Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Felt Food Recipes: Bow-tie Pasta

The first few years that I was married I think I made pasta for dinner three or four times a week. So it seems fitting to start our felt food-athon with pasta. Just like real food, felt pasta is easy. 


Today let's make some bow-tie pasta. You won't even need a sewing machine, but you will need:
  • 1 or 2 sheets of craft felt in a pasta color (I used "champagne")
  • fabric scissors or a rotary cutter
  • pinking shears
  • ruler
  • needle and coordinating thread




Start by cutting the felt into two inch strips, then cut them into 2 x 2 inch squares. You might want to cut a bunch and set some aside to make ravioli later. 


Cut each of the squares with the pinking shears on just two sides like this.


Then pinch and stitch together the middle. If you start between the first two folds you can hide the end of your thread.




That's all, see I told you it was easy. 



Now make ten or twenty more so you can have a whole bowl.  




See you next time for part II: ravioli. Thanks for reading.

-Haley 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Order up!

Smell that? Yep, it's bacon. We are pretty big bacon fans around here. Several places lately I've heard or seen the phrase "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Skinny is a relative term, and I'm sure that it feels better to be healthy than super overweight, but if nothing tasted as good as skinny felt, then no one would be fat.  Obviously anyone who believes that phrase has never had bacon or chocolate. But if you really believe that, than this is the perfect bacon for you: 




I love felt food, because it's low calorie, and, I never burn the bacon. : )  It's also pretty easy, really cheap and super cute. There's something universal about kids and play food. Even though I have two boys this stuff gets played with pretty often.

 How about some breakfast before you start your day? Eggs sunny-side up? You got it.


If this looks good to you then you are going to love what's coming up in the next couple of weeks. I've got some felt food tutorials and some free patterns for you. Excited? Good. Now go out and buy a couple pieces of felt in every color so you'll be ready. 'Cause when you see how easy it is you're gonna want to make this stuff for your kiddos. See you tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

-Haley

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lookin' Good

Just wanted to say have a happy Saturday! And in case you were wondering, you're looking good today.


Thanks for reading. 
- Haley

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Double Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

I love biscotti because it is a dessert that can be considered a legitimate breakfast food--not that I let popular opinion keep me from eating left over apple pie at 7 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving.  Favorite breakfast of the year. In the long months 'til then though I will gladly settle for these. 


The base recipe I use is from Martha Stewart and you can find that here. If you search on the Martha Stewart web site you will find about 20 recipes for chocolate biscotti, including about 5 just for chocolate pistachio biscotti (someone had too much time on her hands in prison). Speaking of which, I'm sure you've seen this but it still makes me smile.

One of these people is a convicted felon.

Actually they both are. Anytime someone tries to say I'm like Martha Stewart I like to remind them that I've never done time. And as I write this I'm realizing that I've probably blown my chances of this ever happening. Oh well, let's face it that was a long shot anyway. 

I like this particular recipe because it is softer and simpler than many of her other versions. After many batches I have made a few adjustments. First, I never have pistachios on hand so instead I use 1/2 cup of craisins and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.



Second, instead of forming the dough into one large flattened "log" I make two narrower ones. Since the pieces are sliced on the diagonal anyway, they still end up a nice size, and this increases the yield of this recipe. I've also found when I only did one large log the pieces are so big they end up breaking, and the beauty of this cookie is the nice rounded ends and smooth sides I think, so smaller = prettier. Since smaller things bake faster, I also shorten the baking time to about 20 minutes. 



I think Martha's recipe says that this serves 4. Now that's my kind of serving size, because as you can see just one log was about 15 pieces. If you want to stick with that we won't judge. But if you think that you may eat less than 8 pieces in a sitting, you could probably invite a few more friends. From the looks of my last batch you will get about 30 biscotti out of this recipe. A little slicing tip: use a bread knife and only slide one direction, don't saw like you're cutting a loaf of bread or the pieces will break up.


Martha also says to bake them for 8 minutes after slicing them up and putting them back on the baking sheet like so, but I find they are still a little too soft. After 8 minutes at 300ยบ I flip them all over to the other side and bake for another 6 minutes.


