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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chalkboard Shopping List (and a new frame)

It's not a new idea, but I needed a place in the kitchen to write down ingredients I had run out of.  I didn't want to hang anything on the new fridge (our doors are magnetic but I've been afraid that they would leave scratches in the finish--plus I like the look of a cleared-off fridge), and I didn't want to put any paint (even on the inside) of our brand new cabinets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Bread

I'll be honest with you--I'm not great in the kitchen.  Luckily my husband will eat just about anything, but even I don't end up liking what I've made sometimes.

But there is one thing that I'm kind of proud of, and that's my bread.  I make all our bread we eat (unless I've been sick, or it's been too hot to turn on the oven, or I've been really busy...)  Ok, I make most of our bread.

I hesitated posting anything about it because I don't have a super scientific recipe to give you. It's kind of morphed from a couple of different recipes and I don't really measure the flour.  But apparently my need to brag won out.

I use a Bosch mixer and this recipe makes enough dough for 3 large (12 inch) loaf pans.

2 cups warm water 
4 teaspoons yeast (I use SAF)
1 teaspoon sugar
**let stand 10 minutes**

1 cup canola oil
3/8 cup powdered milk mixed in 2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
(I have also often made this with honey, which is fantastic--replace sugar with 2/3 cup honey, and use about 1/4 cup less water to mix the dry milk into)

Then add just under 1 Tablespoon salt, mix.

2 cups white flour 
3 Tablespoons dough enhancer
3 Tablespoons wheat gluten

Gradually add enough flour that the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl and isn't sticky any more.  (Any combination of flours works: white, whole wheat...I usually do at least half freshly ground hard white wheat flour) 

Let the mixer knead the dough for 8-9 minutes.  Let dough rise about 45 minutes (I just leave it in the mixer bowl)

Put dough into sprayed pans.  I split the dough into 3 even balls, then press each ball into a rectangle and roll up into a loaf shape.  Hmm, this must be the part where it's obvious that I'm not a 'food blogger' because I don't even have any pictures of these steps!

Warm oven by turning it on for a few minutes, then turn it off.  Pour an inch of water into a cake pan or pie plate and microwave til steamy.  Place on the bottom rack.  Put bread pans into oven, cover with clean towels and let rise about 1 hour.  (If you use a high white to whole wheat ratio it won't need to rise quite so long)

Remove pans and turn oven to 425 degrees.  When it's heated, put bread in and lower temperature to 325 degrees.  Bake for 20 minutes then cover each loaf with foil.  Bake another 15-25 minutes until done.  My favorite way to check is with a meat thermometer.  When the internal temp of the bread gets to 190-200 it's perfect! You can also tap the top listening for a hollow sound.  And finally, you can try for the longer time, and if it comes out a little too dry for your liking, shorten the next time around.  (Like I said, super scientific)

So there you have it.  Do you have a favorite bread recipe?  Do you make it all the time or is it a special occasion type thing?  If nothing else, it sure makes your house smell amazing!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wolf Costume

Today I'm sharing Asher's Halloween costume. I sewed it all by myself.  And it has a zipper!  (I've only done a couple of zippers ever, including this super easy pouch)

The fabulous Jessica at Running with Scissors created a pdf pattern for woodland animals and I got to test it out.

I made mine out of white fleece and used the same material for the tail, though it would look really cute with a more furry fabric. 

I've never used a pdf pattern before, but it was actually really easy to print out all the pattern pieces and tape them together and then cut out the fabric.  I loved having pictures to go along with the instructions--so much easier than a traditional pattern I thought.

Here's the finished result

Any guesses as to how long it will take him to make mischief of one kind and another?

(I was given the pattern for free to test it, but received no other compensation and all opinions are my own)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Loopy Frames

Some of you will remember that back in the spring I was on a design team for DtsArt.  Once a week I posted a project using one of their new files.

Now I'm back making an appearance this week and I love the Gone Loopy Frame set I got to use.  I chose just one of the frames and turned it into a Halloween banner I'll get to put up in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Satin Bloom Clips

Flower clips are nothing new in the world of accessories, but I'll show you these anyway. 

Cut circles of satin and melt the edges with a candle.

Fold each circle in half then half again to make triangles.  Secure with a drop of hot glue.

Arrange triangles on a small circle of felt, gluing as you go.  I used 8-9 triangles in each clip.

 Glue a clip on the back and it's done!  

This is the last in my "series" of posts sharing all the fun I had getting ready for my brother's wedding.

I have also showed you:
The girls' skirts
Asher's tie
Dyed shoes
My skirt
The card

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wedding Cake Card

Several months ago I saw a fantastic card on this blog and knew I'd have to use it for the wedding we attended over the summer.

I matched the paper to her wedding colors (gray, dark purple and light pink--it was all just beautiful A!) and of course added some sparkle.  Plus there's something extra fun about shaped cards, so I hope they liked it too.

