Friday, November 30, 2012

No Knead Pizza

Quick recap as always:

-3C Flour
-1.5C Lukewarm water
-1.5tsp Salt (HAH I almost wrote cup)
-1/4tsp yeast

Mix all, let it rise overnight. Then let it sit in the fridge for a day or so. 

When you are ready to make some pizza yumminess, turn about half the dough onto a floured surface.  Knead a tad of flour in, and then roll and stretch it out to your desired thinness.

I put a little bit of cornmeal on my pizza pan with holes.  Then I plopped the dough on it. 

I let it sit there about 40 minutes to warm back up, it was really chilly from the fridge, obviously.  Next, I put tomato sauce and herbs and then added cheese, tomato, spinach, and some shrimp.  I then drizzled a little butter on the crust.  And finally added some garlic cheese topper.

I baked it at 400 for about 20 minutes. You want the crust to be yummy golden.

So I stayed up until 4:45 this morning watching the first season of Alias.  Idk what it is about amazon prime but every now and then I get super hooked on watching some new season of a show.  I have been watching it all day and doing work. And making pizza obviously. 

I am almost through season one.  I really do not need to stay up super late again....but I only have a feeeewww more episodes left....what will I do? We shall see.

Now go make some pizza. Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bellsprout Ornament: Lightbulb Rehab

Now look, I may be 22 and whatnot, but Pokemon was THE thing I grew up with.  I fought through many gym leaders, spent hours trying to capture the legendaries, raised pokemon from infancy to level 99, and logged 40 straight hours one week on pokemon when I had my widsom teeth cut out and my braces put on.

Yes, yes I did have those both done in the same week.  4 teeth pulled, 2 cut out (they were deep wisdom, not surface breakers), two days to recover, and then braces.  That entire week I popped one legit pain pill, then spent the rest of it on motrin.  As a sidenote, I hate pain pills because they just make me groggy and sleep way too much.  My first response to pain is to always just suck it up, and my second response if that fails is motrin or advil.  Plus, if you aren't focusing on your pain because you have to games to become the all time greatest PokeMaster feel just fine!

As I had said before, my best friend gave me a whole bag of incandescent bulbs.  It was pretty much like Christmas.  So by this point I have made a Grinch, a Santa, a Penguin... and I was debating on what my next move would be...

You need: A lightbulb, yellow paint, pink paint or red and white to make pink, black paint or a sharpie, a floral stem, wire, E6000, and maybe some tape (I had to use a bandaid, I apparently have no tape...)

I cut this section of a floral stem off, the flower part I had used for a different craft.  I used bronze wire folded over on itself in two branches to make a V shape of wire (for the feet).  I wired that to the stem and wired the leaves so that they would point toward the back.

Next, I put a a good glob of E6000 on the "top" (really the back in this case) of the bulb where the stamp details are.  I put the wired stem onto it and secured it with the bandaid.

My bandaid piece covered up the majority of the glue and E6000 dries quickly, so I gave it a few moments to dry and then painted the entire bulb yellow. 

I had to then put it on my elaborate closet organizer drying system, because nowhere was dry enough for me to hold it to do the rest of the painting.  I let it hang there overnight.
Today, I got this little cutie off of my drying wrack and proceeded to add the rest of the details.

I painted the metal part a pinkish color I mixed up with my metallic red and some white. 

My paint colors are a bit limited here, you see.

Next, I used my black leading to make the eyes.  You could do this with a marker I would imagine.  I just didn't really have any handy.

As a finishing touch I bent the stem to make the whole thing look more whimsical.  If any of you are pokemon fans, you know bellsprout was a very looseygoosey wobbly thing. 

He is back on my drying system and when he is done I will put a wire loop on him and hang him from my tree.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tiny Kitchen Survival

We learn a lot about subsidies in urban planning.  Basically you are making something doable for someone else: subsidizing housing costs, giving subsidies or similar to businesses to locate to your city, blah blah blah.  Well, I have had two tiny kitchens in a row.  And I am starting to understand subsidies.

I have found myself having to subsidize space in order to organize things.  In order to make organization even remotely possible, I have had to make concessions and get really creative in where things go.  Now, I will be the first to say that I am not an organizational guru by ANY means, and in fact usually I am more like a hurricane and just leave a wake of destruction and disarray wherever I am.  Case in point, my craft spaces.  But, I am tired of juggling things in what few cabinets I have, so I decided that it was high time to come up with some creative placement.

This picture is a score because it is two organizational feats in one shot.  The bar was actually already there when I got here.  I don't know if it has always been there or if the last people just did not feel like taking it with them, but I greatly appreciate it either way.  It was probably intended for towels, but it makes such a great place to put cleaners on the end. 

Now, they can't go all the way across because of that horrific insinkerator in there, but that is fine because a towel can go on this end.  I pretty much am over that stupid disposal system. 

My second under the sink feat has been using a cheap dish drainer to hold my pot lids, plastic storage containers, and a few of my smaller glass dishes that I use for storage.  I am pretty sure this dishdrainer cost me about $5, but it saves me a lot of annoyance in having all of my plastic containers everywhere under here.  Not only that, but my pot lids had YET to find a good home and were almost always on top of my stove before this point.  I cannot stress enough that there is a severe lack of cabinets in this apartment.

In fact, let me sum it up like this: my spices live on top my fridge with my paper towels, my bread is homeless and lives on top of my electric griddle (when it is not in use obviously), my cheese shredder, knife block, and utensil holder all live on top my microwave...which lives on a TV stand just around the corner from my actual kitchen in my dining area, and my "pantry" style cabinet is all of 1-1.5 feet wide if that.  I probably have the equivalent of 3 full size upper cabinets, 1 weird skinny tall pantry thing, and 3 lower cabinets.  And part of the uppers are above my fridge and it is nearly impossible to get things out of there, so those basically are rarely used.
 This might help explain it a little better...this is my kitchen.  Ignore the cluttered look of the counter, I had just gotten back when I took this and things had not yet been put up.

Essentially, I have turned my entire kitchen into a walk-in pantry.  I bought wire racks from Wal-Mart (for cheap) and put one above and below my menu board.  The lower one holds my noodles because I use them most days out of the week, and the upper one houses my wraps and similar because I rarely use them. 

If it looks really high, it is.  I am about 5'8" ish and have pretty long arms. 

The hook on the wall holds my potholders, because they were definitely homeless in all this.
I wanted to put the wire shelves in here so they would not be visible. 

However, I think my cabinets are made out of sawdust.  There was just no getting new screws in and every nail I had was too long, so I used screws that were already in there from previous stuff and put up these baskets. The placement of the nails did not work with my wire guys.

I booted my sponges out of a drawer and into this basket.  They make a lot more sense being here.

I have no idea really what I am going to put in the bottom on yet, but I am more than sure I will find something that needs a new home.  I might put towels down there, since I currently have them sitting in a bowl in this window thing that is in my kitchen...
 HAH! Here's a funny one I have been pulling since I first got here.  Allow me to shed some light on this:

I have a single tub sink.  It is porcelain, and I hate that.  I also hate that it only has one tub.  I much prefer divided sinks, and I very much prefer metal.  I had bought a dish drainer that I was going to keep in my sink, keep in mind I had bought most things BEFORE I really saw the apartment because that is just the reality of college.  I had been here enough to know that I would not have counter space, so an in-sink one is what I bought.

Which is all great and good except that just logistically is impossible to even use with as many dishes as I use and the size of my sink.  I had tried turning it front to back, putting it around the sink head, but that still did not work and stuff was constantly pouring off whatever I was washing into my clean dishes. 

