Wednesday, June 29, 2011

peanut butter s'mores bars

I kept thinking, "I need to make marshmallows for a recipe." but I really couldn't remember what recipe. I think I had some weird craving that required them, but instead of thinking about the recipe as a whole, I only focused on one of the components and completely forgot the first why.

Convoluted as usual.

So I had to pick up raisins and chocolate chips on my last shopping trip and I stood there in the baking aisle trying to decide whether I should buy large marshmallows or mini marshmallows. What did I even need them for? Why am I so fixated on marshmallows all of a sudden? I just couldn't figure it out so I did what any self-respecting cheap-o would do. I looked at the price of each bag and the amount in each bag and chose to buy mini marshmallows based on those facts alone. Whatever. So they sit in my pantry. Big deal. At least once I remember what it was I was going to do with them, they'd be right there.

Unfortunately, when I did figure out that all along, what I really wanted was butterscotch confetti squares, it was too late as I then realized I didn't have any butterscotch chips.

That's when I thought about using chocolate chips instead. They've got the same properties, right? And peanut butter and chocolate are best friends, so they should taste perfectly delicious. And then I couldn't get away from the obvious s'mores connection between the chocolate and marshmallows so I incorporated graham cracker the easiest way I knew how. And that's how the peanut butter s'mores bar was born.

At first, I didn't think it was a real winner of a recipe. Maybe it would be better with milk chocolate? But I finally realized I was over-analyzing the whole thing when I noticed we had polished them off in a day and a half. Further proof came when Idle Husband tried to lick the computer screen while I was editing the photos. I guess they turned out not half bad after all.

adapted from various sources I do not recall

{graham cracker crust}

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted

Line a 2 quart rectangular baking dish (or any dish you think will work. Smaller = thicker; larger = thinner) with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt together. Add the melted butter and stir until the graham cracker crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press evenly into the prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

{chocolate confetti squares}

1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (lite is all right)
1 cup chocolate chips
250 g mini marshmallows

In a medium sized pot, melt the margarine and peanut butter together. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir until they've completely melted into the peanut butter mixture. Allow the mixture to cool to the point where you can comfortably place your hand on the bottom of the pot (be careful not to touch it too soon). Add marshmallows and stir to coat. Spread evenly over the graham cracker crust and put the whole thing in the fridge until fully set. Lift out of the dish using the parchment paper, cut into squares, and enjoy! It's best to keep these refrigerated.

{note} You can skip the graham cracker crust entirely and pour the chocolate confetti square mixture directly into a 9X9 pan lined with plastic wrap. You can also substitute the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips as originally intended (also more original would be to use multicoloured mini marshmallows) which I just might do in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

a little bit of fort edmonton

the company bbq was pretty neat this year

there were free steaks and hamburgers in abundance, so why did I only have three chicken fingers?

a hand-cranked ferris wheel?

this is how they did buntings in the '20s. take note

the one thing I insisted on was a train ride

fort edmonton train

old-timey train conductor outfit + modern day water bottle = (you're ruining the magic)

brad pitt's VIP train room
we weren't allowed in this car since it was set up all fancy by them hollywood folks
(please see this movie if you want to watch the train in action)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

DIY: napkin folding guest post

Hi all! Yesterday I guest posted over at the sweet foodie blog, Hot Polka Dot. Lindsey comes up with some of the most amazingly delicious recipes (her s'mores cookies have been haunting my dreams for a while now) and has some really helpful kitchen tips, too (I thought I'd heard every possible way to peel a clove of garlic until Lindsey posted a new and easy gadget-free way). It was so much fun coming up with a foodie DIY for her that I'm starting to get ideas for more food related crafts!

I hope you click over to find a couple cute quick ways to transform your plain jane napkins.

Friday, June 24, 2011

bridge mixture and the giveaway winners!

Have you ever had bridge mixture? I had a hankering for some licorice allsorts the other day and in an effort to find some, I came across Bridge Mixture instead.

The two have nothing in common at all. My craving flip-flopped.

So Bridge Mixture! I totally forgot about you! It's so great cuz it's a mixed bag of anything that tastes great when covered in chocolate.

