Dec 22, 2011

Snowman Family Portrait-the extended family version

 I have posted a couple of times about my snowman family portrait idea.  This year my husbands grandma has been working really hard on a major gift for each of the grandchildren.  She is a family history buff and so I know it is related to family history.  In turn I wanted to make her something special and had the idea to make her a huge snowman family portrait of all her posterity.  I was apprehensive because I knew that meant a lot of little snow people and I was getting a late start but I just felt like it was the right gift for her and so I set into the project and felt like it just flowed.  I hand drew every pattern piece and had just the right inspiration when I needed it.  I think it was a gift that was meant to be.  I hope she doesn't check this before Christmas (Grandma Connie if you are reading-go no further).  Here is the finished product with a few highlights of some of my favorites.

I think I may start doing snowman family portrait custom orders.  I have no idea if anyone would be interested in one but I love this idea and want to share it with as many people as possible.  Spread the word if you have as snowman fanatic.  What a great gift idea.
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Dec 20, 2011

A handy mini cupcake tip

Not like I am the genius to first come up with this but just in case I wanted to share.  I wanted to make some mini cupcakes for our neighbor cookie plates and I needed a method that was going to be mess free.  I didn't have any piping bags on hand and I didn't want the mess of using a plastic bag so I decided to use a small squeeze bottle (bought it in the wedding cake section of walmart) that I cut the tip off of to fill my cupcake liners.  You can control the amount, you can set it upright when you don't need batter to be pouring out and it I didn't have any drips on the pan or counter as I worked.  (Cake batter taste tester is purely optional)

 It was also really nice because I was able to keep the amount in each liner about even and therefore all my little cakes were about the same size.  I used triple chocolate cake mix that I mixed crushed candy canes and a drop of peppermint oil into. 
The cakes were topped with this heavenly stuff.  It is kind of marshmallowy and kind of meringue like.  I tinted it pink and added another drop of peppermint oil.  Yummy little bites of mint chocolate marshmallow goodness.  P.S. this is my new favorite frosting recipe.  So pretty and not sickening sweet.  I love how fluffy it is. 
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Dec 19, 2011

Make Ahead Monday-Breadsticks

There are some parts of a meal that it would just be nice to have done for bread sticks.  They are always something that I think of last minute and then don't have time to make. 
The last time I made a pan of bread sticks I doubled my recipe so that I could have some for that meal and some for another.  This could also be something you could make on a "make ahead day" and whip up a double or triple batch and freeze all of them then you will be prepared for a while.  SIDE NOTE: I call my Tuesdays "food storage and organization" day.  On this day I do things like make ahead meals, bake bread, organize cupboards or closets etc.  I try and make a batch of something before I run out of it in the freezer.  So for breakfast I mix up a double batch of muffins, bake a few for my family and freeze the rest of the batter in muffin cups.  I will whip up a batch of biscuit dough, cut and freeze all the biscuits on a cookie sheet and then bag them up when they are solid.   I will make 2 big sheet pans of potato wedges for lunch, eat a few and then place the pans in the freezer when cool to harden and then bag up the wedges.  If you can make it a habit then you can help keep your freezer stocked.  Try and plan meals that you can double or triple to have some for another time on a specific day and you will be super happy when you can just grab something for a quick lunch or supper down the road.

But I digress.  So these are my easy bread sticks.  They aren't like Olive Garden bread sticks.  They are more of a biscuity type.  Brush butter and Italian seasoning or Parmesan cheese on top before baking and they are delicious. 

1 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Gradually add milk and stir to form a soft dough (seems like it is too sticky to me so I usually add a bit extra flour).  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently (knead in more flour if too sticky).  Roll out into a rectangular shape (1/2" thick).  Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cut into strips (but don't separate).  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with topping choice.  Bake at 450 for 14-18 minutes.  NOTE: if you are going to freeze these then after you have cut the dough into strips place the whole pan into your freezer until the dough is solid.  Break into sections and place in zip lock bags.  Dough will break into small chunks if smashed so be careful.  To bake, just remove from the freezer and place on a cookie sheet.  Brush with butter and seasonings and bake.  Baking time will increase when you are baking these from frozen slightly.
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Dec 15, 2011

Candy Cane Snowballs

These are a must have on your Christmas cookie plates this year.  Like shortbread only better and candy canier (yep I just made up a word). 
You can find the recipe at Cooking During Stolen Moments

The only thing I would do differently the next time I make them (which will be this week) is tripple the recipe (some for me and some to share). 
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Dec 14, 2011