And another sink issue, it does not have a tall sink head.  So clearance is next to non-existant with a dish drainer in there.  So I got crafty and put my dish drainer over a tub.  Is it beautiful? NO.  Does it drive me insane? A little bit.  Does it get the job done? Absolutely.  In all reality, considering I almost always use at least 2 pots/pans per meal and sometimes use my huge skillets, it is the only reasonable way to get anything done.  And let's face it, how am I going to wash that big TFal back there with this drainer in my tiny short sink?  I already wash out the bucket of my ice cream maker in my bath tub.  True story.  Again, the only way to make work.  Haha!
Now this little guy here I actally really like.  I consider this reasonable and actually really efficient.  I put my trash bags and my ziploc bags here, which some might find odd, but to me it is just indicative of the fact that my ziplocs had nowhere else to go unless I buy more shelves. 

Having your trash bags right above your trash can is pretty darn handy, I must say.

Other apartment organizational things that have really worked for me:
- A shower curtain with pockets.  I found a curtain with mesh pockets in it in all of the college stuff.  I got it at Wal-Mart, and it is a similar idea to this one on amazon .  However, I think it is super goofy that people hang the pockets on the outside, so I turned mine around.  With my pockets on the inside, I have all my shampoo and stuff in there with me, my razor, shave gel, etc. and it all neatly tucks itself away with the shower curtain.  Mine is purple and not clear, so you really cannot see any of the bottles or anything else.  My shower always looks bare, except my yellow duckie treads on the bottom.
-Closet organizers have saved my sanity.  I don't like to hang up T-Shirts, I think it is a waste of hangers.  I also don't like to put my shoes in hanging shoe organizers because it is frustrating.  What I DO like to do is to put my Tshirts in a hanging shoe organizer, with shorts on the other side.  I did not bring a large dresser here, I only have a beautiful antique vanity dresser with tiny drawers.  I also brought nearly every article of clothing that I own here...see the issue? I also use one of those closet organizers that is a series of hanging cubes to put other foldables on like jackets and tank tops and similar.  Don't get me wrong, my bedroom closet here is gigantic.  But that still does not make me want it to be messy. 
-I have not done this yet, but I think I am going to measure the cabinet where my plates are and get another dish drainer for it.  If those plates were vertical, I could put both sets in there (I have a square and round set) instead of having them each on different shelves.  This would give me a whole extra shelf for something.  Maybe my homeless bread.  Or maybe my bowls could live in that cabinet again, since they had to be booted to a different cabinet. 

I feel like this will be a continuing saga of organizing the tiny kitchen.  I only am going to be here for another 18 months, so I need to move fast!

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch Bulb.

If you google lightbulb ornaments this is EASILY one of the best ideas I have seen out there.

And what do I do with best ideas? Test them out!  Now, as a little precursor, I dearly love How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  NOT that Jim Carrey mumbo jumbo.  That Grinch just looked awkward the whole movie, and too naked.  But the cartoon Grinch and all the Dr. Seussicalness of the holly jolly episode put me in a rather Christmas-y mood.

Which is good, because I pretty much hate every other Christmas movie.  I do like Charlie Brown, because you really just can't deny that it is awesome.  I do not like the claymation Rudolph mumbojumo, no Frosty the Snowman for me, and I cannot count the number of reasons why I do not like "A Christmas Story".  And I CANNOT STAND the movie Elf...or really anything Will Ferrel has ever done.

Now that I think about it, I do like White Christmas also.  So maybe I am not a total Scrooge.  I love Christmas plays, for what it is worth.  I saw A Christmas Carol in Derby Dinner Playhouse when I was a kid and I could have seen that a million times and been just fine. 

I think I really only like musical style things because nothing else really does it for me in the holly jolly department.  Christmas is so jingly, it just requires lots of singing along-ing.  Hence, musicals.  And the Seuss Grinch, because "You're a Mean One" is just completely a classic. 

I mean really, a 39 and a half foot pole? Where do you even find one of those?

Oh right, you are here for the ornament...

A lightbulb, green paint, yellow paint, red paint, black puffy paint or leading, white puffy paint.

No, I probably will not be able to make any ornaments without puffy paint...

 To start, I painted the bulb with a thin coat of garish green paint.

I bought the cheapest paint I could find at Hobby Lobby in the craft section.  It was on sale, and cost me about 60 cents or so.

Next, I found a picture online to look off of, and used my black liquid leading to draw out the face.  If you do not want to have to wait for this to dry before adding color, mark where you want to paint with a pencil, and use a Q-Tip to paint on the yellow and red in the eyes.  Then go back and outline them in black. Also feel free to use a pencil to save you from having to freehand if you are not the type to just go rogue with a bottle of puffy paint like I do.

I had not considered that I could not paint with the leading being wet, of course, so I had to let it dry.  I also went ahead and made my Santa hat base.

I really don't believe in buying extra things like Santa hats, so that is why I opted to paint mine on.

I painted in the eyes and painted the tail of the hat.

Then I sat it on a salt dough gear to dry...yes, I know, I still have a whole table of salt dough I have not done anything with...

I am working on it! This junk called homework keeps getting in my way.

Regardless, when I got this guy done I made a second one because I learned that my best friend's hubby LOVES the Grinch nearly as much as I do, so his buddy will be living on their tree.  It is wildly appropriate, because she is the one that gave me the bulbs in the first place!

Get creative, and get crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decorative Scrap Ornament

I like to use everything that I can.  I am one of those people who has tons of little scraps of scrapbook paper around JUST IN CASE I find something that I can use them for, like bottlecap necklaces.

After I made the wreath, I had white sprigly pieces and red metallic berries leftover from $2.00 worth of Christmas Decorations purchased from Wal-Mart.  I am not saying they are the most beautiful things ever, but for 94 cents a piece you just about can't beat them for the amount of stuff you get in them. The white bits were leftover from the wreath I did yesterday.

 On Black Friday I bought these ornaments from Michael's.  They are the plastic ones, and you can buy them individually.  I prefer the plastic ones because I am notorious for dropping things that are highly breakable.

I used wire cutters to trim the white puffs off the sprigs so that I could fit them into the bulb.  I cut various sizes, pretty haphazardly.

I did the same with the berries, I would suggest not getting the metallic ones OR looking for a bunch that has a lot stuck together in 2's instead of clumps of 6 berries.  They don't come apart well and you need them to fit in the ornament top.  Keep that in mind.
Once I had another layer of white puffies put in over the berries, I pulled off some of the silver leaves and attached them to the top of the ornament with wire.  I laced the wire through the center and around the leaves.

I actually attached all of my ornaments on my 4 ft and miniature trees with wire, because I plan on transporting them when I go home for break.

Now do you see why I prefer plastic?

I see no point in leaving my trees here and only getting to enjoy them for half of the Christmas season.  My plan is to wrap them up in my sheets.  Using wire as hanging material will only make it easier to keep them on.

I ended up using my wreath I made yesterday as a decoration around my mini tree.  It has made such a cute centerpiece on my dining table!

That's right, a tree on my dining table!

Quite frankly, I think it is an incredibly cute way to decorate, and my table is not a very big one.

So imagine how much more cute this would be on your full sized dining table?

It might even live on one of our tables when I go back home. 

Happy crafting, use those scraps! Waste not, want not! Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Rogue Wreath: Cheap Wreath, No Form!

I am not going to say I am cheap...but I do like to save money where I can.  I also like to buck the norm in some instances.  If things have always been done a certain way, I like to see if there is an alternative path. This time, I decided to tackle wreaths.  I really don't like the idea of buying forms, and I have seen a couple of great ideas using foam pipe stuff and pool noodles, etc.

So I was at Michael's today, and I noticed that Christmas Picks were on sale at 50% off.  Now, I usually call these decorative sparkly bits, so it was nice to know they really have a name...haha! I was messing with one and noticed that they are wired on the inside so you can form them.  One thing led to another, and I opted to find out if they could be attached to each other to form a wreath.

You will need to buy some Christmas Picks, I bought 6 longer ones, 4 smaller ones for the base of the wreath, and then picked up a 94 cent bundle of white snowy looking things from Wal-Mart.  You will also need red wire and wire cutters.

