Friday, May 18, 2012

Pin #29 Crocheted Baby Stuff

My Pinspiration 

I learned to crochet from an old Russian Babushka who wasn't very patient. It didn't help that I had never been taught any crocheting words in my Russian lessons. She would get so frustrated when I couldn't remember what she was talking about and would just yell the instructions at me as if that would help me understand. The weird part is that after a few months of loud crochet lessons, I finally figured it out what I was doing and the two of us became friends. Over the years I have been grateful that I learned to crochet. It is my go-to skill when I have to make baby gifts. I am finally at the point where I can create my own patterns or change one to fit my needs. 
These boots are a good example. I found a pattern that looked awesome but was insane to crochet. It was supposed to create a cable pattern on the outside of the boot. After a few attempts to make the boots, I decided that I didn't love how they looked and changed things up. Here is what I came up with:

I am excited to send them off to my friend in Utah. She asked me to crochet a few hats and shoes for a baby that she is having this summer. I made the boots as a surprise and so I hope that she likes them. Here is a picture of the rest of the items I crocheted for her:
 She also asked for a baby cocoon. She found one on Pinterest that she liked and sent me the picture and I tried to copy as well as I could. This is the end result:

I took this picture but I kind of hate it. Am I the only one who thinks it looks funny when people use dolls to model their crochet creations? It just doesn't look right. But the cocoon by itself looks odd too. Oh well! Hopefully she loves it!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pin #28 Paper Mache King Tut

Inspiration Pin

I am not sure when I fell in love with paper mache. I don't remember doing much with it as a kid, but I was a camp counselor for one of my summer jobs after high school and I remember making a couple of memorable volcanoes with some campers. Last November I decided to make a pinata for my three year old for her birthday. I probably could have bought her one, but decided late Tuesday night that I was going to make her a festive turkey pinata that we could all whack around after dinner. Here is a picture of how that sad turkey turned out:
  Yes, that is a square turkey. Since I decided to make this pinata at the very last minute, I was not able to find a balloon to use as a base for the paper mache. The only thing that I could find to use was a freezer size Ziploc bag. Strange, I know, but it worked and we had our first ever Thanksgiving pinata. Hopefully, it is the first of many.
So a few weeks ago, I was reading  my new favorite blog, Lil Blue Boo and the author, Ashley, shared a tutorial on how to make a unicorn head using paper mache. The tutorial was wonderful and thorough as always, but I decided that I really didn't have the desire to make an animal head for our wall. A few days later, Jack came to me with a problem. He really wanted to dress up like King Tut and so we looked around and came up with this:
He was happy for a few days but kept asking for a real Egyptian crown. My mind went back to Ashley's unicorn head and I decided to see what I could come up with using paper mache. Thankfully my mother-in-law was here to help because I decided to try and make two different crowns.

Crown #1 King Tut
newspaper ripped into strips
table cover
paper mache- flour, water, and sugar
(the best paper mache recipe that I have found is over at Family Fun)
 We did one big layer the first day and let it dry for 24 hours. I did a second layer to fix the shape and let that dry overnight as well. Once it  felt good and hard, I popped the balloon and started covering the hat with construction paper that I cut into strips.

We sculpted a cobra and vulture out of newspaper and painted them once they had dried. I attached them to the front with one last piece of construction paper. Jack was pretty happy with the results.

Practicing his Mummy pose!
 He spent the rest of the day wearing his crown and so I think it was a pretty big success. 

Crown #2 The Blue War Crown
 This one was a lot easier, and as a result I took a lot less pictures.

Once the paper mache was dry, I painted it blue and attached another cobra that I made out of newspaper. Pretty easy. Without that cobra and the yellow band on the bottom, it could have been a MegaMind blue head. Maybe we'll try that out for our next paper mache project.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On A Side Note...

On a side note, I love people who go out of their way to do nice things. A few weeks ago, I went with my family to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. We spent the day walking through the flowers and trying to get some good pictures of our kids.When the tulips are this colorful and sun is shining, it is probably hard to get a bad picture. This is one of my favorites from the day. She really loves her big brother!

Anyway, I was trying to get some more shots of the kids together and they both lost focus and started to wander away. While I was trying to herd them back, a man approached us and motioned to us to look at his camera. He didn't speak English very well but explained that he had taken a great shot of Anna smelling flowers. He asked us for our email address so he could send us the picture. It turns out he is here in Oregon as a visiting photography professor from China. Long story short, we got an email from him today with this picture attached:

I am in love with this picture and am so thankful that this kind man took the time to edit it and email it to us.  I am also glad that Anna takes time to stop and smell the tulips, cause I was probably nagging her to look at the camera while he was taking this photo. So, today I am very thankful for nice people who do kind things just to make someones day. My goal is to do the same for someone else tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pin #27 Pizza Grilled Cheese

Inspiration Pin

What's not to love about a grilled cheese filled with pepperoni! My husband had one of those moments where he bit into his sandwich and looked up at me totally speechless. I try to cook amazing meals on a daily basis (insert sarcastic voice), but I can count on one hand the number of speechless faces that I have had from my husband. Needless to say we are going to make these sandwiches again in the near future. Which is fine by me since they took no time to put together.

