Friday, January 31, 2014

VALENTINE SLIP COVERS FOR THROW PILLOWS


Every once in a while I do a craft that really surprises me and this was one of those times.  I had an idea, no pattern, no directions but so loved this heart graphic and loved it even more when I put my monogram and then my sweet husband's monogram on the graphic. Rule of thumb for a monogram is the center initial (last name initial) should be twice the size of the initials on the side.  In other words if your center initial font size is 30 then the side initials would be 15. I thought why not make pillow covers for the accent pillows on the two couches in the living room?  Why not indeed!  I expected this to take a long time and honestly it took less than an hour from start to finish, maybe less.
I started by measuring the existing pillows and by printing out the graphics on some cotton poplin sheets (the kind the quilters use).
  My pillows were an 18" square so I cut to lengths of fabric using the normal 1/4" seam allowance for the sides and a full inch for the top and bottom.  All  you have to do is to sew across the turned back seam allowance for the top and bottom and then put the fabric right sides together (with the seamed part overlapping just a little at the mid-point in the back) and sew down the sides, turn them out and using a bone folder or other similar item push out the corners. Press and you are now ready to adhere the graphic to the pillow.
Before applying the graphic it's a good idea to put the pillow inside to make sure you have a good fit.
Using a product like Pellon's EZ-Steam, II apply the graphic to the sticky side of the product, next cut in and out around the graphic to give it a better look than just cutting a square.  Peel the paper off the back and iron onto the pillow.
 I next attached the bow using sticky back hook & loop (velcro).  This could not have been easier and once Valentine's Day is over, so easy to remove and put back the original accent pillow.  I'm already thinking about pillow covers for St. Paddy's Day!

Resource

Ticking fabric, fabric store upholstery section 
Transfer Magic, Inkjet Transfer Paper, Hobby Lobby
Pellon EZ-Steam II, Hobby Lobby
Ribbon by White Pine
Draw Program, Corel Draw
Font free,  Monogram KK

Thank you for stopping by.

 

 
 
 

 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

VALENTINE CONES & COOKIES

I did not start doing this blog in earnest until mid-October of last year. Prior to that I was posting for family and friends, especially when someone asked me "how'd you do that?" This is a repeat of a post from last January but I thought worth looking at again as it is a super easy and inexpensive way to make a little door hanger cone for little ones and big ones alike.
Cones made from 12x12 heavy scrapbooking paper, used the Martha Stewart circle punch to make a doily (scrapbooking stores and craft stores will have pre-made round, punched edge paper) and then lined them with a doily from the dollar store, stapled the holder securely and then used the Valentine tinsel ($ store again) to cover the staples and give a finished appearance then a stapled the ribbon for a holder.  Filled with pencils, candy, trinkets and an iTunes card. The name labels are Martha Stewart labels from Staples.


The cartons (food safe) in the front are paper to-go cartons that I made a label for and glued ribbon around the top.  Both the container and the top are paper and the container is coated so I don't have to put anything else in the carton but the yummy Valentine Snowball cookies.


Valentine Snowball Cookies
 1 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup roasted walnuts, finely ground
Powdered sugar
Food coloring (red or pink)

Cream butter together with the sugar and add vanilla. Mix well. Add the flour and the ground, roasted* nuts. Add the food coloring and mix thoroughly.  Shape into balls and bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned (My oven took about 15 min.). Cool and roll in powdered sugar.


*to roast nuts, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Grind after they are cooled.

When I pulled up the recipe I found my note from last year so thought I would add:


 "Made them 2013 and did exactly as recipe recommends except I baked two sheets at a time (Silpat lined) and after 8 minutes turned the sheets around.  Dusted them while still hot but think next time it is just as effective to let them cool and then one at a time shake in a bag of powdered sugar."

 Resource

Paper, Michael's
Ribbon, wide, Costco
Candy, grocery store
Pencils, doilies, garland and fuzzy hearts, Dollar Tree
Labels, Martha Stewart, Staples
Narrow ribbon, Hobby Lobby
Food Cartons, 25ct White Pint Frozen Dessert Containers
Cookie recipe, Munchkin Munchies

Thank you for stopping by.


Friday, January 24, 2014

VALENTINE'S DAY DINNER

I was asked by a follower about my menu for Valentine's Day dinner so I decided to go ahead and plan my tablescape and share my menu and recipes - this post is for you Marie. Since the nest has been empty for a long time around here I like to have special dinners on a small table for two.  One of the nice things about a small table like this is that it can be moved around easily.  In fall and winter I especially like moving the coffee table in the living room (to make room for the little table) and with a fire in the fireplace like to have the table nearby - not too close but close enough to enjoy the ambience. The table is actually very simple it started out life as one of those round accent tables and I had my husband cut a piece of plywood and sand the edges smoothly and it sits atop the round little table. He put a little bracket on the back so it is secure and stable.  When not in use it all comes easily apart for flat storage.


