Sunday, March 24, 2013

Made It: Crayon Eggs

Can you guess what kind of Easter craft these might go into???  Oh right, I totally gave it away in the title...

Ever since I had gestational diabetes with my second baby, I've been a bit worried about my sugar intake, as well as my 3 year old's.  And there's nothing like a holiday to rake in the sugary treats!!  (I know it probably seems like this stance contradicts the last post, but those chocolates are actually very low in sugar!)

So I struggle to come up with an appealing Easter basket for my sweet boy that isn't just loaded with treats.  I'll probably put one or two in there, and I am quite sure he'll get his fill from relatives eager to give him good stuff, so you don't have to be worried that he's totally deprived.

Anyway!  Back to the craft.  I had been wanting to make this little cutie, but not entirely sure how.  Various websites advise either filling plastic egg halves with wax and sandwiching them together or using a certain jello egg mold.  I figured it would be next to impossible to find the mold (though it sounded much easier!) so I set out on a quest to my local thrift stores for old crayons and plastic eggs.  I did not find a single crayon in any of the 3 shops I checked, but I did find the egg mold!!!  UNBELIEVABLE!!!   Still had the tag on with instructions and everything.  So after first making my boy a few jello eggs...  I was ready to get started!

Step 1: peel and sort crayons

Step 2:  admire the rainbow

 Step 3: melt crayons.  I used clean tin cans in a water bath in my electric frying pan.  I don't know how other people do it, but I remember my mom using this method when she would make batiks when I was little.  Worked like a charm!  The only bad part was when I dropped a tiny piece of yellow crayon in the water bath and it started melting instantly.  I was worried I'd have to throw the frying pan away, but it looks as though I've managed to get all the wax off.  Phew!  You know how it is when your brother uses your mom's iron to wax his skis and then the iron forever after smells like ski wax?  Oh you don't?  Well, it's gross, and you don't want your pancakes smelling or tasting like melted crayon.  If that happens I suppose I'll have to toss it...

Step 4: gently and slowly pour melted crayon into molds.  I pinched each can into a sort of pouring spout to make this easier.  And it turns out that these molds are HUGE.  I thought for sure I had enough of each crayon to fill the molds, but none of them were much more than half full.  However, I think this is probably better.  A whole jumbo-sized crayon egg would be pretty tricky to draw with.

Step 5: pop those babies out and stick 'em in an egg carton.  Cute!  I think the reason some of them look a little funny is because of some residual oil left on them after I made the jello eggs.  I figured it would probably help make them come out easier, but it ended up almost preventing the wax from setting in those spots.

This is what the backs look like, which I think is almost as good.

Made It: The Best Chocolate Treat Ever

 Okay, so I totally fell off the wagon with the whole "one project per week for a year" idea.  Things happened.  I got a full-time teaching job and shortly after became pregnant, which means I then had a baby AS WELL AS a 3 year old.  Now my baby is 10 months old and my son will be 4 in a few months.  I don't necessarily have more time for projects, but I have all these projects burning up in my imagination.  I just gotta share 'em!!

Here's my current favourite:  Chocolate thin mints.  These babies have only 3 ingredients but are so delicious, impressive, and I like to think they are healthy.

1. Melt dark chocolate in the top of a double boiler.  I like to use the callebaut chunks, about 1-2 handfuls.

2. Spread over a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  I usually spray the sheet with water to keep the paper from moving around as I spread.  I also like the chocolate layers to be as thin as possible, which requires lots of spreading!  Refrigerate to set and cool for the next steps.

 3. Using the residual heat from the double boiler (but a different bowl), gently soften some coconut oil.  I used about 1 1/2 cups for this batch, but it all depends on the size of your cookie sheet and how thick you like the coconut oil layer.  I like it thick!  Add peppermint essential oil (or extract).  This batch turned out almost too peppermint-y, but usually about 20 drops is good.  When the coconut oil mixture is smooth and easy to stir, remove from water.

4. Pour over the chilled chocolate layer and quickly spread out until evenly spread and flat.  The coldness of the chocolate will harden the coconut oil layer, so work fast!  Refrigerate to set and cool.

5. Do another layer of chocolate for the top.  The tricky part is spreading it on the coconut oil layer without too much oil melting.  I still haven't figured this part out yet.  I think it's probably best to allow the chocolate to cool slightly after melting.

6. Refrigerate once more to set.  Cut into desired shapes.  If I'm feeling really lazy, I'll just break pieces off like chocolate bark and eat off the cookie sheet...

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Well, I'm afraid I haven't posted here in about 3 months.  In that time I have:

- Interviewed for a job
- Got the job (teaching full time - yay!)
- Discovered I was pregnant with baby #2
- Worked until I couldn't sleep at above job
- Enrolled my son in daycare
- Un-enrolled my son from daycare to stay home with papa
- Missed my boys terribly

What I have NOT done:

- any making of any kind.

Actually, that's not true.  We're trying to make most of our Christmas presents for family this year, so I have made a huge batch of mustard, some of my brother's infused salts, various chocolate barks, and an absolutely delicious batch of almond roca.  Hopefully more to come today.  And seeing as today is the first day of Christmas holidays for me, I wanted to jump back into it!!

Here's what I made today:

Nursing pads!!