Now, you will notice that I originally put these two together base to base.  That did not work nearly as easily, and I ended up putting them together base to top.  That worked much better.

I cut 2 inch or so strips of wire (I happened to have red on hand) and wrapped it tightly around the two picks to put them together. 

I did this with the 6 larger picks I purchased.  After that, I attached the white puffy pieces, bending them through some of the berries.

After that, I attached the smaller sprigs between the white ones.

To secure it better, I flipped the wreath over and put E6000 everywhere that sprigs came together and everywhere I had wired.  Hot glue is also a perfectly acceptable answer. 

Believe it or not, I have never used hot glue.

Once it is dry you can rearrange some leaves and the bulbs or whatever else is in your arrangement in order to get it just like you like it.  This wreath ended up being around 8 inches wide I would say, maybe as large as 10.  I was looking for a small wreath to hang in my apartment.  You can essentially make it any size you want, it will just take some thought and planning while you are in the store.

The 6 large picks cost me about $3.87, the four smaller added $2, and the white was another $.94, bringing the wreath material to a total of $6.81 or so.  For a wreath...that is pretty darn cheap!

There are all sorts of picks you can get, you could make a wreath completely out of acorns, one that is sparkly, the possibilities are endless. Shop various stores, and you will be surprised just what you can come up with!
Pin It Now!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Completed Salt Dough Necklace

Well there was a craft show today, which went decently well.  We are in the process of getting one off of the ground, this is the second year it has been going.

Regardless, I had to put some necklaces together last night because, as usual, I was slightly behind where I wanted to be.  But it was for good reason, I mean did you SEE those Turkey Cake Pops? So cute.

Regardless, this necklace utilized one of my very favorite Salt Dough Necklace pendants. I used aqua wire to create a bail, used eyepins (or headpins with eye hooks? I don't know what they are really called...) to put the blue and green beads on, and used a combination of larger blue clear beads and shiny blue Czech beads that really added a lot of glitz.  I really love it.

I had decided that anything I did not sell today I will use for my booth at a craft show next fall, if I do not do anything before then...but yet I sort of want to wear this guy....

I have this issue with jewelry.  You have to make cute things to sell, right? But yet I like to WEAR cute things. 

It really is just a never ending process.

For anyone who has not seen the other blogs, I made and formed salt dough pendants, let them dry, painted them with watercolors, and coated them with resin.

I like to make things to last. Pin It Now!

Friday, November 23, 2012


From the phone again, you know the drill. No pictures. I am gearing up for a craft festival tomorrow, so please forgive me!

Anyway, how many of you are looking to redo a chandelier, or have redone one and just think it needs a little more pizzazzle? I can help!

Run, don't walk, to Hobby Lobby. When there, go to the Christmas ornaments that are sold individually and are usually stylistically coordinated. Look in the black and white and clear areas.

What you will find here are perfect danglies for a chandelier. I got 5 black fleur de lis ornaments that have clear jewels hanging from them, and a larger red sparkly ornament to hang from the center. The best part is? They LOOK like they were made specifically for a chandelier. They even have some that look exactly like a chandelier shape.

Next best part? 50% off sale.

You all can thank my sister for this absolutely amazing idea, because we raided stores for Black Friday this morning!

Hope your Thanksgiving was great! Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holiday Rolls

 Quick Recap of the No Knead Recipe:
-3C AP flour
-1.5C lukewarm water
-1.25 tsp salt* (I upped this to 1.5 this time, as I think the original could use it, I also like to add other herbs and whatnot to add flavor)
-1/4 tsp salt

Mix it all, let it rise overnight (or about 12-18 hours). 

Here is where I ventured to a new course: I let it sit in the fridge for another day and a half.  I read online that this lets this recipe develop a better flavor.  Turns out, it is true.  These were delicious!

So I pulled it out of the fridge yesterday, sprayed the miniature muffin tins with pam, and tore off hunks to put in the tins.  I preheated the oven to 200 and then opened the door and let the rolls raise in there for an hour and a half.  I had enough to do this pan and 6 of 12 larger muffin cups.  I put a little bit of water in the remaining empty tins. 

I preheated the oven to 375, put them all in, and set the timer for 20 minutes.  I wanted to watch the rolls, which sounds GOOFY I know, but I don't have a window in my gas oven at school.  I looked down to update my facebook...

AND THEN STEAM STARTS POURING OUT OF THE OVEN!!! Even though I knew that multiple recipes at substantially higher temperatures call for pans of water in the bottom...I still panicked.  I yanked the large muffin tins out and quickly used a fork to transplant them to a cookie sheet.  This was about ten minutes in so the rolls had more than enough time to form and be firm.

In hindsight, I have no idea why I thought this was such an issue at the time.  But since I was not prepared for this, it left room for panicking.  Luckily, they all turned out just fine.

And here they are!  I cooked them until just getting golden. 

So about 20 minutes, or just when they start to color is what you want to shoot for.

Remember, these don't taste like typical brown and serve rolls.  They taste like fancy bread rolls.  Which are also delicious! 

I would recommend oversized muffin tins or maybe even a small cake pan to make a bread bowl, after this experience.  I definitely think that it would be the easiest idea.

And yes, I am still working on Instagram.  I still kind of don't get it.  I think you could find me on there at greenzebra9...but I am not maybe you could follow them if you tried! Haha.

Happy baking!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Pops

I don't mean to brag...but this was EPIC! These little buggers turned out so much better than I thought.

To start, I made chocolate cake pops.  I did this by using the lemon recipe in the babycakes cake pop maker book, leaving out the lemon extract, lemon zest, and subbing in more milk for the lemon juice.  I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa.

That is just how I roll.  I put a bavarian cream filling in them.

I cut up chocolate pieces and put them out into a tail.

Next, I melted candiquick.

I dipped the pops and then sat them directly on the tails.

I used a butterscotch for a beak.

My mom picked up the sugar eyes from Wal-Mart.

I cut apart a red chocolate and made a beard, which I attached with leftover melted chocolate.
And here they are! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hair You Go!

I know, I know, yet ANOTHER clever title. Go figure.

For a little background to this, I am 5'7"ish and have hair pretty much down to my waist.  Basically, it is pretty darn long.  I get a little peeved when people tell me it must be just tons of work...

I never use conditioner unless I have ten pounds of hairspray in it because I can't detangle it after using freeze it.

I only get my hair cut twice a year, three times if I am feeling fancy.

I don't own a straightener.

I don't own a curling iron.

I use my blowdryer maybe once a week...and that is probably vastly exaggerated.

So, how do I fix my hair, you ask?  Creatively!  Weeks ago I pinned one braid, and this will be another.  Braids are long hair's best friend. I hate hair in my face!

AHHH! My secret identity has been compromised!!!

Kidding :).  Regardless, this look is super cute and crazy easy.

I happened to do this after blowdrying my hair, which makes my hair pretty straight. 

I braided two sections of hair, one thinner than the other, pulling the sections from right behind and slightly lower than my ear.

You could put a tiny hair tie in the one while you do the other...I just held it in my mouth.  Sue me.  I don't like to waste tiny ties. After I got both of them braided, I wrapped them across my head and pinned them near my other ear.

Next, I grabbed the hair at the top of my head and ratted it with my teasing comb.  Simply ratting it never gets it to poof like in this picture, so I developed a workaround.  What I do is rat the section, then I twist it around a few times at the back of my head.  While holding onto the twist I push the entire section forward.  This seems to make the whole section hold better for me.  Once I have it to the height I want it I put three pins in the back section, two in an x shape and one going down through the x.  I call it the trinity of pins, AKA the PINity.  Seriously, it is the only way bobby pins consistently work in my head.

Then I spray the heck out of it with good quality hairspray (e.g. Freeze-IT).

Either I leave the rest of it down or I put the remaining hair in a bun.  If I put it in a bun I will sometimes take the pins out after just to make it more comfortable.  Once it is in the messy bun the poof stays up just fine.

