Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Handout

Just thought I would show a couple of small gift ideas that are great for children (think church or school).  This first one is a printable download from Laurie Furnell and it is free!  Instead of a knitted hat I did ear mufsf using pipe cleaners and pom poms.  We actually made kits for the kids at church to put these together for themselves!
Below is another handout I made for children at another church group.  Because I wanted these children to receive something more spiritual, I machine embroidered candy cane holders.  Each one took 15 minutes to make so be sure you give yourself enough time.  Since I made 28 it took 7 hours, but I broke it up over several days.  The download for this project was Embroidery Garden's Yahoo group and is free too! 
Both handouts went over very well but then who doesn't like the gift of candy!!!!

Guess What I Am Up To Now

Betcha can't quess what this is all about.............

Peppermint Marshmallow Candy

Do you have time to make one more candy in time for Christmas?  I hope you do cuz these peppermint marshmallows covered in chocolate are to die for!!!!!!If you have never eaten a home made marshmallow you have been missing one of the best tasting treats on the planet.  So don't cheat and use store bought marshmallows.  You will be sad if you do......  I use a recipe from Martha (notice the first name basis, all be it one way, we are on).
After letting it set over night, I turned it out on a cornstarch and powdered sugar covered board.
Using a knife sprayed with Pam, I cut the marshmallows into about one inch squares.  Don't be too OCD about this, it is just candy not rocket science.
Then I melted some white chocolate from Chocoley which is a dream to work with.  No clumping, smooth and creamy without any wax added!  And it tastes delicious.
Each mashmallow is dipped in the white chocolate and allowed to dry with dipped side up.
After the white chocolate is set up, melt milk chocolate, also from Chocoley, and dip the other side of the marshmallow.  Be sure that none of the marshmallow is left without chocolate (either white or milk).
See what I mean about not worrying if the pieces aren't exactly the same size. 
Now just pipe some melted dark chocolate across the tops.  Now aren't you glad you made these!!!!  Diana

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wedding Cupcakes

The other day I showed you the first of the three types of cupcakes I made for a wedding this past Thursday.  The pictures below show the other two cupcakes for the Victorian themed reception.  This first one was a white cupcake with raspberry filling.  The frosting was American buttercream tinted a soft pink.  I topped each one with a homemade raspberry cream filled white chocolate candy in the shape of a wedding cake. 
The cupcake below was a lemon cake with lemon filling topped with American buttercream.  That is a real blackberry on top that I sprayed with edible gold paint. 
72 cupcakes delivered in a rain storm that has since turned into a snow storm.  A special thank you to my dear friend Rhoda who came along for the drive and to calm my nerves.  Just glad to be home safe and sound and cupcake free.  Diana 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Frosting

I am making this post more for myself than anyone else.  I seem to have trouble remembering things, one of which is which recipes I like or don't like......  Today was one of those times.  I am making cupcakes for a wedding, some of them chocolate, and when it came time to frost them.......I couldn't remember which recipe I hated (clumpy and thick) and which one makes the creamy frosting.  I made one I thought was the good frosting.  Iit wasn't.  Real bummer cuz it was the recipe I gave to my daughter when she asked for a creamy chocolate frosting a few weeks ago.  Sorry Jenn.  I swear this one is great.  I know it is the good one cuz it was the second frosting I made today.  And it turned out perfect.
It comes out of "the big book of cupcakes" and uses cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate.  I think the melted chocolate seizes up when the milk is added and that is what causes the unpleasant texture.   So here is the Best Ever chocolate frosting recipe.  Now that it is on this blog it should be easy for me to find again.......
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 3 tablespoons milk
In medium bowl. mix powdered sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla and 1 tablespoons milk with electric mixer on low speed.  Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.  I use a little more milk and if it gets too thin I add more powdered sugar until the frosting hold it shape but is smooth.  This frosts 12 cupcake skimpy or 6 cupcakes as pictured above.  Guess which one I prefer.......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Project Done

Still working on redecorating our master bedroom.  The latest project we tackled was the lighting!  I found this pretty little thing at Lowes for less than $200. 
So much better than the dome light (see below) that came with the house and which I have lived with for 8 years!  Yes that is shiny brass and grape pressed glass.
And besides being so much prettier, the light bulbs will be a lot easier to change too!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lighted Snowman Pins

Want an easy and inexpensive craft for the holidays?  Try these snowman pins you create on your embroidery machine from Embroidery Garden.
They are quick to stitch up and the nose lights up because you use a tea light as the base.
Think Christmas sweater in a smaller format......... Diana

