Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Egg Decorating - its not too late!

I did this little activity last week and wanted to post it soon so that you have time to craft it as well (if you'd like!)

Sara and Kate definitely explain WAY better than I can (and with better results) how to do this here.

I started with these 100% Silk ties from Goodwill:

And created these eggs:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Running Treasures!!

Maybe this is a sign I need to run more often. After coming back earlier this month with dozens of lemons, todays run yielded more "treasures." (aka, other people's trash.) March is the month when the Santa Clara area dumps all their big trash on the curb, no holds barred. I've checked out a few piles (one had a scrabble game box, but no tiles) and saw an AMAZING desk I was not brave enough to look at more closely, plus a TON of nasty matresses, wood, and quite a random assortment of items.

Today was a no different. I committed to carrying a picture frame home (why always so far from home??!!) which is 18x20 or larger, just the frame, to potentially be used for artistic purposes. (Tabitha, this means you.) Then I found a spot where a house had been forclosed and someone just put EVERYTHING in the garage out here. So I scored some new pillow cases, a little crafting fabric, LEFT a lot of nasty fabric and hand-knitted blankets there, and...this Moo Cow Creamer. It was so tacky, it looked vintage. I was right! Its from the 1960's! These sell from $1 to $15 on ebay! Not bad for free. It seems to be in pretty good condition. I'm not sure how I'll use it yet, but it seems awesome!
Now the other thing I did today...I will post about when I upload the pictures!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leftover February Pictures

These are the roses that Zach bought me for Valentine's Day. At first I was surprised by the yellow color, then he reminded me that the first flower he bought me (a gerbera daisy) was the same color! What a thoughtful guy. These roses were beautiful for DAYS (just grocery store variety!) and they opend up really big. I couldn't stop taking artsy pictures of them.
My friend Beth and I decorated sugar cookie pops for Valenties day. Mostly because I saw the idea on a blog and REALLY wanted to make sugar cookies on sticks. Next goal - find a more tasty frosting. (H.B.K. = Happy Birthday Kristie, roommate)
Beth's cookies were far more beautiful than mine, case in point:
Another rose picture. I actually just submitted this one to Capital One and it is going to be the picture on my credit card! Cool, huh?
Disappearing Chips! Why is that bowl empty? Oh yeah - because I made salsa! 1 part pureed bell pepper, 2 parts tomato, some garlic powder and salt...MMM, very fresh tasting. I love red bell pepper!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not your typical Craft Tutorial

A few weeks ago, a young man who is dear to my heart was in desparate need.

Of a fireman costume.

What good auntie can resist a charmng boy in need of a fireman costume? Not this auntie.

So I purchased the birthday costume items in a nice combo pack - hat, axe, belt, etc etc. Missing: a fire coat!! Now, said boy lives in SoCal where it is HOT. So no long sleeves here. I had an idea to use a big T-shirt and make it look like a firecoat. (This idea based on the fact that the boy on the costume package was wearing a yellow shirt. Inspiring people, INSPIRING.)

So I got to work pre-washing a bright yellow tee and ribbons for decorating. Then I flew across the country to finish my work in a hotel room. This limited my crafting ability to: imported glue (brought tacky glue from home - bad idea - should have bought fabric glue) and tape.
I started by attempting cutting the middle open and then highlighting the edges of the front and sleeves with ribbon. At some point I rejected the glue option for the sleeves and called the front desk for a sewing kit. The angels brought TWO, both of which I used.
This sewing job on the sleeves was no rocket science or pretty task, as shown below. My primary goal was for the costume to last multiple washes and two boys fighting over it as they eagerly put out big, scary fires. Obviously the inside seams were not much to look at:

Then I wrote a sentimental "SLO FD" on the back as a SLO shout-out. (Seriously, who DOESN'T miss that place??!!)

I wanted to add another ribbon accent across the top and big buttons, but I ran out of time.
My smiling model doesn't seem to notice the missing parts: (notice he is so tall this is almost too small for him already!)
Good thing he has a little brother to hand it down to:

Monday, March 8, 2010

When life gives you lemons...make lemondade...literally

Last week I went running and passed a home where some gardeners were trimming a lemon tree. I thought to myself...hm, why not ask for a couple lemons? I could use them in the kitchen, right? They obliged (en espanol) and I was glad I had worn Zach's XL Army long sleeve shirt over my running outfit to keep warm. I tied the sleeves up and started harvesting. Somewhere in that process I got the idea of lemon chicken, lemonade...and wasn't sure how many lemons I needed. (After all, it was me or the dumpster!) I filled the shirt up and walked the mile home.

Here are some of my lemons, with my previously store-bought ones on the counter:
And here I am with my OTHER bowl of lemons, and pomegranate lemondade that Zach made. (I ended up with 35 lemons!)
Here is Zach posing with his lemondae...ignore the Apple Cider container! Ha! I'm using our one and only pitcher to hold excess kitchen items.
What do you have lemonade with? A new recipe! This is from the 2009 Holiday Costco cookbook. Basic elements include: pan cooked sausage, steamed broccoli, 1/2 cup of water all simmered and mashed together over pasta with some cheese on top. Easy and tasty!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Janelle's Chocolate Cake

Growing up in San Leandro, a couple from our church "adopted" our family by choosing to invest in our lives, get to know us "kids" and babysit for my parents to have date nights. They lived just a few blocks away and we built essentially grandchild/grandparent relationships with them. They have been really amazing to our family.

Janelle would make this chocolate cake. One mention of "Janelle's cake" would leave ANY family member drooling. Its been at least 10 years since we had this cake, since our family moved, aged, they moved, etc. Since I've been wanting to amp up my culinary skills and because the cake is just so delicious, I've been hoping for an opportunity (excuse) to make this cake. It’s really decadent so the excuse had to be really good. And then it was my youngest brother's birthday! #18! Happy Birthday Tim! (back in February.) So I texted him, asking if he wanted the cake for his birthday. Usually he never texts me back. This time I got an immediate yes. In fact I got the "oooohhhhhhhhh" gasp from each family member when I mentioned it.

So I drove up. Tim, Amy and I were going to make the cake together. (I have forced Zach to watch the TV show Cake Boss with me. Zach had "Cake Boss" suggestions for the cake, like strawberries in the whipped cream, etc, but I rejected them. Our first time recreating the famous "Janelle Cake" had to be the original recipe.)

The exciting part of this cake is the layers. There are 4 layers of cake. Between each one is homemade whipped cream. (As you know, I am not a super pro at making this, but I'm trying.) But the frosting is truly the kicker. I've been looking at frosting recipes for a while now trying to find one I like and this one is completely different than what I’ve seen online, which explains why it is the most awesome. It uses evaporated milk, which I didn’t see much of online.

The assembly of the cake is simple. Our whipped cream was a little soft (being a newbie at whipped cream still, I'm afraid I'll make butter) and the cake layers a little thin (would have preferred to have 8inch round pans instead of 9, or maybe next time I'll have to make more cake). But, as usual the frosting held it all together for the approximately 18 hours that the cake lasted in the refrigerator. There were NO (Null. Zero. Nada.) complaints about the soft whipped cream, messy frosting, or thin cake layers.

MMM. When can I make this again??!!! I wonder if I could try a little cupcake version! Hm...