Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy Happy New Years Homemade Baileys

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Happy new year!
I thought it would be fitting to share one of my favorite hostess gifts with you because it is relatively inexpensive, and very easy, and people are always very impressed with this recipe.
So, all you need is
1cup of Irish whiskey (most important- although, some times I add half that…I know, I know, I am getting old! My new year’s resolution last year was to drink more…)
1 cup of of cream
1 can of condensed milk (what makes it taste so good)
A couple tablespoons of chocolate milk mix (the liquid kind)
And if you have it, a little bit of coconut extract

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Put everything in the blender for about a minute, then pour it into a nice bottle and there you go! Drink it ice cold or with ice cubes. It is also great on ice cream!
Don’t forget to drink responsibly! Happy new year!

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Putting the cupcake quilt together -part two…

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Before I go on to the next step, I have a couple of tips for sewing with fur…
The first is to take the pins out as you sew. They get buried in the fur and lost, and trust me, they hurt!
The second tip is to test your machine first to see if it can handle the thickness of fur together with a couple layers of fabric. I use my grandmothers antique Singer sewing machine because it can handle a lot of fabric. It only has one stitch, but it is my favorite machine right now!
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My third tip is to use a large stitch, and cover your stitching using a pin or seam ripper. After you finish top stitching a seam in fur, your stitching leaves a line or part in the fur. If you use a bigger stitch length, you can use a pin to pull out a lot of the hairs that you have sewed down. If your stitch length is too small, it will be really difficult to pull the fur out. You can use the pin to pull the hairs out of all of your seams too, just use it kind of like a rake… I really have to figure out how to post using video! Hope this photo helps. If you look at the top of the photo, you can see where I have adjusted the fur.

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I think people normally sew quilts in an assembly line kind of way- sewing one seam at a time then repeating the same seam for all of the pieces, it just seems to make more sense. So I started by cutting a whole pile of pink and zebra skin strips, about 3 inches wide. Then I pinned the pink strips to both sides of each block.

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While I was working, I gave Sam a special project to work on making artwork for the walls. I gave her a canvas from Michaels, and the scraps of fabric…I will show you what she comes up with…

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After all of the sides were sewn on, I attached the top and bottom pink fabric in the same way. As you can see, I sew in a continuous seam, almost connecting all of the blocks together. It saves a lot of thread and time stopping and starting. Also, when I am sewing is one of the only times you will see me with an iron, but it does make a difference in the finished product if you press open the seams before sewing the next ones.

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I will do the zebra borders the same way… This part isn’t my favourite to sew, It is pretty tedious, repetitive, and takes forever….
After the borders are all done, we will start sewing on the details. Everyone knows that a good cupcake has some decorations, so we decided to use buttons, and some sequins for some bling-bling. Because there are 12 cupcakes, I figured I would add about 4 sequins for each cupcake. Sam picked out all of the sequins she liked from the bag of sequins (apparently we can only use pink and silver), that kept her busy for a good half hour!
To sew on the sequins, I am using embroidery thread to save time. Because I am using three stands of the embroidery thread at a time, I only have to sew one time for each sequin because it is triple the threads. The kids helped sew on a couple sequins, but unfortunately, it didn’t keep their attention for long.

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I think it will take me a bit of time to finish all the zebra borders and sewing on the sequins, so I will post again when I am ready for the next step.

Cupcake quilt -part one!

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So, before I started painting my daughters room, I thought we would start with making all of the accessories, like curtains and bedding. This way, I can make sure the room won’t bee too busy with a design on the walls. Once we “cupcake” her bed, shelves and curtains, to add a cupcake design on the walls might be too much…
So, my first step in making the quilt was to aimlessly wander the aisles of fabricland.. I knew the colour scheme was going to be pink and black, so I looked for fabrics that had a striped pattern for the cupcake base and textured patterns for the top. These are the fabrics I chose…

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I then made a template or pattern for the top and bottom of the cupcake and tried cutting out a few to see what it would look like. I always need to “dry fit” my quilts to see if I like the design…I think it would be horrible to spend so much time putting together a quilt that you don’t end up liking. So here is my first layout.

