Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a name brand - quality does matter)
2-5 T water
2 lbs powdered sugar (use a name brand)
1/2 c shortening
First you melt the marshmallows and the water in the microwave slowly (30 seconds at a time) so that it melts without overheating. When you dump 3/4 of the sugar on a WELL greased counter top and pour the melted marshmallows on top. With your hands well greased (just embrace the Crisco at this point, trust me) start to kneed the marshmallow mixture, remembering to pause to re-grease your hands. Kneed for 5-8 minutes until nice and uniform.
I failed to re-grease my hands, so a few minutes in I was a marshmallow mess, which caused me to get marshmallow cream all over my kitchen because I couldn't it off my hands. I recommend re-greasing every 2 minutes as you kneed, even if it isn't sticking yet. Because once you notice the sticking, you are too late.
After letting the fondant sit in the fridge for 2 hours (well greased in a zip-lock bag), it was perfect to be rolled out and put on the cake. I was really impressed with how easy this was to make and how managed it was.
Friday, November 13, 2009
1-2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
4 c chicken broth (you can also use chicken bouillon and water)
2 cans peeled, diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
8 oz cream
Sauté onion in oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Add cream and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with fresh basil (cut into strips) and parmesan cheese (grated on top).
Monday, November 09, 2009
We first stopped off for some sustenance (hot dogs and chips) and ate our dinner while winding through the top floor displays. Every few minutes we would find a trash can and dispose of a wrapper or napkin. Sarah made a comment about us being like Hansel and Gretel, leaving little crumbs along our path. Quite apt actually.
By the time we were on the second floor, we were on a roll finding great curtains for her living room, the perfect curtain rods, and some new lights for my dining area. Although the real fun started when we moved into the As-Is area near the checkout. If you have ever ventured into this area, you are in for a real treat. Sometimes there is not a lot to look at, but this time we really scored.
At first I kind of wandered around seeing if there was anything of potential. Then I spotted on some great colored textiles, so I went over to sort through the random textiles in large bins. I found my beautiful curtains at Ikea this way over two years ago, so I was hopeful. The first great find was a queen size linen duvet, that was the exact same color of Sarah's curtains for only $5. This meant we put back her $30 drapes and got this duvet instead. We are going to cut it into four panels and make them into curtains for her dining room. Total cost: $5.
After I found this great duvet (which some other guy wanted, but I was already holding), I spotted a huge red pile of fabric. After a fellow shopper overhead me asking myself what this could possibly be, she helped me hold it up (it was way too big for one person to hold) and we found out it was a huge L-shaped couch cover. It was a beautiful cherry red color and the fabric was very thick (not a thin, cheap cover). I then found matching couch cushions and realized that this could cover my current love seat quite well. Sarah and I measured the red cushions while I had my husband at home measure our couch and we soon realized I could totally pull this off. So we picked out two back and two bottom cushions and threw them in our already full cart. Total cost for extra large cover and four cushions: $24.
One last textile that caught my attention was a beautiful yellow corduroy fabric. We pulled it out of the bin and saw that it was a pretty big chair cover and would be great to cut up and make into pillow cases and cushions. Total cost: $9.
For awhile I have been looking something I could paint in chalkboard paint and use in my kitchen to write down groceries. Mirrors and frames were too expensive for something that I was going to paint over, so when I walked past some returned cupboard fronts, I was inspired. A lot of the cupboards had molding, so I could tape off the molding and then paint the inside square chalkboard for an instant framed chalkboard. Sarah and I hunted through the stack of returned boards to find the perfect square for my kitchen and a large rectangle for her currently empty kitchen wall. Total cost for mine: $5. Sarah's total cost: $9 (for two boards).
When we got back to my apartment, we quickly threw off my old cushion covers and put the red ones on to see if they would fit, and it was a perfect fit. The bottom cushions were about one inch too big, so I took my bread knife to the cushions and shaved off an inch so they would fit. Saturday morning I cut the middle corner section out of the cover, which left two arm sections. I then sewed them together, which was the perfect size for my love seat. With some leftover fabric sitting in my sewing corner I made a black and white polka dot throw pillow with red buttons.