Recipe from Blog Chef
8 slices of bread
¼ cup butter (softened)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 package sliced pepperoni
8 slices mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix the butter, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning together. Spread it on one side of the bread. 

2. Heat the pepperoni a little in the microwave or a pan before putting it on the bread. Place a piece of bread face down on a skillet that has been pre-heated on medium heat. Then put the cheese and pepperoni down on the bread in the pan. Cover that with another piece of bread that has the butter top side up. 

3. Cook until browned and then flip the sandwich to the other side. Serve with pizza sauce or tomato soup on the side.

You can see from this picture that I don't follow directions very well. I bought mini-pepperoni and the Italian shredded cheese that contains mozzarella mixed with Parmesan cheese. I don't think that these shopping mistakes changed the flavor that much though.  The loveliest part about this sandwich is the butter mixture that gets all crispy when you toast it. Yum! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pin #26 Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Inspiration Pin

It was a rainy, rainy day and I'm trying to get over a cold, so we spent the day inside and the kids were getting bored. Luckily, I remembered this pin and we had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I'm not sure how much the kids understood the concept of chemical reactions, but they really enjoyed watching it grow and getting their hands messy.

Pretty simple list of ingredients:
1 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. warm water
a few drops of dish soap
a few good drops of food coloring
1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide

First-  Combine the yeast and warm water together

Second- Combine the dish soap, food coloring, and hydrogen peroxide
Finally- Add the yeast mixture into the bottle and watch it grow!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pin #25 Slow Cooker "Fauxtisserie" Chicken

Inspiration Pin
 I know the picture looks a little scary, but go with me here! This chicken was amazing. Seriously amazing. The first night I served it with a side of rice and veggies and it tasted great. A few days later I used the other chicken breast to make fajitas and even the leftovers were delicious. I am not a huge fan of leftover chicken. There is usually a flavor that I just don't love. Not the case with this "fauxtisserie" chicken. The meat was moist and had really good flavor, probably due to the heaping amounts of Lawry's salt that you coat it with before putting it in the crockpot. 
The original recipe over at Our Best Bites was even more coated with the salt and had fresh rosemary on top. I am currently trying to grow my own herbs but since they are still seeds at this point, I needed to use the dry version. I just lifted the skin off the breast and put a little minced garlic and  dried rosemary up under the skin. The next key step is to make the aluminum balls for the chicken to lay on in the slow cooker. This keeps the meat up out of the fatty juices that run off. The recipe called for 3 aluminum balls, but I have no balancing skills and decided to make 4 balls. No worries it all it in the crock pot. Then I just set the temperature to low, put the lid on, and left it alone for 8 hours. I did put it under the broiler a bit to brown the skin, but that was after I took this picture. The chicken got a little mangled as I tried to get it out of the crock pot but everyone still ate it up.

All you need:
1 whole chicken- small enough to fit in your crock pot
Salt based seasoning such as Lawry's Salt
Garlic and fresh herbs are optional
 Aluminum foil

-make sure to rinse off the chicken, including in the cavity, and pat it down before putting on the salt
Click here for more detailed instructions from Our Best Bites

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pinterest Pin #24 Lime Crinkle Cookies

Inspiration Pin
 This  is one of the first recipes that I pinned on Pinterest. They are so wonderfully soft and chewy, and have a nice zesty citrus taste. Lately, lemon and lime are my go-to  flavors for everything sweet like yogurt and desserts. I also love to slice up a lemon or lime and put them in my water. Plain water gets so boring to drink, and as we are constantly reminded to drink 8-10 glasses of boring water daily.  Adding lemon or lime slices seem to make it a little better. 
The day I made these lovely crinkle cookies, I had a lemon and lime in my fruit basket. The original recipe calls for fresh lemon juice and zest. I had made the lemon ones for a baby shower once and loved them. This time I decided to mix it up and try it with the lime and they were so good! They tasted a bit like Key Lime Pie in cookie form. I think I ate ten of them in one day.  Next time, I think I will try an orange version and see how they taste.

Lime Crinkle Cookies
(adapted from Lauren Brennan's Award Winning Lemon Crinkle Cookies)
Makes 2-3 dozen

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar
For the lime version, just take out the lime and add lemon. I didn't change the measurements at all.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.