Thursday, March 27, 2014

Double-Dipped Rubber Cement Dyed Eggs


My husband will attest that when it comes to dying Easter eggs, I get a bigger kick out of doing it than my kids. Sometimes we even do it a few times in the Easter season. Sometimes... :)
And pretty much every year we try something new. 

These babies were from last year, and I have to tell you, I think they might be my all-time favorites. Certainly the most colorful and bright!

Ever try using rubber cement on your Easter eggs? Well, this could be a great year to give it a go!


 The concept is simple--just like using a wax crayon to exclude the dye, wherever the rubber cement is, the dye will not be.
Only this time, unlike the wax crayon, you can rub off the rubber cement and "double dip" if you'd like more color.

 How-to:

So, to do this, you will need hard-boiled eggs, egg dye and a bottle of rubber cement. 

Swirl the rubber cement on the eggs. We swirled it and painted it and whatever we felt like. Then comes the difficult part: you have to let it dry. We had other eggs on which we did not use the rubber cement so that the kids had something to do while they waited because it does take awhile. 

Once the rubber cement has dried, go ahead and lower them into your dye.

When they have soaked up as much color as you would like, take them out of the dye and once again let them dry. After they have dried this time you are free to rub off the rubber cement and they should look something like this:

 

I love how the contrast between the white and dyed parts of the egg really make the colors POP! So fun. 

We however, did not feel finished with our dying experience, so we double dipped them. :)

We took each of the eggs above and then put them into another color. The key for success seemed to be to put them in a lighter color than what they were already dyed. 

For example, the red egg above was put into a bowl of yellow dye to make the egg seen below:

 

One of my favorite combinations though was to take a purple egg and then place it into the blue. 
But truly, the possibilities are endless.

I hope you enjoy dying Easter eggs this year. :)



Monday, March 24, 2014

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe


I'm always in the market for healthy-ish treats for my girls. I love to bake and so does my 4-year-old, but I don't really think baking a batch of cookies every other day is such a great idea. Yummy, but not good considering my total lack of self control when it come to freshly-baked cookies. Kind of defeats the purpose of all this exercising I've been doing lately.
Anyway, so we bake a lot of muffins and quick breads too. 
Then I saw this recipe for homemade soft pretzels in Country Living magazine (thanks Sally) and knew that that was right up our alley. :)

Such a fun, new thing to bake! 
Not to mention delish-o to eat. :)

 

 Something about making these pretzels was particularly satisfying. 

I mean, you take these worthless balls of dough.



Then you shape them in cute pretzel shapes, which was kind of fun. My girls sure got a kick out of it. 


Then you boil the pretzels in baking soda water, which was just plain different and fun to do. We were curious about it though and so did a little experiment and discovered that boiling them in the baking soda water was completely necessary. Without that step, they were pretty much just rolls. With the step, they had this awesome brown crust and super chewy middle. Looked better and tasted better.
But, I couldn't let it rest. WHY did it do that????
Well, thanks to great bloggers out there we now know why. :) Julie from Savvy Eats had a whole week about soft pretzels. In fact, she is pretty awesome and has all sorts of great recipes AND great food information! Here is what she says about it: 

"The reasoning for this is really two-fold.
First, the boiling. Dropping each pretzel into boiling water for about 30 seconds makes the interior of the pretzel quickly “puff” and begins the crust formation. If you don’t boil, you’ll lose out on the chewiness you’d expect from a pretzel…and that would just be sad, now wouldn’t it?
The other reason it is worth it? The baking soda.
The baking soda is what gives the pretzels their brown and shiny crust and their distinctive flavor.
Remember the acid-base scale from back in your chemistry classes?
pH-Scale.jpg
Well, water alone is typically pretty neutral. But when you add baking soda? It moves way over to the alkaline or basic side of the scale.
And when this happens, the browning reactions that makes a soft pretzel a soft pretzel can happen more rapidly.
So yes, you can skip the “boiling in water + baking soda” step. But beware: if you do, you’ll lose out on the texture, flavor and appearance of the pretzel. So it won’t really be a soft pretzel."


 And there you have it, from and expert.  Thanks Julie. :)

Alls I can say is, it certainly did make for a pretty brown crust, so make sure and boil them!
Then, pull them out, brush on some egg whites and sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for a bit longer and they are good-to-go.


We ate ours with a whole assortment of mustards (we are kind of mustard people around here....we had 5 different kinds in our fridge!) and then I also made the wonderful brown-sugar rosemary dijon mustard the recipe came with, which was delightful. 
All this talk just makes me want to eat another!


 Here is the link to the recipe on the Country Living website, but I'll type it out real quick for you here too. :)


Pretzels with Brown-Sugar Rosemary  Dijon

Pretzels
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 5 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus at least another 1/2 c. for kneading
  • 3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fine salt, plus a pinch for egg whites
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
  • 6 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
Mustard
  • 4 Tbsp. light-brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 2/3 c. Dijon mustard

Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon honey, yeast, and 2 1/4 cups warm water (100 degrees F), and stir until yeast dissolves; let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flours and fine salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, yeast mixture, and remaining honey until a shaggy dough forms. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on your work surface; then transfer dough to surface and knead, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour as needed, until dough becomes supple and elastic.
  3. Coat a large, clean bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Line 2 baking pans with parchment and set aside. Punch dough down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into twenty-four 1 1/2-ounce pieces (each slightly larger than a golf ball) and keep covered. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into a 14-inch-long rope. Bring both ends together and twist twice near the top. Fold ends down so they sit atop the bottom loop of dough; press ends into loop to form a pretzel. Transfer to a prepared pan and repeat with remaining dough. Let pretzels rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring 6 cups water and baking soda to a rapid simmer. Working in batches, poach pretzels for about 15 seconds on each side. Return to prepared pans. Lightly beat egg whites with a pinch of fine salt. Then lightly brush pretzels with the egg-white mixture and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until pretzels are deep brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the mustard: Stir light-brown sugar and finely chopped rosemary into Dijon mustard.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Home Update: Painted Stone Fireplace

Well I painted my stone fireplace as well!