You can get raisins, peanuts, gummies (my favourite), mints, other weird stuff I don't remember (and every box is different). Whatever you get, it's gonna be covered in chocolate so that means it's automatically delicious.

Anyway, it's such a weirdly named candy for kids to want, isn't it? It immediately makes me think of a bunch of grannies sitting around playing bridge while eating Bridge Mixture. But if we saw it at the store, we'd always get it, so I had to have it this time for nostalgia.

Now, on to the friendship bracelet winners! As if you need telling! Here's a fun story, though. Idle Husband thought it would still be completely sensical (and particularly hilarious) if he drew names, increasing Lindsey's chance of winning nine whole bracelets exponentially. So I had to sit him down and gently explain to him that I did not think that would be hilarious at all.

{winner winner}
{LaelShine} Favourite colours..Hmmm, blue, purple and copper.
{Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot} My three favourite colours are yellow, turquoise and grey and I love that chevron pattern!

 I'm already working on them!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

balsamic cherries on salmon

The best recipes are always happy accidents or meals made out of necessity, aren't they? That's what I really love about cooking. Baking's so scientific but cooking -- cooking's game for anything. Throw a bunch of odd-ball ingredients together and you almost always get something good in return.

This was a necessity meal that turned into a very tasty meal, and I love it when that happens.

My favourite fish is pink salmon and usually I make it very simply. Lemon juice, salt and pepper, maybe some dried dill, under the broiler. This time, I had a bowl of cherries that just weren't cutting it. You know, I always have these grand ideas about cherries. They look so pretty and wonderful, but then I buy them, and they're no where near as good as I imagined they'd be. So they sit around in a bowl and get snacked on casually -- I say casually cuz we'll have a couple, remember they're not so great, then stop eating them until the next day.

I really hate wasting food, and I wanted to get rid of them before they all went south, so I came up with this. Strawberries with balsamic vinegar seems to work, so why not cherries? This isn't necessarily a recipe. It's more of an idea or suggested method if you've also got a ripening cherry problem on your hands.

however many cherries you've got (I had maybe 2 cups)
balsamic vinegar (possibly 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
olive or canola oil
salt & pepper

Pit the cherries by any means necessary. I don't cook or bake with cherries enough to own a cherry pitter, so I halved them with a pairing knife, then I picked each pit out. Labour intensive but satisfying cuz it's assembly line work (and that's my favourite kind).

Place all the cherries into some sort of frying pan (whatever you've got), place on medium high heat with a drizzle of oil and enough balsamic vinegar to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar starts to bubble and cook off. Continue until the cherries have cooked down ever so slightly and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thickish glaze. Salt and pepper to taste.

I buy the frozen filets of salmon (when they're on sale, of course), but any kind your little heart desires will work

Arrange the salmon filets on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle enough honey on each piece to lightly cover (use your fingers to spread it around if you must). Salt and pepper to taste.

Place under a preheated broiler until the fish is done to your satisfaction (it doesn't take very long at all. I always tend towards a little well-done which I like. They seem meatier to me that way). Once done, remove, place on a plate, and top with the cherries. Delightful!

Monday, June 20, 2011

how to fix shredded purse lining

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of tired of hearing about how all women love shoes. Apparently, we all have a huge collection of shoes, want or have an entire closet devoted to shoes, or want a pair of shoes for every hour of every day and it's really starting to bug me. Especially after reading that women on average will spend $25,000 in their lifetime on shoes. Are you kidding me?

You know what? That may be true for some women but as with all stereotypes, it does not apply to everyone. I'm definitely not in that category as I find shoe shopping extraordinarily difficult and it always takes me forever to find a pair I like. I don't run into shoe stores and find I just can't decide on what pair to get so I must get them all. That's totally not me.

Purses, on the other hand, could definitely put me in that position -- where I find myself torn between one bag and another. In fact, I can think I've found the perfect bag for everything and forever, but then I see another one that seems to promise the same. But don't worry. I'm still thrifty to the end and I don't think I'd ever be able to spend $25,000 on purses in my lifetime. In fact, all of the ones I have were either gifts, found on sale (eh hem, clearance), or found at the thrift store.