Another favorite method of me fixing my hair is washing, detangling, and letting it get partially dry via air drying.  Like I said, I almost never use my blowdryer.  When my hair gets somewhat dry, I throw it up in a messy bun.  I sleep on it, take it out the next morning, mousse and spray it, and I have a fun scrunchy look for the day.  Usually takes me...about five minutes in the morning to get the wavy look I like.

Yea...long hair does not always mean long fixing time! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Ideas

Now technically this isn't a craft because I haven't done these but I was contemplating various ideas for thanksgiving cake pops. It occurred to me that it might still make a good blog for today, as the holiday is nearing and what is crafty if a good idea does not count as such?

That's my argument :) my real reason is most likely that I shut my computer down before blogging. Sue me.

Turkeys- I think it would be adorable to make a flavor of cake pops, let's say chocolate, and dip them in chocolate candy coating. Then you could put on those sugar eyes you can find at the grocery and two yellow sprinkles for a beak. You could probably use candy corn as a tail by setting it on your wax paper and then setting the cake pop on it and allowing it to dry. Another option would be using colored candy melts to make a tail and then attaching it to your cake pop.

Pilgrims- another hoot (or gobble!) would be using fudge stripe or similar cookies with rolos or Reese's cups (mini) on top to make pilgrim hats. You could sit these on top of the cake pop after you dipped it and they would have a cute pilgrim hat! Marshmallows might also be a worthwhile venture for the hat part.

Pumpkins- I know Wilton has a tip similar to a basketweave tip but its curved. This would make interesting sides on a cake pop that could look just like a pumpkin. Other options would be to use orange candy melts. A mini chocolate chip would make a perfect little stem, but I think butterscotch would taste far better with pumpkin!

Well my eyelids feel like lead....goodnight! Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Craft Studio- Wall Work

As I have said, we are remodelling what will be my Studio.  It is a work in progress, and I had done the light a while back.  It makes complete sense to recreate a light months before you can hang it, right? Better to be prepared than to be in the dark, in my opinion!

The room used to just be plain white plaster with offwhite/cream trim. 

I bought the wallpaper on amazon.  There apparently is no wallpaper in any store near me, and I was about 12 shades of annoyed.  So I looked on amazon for a damask wallpaper, and found this guy!

The walls are Anonymous grey in Behr paint.  I love Behr.  It is really thick and it covers well.

We put the first coat of white on the baseboard, and I will probably put a second one some time.

As per my mom, who has used wallpaper before quite a few times, to newbies the secret is measuring and cutting straight lines.  We used a tub of warm water because none of the stores that I went to had a wallpaper tray.  But why would you even buy one when you can use a tub? Everyone has tubs!

You will want to get a wallpaper brush though, that thing came in really handy.  If you absolutely do not want to scuff up your paper (it is rare that it happened on mine but there were a few spots) you might be able to use a paint roller and get all the air bubbles out.  You would just have to try it. 

As some of you may have already noted, I did technically put the pattern sideways around the room.  I did this for multiple reasons:
  • I would have had to waste about a third of a roll to get my pattern edges to match up.  Unacceptable.
  • I cannot stand pattern edges not matching up.  I am looking at you, Project Runway designers.
  • By going sideways, I had a perfect straight edge to butt up against the chair rail.
  • By taking this pattern sideways, it draws your eye around the room, instead of being a short choppy up and down print. For a room that is about 8x8, it is PERFECT! It makes the room look much bigger.
I wanted to do a bit of a reverse in that the darker shades are on top and the wallpaper is lighter on bottom. If you want to do this in your own room, consider what paper you buy.  Smaller prints may be easier to match up, or may not be noticeable if it is not spliced perfectly.  A solid color or textured paper may not require splicing.  Also, consider measuring from the baseboard to chair rail and buying a paper with a very similar width.  The less you cut, the better.

We worked on it by cutting sections, most about 2 ft or less, and soaking them.  Next, we butted the paper right up against the chair rail, lined up the pattern just so, and used the brush to smooth it down.  You have to DRENCH prepasted paper.  Don't skimp out on it. I will probably end up using glue and reattaching some corners of a few sheets, don't worry if it does not end up perfect, you can always fix it.  ESPECIALLY if it will be your craft studio.  Heck, I will just mod podge it down if need be.

So, to recap:
  • You will have a hard time finding something perfect in stores unless you want textured paintable paper.  Some stores do have ordering options.  Amazon, like usual, has everything.
  • You will make sure the paper is prepasted.
  • You will want to buy a brush.  A tray is optional, and tubs are very functional.  Especially under the bed tubs.
  • The less you have to cut the better, but be able to cut it as straight as you can.  Get a long ruler, a pen, an EXCELLENT utility knife to trim up, and scissors.  Don't buy the cheapo knives they are awful.
  • Start out slow, you will get the hang of it in no time.
  • Don't give up! I was really bummed thinking my paper would not work with the small section, but the simple solution of turning it sideways made all the difference AND worked better for my room.
  • Really put a lot of thought into your print.
Enjoy! Pin It Now!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Craft Studio White Tulle Wreath

My hometown is nearing their annual light up ceremony.  We wanted to start making the house look more festive, and I have desperately wanted to make a tulle wreath for my craft room.  I love some of the ones I have seen, but I was going back and forth on color versus all white.  I ended up sticking with a white and silver color scheme.

You need:
-A foam wreath form (Wal-Mart, approximately $5)
-Around 150 ft of white tulle (I bought two 100 ft rolls and did not really even use half of the second roll, but you should always play it on the safe side) Hobby Lobby had their christmas tulle on sale for 50% off
-A small 12-20 ft roll of silver sparkly tulle, I paid about $4 at HL or so
-A strand of 50 LED clear lights (my sister saved me by reminding me that LED's are cool to the touch, so I did not have to worry about anything)
-A pack of snowflake ornaments (at least 6)

If you are a little on the OCD side, you may want to make double sure they are on white strands.  I did not even think of this, but at least I was able to really disguise it with tulle.  Especially at night, you honestly do not notice it at all.

 I wrapped my lights around the form and made sure the two ends of the strand were close together.  You will probably need to use an extension cord regardless so be prepared with one when you go to plug it in.

I cut my tulle strands between 18-20 inches.  I say between because there is a good chance I eyeballed a lot of them based on one I had already cut.  It worked perfectly.

Tie the tulle onto the form, around the strands to keep the lights in place. Tie them close together, or shoved them close together after you tie them on. I did most of my white first and then tied the silver in later to be able to place it exactly where I wanted it. Let me tell you...sparkles...EVERYWHERE. You have been warned.

I have literally no idea how many little strands I cut.  But it was enough to use a 100ft roll and a part of another roll.  I know it was under 150 feet, maybe not including the silver.

You could probably get away with 125 ft of white, and whatever you can buy of silver.  I have silver and white leftover.
 My mom had the best idea ever.  I am going to hang this baby in the window (aka I already have) and so people driving buy will see it and I will see it from the inside.

I was going to put snowflakes on the outside, and my mom suggested since it was a second story window, putting the snowflakes on the INSIDE so that I could enjoy them and keeping the white snowy look on the outside for everyone else to enjoy!

I had enough snowflakes I technically could have done both, but most people (myself included) might not be able to see the real details with it being up that high so it just makes so much more sense this way! Ornaments would also be cute on this.  I tied my snowflakes on with silver tulle.  Two birds, one excessively glittered stone.
 Here is my cutie all plugged in.  The LED lights are not optional- they are AMAZING!

Big props to my sister for the LED suggestion, big props to my mom for the inside flakes suggestion, those really propelled this wreath into way cooler than what I might have originally ended up with.

Seriously.  LED is not optional anymore haha.  They come in all sorts of colors you have no excuse.

