Aug 31, 2011

Tiny Socks Baby Company Melon Days Preview

Melon Days is our little towns biggest event of the year.  It is a small town affair but it has everything a good celebration should have: unhealthy but delicious food, a parade, vendor booths and all you can eat free watermelon.  I have had a booth for the last few years selling baby items.  This year I decided to change it up just a bit.
I decided I wanted to give my "stuff" a sperarate name from my blog.  Keep an eye on out for stuff from Tiny Socks Baby Co. starting in October right here on my blog.
For now here is a little sneak peak of what I have been working on and what is totally consuming me from now until mid Sept.

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Aug 30, 2011

My mom in a bottle

I finally did it; I have successfully reproduced the one thing I love most that my mom has made: her pickles.  These aren't ordinary pickles.  These are the kind you make in a pickling crock that take at least 3 weeks to make.  They are time consuming and you kind of have to babysit them and they are the best darn things in the whole world.  My mom made them all my growing up years and I never had any interest in how to do it myself but I just knew that she could never stop making them.  But she did and I was sure that I would never taste one again.  Now after 3 years in a row I have finally captured a bit of my mom in a jar.  The taste takes me back to her canning kitchen every time.  They make me think of her and I am so grateful I can pass on the tradition to my kids and say, "Here have one of these.  They are the signature of Grammy."  I never thought I would want to do anything just like my mom did when I was a teenager, but now I find myself praying more and more that I can figure out some of her tricks and talents and get as much information out of her as I can while I still have her.  At least now I have figured out a way to bottle a bit of my mom and keep her on my shelf.
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Aug 29, 2011

Make Ahead Monday: Watermelon Lemonade

Tis the season for watermelon and I just hate to see it go to waste.  Our farmers at our local melon stand gave my husband a gigantic watermelon (more than would fit in my largest bowl when cut up..I know, I know, what is a girl to do).  So I did a search and found this watermelon and strawberry lemonade recipe and it is soooooooooooo good and refreshing and yummy.  The only thing I changed was I added a bit of lemonade drink powder to give it a tiny bit more tang.  It stayed good in the fridge for 3 days but you could easily pour this into ice cube trays and freeze it and then slush them later on, or fill a cup and thaw it out, or fill a cup and pour a bit of 7-up on top.  This is super yummy (oh and it makes a large batch so use your largest pitcher).

Want another watermelon drink recipe, try this watermelon slush recipe.  It is similar to the lemonade but doesn't have the strawberries.  It is good to freeze ahead too.

What I love about both of these is if you make them and freeze them you can have the summer goodness last into fall.
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Aug 25, 2011

Dear Disney

I love the movie, I love the story, the animation, the music.  The concept is super cute but this doll's hair is IMPOSSIBLE to take care of.

Mom with scissors tempted to ruin all Rapunzel's magical powers.
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Aug 23, 2011

Paper Milk Carton Teacher Gift

A few months ago I showed you this paper milk carton crate I made using a repurposed packing box and this pattern for paper milk cartons.

I have another version to share with you today. 
 This one is made using this: a Keebler Graham Crackers box.
To make this keep the bottom end intact.
 Measure up from the bottom 3 inches and mark.  Repeat all the way around the box.
 Cut using an Exacto knife to create your box.
 Save the top half to use for a second crate.
Now using another box like a cracker box cut a piece that is slightly less than 5 1/4" x 7 1/4" (plus the flap that forms the top of bottom of the box).
 Fold up the flap to create part of the bottom of your milk carton holder.  Cut a second piece (I just cut off another flap from the box).  Using a piece of duct tape tape the flaps like so: (when held upright, the flaps will form a flat bottom).
 Now cut a handle in this center section.  I used a stencil to trace an oval at the top.
 It will look like this.  Now place this center holder piece inside the bottom of the box.  Use spray adhesive or glue to hold it in place inside the box.  (don't worry if it flops to one side, when the milk cartons are in it, it will stand up straight).
 The last thing to do is decorate it.  I spray painted the whole thing black and then decorated it with scrapbook paper.  You could make this for all kinds of occasions, but I thought it would make a really cute back to school teachers gift.  It would also make a cute gift for a child going back to school or a teen who is going to High School for the first time (that is a super scary thing-I call our high school "the pit of hell" a milk carton crate on the table filled with treats and locker items might be just the trick).

