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Monday, August 9, 2010

Knit Pants For My Boy

I have been busy making A LOT of knit pants, skirts and shorts.  Ethan has three new pairs of knit shorts for PJ's, Addison has several skirts that I'll post about later and Austin has a new pair of knit pants.  He doesn't really need them, but the fabric was so cute that I just had to do it.  I think I could even get away with him wearing them to church, if I put a nice button up shirt with them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Black Forrest Cake

I made this Black Forrest Cake from Brown Eyed Baker for my husbands birthday.  It was DIVINE!  Really, the cake was so moist and chocolaty and the cherries were soft and sweet and the whipped topping was light and not overly sweet.  We devoured it at his camping/cook out party.

I changed up the middle cherry layer just a bit.  Everything else I did exactly as her recipe called for.

Cherry Layer:
2 cups of fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
2 TBS of cornstarch
1 tsp of vanilla

Put the cherries into a medium sauce pan and heat on medium until the cherries are warm and juices are released.  Add the water, sugar, and cornstarch to the cherries.  Stir and cook until bubbly and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Let the cherry and sauce cool completely.  Add the cherries and as much sauce as you prefer to the middle layer of the Black Forrest Cake.  The sauce makes the cake all that more moist.  Reserve 12 of the cherries for the top of the cake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Raspberry Crisp Bars

My husband really went overboard on buying fresh fruit this past week, so that's why I've had so many fruity recipes lately.  The raspberry flat he bought was great, but they were so ripe that they started to get mushy too quickly.  Wasting raspberries was out of the question, so it was time to find another way to use them up.  This recipe from Allrecipes.com did the trick.  Again, I made a few alterations and I loved the results.  Next time I make it, I may get a little crazy and try to make it with Coconut Oil instead of butter.  I don't know how that would affect it, but I think it's worth a try to make it more healthy.

Raspberry Crisp Bars

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup room temp butter
1 egg
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
4 cups raspberries (or any kind of fresh berry)
1/2-3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 13x9 inch pan.
2. Combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, butter, and egg. I use my hands to break up the butter and work it until it's a crumbly dough.  Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
3. Combine the remaining 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (this varies based on the sweetness of the fruit you are using), the cornstarch and berries. Place mixture over dough in pan. Crumble the remaining dough over the tops of the berries.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 45 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blueberry Peach Coffee Cake (or Muffins)

Staying true to what I talked about doing in my last post, here is another recipe that I made today.  We had some blueberries and nectarines that were getting a bit too ripe and I didn't want them to go to waste.  So I got the base of this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but altered it quite a bit and it turned out fantastic.  I love using the whole wheat flour in my baking and having things still turn out tasting delicious.  

Blueberry Peach Coffee Cake (or Muffins) 


3 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced fresh peaches or nectarines
 
Topping:
2 tsp white sugar
2 TB butter

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 13x9 pan or muffin tins, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and 1/2 cup of melted butter and vanilla until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended. Fold in the blueberries and peaches. Fill pan or muffin cups with batter.
3. For the 13x9 pan, back for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  For the muffins, bake for 18 to 20 minutes. After pulling them out of the oven, spread the 2 TBS of butter on top, the butter will melt as you spread it around.  Then sprinkle with the 2 tsp of sugar. Cool in the pan over a wire rack.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yummy Banana Bread Recipe

I made this banana bread today from Our Best Bites.  It's a Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze.  I modified the recipe and made a couple mistakes along the way, but it stilled turned out amazing. That's the sign of a recipe with good bones.  If you mess it up and it still turns out delicious, then it's a winner in my book.  For my own sanity, I'm writing down my modifications so that I remember what to do next time.  I basically just made it a bit more healthy by using whole wheat flour and substituting coconut oil for butter.

Posting it on my blog also helps me keep track of which recipes I've tried from which blogs.  I really need to do this with everything I make so that I can keep my own personal "best of" and "don't make this again" lists. :)

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze
adapted by To Craft or To Cook, which was adapted by Our Best Bites from Cooking Light

2 C white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C sugar
1/4 C coconut oil, room temp
2 large eggs
1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)
1/4 C sour cream or plain yogurt
3 Tbs apple juice or milk*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C coconut

Topping: 2 Tbs additional coconut
Glaze: 1/2 C powdered sugar whisked with 1 1/2 Tbs fresh lime juice

*as in: don't go buy apple juice just for this recipe.  If you don't already have some, just use milk!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat oil and sugar until blended.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  Add banana, sour cream or yogurt, apple juice (or milk), and vanilla.  Beat until blended.
Add flour mixture and beat at a low speed until just combined.  Stir in 1/2 C coconut.

