Happy Birthday Pam

I wanted to make something special for my neighbor who is always there when I need anything. She and her husband never mind picking up the mail or watching the house (or checking to see if it’s just a rat in the attic and not a burglar in the house–thanks Mark!) and we also enjoy spending time finding cool restaurants and seeing movies and things with them. They are that kind of neighbors.

So, I thought I would combine Handmade Monday’s blog and share a favorite recipe. This was my Father in Law’s favorite and I have been making them for so long I can’t even recall where I first ran across it. It doesn’t require very many ingredients, and makes a wonderful gift with very little work. I know most people think candy is difficult to make, and are little intimidated by it, but if you will buy a candy thermometer and just try it, I promise, you will get over that notion and be impressing your family in short order! It will make you a favorite!

Oh, and if you have ever bought these somewhere, I have to say, I think these are better than any I have ever found in a store. But maybe I’m just biased. 🙂 Go ahead, try making them yourself, and see if you don’t think these Pralines aren’t the best you’ve ever tasted!

And don’t forget to go over and check out Handmade Monday when you’re done either. It’s the best collection of crafts! I’m going there myself!

Buttery Goodness

Back when I was first married we were able to get real milk. By that I mean raw milk from a farmer. It wasn’t homogenized or pasteurized. It came in a gallon glass jar with a screw on metal lid and the cream rose to the top. My neighbor told me I should make my own butter, that it was easy.

At first I thought, “Why would I want to do that?” After all, butter was readily available at the grocery store. Besides we usually used margarine anyway, because it came in little tubs and was easy to spread. This was before I was concerned about nutrition and cooking and mostly concerned about how much things cost and whether or not Jeff would eat what I made.

But, I was a little intrigued by the idea of making butter. My Mom had bought raw milk from the farmer down the road when we lived in Ruidoso, but she never made butter. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who had ever made it. If my Grandmother or Granny had they’d certainly never mentioned it to me.

Anyway, Sharon, my neighbor explained how to make it in my blender, and it sounded so easy, I really didn’t believe her. If it was that easy, why did we all buy it? There must be some catch. Something that I would discover when I tried to make it.

However, I decided give it a try. To my shock and wonder, she had not steered me wrong. It WAS easy! And wonderful. And so, you can do it too. Of course, in the intervening years it has become much more difficult to get raw milk, unless you have your own cow. But, you can make it with heavy cream from the grocery store. I did buy organic cream, but I suspect it doesn’t matter from a will it work standpoint.

You don’t really have to tell your friends how easy it is. And they will think you’re amazing when you tell them you made the butter yourself. 🙂 Unless they have the internet and look it up, of course. So, let’s go check out how to make Homemade Garlic Butter. Oh, you can leave the garlic out and make plain butter, I just decided to dress it up a bit.

Yes You Can

Cream cheese
Again with the Handmade Monday! And again with the food! This week is SO Handmade too. This is what I was going to make LAST Monday but I couldn’t find the magic ingredient and had to order it.

Rennet. If you don’t know what that is, then you’ve probably never made cheese or never known anyone who has. I actually thought the starter would be harder to get, but I was able to find kefir starter at Whole Foods (after looking 2 other places). But rennet was NOT to be found anywhere.

You used to be able to buy rennet tablets (made by Junket) in the pudding section of the local grocery store, but those don’t seem readily available anymore and besides a little reading online told me that those are a bit different than the liquid rennet that you use for cheese anyway. So, I ordered liquid rennet from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and should now be ready to make cheese for quite some time.

I have to admit, making the actual cream cheese was about 1000 times easier than getting the rennet was! And, it made the stuff you buy in the store taste like an entirely different animal! So, without further adieu lets go check out how to make your very own Cream Cheese!

Sweet and Tart

It’s Handmade Monday!  And of course, I’m running late.  I keep promising myself I will do a couple of blogs and save them and just be able to pop them up Sunday night and be good to go, but no, I get so excited when I have something I can’t resist posting it right then, so I never have anything made ahead.  

The problem with making a blog post (for me anyway) is that it’s not just a matter of typing a few words and tossing it online.  I have to take photos while I make it, and then I spend quite a bit of time getting the photos just right.  Sometimes writing it out takes me awhile.  And in the meantime sometimes I just get distracted by other things.  I wonder if other bloggers have the same problem?  And how on earth to people with small children ever get anything like this done?

Well, anyway, I was planning something completely different, but even tho my wonderful husband spent all day Saturday taking me all over we could not find one important ingredient, which I finally had to order online.  So, if it gets here in time, I will make that for next week.  But I was scrambling for something for this week, and fortunately Jeff had found a wonderful recipe for Limeade, and he suggested we try that.  It’s pretty simple, but it really IS awesome!

I’ll stop babbling now and share this easy and tangy Brazilian Lemonade.  BTW I don’t know why it’s called lemonade, it’s made with limes!

Buttons Buttons Buttons

I made buttons the last time I made beads, but I didn’t really blog about them.  I actually made the purse because I wanted something to do with the buttons I made.  A friend asked me if I sold buttons, but no, I don’t.  However, I told her I would make her some as a gift.  And if I’m going to make some, I need to post it.

So, I’ll share this quick tutorial on making paper mache buttons. By the way, don’t use them on anything you will ever want to wash, unless you want to take them off every time and put them back on!  But I think they would be fine on purses, or something decorative.  And, no two are very much alike.  I made them round(ish!) but you could make them another shape.

