May 30, 2009

Potato Chip Makeover

I have tried a few methods for making homemade potato chips and haven't really ever disliked any of them. I have thinnly sliced them and fried them and have thinnly sliced them and baked them on a cookie sheet in the oven. Both take a long time and they still end up kind of greasy. But move over former potato chip making methods, there's a new boss in town. The microwave. I saw it in a Taste of Home Magazine. I was skeptical. "Would they really get crisp?" The answer is yes. But I didn't like the method the magazine suggested. They said to layer 3 sheets of paper towels on a microwave safe plate and then thinnly slice your potatoes, lightly coat in olive oil and spread in a single layer on the paper towel. Then sprinkle with seasonings. Microwave for 3 minutes and then flip and microwave 3 more minutes. Here is where that all went wrong for me. After the first session they were not nearly crisp and turning them was a pain (the paper towel stuck a lot), then when I put them in for 3 more minutes they still weren't quite ready so I put them in for a bit more. I pulled the plate, preflames, out of the microwave when I could smell that awful burnt smell and saw the smoke oozing out of the door. The middle chips were black, and on the verge of bursting into flames, as was the paper towel and yep even my microwave safe plate. But the chips were crispy. So I didn't want to give up.
So here is the best way to make these tasty treats. Get this:

It is a microwave bacon cooker (pretty sure that is not it's technical name but that is one of it's main uses). I got it at Wal-mart. It was a couple of dollars. If they have a bigger one than this, I would get it because this doesn't cook a lot.

Now wash and slice your potatoes thinnly (as thin as you can get). Toss in a bit of olive oil. Spread on the cooking sheet; do not overlap. Sprinkle with salt (or other seasonings if you would like) then microwave for about 3 1/2 minutes. It will depend a bit on your microwave. I put my last batch in for 4 minutes and it was almost too long. No need to flip part way through. After your time is up, allow the chips to just sit there for a minute or so longer. That is it. Crispy chips, not greasy, seasoned just how you like. Only trouble is you can't get enough of these.

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Glorious Gardening Part 3

Just a garden update.
Potatoes

Peas

Tomatoes

Broccoli

Gardening Specialist

Gardening Specialist and Daddy

Onions
Ode to Canada flower bed

Our first little tomatoes

Pansies. I love Pansies
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May 27, 2009

Where's the baby?

video

I just couldn't resist posting this video. I only wish I didn't look quiet so bedraggled. Oh well, I have nothing to hide. Everyday is not a beauty pagent in this house.

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Super easy "Charlie bag"

This summer I am putting on a sewing/craft camp for girls here in my home. I did it last year and the girls seemed to have a great time so I thought I would try it again this year. This will likely be the last time I do it however because my wonderful town seems unwilling to support anything other than sporting events and it is a lot of work to put the whole thing together for only 4 girls. But I digress. The camp is for girls ages 10 and up and is 3 days a week for 2 hours a day and only last 2 weeks. The cost is $35.00 and all the girls have to bring is a sewing machine and a pair of scissors. I provide the rest.

Anyway, so I have these 4 girls signed up and I have been looking for some fun/easy sewing projects that we can do. The idea is to be able to complete 1 project a day. This year I am doing 3 sewing projects and 2 scrapbooking projects. In my search online I found this great free pattern. The pattern is for a single sided, really quick grocery bag. I thought it was really cute and decided I would use it as our first project. I developed this tutorial to make the bag lined (and reversible).

To get the pattern you need to go here. You can print this out right on your printer and then assemble it. It was really easy and took I think 8 pieces of paper or something. Click on the button that says "print at home" to print it. You will have to register to print it but this website looks like it has tons of cool ideas so it is worth the minute it takes to do it. It doesn't cost anything to register.

For this lined bag you will need 3/4 of a yard of two different fabrics.

Unfold your piece of material and refold it bring the edges to the middle crease and then fold it again in half on the middle crease. This gives you a narrow piece of fabric, 4 layers thick, the perfect size for cutting out the pattern once but getting 2 pieces. I also folded in 1 inch on the bottom of my pattern because it seemed a bit too big for what I wanted to do. You will need to cut 2 pieces on the fold of each fabric so you will end up with 4 (2 outside and 2 lining). Sorry I forgot to take a picture of my fabric folding. Hope that makes some sense.
Now working with each piece of fabric separately put the the handle pieces right sides together and sew a 5/8" seam backstitching start and stop. Trim seam to a 1/4". Press with an iron. Repeat this with the other 3 pieces.



Now place matching fabrics right sides together and pin the 3 straight edges. Sew a 5/8" seam on each edge but leave an opening on the bottom of the pieces you want to use as the lining. The opening should be about as big as your hand. Make sure you backstitch at each side of the opening. Trim your seams to a 1/4".

Now turn the pieces that you will have as the outside of the bag right sides out and place it inside the lining. This will make it so that you have printed sides together. Match up your seams and pin around the large inside circle. Sew around the pinned edge with a 5/8' seam backstitching start and stop. Trim seam to a 1/4".

Now turn the bag right side out by pulling the inner piece through the opening. The piece you are pulling out will become the outside of the bag. Before tucking in the inside, fold under both sides of the opening and sew closed with a 1/8" seam. Now tuck the bag lining down inside the outer bag making sure to poke the corners together. Press the top edge with an iron so that it is nice and flat. Topstitch around this edge at 1/8".