I still need to take pictures of the new couch. The Ikea couch originally costs $899, so getting the cover for $24 was a steal. I found a tiny whole in the cover where the stitching had come undone, but sewed it up in a minute. Ben never liked the color of the couch, but we were about to spend a few hundred dollars to replace it, since structurally it is fine. I also added to bed pillow to the back cushion to give it more support. I bought this couch for $50 four years ago, so the batting in the back cushions was definitely losing its support. And now we have a brand new couch for $24.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
I pulled out the family spud nut recipe last night and decided to half it, since there were only going to be a few of us. This turned out to be a good decision, since a half of the recipe made over 3 dozen donuts.
5 ¼ T yeast
¾ c warm water
1 ½ T sugar
3 c milk
3 t salt
¾ c sugar
½ c oil
1 ½ c mashed potatoes
9 c flour
oil to fry
Dissolve yeast in water and sugar. Add wet ingredients and stir. Beat in half of flour. Add flour until soft dough consistency. Let rise until double. Roll out and cut into shapes (rectangles, square, circles). Spray baking sheets or kitchen table to non-stick cooking spray and then place donuts on surface to rise 15-20 minutes. Fry in medium-hot oil until brown on both sides (2-4 minutes). Let cool slightly on paper towels and then top with sugar or glazes (maple is always the favorite, trust me).
1. Letting the dough rise for a full hour or until double is key. Letting the cut donuts rise for 20 minutes before frying is even more key. If you dough is not rising, then your donuts will be doughy and hard, instead of really puffy and soft.
2. Fry a few donut holes first to make sure the oil is hot enough. If the oil is hot enough, it will bubble around the dough right away. The donuts should take no more than 2-3 minutes per side to get nicely browned. The donuts should puff of a lot as they cook, which will make them nice and soft inside.
3. The best glaze is maple glaze. To make this, put 1/2 t of maple flavoring, 2-3 T of milk, and enough powdered sugar to make a nice glaze that you can dip the hot donut into. If you are doubting how maple could be better than chocolate, just trust me.
4. These donuts are best hot and shared with friends. A whole recipe will make around 6-7 dozen donuts, so be sure to invite enough friends over and make lots of glaze.
First, I made a normal batch of pasta dough from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. This is your standard recipe, which is very basic but my favorite recipe. You can also add dried basil or other herbs to make a really delicious herbed pasta. I let the dough sit for ten minutes (part of the recipe) while I put together the cheese filling: 1 c ricotta cheese, 1/3 c Parmesan, and a sprinkle of basil and oregano. Please note that I really don't measure anytime, so this is just a guess. I added the Parmesan to make the filling a little drier, so it wouldn't get runny and then I just sprinkled in some herbs for a little color and flavor.
Then I divided the dough into four parts and rolled each through the pasta machine several times on the lowest setting, adding flour so that it wouldn't stick. Once each part was looking uniform, I took one part at a time and rolled it through each setting until it was pretty thin (setting 6) and then placed it on the counter. Once all four parts were rolled out, I took a pasta cutter that looks like a pizza cutter, but has a zigzag edge and cut each long piece of dough lengthwise, so now I had a top and bottom of the ravioli.
Using my hands I placed a small amount of cheese filling every two inches long one side of the dough and then placed the other half on top. Then I sealed off one ravioli and moved down the line, until I had little pockets of cheese in a long strip of dough. This was actually really easy to do and just required you to push around the cheese and the dough would stick to the other side. Then I used the zigzag cutter to cut apart each ravioli, so now I had square ravioli.
I placed these on my non-stick baking mat, but wax paper would also work. I put them in the freezer for a bit and then moved them to a zip lock bag once frozen. They cooked great (only one lost its filling) and tasted amazing! I might make the pasta a little thinner next time, since once you put the two layers together it was a bit thick, but overall amazing.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I am currently on the hunt on craigslist for some other items I want for the apartment. Here are some DIY projects that I love. They are all ideas I've seen at Design Sponge, which is my new favorite blog to read.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The fun thing about wandering around these fabric stores, is that they were filled floor to ceiling with every kind of fabric you could ever want! (We even saw a section for Alpaca fabric.) We loved looking at the silks and some of the most adorable cotton prints you have ever seen. We also checked out the notion stores full of buttons and trim. I found this incredibly carved button that should be the perfect finish to a jacket I recently made.