NOTE: the paper milk carton pattern that I used for the packing box version is just a bit too big for this graham cracker box version (because the graham cracker box is a 1/4 of an inch smaller than the packing box).  I have made a resized version for this specific project.  If you would like me to send you the resized version then shoot me an e-mail.  I would be more than happy to send it to you.  I don't want to upload it because somehow uploading my stuff to Scrib resizes it and makes it smaller.  If you know how to solve that problem shoot me an e-mail too.
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Aug 22, 2011

Make Ahead Monday: Back to School Snacks

Not that my husband minds, but I have been baking up a storm this weekend trying to come up with a good list of make ahead back to school snacks to share.  These are not necessarily all "healthy" options but this is how I see it:  you can send your kid off to school with a lunch sack full of prepackaged snacks and lunch items (not all of which are bad) or you can send your kid off to school with something that is tasty but homemade that you know exactly what is in it and you can make it the portion size you want.  Same thing goes for after school snacks-some of these are perfect for an after school pick me up.   I in no way would consider these as an entire meal in themselves but rather things that would pair perfectly with a sandwich, fruit and veggies (or whatever your child likes to eat-or husbands too).  WARNING: if you are someone who does not feed their kid sugar then don't keep reading.

1. Rice Krispie treats-these aren't anything new; I am not even including the recipe (you can find that on the box of Rice Krispies and if you haven't ever tried these you might be living in a cave).  Here is the thing: did you know you can freeze these?  I didn't but I experimented and they work perfectly.  This means that you can make a tripple batch while the kids are at school, cool them, cut them the size you want, place on a lined cookie sheet to individually freeze, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.  Perfect for tossing in a lunch bag, or popping in your husbands brief case.  Homemade ones are a million times better than the prepacked ones you can buy and this way you can cut them the exact size you want.  I know you can make them fresh but making them ahead and freezing them means you can do it once and have it last for a while (maybe).

2. Caramel and chocolate covered peanuts.  I wanted to see if I could use the same caramel recipe I use for a crunchy caramel corn to coat peanuts with before I dipped them in chocolate and the answer is: YES!!!!  I use this recipe to make the caramel and followed all the directions except of course using peanuts instead of popcorn.  You have to let the nuts cool completely before you can really taste the caramel and know that is has worked.  Once cooled I melted some chocolate chips and then stirred my peanuts into the melted chocolate.  Place the chocolate covered peanuts on a layer of parchment paper to harden and then store in a baggie in the fridge or freezer (if you are like me and live where it is hot and humid then you will likely just have to harden these in the fridge).  These are delicious and perfect for snacking.  Something fun to add to the lunch box.  They are kind of like having a snickers bar only you made it and you can choose how much to serve or eat.  These are best if kept chilled.

3. Carrot and cream cheese muffins.  WARNING: these are heavenly, make at your own risk.  These are like all the deliciousness of carrot cake, only in a very less messy, bitesize muffin version.  They are best warm so follow my make ahead muffin advice from here when you make these.  Also the recipe only makes a dozen so double the muffin batter but leave the filling the same amount (the filling recipe makes enough for a double batch anyways).  These are a great after school snack idea or breakfast.  Also a great way to sneak in some carrots for picky eaters.
Carrot and Cream Cheese Muffins (from the 2008 Taste of Homes Recipe Collection)
1 15oz can of sliced or diced carrots (drained)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each-allspice (i didn't have any), cloves and nutmeg
1 egg
1/3 cup oil

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar

Place carrots in a food processor and process until smooth.  Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix carrots, egg and oil in a separate bowl and then pour over dry ingredients.  Stir until combined.  In another bowl cream all the filling ingredients together.  Place liners in muffin tin (if making a head to freeze remember to make a separate pan of the ones you will bake right away and another pan to freeze).  Fill muffin cups a 1/3 of the way full with the batter.  Spoon a tbsp of filling on top of the batter and then top with remaining  batter.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.  NOTE: these don't need anything on top-one bite into the center and you are in heaven.

4. Breakfast Cookies.  I have seen these in the store and have been tempted to buy them a time of two.  I wanted to see if I could find my own version first.  Go here for the recipe (and check out the reviews for a bunch of different variations and add ins).  I read that some people said it was too sweet, I didn't find that at all.  It is definitely no sweeter than your average breakfast cereal, pop tart or toaster strudel.  They are not like a regular cookie so don't expect that as you are baking them.  They are dense but pair perfectly with a glass of milk.  How fun to tell your kids they are having cookies and milk for breakfast.  Serve with a bowl of fruit and you are set.  Make a double batch (a single makes almost 2 dozen).  Wrap them and freeze in a baggie.  Take out the night before for breakfast in the morning, or pack frozen and they will be ready for lunch.  I don't know what your kids eat for breakfast at your school but at ours they have chicken nuggets and pizza as regulars in the breakfast rotation.  These are easy to make and a much better choice.  NOTES: I added flax seed meal instead of wheat germ and chocolate chips instead of raisins.

