Friday, May 31, 2013

Scrap Fabric Pennant Banner

Anyone else have a huge stack of fabric scraps just waiting for a project? 

I don't really even sew that much, but I still have quite the stash of scraps building up. (Sure, I do dabble in sewing a tad--an occasional bag or something like that. These aprons were a HUGE undertaking for me.) I'd thought about some sort of patch-work project (I have a real thing for patchwork--I'm still saving my old corduroy for that), but nothing specific was in mind. 

Then I visited my friend Sally for one of her kids' birthdays, and I saw this super-fun pennant banner she made with fabric. I instantly knew that THAT was the project for my scraps--I'd be making myself a banner with all my fabric scraps for sure!

This was a really easy project, and I think the results turned out great--cute, kind of whimsical, a bit of a vintage-vibe. It was so cute that I made 2 banners, each about 20 feet long. I used it for a "Welcome Summer Vacation!" celebration when my daughter got home from the last day of school. I have high-plans of using them for a summer ice cream party and birthdays and whenever we feel like we could use a little pizazz! 

So, to make the banner, I first purchased a spool of thin rope. I know my friend Sally said she used some string she bought at the dollar store. Pretty much anything will work! I just happened to see this hot pink string one day at CAL Ranch and thought it'd be super cute for this project. 

Then I used my handy-dandy, newly-acquired rotary cutter (why oh why did it take me so long to get one of these? The job seriously went 10 times quicker. Maybe 100 times. I soooo wish I had it for the rag rug!) to cut out triangles of fabric.
 Once I had a ton of triangles, I started laying them out all across my living room so I could make sure and spread them out evenly. Once I decided I had enough, I started sewing the fabric triangles onto the rope. Here, I also know my friend Sally used glue to just glue them on. Easy-peasy.
In the end though, I decided to use the zig-zag stitch and sew my triangles to the rope. Also easy.

And that's it! Like I said, really easy. Kind of a no-brainer craft (it's so nice to do those sometimes). :)

I will say though, it didn't use up as much of my fabric scraps as I thought it would! Now I still have enough for all sorts of projects plus these cute pennant banners.

What kind of projects do you have in mind for your fabric scraps?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

I needed to bring desserts to a church function the other day, which is always a fun opportunity to bake something.
I wanted to bring something pretty and colorful. Something that you could easily pick up and eat. Something fruity and summery--not chocolate or heavy at all.  So I scoured the web and decided on this lovely little twist on the classic lemon bars. Who could resist a raspberry lemonade bar?

And they did not disappoint! They were exactly what I was after--pretty and colorful and summery (raspberry lemonade screams summertime to me). And, of course, they were delicious. :)

Definitely a keeper recipe. Especially since I someday fully plan on having a large raspberry patch!
For these ones I just used frozen raspberries, but I'm sure that fresh raspberries during the summer harvest would be wonderful.

 Wouldn't they be fun for the 4th of July with blueberries on top? 
Or for a fun, summertime tea party? 
Or a neighborhood get together? 
Or outdoor BBQ?
The possibilities are endless. :)

Raspberry Lemonade Bars
Original Recipe from Sophistimom
Click here to print

for the crust:
9 T. (1 stick + 1 T.) butter
¼ c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

for the filling:
12 oz (heaping 2 c.) frozen raspberries, thawed
1 to ¾ c. sugar depending on your taste
c. lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
2 T. lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
3 egg whites
1 egg
c. flour
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they've cooled. 

2. To make the crust: Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until slightly golden brown. 

3. To make the filling: Put the raspberries in a fine mesh sieve and press the berries through (this removes the seeds) into a large bowl. Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for about 30 minutes. 

4. Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours to cooled completely. If you let them cool overnight, they're even better!  

5. Decorate as desired. I used a raspberry and mint sprig. Powdered sugar would be easier and also delicious. Perhaps a dollop of whipped cream?