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Between each cupcake, I am also going to add a small border of hot pink and another on of a black and white zebra print.
Ok, now for the actual sewing together…I figured that the best way to put it together was to line each cupcake top with a black fabric. So I pinned each cupcake top to the black fabric (right sides in), pinned them, then cut them out (with some help of course!)
I just realized that people always ask me how I find the time to do projects like this when I have two kids. So, I am going to start posting what the kids are doing when I am working. My daughter is also very crafty and creative, so she is often working on projects beside me with the same materials… Or “helping” me. I have great helpers!

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While I was working today, Sam made a matching scarf for Sunshine, her bear. I think sunshine needs a new dress and hat too! Wink wink…

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Back to my quilt… Next, I sewed around each muffin top, leaving a 2-3 inch gap, and turned them right side out. Once again, because I used knit fabrics, I don’t have to clip or trim the seams before turning them right side out. But, if you are using a woven fabric with no stretch, tou will have to clip the fabric around the seams so it will turn inside out neatly.

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By the way, I didn’t explain my logic for lining each piece…because I do want to be able to throw this quilt in the washing machine, I want all of the pieces to have finished edges. I could turn all of the edges under, which I will do for the bottoms, because they are all straight seams, but because the cupcakes tops are so curvy, this is the easiest way. Also, I used black fabric, because my background fabric is black. I could have also used a matching pink fabric, but I didn’t have enough, and wanted to use something cheaper, and less bulky.
Once I finished all of the tops, I turned in the edges of the cupcake bottoms by pinning them in place on the background fabric, then pinned on the tops. I am now going to sew all 12 cupcakes on the background fabric… I will make another post when I am ready for the next step…

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Making tea -part 2- tea bags

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Ok, I am putting this as a separate post… As I am still learning how to blog, and I don’t want to make my posts too long!
I ordered iron close tea bags on-line, and used organic natural twine for the string. I printed labels with the name of the tea on one side and the ingredients on the other side. I just played around with columns and margins on Word until I had a size and design I liked. The first column, I listed the ingredients, and the second column added the name of the tea. This way, when i cut and folded the tags, the fold is on the left side. Post if you would like me to attach one of the pages I designed…
To make the tea bags, I put about a teaspoon of tea into each bag.

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I cut up my string into about 4-6 inch pieces. Then, I inserted one end of the string into the tea bag, and ironed it shut so it held the string in place. On the other end of the string, I used double sided tape to hold the tag closed, and the string in place.

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I ended up using most of the tea bags I made to include with the christmas card I gave to the people at my work. I put one tea bag into a small plastic bag and closed the bag by stapling on a little tag with instructions.

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That’s it!
I am lucky enough to actually have enough tea left to make a few cups for myself!

Home made tea!

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Every year I normally make close to 100 jars of jam during the summer, and for the past few years, I have given the jam as gifts to the kids teachers, friends, and family. This year, I decided to try something new, and make some home made tea to go along with the jam.
I didn’t really follow any recipe, but I will give you the list of ingredients that I added to each kind of tea. I just basically mixed things that I would taste good together, then boiled some water, and did a few taste tests… I think the trick to making the tea into a special gift is in the packaging. Here is how I did it…

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I got the ingredients for each tea from a few different places. From my garden, I dried the lemon balm, some of the chamomile, rose petals (must be pesticide free), and stevia (which is a natural sweetener). I ordered the jasmine flowers, some of the chamomile flowers, and the tea bags on line, from an organic grower in the states… I will try to find the name or link to the website (I haven’t tried posting a link yet!) I bought some of the green tea from a Chinese grocery store around the corner, and some of the other ingredients came from bulk barn. I also used my food dehydrator to dry a lot of the fruits that I put in the fruit teas, and the ginger.
Basically, I started by mixing a teaspoon of each ingredient, made myself a tea, and if I liked it, I mixed a larger batch. The kids loved helping to mix the ingredients.

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After I mixed each type of tea, I scooped a few tablespoons into sealable plastic bags from the dollar store, and then used wedding favor boxes from Michaels to put the bags in. I thought the tea was too pretty to be hidden in a box, so I cut a window in each box with an exacto knife. At Michaels, they also sold pretty little jars and the small metal tins that would work well too…look in the wedding favors section is a store or online would probably be the best place.