Paper Mache Buttons –lets go!

Finished buttons

Dress Up an Old Bottle

I had to find a way to put two of my favorite things together, paper mache and used glass jars. I always have liked the shape of salad dressing bottles, but they invariably look like salad dressing bottles. However, the other day, I had an idea. I wasn’t exactly sure where it would go (if you follow my blog at all, I think that might sound a little familiar to you!) but I thought I would just go with it and see where it led.

It was a little more time consuming than I had expected, because it took a LOT longer to dry than I thought it would, but I am REALLY pleased with the result AND I can see other possibilities. I’m sure I’m not the first to do something like this, but, so what? Maybe someone reading this hasn’t thought of it either. So, let’s go on over to Make It and you can also make your own Paper Mache Bottle.

Paint Storage

It’s Handmade Monday again!  I did something a little different, mostly because it was Mother’s Day and my husband’s birthday this weekend.  And because I’ve been working on a little project that has turned into a little bigger project (meaning it took MUCH longer to dry than I ever imagined it would!) so it’s not ready for prime time yet.

I think this is a pretty useful idea, although it’s probably not original.  If you haven’t already thought of it, you might find it helpful.  It wasn’t completely mine, my husband helped me find the box, and I’m really not sure which of us really thought of the paintbrush holder idea.  Maybe we both thought of it at exactly the same time.  Either way, it was quick and it worked, so bravo on both counts!  That’s my kind of project.

It’s so easy, I’m just going to post it right here.  I needed something to store all of my various colors of acrylic paints that I’ve collected for painting things, mostly paper mache.  They had outgrown my plastic box, and were spilling out onto the shelf and it was very difficult to know what I had (which had caused me to buy the same color twice more than once!).  It was just a mess.

So, we headed off to the home improvement store and looked at the various boxes.  I settled on a Stanley brand box that was probably meant to hold nuts and bolts, but had removable compartments and was the perfect size to fit paint bottles (laying down).  Most of the compartments would hold 4, altho there are also 2 that will hold 10 each.  And I have a few smaller paints that will also fit.  It snaps shut to keep things from falling out and has a handle.

Paint box filled with paintThere was only one problem.  There was nowhere to put my paintbrushes.  I thought it would be great to have somewhere handy to store paintbrushes with the paints so when I got them out everything would be together.

Because the little compartments come right up the lid and they are too long to fit inside any of the compartments, there is no way to store them inside the box.

However, there are 2 empty sides, with all that empty space! It was the perfect spot to store paintbrushes.  So, we simply used hot glue to affix a piece of ribbon (which I had) on the side, with loops that fit 4 brushes.Paintbox with brushes I didn’t do one for the other side, because I don’t need that much brush storage (yet) but it would be easy to do more if need be.  It took almost no time at all, and doesn’t look bad.

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and I hope this was helpful!  🙂  Now, scoot over and visit the other blogs at Handmade Monday, they always make the best stuff!

It’s Spring!

Singing by sundero
Singing, a photo by sundero on Flickr.

When I see Redwing Blackbirds I’m always reminded that it’s spring! I love their beautiful trilling song, and I love the flash of red on their shoulders.
I am working on a few things, but today, I hope you get outside and enjoy, because, it’s SPRING!

Mod Podge to the Rescue

It’s Handmade Monday and I’m running late as usual.  I actually had this ready  but I had an errand to run this morning so I didn’t get it written and posted as early as I planned.  Well, it’s a quick one, so here goes.  And don’t forget to pop over using the link above and look at all the wonderful things everyone else has done!  🙂

This is the continuing saga of the glass stars I worked on last week.  If you want to go see why I had two glass stars to salvage you can go here for the rest of the story.  I had to do something to cover up the slight etching you could see on the glass, and what better than one of my favorite things, Mod Podge?  I used Christmas tissue wrapping paper that wasn’t really very Christmasy, but I love the colors.  I’ve used it for other projects before, but I still have some left.  I will hate when I use the last of it.

First I covered the stars with the paper and Mod Podged it on with several coats.  On a whim I covered one with some gold tulle I happened to have, and Mod Podged over that too.  Wow, nice sparkle!Mod Podge Stars I needed to trim the tulle as close as I could to the edge of the star and build up the edges with Mod Podge until it was smooth. This took several coats, and time as it had to dry between coats.  But I think it was worth it as it came out really sparkly!

Then I printed photos of my 2 Grandchildren the right size to fit in the center of the stars on photo paper.  I

affixed those with Mod Podge and then decided it would be fun to have their names on the back. That wasn’t my original plan, but hey, if something seems right I like to go with it!  So, I found an old catalogue with nice colors on the front.

Using my Cricut, I cut out their names with paper from the catalogue cover and put those on the other side of the star, not trying to get them straight but just sort of erratic.  Mostly because if I tried to do them neatly and evenly they would still look erratic!   This way maybe it looks like I tried to do it that way.  I hope so.  🙂

Stars with names

As a last touch, I put ribbons through the holes in the top so they an hang them on their door knobs (or somewhere else if they choose).  I think they came out pretty well, considering they were rescued.  I still think the etched stars would have been far superior, but when life hands you lemons, I think you just have to use Mod Podge!