Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nothing Like Waiting Until the Last Minute

 This past weekend, I was teaching my kiddo how to make a book for a history project and planning for today's Halloween hooha, keeping me from making Halloween goodie-bags for the ballerinas in Piper's dance class.  I was thrilled when I saw the Halloween Treat Holders posted by HappyScrapper64 on Facebook and on the Circle Message Board.  You can find her project on her blog, Random Thoughts of a Scrapbooker.  I didn't just see them and use her idea, I also asked her on Facebook if they would work with candy bars.  Honestly, she did everything but actually make them for me, so thank you, Brenda, for saving me today by sharing your brilliant use of a card as a treat wrapper!

I cut mine for 1.55 ounce Hershey bars.  I used Artiste (page 76), cutting at 4-3/4" on the Expression.  I stamped "Boo" using a glue pad and glittered the image.  These went together so incredibly fast and with only one cut and no layers, I was loving Brenda during this entire process.... Please check out Brenda's fun blog filled with her other great ideas!

Sooo....  My daughter and I have been working hard on a book she is creating for a history project.  It is a 3rd grade school project, but most (ok all) of this project has been done at home, not at school.  I have had to teach her several new things, including how to decoupage chipboard to make a cover, how to make letters with a shadow on her Cricut (she has never used the shadow feature even though she has her own Cricut and uses it), how to use a Bind-It-All to punch holes (we haven't bound the book yet but I will probably close the wires for her), how to use a light-box and lined  paper behind unlined paper to make text straight.  Needless to say, I am glad we have until December to finish this!

She has been getting on my laptop and finding facts about each of her 26 historical Americans and drawing her own portraits of them, but the actual 'putting together a book' part of this project has been a big art lesson between Piper and me!  It has been fun, but I remember making books in middle school where we learned a crude binding process using cardboard covered in contact paper and embroidery floss to sew the pages into the cover.  I also remember getting the technical how-to info at school!

So, today, I am grateful that I have the time, skills, and tools to teach my kiddo and to help her.  And... I am grateful for crafters who share their projects with cut sizes and other info as Brenda did!

Speaking of grateful, I was reminded to thank God for all we have in a text I received last night from my friend, Gina Piazza, who is enduring the aftermath of hurricane Sandy while she waits on an upper floor for 6 feet of water to recede from her home and for power to be restored to her neighborhood in New York.  My thoughts are with Gina as I pray for speedy solutions, safety, and full recovery for our friends who have come in harm's way and who have lost so much due to the storm!
Thank you for checking my blog post today.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Apple Butter!!

My Apple Butter

A month or so ago was the Heritage Festival Weekend in Lanesville, Indiana.  The festival showcases antique tractors and rural farming culture.  You know, I am a city girl, but my husband is a real country guy at heart. My husband's company did the tractor pull there.  ...But the reason I always enjoyed going all these years was for the apple butter.  They make and sell apple butter that they cook outside, in a big cauldron, over an open fire.  It is the best apple butter I have ever tasted; the two jars I bought are already gone.  The ingredients listed on their jars are:  apples, sugar, cinnamon oil.

I actually found a similar-sounding recipe on-line (click here) but I really don't want to stand over a hot fire all day (or even for a short time and where would I even do this???)  The more realistic idea for me, outside of just stocking up on cases of the magical stuff from Lanesville, is to make my own in a Crockpot.  I decided to really do it once I found a very easy-sounding recipe from Buttercream Couture.  Find it on their Facebook Page (click here) from October 19.

I made a few simple changes and took lots of notes... and I canned mine for gifts.  This is my recipe and it differs a bit from the original.  I will say that it is not the same as Lanesville's, but it is really good.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe
Click here for a printer-friendly version.

7-1/4 pounds apples (weighed before preparing), peeled, cored, and chopped.  I used Fujis sold by the bag. This is the most that will fit in my 5 quart Crockpot and still allow the lid to close!
3 cups white sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

First, prepare apples and place them in a slow cooker. 

Mix sugar and spices.  Pour on top of apples.  No need to stir yet.

Cook on HIGH for 2 hours.  

Now is the time to stir the pot!  Then, cook on LOW for 10 hours.  (I did this overnight.) 

Then, use an immersion blender to smooth the consistency, using the masher foot for this first blending.

 At this point, it tasted perfect.  I wanted to thicken it.  The original  recipe said "You will know when it is done when you get a spoonful from the slow cooker and there is no water separation around the outside edge and it holds to the spoon if you invert it."  I had a way to go before getting to that point.  What I scraped from the sides was perfect so I knew I just needed to cook off more of the water.  The original recipe suggested keeping the lid off but this method would work best if on the stovetop.  Without the lid, the Crockpot just cannot keep the food hot enough.  I wanted it to boil a bit (at least on the edges) and I could only achieve that by keeping the lid on.