Happy holidays, and happy crafting!
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Puffy Snowman Christmas Card

Have I mentioned I love snowmen?  I really have only built one once, but I also have snow chair and snow dragon on my resume.

Don't act like you are shocked. 

Regardless, I got this blue textured paper and tore some white to go over it like a fresh blanket of snow.  My Durango hates snow.  I am good for about one day of snow a year, and then I like for it to magically disappear.  Regardless, I made the snowman using 1 inch circles as a guide and started covering the top one in puffy paint and then the remaining two, widening them as I went.

I tore some thin strips of red into smaller pieces and put it right in the paint to let it work like glue.  Next, I used my polyflake to make dots for snowfall and then polyflaked the heck out of it.

Now, I don't want to seem misleading, so I must inform you I had to photoshop the details in because it was not dry.  You know how I am with patience.  But it was too cute to wait.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On the Third Day of Christmas Card

 Card again.  Cardigan? That must be where they got the word.  Regardless, every year I say I am going to send out cards and I never do.  But needless to say I have said it for this year, so we shall see.

I don't believe in solely using green or red paper for Christmas cards so I threw this background in because it is so festive.

Again, 8x6 cut, fold in half to make the base.  I then cut a red and white piece to put over it.

I stamped the white piece and colored the edges by pressing them into the stamp pad.  If you don't let them bend it gives you a crisp look, if you bend it a bit you get what I have in here.

Pretty easy! Get to crafting.
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A More Modern Christmas Card

I am just Leshoure I am on to something here.  HA! More fantasy football humor.  If you have SEEN my running backs in my fantasy league, they are indeed something to laugh about.

Unless you are me.  In which case it is more like cry about.

Anyway, today I bring to you a more modern Christmas card, in a stark ooposite of my card yesterday which was very much more vintage and maybe a little on the rugged side.  It was warm cozy cabin and this one is more mini-tree in a loft.

I tend to make my own cards now as it saves me from having to cut and glue paper on to card bases.  It is remarkable how long it took me to figure out that was a waste of my time.

It is also remarkable how many times I CUT THE PAPER WRONG when I go to make my card base.  For someone who took Calc I & II, has completed one degree and is working on a Master' would think I could cut paper.

But for those of you who are cut challenged, you want the paper 5.5ish by 8 inches.  This will give you the card as shown when you fold it over.

So I used a marker and drew the lines and the ornament toppers.  I cannot stress enough that perfection is not required and should be shunned. :)

Think topsy-turvey for the toppers especially.  Give them a little pizzazz.  If you had black or silver glitter, it would be a great way to pizzazzle them up even more.  If Rachel Ray can make up spoonulas, I think I should get pizzazzle.

 Use a 1inch punch or your cricut and cut out some circles.  I chose dark red because it was such a stark difference than this neon lemon-lime color that I had chosen for a base.  After I drew out the strings and toppers, I attached the circles using mounting dots.  Note the shadows.  Always an indicator of depth, and therefore an indicator of pizzazzle.

I am not giving it up.

Next I used my white puffy paint that I am borderline addicted to and decorated the ornaments.

And no, I did not intend to make the far right one look like an ugly sweater contest....BUT HOW MUCH BETTER IS IT NOW THAT IT LOOKS LIKE THAT!!?!?!? I made the two lines first and instantly knew that this was going to be a hoot.

And OWL say it was.  Ahahah, oh the clever keeps on coming.

The one in the middle may look vaguely reminiscent of my extensively repinned puffy paint ornament.  I am proud of that little bugger for being so widely loved, so it only made sense that he got a nod in this card.

Next I cut out a square of white with my paper cutter, sat it on a dark red scrap and cut that with the cutter to make a bigger square.  I used my happy holidays stamp and lime green ink to put a saying on, attached the white with mounting dots and the red to the card with glue and that is all she wrote!

But as usual, not all that I wrote. Maybe you are asking yourself, you say you only used green ink yet your happy holidays is multi-colored, why?  That my friends is because I never wash my stamps off.  True story.  I do wipe my clear stamps off sometimes.... But hey, in cases like this it is PERFECT.

Greeting cards are a cheap and great way to use up your extra paper, so hop to it! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Card: Wreath with a Bow

Let me just say that cards have never really been my forte (or as I like to say during fantasy football season, my Matt Forte) (my best friend is laughing if she is reading this).  I make pretty decent ones usually but nothing that just knocks my socks off...

Until now.  And I completely attribute it to my urban design courses.  Those AD Chartpak Markers just made my crafting a million times more fun!

You will need:
-Red scrapbook paper cut to a 4x6ish card width (bigger if you want) OR a card itself
-A small beige piece or scrap of paper
-A small green piece
-Markers, ink, etc.
-Red Ribbon

Using my dearly beloved Xacto paper cutter, I cut down a vintage red looking piece of scrapbook paper to 8x6 so that I could fold it in half and make a 4x6 card. 

Next, I raided my paper and found a small beige piece.  I like the look of torn paper on cards, so I tore the paper from the back unprinted side upwards toward the front printed side.  The way you tear your paper changes where the white shows, so you have to account for that.  Back to front!

I tore slowly so that I could determine where I wanted peaks and how much core I wanted coming through.  After I was happy with the top and bottom, I used my paper cutter to trim it down to a 4 inch wide strip. DO NOT attach it yet.
 Next, I used my drafting circle template on the back of a green printed scrapbook page to make a guide line with a pencil.  Don't have drafting circles? Use a lid or a cup to get your circle, even a measuring cup.

I then tore slowly into the paper towards the circle and went around the circle tearing back to front, being as careful as I could to avoid mangling it.

In hindsight, I would like to suggest making the circle as close to the edge as possible to save paper.  I was using a scrap so I was not overly concerned with this.  I will be later when I wish I had a bit of it leftover still...

The center circle I cut out with a 1 inch punch.  If you don't have a punch but do have a cricut, cut the hole first to the size you want and then make the circle around it.  If you have neither....scissors will have to do!
Like I said, I have AD Chartpak Markers for urban design.  They are quite moist as far as markers go which can be frustrating in my drawings but was a huge help here.

I ran green right where the exposed paper core met up with the intact front.  I paused for just a moment in some areas to let it bleed a little more.  Next, I took red and lightly went over the top of the green on the finished front, and then below the green on the exposed core.  I did not let the red linger too long as I did not want heavy bleeding into the green.

Sharpies could feasibly work for this, and possibly even regular markers.  You will have to experiment on that one, as I have NEITHER here to try for you. 

I know.  15 Chartpak markers before I even bought crayolas.  Sue me!

I also ran a lighter green around and inside the wreath because I was not really happy with just leaving it white.  I tied a knot in red sheer ribbon and made a small bow.  That is really the only way I know how to make an acceptable looking bow is starting with a knot.  After everything was dyed and made, I attached the beige paper with craft glue, the wreath with mounting dots, and the bow with craft glue.

If the stupid bow is not perfectly stuck down by the time I get done blogging, it is getting E6000 on it.  I used dots on the wreath because I like dimension in cards.

Alternatives to this design would be:
  • Using cricut or border punches on the beige instead of tearing
  • making the wreath using tissue or light paper crumpled pieces to make a textured wreath
I really didn't have as many alternatives as I figured I would.  Which just means I must really like this card!  This is quick and simple, and a great way to use scrap pieces of paper leftover from other projects.  Write a holly jolly message inside and spread some Christmas cheer this season! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quick-mas: Another very speedy Christmas Ornament

I would say if you are an efficient human and a machine with a puffy paint bottle you can have this done in about 5 or so minutes.  Especially if you uncap the paint first.  That is always a good start.

You need a clear ornament, scrapbook paper, polyflake, and puffy paint.

Seriously, will this puffy paint bottle ever run out? I think not.

 Cut out about a dozen or so thin strips with your paper cutter that I am sure you have because everyone NEEDS a paper cutter.  And no, I am not being sarcastic everyone really should own one.  Kids school pictures? Paper cutter.  Coupons? Paper cutter. Ribbon? Paper cutter. EVERYTHING PAPER CUTTER!

