Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kissy, Kissy little faces

Auntie love!
As soon as I saw this picture I knew we had to try and recreate it with the Little.

Little just turned 6 months so I thought this might be a good time to try to recreate this photo, or at least practice. I've quickly learned that it is NOT easy to photograph babies. Not only do they move and wiggle a lot, they don't always smile on cue. Nor do they like to wait for the "photographer" to wait for just the right moment. Not really in the mood to try and do this on the floor like the original photo, we thought we would try just holding her up. It took a few tries but this was the best from our first attempt. It was getting close to Little's bed time so she was getting a bit cranky, but I love how it turned out regardless and I think we'll definitely try this again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Pin - Mini Vampire Pumpkins

Hello Pinterest/Craft-aholics!  This is Shirley over at Golden Dreemz guest posting for my great friend, Penelope.  As she mentioned a couple of posts back, we are both addicted to Pinterest and plan to get together for a nerdy pin-aholics meetup one of these days.  She also mentioned that my house is currently in the throws of a serious remodel, but that hasn't stopped me from getting my pin-on!

I just love the holidays and there are so many great ideas on Pinterest for Halloween and X-mas.  So what does someone who can't really support decorating her house in the middle of a remodel decide to do?  Decorate miniature pumpkins instead!  They are much more manageable and I can just give them away after if my toddler would only let me.

This pin was originally the bright idea of Martha Stewart.  I had no idea she had a funny bone.  I mean look at those pumpkin faces!  I combined that idea with this Pin and voila!  Larry, Curly, and Moe were born.  It was super easy.  Let's get started:

Mini pumpkins
Plastic vampire fangs ($1 at Party City)
Red/Black map tacks or pins (available at fabric stores)
Pumpkin carver or knife
Regular Spoon (to scoop out the pumpkin guts, the spoons that come in the kits tend to be to big to fit in the mouth opening)
A bag to toss the pumpkin guts
*Optional:  black construction paper and scissors

I probably spent less than $10 to make Larry, Curly, and Moe.


1. Clean off your pumpkin, place the fangs at the spot you'd like the mouth and mark each of the four corners where the cut will be made.  *Hint, it's better to start smaller and then make the hole bigger depending if you want the fangs clenched or more open.  Martha Stewart provides a template, but really it's just a rectangular oval.

Clenched Fangs
2.  Cutout the shape of the rectangular oval to your desired size.  You may have to place the fangs in the hole several times to gauge how big you'd like the mouth opening.  If you have a dog, he may enjoy the loose pumpkin bits as a tasty Halloween snack.

Qori gets his snack-on!

3.  Add the map tack eyes.  They seem to look funnier if they align with the width of the mouth.

4.  Take your spoon and scoop out the pumpkin guts and place them in your plastic bag.

Diego the little helper

5.  Insert the fangs and adjust.

6.  Optional:  Free-hand draw a mustache on black construction paper.  Cut out the mustache and tack onto your pumpkin.

7.  Stand back and admire your pumpkins!

So far, everyone who has seen these pumpkins have giggled at the sight.  They are super easy and fun to make, especially if you have a little helper! Don't forget about those pumpkin guts!  You can toast the seeds in the oven for yet another tasty Halloween snack that's more "human" approved.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Did someone say Challenge?

As I mentioned in my 'About Me' this is not my first rodeo in blogsphere. I have had many blogs on a variety of topics and almost every topic had a challenge and I did at least one each time. Now, I don't like to consider myself competitive at all, although I'm sure some people may beg to differ, but I do love a challenge! So when I came across this Pinterest Challenge I was like "NO WAY! This is so cool, I'm all over this shit!" And here we are. So for anyone out there who has happened upon this page, go, check it out, NOW and enter!

Pinterest made her do it too!

Little did I know when I discovered Pinterest that my good friend Shirley  at Golden Dreemz was already addicted. We started to compare notes, share pins and even make plans to do nerdy craft stuff together. We're still working on the last part. See her house is in the middle of some major reconstruction and mine, well mine is just not suitable for company at the moment. But I'm getting there, because we have shit to make!
Even though we have yet to manage a crafting date, we've both managed to get our pinsperation on - yes I totally just made up that nerdilicous word. My crafty self is a bit nerdy, so what?
As I was saying...I have taken the easy route and done some baking because for me baking is relaxing and easy and fun and well, I have people who are knocking on the door demanding treats. Shirley on the other hand has tried her hand at news print nails and a super awesome tie shirt for her guitar playing son! And I know she has a few other things up her sleeve. So stay tuned because rumor has it that she might just pop over here and share her craftiness in as a guest blogger! How freaking cool is that? My own guest blogger.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homemade Caramels

Once again my sister found a treat and insisted that I make it. Now, I already mentioned that I love to bake so it wasn't like she had to twist my arm. And I do love a challenge. You see, I'm not horribly domestic but I can cook and I have mad skills when it comes to baking, and if given a choice I'd spend more time in my vanity than in the kitchen, but with that said I love me a kitchen gadget almost as much as I love a new make-up brush, and I spend more time than people think in the kitchen. Why am I telling you this? Well, because these caramels required a CANDY THERMOMETER! I always wanted a candy thermometer but they kind of intimidated me. But I HAD to make these caramels, so I broke down and bought one. Can I just tell you that these things are SUPER easy to use and so NOT intimidating. At all! They're actually pretty awesome and I'm now wondering how I've made it this far without one. 

