Monthly Archives: February 2012

Make your fortune by making fortune cookies!

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For our bedtime story the other night, we read a book about all the ways you can tell your fortune, like tarot cards, tea leaves, palm reading, (btw, did I happen to mention I worked as a palm reader at the CNE one summer??) Anyways, in the book, there was a recipe for fortune cookies… So what else were we going to do on a tuesday night??

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Here is the recipe I used…
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of flour
And about 1/4 cup of water

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Start by mixing the egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla. Then mix in the flour. I just kept adding water until the consistency was thin enough to spread easily.

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Then we spooned about a tablespoon of the batter onto a cookie sheet.

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I used the back of the spoon to spread out the batter in a circular motion.

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I baked them for almost 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Leave them in the oven until the edges are brown. If you bake them too long, they crack, but if you don’t bake them long enough, they are not crunchy. It took me most of the batter to get the timing and technique. The last two cookies we made were perfect!

I forgot to mention that before we started making the batter, we typed up the fortunes on the computer and printed them, then cut them out. We had so much fun thinking of fortunes, Sam came up with a few good ones, like, “You will kiss John”. The kids have pizza day at school on Friday, so we wrote a fortune about, “You will have pizza on Friday” Once we started, it was really easy to come up with a few good ones for our family. These would be so fantastic to customize for a party, or a person. My dad would have been great at thinking of funny fortunes!

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To fold the cookies, you have to work really fast. You have about 30 seconds until they start to harden. So I would suggest cooking only two at at time to start. Also, I would recommend wearing gloves to avoid burning your fingers. I used a clean pair of winter gloves.
I had the kids on stand-by, holding the paper fortunes, ready to hand to me.
When they come out of the oven, I used a spatula to lift up the cookie, placed the fortune in the middle, and folded the cookie in half.

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Next, I folded the cookie in half again, trying not to flatten the cookie too much.

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Finally, if you have a clean egg carton lying around, they are the perfect size to hold the cookies while they are cooling. The cookies want to open up as soon as you put them down, so the egg carton holds them in place.

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Now, for the best part… Reading them, and eating them!

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Making cream puffs with ricotta! Mmmmmmm

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A friend of mine at work was kind enough to share her favourite recipe for cream puffs… So I decided to try it out! I am going to show you how to make a cream puff with a ricotta filling.
According to her, the most important ingredient is the ricotta cheese -don’t use the prepackaged stuff you get in the tubs at the grocery store, you get what you pay for! Buy a freshly made ricotta. It is more expensive, but why bother taking the time to bake with it if you are going to use a cheap product.
I started by beating together about a cup and a half of ricotta with a tablespoon of fine sugar, and a few vanilla beans, scraped from the pod.

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I put the ricotta filling aside and moved onto the “puff”. Here is a picture of the recipe:

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So the recipe says to melt the butter with the water and bring it to a rolling boil.

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Then, add the flour with a pinch of salt. This is where my friend told me to follow every word of the recipe. You have to add the whole cup of flour at once, then stir like crazy, while keeping the heat on low for an entire minute! You can see the texture of the dough change by the end of the minute, so this step is important.

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Then, you leave the dough to cool down for five minutes, then beat the eggs in one at a time. Note- after this step, the dough became very thick and sticky, it was hard to get it to drop off the spoon.

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I spooned out the dough onto the cookie sheets, leaving a few inches between each. There was enough dough to make a dozen.

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The recipe said to cook them at 400 for 30 to 35 minutes, but I found they were almost ready after about 15 minutes. After they were golden brown, I took them out of the oven, burned my arm, then sliced a hole in the side to let out of the steam. I put them back into cook for another 3-4 minutes, then took them out.

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After they had finished cooking, I took them out of the oven and carefully cut them in half. When they had cooled a little, I spooned in the ricotta filling in the center of each one. Then, to make the icing, I didn’t have any chocolate chips, but, thanks to my secret valentine, I had about 15 Hershey’s kisses, so I tossed them into a pot with a couple tablespoons of water, and about a tablespoon of sugar. I let it cook until the sugar had dissolved, then drizzled it over the tops.

