When You Etch Upon a Star

Don’t you hate when you have a really cool thing planned and you get all of your materials, and you do everything, and it’s working out so nicely.  You go through all of the steps, and you even get awesome photos, and spend a lot of time doing exacting work.  Then, you get to the end, and you say to your husband, “Well, etching never looks like it’s etched while it’s wet, but when it’s dry, the pattern always emerges!”  ?

But…no….not this time!

I did discover something.  I had actually read it at some point, but never thought I had to check what my cute little star ornaments were made of.  Let me go to the beginning, as you are probably a little confused.  I had these glass star ornaments I bought before Christmas last year, thinking I would put my Granddaughter and Grandson’s names or initials on them.  But I never got them done and so I put them away.

Last week I had an inspiration.  I would etch their initials in the middle and decorate them using my Cricut.  It would be a great project for Handmade Monday and a nice little gift they could hang on their doors with a ribbon.  Great!

So, I cut out the pieces of sticky vinyl on my Cricut, arranged them ever so artistically, and took amazing photos!  I slathered on the etching medium and waited the requisite time and a little longer.  Then I rinsed and dried them.  Disappointment! Nothing. Oh, you could see just a very slight and vague shadow in a few spots, but no, really nothing!  I was crushed.  What had gone wrong?

Materials

Materials

Ready to etch

Ready to etch!

Disaster!

Disaster!

I googled, and it appears that my beautiful little stars must be made of pyrex or something similar, which does not etch. Oh sorrow and despair! Well, I do have lovely images to share, and I’m salvaging the little stars with another project, which I will share maybe next week. The lesson, I suppose is, know your materials. Or, always be ready to do something else. 🙂

In Case You Missed It

It’s Handmade Monday again and the project I was working on today didn’t turn out.  I had such lovely photos of the beginning of it, got all the way thru and nothing!  I know what I did wrong, and I can sort of salvage it, but not in time for Handmade Monday, and since it’s still Easter Sunday here, I don’t want to spend the rest of the day on this.  So, I’m going to link to yesterday’s blog, which really was a good one that most people probably didn’t see anyway.  No, really, even tho it’s an Easter thing, I think you will enjoy it, and put this recipe into your recipe book for next year (or find a way to make these for some other occasion–they are AWESOME!).

Check it out here.  🙂  And check out Handmade Monday because those ladies make the coolest stuff!  Just click on the link at the beginning of this post.  but not until you check out the Butter Cream Easter Egg recipe.  🙂

Jets & Eggs –Butter Oh Boy!

My middle son Jordan is probably a better cook than I am.  He is a Foodie with a capital F.  I can honestly say he was born that way. He has always loved food, and was interested in cooking from an early age.  He asked for family recipes as soon as he had his own kitchen and actually made them.  Not only that, he experimented and shared new ones.  Several years ago he decided to make a family recipe that we had made when the boys were young.  It was passed down to us by Jeff’s Mom, and it had been passed on to her by her Mother.  These were an Easter tradition, but he had probably never seen them made because the whole point was to make them without the kids seeing because, of course, the Easter Bunny brought them.

He had some problems with the recipe, and sent the following email out.  It’s pretty funny, at least it had most of us laughing.  I think I know what his problem was, and I’ll explain, plus I will share the recipe and step by step instructions with pictures, so hopefully you can make these without your own disaster.  Read on for Jordan’s details of making Jets and Butter Cream Eggs:

So I really only have half the experiment complete.  Let me explain…

I set out to do two batches of butter cream eggs for Easter.  It had been way too long since I had them, and I was feeling in that holiday spirit.  After reading the recipe, I noted that it called for margarine, not butter.  Being the foodie snob that I am, I couldn’t reconcile why you would use an inferior product in such a rich treat.  Thus, it was off to experts.  Needless to say, Dad does not make enough of these to be an expert, though he did share my enthusiasm for a higher quality treat.  So off to Aunt Jane, the great sage of our family recipes (and in recent years, Granddaddy’s Jet extraordinaire), who suggested that the current recipe may have been altered after Granddaddy’s first heart attack (apparently butter is not exactly good for your heart, and margarine makes a suitable substitute).  She too thought it would be possible that butter would be a better idea than margarine.

With this in mind, I decided to go for the old horse race.  Buy enough ingredients to make the recipe both ways and let my taste buds decide for me.  With thanks and love to Aunt Jane, I promised her a full write-up of my findings (thus the increasingly lengthy e-mail).

Excited by the prospect of fundamentally changing the way our family views one of their favorite Easter treats, I reviewed the recipe, decided to make a double batch of each and headed to the store.  To keep things as equal as possible, I chose Land of Lakes for both the butter and the margarine (thinking at least the quality of ingredients should be the same).  I bought the unseemly large number of bags of powdered sugar (5 bags), and splurged for the really nice bitter chocolate, Sharfen Berger (note that this chocolate is more than 3 times as expensive as the cheaper brand, but is fantastically good).  I was also fortunate enough in my last trip to Henderson to sneak out to Hidalgo’s in Longview (a great Mexican pottery, statue, furniture type store) that actually brings back real Mexican vanilla (like you get from the little shops in Mexico).  It beats vanilla extract from a tiny bottle any day.

