Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day: Mini Conversation Heart Cookies

Last year I made conversation heart mini cakes (idea from Martha), and this year, I decided to make mini conversation heart cookies.  I have no doubt it's been done many...many times before, it's not revolutionary, but it's super cute.  I love conversation hearts! 
I found this mini cookie cutter (Wilton sales a similar size) and baked up some sugar cookies. 
I dyed my icing six colors, using small ramekins...it didn't take a lot of icing (I reserved most of it for pink, which I later dyed a deeper pink for piping.  I piped on my colors with a ziplock so it was neater.  I added 1 T of karo for each cup of icing so it hardens (sorry to be a broken record, but it's the best tip I was given years ago). 
There are a ton of cute, free, printable online, and I found this little pillow box at Good Gravy to house my cookies for distribution.
 Linking To: 
I Heart Naptime CRAFT Boogieboard Cottage CraftoManiac The Girl Creative Keeping it Simple Dittle Dattle Sew Can Do Krafty Kat Get Your Craft On Cupcake Kisses Simpsonized Crafts Sugar Bee Paisley Passions Crafty Soiree Pink Saturday A Vision to Remember Saturday Mornings

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Week of...Valentine's Day Ideas

Last year, I did participate in Valentine's Day, despite my usual protest regarding the holiday.  I don't have a huge collection because a year ago...I didn't post a lot of projects even when I did projects.  Here's a few from the recent, and distant past, and then....I'll add another 8 or so to this growing idea collection over the next week.  Someday I might need these ideas for more than my friends and their kiddos.
I posted these bubbles and heart wand a few weeks ago:
.
...along with this framed 'wreath':

And some conversation cakes from last year: 

Oreo Pops:

...and...

January: Then end of the beginning....of the year...

 Excuse my personal dust, this is for 'my record' for January 2011...pending two more days. 
    I'm sorry, but since when were months allowed to go by so swiftly?  I think this at the end of every 'adult' January...What?...a month is already gone?  And then I forget to be amazed by the swiftness of time until...Novemberish...which will be here before I know it.  Wow, saying that stressed me out b/c I don't have a single Christmas gift for next year made, and I only wish I were kidding about that idea bothering me!
     I've been so busy everywhere....I've been pitiful at everything b/c there is too much being juggled in the few hours between work, and sleep....and that's saying a lot considering how late I already go to bed.  I do this periodically, and I know it's now time to reevaluate.  I can't actually do everything (despite my personal beliefs), even if it's all 'good,' I have to consider what God wants on my list, as opposed to what I, my friends, or the world as a whole suggest I do, even with the best intentions.
    On that note, I haven't been doing too much crafting...as in...none, but, in the past, I did a lot I never posted, hence, a weird hodge podge of things over the last few weeks.  On the other hand, I have a ton of things I want to try out.  I save links I love, or jot down things that inspire me, or ideas everywhere.  On my computer alone I have a word document and it's currently 35 pages of ideas....each idea only takes up two lines so....I need to petition for a few more hours in each day.  I did stop by the thrift store today (on my way home from Saturday School :insert hissing: and pick up a few things. 
    Speaking of day jobs.  This is my tenth year of teaching.  I can't believe how much has changed.  So much has to do with our economy, but just four years ago it was sometimes difficult to fill a spot with a quality, qualified teacher, now it's almost impossible for an experienced teacher to find a spot here. Few are leaving, nobody is being hired.  I have a lot of friends who moved into teaching as a second/more secure job for their family, and they have not been able to find jobs.   I'm grateful to have one, as are so many.  As a person with a 'specialist' title in the district, I know my position is being reviewed in the budget, and it makes me nervous.  I'm not afraid of change, I fear not being in charge of how things will change for me.  Fortunately, I put my faith in a Higher Power than the school district, the state, or anything in between.  ...and in case the district asks, I've completely worked out their budget problems for them with some of my teaching friends....I'll be waiting next to my phone...and waiting....and waiting. 
     One last thing for my one record:  A year ago I decided I was going to blog every single day.  No reason. Just because.  I do a lot of things just to prove I can do it.  Guess what?  In two days....I did it.  I have a ton of stuff still set to post, I'll still be posting, but I'll also be figuring out....now what?  I set goals for myself every day in every avenue, it keeps me driving forward, and I'll keep doing it...until it drives me crazy.  Gretchen shared an email with me the other day, and it included a quote I loved that sums up my goals, big or little.  "Goals are dreams with deadlines."  Back to the 'blog thing...'
     I truly didn't know there was a world of bloggers outside your circle of friends that share...and more importantly care.  I love that b/c I've enjoyed getting to 'know' people with similar interest. I've learned some things...for better or worse.  There's a good, bad, and ugly side, but the 'good' is enough right now...I'm enjoy the ride. 
     January is already a bit of a blur (with a day left), but February is going to be pretty spectacular.
 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chili's Chili Queso

