Saturday, March 30, 2013

Week 13 Recipe: Nutty Mixed up Salad

Lucky enough to have a Jason's Deli in your neighborhood?  They have the best mufalatta this side of New Orleans.  Their salads are delish as well, and a whole lot healthier. Here is my version of my favorite salad at Jason's; it's the nutty mixed up salad.

4 cups of spring mix salad
1/2 chopped Fuji apple
10 (or so) red seedless grapes cut in half
2T of peppito's ( pumpkin seeds)
2T of Feta crumbled
2-3T of balsamic vinaigrette (love Marie's)
1-2T dried cranberries

Toss ingredients together and enjoy.

This is one of the best salads I've ever had; feel free to add some diced chicken breast if your heart desires.  The sweet fruits marry so well with the feta and salty crunch of the peppito's.

Now, if you have been lucky enough to have enjoyed this salad at  Jason's you will notice I left out one thing. Jason's also adds a little blend of chopped walnut and sun dried tomato.  The feta I use has sun dried tomato and I didn't have walnuts  on hand.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Week 13 Upcycled Makeup Travel Bag

You all know that I love breathing new life into an old item. When I saw this tutorial for a cosmetic bag from Skip to my Lou I knew right away what I wanted to use for fabric - an old Nautica hawaiian shirt from my hubby's closet.  I've always known these as ditty bags.  The term comes from the small bags sailors used to carry small tools in so it just seemed appropriate.

Cute, right?

Here's my bag:

While the tutorial makes an adorable bag I added a few changes to make it more convenient for my use.
1. I wanted a larger bag, so I cut the pieces 20x14 instead of 16x14 and used a 22" zipper.
2. I added pull tabs at each end of the zipper to make it easier to open.
3. I added a handle to make it easy to grab and go.

Here's where the fabric for the bag came from.  It was a crazy, fabulous shirt my husband used to wear that I saved from the "donate" pile.

I chose not to use oilcloth for the interior so I needed another way to add "bulk" to the bag.  If you've been reading the blog you know I am obsessed with learning how to quilt so I took this opportunity to practice my freeform quilting skills....or lack thereof!  This picture shows the back so you can get an idea of the pattern I used.  We'll call it "abstract sea coral".  Boy, do I have total respect for anyone who does freeform quilting!  It is work, but also a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.

In similar tutorials I have noticed pull tabs.  As I mentioned earlier they really do make the zipper easier to open and close.  It also ended up being a perfect way for me to pay a little homage to Nautica by using the original shirt tag as one of the pulls.  Because I'm keeping this bag for myself I'm going to guess they won't come after me for re-using the tag...I hope.  Who knows, maybe this little ditty bag will become super popular and Nautica will feel compelled to add a whole new product line.

Add the tags when you stitch the sides together.  I just made my tabs from extra fabric, but a loop of ribbon would be cute too.
Adding the handle was just a little bit of gilding the lily.  It's not necessary, but it does  harken back to the original ditty bags the sailors used.  Again, using a scrap of fabric ( 2 1/4" wide by about 10" long) I fused iron on batting to the wrong side, folded it in half lengthwise, stitched it and then turned it right side out.  Pin it in place as you are sewing the triangles.

As if getting ready for a trip wasn't fun enough!  Now you get that extra "hey, I made that!" spark of pride when you pull your own bag out.  I think it's time to plan another vacation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Week 12 Recipe: Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

What's better than an Oreo?  Dipping it in chocolate, adding more center to the middle and these cookies.  This week's recipe comes from Table for Two.  It's a recipe for Oreo cheesecake cookies.  The blog is lovely; you should check it out.

Here's how mine came out:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or rough chop regular chocolate chips)
1 cup crushed Oreo’s 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Place the Oreo's into a plastic bag and crush them into crumbs (how does the creamy center magically disappear?
  3. In a bowl  cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and well combined.
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Gently mix in the flour and stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and put it in your hands to roll it into a ball. Roll the ball in the Oreo crumbs and cover the dough well.
  7. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.  You just want the edges to barely start to brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to cool completely on a wire rack.
These cookies have a nice tang to them from the cream cheese; it takes the edge off the sweet.  