I figured that I already had all the supplies and that it really shouldn't be that difficult or time-consuming. And I hoped it would go a long way to updating our dated stone fireplace. 

I think I was right on all accounts--painting the stone fireplace definitely didn't take long and definitely updated the over all look of the fireplace and the whole room.



I hesitated for a bit on painting the shelf. I had no problem painting the bathroom cupboards because the wood was ugly and not a nice solid wood. But the shelf was attractive and solid wood. But, in the end, I just decided it would look better painted, and it would match the rest of the room since the rest of the room had white trim.
So, followed the same procedure as I did in the bathroom cupboards: de-gloss, oil-based primer, then a few coats of latex enamel paint.

Then for the stone. That part I was nervous about, but I'm glad it turned out well. 

Here's a mid-way photo I took late at night when I was working on it. 



Here's what I did to give the rocks a subtle white-wash. 
1. Gather supplies. I found an old rag and a sponge brush.  I put garbage bags down around the bottom in case any paint spilled (which, of course, it did).
2. Prepare whitewash. I diluted the same paint that I used on the fireplace shelf (and on the bathroom and kitchen cupboards) 1:1 with water. I mixed 1 cup of paint with 1 cup of water in an old 32-oz yogurt container. 
3. Prepare stones. Before brushing on the whitewash, I dusted the stones and made sure they were relatively clean. 
4. Paint. Then, with the sponge brush in one hand and the old rag in the other, I dabbed the whitewash on with the brush and stopped runs with the rag. Anytime it appeared that perhaps too much paint was going on in one area, I would scrub it a bit with the rag. 
And that's it! I worked from one end of the fireplace to the other. Painting the stone took less than an hour for sure.



Anyway, I'm pleased with the way it turned out. And since I already had the supplies, and it didn't even take an hour, definitely a project worth doing for a little home update. :)




Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Hair Clips: Crocheted Spring Flowers

I mentioned a month or so ago that I recently learned to crochet (and a bit). I made some cute hearts for Valentine's day

Well, wanting to keep my skills up a bit and not forget everything I learned, and realizing that my girls don't have a ton of green clothes, I decided to whip up some cute green hair clips that they could wear for St. Patrick's Day.


I searched around a bit and found a pattern I was going to try (a real basic one because my crochet skills are REAL basic). I liked the easy pattern by By Helen.

Of course, then I remembered that dear Emily had made my girls some ages ago and posted that pattern ages ago. So, here's Emily's pattern which is also great and similar. I love the sweet, homey feel of these crochet flower hair clips. They're just sweet. :)

I liked the layered effect with these. For the bottom flower I used regular, worsted-weight yarn and size H crochet hook, then for the smaller flower on top I used baby-weight yarn and a size E crochet hook. 

And I realize that you can't REALLY see the hair clips well in this next picture, but look how cute my daughter's dimples are! I can't get over it. I love them. I remember right after she was born how my husband said, "It's a girl...and she has dimples." 




Happy St. Patrick's Day to you! I hope you don't get pinched. :)



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Paint Bathroom Cupboards

Do you ever get super motivated to get something done? I mean, out of no where, bam! done! 
Well, it happens to me sometimes. I always have little lists of projects (some mental, some written down) that may or may not ever get done. Just lists of things that I think would be nice to do--fun projects with the kids, holiday things, house things, yard things, etc. I like lists, what can I say?

Well, painting our bathroom cupboards has been on my mental list for a good long while now. I never actually wrote this one down because I didn't actually want to do it. Not at all. 
We painted our kitchen cupboards and while I LOVE the results and it was so worth it, it was also without a doubt the WORST most annoying project I have ever undertaken. 
Well, I wised up this time and read about how to do it better, and now I can say that it was so not fun because we did it wrong! 

I was looking for a good project to do while my husband was working nights and decided to just read a bit about it. Once I did, I was convinced that was the way to go. Loaded the kiddos up and bought the supplies, then when they were sleeping, I went to town and painted the cupboards. 
And most fun of all, it was a surprise for hubby. :) What a great surprise it was too! 
 
Painting the bathroom cupboards was easy and fast.Who knew it, but fellow blogger gals out there where more helpful and accurate than the workers at an un-mentioned big box store, because they certianly led me astray with the kitchen, but Kate,aka Centsational Girl did not lead me astray--what a great tutorial she posted! Seriously, you should check it out--she went all-out on her bathroom redo and it is wonderful.

Anyway, long story short, I did it right this time, and painting the bathroom cupboards was a one-evening job that was inexpensive and super worth it. 

Bathroom #1:


And bathroom #2:

So worth it! 

I love how the white cupboards make the rooms like bigger, brighter and cleaner. Not to mention not-so-outdated. I mean, they still have along ways to go to be up-to-date and "nice" but wow, the paint has greatly improved them. 

And all done in only one evening! ONE I tell you. 
Well, I should say one NIGHT, it was so late that it was early by the time I was finished, but whatever. Worth it. 

So, got any cupboards in mind you want to paint? Well, read on if you want to know how. :)