i made, measuring about 21 1/2 inches for the bottom piece and 10 1/2 inches for the top piece.

Hot glue the pieces together like this:

I found it easiest to glue the bottom piece together, then flatten it out and mark the folds, so the top piece could be centered.

Next, draw and cut out some horns. Make sure the lines in the cardboard are vertical (it'll make the next step easier:

Cut open the wide end of the horn about half an inch or more:

This will keep the horns from bending too much either way. Put some hot glue in the open flaps of the horns and stick them to the sides of the hat.

Cut strips of duct tape about 5 inches long. Start taping at the front and back, where the top piece joins with the bottom piece. Place your first piece of duct tape on the inside of the hat as shown:

Fold the tape up over the front and cut a diagonal slit on the extra piece.

Fold the pieces down.

Do the same to the other half, overlapping the tape about 1/4 - 1/2 inch. Then apply strips of tape around the rest of the hat, overlapping the pieces slightly to help them stick together better.

Wrapping the horns:
Start with your masking tape at the base:

Wrap the tape so it overlaps about half at the bottom, and about 2/3 - 3/4 at the top.

As you get closer to the tip, the tape may jut out a little like this:

I found it easiest to just let that happen. It will get pulled down as you continue wrapping, and will create a neat pattern on the horn:

Since some of the boxes i used had writing or pictures on them, i decided to paint the horns with a cream-colored craft paint, just to cover up the designs. If your cardboard doesn't have things like that, you could most likely get away with not painting.

And there you have it! Your little viking is ready to go hunt dragons!