Random tangent time. When I get mad I clean.  When I get insanely mad, I shop.  There is a very fine line between frustrated productivity and angry shopping.  But this gem of a paper cutter stemmed from a boy.  He actually made me mad quite a few times, but this one just really topped it off.  So I did what any self-respecting girl would do: I hopped in my Durango and stormed off to Staples...yea I am serious.  I love office supplies :).  I walked in and decided to buy a paper cutter and a ton of paper.  Boys are so expensive.

 End of tangent back to the ornament! I curled the paper around my pinky finger, took it off and twisted it a little tighter on some of the curls.  I spiraled them in if they were too thick to fit right off the bat.

You will want to unwind them a bit because if they are tightly curled circles instead of spirals they will get stuck inside other ones.

I am just going to throw this out there...doing this with one of those curled ribbon bows from the party section would be waaaaay faster.

And simpler.
The final steps included adding puffy paint "snow" and polyflake shimmer. 

I apparently can't leave an ornament without puffy paint.  It just looked naked.

This would be super cute to do with old maps (e.g. from a trip perhaps!) and dictionary pages.

I am going between two different trees to buy.  Big Lots has a very cheap little four foot tree, but Hobby Lobby has a beautiful (though sparse) champagne colored tree for not so cheap....

This could be problematic.

And to anyone who keeps up with my blogs, the sweet potato chips with salt instead of a sweet mix was DEFINITELY way better.  I made some for my lunch tomorrow.  I included a teeny tad of black pepper as well.

Fresh ground, because that is how I roll.

Speaking of, does anyone else have an obsession for crackers and butter?? Seriously, I do not know how I developed this and it seems kind of strange, but the only rival to my bread and butter obsession is absolutely my butter on crackers obsession. Saltines.  Not anything else.  Nothing. Else. Will. Do.

I know I ate it all the time as a kid, and found myself buying saltines at Meijer this week because they make them in those fresh stacks now and soup season is coming up.  And now that I am a homemade chicken soup champ, I needed to invest in crackers.  Then tonight I was staring at my box and next thing you know I am sitting at my table with my tupperware butter keeper in front of me (aka really small storage container that I ended up with a zillion of that size) munching away on crackers.

Real butter mind you, not that margarine crap.  :)

I think I have settled on making cake pops for Thanksgiving.  Last year I made a low-fat pumpkin cheesecake and everyone loved it, but I think cake pops will work better for expanding the dessert flavor profiles.  And we so rarely have cake at Thanksgiving even though we all love it.  One time I made almond cake pops that tasted identical to zebra cakes, and I am thinking about making a bunch of junk food knock off flavors just to be funny.

Or I will do normal fall flavors like carrot cake. Usually my idea of perfect holiday pop-pery is making some random flavor I have no idea how it will turn out and hoping for the best.  I do make a mean pumpkin cake pop though, so that might have to make an obligatory appearance. 

The point is, go make ornaments, eat buttery crackers, and contemplate what cake pop flavors should make an appearance at my family's Thanksgiving celebrations. Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

American Classic: Tuna Noodle Casserole

For all of you that just suck YUCK, get over it! :) It's delicious.  I grew up loving tuna casserole, probably because my mom made it homemade. Hamburger Helper makes a version I am sure, but you know how I am about that....

But I am going to switch things up a bit, and give you the hierarchy of the versions of this recipe.  Why is this awesome? Because there are some small changes you can do with leftovers or when sales are going on that pump this up.  There are other changes you can make that turn it into a dorm friendly snack.  Let's go!

So you need about 1/2-1 Cup of noodles, my standard 1/4-1/3 block of COLBY JACK CHEESE (I'm serious only CJC), and two pieces of bread.  Oh yea, and a can or pack of tuna.  I am but one person here, so I opted for the little pouches.  Oh yea, you most likely want about 1/4 c of milk too.  OK, done adding things now.  Yea, I don't put veggies in mine.  Yucky.

Actually my sister made me a legit grocery care package when I moved in, so I was using the second one of those tuna pouches.

Cook the noodles, I like to mix mine.  Then dinner becomes a treasure hunt (OH LOOK! A shell noodle, ahha kidding...sort of...). Drain them and plop in your cheese.  You could be a fancy soul and shred it but I just chop mine up and plop it in.  Seriously, hand washing a cheese grater is no fun.

Why not just use shredded cheese, you ask?

BECAUSE it sucks.  Haha, ok fine not really but I never think shredded cheese melts very well and half of it is kinda hard and plasticky and I really can't stand it.  And don't even consider velveeta because colby jack is the best cheese ever created and it is what you want to use. I like my cheese to have FLAVOR.  Velveeta and rotel make a great dip though, it has its place.

So plop the cheese in and keep it on a low heat.  I always find that I need to add about a fourth of a cup of milk to get it more creamy.  You want to hear it make squelchy noises when you stir.  That's a technical term, squelchy. You could use a scoop of sour cream or greek yogurt and it will be just fine.  I like to add in a little salt and pepper too.  Put the tuna in, get your bread popped down in the toaster, and stir the noodle concoction around so that all the cheese gets melted.  When your toast comes out cube it up and toss it right in the pan.  Serve, enjoy.

Have I ever mentioned I love one pot meals? Because I do.

Now, if you want to send this recipe to the alterations department here are my best suggestions:
  • Use Albacore tuna instead of regular.  Oh man, I am not sure why but the white albacore stuff is fantastic.
  • Use salmon instead of either of those.  If you make salmon one night for dinner, make an extra piece or so.  Flake it up and use IT in the casserole. DIVINE.  So much tastier than canned or pouched tuna ever thought about being. I see the people on the food network say you can't mix fish and cheese all the time, I argue that they have just forgotten their roots.
  • If you are a college kid, use a pouch of tuna with EasyMac and Ritz, and you get a very similar effect.  Dorms can be frustrating on the weekends when you are tired of hitting up the fast food in the commons, and it is nice to know what you can add to super easy things.  Not every college is equipped with sufficient stoves, and for some reason the fast food is never as good on a campus as it is at a real location...and let's face it, we just don't have the money to eat out all the time.
  • Velveeta makes a quick mac product that has broccoli in it, and I must say it is pretty good when you are in a bind.  Throw in some ritz on that and it makes a great broccoli casserole-esque college saver. Not going to lie, I threw bacon in mine once (the little hormel bacon pieces)...that was essentially genius. You could use the canned chicken but that stuff quite frankly scares me...
  • Triscuts with colby or mozzarella and a half of a cherry tomato on them make a great snack too.  That has nothing to do with this recipe, but just in case any of you are college kids and looking for microwave ideas.
For as much as I dog EasyMac now, it saved me quite a few times in the dorm days when I had not eaten much in the cafeteria and needed something later on.  It also did not help that it happened the same year we ate out ALL the time and I gained 15 pounds.  And yes, I have lost it back off now that I am cooking for myself...and sprinting up three flights of steep stairs to get to class.

The atmosphere of eating out and being with friends is fun, that is true.  But if you do it multiple times a week like we did (counting the fast food on campus) it will catch up with you.  I am not saying easy mac is healthy, but they actually have less fat than you might think.  So if you can pack them in with protein the form of tuna, it can help.  Stock your fridge with produce like apples, or raid it from the cafeteria (ISU always allowed us to take a limited amount out at each meal, three meals a day you can add up a fruit stock pretty quickly) and eat apples and peanut butter, or nutella, whatever.  Just eat SOMETHING healthy or be prepared to go shopping for new clothes.  Especially if you are in to the alcohol side of things (I wasn't) because then you are adding that much more caloric intake on top of it all.

Alright, slightly off topic...go make some casserole! it really casserole if it isn't baked??