For many years I have always printed out a menu before any special dinner.  This serves several purposes, a list from which you may build your shopping list, reminder of what's for dinner and then nostalgia as I have kept these over the years and often times looking at them again brings you back to the event and also sometimes an ah-ha moment that you have not made a favorite dish for sometime.  The little red Betty Crocker cutting board turned around makes a great place to post your menu - $ Tree store always has them.

Recipes
Green Salad w/Homemade Ranch
Not complicated here but a couple of notes.  I do change the dressing recipe on the Ranch Buttermilk package by using 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream and of course buttermilk but then I add one seeded, and diced jalapeno pepper and let this meld in the fridge for at least 24 hours. As far as the salad goes, just make your personal preference salad.  I like to keep it simple with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, green onion and avocado diced.  Whatever you like in your salad.  Make sure your salad plate is chilled.

Individual Beef Wellington's w/mushroom duxelles
The classic recipe will have goose or duck liver and I forego this ingredient and just make the duxelles which is just a fancy name for a mixture of mushrooms, shallots, garlic etc. You could forego this ingredient too but then you would have steak wrapped in bread.
My favorite is from Cuisine at Home magazine, December 2003 edition & I think too long and too complicated so here is Pepperidge Farm's recipe.  Really, all  you are doing is preparing the meat to wrap with the puff pastry and adding the duexelles and baking, once you understand the process this is really easy. Photo is from Cuisine at Home magazine and shows the Wellington with sauce - I don't usually make one but a simple red wine reduction would work.  I like that puff pastry to be nice and crispy and the sauce will make it soggy - again, personal preference.

Individual Beef Wellingtons - Pepperidge Farm Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 (about 6 ounces each) beef  filet mignons (1/2-inch thick)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the beef with black pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for 10 minutes, turning the beef over once during cooking. Remove the beef to a plate. Cover the plate and refrigerate for 1 hour or until the beef is cold.
  3. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic and season with black pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, stirring often. Remove the mushroom mixture from the skillet and let cool.
  4. Sprinkle the work surface with the flour. Unfold the pastry sheets on the floured surface. Roll the pastry sheets into 2 (14-inch) squares. Trim the edges to form 2 (13-inch) squares. Cut each square into 4 squares, making 8 squares in all.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon Gorgonzola in the center of each pastry square. Divide the mushroom mixture evenly among the pastry squares. Top each with 1 filet mignon. Fold 2 opposite pastry corners over the beef, overlapping slightly, and press to seal. Brush with the egg. Repeat with the remaining pastry corners.
  6. Place the pastry-wrapped beef seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate the pastry-wrapped beef and the remaining egg for 1 hour or overnight.
  7. Heat the oven to 425°F.  Brush the pastry-wrapped beef with the remaining egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the temperature of the beef is 117°F. Serve immediately.
  8. Recipe Note: Parchment paper keeps the pastry from sticking to the baking sheet and also makes for easier cleanup. If you don't have parchment paper, you can spray the baking sheet with cooking spray instead. However, cooking spray may cause the bottoms of the pastries to brown more quickly, so begin checking for doneness 5 minutes early.
Personal choice as to using the Gorgonzola cheese but I make this very simple and am providing this recipe as a guide because I will cut down any recipe for our dinner for two.  The puff pastry keeps wonderfully in the freezer and has many other uses. I like to use a leaf cookie cutter and cut out some puff pastry to put on the top of the Wellington as a decoration.  Cooks note about the cookie cutter for the leafs - this will ONLY work if the the dough is still almost frozen as this is NOT pie dough and is very sticky.  If your dough has thawed past this point just use a sharp knife and cut out leafs and score them with a knife.  No matter how you do this they will look nice, really they will.

Here is my favorite recipe for the duxelles:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms (morels are great, but button mushrooms work)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter; divided
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth, sherry, or white wine, I prefer vermouth

Preparation:

1. Finely chop mushrooms in a food processor.
2. Scrape mushrooms out into a clean, cotton towel. (Note: Do not use terry cloth, and choose an old towel as you will stain it.)
3. Twist towel around mushrooms and wring out as much liquid as you can over the sink.
4. Heat a large (10-inch) non-stick skillet over a burner set between medium and medium-high.
5. Add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to melt and avoid burning.
6. Add mushrooms, shallots, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and thyme.
7. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms appear dry and are beginning to brown; about 5 minutes.