Week 12 Craft: How to Wax Fabric

For some reason I'm fascinated with making fabric waterproof.  I'm not sure why, but thought I would give it a go.  Method number one was with linseed oil.  Like the Wright brothers early attempts at flight my first try was an epic fail.  The linseed didn't dry even after letting the fabric sit outside for two weeks!

Method number two uses wax and worked much better.  Inspiration came from Analogue Life.

I used my tote from my tote bag translated post.  Here it is pre-waxing:

and post:

This was a fun project and will come in handy if you want to make something water resistant.  Please note: if you REALLY need to make something waterproof (like a jacket or tent) this is not the tutorial for you.  There are several nice tutorials on the web designed to assist the serious hunter/camper.  A couple of other things to keep in mind - this will darken your fabric somewhat.  It will also make the fabric stiffer. 

What you need:
Fabric item you want to waterproof (I recommend a durable cotton, canvas or denim)
Equal parts paraffin wax and beeswax
Foil pan (or double boiler you only EVER want to use for wax projects)
Rubber gloves
Paper towels

Start by covering whatever work surface you are going to be doing this on.  It is wax, and you don't want it going anywhere other than on your project.

1. Place equal parts paraffin and beeswax into your container (my tote used about 3 oz. of each) and melt slowly.  I used a foil loaf pan and placed it on my griddle.  While your wax is melting preheat your oven to 200 degrees (NO hotter) and place foil on your bottom rack to protect your oven.

2. Once melted using a paintbrush apply the wax evenly over the fabric.  Make sure the fabric is coated, but don't saturate.  Too much wax is not only a waste, it will take you a lot longer to complete your project. 

The wax hardens immediately and here is what it looks like.  Don't worry if it appears the wax didn't penetrate all the way through.  The oven will take care of it.

3. Place your item on a foil lined baking sheet and put it in the oven.  
VERY IMPORTANT: if your item won't fit nicely on a cookie sheet this project is not for you!  In other words: tote bag = good.  Camping tent = bad.  Keep an eye out to make sure you don't cook your fabric or start a fire!  If you feel too nervous you can use a hair dryer to heat the wax instead, but the oven works great as long as the fabric doesn't touch the racks, sides or heating elements.

4. Every twenty minutes take your item out of the oven.  Make sure you have your rubber gloves on and work your project over with the paper towel.  Really wrap the towel around and grip it.  What you are trying to do is work the wax into the fibers as well as work out the excess wax.  This is a process, so don't think you'll be able to get all the wax the first time around.  After the rubdown put your item back in the oven.

5.  Continue the heat/rub process until the paper towels no longer have wax on them when rubbed over the heated fabric.  Be patient; this took about three hours to accomplish.

6. Let your project cool and then it's time to use!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week 11 Recipe: Asiago Crisps

Cheese...mmmmmmmm.  It's so good, and like almost everything on the planet if it tastes good it's not good for us.  You can pretend that the crunch of a cucumber replaces the crunch of a buttery cracker for dips, but we can all agree that's A LIE!!

Here's a way to get the taste of cheese as well as some nice crunch; it's a big payoff in a little bite.  Don't blink, or you will miss the ingredient list.

Shredded asiago cheese (you can also use a good quality parmesan as well)

1. Make sure your skillet is warmed to medium high.

2. Place one tablespoon of cheese directly on the skillet.

You can use a mold to help shape it, or just make a small circle.  Keep them thin or they will be chewy (a nice way of saying rubbery).

3. Let the cheese get bubbly and golden.

4. Remove and let cool.

These are great on salads; so salty and crunchy and yum.

Week 11 Craft: Fabric Covered Glasses Case

Who out there is like me and wants to oh so stylish while being oh so thrifty as well?  I was looking for an eyeglass case, but needed a sturdy one (because I tend to throw my case wherever: in my purse, in a backpack, in the car).  It seems your choices online are mostly limited to one color.  Then I came across this one on Pinterest.