Pour batter into a 9x5" loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle additional 2 Tbs coconut on top. 

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour or until a knife or skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Note: Check bread after about 40 minutes.  If the top has browned and the coconut pieces are looking toasty, cover top of bread lightly with a piece of foil.  Continue baking until done.

When done, remove pan from oven.  Let cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes and then carefully remove from pan.  Whisk powdered sugar and lime juice together for the glaze and then drizzle over top.    Cool for another 15 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too big, too small, just right?

I'm getting ready to create some big art on my entry way wall.  Are these sizes of prints too big, too small, just right?  Don't mind the fact that these are crooked and pinned up with blue tape. :)  Imagine nice even lines and crisp canvas like art.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Restoring a Console Table

My very first furniture restoration!  YEAH FOR ME!  This post has lots of pictures, but I think that's only fair seeings how it was my first go at this type of project.

This project had lots of ups and downs.  Thankfully the final result is a big UP, so I may actually to do another one.... someday.  Here is a picture of my final pride and joy, all beautiful and shiny.


I found the original table at Goodwill for $12   WAHOO!  I needed a console table with very specific dimensions for an angled wall in my family room.  I wanted it to fit over the top of the awkwardly ugly subwoofer that is on that wall, so my requirements were pretty tough to shop for.  When I saw this beauty I saw huge potential.  The bottom legs were too short but I was confident I could take them off and find some longer ones.  Gotta have faith... right?


I was really torn on whether or not to sand and stain it or just prime and paint it, which would be the easier route.  At first I decided to prime and paint it.  And since I never do what I decide, I went ahead and started sanding it.  I sanded and sanded some more, using my hubby's electric sanding tool thing.  My whole arm was in a constant state of numb vibrating aftershocks when I was done.  Oh, and I took the whole thing apart before starting too.


Then I bought some stains, thinking I would go for a look I saw on All Things Thrifty


After staining I noticed that the wood was flashing.  Some parts of the table were absorbing the stain differently.  So I tried adding another coat of a darker stain to see if it would help.  It didn't.  So then I talked to my Dad, who is brilliant when it comes to anything with wood and he suggested sealing it with benite.  So I did that and then stained it again.  Didn't help.  Staining this table had become a hopeless cause.  All of the sanding, staining, restaining, sealing, and staining again took quite a bit of time.  I was feeling a bit frustrated at this point.

Here is my table flashing you.

So... I went back to what I originally had decided to do.  Prime and paint.  But I felt a little intimidated by picking a paint color.  On a whim, I posted a comment at one of my favorite blogs, Centsational Girl, and asked her for advice on painting colors.  To my total surprise and delight, Kate emailed me back and offered to give me her opinion on a paint color.  I sent her some pictures and she sent me back her thoughts.  I totally love her style and decorating "sense", so I completely agreed with her.  Go with a lighter color like cream to help brighten up the space in the room.  YEAH!  Thanks Kate!

I primed and then spray painted the whole thing.  Spray painting was also a new adventure for me, so it was a learning process, but I think I got the hang of it in the end.  I used a Satin Ivory Silk by Rust-oleum.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I went on the hunt for new legs for the table while all this was going on.  I got really lucky and found some on clearance that were just the right height and look.

All primed and ready to paint.

Spray painting... i need a workshop for stuff like this!  The garage isn't ideal by any means.


After painting it ivory I knew it needed something else.  So I steeled my nerves and decided to glaze it.  I used this technique from All Things Thrifty. It worked perfectly.  I LOVE the final look of it.


Then it was time to add my new leg brackets and screw the whole thing back together again.  I was proud of myself, I did the reassembly ALL BY MYSELF.  No husband.  It wasn't easy either.  I can take credit for this piece 100%.  It's such an amazing feeling.  I took about 50 pictures of the final product.  But I've yet to get it all decorated in the family room space, so these pictures of it just by itself will have to suffice for now.

I love how all the little scratches and dings from the original piece still show through.  It gives it a vintage antique look that I was hoping for.