Oh well, don't care! :) Pin It Now!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato and Apple Chips

This is what I like to call a pseudo-success, and don't let that deter you from reading because I know how to fix what I goofed.  I often equate a lot of my kitchen ventures to that of a mad scientist.  I like to know if things work in a more convenient manner.  So this has a lot of lessons laced into it, as well as some pretty darn tasty chips.

Lesson #1: You will do as I say, and go to and buy a mandoline slicer. If you want a cheapie but goodie, you will buy the one I have  And then, after you add that to your cart you will buy these Kevlar gloves

Why am I telling you to buy things? First, if you make au gratin potatoes from scratch, this mandoline will be your best friend.  Second, if you have a mandoline and value your fingers, these gloves will be your best friend.  You can have more than one best friend you know.  I usually don't (except maybe a girl BF and a boy BF sometimes) but that is because I have a very stringent quality over quantity approach to life, and I don't count family best friends in the same category.  Regardless, I had by mandoline blade set on super thin, and even though I felt the blade hit the gloves a few times, my darling pinky was spared.

My best friend was not so lucky with the mandoline I got her, and she sliced her thumb right before her wedding.  Her mom cut herself the same night, and my mom slightly knicked herself when she got hers.

First off, I told people to get these gloves.  YOU need to really consider these babies.  Even though it has a hand guard on it, you will have to WASH  and CHANGE the blades.  Get the gloves.

 I cut up one smallish sweet potato and one golden delicious apple.  That was my first experiment: can these be cooked at the same time?

Answer: yes, but you have to pay attention.

The sweet potatoes are excellent, and did not stick to my cookie sheet.  I did grease it a little with EVOO, because I don't bother buying Pam anymore.  However, I apparently did not grease it enough to keep most of the apples from sticking.

Lesson #2: Slick it or stick it.  For real, spray it down good, or oil it up more.  The apples don't play nice.

I mixed a tiny container of cinnamon/sugar, ginger, and a hint of nutmet.  I used a teeny tiny bit of that and sprinkled it over my cuts.
 I put my oven on about 225 and let these go through the preheat as well.  I tend to do that a lot for whatever reason.

I baked them for about 55 minutes and took them out to flip.  Which brings me to my next lessons.

Lesson #3: See the dark cake pan in the back? This and my Rachel Ray pan are essentially nonstick and I love them.  Also, baking the chips in these pans effectively creates a convection or similar effect and they cook faster.  When I took these out, the apple chips were basically done.  It was amazing.  The super thin was perfect for the sweet potatoes, I might next time just go thin on the apple chips.  I liked these though.

I flipped over the sweet potato chips and popped the tray back in to cook another 30 minutes.  After that, I turned the oven off and let them just sit in there for the next 20 minutes while I finished editting a paper. 
 You noticed I did not say I flipped the apple chips?  Correct...

Lesson #4:  If you choose to ignore lesson 2 or if you discover you did not put a solid enough slickness down, run scalding hot water over your cookie sheet and scrape it with a spatula or similar.  The junk will come off.

Putting a dusting of sugar and similar and putting the seasoned side down MIGHT help them to not stick, but I am not sure. 

I should have used butter.  I use it for everything else anyway.
 Now this isn't going to win a magazine award for beautiful photography, but these were some of my finished yummies.

The cinnamon spice mix for the apples was perfect. 

Believe it or not, I would put sea salt on the sweet potato chips if I was going to make them again.  The sweet mix just did not really do them as much justice as I had hoped.

The sweet potatoes however WOULD make a great base for delicious dessert nachos or dip. Yummy.

The apples are paper thin but they have a positively amazing taste.  If you make yours thicker keep in mind you may have to bake them longer, or flip them throughout.  I would say if you make them thicker and put them on a cookie sheet you may need about 2 rounds of 45-50 minute baking.
Now seriously, look how delicious this guy looks. I just really wish he was salty.  Next time, SALT.

The sweet potatoes have a texture like kettle chips.  I love the stronger crunch of a kettle chip, so that is positively amazing as far as I am concerned.

There are a lot of recipes online that bake higher and faster.  The reason I opted for low and slow is because traditionally stuff like this is made in a dehydrater.  That is the epitome of slow.  Also, I would imagine that since dehydration was more typical, the more moisture you can draw out the longer they would last.

Which I think is aided by low and slow in this scenario due to the fact that steaks are cooked on flaming hot grills to create an instant sear and lock in the juices, but I could be wrong.  All I know, is they are fantastic.

Yes, I rationale chip baking temperatures based on steak.  Look, everything in life is relatable to something else, you just have to reason it out.

For one potato and an apple, this made a LOT of chips.  Well, would have if two thirds of my apple ones had not stuck.  But you get the point.  It made a lot of slices at least...

And no, I am not taking my ghostie towels down for a while still.  I like them, they are super cute. Pin It Now!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quick Fixes

In order to make up for my complete spacing on not blogging yesterday, I posted the pancake recipe earlier and will post this compendium of coolness for things that save me time, money, and/or sanity.  It is definitely not a comprehensive list of all possibilities out there.  But I am juggling getting my Master's, working for a workaholic, playing peacemaker to two team ego's, and going home as much as I possibly can.  Oh yea, and occassionally running the vaccuum....

Dishes.  There's something that eats into my time.  Mandatory dishwashers in all apartments, that's something I would like to see Congress make happen...

Here we GO!

 I am a big fan of quick desserts and treats that make great gifts and/or party food...but it NEVER FAILS to amuse me what some people pay for.  This picture is not the best example because the fudge covered oreos are actually not all that outrageously priced for what you get...

Unless you are me.

Why? I ONLY EAT DOUBLE STUFFED! Those flat ones are for the birds.  So when I dip my oreos, I use a strict combination of double stuffed oreos and candiquik (I get mine from Meijer).  Why do I specifically by CQ from Meijer, you ask? Simple, it tastes like hot cocoa.  I don't know what it is about it but it is HANDS DOWN the best tasting chocolate in my opinion, and I hate most chocolate.

Yea I know.  Girl hates chocolate.  Pretty much unheard of.  so now you may wonder if I hate chocolate, why on earth am I making these?  Simple.  My best friend is visiting tomorrow and I am one of those types that likes to have treats ready for when someone visits.  My friend Gretchen visited and I had pumpkin ice cream sandwiches.  It's just what I do.  Someday, I will maybe have grandkids and they will love visiting me because I will always have cookies or some yummy food.  Which is exactly why I loved visiting my great grandmother.  She ALWAYS had something.

You basically just melt the chocolate according to the package directions, thin it down with a teaspoon or couple of oil if you need.  I only do that when I need it to coat thin, or if I am doing cake pops and it doesn't melt velvety smooth.  Chocolate can be a bit particular.  Dip the oreos and dry on wax paper.

 See? Cake pops.  These were the most colorful ones I ever made.  You can really make treats fancier if you drizzle chocolate over them. 

My technique for drizzle? Use a knife, dip it down in the chocolate (I tend to scoop just a little onto the knife) and then move it back and forth (quickly) over your treats.

Try it a few times with it going back in the chocolate bowl if you are unsure.  Especially when you drizzle in another color, it makes people think something is FAR MORE FANCY than it really is.  You can usually get a similar effect with tongs.  Just use whatever utensil you are getting them out of the chocolate with. 

I use a knife to dip oreos (scoop choc over em after plopping them in, then use the knife under them to get them out and set them down), tongs for cake pops and chocolate dipped pretzels, and either tongs or a knife for ritz. Usually a knife is easier.

Ritz? Like the crackers? Yes!  They are so versatile.  Many people know of dipping them in chocolate infused with mint oil or flavoring. And that's all great and good.  But non-minty chocolate coating with heath bits sprinkled in right after they are dipped makes a truly delicious and insanely easy trick as well.