Cost: $0
(just cut up a receiving blanket I barely used with baby #1.  This kid was so big, none of the commercial ones were any good to me, since he wasn't a spitter and I couldn't swaddle him in these.  Had to get my mom to make special big ones!)

What I did:

1) Fold blanket in half.  Trace out 8 circles ( really 16 because of the fold) using a 4-5 inch bowl as a guide.  Cut out.

2) Fold in half and sew a little dart in each one (from the center to one edge, about 15 mm at the widest point of the dart).  Cut off excess material from dart.

3) Layer 4 circles together, wrong sides facing in, and serge around the outside.

4) That's it!

This project seriously took me half an hour to complete and now I have 2 sets of nursing pads that I made from something I wouldn't have used anyway!!  I still have lots of fabric left in that first receiving blanket, so I'll probably make more, but I figured I should ease myself back into the whole crafting/making thing.  Wouldn't want to overdo it...  And besides, there are episodes of Glee to be caught up on ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Made It: Ketchup

I picked up 30 lbs of tomatoes the other day at a farm market, intending to can most of them, but I've been wanting to make some of my own ketchup for a while.  Since I had the bounty, and it seemed like more fun than simply canning these beauties, I decided to go for it. 

I took the photo with the wrap still on the tomatoes... that's why they look like that.

The recipe only calls for 2 lbs of fresh tomatoes, which didn't really seem like that much...  but there's a whole lot of other stuff in there!  Mostly onions, fennel, and celery.  And spices.  I used the recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie At Home book.  Cook the veggies down for a while...

Then add the tomatoes, fresh and canned (all fresh if you want to use different coloured tomatoes)

Cook it.

Then you whiz it up, put it through a strainer a couple times, add things like vinegar and brown sugar, cook it down to the right consistency, and bottle it in sterilized bottles.  Since I was canning stuff at the same time, I ended up canning the 2 small jars.  However, we've been using any excuse to eat this ketchup lately, and half the big bottle is already gone!  This ketchup is so wonderful - it's like a taste explosion!  I probably should have added a touch more vinegar, but it is still pretty amazing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My brother could probably make that...

I visited my brother at his house for the first time in years a few weeks ago, and found something amazing - herb-infused salts!  That he made himself!  This is not surprising, if you know my brother.  I recall a time when he was probably 16 or 17.  I was in the kitchen with him while he was cooking something.  Grinding herbs in the mortar & pestle.  He comes over to me at the table and says, "Smell this.  Do you think it needs more tarragon?"  I still don't know what tarragon smells like!  Anyway, this guy loves to cook in interesting ways.  

These salts are awesome because:
1) they're made with beautiful coarse sea salt
2) they're all in these lovely understated mason jars
3) they are SO easy
4) I wish I had thought of this

I'm pretty sure he just mixed up some salt with some fresh herbs.  One is rosemary and garlic (whole cloves), another is a poultry blend, and I'm not sure what the orange one is.  

If we had stayed longer, I would have loved to use some of this gorgeous salt in some way!  Even if it was just to spice up some eggs...  Yum!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Made It: Baby Bow Tie

Here's a super easy way to zazz up your little (or big) fella's next fancy outfit.  Make a bow tie!  Since most of Charlie's outfit was pretty plain (white & black) I figured we could go bold with the bow tie.  Because that's what it's for, after all!

I used this tutorial, which you should check out because she has beautiful photos as well as very easy to understand instructions!

First things first: cut out your fabric.  I sewed each piece into a tube, turned inside out, and pressed. 

Then, with the big bow piece, fold each edge into the middle to meet.  Sew in place using a zigzag stitch up the middle.  (See, this is why you need to see the real tutorial.  Better instructions)

Sew an inch long straight stitch perpendicular to the zigzag.

Attach the velcro to the neck part.  When you do this, you can fold the unfinished end kind of like an envelope, pin the velcro on, and just sew around it normally.  (Honestly, it's like I'm not even trying here...)

Finally, place the bow part over the center of the neck part.  Pinch and arrange the bow part until you think it looks right.  Fold the middle piece over the bow and neck parts, keeping the ends toward the back.  Fold under and tighten to your desired look.  Hand stitch that sucker together and you have a bow tie!  Amazing!

I cut out my fabric the night before, but getting up at our regular 8:00, I was able to finish this bad boy by 9:15.

 Here's Charlie, monkeying around in a bow tie at a wedding.  I'm thinking I might have to find some more nice fabric and make him a little collection.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Made It: Lampshade Baby Mobile

A while back I took out this book from the library.  Anna Maria's beautiful fabrics caught my eye, as well as the sweet baby patterns.  I made the little booties for a baby niece, and wanted for so long to try the mobile.

A friend of mine will be having a baby imminently, and this friend is one I forever admire for her funky sense of style and art.  She is so thoughtful about her art, both in the selfless-giving sense of the word and also contemplative.  And she is careful to put herself and her personality into everything that surrounds her.  Picky about what she likes.  I like that.

 Anyway, as soon as I heard she was having a baby and doing up an awesome nursery, I knew she was the one to have the lampshade mobile.

These pictures are obviously not of the shade as a mobile, and I didn't get a photo of the little birds hanging down.  But rest assured, they're there, and they're the cutest part of the whole thing!  Maybe once it arrives, my friend will be able to take a picture for us to share.  That is, if she has time for pictures with a brand new baby to take care of...