It was such a great learning experience and I know the next time will be a lot easier.  It's great to know that I accomplished this and that I CAN do something like this if I want to.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chair Graveyard

I have a REALLY fancy dining room.  I've been in the middle of finishing up my family room/kitchen nook/kitchen redecorating project, and in an effort to make that space better I swapped out my dining tables.  The nicer table from the dining room was moved into the kitchen nook and the piece of junk oak table we've had for 10 years got moved into the formal dining room.

I figured the formal living and dining room were already a junk fest of furniture, so why not add to the lovelines with an oak table?  I'm also trying to recover some new (used) barstools for the kitchen so I frequently am moving the old ugly bar stools out of my way and storing them in the formal dining room.  Poor room, it's become a chair graveyard.

Maybe someday I'll take pity on this room and decorate it.  But for now it will remain ugly and a great place to store unwanted and ugly chairs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Knit Skirts - Mommy and Daughter

I am SO behind on posting stuff to this blog.  It's not that I haven't been crafting or cooking stuff, it's just that I've been too busy to post about them.  I'm going to make an attempt to catch up over the next week or two.

First on the list is a pair of skirts I made out of the knit fabric I bought awhile back.  Addison gave her first talk in church about 5 weeks ago and I wanted to make sure she had something new and fun to wear for it.  So I made her this little skirt and then decided to make one for myself too.  I desperately need more skirts, and this was SO simple to make, so it was fun to do the whole "mommy daughter matchy" thing for once.  I actually think this may be the first time I've ever matched clothes with her!  And I don't care if it's cheesy, cause I loved it and she loved it and it was perfect.

The waistband didn't turn out perfect, but you honestly can't see it when you have a cute shirt over it.

And here are a few pictures of the two of us in our skirts later that day.  I'm sad we didn't think to take one right after church, but oh well.  This first one is mostly a cute picture of Austin, but you can kinda see Addison and I on the side. :o)


I will most likely be making more of these as summer approaches.  They are perfect for hot weather and the most comfy thing I own.  And I'll just go ahead and keep making matchy ones for Addison while I'm at it. :o)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipe

Homemade pizzas are a regular item on the menu at our house.  I make the dough from scratch and we usually like the traditional tomato based sauce and toppings.  Every now and then I'll deviate from the traditional and make DJ and I something with a different sauce and topping, but the tomato sauce is our favorite by far.  Since we do go through a lot of pizza sauce, I decided to come up with my own recipe and make a huge batch of it and pressure can it.

I bought a pressure canner/cooker a couple months ago and have used it a couple times.  It's a bit intimidating at first, but it sure does what it's suppose to and it's a great feeling to know that you've cooked and preserved fresh meals that will last on your shelves for a long time.  It's awesome for those days that you just don't have it in ya to cook.

Here was my first successful batch of pressure canned jars of turkey chili.  So cool!


Anyway, back to the reason for this post.  I used several recipes as the base for my final pizza sauce concoction and it turned out pretty dang yummy.  It can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. to make as much as you need.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
3 TBS of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp orageno
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

You can vary any of these seasoning to your taste preference.  Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until it reaches your desired consistency.  We like a thinner sauce, so I let my food processor run for about a minute.  And that's it!  Spread on your dough for pizzas or this would make a fantastic bread stick dipping sauce.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Slower Cooker Shredded BBQ Beef on Homemade Whole Wheat Buns

It's been quite some time since I wrote about food, or about anything for that matter.  I guess I've succumbed to the craziness of life lately.  But tonight I just wanted to share a super easy and delicious meal that we just finished devouring and I just finished cleaning up.  Man is it a lot of work to feed a family of 5 three times a day. PHEW!

I get the base for my BBQ Beef recipe on Allrecipes.com, from this entry by someone named Kathy.  I also use Allrecipes.com for the base of my Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls.  Here are my customized versions of the recipes, which are both a super big hit with the family.


Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Beef

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 pounds chuck roast
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 of a large sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cubes beef bouillon
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1. Put the beef into the crock pot and sprinkle with the flour.  Add all the other ingredients on top of the beef.  Try to stir everything up as best you can, or give it an hour to meld together and then stir. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours or low for 14 hours.  If I'm home I like to give the sauce a stir once in a while, basting the meat, but it's not absolutely necessary.
 