I will say that I think purses rank higher than shoes, because they always have them in my size. And there's nothing worse for me than (finally) finding a pair of shoes I really love only to find out they don't have my size or even worse they don't have any size that works. So take that, shoes.

So when my favourite right-now over-the-shoulder purse was mysteriously damaged, I sobbed. A little. (Let's be clear here, I'm not purse crazy!)

I don't know how it happened, but between one day and the next, I reached inside my bag to find this:

It's never happened to me until now, but I've seen it in many purse orphans at the thrift store.

So how do you fix it? Fabric glue to the rescue!

Turn the bag inside out so it's easier to work with.

crazy double-jointed thumbs. what would I do without you?

Do a dry run first by tucking the effected area back to where it probably should be and shift the zipper area up to overlap the rip. This way you'll have a better idea of exactly where you should put the glue so the lining and zipper area looks right. You'll also reduce the risk of over or under applying the glue or applying it in the wrong area.

It's kind of important to get an idea of the fix before actually gluing it on your own purse. Every purse is different, so what worked for mine may not work exactly for yours.

Use a brush or your finger to swipe on some fabric glue (I got mine at FabricLand). Put it all along the fabric just above the rip (if there are any loose strings from the fray, you should trim them before gluing. I didn't and wish I had). I was pretty generous with the glue and it's ok if you happen to brush a bit out of the area. It dries clear so you won't even notice any mistakes.

The glue does not dry instantly so secure it with some binder clips, clothespins, whatever you've got handy if you find it doesn't want to stay in the position you want it to be in. Try to make sure to only clip to the pocket and the lining. I managed to pinch some of the outer leather, so now I've got a tiny crease on the outside of the purse but since it's pretty obvious which side of my bag is the front, I'll never be wearing it opposite to that so no one will ever see that pinch. It's not a really terrible crease that destroys the look of the purse, just a tiny fold, but you'll want to watch out for that if your purse has no defined front.

I let mine dry overnight just to be doubly sure it had bonded.

Remove the binder clips and voila! My purse is back to new again! You wouldn't even know it had been ripped. The binder clip marks fade within a day so don't worry about that.

Now I have my purse back and I'm continuing my habit of idly ruffling the fringe while shopping, sitting in the car, waiting in line... Boy, I missed that. 

What's almost better than tassels? Fringe! And metal chain fringe at that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

friday fixations

{sun hats} I found some that fit my head! I think it was totally random and magical, so I bought three in three different colours (they also happened to be 25% off which helped). That's uncharacteristic of me, but I know how difficult it is to find one that fits on this watermelon head of mine and I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to have hats for life (they probably will last for life). The funny thing is that the hats in the brand that fit had to be a specific style to fit. It wasn't the brand itself (Jules and James from Zellers), it was the style and there were only so many of those available! They were the best find I've made all week. It's been so nice not to have to squint during my whole time outside and my sun-headaches are gone.

{papercraft calendars} I love how these look. The design, the movement, the colour. They're really fantastic. I'd love to have all of them in a grid on the wall.

{gym-going for the awkward woman} I mean, if this isn't completely me, I don't know what is. I'm going to build some confidence this summer. Winter workouts, here I come!

{} I finally received my new iPod! (I say "finally" like I didn't forget it was coming and feel completely surprised when I opened the door.) I found this link via Not Martha (she's great for good links) and I think it could come in pretty handy when looking for well-designed apps since that's all I ever seem to do now. Scanning through the app store -- Where's a good game? What's something good that's free? What's fun? What's useful? Also if you're instagramming, I am too and we should totally be friends! Oh and I'm kind of addicted to this game called Shape Shift. It was free! You should check it out, too.

{dear photograph} I love this photography concept (found here). It's really interesting and unique and I love seeing how things have changed or not changed (this is 100% my favourite photo). If I had actually lived in the same place my whole life and/or could go back to those places, I'd like to do this with some of my childhood pictures.