Planning ahead, I left out the butter so that it would warm to room temperature (otherwise, creaming would be impossible).  I chose the butter test first (can you tell which one I expected to win yet?).  I started creaming it with the powdered sugar (so far so good), and adding half and half).  This continued…and continued…and continued, until I almost wore out my electric hand mixer.  No matter how much powdered sugar I added, I just couldn’t ever reach the “firm” consistency called for in the recipe.  I had already been adding, and mixing, and adding, and waiting for the mixer to cool down, for about an hour and a half.  After 3½ bags of powdered sugar, I began to think this butter thing must not be working.  I decided to employ the refrigerator to firm up the butter cream mix (which was effective, but time consuming).  After about half an hour in the fridge, I was able to start rolling the mixture into balls (yes, I was making eggs, so ½ of the batch was colored yellow, the other half left white), a couple at a time.  My hands warmed up the mixture pretty quickly, and it was apparent that there was no way this was going to be a clean experience.

After managing about 30 little yellow balls, covered in a white outer layer (this process itself probably took another 2-3 hours), I stuck them in the freezer (it was getting late on a Friday, and I was planning on bringing these with me).  I started melting the chocolate, and brought the eggs out a few at a time to drop into the chocolate.  Between trying to cover the eggs before letting them warm up and melt, and fish the eggs out of the pot with a fork, I managed about 10 great looking eggs, and 20 that looked like they had been made by Edward Scissorhands.  The chocolate covered (if you could really call them covered at this point) eggs were set up in my fridge & freezer on cookie sheets to further harden (I was slowly realizing that these would never be able to be served at room temperature) before transportation to work the following day.

How did they taste you ask?  Fantastic.  Super.  Creamy.  Better than I ever remembered.  However, I am hoping my big flaw in preparation was using too much half & half.  I guess I could have kept adding more sugar, but I was running out of bowl (and this was the largest bowl I had).  With my current batch not going exactly as planned, and few hours left before work the next morning, I opted not to give the margarine Jets a go.  I am thinking a weekend at Aunt Jane’s would provide a little firmer grasp of how the process “should” go before setting out to tackle the margarine method.

So in answer to your questions, sure – butter probably has a taste advantage, but if you don’t know what you should be looking for in the first place, it is probably wise to stick to the recipe as printed.

Aunt Jane – if you give the butter option a go, let me know how they turn out for you.  I will probably make another attempt after I finish off my freezer full of Butter cream eggs, but will try a single batch next time.

Love,

Jordan

Let’s just head over to Cook It and check out how you really SHOULD make then at Buttercream Eggs and Jets.  If you start now you can still have them for Easter morning.

Jets and peeps

I Hate To Sew

And with good reason.  First, I never took Home Ec.  I managed, during a time when it was a requirement for girls (and I guess boys had to take shop) to not take it, because we moved enough that I needed other things to graduate, and so they waived it.  At the time I thought, “Well, isn’t that cool?!” but now I realize I lost out, because while I managed to teach myself to cook, I think learning the basics of sewing would have been very valuable.

I don’t understand patterns, and so I don’t use them. This is probably at the basis of my hostility toward sewing.  Patterns are written in some sort of unbreakable code by people who clearly hate me.  But, in addition, sewing usually requires those instruments of torture  –sewing machines.  I have owned several in my life, which is odd for someone who hates to sew.

My first sewing machine was my Mom’s old Kenmore.  It came to me with a number of gadgets and gizmos which I recalled from my childhood, but I really had no idea how to use.  It also had a distinctive odor when I used it, sort of a warm motor smell, that always made me think of my Mom sewing.  Yes, my Mom, while not the most domestic of people did knit and sew.  Anyway, I only used it to sew straight lines anyway, and never used all the paraphernalia.  I made some baby clothes (don’t get excited –just those sack things) and a very sad quilt and a few other things with it.  I remember I always dreaded the moment it ran out of thread or I had to do anything with the bobbin.

Eventually I convinced my husband that a newer machine with all of the parts and pieces and  instructions would be a good idea, and maybe I would love to sew.  So, he bought me a new Kenmore machine, and I did actually sew a little more.  Halloween costumes, a few more craft items.  But still, I hated threading that thing and trying to recall which way the bobbin fed, and never used any of the various parts.  What good are bells and whistles if you never ring them or blow them?  So, Most of my sewing was still a thing here or there, mostly repairing something, and my machine stayed in the closet, lonely.