2. At the end of the cooking time take the piece of beef out and shred with a fork (remove any large pieces of fat and discard).  Put the shredded beef back into the crock pot and stir to incorporate with the bubbly BBQ sauce.  Serve on homemade whole wheat buns (below), or with your favorite sandwich bread and a few slices of cheese.


Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1/4 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons coconut oil OR butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

2 tablespoons butter, to baste on top of hot rolls

1. Place the warmed milk and honey into a large bowl.  Add the yeast and let proof (sit) for 10 minutes.  While waiting, combine the two types of flour and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.


2. Add the coconut oil (or butter) and the beaten egg to the proofed yeast mixture and combine. If you are using a stand mixer, use your dough hook to mix everything together.  If you are going to be kneading by hand then just combine with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the flour mixture to your wet ingredients a cup at a time, combining well between each cup.  Once all the flour is incorporated let the stand mixer knead the dough for 7-10 minutes or if doing it by hand then I think it would be about 20 minutes of kneading.  I always seem to need a little more flour, but that could be just the humidity here.  You'll have to judge whether or not your dough needs more as it's kneading.

4.  Turn the dough into a lighted oiled bowl and then cover and let rise until doubled.  After doubled, punch down the dough and turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/4 inch thick. Cut out rolls with a 3 to 4 inch diameter biscuit cutter. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets; cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  If you want to make dinner rolls instead of sandwich rolls then you can shape the dough into rolls and place on the pan to rise.  I've done both ways and they turn out fantastic no matter how they look.

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, smear with butter. 

I serve these BBQ Beef sandwiches with sweet potato fries and a big fruit salad.  A great spring/summer meal to come home to after work.  It's even better if you make the buns the night before.  And I always double my roll batch so that I have enough to last for a few days or freeze for later.  Super easy!

I hope you get the chance to try out these recipes, they are so delicious!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bow Hair Clip Holder/Organizer and Flower Clips

I had to come up with a gift for a girls birthday party with one day notice.  Normally I would run to Fred Meyer, but the kids have been having a rough week and I didn't want to drag them out.  So I used what I had on hand and came up with a gift that hopefully was fun for her.  I used a spare frame I had, and mod podged it with some bright pink fabric.  Then I covered the glass with some coordinating knit fabric and hot glued the ribbons to the front.  I used this tutorial from Make It and Love It.

Then I made a couple of flower clips using the same coordinating fabrics and little pink beads.  I used this tutorial as my guide, although I hit some snags when it came time to attach the clips to the flowers.  There are NO good tutorials out there that explain how to do this without using hot glue.  I have some hot glue gunned clips and they just never hold up over time.  So I wanted to sew them onto the flowers and I had to just wing it.  I eventually got it to work, yeah!

The pictures I took are all terrible, my apologies once again! :)

I did enjoy making the little clips so I think I'll add making some for Addison to my ridiculous to do project list.  Linking up with SEW AND TELL over at Amy Lou Who this week.  Yeah!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making Pillows - How To, Tips, Lessons Learned

This is a long post, but has some good info and lots of pics, so bear with me. :o) The past couple months I've been making pillows for my family room as part of my effort to decorate that area of the house.  The family room is the first of MANY rooms I need to decorate, and it was a good starting point for me to get my feet wet in things unknown.  So, this post is about my adventures in pillow making.

Pillows are very simple and straightforward, but like with anything, they can have their rocky parts and parts that made me want to pull my hair out.  I made the gathered pillow first, which probably wasn't very smart since it was my most complex one, but at least everything afterward was easier.

I made 5 regular square pillows, one gathered pillow, one 4 piece panel front pillow (no idea what it's called) and one long rectangle pin tuck pillow.

I did a TON of reading and researching online to try and find the best pillow tutorials.  I didn't want the envelope pillows, so there weren't as many regular back pillow tutorials out there.  Here are some of the ones that I loosely followed:

For the 4 panel pillow: Sew4Home, Corduroy Diamond Wale Pillow 

For the regular square pillows: Sew4Home, Perky Pom Pom Pillow (minus the pom pom part) AND Make It and Love It, Pillow Slip Covers (minus the envelop part in the back)

For the pin tuck pillow: All Things Thrifty, Pin Tuck Pillow

For learning how to slip stitch the openings closed: Taffy Talk, Invisible Closing Seam

 Here are some close ups of the 4 panel pillow and the gathered pillow in back.