After a few hours in the fabric district, we grabbed some great pizza, ate some delicious cupcakes, and then headed over to the Met.
The Met says that it costs $20, but that is actually a recommended donation. Most people don't know that they can actually pay whatever they would like. The first time I did this I was pretty nervous, but they actually will let you in for even $1 (which is what the guy in front of us in line paid). We walked through the Roman and Greek section, then over to Modern Art, where Diedra got approached by this man 40 years older than her who tried to hit on her, then over to the American section. Our favorite part was actually this display of original rooms from hotels and palaces in Paris, Vienna, and other cities in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. They had dismantled entire rooms (walls, furniture, layout, lighting, etc) and rebuilt then in the museum. It was really interesting to see these complete room, some with the natural lighting, which was quite dark.
After two hours in the Met our feet were pretty tired, so we rested in Central Park and planned our next adventure. We wanted to walk through China Town and look at fake designer purses next, so we hopped on the subway. The idea of designer purses was a lot more fun that actually looking at them, since most were quite ugly. We saw a few that we liked, but not enough to actually buy. After being accosted by enough people trying to sell us stuff, we decided to walk over to Little Italy, and I found a great little pizza place to have dinner. We ordered a margarita pizza with buffalo mozzarella and basil, along with some gnocchi, which was incredible. We ate our delicious meal while our feet rested.
By this time it was practically time to head back to catch the bus, which we were just fine with. We were both really tired and were ready for a 3 hour nap. I got back to the bus 10 minutes before it left and slept the entire way back to Boston. I highly recommend taking the bus to NYC for a day trip. The ride was less than 4 hours and it was nice not to have to drive or pay tolls.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Riding the metro in DC was so delightful. DC has by far the cleanest subway system in the world (I've ridden the subway in Paris, London, Barcelona, New York, and Boston.) The trains are spacious and air conditioned. The stations tell you when the next train will arrive. It is easy to transfer from one side of the tracks to another. And except for the tourists, people who commute on the metro DO NOT TALK. This is pretty much a hard and fast rule; people like to have it quiet on the trains and I've even seen people ask others with loud headphones to turn it down.
Riding the metro (called the T) in Boston has been a whole different experience. The train lines were built at different periods, so some are nice and modern, while others are extremely old. The biggest difference is the attitude of the riders here in Boston. I'm not sure if it is a factor of the culture (Bostonians are often pretty rude) or what, but each day I learn new things. For example:
1. People like to stand up as the train is moving to get 2 feet closer to the door. Mind you, the trains are pretty bumpy and like to jerk a lot, so this ends up making other loose their footing and hit other people. Apparently waiting for 30 seconds until the train stops has never occur ed to a lot of people.
2. If you bump someone, you might get into a fight. I have already witnessed a few heated words passed between passengers, all for things like bumping them while riding or taking a photo and the flash getting in their eyes. In DC even if someone pokes your eye with their finger or steps on your toes, you don't yell at them (both of these things have happened to me and other friends in DC).
3. Yelling "I love everyone" stops fighting. Actually this is the best way I have seen a fight defused. Unabashed love for everyone kind of makes people stop yelling.
4. It is perfectly okay to crowd near the doors, making it impossible for people to get off the train or for others to get on. I think Bostonians need more training on moving to the center of the car.
5. Don't think anything of a complete stranger yelling across the car to get the attention of another passenger. One day this older woman yelled across the train to talk to another man, who she wanted to know where he grew up and then started to give unsolicited recommendations on what to see in Boston. When the other passenger tried to ignore her, she then got really defensive.
6. Eating is allowed on the T, which might explain all the rats and mice I see. Gross.
All of this makes for a pretty entertaining commute. My only regret is that I don't carry a camera with me to take photos of all the craziness I see each day.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I made probably over 12 different dresses, and I really need to post pictures of them. If only I wasn't a sugar momma and had more free time on my hands.....