Green Beans w/bacon & slivered almonds

I don't have a recipe I use for these so will just tell you how I make them.  You can either use canned or fresh green beans.  For fresh green beans wash your beans, snip the ends and parboil, set aside.  I like to use the real bacon bits from Costco, less messy, less fat but you still get the good bacon flavor.  Toast the slivered almonds, this may be done ahead of time.  In a frying pan put about a tsp of olive oil and add the bacon and cook to release the flavors, then add your parboiled green (you may need to add a little water at this time) beans and stir until done but still crisp, then add salt and pepper and the almonds and stir until all heated through and serve. Using canned beans do the same but don't drain the beans, do as above and then drain them just before serving. 

Individual Potatoes Gratin

These are really fun and you can make a bunch of them and freeze. So easy, so good.

Ingredients

Vegetable spray
2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese, I prefer gruyere
2 green onions, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.
Individual Apple/Cranberry Crisp
Filling
  1. 8 medium  Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 cup dried cranberries
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice - or white wine, my preference
  6. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

Mix all the ingredients in a pan and cook until the apples are almost done.


Topping

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
Mix all together using your hands, the butter should be soft but not too soft, the finished product should be crumbly.
Put the filling into individual containers and divide the topping between the containers & put into a hot oven and bake until the topping is turning golden brown.  Let cool and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I will also cut this recipe way down and only make the two servings.
Resource
Salad dressing, my recipe
Individual Wellingtons, Pepperidge Farm
Green Beans, my recipe
Individual Potatoes Gratin, Melissa d'Arabian, Food Network
Duxelles, my recipe
Individual crisp, my recipe
Tablecloth, Ebay seller
Salad Plates, Maxwell & Williams Sprinkle, Dillard's
Individual soup/dessert covered bowls, Maxwell Williams Sprinkle, Dillards
Red Plates, Waechtersbach
Chargers, Bed, Bath & Beyond
Flatware, Hampton Forge
Flutes, Ralph Lauren
Water, wine, Villeroy & Boch
Recipe Holder, $ Dollar Tree
Valentine Graphic, Graphic's Fairy
Fonts on recipe card, Century 725 & Arizona 

Bon appetit and thank you for stopping by.

 
 






Monday, January 20, 2014

VALENTINE FOR HUBBY


If you follow this blog you will know that hubby likes his Twizzlers and I like to make him festive jars for the different holidays and today I made him his Valentine jar.
 Sorry forgot to put the spray paint in the photo! It's all easy, a jar (I used a tall canning jar) any jar will do - you can always use a knife or kitchen shears to cut the Twizzers to size for the jar. I spray painted the lid and ring red and after it dried (a few minutes in the oven with the oven light on will dry this pretty quickly) then run a bead of hot glue around the lid and attach the ring, that way when you take off the lid it is in once piece. I used some curly-q ribbon from the store to glue to the rim of the ring piece, made my little label in Corel Draw and added a little lace to that and attached to the top.  Glued (hot glue) some more ribbon and a sprig of greenery to the front added a little plastic heart to finish off the front and done.

 
 

Resource

Canning jar, Hardware and grocery stores and online
Twizzlers, Grocery Store
Curly-Q ribbon, Marshall's
Spray Paint, Hobby Lobby
Label, Corel Draw
Plastic heart, $Store
Small wire ribbon on heart, Costco duel strand ribbon

Sunday, January 19, 2014

WINTER POP OF COLOR

I so loved the rooster on canvas that I made for my donation to the Alzheimer's Idaho Chili Cook-off that I decided to make one for myself and when I purchased another frame (at the sale area of course) they had a canister that had a chip on the lid (taken care of with a black thick sharpie) and I thought a pop of color in the kitchen would be nice since things look a tad bare after removing all the Christmas decorations.
All that is needed for this quick project is some silk flowers (I thought some red geraniums looked the most realistic) some desert florist foam, a little florist gum or hot glue, and clippers.  After clipping all the flowers off the bunch I just "glued" or in my case put some florist gum in the bottom of the canister to hold the desert foam. Arrange your flowers starting with the longest stem in the middle of the arrangement and work outward. Next I just made a bow out of the checked ribbon and attached to the canister with a little hot glue. It needed a little something else and I tried some faux ivy but ended up thinking the lacey looking faux boxwood looked best.
I printed out another rooster on canvas and added the ribbon as I did on my previous post.  I took several photos and always the print looks very white but in fact it is off-white as the frame is and has a much warmer look in person. To make the ribbon work with the off white color of the frame and the print take a quick dry pen in brown and run it gently down the length of the ribbon to make it look a little aged.
I think the combination of the two items perks up my kitchen with a nice pop of color and both items give a little nod to Mackenzie-Childs without the giant price tag!