{bbq pulled pork} I just made this recipe and we really loved it. I made it as part of a trial for good recipes I can make while the in-laws are here that require no thought or work from me. I think my problem with previous pulled pork recipes was from choosing the wrong cut of pork. So make sure to get the right stuff. Also, I thought using a whole bottle of BBQ sauce was a little extravagant and much too saucy. So I used a little less than three-quarters of a bottle and some very generous squirts of sriracha, tasting as I added. Having that little bit of heat from the sriracha really took the flavour over the top. Sweet and spicy! I also didn't realize how delicious it would be without the bun (cuz I kinda forgot to buy or make some). Idle Husband had his on pita bread, and I had mine alone with a side salad which I then converted into a pulled pork salad. It was so delicious, I'm going to roll the meat in iceberg lettuce leaves next time.

{flank steak} I seem to have a thing for meat this week. My go-to dinner is now beef with broccoli. Idle Husband pulls out the meat and has exactly one broccoli floret to appease me, but that's ok. I kind of understand because the steak. OMG. The steak is delicious and almost buttery and like heaven to eat. Finally, for the first time ever, I doubled the meat just so we could each have our fill, and I was graced with some leftovers for lunch. I wish there were more! Want some, too? Here's how: As soon as the flank steak is unthawed enough to cut, slice it as thinly as possible against the grain. It's easier to get super thin slices if it's still a little frozen (hint for all meat, actually). I use a combo of two recipes that go really well together. I marinate it in this marinade and generally follow the whole instructions. The recipe is delicious, of course, and tastes exactly like restaurant-style beef with broccoli, but do not make the whole thing unless you have low-sodium soy sauce. I cheaped out one time and bought regular soy sauce and the dish was way too salty. Due to my bulk soy purchase, I only use the marinade now but it's almost the best part. Maybe it's the baking soda that makes the meat extra tender -- the cornstarch definitely helps, too. Whatever it is, I can't quit it. Then I use this mongolian sauce. I've both omitted and substituted the sugar with splenda -- both good. I've also used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine which was also good. Chop whatever vegetables you want and stir fry as usual. I could eat this daily.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a giveaway!

So the other day, I just happened to notice I've now got 30 followers!

I can't tell you how excited and over-the-moon I am that anyone even cares to read or look at this blog. I really just started it as something fun to do and as a way to keep track of life in general, so I never thought I'd get even one follower. And when I got one follower I was just as excited as I am here today with 30.

And because I turned 30 this year and there are 30 of you, I wanted to do a little giveaway to say thanks for reading, looking, commenting, and just being a little icon on my sidebar. You're all really awesome and I love it when you visit!

I don't know if you've noticed, but there's this humongoid trend in friendship bracelets right now. They're everywhere. I don't think I've opened a single blog page in the last few weeks and not seen one or read a tutorial on how to make one. So because I consider you all friends, I thought I'd make three friendship bracelets for three of you.

That's right THREE for THREE!

I've been making them since high school. I even have a book and an actual embroidery thread organizer with a rainbow of colours. Which means what you see above is not necessarily the pattern you'll get (and at least one bracelet will be a little more intricate. Most likely a double. Definitely something different than normal).

{how to enter}

{1} Leave a comment on this post telling me your top three favourite colours. I'll make the bracelets according to the colours mentioned by the winners (the shade, mix, and pattern of colours will be at my discretion. But if you also said you really love the arrowhead pattern, I'd probably work it in there for you. Just saying).

{for bonus entries}

{2} Become a follower (either through Blogger or Google friend connect) and leave another comment telling me so (this also applies to those of you that already are followers); and/or

{3} Like Idle Wife on facebook, then come back here and leave another comment telling me you've done so (this also applies to those of you that have already liked me on facebook).

Only three entries per person will be permitted as I've stated above.

I'd really like to make a bracelet for all of you so I needed an unbiased decision maker. Idle Husband will draw the winners out of a hat with the soullessness of a random number generator (because he's very strict when it comes to fairness -- and he also really wanted to be included somehow).

Please be sure to leave a valid email address or some way I can get in touch with you for your mailing information (all emails and addresses will be kept confidential).

This contest is open to anyone anywhere.