This is what my apple butter looked like at this point:

Actually, I like this texture and don't mind the separation, but I was trying to learn from this recipe.  If I were making this for myself, I would be happy at this point!  In many ways, this was like the Lanesville apple butter because theirs separates and has a texture like this.

Next, cook on high for five hours, stir, and check consistency.  (I did allow it to cook for 1 hour with lid off, but I could tell we weren't getting anywhere so I put it back on).

Then, set on low and cook for 3 hours.  (The reason I set it on low was that I had an appointment and just felt safer setting it back to low.  This is a pretty forgiving recipe!)   

Next, take off the lid and use the immersion blender again, this time with the regular blending foot.  

It was ready and looked like this:

With the lid off and the Crockpot still on high to keep the apple butter hot, I got stuff ready for canning.  I kept it that way until the process was complete.  

This recipe filled five 8-oz jelly jars plus a bit to enjoy now! whatever I comsumed while sampling!!

I processed these in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  (1/4" headspace)

I used my computer and the labels that came with the Ball Jelly Jars.  (You know, why re-invent the wheel?)  They were printed with Microsoft French Script at 16 point.

I wanted to give one away to my daughter's teacher.   I found some apple paper in my stash for the topper and some scraps for a scarecrow embellishment.

The scarecrow was cut from Simply Scarecrows at 2-3/4" on my Expression.  The jar topper was cut from paper at 7" from George (the circle) using Real Dial Size.  

My jar lids were 2-3/4" in diameter so a 7" circle for the topper worked out great!

I cut that jar topper from card stock, so I did take some time to carefully smooth it down and make it lay neatly against the jar, using twine to secure it in place.  I cut a couple of tiny holes in the scarecrow  and used a tool to lace the twine through.  (This tool is one I bought on-line when my daughter was into having feathers in her hair.  It is called a needle tool and used for hair extensions.  I have used it way more for threading twine than I ever did to thread her hair into those silicone-lined crimping beads!)

I love the way that paper and die cuts dress up food gifts!

I also tried a new bread recipe when I was in the middle of the apple-butter-making.  This has a biscuit-like consistency without much work and uses only four ingredients.  There are several of these running around Pinterest, but I ended up sort of winging it based on notes from several of them.

7UP Pan Biscuits
Click here for a printer-friendly version.

4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream (regular, not reduced fat)
1 cup generic Lemon-Lime soft drink (like 7UP)
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 425°.  Melt butter in the microwave.  Pour into a 9x11 pan.  Spread out evenly.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl.  It will be a very wet dough.  Pour in the pan on top of butter.  Spread the batter to the edges.

Bake 425° for 20-25 min.  Cut into rectangles.  Brush tops with additional melted butter to serve like a dinner roll or cut in halves to put apple butter inside!

Do I even have to tell you how fabulous this was with the apple butter????  My mom and the grandkiddos came by while it was baking.  Needless to say, it was gobbled up in no time!  Total hit and perfect for fall!

Thank you for checking my blog post today.  You can find many of my past projects by checking My Project Gallery.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Boxed Birthday Card!

Sometimes the card we make is the gift we give.  To make it more gift-like, I have been thinking about creating boxes for them that are part of the design, where the card peeks through a window.  With this idea in mind, I decided to make a boxed birthday card for my message board friend, Sherry (Octoberbeauty), who is having a milestone birthday this year.  We share a day on the Cricut Fanatics blog and you can find this post there today too!

First, I created a box using Cricut Wild Card (page 80), cut at 7".  I used a print and positioned the paper on my mat for cutting with the Expression by placing the top of the print on the right of the mat. I later cut a piece of recycled clamshell for a window at 4-7/16" square.  (Packaging from Cuttlebug folders works great for this!)

Next, I cut a card to insert by cutting an 8-7/8" x 4-7/16" rectangle on the paper trimmer.  I scored at the middle with an Xacto knife to have a card that finishes at 4-7/16" square.  I cut a decorative paper at 4-7/16" and applied to the top.  

I used a brown ink pad and rubbed it over the edges of the box and card to give it a little character... you know, the way aging gives character.  Get used to the aging jabs, you whippersnapper, you!  (Just another service I provide as a person who is older than you, Sherry.)

I created hinges-- more character-- by cutting them from Fabulous Finds (page 118) at 3/4".  I sanded the metallic paper to scuff it up and make it more authentic-looking. I scored the centers with a bone folder to help them bend smoothly.  I attached the hinges to the fold of the card and the top of the box at the opening with Scotch Quick Dry Glue and used a burnishing tool to indent them where screws would be inserted on a real hinge.

For the card insert, I added artwork from the Imagine Yummy cartridge, cutting extra layers to pop up for dimension.  I kept it simple because the box design elements had to work with it. I added a tiny hand-colored butterfly.  These elements were popped up 1/8" to 3/8".