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I have to say that these were some of the best tasting cream puffs I have ever had! I had to bring a couple over to my neighbors, and bring a few into work to share, because I knew I could eat the entire dozen myself! Next time I will box them up and mail a few out!

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Check out my closet!!

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We are lucky enough to have two large closets in our foyer. When we moved in, we decided the girls (my daughter and I) would share one closet, and the boys (my husband and son) would share another. Obviously, I didn’t think the deal through, because the number of shoes (and coats and accessories) my daughter and I have greatly outnumbers the number of shoes the boys have! Anyways, when we have had people over the last few months, I take their coats and shove them in the closet and close the door as fast as I can. I’m going to share with you the skeletons in my closet… For all you know, there could be skeletons, take a look!

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But now, I am going to prop the closet door open to make sure everyone that comes to our house sees it!

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I started the closet project the way I do most of my projects… I aimlessly wandered the aisles of Home Depot! I came home yesterday feeling a little overwhelmed, but I bought a closet system, plus about a hundred and fifty dollars worth of extra shelves, and baskets (because of course I didn’t measure or plan anything out before going to the store) but, I have about one hundred dollars worth to return next week.
I pulled out some of the built in shelving that was in the closet first. In this particular system i bought, you install a track across the top, using toggle bolts, the you hang the brackets, like in the picture… This didn’t take too long

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The next part took me forever, because I couldn’t make up my mind… But I finally decided on where to place the shelves. Here is what it looks like empty:

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The best part is I somehow managed to fit everything back in! I did use this opportunity to sort through everything and get rid of a few pairs of shoes and a few coats as well.

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Happy family day everyone! Only three more weeks until March break!!!

Sunflower design tea set

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Here is one of my favourite designs that I have painted many times, in many colours, on plates, platters, mugs, and bowls, over the years…

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I started with a plain white serving plate, tea pot, and mug. I use the Porcelaine brand of paint. It is water based, so washes up with water. It is about 5-$6 per bottle. It needs to be left to set for 24 hours, then cooked in the oven at 300 degrees for 1/2 hour. But after that, it is on for good. I even put my painted dishes in the dishwasher.

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Then I started by painting the flower centers, leaving enough space between each one for the petals.

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I used an orange paint to paint around the centers to make the petals.

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I filled in the background with a royal blue colour. Note that the Porcelaine paint is not totally opaque, so I purposely let my brush strokes show. With this paint, even if you let the first coat dry and try to paint another coat on top, it tends to pull off the first coat and make a bit of a mess.

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I used the Porcelaine pen to outline all of the flowers first, then I made a grid for the center of the sunflowers, and added a dot in the center of each square to finish it off.

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That’s it! The pattern looks a lot more difficult than it actually is.

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What’s pink and black white all over?

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What’s pink and black and white all over… And is now finished? Samantha’s room!!
Over the past couple of months, I have worked, and on my blog I have written about how we have made fake cupcakes, sewed a cupcake quilt, designed artwork, decorated mirrors, sewed curtains, dressed up her dresser, and painted pink leopard skin walls… All of which have been projects for my 7 year old daughter’s room.
Here is what her room looked like before…

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Here is what all of our projects look like put together in her room… I even actually hung the artwork!

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I might add a little trim to the top of her shelves, but other than that, it is pretty much done!
I have a few ideas in mind before my next project, but I promised my husband I would wash out the paint trays and brushes first! For those of you who don’t know me, cleaning up after my creativity is not one of my strengths!
By the way, happy valentine’s day!

Rosy valentine cupcakes

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Last year, In my son’s class, he was assigned, “juice boxes” for the class valentine’s class party. Obviously, I was upset that we were given such a simple task, I mean how can you possibly be creative with juice boxes? So, when the Valentine’s party list came out this year, you can imagine my excitement when we were assigned the sweet treats portion of the snacks! Yahoo! So after hours and hours of careful research… This is what I came up with:

20120213-203923.jpg Believe it or not, the roses are made of fruit roll ups and the leaves are made from wine gums.
I started with two boxes of fruit roll ups, and minus what the kids and I ate, the two boxes made enough to decorate 28 cupcakes.