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to make a tee-shirt necklace

So, I had a fun new craft in mind, and I went a little crazy. Couldn't stop with just making one.

 photo tshirtnecklacecollage_zps660079bb.jpg

In fact, I had a rather difficult time stopping after 5. :)
These tee-shirt necklaces were so fun to make!
They were very easy, kind of a fun no-brainer craft, and yet they were also engaging and allowed for endless amounts of creativity. I had fun whipping out my old beads and rummaging through them, thinking of things I could do. I had been saving both my kids' old tee-shirts and my old tee-shirts and had lots of crafts in mind, but I'm glad I finally settled on these.

I've even worn them a few times and received a number of complements on them. I think they are the perfect look for summer--kind of funky and fun, casual yet capable of jazzing up an outfit lickity-split.

Have any old shirts laying around? Well, you should make yourself a necklace! (or in my case, five necklaces).

Here's a visual step-by-step for how to make your own tee-shirt necklace by using one of my daughters stained knit turtlenecks (which, by the way, I found that children's knit shirts were a better size to use than adult shirts--I liked the length of necklace they produced):

To make the necklaces,
1) First, cut off the bottom hem and the top of the shirt just under the armpits, leaving just the tubal part in the middle.
2) Cut about 3/4-inch strips from one side of the shirt to the other. You can cut them completely through or leave them connected at one end as shown in the image. I did it both ways; both work perfectly well.
3) Stretch the fabric as shown in the image.
4) Embellish as desired! You can add beads, tie knots, cut some and braid them together, wrap scrap tee-shirt fabric around to make fabric "beads." The possibilities are endless.

One "problem" I came across was the seams that are present on the sides of the shirt body. They don't stretch and curl nicely like the rest of the fabric and just plain look bad. It was a little tricky at times to hide these seems, but mostly what I did was to take scrap tee-shirt fabric and wrap it around the area with the seam. It worked well to hide the seem and it looks kind of cool. :) To secure the fabric, I used fabric glue or a good all-purpose glue.

Here are the necklaces I made:

1. For this necklace, you can see where I hid the seems by using fabric wrapped around them (one either side of my neck). Before wrapping the seams up in the fabric though, I cut 3 strips and braided them together. I secured the free end of the braid to the seam-area of the other fabric loops with some glue and then wrapped the whole area with a piece of scrap tee-shirt fabric.

I also made a matching bracelet by using the sleeve of the shirt in the same way I did the body.

 photo tshirtnecklace11web_zps904f16a3.jpg

2. This necklace is one of my favorites. For this one, I use a shirt where the knit is going in the opposite direction (non-standard direction). When you cut it, it doesn't stretch so you get these wider strips that were kind of ruffly. I added some old recycled-glass beads to it.

 photo tshirtnecklace8web_zps854a86ca.jpg

3. This necklace was kind of fun too. You can see near the bottom where I wrapped the seams up with the scrap fabric. This time though I added these brushed-gold metal loops to the side for some variety.

 photo tshirtnecklace18web_zps391d561f.jpg

4. For this necklace, I tied lots of knots into each loop of fabric then tied them all together at the top. I purposely left this necklace extra long so you could wear it long or wrap it around your neck twice for a different look.
 photo tshirtnecklace22waysweb_zps2f17816a.jpg

5. And, last but not least, the red necklace. Also one of my favorites. For this one I tied three different braids, each a different length. Then, with the rest of the strips of fabric I made them all different lengths to create kind of a cascading effect. It seemed too plain still, so several times along the length of the necklace I wrapped (and used glue to secure) a piece of tee-shirt fabric around it to make a fabric "bead" or lump or whatever you want to call it. Either way, I like it. :)

 photo tshirtnecklace21web_zps576892c7.jpg

And there you have it! A really fun craft to do that results in something fun to wear.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Carrot Cheesecake Cake

So I was thinking, and scheming, and searching for the perfect dessert to make this Easter, and I had a thought....
 I love Carrot Cake. It's delicious.
 I also really love cheesecake.
Carrot Cake is even better with Cream Cheese Frosting.
And I made a hypothesis (as my son would say)....

Of course I had to test it out!
So I gave Jaime a call (knowing she had a perfect carrot cake recipe) and I got to work.
I baked 2- 9 inch carrot cake layers and one 9 inch cheesecake
and stacked them up!

Then I slathered it all with cream cheese frosting and added a few carrot curls on top.