Resource

Canister & photo frame, Hobby Lobby
Silk Flowers & Faux greenery, florist supply shop
Desert foam, Michaels
Check ribbon, Amazon
Rooster Graphic, Graphics Fairy

Friday, January 17, 2014

VOLUNTEERISM GOOD FOR THE SOUL




And the winner is................As many of you who follow this blog know, I volunteer for Alzheimer's Idaho (local grassroots organization). I had plans on a couple of items I was going to donate for the upcoming Chili Cook Off event auction.  I then received a call requesting that I make a garland type award for the winner "with leaves and chili peppers." Not wanting to say "no" to my friend and after sleepless nights this is what I came up with. Here are the instructions:

1. Cut a length of garland - I just tied the ends firmly together with ribbon and then inserted a little hot glue to make sure it would stay tied.
2. Next I took red ribbon that had the look of an award (was sort of braided on the top) and sewed it to the yellow grosgrain ribbon.
3. Then loosely wrap the ribbon around the garland and tie it off at the ends, once again a little tack of hot glue to make sure it stays secure.
4. With hot glue at appropriate (= side by side) intervals hot glue peppers to the garland.
5. Make bows out of the red raffia and attach them with hot glue to the tops of the peppers to finish off the look.  
6. For the winner "ribbons," I used Corel Draw and created the image using the Alzheimer's Idaho logo, the Winner, and the Chili Cook Off circle.
7.Printed out on plain paper the circles and then using a lami-label laminated them and then cut them out with about 1" extra around the edge of the circle, remove the label back. Glued a metal circle (found in the jewelry section of craft store) onto the laminated front of the circle. Once dry trim to the edge of the metal & apply construction paper to the back of the label with hot glue to finish.
8. Using the yellow grosgrain ribbon tie three ribbons to the bottom of the garland and then using hot glue on the paper backs attach them to the ribbon. Cut a swallow tail on the ends of the ribbons and done!




For the auction simple project. Purchased ceramic frame, added the rooster graphic which I printed out on canvas and added a ribbon. Ribbon was made to look a little "aged" by using the side of a quick dry pen, just whisk it across the ribbon length-wise in long strokes. Add the ribbon with hot glue. Packaged the frame in a wooden crate but first I put some glue on the slats and laid down a layer of excelsior for a "chicken coop" look, wrapped in cellophane, tied with the same ribbon and added a tag stating that the print was on canvas and that the image was from an 1854 Poultry Book.

 Last item for the auction pretty straight forward - large basket with excelsior filled with Italian items, pastas, pasta sauce, big can of olive oil, biscotti, cheese grater, spaghetti bowl, bruchetta, olives, pasta cook book, etc.  Very heavy so had to be a substantial basket. Wrapped well in cellophane, added ribbons the color of the Italian flag and two tags with a graphic of the shape of Italy, one stating "Italian Basket" and the other with a list of all the contents.

Good luck to Alzheimer's Idaho with their upcoming fundraiser!

Resource

Basket, World Market
Cellophane, hobby & specialty stores and online, Ebay a good source
Excelsior, hobby and craft stores
Frame, Hobby Lobby
Ribbon, Hobby Lobby
Raffia, Hobby Lobby
Rings, Hobby Lobby
Black & White Ribbon, online
Graphic, Graphic's Fairy
Draw Program, CorelDRAW Home and Student Suite X6 - 3 Users
Lami-label available at FexEx-Kinko's stores
Wooden Crate, Panibois


Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

THE VALENTINE ENTRY TABLE



The entry no longer looks bare after all the Christmas loveys are gone and put away for another year.  A group of old and new things. The lanterns are new and were both blog posts. The rag garland on the antique frame is new as I had a wooden garland but was afraid it would scrape on the sides of the antique mirror so I opted for the soft rag garland.  A little Anna Lee and my funky pine cone folk art doll on the ends with some old treasured pottery items (demitasse cups used as candle holders) in front and the love sign, all treasures from previous years. The framed valentine sentiment is a after Christmas $3 frame that had a plaid bow which I removed and added a red bow with little dots.
 The cachepot and the lamp are the two items that are always on the entry table.  I had no idea when I bought the cachepot for this table that I would love it so much as I just put in some branches and as the season changes so does the arrangement.

Same cachepot but at Christmas, a candle ring around the bottom, a pretty ribbon, preserved cedar and miscellaneous Christmas greenery.  So easy to make the season changes and with a good outcome or at least I always like the outcome.

Resource

Ribbon on Valentine cachepot, Winnard ribbon, Dupioni w/mini check
Rag Garland, Michael's (this year, use your coupon)
Anna Lee dolls, gift stores, Marshall's and online
Polka Dot Frame, Home Goods
Red Dot Ribbon, Hobby Lobby
Lanterns, see previous posts with all instructions
Cachepot, from a local garden store

Thank you for stopping by.