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Here are a few pictures of some of the gift packages I made up. For some, I added a couple packages of tea along with a sugar stir stick. For others, I put a travel mug with a couple packs of tea, others I made into larger baskets, adding jam, or hand painted mugs or teapots.

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I almost forgot, I also drew a little “Viero family tea” logo, scanned it and printed it out to put the labels on the front, and the ingredients on the back. If you buy a pack of Avery labels, their website has free templates you can download for all of their labels -all you have to do is type in the style number.

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This post is getting really long… I will make a separate post for how to make the tea bags….also post if you would like me to post the types of tea I made with the ingredients.

How to make fake cupcakes!

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Hello,
Whew, Christmas and boxing day are all done, so now I have time for my next big project!
I am starting with my daughters room. She is seven years old, and has decided that she would like a cupcake room, so I have been searching the Internet for the last two weeks looking for everything I can make that is cupcakes. I found quite a few places that were selling fake cupcakes, but it took me some time to figure out how to actually make them! Here is how my daughter and I made these delicious looking cupcakes….

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The first step is to make the actual cake part, or base, which is made out of plaster of paris. We started by finding a cute paper muffin cup which matched our decor…black and pink! I used an old muffin pan, and some plastic cups to mix the plaster. We mixed about a cup of plaster at a time, in several batches. I figured this would probably take more time, but be less messy(this considering the “help” I had from my daughter! The instructions say to use two parts of plaster with one part of water, but I ended up using a little more water.

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At this point, I started to think that I didn’t want the plaster showing after I iced the cupcakes, so I let the plaster set for about an hour, then mixed up another batch of plaster and mixed it with some brown water based paint. I poured the brown plaster into a baggie, clipped off the corner, ad squeezed out a thin layer of the brown plaster on top of the white, but it turns out that the plaster underneath it didn’t really show anyways, so if I were to do this again, I probably wouldn’t bother with this step…

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We then let them dry for two an a half days. If you feel the plaster and it is cold, it is still curing. It is best not to rush it at this stage. Be patient. We put them on top of a vent to dry.
After a couple of days, we were ready to ice! I used an old bowl, a paint stir stick, some tempera or acrylic paint, and an old piping bag and tip, and some drywall patching compound I had left over from the basement.
We mixed the drywall compound or spackle together in a bowl, tried putting it in the piping bag, but it was way too thick. I made a huge mess and had to empty the bag, wash it and remix. I had to add quite of bit of water to make it thin enough to be piped.

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I found out the more “icing” you put on, the better the cupcake looks. I tried experimenting with different patterns, but I ended up icing them all in a simple swirl pattern. By the time I finished the twelfth one, I had the hang of it!

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Decorating the cupcakes was the most fun step for my daughter. We used small christmas ornaments for the cherries on top and various beads for the sprinkles. I lightly tapped the beds to make sure they will not fall off. I think they turned out great!

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At this point, you could add a loop of wire if you wanted to use them as picture, or place card holders…I think they would be too heavy to hang. Also, after they dry, I am going to spray them with a quick coat of varnish to seal them.
Let me know if you try this idea, I would love to hear your feedback!

Holiday Bark!

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Last night, one of my projects was to finish up a project I thought I would share because it is so easy to do, and relatively inexpensive. But, because it is homemade, it is much nicer than a box of chocolates.
So, I will show you how to make holiday chocolate “bark”. Basically, what I mean by bark is, melted chocolate mixed with another ingredient. Is is called bark because when it hardens, it looks kind of rough and textured, like tree bark.
I ended up making six different kinds of bark, but all of them are made in the same way. I bought most of the ingredients at Bulk Barn- I love that place! I would recommend buying a better quality chocolate for this, as it does make a difference to the taste.
So…start by melting the chocolate. I always melt chocolate in a glass bowl that I sit in a pot of simmering water. I have tried melting chocolate in the microwave, but I have never had much luck…it always melts unevenly or burns on me…

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after the chocolate has melted, I mix in the topping and spread it out onto a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet.