Easy Cheaters Method Ruffle Front Apron

I saw this idea on Pinterest (of course) and wanted to make one for myself.  I needed it to be quick and easy.  So this apron is super "cheaters" method (as in -my sewing teacher from college would be horrified at all the incorrect sewing methods used).  And so with that-lets begin.
1 apron (I bought a 3 pack at Sams Club for $10.00).  They are just the plain old, basic apron
5 coordinating fat quarters (I bought a pack of 8 fat quarters at Walmart for $9.00-I figured if I ended up paying a bit extra it was made up for in the fact that I didn't have to try and find that many prints that went together while shopping with my kids-or have to wait while the slower than turtles lady cut it.)
1 coordinating button
NOTE: this tutorial relys heavily on a serger.  If you don't have one you could still make this but it wouldn't be quite as quick and easy.  I will let you figure out what to do without a serger (you are all smart enough).

Step 1. Start by pressing all your fat quarters flat.  Then press up one 3rd on the bottom.

 Step 2. Press the other 3rd underneath (so that they are accordion folded)
 Step 3. Cut on the creases to end up with 3 equal pieces
 See-3 equal pieces
 Step 3. Sew all the pieces end to end to form one long strip
 Step 4. Serge the top and bottom of each strip and the ends.
 Step 5. Decide where you want your apron to hit you when it is completed (I am a messy cook and need as much apron coverage as possible).  The store bought apron was longer than I wanted so I cut off 2-3 inches from the bottom (from the bottom of my apron to the point where the apron angles up to the top is 13 1/4 inches).  Keep in mind that you are going to adjust the neck strap so that will make it not quite as long also.  I would suggest before you sew that your arrange your pieces so that your 4th row is matching up with the part of the apron that angles up to the top-your 5th row will be sewn to the angled part).  If you cut yours different than mine then you will more than likely have to adjust your spacing).  Serge the bottom of the apron.  Your first ruffle piece will be sewn (using the same method shown below) 1 inch up from the bottom of your apron.  Every ruffle after that will be sewn 4 inches up from the top of the ruffle below.  So to clarify-sew the first ruffle one inch up from the bottom (keep reading to see how I mark that), then when that ruffle is sewn measure 4 inches up from it and mark to sew your next ruffle.  Sew, measure, mark and repeat. 
To mark I used a ruler and chalk pencil.  I held it in place and marked with my pencil little dash marks all the way across.  This is how I determined where I would sew the next piece.
 If you think you need a solid line then connect all your dashes before sewing.  I did not worry about being perfect because except for the top ruffle, all the other ruffles will be hidden by the one above so I really only worried about straightness on the very top.
 Step 6. To sew I began by matching the serged end of my fabric strip with the side of my apron.  I sewed (starting at the top corner) and then backstitched to secure that in place. 
 I lined the top of the strip up with the chalk line I have made before and used the bottom of the serge stitching as my guide for where to sew.
 Step 7. To ruffle I used a small sharp pair of scissors to bunch the fabric just in front of the presser foot.  I worked in small sections (bunch a bit and then sew over it and repeat).  The only thing you want to be careful of is not over bunching at the beginning and then having your piece be too short.  I had to redo my first ruffle 3 times.  After that I had the method figured out.
 This is how the ruffle will look.  I think this method was a million times faster than sewing a row or 2 of basting stitches on each ruffle strip, gathering it and pinning it then sewing it but you can do it that way if you prefer.
 So start with the bottom of the apron and work your way up (4 rows).  Remember that the 4th row lines up with the part of the apron that angles up to the top.
 Step 8.  On the last ruffle row you will have met up with the angled side of the apron. Because this part of the apron is not as wide as the lower part I cut off 11 inches of this strip and serged the end (this will make this strip shorter and therefore the ruffles will still look equal and you won't have a super ruffly part on top).   Measure and mark 4 inches above the last row like you did previously.  Match the top of the ruffle piece with that line, pin the top corner.  Now to begin this row sew the serged end of the ruffle piece on the angle.  Start at the bottom, backstitch and sew up to the top corner, put the needle down into the fabric, lift the presser foot and turn your fabric.  Put the presser foot back down and continue sewing and bunching and sewing and bunching along the 4 inch mark.

 Step 9. When you near the opposite side stop 3 or so inches before reaching the end.  Pin the end of the ruffle piece along the angled side...
 Then continue sewing and bunching the last of the ruffle up to the top corner.  Pivot again and sew down to the bottom of the ruffle.

 Your almost completed apron should look like this.
 Step 10. Lastly you need to adjust the neck strap (or maybe you don't if it fits you perfectly and so congratulations to you.)  To adjust the neck strap cut it away from the apron just at the top of the apron.
 Step 11. Serge along the bottom of the neck strap.
 Step 12. Cut 3- 2" pieces of fabric, sew them together to make one long strip and serge all sides.
 Step 13. Mark 2 inches from the end of the strap (this is where the button will go-you can place it where ever you want).  Make a button hole in the apron to correspond with this marking.
 Step 14. Using the same cheaters method, sew the ruffle to the neck strap from one end (the part that connects to the apron) to the other (the part where you have marked the button-sew only up to that point).