One of the square pillows in back, with the 4 panel pillow in front.

Four of the regular square pillows with the pin tuck pillow in the middle. Man my pictures are terrible.  I need a new camera!  ARG!

And now for a few things I learned along the way...
  • If you opt to stuff your pillow with batting, then the type of batting really does matter.  No where in any of the reading I did, did I find info on batting.  The first bags I bought were the cheapest kind, but also seemed to be the most popular since there were huge bins of them in the craft store.  After stuffing two pillows with them, my husband said they weren't comfy at all and suggested I find something else for the next ones.  So I went back and bought the nicest kind with a touch of silk in it, and it made a HUGE difference.  They are a lot more conducive to laying on while stretched out on the couch.  I guess if your pillows were strictly for viewing pleasure, then the cheap stuff would be fine.  But if you plan to use the pillows then go with the nicer stuff.
  • If you opt to go with a pillow insert, then make sure you measure exactly right and have a fabric that doesn't shift or do funny things to you while you sew.  The inserts scared me because if I made any errors in sizing then I was hosed.  
  • Tissue paper for gift wrapping makes a great predone pattern for pillows (the square sheet kind).
  • Ironing out the seams of the pillow can be the most time consuming part of pillow making.  It's also my least favorite part.  If you have a fabric that really shows the creases of the ironed seam, then it takes a lot of patience at the ironing board to roll the seam just right before pressing.  I made the mistake of not fulling rolling out the seam when I was pressing it and after I got the pillow all stuffed and sewn up, it looked awful and I redid the whole thing (seam ripper, pulled out the batting, reironed...). NOT FUN.
  • Take your time when slip stitching the opening closed.  It's not hard once you get the hang of it, but it will look a ton better if you take your time and do a neat job. I do this while watching all my mindless shows on TV at night.
  • And most important, don't be afraid to try something new and have fun with it.  Pillows really are a great avenue for trying out a new technique or getting creative.  There isn't a huge commitment when pillow making, so if you mess up, you can toss it. :) 
Last but not least, are some pictures of how I made the pin tuck pillow.  I mentioned above that I used the tutorial at All Things Thrifty, but I really only used it for the concept and then ventured out on my own into uncharted waters.  I think the final result was cute and fit with the rest of the pillows nicely.

I laid out my fabric for the front of my pin tuck pillow and then on the back side made pen marks where I wanted the tucks to be.  Then I used a small amount of the thread to tightly tie each gathered tuck.

A close up of the little pin tucked "nobs" after I tied them with thread.

This next step I wasn't totally sure about, so I just winged it.  I had to use needle and thread to sew the "nobs" in place securely.  I just knotted the end of my thread and then started sewing it back and forth through the center of the nob about a dozen times.  I gave it a good tug on the front side to make sure it was secure and then just tied off the end.  Totally unprofessional method, but it worked perfectly.

So here is a picture of the back side of my fabric all tied off and ready to go.

And this is what it looked like when I flipped it over.  Kind of a neat affect!  At this point I wasn't sure WHAT to do next, so I improvised. 

I cut and laid out a piece of muslin on the wrong side of the pin tucked panel.  Then I pinned the muslin to the panel, careful to fold and tuck the creases just how I wanted them.  It definitely wasn't perfect, but I was going for more of a "natural" look so it worked out fine.

You can see my piece of muslin is much larger than the fabric panel.  I intentionally did this because I knew the fabric was going to move around once I started sewing the two pieces together and sure enough, it did.  Once I pinned and sewed all four sides to the muslin I just went back and trimmed off the excess muslin to create a nice finished look.  Again, totally unprofessional. :)

Then I cut a back piece out of a coordinating fabric and sewed the two pieces together, right sides together, leaving about 8 inches open for the batting.  I clipped the corners, turned it right side out and pushed out the corners to give them a more sharp edge. Then I pressed the whole thing and stuffed with batting.

Then I pinned the 8" opening closed and slip stitched shut.

Ta Da!  A very unique pillow that fits perfectly as the final piece in my family room pillow makeover.

PHEW!  
I'm excited about how it all turned out and am ready to move onto my next project in the family room... stay tuned for some projects that will have me sanding, hammering, and painting in the garage.   
YIKES!

I've linked up to Amy Lou Who Sew & Tell
AND
V and Co.