Then you have, in my humble opinion, perfect chocolate biscotti. If you want to whip up a batch to take with you to your Chocoholics Anonymous meeting you can go ahead and dip them in melted chocolate chips or chocolate almond bark. If not, sit down with your three favorite friends and enjoy Martha's idea of a serving. : )


And don't forget the coffee or chai. Mmm. So good. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Napkin Rings Ex Nihilo

I don't know a lot of Latin, but I love the phrase ex nihilo. As in: God created the world ex nihilo. Now, only God can truly create something out of nothing, but it feels like I can when I use stuff that's just collecting dust or rescue something from the recycle bin and end up with something fun and new that cost me nothing. Which brings us to today's project: napkin rings. 



I can't say that I use cloth napkins a lot, which is a good reason not to spend money on napkin rings that would also not get used a lot. But, a few Thanksgivings ago I wanted to dress up the table a little bit and these were perfect. 


I cut a paper towel roll into 1 inch rounds, then cut pieces of burlap that were 2 1/4 inches by 5 3/4 inches. If you want to make yours wider than an inch, just double the size of the tube you cut to get your fabric width and add 1/2 inch to the circumference to get your fabric length.


 Next I ran a line of hot glue all the way around the inside of the tube and glued one edge of the burlap down leaving 1/2 inch unglued at one end. Then I wrapped the burlap around the outside of the tube and ran another line of glue right next to the first to secure the other side, making sure to pull the fabric tightly so that it was nice and smooth all the way around. When I got to the last 1/2 inch I folded under 1/4 inch and glued that down so there's no fraying ends. Then they looked like this.


To dress them up I tied some with a couple pieces of raffia and glued a button on top, and on others I glued a piece of ribbon and glued a button over the seam.



The possibilities of styles you could do are endless. I'd like to try these again with a different fabric. For now though I'm happy with this version. You still have time to make some for that fancy Valentine's dinner.


 Or maybe St. Patricks Day?



Thanks for reading.  Happy fancy dining or edo in optime! (I'm sure that's not right...)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snack Time

I am not a fan of trail mix. The problem with GORP is that it's an oxymoron. Old peanuts and raisins are never good and every time I have trail mix it tastes like all the ingredients are indeed old.  I can still see myself at Girl Scout camp peering into my ziplock sandwich bag allotment and noticing that all the raisins were salty and all the peanuts were plain. Gross. If there was a way to keep the raisins from doing that; maybe. But there's not (and you know either way they're still raisins...) so, that was the end of trail mix for me.

The problem is that I like the idea of trail mix. Crunchy, mostly healthy, a little bit of chocolate. Enter "snack mix." Thing One (my oldest) loves for me to make him snack mix. This is basically any mixture of crunchy edible things.

This is my usual mix and my favorite, because it's stuff we have on hand at all times: craisins, pecans, chocolate chips, natural coconut flakes. This particular batch also has yogurt covered raisins.


 For a special treat or a road trip I like to make one I call "Sweet and Spicy." It's limey, it's sweet, it's spicy, it's crunchy. It's delicious. 


I actually got this recipe from a book called "Holiday Gifts from a Jar." It's a collection of recipes for things you measure and layer in a Mason jar and then give to friends and neighbors with a tag containing the recipe and a list of "fresh ingredients" you add when you're ready to make it. You know. You've made them or received them. These gifts are the perfect way to say: at this busy time of year I was worried that you might run out of projects that you didn't want to do so I made you this jar filled with SOME of the ingredients needed for this recipe. Happy Holidays!  


If you really like your neighbors or friends or whoever, bake up a batch of this and then give them a container of it ready-to-munch. Here's the recipe for a single batch. It's yummy and I'm not good at sharing food that I like, so I always make a double batch. : )

Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix


1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. medium heat chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 c. bite-size shredded wheat cereal
1 c. thinly sliced dried apricots
1 c. pecan halves
3 tbsp. butter (cut into smaller pieces)
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice


Preheat oven to 325°
Line a large baking pan (or two small ones) with foil

1. Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in lime juice.
3. Immediately stir in the sugar and spices.
4. Stir in the cereal, pecans and apricots and gently stir until ingredients are well coated.
5. Spread mixture onto foil lined pan and bake for  12-18 minutes (until mixture doesn't feel too sticky).
6. Cool completely on pan, then store in an air tight container if you can keep yourself from eating it all immediately.