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
4 squares bakers semi-sweet baking chocolate
½ c butter
1 c powdered sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, butter 4 custard cups (or 6-8 ramekins), place on baking sheet. Microwave butter and chocolate on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted into butter. Stir in sugar and whisk eggs and egg yolks, then stir in flour. Divide batter between cups. Bake 13-15 minutes until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute then run a small knife around edges to loosen then turn over onto dessert dishes. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or fruit.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I admit it; I love doing the laundry, doing the dishes, and cleaning the bathroom because after a few minutes you can see a real result. This morning I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, organized our small apartment, vacuumed, sharpened the knives, filed some important documents, baked bread, and started the laundry. It is also easier to love doing these chores when you live in a small apartment which literally takes 20 minutes to clean and you are only doing the laundry for two people. I know that it will get more time intensive when our family gets bigger, but I am truly grateful for my ability to keep our home clean and organized.
I know that it is in fashion to have a maid or someone to do your housework, but I don't want to ever stop caring for my home or taking care of my belongings. I love how good it feels to do something myself and see a positive result from work.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I just can't bring myself to pay money for a haircut or highlights. A) I can't afford it. B) It is overpriced. And C) I hate paying for something that I can do myself. Highlighting and cutting hair isn't that hard. I have taught probably 15 people how to highlight hair. Now I just need to determine which of my new Boston friends has the inclination to highlight my hair and get free highlights in return.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
1. designed and sewed an adorable jacket: while out shopping with some new friends, we saw an adorable jacket at anthropology that we couldn't afford, but I was confident I could reproduce.
2. started weight lifting: even though I have never done this before, I have actually really enjoyed it so far. plus Ben is a great trainer.
3. explored Boston, the North End, and the Back Bay. nuff said.
4. took naps when I wanted, read lots of books, and caught up on some TV shows.
5. explored Cambridge, found the nearest public library, discovered a great discount fabric store, and tried to learn how to drive without getting lost. so far so good.
I will really miss my long days, but I am really looking forward to working in a great location in Boston with one of the best views. I guess working for the man has some advantages.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 c shortening
2/3 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 1/2 c flour
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and add butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, shortening and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Monday, March 23, 2009
4 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1/2 cup dark rum
1 16-ounce frozen all-butter pound cake, thawed
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
4 large ripe mangoes (5 to 6 pounds), peeled, pitted, diced
For Torte: Whisk eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, lime juice and lime peel in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and just comes to boil, about 6 minutes. Transfer lime curd to small bowl; press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until very cold, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.
Line 9 1/4x51/4x23/4-inch loaf pan with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving long overhang. Stir rum and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Trim brown layer from outside of cake. Cut cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy; gently fold in cold lime curd.
Trim bottom cake layer to fit pan bottom; reserve cake trimmings. Brush layer on both sides with 1/3 of rum syrup. Place in pan; spread 1 1/2 cups lime curd mixture over top. Brush second cake layer on both sides with 1/3 of rum syrup. Place in pan; spread remaining lime curd mixture over top. Brush third cake layer on both sides with remaining rum syrup. Place on lime curd mixture; press to adhere. Press reserved cake trimmings around sides. Cover torte with plastic overhang. Refrigerate torte at least 1 and up to 2 days.
For Compote: Stir first 4 ingredients in large bowl until sugar dissolves. Mix in mangoes.
Cover; chill up to 1 day.
Using plastic as aid, lift torte out of pan and unwrap. Cut crosswise into 12 slices. Arrange slices on plates. Top with compote. Garnish with lime slices.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The french bread was a huge hit! I also brought along my dipping spices, which always make bread better. After that, we talked while the Streusel Kuchen baked in the oven, and then I passed around pieces of the cake for everyone to try. We had about 30 women at the cooking class, so it was a great success.
3 T yeast
½ c warm water
1 c scalded milk
½ c butter
½ t lemon extract
½ c sugar
4-5 c flour1 t salt
Combine yeast and water and let grow. Melt butter in scalded milk. Add to yeast mixture along with the eggs, sugar, and extract. Add flour until dough is soft and still a little sticky. Press into pan and rise for 20-30 minutes. Combine sugar, flour, butter and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Glaze with ¼ c lemon juice and 2-3 c powdered sugar. Best if served warm.