Unfortunately, the link is bad.  Bummer!!  But, it gave me the idea that I could convert my current case with a little elbow grease and Modpodge.  

Here's what I started with:

...and what I ended up with:

What you need:
Hard sided glass case
Small flat head screwdriver
Sand paper
2 Scraps of fabric slightly larger than exterior of case top and bottom (I recommend a midweight fabric. I used upholstery linen for my project).
3"x8" piece of ultra suede (or other soft fabric that does not fray like wool felt)
Fabric glue

1. Disassemble the glass case.  You need to carefully pry the prongs open on the hinge piece that holds the two pieces together.  On my case that was exposed, but you might have to remove your glass case lining to get to yours.  Once the prongs are lifted you can remove the hinge.  Here's a picture of me lifting the prongs.

2. Remove the exterior "faux" leather and lightly sand the two pieces of the case.

There's the hinge on the left.

3. Cut your scraps of fabric so that they will cover the exterior of the case pieces as well as wrap around to the inside.

4. Cover the exterior case pieces with Modpodge and place your fabric on the glass case.  Paint a coat of Modpodge over the fabric.

5. With the fabric wet from the Modpodge play with it to make sure your corners aren't bulky.   Trim and clip as needed.  Make sure you poke your prongs through the fabric.  If they won't poke through just make tiny slits and fit them through.  Below is a picture that shows about how much of the interior you want to cover.

6.  Using your trusty clothespins... or chip bag clips...clip around the case and let dry.  Move your clothespins as the fabric dries just to make sure they don't stick to your fabric.  Once dry, apply a second coat of Modpodge.

7.  Once the exterior pieces are dry you will want to fit your interior piece.  I traced around my case pieces and that ended up being the perfect size and shape.  I'm not going to promise that will work for your particular case, but give it a try.  You just want to make sure you cover the raw edges of the exterior fabric so the case will look nice and finished.  
8.  Apply your fabric glue to the interior of the glass case pieces and lay your ultrasuede (or other soft fabric) over it.  Press into place and let the glue dry.

9.  Put your hinge back in place and using the tip of the screwdriver bend the prongs back down, locking the hinge in place.

Yeah!  Enjoy your super stylish and one of a kind designer glass case.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Week Ten Craft: How to Make Chenille

Hippity hoppity Easter is on its way.  I was looking for inspiration for a wreath and came across this tutorial on making a chenille blanket on Mama Spark's World.

Cute blanket idea!  But, not needing a blanket I thought it might be fun to do in miniature and use for carrots in an easter wreath.

Here's what you need:
1/4 yard each of three of flannel fabrics in different shades of the same color (dark to light)
scrap of green for carrot tops
sewing machine
washing machine
very sharp scissors with a pointed tip

Layer your three fabrics with the lightest shade on top, darkest on the bottom and pin in place.
Stitching on the bias make your stitched rows 1/4" apart.  You will need to stitch rows until you have enough to make your carrots, or until you're on the verge of going insane sewing row, after row, after row.  For me that was about 10".  

Just when you thought you couldn't have any more fun sewing all those rows it's time to move on to cutting all those rows!  Insert the tip of your pointy, pointy scissors between the second and third level of fabrics.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!  You don't want to cut through that bottom layer of fabric!  

While you don't have to be exact, you do want to try and cut in the middle of your rows.  Once all your rows have been cut run your fabric through a short cycle in the washer.  That's where the magic happens.  All that sewing and cutting pays off with these soft and fluffy rows of loveliness.

Carrot time!  Also on the bias (so your carrot rows will be straight across) cut out triangles in various sizes.  

Fold each triangle in half (right sides together) and stitch.  

Turn your carrots right side out and stuff with fiberfil.  It doesn't need to be packed in tight, but you do want them to hold their shape.

About 1/4" from the top run a gathering stitch and gently ease closed.

Insert your "leaves" into the top and secure the top.  I cut random shapes from some green scrap, but I've seen cute leaves cut from felt, or green raffia.  To give my "leaves" some body I put a coat of modpodge on, twisted them a little and let them dry.

I put mine on a wreath, but they are so soft they would make a nice stuffed toy.