 Step 15. Attach a button where the pin was.  And you did it.  DONE!!!!
Super cute.  It makes me feel fancier in the kitchen and I am not embarrassed to answer the door in it either.

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Dec 12, 2011

And the Pellon Pack Giveaway Winner Is...

Cassidy said...
I've always used Heat-n-bond because (like you) it was easier to grab before my munchkins started grabbing things! But my mom swears by Wonder Under, so I keep thinking I need to give it a try...and the stitch in tear sounds pretty nifty too!

Congratulations Cassidy.  I am sending you an e-mail.  I will need your address and I will get this sent out this week.  Merry Christmas.
Thanks everyone for entering.  Stay tuned for another Pellon giveaway next month.
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Make Ahead Monday-Lasagna Rolls

These were inspired by two different recipes I found on Pinterest.  One was for lasagna cups (made in a muffin tin) and the other was for chicken lasagna rolls.  I thought, why not just made my regular lasagna in a roll and then freeze them individually for quick lunches and meals. (this picture is of my pan of rolls prebaked)
 You can use whatever lasagna recipe you want.  I actually just cooked my meat with some homemade spaghetti sauce and then mixed up small curd cottage cheese, grated Parmesan and grated mozzarella with a little bit of Italian seasoning.  You will want to boil your noodles until they are soft and pliable (this step is important).  Then you place a heaping spoon or two of meat filling on the noodle, topped with the cheese mixture and...
 Roll it up.  Place seam side down in your pan.  You can put a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan if you wish or pour sauce over top of all the rolls.  Top with cheese and bake for 30 minutes. 
Once you remove them from the oven you can either scarf immediately or let them cool then carefully remove each roll from the pan and place on a lined baking sheet.  Freeze until firm and then wrap with plastic wrap and store in an air tight bag.  My husband has been grabbing these for his lunch.  By the time it is noon they have thawed in the fridge and he just have to microwave for a minute and a half.  You can also heat from frozen but it takes about 4-5 minutes.  If you are going to make a few might as well make a big batch and freeze them-what a yummy lunch and so quick.
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Dec 7, 2011

Announcing a Pellon Products Giveaway CLOSED

I am super excited to announce this giveaway.  Let me start by asking, "Have you been to the Pellon website yet?"  They have lots of projects designed by crafters and sewers and fabulous artists like ME (humble I know), that range from an easy to advanced level and all projects include a pattern.   When I first was contacted by Pellon the Pellon employee who called said, "I love the skunk onesie you made but you used Heat N Bond."  She asked if I had used many Pellon projects and I had to admit I hadn't and one of the reasons I hadn't was that they weren't always as convenient as other packaged products.  I mean I usually am shopping with my girls and that gives me a 5 minute window to actually "look" at things.  I need to be able to find what I need quick.  Well guess what-Pellon has completely taken care of that for me and all of you too.  They have now come out with a line of prepacked products along with their great "by the yard" products.  And even better than that they have sent me a gift pack to giveaway to one of my fantastic readers.  It includes the following (this is so awesome):

3 yards of fusible sheer weight (for sheer and light weight fabrics)

2 yards extra firm stabilizer

3 yards stitch and tear (perfect for embroidery on most fabrics-I am really excited about this because it will allow for more free hand sewing  on onesies and t-shirts)

3 yards Heavy Duty Wonder Under (with double the adhesive of the original Wonder Under-and I love that it doesn't gum up your needle).

30 yards easy knit tape (perfect for fusing batting pieces together)

3 yards Heavy Duty Wonder Under (with double the adhesive of original Wonder Under)

20 yards Wonder Under tape (fuses fabric to fabric, wood or cardboard-LOVE THAT)

20 yards Wonder Web tape (with no paper backing-this is great for quick and easy hemming)

If you would like a chance to win (and who wouldn't) leave a comment and include what your favorite Pellon product is and or what you might make if you win as well as your e-mail (cause I gotta be able to contact you somehow).  You just need to comment once (commenting more than once won't help here).  Giveaway is open to the US and Canada.  I will  announce the winner on Dec 12th (I know this is a short and sweet giveaway-so tell your friends).  And in case you don't win you can find these products at independant sewing and quilt shops as well as online at  Stay tuned because I can't wait to make and show you a couple of things with the gift pack they are sending me too.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Pellon.  You made my holiday and some one else's too.

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