And now onto the candy making........
1 C Butter
2 1/4 C Packed brown sugar (I use light golden brown)
1 (14 oz) Can sweetened condensed milk (you can use regular or Fat Free, really no one knows the difference)
1 Dash salt (1/8 tsp if you don't have a set of spoons with a dash measurement)
1/2 C Light (1/3 less calories than regular) corn syrup (original recipe called for 1C but I ran out and it was just fine with a 1/2 C)
1 tsp. Vanilla
Candy Thermometer
  • Grease an 8x8  or 9x9 inch pan (I used  glass 8x8 Pyrex)
  • Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Add sugar and salt
  • Blend in corn syrup and condensed milk, stirring CONSTANTLY
  • Keep stirring until the candy thermometer reads 245 degrees or Soft Ball
  • Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour into the greased pan
  • Let cool completely, (you can put it in the fridge overnight)
  • Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper

If you're wondering about that crazy looking mitt, its my oven mitt. My hand was starting to get a little too warm from the heat and the constant stirring. 


This image serves no real purpose. This is what your left with after pouring everything into your Pyrex. Think if it as the equivalent of the bowl that you get to lick. This will give you a little taste of what's to come. I will warn you now, TOTALLY ADDICTING! 

Look at the yummy ooey gooeyness

Caramel cooling. Waiting was agony. Pure agony I tell you!

Voila! Tasty treats! Now I realize mine did not turn out as pretty as the ones in the original post from A Piece of Cake, but presentation of food is not my forte, I'm still working on that. For now I'm going for a more natural and organic look. Think of each piece as a one of a kind piece of goodness!

My sister thought this was the perfect opportunity to introduce the little to a little taste of her future. It did not take long for her to realize that this was NOT strained carrots or green beans. She suddenly went from the calm little face you see above, "mmm this tastes yummy, what is this? Can I have some every day? I like candy, that's what this stuff is called right?" to this...

"Auntie give me candy NOW and no one gets hurt!" 

And then she took my camera and held it ransom. It was not pretty. 

So there you have it! Homemade caramel. Super easy. I honestly didn't look at the clock while stirring although I should have. I'm going to guess that it took approximately 20 minutes to get to Soft Ball. I suggest you let it cool overnight before cutting but if you have no patience then I would say let it cool 2-3 hours (based on your climate) before cutting and wrapping. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

The less Dangerous Bonafee "Danger" Pie

I'm not one for desserts but I LOVE to bake! When I first saw this picture below I may have drooled a little. Then my sister saw it (the one on Pinterest, not the other one who steals the caramels) and drooled all over herself and insisted that I make this tasty looking treat. 

After reading the ingredients I knew I had to try some options before making this for anyone, especially if I ended up liking it myself. So instead of just using what was listed I used all reduced fat ingredients. My dad didn't even notice and he HATES when I try and make something "healthy," he swears it makes him sick. I love when I can alter a recipe to make it a little less bad for you and no one ever knows the difference. 

Original Version's list of ingredients:
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 package of digestive biscuits or graham crackers
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small bar of chocolate
What I used: 
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 can Fat Free Condensed Milk (14oz)
  • 1 sleeve Reduced Fat Gram Crackers
  • 1 16oz container Fat Free Cool Whip
  • 1 stick of butter (you just cant replace butter in some recipes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A few twists of Trader Joe's Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee Bean Grinder (0 calories for 1/4 C)
After reading a few other blogs I found out that if you want a creamer caramel you should boil the can for 2-3 hours but if you want it thicker you boil it for 4 hours. I did not know this at the time of making the recipe, and as you can tell my sauce is thicker than the original picture. I think I actually boiled it for a bit more than 4 hours but it was fine, although next time I'm gonna go for 2 hours and see how it works. Since I like to bake alone its hard to document each step. Not the best pictures but between the original post and what I managed to take I think you get the idea that this is a pretty easy recipe that everyone should try at least once.

This is what a can of Fat Free Condensed Milk looks like after its been in a pot boiling for over 4 hours. Pretty cool huh?

Gram cracker crust before being baked. 

After being baked. 

 And not the fun begins. My attempt at recreating the original picture. 