The giveaway closes on Wednesday the 22nd at 4 p.m. (MST), so you'll have until then to comment. I'll do the draw and announce the winner on that Friday.

{please note} this giveaway is entirely funded by me out of the kindness of my heart. Since these will be one-of-a-kind friendship bracelets specific to your colour preferences, please give me time to make them and be patient. I swear I won't forget about you (I do not forget these types of things -- or faces). Also be aware that Canada Post is currently striking with a randomness I don't understand, so sending this via post may take longer than normally expected, but I'll be sure to tell you when I've dropped it in the mail so you'll have a rough idea of time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

DIY project: decoupage mirror frame

I don't know if you remember this mirror. I picked it up from a thrift store a while back, and I think I've finally finished making it over.

I think.

That's important to note because I'm still not really clear on whether I like it or not. You see, it went through a couple stages before I finally arrived at this idea.

Initially, I just wanted to paint it white. So I sanded it and applied layer after layer of paint only to keep ending up with this:

And then we moved, so I set it down in a corner of my craft room and pretended it didn't exist for a few months.

I don't know where the idea of putting this crazy plaid tissue paper on it came from, but it did, and I couldn't get it out of my brain until I did it.

Let's just be clear. I've never decoupaged anything in my life. I really don't even remember how I came to have mod podge in the first place. It must have been for some other crafty thing, but what that crafty thing was is anyone's guess. And since this was my first time using it with tissue paper, my whole method may be somewhat skewed. I do have some little tips I picked up that might be helpful for you if you should ever decide to decoupage anything in the future (lord have mercy on you).

{tip 1: use the right supplies} Please promise me you won't try to decoupage a textured surface like I did. It's very difficult, very infuriating, and was compounded by the fact that I used a patterned paper. Also please choose a different paper. I think this would have been awesome with a solid coloured tissue paper. If anything, you're going to have some texture after application from any little layers or scrunches the tissue paper makes while you're applying it. You're also going to need mod podge and some brushes. I used a smaller craft brush (because of the texture on the frame), but I think you should use a foam craft brush. Mod podge doesn't wash out completely, so a bristle brush will be pretty much useless for anything else after you use it with this product. A cheap throw-away brush is what you want.

{tip 2: less is more} It was instinctual to put a lot of mod podge on the frame at first because I was rushing and I was doing the whole thing at once. I thought it would give me a little more time between it completely drying and me applying the paper. But when I went to press on the paper, the frame was entirely too wet and the paper slid around too much, so my first papering attempt ended with a gigantic rip in one of the corners. I knew I wouldn't be able to patch that large of a gap, so I ripped the whole sheet off and started again (and I only had to do a few extra mod podge applications to areas that had dried faster, that's how wet it was).

{tip 3: work in sections} Do not think that mod podging the whole frame and then pushing on one whole sheet of tissue paper is a quick and easy way to get this project done. I did consider applying the paper in sections, but I thought the pattern would line up better if I did it in one whole sheet. In reality, after everything was done, I don't think it really would have mattered if it lined up from one side of the mirror to the other. Had I done it in 4 or 5 inch blocks, I would have been able to better apply the paper into all of the grooves and I would have had less cracks, shifts, rips, and tears overall. Even better, had I made a template of the frame and gotten a rough idea of how much paper and where it would be placed, working in sections would still have made a lot of sense with regards to keeping the plaid pattern lined up.

{tip 4: don't stress! Patch!} If you find you've ripped some of the paper in your application, don't fret. Make sure to wait for the whole thing to dry before trying to patch these tears; otherwise, you might create more. All it takes is a tiny amount of mod podge and a tiny scrap of tissue paper and you won't even notice the tear is there. Just apply the podge, gingerly stick on the paper, and sweep more podge over top of it. Tip #2 is extra important here.

{tip 5: seal} I guess this is less of a tip and more of a to-do. Once your patches have dried, apply another layer of mod podge to the whole thing. This will seal the paper and prevent it from ripping or scuffing and it'll give it a nice sheen depending on the type of mod podge you're using (mine is the matte version, but it also comes in gloss, glitter, sparkle, etc.).