With the Super Bowl (in 'my town')  right around the corner, this is one of those dishes that always says 'football watching food' to me.  My cousin introduced me to this series of books by Todd Wilbur.  He takes restaurant foods, dissects them, and then prints a recipe that taste pretty much exactly like the original (his website, and another recipe can be found here.  I've tried quiet a few from his book, and I've always been impressed.  I love Chili's Queso Dip, and I think this recipe nails the dish on the head. 
Chili's Chili Queaso
Ingredients:
1 bag of tortilla chips
16 oz box of Velveeta Cheese, cubed
15 oz can Hormel Chili (no beans, and not chunky)
1 c. milk
4 t. chili powder
2 t. paprika
1 T lime juice
1/2 t. ground cayenne
1/2 t. ground cumin
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a med size saucepan.  Place over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the cheese is melted.  Reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips.
Linking To: 
Mother of Pearl

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vintage Banner

I bought these fabrics last summer, and then I discovered I already owned  two other sets of 'these fabrics.'  I guess I'm sort of a fan of the 30's prints featured above.  These are left over from the project I used these fabrics for that I'll post about....maybe around Mother's Day b/c it's a Mother's Day-Ish sort of post.  As for this banner, I'm working on a vintage party....date and details...unknown, but there will be one....someday.  Here is a close up of the banner.  I cut and trimmed each fabric into traingles, and added rickrack.  I then cut, folded, and sewed some left over muslim to make the string these were attached to.  I'm loving the colors. 

Now I need to figure out when I'm going to throw a vintage party....and then I need to go collect those other two 30's collections of fabric, and make those long-lost project ideas I bought those fabrics for!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot chocolate...is there really any reason to convince someone it's good to know how to make your own?  I found this recipe via Alton Brown, and it makes a lot, so I was able to package this up in several fun ways to add to gifts for friends. 
I was also able to reserve enough for me and the piles of Whipped Cream, and crushed Andes mints my hot chocolate requires. 
Ingredients: 
2 c. powdered sugar, 1 c. cocoa, 2 1/2 c. powdered milk, 1 t. salt, 2 t. cornstarch (it also called for a pinch of cayenne pepper, but I was too scared, and skipped this step). 
Mix it up with a wisk, and store in an airtight container.  When you are ready to drink, make a c. with 1/2 mix and 1/2 warm water or milk. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter at Lake Murray

My cousin (waving on the right) called me (waving on the left) and asked if I wanted to head North across the border in Oklahoma. 
Yup. 
It's a two hours drive to Lake Murray, Oklahoma from Plano, Texas. 
It's a peaceful drive, and worth it at any time of the year. 
There is just something about this lake that I love.  It holds a really special piece of my childhood.  It brings back nothing but great memories, and lots of them....even in the season of 'brown.'
We usually visit in the summer, and up until the last few years, we never missed a Memorial Day at the lake.  They've been going through quite a few transitions, and it's not the same place it was, but it's still one of my favorite places on planet earth.  As an adult, there aren't a lot of places that aren't tainted in one way or the other, even with the most positive of outlooks, sometimes life just happens, but this is my safe place. 
I've stood on this little peninsula several times a year with each member of my family over the last 30+ years. 
I'll stand here again sometime soon. 
I've sat on this rock. 
...and unsuccessfully fished in this lake. 
I worried I'd catch a shark the whole time. 
I don't want to talk about it, but...
I'll fish here again sometime soon. 
I might even add bait to my hook next time. 
I met these Cat Tail's great, great...great grandfather. 
and her baby daddy's, sister's, husband's great aunt...
It's not the same place it was, but it always evokes the same feelings in me, and the memories never change, even if the lake has changed through the years.
I love that I can go meet 'me' in the past before life happened.  I really do love my life, but it hasn't been all roses and butterflies, and sometimes I miss 'me' before I became 'me.'  I just like to visit her sometimes running up and down these spiral stairs at Tucker Tower....before I felt 'the burn'  quite so much vividly.
A memory is never quite as fresh as when you stand in the place it was made.  :O)
Linking To: 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(Microwaved) Homemade Chips

This is a really easy recipe using the microwave for chips.  I actually meant to bake these in the oven, but I sorta, kinda, might have spilled melted crayon wax all over the bottom of my oven, which makes for a very smoky, ummm....flavorful combination of grossness I want to stay away from!  One internet search later, here's a simple recipe. 
Microwaved Homemade Potato Chips: 
Slice potatoes really thin, toss in olive oil, and kosher salt (to taste).  Lay flat in a sprayed baking dish.  Microwave for 4 minutes.  If potato chips are not crisp, continue to microwave at one minute intervals until crisp. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strawberry Footballs

In honor of the upcoming superbowl, which, unfortunately doesn't include 'my' Cowboys, BUT does include my haunting grounds....and in honor of the strawberries that will be going bad in a few days if I don't do something with them....I put these little guys together.  I actually saw this idea on Etsy.  they sold all kinds of sports strawberries, and I thought it was a cute idea.  These would be really cute on a little astro turf, or green serving dish.  I only plated them long enough to take a picture, and then I did what I do best....eat them. 
I just used 'normal' chocolate chips, melted them down 30 seconds at time, stirring in between (it took about 80 seconds), dipped, and once it they dried on wax paper, I piped on my laces using icing, but white chocolate would work too.  This could be neater, but that's what the actual superbowl is for, right? Room to improve. 
Linking To:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Burlap Wreath