5. Homemade peanut butter cups.  Who can resist a Reese's peanut butter cup?  Not me, but they are so sickening sweet I can usually only eat one and then even my teeth hurt from the sugar.  I found this recipe and adapted it to make mini peanut butter cups instead of bars.  I used 3/4 cup of butter instead of 1 cup and I also used not quite 2 full cups of graham cracker crumbs.  Everything else I did exact.  Instead of pressing it into a 9x13 pan, I got out my mini cupcake pans and liners.  I placed liners in each pan and used a melon baller to scoop out the peanut butter/graham cracker crust part.  I used a generous scoop for each one.  I pressed it down slightly with the back of the melon baller to make a little dip in the center of the peanut butter crust part.  Then I poured a small mound of chocolate on top of each one and smoothed it out.  Place these in the fridge to firm up and then freeze in air tight containers.  They are simple and addictive delicious but not nearly as sweet as the real thing.  How fun it would be to put a couple in your kids lunch box as a surprise or have some on a plate after school along with cheese and crackers or fruit.  If you make them this way they are the perfect portion size to get that little sugar kick without over doing it. 

If you still need more back to school ideas try these former make ahead recipes:

Happy back to schooling!!!
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Aug 19, 2011

Project Zucchini News and A Produce Question

I started project zucchini to keep track of the abundance of these green guys I got over the summer and the myriad of ways I came up with to use them (because I have never not had an abundance of zucchini)....UNTIL NOW!!! The bugs have completely conquered my poor plants.  As of right now I have no new zucchini's and may not have any more for the rest of the summer.  What is a girl to do?

In other produce issues I am just wondering if someone else has some thoughts about this:
Has anyone ever tried to return produce to a grocery store or a big box store like Walmart?  I never have but I have been tempted many a time.  Like this week I bought nectarines and corn from Walmart and both were horrible.  The nectarines were woody and I had to throw all of them away and the corn was super old.  I am not saying it is just a Walmart problem because I have bought bad produce from other stores (though it seems to happen more at Walmart).   I feel like I shouldn't have to eat the cost of those if they were poor quality but I am not sure how I would be received if I took them back to the store and asked for a refund.  Has anyone ever tried this?  Does anyone know if you can even return produce?
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Aug 17, 2011

Pellon and Me

I have been given a fun and fabulous new opportunity to work with the Pellon Company creating projects for crafty folk like you using their products.  Super fun and a great way to keep my creative juices flowing.  My first project I am sharing on their website is my Kids Sized Duffle Bag.  Some of you may have seen it here on my blog but if not you can definitely hop on over there to check it out.  And stay tuned for new projects created just for the Pellon website by me.  I am really happy to have this opportunity. Thanks a million Pellon.
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Aug 16, 2011

Garbage Can Makeover

I am all about the repurposing right now (it's usually cheap and really satisfying to take junk and turn it into something cute and functional).  My hubby had these old garbage cans out by our garage.  They served no purpose and were destined for the dump but I had a brilliant idea to turn them into storage bins for my food storage in my basement.  I currently have my bags of flour and sugar in big plastic tubs but I wanted something nicer to store them in.  So with a bit of spray paint (I used Krylon, gloss finish, and the color is called "celery") and some vinyl lettering I ended up with:

I searched around a bit more and found two more tin cans that were destined for the trash and also made:
 A whole set (well actually now I want a few more so I am going to have to hit the thrift stores).  In case you are wondering the plan is to put my food storage inside these in it's original package (like the bags of flour will go in the can, the bags of pasta will go in the can-that way it doesn't matter so much what the inside of the can looks like).
After making these I thought, "Wouldn't a smaller set of these make a really cute wedding or shower gift." (you know ones that could sit on a counter or in a cupboard).  I think these are going to be my go to wedding gift from now on.
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Aug 12, 2011

This week:


TOSSED: 3 (they looked sick)

USED: 1  I chopped him up and put him in with other veggies to marinate for kabobs.  Really yummy that way.

In sad zucchini news my one surviving original plant has finally succumbed to the bugs and is dead.  Good thing the ones I replanted are growing big and healthy-my zuc production should only slow down slightly.
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Aug 9, 2011

2 Make Your Owns You Need to Try Before Summer is Over

I know, I know-summer is already almost over but it is not too late to try these:

Make your own bubble solution (without a trip to the pharmacy)-Make the Cyndi's Bubble Recipe-they work fantastic and are perfect for huge bubble wands too.

Make your own snow cone syrup (with things you probably have in your house)-Easy and yummy and much cheaper than store bought stuff.  Plus using Kool-Aid allows you to make all kinds of different flavors.  You don't even need a snowcone machine-just serve over crushed ice.
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Cardboard Storage Repurpose

A few weeks ago I showed you this:
 My plan was to repurpose it into some kind of a storage system. 
This was phase one of the project: I spray painted all the parts white
 Phase 2 was lining all the corners of the outside box with black masking tape.  Then I spray painted the inside of the box black too.
Next I covered all the pieces with wrapping paper.  The outside I did in a different print than all the storage drawer boxes.
And here is the final product: (sorry about the pics-I am having issues with blogger, and pictures right now)

 I am super happy with how it turned out.  It was a huge project but it is really functional for me and my craft room and helping keep things a bit more organized.

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