For the front of the box, I printed and cut a 6" figure from the Yummy cartridge twice.  I cropped off her legs, hand-cut off one arm from the second figure and popped it up and inked it for dimension.  I added an extra popped up bow and flower on her hat.  I added a pompom for her party hat and Glossy Accents to her lips.

I applied her to the box with 1/8" pop dots on her upper body and box, but adhered her flush at the bottom.

I hand-cut butterflies from a glittery printed paper for the box front embellishments.

I cut a banner from Artiste (page 58) at 1" in the same plaid used on the card insert and stamped it with the coordinating CTMH stamp.

I adhered the banner after bowing it out.  The butterflies were adhered with pop dots and Scotch Quick Dry Glue.  I added extra packages, popping up one.

When the card is inserted...

It becomes a fun, boxed gift card!

I also decorated the post office packaging to coordinate with the card inside using extra cuts.

To Sherry:  I hope you had a Happy Birthday yesterday!  (And I hope my card got to you before you saw this post... if not, well, surprises are over-rated anyway and hard on the aged... hahaha)  And I am looking forward to your project today on the Cricut Fanatics!

For everyone else, thank you for checking out my project today!  You can see many of my previous projects by visiting My Project Gallery.....And be sure you visit my blog November 10 when I will be part of the Holly Jolly Blog Hop!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Gift from Barbara Gift Tags from a Recent Crop!

I wanted to share a gorgeous piece of artwork that Barbara Stewart gave to me at the Circle Mania crop.  It is one of her multi-media canvases.

I love the hanging hearts and dimensional flowers!  The blue sky and stylized sun have a folk art feeling that juxtaposes with the painterly surfaces perfectly.  I love the letter tiles... and the message!  It makes my heart sing!

Barbara uses Decou-page and magic to make these.  I love the lacy ruffle on the sun!  The layers of paint and pattern mystify me.  I love it and it is a beautiful piece of art that I love having in my home!  Thank you so much, Barbara, for this beautiful canvas!  (And I loved that you signed the back!)

Barbara made tags for everyone!  They were all different and perfect.  This is the one I received:

I know at least one crafter who was there who was so inspired that she worked on her own tags after getting one from Barbara.  They are truly inspiring.  I LOVE this look and it is a mystery to me how she does this!

Circle Mania was so much fun!  I thought I would share with you a few silly tags and gift wraps for Circle Mania gifties that I took....with cut info.

For the mini lunch boxes, I cut the text from vinyl using Cricut Everyday at 2-1/2".  Under the text is a Circle logo, also from Cricut Everyday, cut at 3-1/2" from vinyl.  The pink tags were cut from Artiste at 1-3/4".  I backed them in black.

This is a tag I made to go on a gift for the hostess with the mostest that weekend.  The base was cut from Wrap It Up (page 56) at 6" (tag blackout).  I cut part of a cloud from Serenade so I could use the negative space of the cloud.  Then I cut the tag again in white and backed the blue tag with it and popped it up.  The bird on the branch was cut from Live Simply at 2-1/2" and inked.  I added details by hand.  The white cloud on top was cut from Serenade at 1-3/4".  The hearts were cut from a punch.  The letters were cut from Hannah Montana at 1/2".

This tag was made for a traveler from far away who I knew would not be headed through Kentucky so I brought a bit of Kentucky to her and wanted a tag to match.  The base is from Mickey Font (page 134) cut at 5".  I cut the center from a map that I misted with Glimmer Mist and embossed with a chevron embossing folder.  Kentucky was cut cut from 50 States (page 29) at 7".  (I cut one from red and one from blue and attached them with pop dots after using a heart punch on the blue layer).  I hand-cut the banner after running the paper through my printer to add text.  The scattered hearts were cut with a punch.

The base of this tag is from Artiste (page 32), cut at 4".  The bug head was cut from Cricut Everyday at 3.5".  The body and outfit were cut from Teddy Bear Parade at 4".  The sign was something I printed from my computer.

The base of this tag is from Artiste (page 32), cut at 4".  The bug head was cut from Cricut Everyday at 3.5".  The body and outfit were cut from Teddy Bear Parade at 4". Because I think the Bug Guy is a guy, I didn't cut the shell bra, rather, I made the shell something to hold.  The base and fish body were embossed on the Cuttlebug.

These tags were cut from Everyday Cricut at 3".

These were simple picture frames that I packaged to look 'Cricut-y'.  I used Greeting Cards Inside and Out, printing and cutting on the Imagine at 9.7".  I added a little message on the back that I printed from my computer.

It was a really fun event!  So thankful that I was able to go and meet, in-person, so many of my friends that I talk to daily on the message boards.  I think this was the fourth Circle event I have traveled to.  These friendships that I have made are a blessing to me-- such an unexpected joy!  What a  fantastic group of ladies!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!  You can see many of my previous projects by visiting My Project Gallery.  My next blog post will be Sunday and I will be showcasing a Boxed Card with a tutorial.

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!