Thanks for the idea and the file, Nelda! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paper Haunted House

What's better than displaying a haunted house as part of your Halloween decor?  Displaying one that you made yourself of course!

Rachell at My Little Spot of Creativity has some serious talent when it comes to designing cut files.  She's made all kinds of 3-D boxes and furniture.  Take a few minutes looking around her blog.  You won't regret it!

She shared this file over the weekend for a haunted house and I started working on it as soon as I downloaded it.

Here are all the pieces cut out.

I folded each piece following the score marks.  

Then I glued yellow tissue paper to cover each window.  And I cut a circle into the bottom flap of the house.  (I could have added a circle into the file and my machine would have cut it for me--but I didn't think of it til later) 

I glued the house all together, added some ghosts and pumpkins, and set it down over a battery tea light.  I'm pretty sure I don't have to explain here why you shouldn't use a real flame.

So, while this isn't actually on display at my house yet, who else is also thinking about Halloween already?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dressed Up Dresser

To fully appreciate the project I'm sharing today, you must first see what it's replacing.  Both girls have had their own dresser for years now, and here they are:

Emily's (a great garage sale find my husband got in CA for just $15--it would probably look great painted, but I just never had the motivation to do it)
Meagan's (we bought this dresser from Target when we got married 9 years ago and she covered it with all kinds of stickers from preschool)  And yes, it's been in their closet.

Then I got this great dresser and mirror a couple of months ago for free from a friend at church and have been working hard on transforming it. 

I followed the furniture painting instructions from Young House Love.  I got oil based primer from Sherwin Williams and then bought regular paint from Home Depot.  The white color is Billowy Clouds (I bought 1 quart) and the pink for the top is Orchid Rose (I bought the sample size)

The sanding took a while, even with a palm sander and my husband's help.  To get all the curved parts I wrapped a piece of sand paper around a washcloth.

I primed and then it took about 3 coats of paint to get it all covered nicely.  The scariest part was pulling the sander back out again and scuffing up the edges!  I had some black stain in the garage from a previous project, so I rubbed a little over the sanded edges and wiped it off again very quickly so it wouldn't stay on the paint, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I did the same thing with the mirror.

For stenciling the top, I cut section after section after section out of contact paper (using Make the Cut and my Cougar cutter) and stuck them down on the dresser.  This was not easy, but I was set on using my own supplies I had on hand without purchasing a professional stencil from somewhere.  When a large section of stencils was  down, I painted over everything with the pink paint.  

When I got about halfway across the top, the design had started getting distorted (contact paper is flimsy you know) and the shapes weren't lining up anymore.  So, I did what any {crazy} person would do--I traced out the rest of the design using a pencil and used a small brush to hand paint all of those little shapes!  It took for-ev-er.

Anyway, by this time I had decided that I would be distressing the top of the dresser as well, and that did a great job of hiding any little imperfections from paint bleeding under, or shapes not lining up perfectly.

Before sanding

After sanding

I then did 2 coats of clear polyurethane on just the top.  It actually had a teeny bit of a yellow tint to it--not noticeable over the bright pink really.  But I have since read that polyurethane can do that, and that a polycrylic would be better?  I'll have to do some research on that next time around.  Still, it sure is shiny!

Here it is all set up in the girls' room.  

And if you're interested, I have previously posted about the blue chandelier and the pink marble wall art (it looks so lonely on that wall still, I need to hang some other things around it!)

So, was all the crazy, never-ending stenciling worth it?  What project have you refused to give up on?  I'd love to see/ hear about it!

Visit thecsiproject.com

Monday, September 5, 2011

Embroidery Hoop Organizer

Over the summer we used framed to-do lists for the girls' chores in the morning.  Things like putting dishes away after breakfast, brushing teeth, and a different cleaning job every day (wash windows, dust, etc)  Having the list behind glass lets them mark each item with a dry erase marker every day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Layered Ruffle Skirt

It didn't take much attempted shopping to realize I'd be making something to wear to my brother's wedding.  I'm sure most people consider themselves to have some kind of shopping curse--too tall, too short, too wide, too busty, not enough...whatever!  I fall into the "too short" category.  So dresses often just hang on my the wrong way.  Well, dresses that were in my trying-to-spend-only-about-$100-to-get-us-all-outfitted-for-the-wedding budget anyway. 

So it was back to scouring the internet for skirt pictures.  I'd already made skirts for my girls remember, but I didn't want to just make a grown-up size one for me.  I needed something different.  And this was the winner.

I headed back to Joann's to buy more of the gray material I'd used for the other skirts and some accent colors of light pink and dark gray.  I didn't take any pictures while I was making mine--I was in too much of a rush to actually get it finished before we left town!  The main thing that I did differently was using regular fabric instead of knit.  I had to hem each layer of ruffles so they didn't fray.