1 c flour
1 c sugar
½ c butter
¼ lemon juice
2-3 c powdered sugar
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
My friend Emily also came over to taste test the cupcakes, and we both agreed these were by far the best cupcakes in DC. The shop is still not open yet, but you can order cupcakes to be delivered. If you love cupcakes, you must try these.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I am not exaggerating that this is the best chocolate frosting that I have ever had. Thanks to Jenn Fox for introducing me to this frosting and providing her recipe. She even told me that it has been used to woo men. I'm so not surprised.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 ½ cups or 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and using an electric mixer on low speed beat until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes. Add the unsweetened melted chocolate, vanilla and heavy cream, mixing to incorporate. On medium speed, beat the frosting for at least 3 minutes, until it looks smooth and creamy and the color lightens. Once the cupcakes are frosted they can be left for up to three days at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator. Makes enough frosting for one box cake or cupcakes.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Here is a close-up of the orange bow that ties the two sides of the dress together. You can see the pattern of the green fabric here.
Ben and I woke up at the normal time and enjoyed a very leisurely morning. As I was getting ready to bundle up and head out into the snow, I got another call from work saying they have decided to close the whole day! I may or may not have done a little dance and giggled. Ben put on his snow boots and headed out the door to walk to work in this year's first winter wonderland. He also snapped the picture of us "snowed in."
After updating the blog on this weekend's activities, I pulled out the sewing machine and surger to work on some projects. And 60 minutes later I would like to share my newest creation!
I loved exhibit on transportation. It had really old buggies, a Ford Model T (in black, the only color it came in because black paint dried the fastest), a Roadster, and lots of other vintage cars. It was really amazing to see the changes in style over the years and also see old models that you only see in movies.
There was also a fabulous exhibit on America in war. It had great artifacts (Washington's dishes from when he was in battle) and really great displays. It reminded me a lot of the Holocaust Museum (it was also incredibly instructive), but not nearly as depressing.
The other fun part about this museum, is that it had random artifacts from American history and Pop Culture. Here is Ben with some of his favorites:
C3PO. I have to admit this was pretty awesome.
Emily and I had our first craft night last week, which turned into a complete success. We got out a bunch of fabric that we have been meaning to use (plus some scraps) and talked about different projects we wanted to accomplish. We both had visions for some upcoming projects (I'm working on a duvet), but we needed more fabric.
So we decided to start off with a small project: making a girl's dress. We both have nieces, so we grabbed some extra fabric we had around the house and got started. The style we used is quite easy - simple a-line dress with pleats at the neck. The original picture we saw included sleeves, but we instead decided to just do a summer dress edged around the arms and neck. We also opted out of putting in a button in the back, and instead we had the edging open at one side of the neck and tie in a bow to close (brilliant idea and much easier than a button).
Emily and I were quite please with the results. We added the pockets as a finishing touch. We are planning on continuing to make more kids clothing (since they are short projects, don't take a lot of sewing skills, and really fun to create).
Here is a close up of the pleats in the front around the neck and the bow that closes the dress.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
1. Leave a comment on this post by March 9th stating how lovely my blog is and what your favorite entry has been so far. Also include your blog address.
2. Link your blog to my blog (I will also add you to my blog roll as well).
3. Feel free to add any suggestions of what you would like to see more of.
Once I have picked the lucky winner, I will email them to get a mailing address to send the apron to. Good luck to all (which I would say is pretty good since I think I have a total readership of about 8).
35 ounces chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep broth hot.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add wild mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are tender and juices are released, about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add Sherry and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 3/4 cup hot broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining hot broth 3/4 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh thyme.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I've been trying to use up leftover fabric lately, which has lead to making lots of aprons. I bought a lot of adorable fabric last year, and I finally felt like it was time to use it (or use the last bit of it). The aprons all have pleats and pockets. I thought I would show some of the cutest aprons I've ever seen.
This photo doesn't do justice to how adorable the brown fabric is.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Emily is also going to take some vintage patterns from her house so that we can start learning how to make kids clothing, which I think sounds like a fantastic idea. It will be a great way to perfect sewing in zippers, doing hems, and making clothes, plus we can make adorable dresses and send them to our sisters or friends!
And when I say craft night, this isn't a guise for getting together with friends to talk. We will be doing hardcore projects and getting things done! Let me know if you want in on the fun.
Garrett enjoying the winter. I'm not sure what this pose is all about. I'm going to chalk it up to being a missionary thing.