20120213-204738.jpg After making over 70 roses, I learned a few tricks. Begin by unrolling the whole fruit roll up. If you divide the roll up into thirds, that length seemed to make the best roses. Use a pair of scissors to cut the roll down the middle in a wavy line. You can use the two halves to make two roses.

20120213-205921.jpg Start with one end and roll the fruit roll up in your hands.

20120213-210241.jpg I discovered that this step is made a lot easier if you make the roll up a little bit sticky by dipping the tip of your fingers in a little apple juice, and rubbing it along the bottom edge. The first picture below is the plain roll, and the second picture below is the same roll after I spread out the petals a little. It takes a bit of practice, but if you carefully stretch the petals out, it makes a big difference in the final rose.

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20120213-210823.jpg The kids were able to help with the rolling part, but spreading the petals was a little more difficult and tended to rip the petals a little.

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I made vanilla cupcakes, but decided to add a little red food colouring to make the cupcakes pink.

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I used a piping bag, and icing tip to ice the cupcakes with a butter cream icing.

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Then, I added two or three small roses to each cupcake.

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To make the leaves, I just used scissors to cut up wine gums. I chose wine gums because I liked the green colour. All of the other green candies I could find were lime or apple green. So, I stuck a leaf on each cupcake, then added a love heart.

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At the bulk food store, I was so excited to see that they sold cupcake boxes. Which is great, because I could see the cupcakes being in a big pile by the time they got to school!

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Have a delicious valentines day!

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Pink and black curtains!!

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I am really getting close to finishing my daughter’s room…. Which is great because I started decorating it two months ago on the Christmas holidays, and it is now the middle of February! But, I have learned that taking your time is the best way to do things with the least amount of stress… Take your time and have fun!
Today I was lucky enough to have my mom over to help… It was great having some one to consult with about my “complicated” sewing decisions… As I said, my husband is wonderful, but he can only pretend he is interested in my sewing and craft projects for so long…
Here is what the curtains looked like before:

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20120211-195935.jpg The step in sewing the curtains, was to decide on a design. I had bits and pieces left over from the quilt, and I bought some plain black fabric for the background. As always, I spread out the fabric on the basement floor before starting, to see what it’s going to look like.

20120211-200948.jpg I decided to keep the design of her curtains pretty simple. I figured that after I painted a entire wall of her room pink leopard skin, maybe i should keep the curtains simple.
I cut out rectangular panels from the black fabric. I tried to make them as large as possible, making sure they were a few inches wider than the window on either side. I also cut out the strips of fabric in the pink and in the zebra skin fabric the same width as the black fabric. The first step was to sew together the pink and zebra strips of fabric.

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Then, we sewed the strips together with the black fabric to complete the panel. Now for the tricky part…the lining. I splurged on buying some blackout lining, which is a fabric that is designed to block out all of the sunlight. I would highly recommend blackout curtains for any bedroom, they make a huge difference in the summer!
Anyways, because the blackout fabric was more expensive, I didn’t have as much of it to work with. So the width and length of the black fabric was about a foot larger than the lining. We pinned, then sewed down both side seams, without cutting any of the black off, which made the width of the front much more than the back. I hope the pictures will explain.

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As you can kind of see, we turned the curtains right sides out and then laid it out flat and pinned down both sides so the black was even on both sides. To add the loops on the top, we turned the raw edges in, pinned in the ribbon loops, then sewed across the top.

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To finish the bottom, we turned it up a couple inches and sewed straight across.

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Then we used the existing curtain rods to hang them. Thanks to my mom’s help, it went pretty quickly and it was nice to spend the day with her! Thanks mom!