Now, I am not necessarily going to vouch for this as I have not tried it...yet.  But I have noticed that salted caramel is the newest in vogue flavor of pretty much everything.  IF you have noticed, places like Meijer now have caramel chips on the baking row with the chocolate chips and similar.  I would imagine you could dip a ritz in caramel and drizzle it with chocolate for a deliciously posh treat. I could be wrong, but I really don't think I am.  It would also lend itself well to turtle ritz flavors.

More of my favorite tips and tricks:
  • Separate out your beef into 1/8th or 1/4th squares before you freeze it, especially if you are a single person in your house.  It is so much faster to thaw a cube than it is a whole pound.  You can also form some into burgers and put them in individual bags or similar, ready to go. In fact, I often separate chicken legs, thin cut pork, steaks, and similar when I get them into individual bags or containers.  Is it wasteful on bags? Unfortunately.  But it is so much simpler to get out the one pork chop I need when they aren't all frozen together in the pack.
  • Dip your own pretzels.  I about choked last year watching Shark Tank because someone got their chocolate covered pretzels marketed and sold by Niemann-Marcus.  If I remember correctly they were pretzel rods and clocked in at over $2 a rod...really? People actually will pay that much? I need to go into business....Seriously though, these make great gifts and party poppers.
  • Use sour cream and pesto in pasta dishes.  Pesto is pricey, sour cream is usually not.  Pesto has a hugely strong flavor, sour cream does not.  Get a great flavor by cutting back your pesto and making it a "pesto cream" pasta dish.  Chances are, picky eaters in your family will like it a little better because it won't be as overwhelming.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half.  Why is the McChicken so popular?? It does not have the thick stringy texture that sometimes comes with full chicken breasts, but still gives you that (sort of fake) chicken taste. It is great for McDonald's because they can use a thin portion of meat which costs them less, and in turn costs you less. I buy chicken tenderloin pieces and just fillet them part way through to make a sandwhich sized piece if I want one, but I would completely cut chicken breasts in half if that was what I had.  I would also whack them with a meat tenderizer, personally.
  • Stop buying lipstick and START using Burt's Bees.  This is kind of a personal vendetta against makeup companies because they have gotten ridiculously priced.  So instead of buying lipstick and then also using gloss or chapstick, I buy BB's because they have beautifully colored chapstick.
  • USE SPICES.  A variety of spices gets you new and interesting flavors with minimal extra cost.  Oatmeal boring? Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in small amounts.  Suddenly it is completely fall appropriate.
  • Freeze chicken and veggies together with spices and flavors for preseasoned packs that you can throw in a dish and bake.  The baking still takes a long time, but you don't have to pull out all the spices and prep it! After you bake it, save the broth for soup, or use it in my no knead bread recipe found here!
  • Reorganize your freezer every couple of months. I am serious, stuff gets lost back there.  My best reorganization happened right before the end of my undergraduate career.  I rearranged everything, took stock of what I had, and set a goal to buy NOTHING my last month.  And I accomplished just that! I now have a menu board where I plan out my meals, and it really helps me not waste things.  Here is the one I made;postID=5429221870264573251.  It really makes it easy for me to use things like leftover rice, for instance.  I ALWAYS make way too much, so I know if I made salmon with rice on Monday I can use the leftover rice to make some delicious MexiRice on Wednesday.
  • STOP buying stuff like Hamburger Helper, or at least use less meat in it.  I mean really...what exactly are you even paying for? The noodles? Cheap.  You probably already have noodles! The powdered cheese? Gross. The flavors? Buy a block of colby jack cheese or a different high flavor cheese like sharp cheddar, use about 1/4-1/2 of the block depending on how large of a thing you are making, and add a little milk OR a scoop of sour cream...OR BETTER YET, plain greek yogurt.  You will still get a cheesy creamy dish, it will still have plenty of flavor thanks to the quality cheese, and you won't have as many wacky preservatives.  My cheeseburger pasta, which has become a big hit with my best friend and her family, involves about a half cup or so of pasta, usually about 1/4 block of colby jack (only yellow cheese I will buy), a fourth of a pound or less (I separate into 1/8ths now) of ground beef (I like sirloin at 90/10 or 93/7, don't get that 73/27 crap ANYWHERE NEAR ME), and a small sprinkling of Hormel REAL Bacon Pieces.  I use seasoning salt on the beef, and pepper.  And let me tell you it is delicious.  Meat is expensive, and it is easy to cut back the amount you use in some recipes like that.
  • Use greek yogurt.  It has protein, and the tanginess is easily masked in things like ranch dip.  It is a great way to sneak in nutrition.  I sub out 8oz of cream cheese in my cheesecake recipes for 8 oz of greek yogurt.  I made a pumpkin cheesecake last year for Thanksgiving, and my father raved about how rich it was.  Mmmhmm.  Reduced Fat cream cheese and greek yogurt. And no, I never told him how much lower fat it was than what he thought.   :)  I even use it in my very delicious pumpkin ice cream, found here:
  • Patch jeans quick. This is sometimes a little more difficult in tight jeans, I recommend patches much wider than the hole if you can.  Flip the jeans inside out, put lace over the hole, fabric of some color over that, and use an iron on patch to keep them in place.  A few tack stitches wouldn't hurt before ironing just to make sure nothing moves.  Putting the patch adhesive side down and a little bigger than the fabric allows you to adhere it all down in one hot swoop.  My very favorite and tightest jeans are patched like this.  I do have some others that we used narrow patches on that just barely covered the hole, and that is not nearly as effective for tight jeans. Also, wearing brightly colored leggings under jeans with holes is a great way to winterize them in a way that can change with your mood.  Unless you are like me and lose your bright red leggings somewhere...
It's not easy to eat well in college, it really isn't.  Places like McDonald's lure you in with their $1 sandwiches and you may never realize that actually it is cheaper to make it at home.  I don't have an income necessarily this year as I am on scholarship, though it does come with a stipend.  But with college fees and textbook fees, you have to learn to be smart about what you buy, cook, and eat.  Those drive-thru trips will add up fast, especially if they start adding to your waistline.  I would much rather spend my money on gas to go home than dinner out every night, PLUS I prefer home cooked food.  It is a great way for me to learn to do new things and create new recipes. 

And let's face it, on the edge of a fiscal cliff and with nearly guaranteed tax increases from the end of the tax cut era or from the added taxes and price increases we will see after Obamacare is imposed, it is beneficial to look at things you can make yourself or cut back on and still feel like you are getting things just as good as you were before. These are just a few of the things I do to save a dime.

Hopefully this makes up for my space cadet tendencies!

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Blackberry Pancakes

You know that awkward moment when you wake up in the morning and realize that you did not blog before you went to bed because you felt sick and forgot?

Really? You don't? Lucky you.

Last night around 10 I felt so incredibly tired and unable to move that I opted to just go to bed.  Granted an hour later when I was reading news online and facebooking and such, I had completely spaced that I had not blogged.  These were the pancakes meant for yesterday.

You will need: 1 CUP of pancake mix (I like Krusteaz, you might have some homemade or other brand you prefer), 2 TB Cheesecake pudding mix (completely optional, I just refuse to toss mine after using it for ice cream), 1 carton (at least majority full if you have eaten some of them like I did) blackberries, 3/4 to 1 CUP almond milk (or regular), Optional 1/4 c sugar.

I never really put sugar in hardly any of my pancakes, and these are no exception.  You might prefer yours a little sweeter, or your berries may be exceptionally tart, so adjust accordingly. Plop all of this in a bowl and mash with your potato masher to get the berries broken up.  Once they are mushed to your desire you can finish mixing the batter with a fork.  Warm up and butter your griddle and spoon out 1/4 c sized or however big you want pancakes.

I let mine cook a few minutes on the first side, flip, smoosh, and cook a few more minutes.  I don't like to have anything the least bit runny EVER and I like my pancakes flat, so I recommend smooshing upon flipping.

Serve with real syrup, not that pancake syrup fake junk, and enjoy! Pin It Now!