Then, I decided to make a little clutch purse, because I wanted to do something with some paper mache buttons I had made.  I dragged it out.  Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve used it.  We have lived here 7 years and I know I have sewn with it only once since we’ve been here.  After sewing about 10 inches it needed thread in the bobbin.  I couldn’t recall how to do that, so I just wound some on popped it in and hoped for the best.  Ha!  If you sew, perhaps you know what I mean when I say the words BIG WAD OF THREAD SEWN ON THE BACK SIDE!  Took awhile to snip it out without ruining the fabric.  I couldn’t find the instruction book, and of course, nothing online either.

Let me stop here and say, I have the kindest husband in the world and cut to the chase.  I now own a nice new Singer machine.  It does have bells and whistles that I may or may not use, but I think I’m determined to try to do a little more with this one.  It does sew beautifully, threads very easily, has a picture right on the machine how to thread the bobbin (they must have had me in mind) and is about half the weight of my old machine.

If you’ve read this far, I won’t make you click to another page just to see photos of the clutch I made.  I didn’t do a tutorial because it would have just been pictures of me tearing my hair out.  But here is the finished clutch.  It’s not perfect, but I did learn a few things, and I may make another one, and I will do a step by step.  This is a fabric I’ve had forever (and by forever I mean probably 25 years).  I think I may have bought it to make placemats, but I don’t recall.

There were a number of things I would do differently, and a couple of things I intended to do that I forgot, but there is something they say about the best laid plans!  Anyway, I would say, it’s a small success.  And I did learn a few things.  Maybe I should have taken Shop Class with the boys.

Clutch Untied

Untied Clutch

Homemade Paper Mache Buttons

Homemade Paper Mache Buttons

Finished Clutch

Finished Clutch with Tie Closure

A Little Help From My Friend…

It’s Handmade Monday and I’ve had a few glitches in my item I’ve been working on.  I’ll do an entire blog on it, maybe more than one, but it’s not really ready for prime time as they say, so I was searching desperately for something to blog about this morning, at the last minute.  I do have another pursuit that consumes me that I haven’t really blogged.  Partially because I had not figured out how to link Flickr and my blog, and partially because I do incorporate it as a matter of course into my craft blogs and tutorials anyway.  That would be photography.

However, just doing a blog about my pictures seemed a little lame, so I thought I would use them as a way to introduce my other passion, my golden retriever, Pauli.  She is sort of handmade, but not by me.  I did have her mother, who went by the name of Winfrey and was my first Champion.  Pauli is now retired from the show ring, and spends her days lounging around and graciously letting me take photos of her.  She also chases lizards, walks on the Ave downtown any chance she gets and keeps me wonderful company.  She’s particularly photogenic.  See what you think.  🙂

Then head over to Wendy’s and check out the real items for Handmade Monday for this week!  But come back, I promise to have some things cooking when I get this thing I’m working on worked out!  🙂

Sometimes a Door Closes 11/52 by sundero
Sometimes a Door Closes 11/52, a photo by sundero on Flickr.

Waste Not…

More fun with things you would probably just throw away for Handmade Monday. Even before it was cool to recycle and reuse I always saved things and did other things with them. No really. I don’t know why, I just always hated to throw things away if they might possibly be useful. Of course, that probably also gets into the realm of pack rattedness. But, we really do just toss things into the trash in far too cavalier a manner. I’m not making a political statement, just a statement of fact. And I’m as guilty as the next person. But I do love to make something from “trash”.

This is another project from that really wonderful paper mache recipe. I decided it would be great to make something without having to buy a form to put it over, so I imagined using throwaway cardboard from packaging. I used a box that I retrieved from the recycling bin. The most difficult part was cutting the hole in the middle, however I did a pretty fair job.

But, it’s boring to sit here and read about that, let’s get on with it. Head to Make it and read how to make your own Little Gold Frame. And don’t forget to check out all of the awesome things everyone is doing for Handmade Monday. It’s such a great and diverse crew of crafters, there’s pretty much something for everyone!Finished Frame

Who Doesn’t Like Potatoes?

It’s been awhile since I did a recipe, so even though it’s Handmade Monday (yes again–and go check them out by clicking on the link, you will be amazed!) I’m going to do a food thing today, because it’s handmade, and I have discovered those other crafters like food too. 🙂

I made this up after we ate what was supposed to be potato skins at a restaurant one afternoon. They were good, but I didn’t think they were potato skins, and I thought, I could make something like this, but better! So, This recipe is my version, which is more like a baked and then roasted potato. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easy or quick. It’s not really either of those. But it’s really GOOD! And, twice we’ve had it and made a whole meal of it.

I think it could be a side dish though. And good enough for company. And it just begs to be jazzed up with additions. My neighbor suggested rosemary, and I can think of a few more things right off the top of my head. So, pop over to Cook It and let’s make Baked and Roasted Potatoes! I think they’re worth the effort, and more important, Jeff has asked me to make them again! And again! 🙂