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ducky Soap

Want a simple project?  Try making these Ducky soaps that couldn't be simplier or cuter!
Just pour some blue tinted clear soap base into a mold 1/4 inch from the top of the mold.  Allow to form a skin .  Set a rubber duck on film and pour more soap to the top of mold.  Pouing in two steps like this gives the duck something to set on.  If you just pour once and but the ducks on the still liquid soap,  they will sink to the bottom. 
Here is an example of colder weather setting in.  The white soap base looks like ice!
With peppermint fragrance, this will be great for Christmas presents.  Diana

Friday, November 16, 2012

Elves Need Pampering Too

So what do elves do after a hard day's work?  Take a bubble bath of course!
This is a simple project that anyone can master.  All you need are some bendable elves (I got mine from Oriental Trading Company), clear melt and pour soap base, White melt and pour soap base, blue soap dye, rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and fragrance of your choice.
Bend elves into a lounging position and place in mold. 
I liked having a least one foot above the top of mold.
Melt clear soap base in microwave until just melted.  Don't melt too long or soap will boil over.
Add just a drop of blue dye to make it resemble water. Add fragrance.   Pour into molds put leave at least 1/4 inch unfilled for next layer.  Spray with rubbing alcohol to remove bubbles.  Allow soap to cool and firm.  You can put the filled molds in the fridge to speed up cooling.
Melt white soap base til just melted.  Add fragrance.  Pour over clear soap layer so it appears to be bubble bath.
Allow to completely cool and set up.  Pop out of molds and let your elves take a break from their hectic lives.  Diana

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Drop Cloth 10 Minute Curtains

I am still working on redecorating my bedroom and today I tackled the curtains.  If I had known how easy it was to make curtains from drop cloths, I would have gotten these done a lot sooner!
Did you know that drop cloths come already hemmed?  I didn't!  Imagine my surprise when I opened the packages and found that out!  Add that to the super cheap price of these babies and I couldn't have been happier.  This is all I had to do to have these lovelies. 
I bought them at Lowes for about 15 bucks per panel.  They were 9 feet by 6 feet.  Next I washed them.  Then I turned one short end under 6 inches and pressed.  I sewed a curtain pocket at 3 inches and 6 inches from the folded edge, ironed out the wrinkles and hung them on the old curtain rods.  Times the 10 minutes per panel and in 30 minutes I had 3 panels sewn and hung.  Yippee!  My vintage bedroom is one step closer to being done.  If you want to see other projects look here and here.  Diana

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cheese Please

I love cheese!  All kinds of cheese.  Just the thought of cheese makes me happy.  So it is a good thing I live in an area that has A LOT of dairy farmers and cheese factories.  One of the reasons we here in Ohio have an abundance of cheese is because we have so many Amish who must do something with the raw milk they produce.  (Ohio law does not allow them to sell it)  But they can sell it to cheese factories and that makes me happy.  You know what would make me even happier?  If there was an easy way to make my own cheese.   An Amish friend gave me a great recipe from the cookbook "Healthy Choices" by Marvin and Miriam Wengerd.  Funny thing..... I already had that cookbook but had never really looked through it.  (the title might have something to do with that)  So now I have a way to make my own cheese using ingredients everyone has in their kitchen.........milk, apple cider vinegar and salt. 
This is a firm cheese, similar to Farmer's Cheese.  The flavor is mild but you could add herbs to give it more kick.  I have adjusted the recipe to a more manageable size.  The original recipe was 3x the measures I will be using.
Start with 10   2/3 cups of milk.  Heat to 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.
Stir until it separates.
For the next steps you will need cheese cloth, a colander, a mason jar filled with warm water and a large can with both ends cut off.  The can and jar will be your cheese mold/press.   Have this ready before you start heating the milk because the curd must be hot when you pour it into your makeshift mold. I used a plastic container that I cut both ends off.  You also need a pretty large bowl......much larger than the one shown.  Trust me on that.........  Also make sure your jar can fit inside your can. 
Put colander over bowl.  Now put can on colander.  Line can with cheese cloth.  Pour cheese curd and whey ( liquid that separates from curd) through cheese cloth and add salt to the curd stirring with a spoon.  This is a little awkward but do the best you can.
Here is the super cool part.  After the salt has been added, gather the ends of the cheese cloth and twist tightly, kind of like you would close a bread bag.  Allow the end to lay on top of the curd bundle.  Now gently put the water filled jar on top of the bundle and let set for a few hours.  You have just made a cheese press!  Remove cheese from cheese cloth, once it feels like it is firm and won't fall apart.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one full day.  This allows the texture to "mature".   This would be a great project to do with children, just be sure you handle the hot whey.  I bet the kids would gobble this cheese up, especially since they made it!  Diana