With the FF Coop Whip topping.

A few twists of delicious Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean 

 And there is your less than dangerous "dangerous" pie. But remember it's still pie so don't go crazy and eat the whole damn thing. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Skulls and Cherries

I found Sublime Stitching back in 2005 while planning my wedding. I had these grandiose plans of making cutey t-shirts for the bridesmaids and maybe some hankies and all sorts of other things. I bought the starter kit (that is no longer available) that came with your choice of 4 patterns, some floss, needle, scissors and the loop (that's all I can remember).  I bought t-shirts and more floss. I'm telling you I had BIG plans. Well anyone who has planned their own, mainly DIY wedding knows that it is very time consuming to say the least, so needless to say things like  BM cards, invites, menus programs etc. took up most of my time and embroidery took a back burner. Fast forward to this year and my sister squeezes out a little and suddenly I thought to myself, "this little needs some awesome hip clothing that is NOT pink and just like everyone else!" She needs skulls and retro cherries and one of a kind onsies just for her. 
So I blew the dust off the old embroidery kit and decided to test my awesome skills that up until this point really only existed in my head. But thanks to Jenny at Sublime Stitching and her "This ain't your gramma's embroidery!™" I had no doubt I could do this. So with that said, here are the very first things I ever embroidered. Actually as of today the only things I've embroidered but I have a bag of like 5 other onsies and some other randomness that I need to get a move on because the little is getting BIG and its getting colder so she needs some spiffy long sleeve items to wear around the playground.

Who says skulls aren't baby friendly?
This skully is from Tattoo Your Towels with a slight alteration so that it didn't look too boyish. Instead of the skull crack I had the Mister draw a bow for me so that skully was more girly. 

In hindsight I should have had him draw the bow before I put the material on the loop and started embroidering but it was my first time. All in all I think it turned out pretty good. 

I decided to skip the lettering this time around because after a few stitches I realized that lettering will take a bit more practice and the skully looked pretty cool alone. I used a split stitch for the whole thing. Little O liked it too. 

After the skully project I decided to try a different material since the onsie was too stretchy. Plus it was getting warm and I thought the little should wear a dress. Since I knew this was going to be a new creative outlet I felt the need to buy a few more gadgets to make embroidery life easier (plus I just love gadgets). I ordered a Q-Snap and t-shirt stabilizer, which will definitely come in handy when I do the next onsie because it will keep it from stretching in the loop. The t-shirt stabilizer is also ideal for transferring the pattern onto dark material.

Who likes Cherries? 

When using the t-shirt stabilizer on dark fabric you actually have to leave the stabilizer on and stitch over it then gently tear it out after. The directions say to cut the stabilizer so that you can put the hoop over the stabilizer but I felt that doing that was wasting precious materials so I chose to cut the stabilizer to the size of the pattern and just leave it pinned while stitching and it worked out just fine. 

For the cherries I started with a split stitch to outline then went over with a satin stitch (like she shows on the 2nd balloon). Split stitch for the leaves and then a back stitch for the 3 little lines in the middle of the leaves.

Note to self and anyone else reading. When the directions say to not get the stabilizer wet, DON'T get it wet! It ends up sticking to the material and it took some effort to get that little spec off, but all in all it turned out pretty cute and the little loved it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I am a Bag Lady

I love to shop. My favorite shopping is shoe shopping then clothes then make-up and the list goes on. Sometimes I just want to shop and places like Target or CVS will suffice. Its not as fun to shop at those places but I do love a deal so it just adds a different level of challenge to the shop. The one bummer about shopping is trying to find a home for all the bags afterwards, especially those pesky plastic bags. Until I saw this and then this!

While we have an amazing kitchen and lots of cupboards we don't have a pantry or any sort of closet to keep all the bags and since I really like to recycle as much as possible I like to reuse bags whenever possible but after a while you end up with a mess of bags and a husband who doesn't fully understand why I can't just throw the bags away.

Here we have our little cabinet overstuffed with bags, both plastic and paper. But it was the plastic bags that seemed to keep growing and growing and growing.

Once I managed to dig out all the plastic bags I ended up with this pile. Which while it doesn't look like much it was a rather tall pile considering it was just empty plastic bags. But once I got started I realized those empty little bags take up A LOT of space with, I'm not even sure, air I guess because look how this mess turned into...

This nice and neat little pile of triangles. Shocking right? I know I was shocked too. What looked like a hundred bags was really only like 25 I think. I didn't actually count but they all fit very nicely in this...

A Costco sized dishwasher pellet container. Which you can see isn't much taller than my 15" MacBookPro. Actually I think its the same height I just have the screen tilted.

Now if anyone has some awesome space saving trick for the paper bags other than just folding them flat until we reuse then as our recycling bags, I'd love to hear it.