Lastly, and this is probably the hardest part, tuck under 5/8" on the remaining openings and pin together. I found it was easier to do this by hand than using the iron because you are working on a curve. Now topstitch the pinned openings using an 1/8" seam and backstitching.

And that is it. Tada, a finished bag. If you wanted something stiffer you could apply interfacing to one of the layers. You could also alter the size of the pattern to make a smaller version. I will have to post pictures of the ones the girls make. I bought bright colored polka dot material for them to choose from. They are going to look so cute.

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Introducing Chef Gregorio

A.K.A. my great husband Greg but when he is grilling outside he becomes "chef Gregorio: Master of the grill." Tonight he tried a new recipe he saw online. He made the hamburger patties from fresh ground beef then wrapped them in strips of bacon and grilled them to perfection. I bet everyone on the block was salivating while he was cooking. The combo of bacon cooking, burgers cooking and just that wonderful barbeque aroma was filling the air (and our house. Note to self: keep doors and windows closed while grilling these burgers. The bacon produces extra grease.) The flavor was amazing and he really outdid himself tonight. I think the pictures can speak for themselves. I have a big crush on Chef Gregorio. Just wanted the world to know.
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May 23, 2009

Why rainy days are so great

Rainy days are so great because you can do this:

video

This (in your good shoes I might add)

This


ThisThis

And bake and eat this along with soup and it doesn't even matter if every other day this week it was 90 degrees.

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May 22, 2009

Nifty Little Onesies-A Beginners Guide to Applique


Even though I have not posted many new projects I have been busy working on quite a few. First I did a custom diaper bag & change pad clutch order which I completed today and I have been working on many more baby projects. Here in our town farmers grow watermelons and so every fall we have a big watermelon festival with a parade, and arts and crafts vendors, ball games, dancing, music, good food and of course free "all you can eat" melons. So this year I decided that I would do a booth specializing in everything baby. I have slowly been trying to sew at least one new thing a day, and some days if I am lucky and my craft room garbage can seems extra inviting to small fry I get a few things sewn. This week I have been working on appliqued onesies; a cute and fairly easy way to turn a plain onesie into something unique and cute. Here's a tutorial for all the sewers out there.
First: I search the Internet to find pictures that I want to turn into my applique. I search for "coloring pages" because it is easy to find basic shapes and there is so much variety. I then copy and paste the images into Microsoft word and resize them. Then I print out multiple copies (at least 3, you may need 4 depending on how detailed your images are). I will explain below. Here are the images I printed out to use.
Second: You want to cut out your image into parts. This allows you to layer fabrics to create a multi dimensional applique. Here is how I cut apart my cupcake pieces. This is why you need more than one copy of the image. You have to create some imaginary lines while you are cutting where the fabrics will overlap.
Third: Trace the pieces onto your Heat N' Bond paper. I have heard that Wonder Under works much better but I have an industrial size roll of Heat N' Bond that I need to use up. It is stiff at first but softens up after a wash so no worries.

Fourth: Cut out the pieces but not on the line. You want to cut slightly outside of the lines. (Finally a time when it is okay to do something outside of the lines)


Fifth: Iron these pieces onto the wrong side of your fabrics. Now cut them out on the lines.Sixth: Peel off the paper backing, position the pieces on your onesie and press with an iron (just press, don't move the iron around a bunch).
Seventh: Now you will sew around the edge of the applique. I used to try doing a zig zag stitch but then read on the blog Crap I've Made how she always uses a straight stitch. I tried that this time and loved it. The zig zag always gummed up my sewing needle and caused so much hastle. The straight stitch worked like a breeze. (I am not sure about how much it will fray after it is washed because I prewashed my onesies so if anyone has tried this please let me know.) I set my stitch length to a smaller setting (I used a stitch length of 2) and here is one other thing that worked so great: clear quilting thread. I used this for my upper thread and a white bobbin for my lower. It makes it so you don't have to change threads with each fabric color and it seemed to sew better than regular thread through the Heat N' Bond. Don't try using it on both upper and bobbin thread. I have tried it and while it works, it is a pain in the rear end.


Here is my completed cupcake before I added the cherry.

Here is my dot for the cherry on top. I found a fabric scrap that I had that had polka dots on it and this on just happened to be perfect for the cherry. Sometimes I iron on the large pieces first, sew them on and then add the little ones second.

Here is the completed applique. By the way I just free handed the cherry stem. There is no point trying to trace a piece this small from a pattern.
There you have it, a cute and easy way to dress up a onesie. After I had the cupcake complete I decided I wanted to add the word "sweet" underneath. I printed the word on the onesie with a washable pencil and then hand embroidered it. After I finished the embroidery I turned the onesie inside out and cut a piece of iron on interfacing a little larger than the word and ironed it on to cover the stitches. If you look at any embroidered baby clothes they all have this material inside. It won't last forever but should hold up for a bit until everything softens up.I think it turned out so cute. Don't you. Here is the group that I made this week. I am planning on matching these with burp rags to sell in little sets. I will show you that in the future.Now as a side note. You can use this same applique making idea with paper. I did this when I decorated our baby nursery. I wanted to have a border of animals all around the room so I looked for animal pictures online and followed the same steps for cutting out the separate pieces and traced them onto paper and then glued them together and then to the wall. Here is a little look at a few of them.
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