Monday, October 29, 2012

Real Hot Chocolate

Morning light is taking longer and longer to arrive these days and the air is getting a little nippy too.  So it seemed like a good time to share my favorite morning and late night treat......real hot chocolate.  This is not the same drink as the hot cocoa that most of us are familiar with.  NOT THE SAME.  I first had this delicious drink in France.  Served for breakfast with real croissants filled with chocolate, it was to die for and I became obsessed with learning how to make it.  About the same time, Williams Sonoma started carrying a Hot Chocolate Pot, which I quickly bought, and I was all set.  This drink is much, much richer than the one made using powdered cocoa mix added to plain old water.  That is because it is made with milk, cream and real chocolate. 

Real Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • 1 cups of whole milk
  • 1/3 cream (you can use more or less depending on how rich you want it, I have used an equal amount of cream and milk and it was great)
  • 2 ounces of chocolate, finely chopped or grated (you can also use more if you wish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
    Heat cream and milk to almost boiling.  Pour into chocolate pot (or blender) and add remaining ingredients.  If using blender turn on medium speed until chocolate is melted.  If using chocolate pot, attach beater and mix until frothy and chocolate is melted.  Serve while hot.  This make one generous mugful.  For more than one serving just multiply the ingredients.
    Once you have had this you will never go back to american style hot cocoa.  Never.  Diana

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Easy Peasy Halloween Cupcakes

    Primary was in charge of the cupcake walk this year at the Halloween party so that meant baking a whole lot of cupcakes!  And they needed to be quick and easy to make since we needed soooo many.  Below you can see some of the ones that I made.
    Headstones and bones on a cookie crumb grave.
    Pastel candy corn colored high top cupcakes.
    Halloween candy corn bark tops simple cupcakes.
    The cake walk was so much fun, both for the children and for those of us that serve in Primary.  Diana 

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Chocolate Apple Cupcake

    Looks like a real apple doesn't it.  But it is not, instead it is a luscious spice cupcake with apple pie filling, topped with a apple shaped chocolate shell.  Inside that shell is american buttercream frosting.  Oh yeah!
    So How did I make the chocolate dipped apple sans apple?  Look below.
    Using food safe mold putty, I encased the top of a stemless apple.  Waiting the proper time, I released the mold.
    I sprayed the mold with Pam non stick spray which I then smeared evenly around the inside.
    The mold is then coated with melted chocolate and put in the freezer.  Make sure you leave a hole at the stem area as pictured.  Repeat the coating and freezing step at least once more until a nice thick shell is formed.  CAREFULLY manipulate the shell out of the mold and set aside.  (This is not a process that can be rushed and I certainly wouldn't want to do it for dozens of cupcakes but for a few special ones it is great).  I filled the apple shells with green buttercream and plopped them on the top of the cupcakes.  Stick a lollipop stick through the stem hole.  These cupcakes really look like an chocolate covered apple but are so much more fun!  Also the mold could be used for other desserts too.   Diana

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Skull Box

    For Halloween I love decorating the house with creepy morbid items. 
    And this skull definitely fits in with the creepy morbid theme.  The skull was painted white and then given a coating of glitter spray. 
    I used some shinny fabric to give him a collar to class him up.  Then the cardboard box was decoupaged with book pages which I then gave a coat of whitewash. 
    A coat of sealer over the whitewash and that finished it.  Now I need to get busy on all the cupcakes for the church's cakewalk.  And the curtains for my bedroom.  Oh, and the chair slipcover......  Diana

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    New Sewing Center

    I can not believe the deal I got at a local auction!  We went to this auction because they were supposed to have a lot of farm equipment, but this fabulous desk was also there.  I paid, get ready for this, $90 for it! 
    I had been looking at different options for the sewing area for months and just couldn't part with the thousands of dollars all the cabinets were running.  I thought I would have to settle for the folding table I had been using when I found this desk. 
    Oak is not my favorite finish but it is prevalent in the sewing/guest room so the desk looks fine in there.  Only problem is now I want to redo a few other things in the room since I am not embarrassed of the sewing area anymore!  Maybe a new curtain or quilt....... Diana