And I was right! It was the perfect dessert!
Actually I have to admit, when I finished taking pictures we dug in right away and I was a little bit disappointed. It was good, maybe even really good, but not superb.  However, when I had a slice the next day (after it sat in the fridge over night) I completely changed my mind. Something about letting it set made all the flavors start to meld together and everything was now the perfect texture and temperature. SOOOOOO GOOD! So, if you are planning on making this for an event, special day, etc, I HIGHLY recommend making it the day before (which is usually easier on the schedule anyway). 

Here's the recipe, just in case you want to make your own :)

Carrot Cheesecake Cake


  Two (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
 pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. You're going to bake the cheesecake in a water bath, so move the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and place a large pan inside (larger than your 9" cheesecake pan anyway). Line your 9" springform pan with parchement paper. In a large bowl beat cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add sugar and salt and mix for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each one. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream, and vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set in large pan in the oven and poor hot water into pan, making your water bath. (If you're worried about your springform pan leaking, you can wrap the bottom and sides with a piece of foil before putting it in the oven.) Bake for 45 minutes. Cheesecake should be set to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. When cooled completely, place the pan in the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze partially or completely. This makes it easy to handle when you stack the layers. 

Carrot Cake

1 c. pecans or walnuts, coursely chopped and toasted
2 ½ c. grated carrots
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9x2-inch cake pans.  Toast the nuts for about 8 minutes. 
Peel and grate carrots.
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.   In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until batter is thick, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Fold in the carrots and chopped nuts. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack. After 5-10 minutes, invert the cakes on a wire rack and remove the pans. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese til smooth. Add butter and mix well. (I like the cream cheese and butter to be slightly chilled. If it is room temperature the frosting tends to be too soft.) Gradually add sugar, mix well. Add vanilla. 

Assembling the cake

      Place one carrot cake layer on a serving plate. Layer the cheesecake on top and then the second carrot cake layer. (No need to put frosting between layers.) The cheesecake layer may be slightly larger than the cake layers (cakes shrink more when they cool), if this is the case trim the sides of the cheesecake layer off so everything is even. Now frost your cake! I like to do a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting all over the cake that stops cake crumbs from showing in your frosting), let it set in the fridge for a little while, then swirl on a nice thick coat of frosting. Keep cake refrigerated when not serving. For carrot curls, make thin slices of carrot using a peeler. Set carrot slices in a bowl of water in the fridge for an hour or so. Remove from water, dry, and curl slices around your finger and add to top of cake.  If adding carrot curls, do so the day you're serving the cake so they still look nice and fresh. Enjoy!

Wow, that was a beast of a recipe. I know it looks long, but its worth every second!


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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Seven Scrumptious Strawberry Recipes

It's that time of year!!! Strawberry time!
Who doesn't love strawberries? (well apparently some people don't--like my 3-year-old. go figure)
But for the most part, everyone agrees that strawberries are just scrumptious.  And this time of year, they are fresh, (more likely to be) local, and (relatively) inexpensive. I just picked up a big 'ol container full at Costco and can't wait to eat them. :)

It's hard to improve on just a fresh strawberry, but here are some of our favorite strawberry recipes we've posted about her at Everyday Art. Looking through them makes me realize that I've failed to put some of my favorite recipes up! So, someday soon hopefully you'll see posts with my favorite Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and also my Strawbery-Pepper-Pecan jam! YUM!

But, you won't be missing much with these great recipes. Take your pick of recipes and enjoy!

1. The Healthy, Vegan, Raw Strawberry Oat-Almond Bars. I could go for one of those right about now....

2. Rustic Strawberry Cake. Perfect with a dollop of whip cream on top. 

3. Fun, Fancy, Strawberry Puff Pasty. That creamy layer? Oh, it's delicious--cream cheese, sour cream, orange zest...yum!

4. Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. Can't go wrong here! Love this on bread, ice cream, crackers or, um, just with a spoon.

5. Strawberry Scones. Not even a little bit healthy but oh so decadent and delicious!

6. Of course we had to include Fresh Strawberry Pie. It's a classic for a great reason. This link has several versions--take your pick. 

7. Breakfast Banana Split. Healthy, yummy, and just something new and fun to do.