Thursday, July 29, 2010

Etsy Site Opens!

At the urging of many of you who have been super supportive of my new sewing efforts, I've opened an etsy site. Right now I just have some small clutch style wallets and one purse, but I do hope to move onto more purses, aprons and possibly some jewelry.

So for all of you who have said, I would buy one of those - now is your chance. I don't have all of the bags up, but try to add a couple everyday, so if you don't see one you like check back. Or I can make you a bag with specific material if I can get it.

And because I like pictures, I've included pictures of a few of my favorite bags below the jump.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vanilla & Whipped Cream

Vanilla and whipped cream are two things that can be really pricey at the grocery, but are also super easy to make. I made vanilla for the first time recently and finally used it to make whipped cream yesterday. It was easily the best whipped cream I have ever made. I'm attributing it to the homemade vanilla and thought since it was so good, I would have to share with all of you.

Making Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup 100 proof vodka
vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Glass jar with Lid

You can make as much as you'd like, but keep the ratio 3/4 cup of vodka to one split vanilla bean. Place the split vanilla bean in the jar and pour the vodka over it. Be sure the entire vanilla bean is covered in vodka. You screw the lid on tight and let it sit for one month. That's it. It will turn a very nice caramel color. You remove the beans, strain the vanilla (if any of the seeds are sitting at the bottom) and have some great vanilla.

If you dry out the vanilla beans they can still be used to make vanilla sugar. I haven't done that yet, but know that it can be done.

This picture is about two hours after I put it up, it gets a much deeper color before it's ready.

Making Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and mix together. Once everything is combined, place the bowl and what you're going to use to whisk it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This is not necessary, but I find that it helps it become whipped cream a bit faster. After that 30 minutes (or immediately if you'd like) you need to whisk it, whether by hand, handheld beaters or a kitchen aid, until it forms soft peaks.

If you're like I was when I first made whipped cream, you'll wonder what does that mean. Imagine what any whipped cream or even cool whip has looked and felt like when you've put your finger in it to taste some. It forms a soft peak when you pull your finger out.

Also, I can't tell you how long to whip it because it depends on the speed you use and how much you're making. However, I can warn you not to whip it too long. If you pass the point it will start to get thicker, almost like an icing and if you go past that it will turn into butter. And not yummy butter, but sweet vanilla butter - which I can tell you from experience is not very good.

So, that's how to make vanilla & whipped cream. Two easy things that everyone is impressed by when they hear you've made it at home. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Apple Crisp

While at my aunt's house for Sunday night dinner, I noticed she had an apple tree with tons of small green apples on it. They are either crab apples or granny smith, but I'm not 100% sure. So I picked a few dozen apples and brought them home.  I knew I had to find something to do with these fresh apples, especially since I knew I'd go back for more.

The first thing to come to mind was this amazing apple crisp a friend had brought over for dessert not too long ago. It had oatmeal in it and she served it with vanilla ice cream, so I had to figure out how to repeat this. And after looking at dozens of apple crisp recipes, this is what I came up with.

1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup melted butter
4 - 5 cups chopped apples (peeled)
1/2 cup white sugar
2-3 tbs of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. In one bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal and melted butter. In another bowl, mix together the chopped apples, white sugar and cinnamon. 
Layer half of the oatmeal mixture on the bottom of an 8" pan. Layer the apple mixture over that and finally, top with the remainder of the oatmeal mixture. Bake this for 45 minutes. The top should get golden brown.

It's a really simple recipe, but is really delicious. I suggest you serve this warm and with ice cream. Or do what I do and eat what's left over for breakfast. :)

Thrift Store Decorating

I know this is the first post in a while, but life took over and this blog had to take a back seat. But I'm already back into the swing of my housewife life and I have a project I did over the weekend that I wanted to share.

At my house, we are big fans of the thrift store. There is a really great one a short distance from where we live and we try to go there twice a week or so. This week we got some really great stuff that made a project that looked like it could cost around $80, but it only cost us $11.

This is what we got for $10.73. It was a halloween decoration, two pillows, a sheet and a thick blanket. We're using the halloween decoration for the big party we have every year, the pillows to decorate the guest room, the sheet for dish/dust rags and the thick blanket for the project I'm about to share with you. A great deal for all the use we're use we're going to get out of everything.

Using mostly recycled materials, I made a decorative headboard for the guest bedroom. I used old plywood from cabinets I had torn down in our kitchen (It's painted grey from a failed art project I had started last year), the thick blanket from the thrift store ($1.99) and upholstery quality material I purchased on sale at JoAnn's Fabrics ($9). To put this project together I used an upholstery staple gun to put this project together.

First, I folded and cut the thick blanket around the piece of plywood. I stapled it around the back of the board until it was secure. After that was finished, I cut the exterior material about 6 inches wider and taller than the plywood board.  I then folded the material over the board and the thick blanket and over itself so there would be no loose threads showing and stapled it very securely all around the board.

The final project turned out really great and was super cheap. Hinges or brackets can be used to attach this to either the bed frame or the wall. Currently, we're still in discussions as to which we're going to use. But I will keep you advised as to which way we go.

Below is how the guest room turned out. We used the decorative pillows to add to the eclectic feel we were going for in the room. The duvet cover on the bed was a previous thrift store find for $8. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's really nice. The blue sheet was turned into 28 dish rags and since we don't use paper towels at our house, it was a huge help. As you can see, it was a great deal for the $10.73 spent at the thrift store.

Click below the jump to see before and after pictures of the guest bedroom.