Amanda and Taylor told me about this wreath tutorial they found on line for a Burlap Wreath.  It's so disgustingly cute, I can't even stand it.  I have about six wreaths in every room of my house, and 58 in my garage, but I 'needed' a wreath like this.  The flowers on top can be exchanged each holiday with a new tag, and flower, but I decided this guy wants a permanat home. I didn't have a single wreath in my kitchen :insert gasp:!  The tags can be seasonal as well, but 'laugh' pretty much covers so many of my cooking attempts...I knew I could look up and smile at my cooking motto-laugh.  Someday I'm going to start a blog about all my failures, but I'm going to be medicated first. 
Anyway....as for the wreath.  The supplies are a foam wreath, a glue gun, pins, and three strips for 4 inch by 70 inch burlap fabric, and then whatever you want for flower-ee acceories. 
You take one strip and wrap it around the wreath (secure with glue at the start and finish, don't wrap too closely together or it won't make it all the way around).  Take the other two strips, and sew a very loose line up one side of the other two burlap strips.  Pull to ruffle.  Pin it in place (I pinned the two ends together, and then laid it across the wreath in a circular form. 
You glue one to the back on the outer edge, and one on the front at the inner edge.  There should be one portion of the burlap that is finished, and I used this in the exposed inner circle. 
To make a ragged edge, just start pulling the edges of the burlap out until you get a fridge that matches your fringie wishes.  If you are a perfectionist....get over it.  Burlap is completely unforgiving, and part of it's charm is that it is a completely imperfect line of fabric.  Embrass the imperfection....my friends have to...daily. 
OK...and I thought this big no sew flower was so stinking clever!  Taylor came up with this process, and I'm pretty sure I want to open a fabric flower shop. 
All you have to do is cut a piece of fabric....about 20 inches by 8 inches, grab a pipe cleaner.
Throw some lint and misc dog hair on your floor.  This is necessary to the success for your project, just trust me.  If you don't have a dog, you can borrow one of mine for a week or 15.  Let me know. 
Take your glue gun, and run a line down the length of the inside of the fabric about 1/2 inch shy of the halfway mark.  I'm point to the general area you'd run the line (I couldn't photograph the process, glue dries to fast). 
You should have an opening a little wider than your pipe cleaner now.  Run it down the length of your glued fabric. 
Pull both ends together. 
Pull into a circle.  You don't have to finish off the outside edges because they are going to curl under.  Pull it tight and twist it tight.  Ta da. 
My wreath got a red flower.  Once you place this guy on a wreath, or a pin, you can glue it down to the shape you want it.  Case in point. 
Ultimately, I added a button to the center of this one, but that's because I am an unsuccessful member of bottons-on-every-project-anonymous.  They are cute by themselves as well.  This brings me to flower two....burned edge poppies, that tutorial was yesterday, but I can't talk about fire much more this week because there is a physiciatrist somewhere with a clipboard, just waiting to check a few more boxes off before they show up at my door.  I grabbed one more (dotted) flower, already made at Hobby lobby, and some fluffy feather stuff (also from Hobby Lobby).  Add tag...
I then I hung this in my kitchen. 
I'm off to make another wreath...my attic is poorly neglected in the wreath department. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silk Flower Pins

I recently uncovered a little pyromaniac hidden down deep in my soul.  I needed another idocincricy, so yay!  I've seen these silk flowers with curled edges everywhere, and I finally looked up the process for making one myself for a wreath I'll post about tomorrow.  It was so easy to do...I went slightly overboard. 
The tutorials call for polyester, but there was a lady at the fabric store who told me A)  They had no polyester on hand and B)  Burning polyester makes it toxic.  I don't know if that's true, but A) pretty much took care of the fabric change I made if it is true.   I grabbed some of this nylon fabric along with some beads, needle and thread, a glue gun, pins, scissors, felt scraps, and a candle. 
Supervision is suggested, you are, after all, about to work with flames, and hot glue. 
I cut three different size circles, they don't have to be perfect b/c you are going to burn them, and if you don't like the shape, you can keep snipping. 
As for burning the edges, you don't actually have to run it through the flame, just very close, it curls up quickly near the heat of the flame. 
I stacked up my circles, and grabbed a few beads. 

If you don't like to sew, you can also grab brads, and they punch right through the delicate fabric. 
I've seen these on hair bows, and headbands, I decided to make pins.  I cut a circle of felt. 

I glued the felt to the inside of the pin. 
Added more glue to the whole circle, and popped it on the flower.  Because the flower is layered, the glue didn't show through. 
Now I just need to go find 8 or 76 more friends who want a flower pin. 
Linking To:  A Vision to Remember