That's my finished mirror. Honestly, even though I spent almost a whole day patching rips and tears, I should really spend some more time on it if I want to keep this look. There are still a few places where the pattern is a little splotchy.

I've got it on a wall in the basement where I can walk by and stare at it pretty regularly. It's starting to grow on me a bit, but I'm still not sure if I like it. And now I'm not even sure I could paint over it or re-decoupage it if I wanted to do something else. I don't think I'll stop pondering the fate of this mirror quite yet.

the diy list is here

Friday, June 10, 2011


In vase, I preferred them still in bud. More sculptural. But the double whites were highly photogenic.

Aside from the bunch I gathered still in buds, they did not last more than a day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ginger rhubarb jam

Also known as a pretty swell reason to dig out every single silver spoon in my collection. (Because I own a lot of spoons too, foodies!! Sorry. I have a spoon pet peeve in the blog world. Too many spoons on the dance floor.)

Not that this jam especially requires the use of a spoon, I've just gotten out of the bread market. I still make it, it's still around, I'd still like to eat an entire loaf by myself, but these days, I'm trying to stay away from it which I guess is the perfect reason to make jam.

I no longer eat toast; therefore, -- and you have to picture me or someone else like me raising a finger in the air defiantly -- I must make jam in all sorts of different fruits every single week! Madness.

So let's see. How does one enjoy jam without bread?

Well, lately I've really gotten into cottage cheese, but I don't want to eat it on it's own. I could slice fruit into it, but that's still kind of like eating it alone except occasionally you're blessed with a slice of banana. Then I remembered those stupid cottage cheese cups at the grocery store. You know the ones? Kind of like fruit on the bottom yogurts but with cottage cheese? I decided I could make my own with a big cheap tub of cottage cheese and some jam stirred in. And it's awesome cuz I'll never have to suffer through pineapple cottage cheese again. Why is pineapple one of your flavours, cottage cheese dudes? And why have you evilly paired it with strawberry? I've had bad experiences with pineapple which may or may not have included someone continually using it as the only spice and flavouring in chili. So unless it's on a pizza, I'm not having it. 

You can also make your own flavoured yogurts by stirring any kind of jam into any kind of plain yogurt (I particularly enjoy plain greek yogurt) which gives you all sorts of different options plus you'll have plain yogurt around to use in savoury dishes, too, so it's essentially pulling double kitchen duty. But you knew all of that, didn't you? I know you did.

I've also enjoyed it dabbed on some lite Laughing Cow cheese. If you've never tried jam and cheese before, I suggest you get right on that. I don't eat it as much as I'd like to anymore, but back in the day, I was eating feta and jam on crackers like I needed it to survive.

And don't forget, you can also use any jam as a glaze or dip for all sorts of meats. I have quite literally dumped some directly on top of a chicken before roasting it. No, I did not mix it up with seven different herbs and spices (unless you count salt and pepper which were also unceremoniously ground right on top of the chicken before the jam went on); and no, I did not brush it on lightly with a basting brush; and no, I most certainly did not drag it out every 20 minutes to reglaze it. I literally dumped some on the chicken and cooked it. And people will think you're an amazing cook (but you probably are already) because glazed and roasted chicken is about the best thing ever. Plus you end up with a lot of little puddles of roasted caramelized jam for dipping.

I guess jam really can go above and beyond just bread.

This particular flavour was the brain child of my one lonely tub of rhubarb leftover from last year's harvest which I thought I should get rid of before I filled the freezer with another crop. I guess I could have made a crisp like I usually do, but making another crisp (while delicious) just felt overdone. I wanted to do something different with my rhubarb this time, and jam is something I've never thought to use rhubarb for before (weird, right?).

 Making more ginger rhubarb jam will definitely be on my list once I get my hands on more fresh rhubarb for two reasons:

1. it's delicious. not too sweet not too tart with a slight zing from the ginger; and

2. I bought a crap load of ginger (cuz it was on sale! Clearance ginger!) and then proceeded to turn half of it into ginger syrup for my genius idea of making my own ginger ale (which wasn't genius after all). So I was left with a lot of little bits of finely chopped, sugared ginger which I thought to keep cuz hey, why waste it, right? It was perfectly good despite me not having anything to really do with it.