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To make it look a little more festive, (and to make it easier to figure out what kind it is) I then melt a little bit of coloured chocolate in a sandwich bag. To melt just a little bit of chocolate, put the bag into a cup of hot water and squeeze it around until it has melted. Then snip off the corner and squeeze it on top.

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I either put the cookie sheet outside or in the freezer for a few minutes to cool down. Test to see if they are cool enough by breaking them. If they snap, they are ready. If they bend, they need to be cooler.
I break them into bite sized pieces, then put 6-10 pieces in a small cellophane bag (also from Bulk Barn) I printed out some little labels (Avery from Staples or Office Depot), and put a few different kinds in a box with tissue paper.

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The six different kinds I made are
-almond and orange chocolate (I used the Terry’s chocolate)
-m&m’s and milk chocolate
-candy cane and mint chocolate
-chocolate chip cookies and dark chocolate
-skor pieces and butterscotch chips
-dried cranberry and white chocolate

Btw-part of the reason I package them up is so they don’t get eaten!
Enjoy!

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Today’s project -reindeer cake pops!

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Ok, so yesterday’s post was so easy, I will try another today…
Today we tried to make reindeers, but they were a lot tougher!
I started by melting butterscotch chocolate chips. I simply put the bag of the chips into cup of hot water until they melted -I used the bag from the bulk food store I bought them in. After they melted, I cut off the corner and squeezed out “y’s” to use for the antlers.

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Then, while they were cooling, I used the double boiler to melt some semi sweet chocolate chips. We dipped the sticks into the melted chocolate, let it set for a couple minutes, then dipped the cake pops in the chocolate.

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This is when it got tricky and messy. The chocolate has to be soft to put the antlers in, but sticking the antlers in was tricky! The cake kept breaking and falling off, so make sure you make extras! I did the antlers first, then used the same candy eyes as the snowman (bought from Bulk Barn). We used cinnamon hearts for the noses. I let them cool on the styrofoam tray, then packaged them in cellophane bags. We made about 10, then got a little frustrated and made some plain ones, dipped in various sprinkles, with a cinnamon heart on top.

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This afternoon, we are going to make and decorate sugar cookies…

Snowman cake pops with the kids

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OK, so here goes…my first actual real post….
Today, the kids and I made cake pops. So, i’ll write my first post to show you how we made them!

To make the actual cake part of the pops, we used a cake pop maker I bought from from walmart for about $10.00. The cake pop maker works the same way as a waffle or sandwich maker. We mixed up a box of cake mix as directed, then spooned in a tablespoon of mix into each section of the cake pop maker, then closed the lid and waited.
When they had cooled off, we melted some white chocolate on the stove in a glass bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water.
This first step is important…Dip the stick into the melted chocolate before you put the stick into the cake… This works as a glue so the cake doesn’t just slide off the stick.
Then, we dipped the bottom half of the cake into the melted chocolate before putting it on the stick. This just makes it easier to cover the entire ball with the chocolate. We then rolled the ball in the melted chocolate to cover the rest of it.
We dipped the second ball into the chocolate, put it on the stick, then rolled both balls in the melted chocolate again.
This is where it got really messy! The kids were holding onto the sticks to let them drip, and there was chocolate dripping everywhere! We ended up sticking holes into a piece of styrofoam and letting them drip on that.

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We then quickly added the eyes (I bought these candy eyes at Bulk Barn, but I think if I did this again, I might use something a little smaller). And the orange nose was added using a little bit of orange candy I found (Jolly ranchers work well, so would any orange soft candy, but you could also use fondant, if you have it). We tried using chocolate sprinkles for the mouth, but learned that it is really hard to get them to stay where you want…especially when your hands are covered in sticky melted chocolate! So, we let the chocolate set a little bit and then used a stick to “draw” a line with chocolate and then dropped the sprinkles on to make the snowman’s mouth.

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Finally, after everything had a few minutes to set up, we tied on a licorice scarf.

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To keep the snowman fresh, I put them in little bags tied up with ribbon. I am going to try putting one in the freezer to see if they will freeze.
Here is a photo of the finished snowmen. We also made some plain ones with sprinkles topped with an edible snowflake.

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Ok, that’s it for my first post… That was actually not too difficult!
I’ll have to think about what project to show next!