Thanks for reading! Bon appetit!

By the way, Thing One's first favorite CD was "Snack Time" by BNL. Kid music that parents can stand to listen to? Yes, thank you. I'll take two. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Eureka!

Two years ago a friend and I were discussing how we spend our time, where we get ideas, etc.  She asked me if I read any craft blogs and it was like she was speaking another language.  I had no idea then what a blog even was (is that on the interwebs?).  Aside from that, the word "craft" conjured up images of popsicle sticks and glitter.  So my friend suggested I check out Homemade by Jill as an example.  Suddenly I was Jasmine singing on a magic carpet. I was hooked, and the word "craft" was redefined. I have since stumbled through blog land finding new favorites, but I always check back with Jill to see what she's up to. Her tutorials are wonderful and I have tried lots of her projects. This tag animal tutorial is one of my first attempts. These are such a cute addition to a baby gift. The ribbon loop makes it easy to hook on to anything.


I started with a few elephants using Jill's pattern, but then I made up a few of my own.



My older son loved loops and tags when he was really little so when I made my own version I wanted to make animals that could use more ribbon. Kind of a taggie blanket/stuffed animal hybrid.




I love this giraffe because it is nice and neutral; perfect for a baby boy or girl.

 

And I love this dinosaur because he is totally boy.  A lot of stuffed animals don't really look fit for a boy, but this guy did to me.  I've learned my lesson when making multi-step projects-- always make a couple at a time. That way when it turns out awesome you already have one for next time : )



Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wine Charms - Tutorial

Here's my first little project to share with you. I pretty much like to DIM (do it myself) whenever practical. By that I mean if I see something I like I look at it really carefully and my first thought is, this would be way more work that it's worth-- I'm buying it, OR I could do this better and cheaper--and it's off to Hobby Lobby. Wine charms or markers are like that to me. There's tons of cute beads and charms and things that you can use to make a personalized set, so why settle for a cookie cutter one? The other thing I really like is multi-purpose or reusable, which is another reason I love these markers. Ready to make some wine charms?

Teenie tiny clothespins, jump rings, beading wire (20 gauge), needle-nose pliers for jewelry, and wire cutters.



I used an existing charm to measure how big I wanted the rings to be. Snip a piece of the wire for that. Make sure to add about half an inch to the length so you can loop both ends closed with the pliers at the end. I think this ended up being about 2.5-3 inches (you can always trim later).  Then cut a small piece to make another jump ring. I think mine was a little less than an inch.


Next slip the small piece of wire through the clothespin and put the jump ring on. Then use the pliers to bend the small piece into a ring. Now you should have a little two link chain from the clip.







 Thread the 3 inch wire through the jump ring and bend into a nice circle. Use the pliers to bend the two ends into tiny circles as well to finish those off.





And you're done!



 Now you have a customizable wine charm or glass marker or whatever you want to call it.



Cheers!


Pilot

Did anyone else listen to New Kids On The Block? It was all the rage when I was in first grade. Anyway here I am, the new kid and I am seriously as scared and disoriented as any newly transplanted kid. But I figure if hundreds of thousands of people can run their own blogs I should be able to figure it out...eventually. 


In light of this being my first post, does anyone else find it funny that the first episode of every show is just called "Pilot"? I know, I know it's the pilot, but it's not a law that you can't give it another name. I think that every first episode should be required to at least involve a pilot if they are going to call it that. Anyway...


Hopefully you will find my little projects interesting. I have been coming up with tutorials and ideas for my non-exsistant blog for quite a while, and those ideas were getting crowded so I finally had to create a space to let them out. Check back and I'll see if I can actually post something useful. Thanks for stopping by. It's nice to meet you!
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