Until this jam came into my life.

from here

4 cups rhubarb
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger (mine came from this recipe, but I'm sure you can buy it somewhere and/or make it yourself)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine everything in a large pot. Stir then let stand until the sugar is moistened, about 20 minutes.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high, and stir continuously until the mixture is thick and no longer cloudy. This could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Just be patient.

If there's any foam, skim it off (mine had none). Pour into jars and allow to cool on the counter before storing them in the fridge. I did not can mine in the traditional sense because this recipe doesn't make a huge batch (it makes the perfect amount to have one large jar for yourself and two smaller jars to give away, if you like). If you're so inclined, sterilize, jar, and seal accordingly.

{fun fact} Laughing Cow cheese is known in Greece by the french, La Vache Qui Rit. While I think we mostly recognize it here as Laughing Cow. Which is odd to me since we're the english/french bilingual country.

Monday, June 6, 2011

DIY project: fabric scrap wreath

I loved how this wreath looked when I first found it. It has a lot of interest, it's totally easy, and even though it's made with scraps, it still manages to look put together. I particularly loved how customizeable it is. If you want a wreath for Christmas, use Christmas colours. If you want one for year round (as I did), use colours you like or colours that match your house. Whatever you've got will totally work. I didn't have enough scraps to make mine from actual scrap fabric. I used large pieces of fabric I've had sitting around in boxes for years that I hadn't used for anything else and then I cut as much as I needed. I even used bits of crocheted lace from an old antique tablecloth that had holes in it. Anything you've got should work!

This is the hardest part. Use any device you have in your possession to achieve the roundest shape you possibly can. I used a pair of pliers to deal with the hook and then kept pulling and bending until I got a roundish circle. You don't have to go overboard just do your best.

Choose some fabrics that you like and that work well together. I think it's best if they're not all matchy-matchy. It adds to the uniqueness.

Cut your strips about 1 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long. Skinnier or shorter is fine. If the fabric scrap was wider it was harder to tie onto the wire and if it was longer, it just didn't look quite right. Too floppy.

All you have to do now is tie them on. I guess some people can do the random thing, but I'm not one of those people. So first, I tied on the fabric I had the most of (the above blue). Then I went back with the other colours and filled the wreath in that way. I kept holding it up and judging where to put each colour so it looked kind of random but with some semblance of order. I like to have things even. That's my OCD talking.

I swear, you'll be doing this for a while, and you'll be just about finished with the bulk of your fabric, and then you'll think, this is never going to look right. Here's another junky craft project I can stuff in the bin. But then, all of a sudden, it all comes together, and you end up with something like this:

Pretty sweet, hey?

I felt like it still needed something more, so I used this quick and easy tutorial for foam flowers to add a little something extra to my wreath.

Besides, I had all that craft foam leftover from the stamp project and then I spotted some wavy scissors at another dollar store (which I've always wanted anyway), so there really wasn't any reason not to make them from foam. Although, I did consider doing some felt flowers. They'd also be brilliant.

Cut a loose spiral from the foam. Don't get all serious about this. You're crafting! It's fun!

Starting at the smaller end, roll it up to resemble a flower like so:

For whatever reason, I was not going to start up my glue gun for this. I was in total glue gun boycott. So, like a dummy, my first thought was to thread a twist tie through all the layers so I'd be able to twist tie it onto the wreath. Keyword there: thread. So when that was terribly unsuccessful, I got out a needle and some embroidery thread and used that instead. Duh. Just make sure to push the needle through all of the different layers and the rose will definitely stay in its rosey shape. To cover up the thread in the middle (and add a little extra), I whipped on a button. Easy.

Plus I got to dump out and go through my cute little bear button jar.

Tie the flowers on wherever and however you like and cut the threads short so you can't see them.

Stand back and marvel at your creation! The pictures really don't do it justice. It looks amazing on our front door (I didn't necessarily try to match it with the house and door, but it matches really well anyway). Plus I knocked out two DIYs in one craft! Score!

{the rest of the DIY list is here}