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A Dresser Re-Dressed

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I promise (I think) this is going to be the last cupcake thing I make for a long time! I just have the curtains and headboard left to do in Samantha’s room… And no cupcakes planned for either one of those projects.
Here is the story of the cupcake dressers…When we bought the white dressers that are in Samantha’s room now, they were actually bought to match with a jungle mural that I painted in Dylan’s room before he was born, so even though they are just a plain old Ikea white, they could use some updating. Here is the finished dresser:

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Here is what they looked like before…sorry, it’s the best picture I could find…Hey, like I said, they are Ikea, use your imagination!

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The first step in the dresser transformation was to change the trim to black. I didn’t want to paint, because it would be impossible to make the lines look neat and clean. Also, I didn’t want anything to be permanent – who knows, maybe she will want to redecorate again in the next couple of years (I can only hope! Lol) So, I used a plain black fabric tape I bought a Curry’s. I just taped all of the edges where the wood was exposed.

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Then, I decided to replace the knobs. I found some porcelain knobs at Home Depot for a couple dollars each. I used the Porcelaine brand of porcelain paint to paint them. I started with adding a cloud of light pink on each knob to make the cupcake top.

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Then, I painted around the cupcake tops with a darker pink, and left a rectangle at the bottom white.

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I used my black paint pen to outline the cupcakes…

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Then, added the detail for the cupcake bottoms…

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Outlined the cherries, and added a few swirls to the cupcake tops….

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I waited 24 hours for the paint to dry, cooked it in the oven for 1/2 hour (as per the instructions on the Porcelaine paint bottle, because I always read the instructions.) then I removed the old knobs, and attached the the new ones.

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All done! This weekend I am going to work on her curtains.

Painting a vase

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Yesterday, I was working on making some changes to my daughter’s dresser so that it will match her room better, and I decided to personalize the drawer pulls, which are porcelain, so I got out my porcelain paint….I will show you the type and brand of paint I use in my next post, along with some pictures, when I have finished her dresser, hopefully in the next few days.
But for now, I will show you the vase I painted with the same porcelain paints. I had some left over flowers from the mirror we decorated, so I just had to make something to hold them in! Here is what the finished vase looks like…

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There is not a whole lot I need to write here in terms of instructions, because I think the pictures will explain how to do it…
I started by painting lines…

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Then I painted a couple of the stripes pink…

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Then I painted the bottoms of the cupcakes…

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Then the tops…

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Then I started the leopard print by adding white dots to the pink stripes, and I added cherries to the cupcakes…

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Then I used a ceramic paint pen to outline and add details to the cupcakes…

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While I was painting, Samantha, of course, had to get in on the action and paint too. Here is Sam’s cup she painted. We decided that she needed to paint something in her room to hold her pencils!

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Ok, back to painting the vase. My next step was to paint the zebra design on the top white stripe…

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Then I added the black detail to the leopard skin (if you want more details on how to paint the leopard pattern, see my post called, “leopardizing the walls”)

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I repeated the same zebra and leopard skin patterns on the bottom of the vase, then I decided that maybe the cupcakes needed a thicker border, so I painted a thicker border.

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That’s it! A little trick to the ceramic painting is that when the paint has totally dried, I will go back with a pin to scratch off a few of the areas I would like to clean up.
This paint also needs to dry for 24 hours, then it cooks in the oven. It will then be dishwasher and food safe!

“leopardizing” the walls

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“Leopardizing” the walls
Yesterday, thanks to my wonderful husband, I got a couple hours to paint Sam’s wall…
So, If you are interested in turning a wall of your house into a hot pink leopard skin pattern, then you are in the right place! But, for those of you who are not interested, the same techniques can be used with different colour schemes, on multiple surfaces, or projects. I have even painted a few serving dishes in leopard skin.

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I started by using a plain white paint I had lying around (I actually used a primer). I randomly covered the walls with dots of different sizes and shapes. I could have used smaller dots, and put them closer together, but I wanted to keep the scale a little larger.

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Then, I used the same black latex paint I used for her walls to add the black pattern around the white. There are a couple tricks or suggestions I have here. I tried to keep the black random by painting all the way around some of the white, but only adding outlines to two of the sides of some, and painting a “u” outline around others. My second tip is to water down the paint a little. To make the pattern look sharp and professional (I mean, come on we need to make our leopard skin look like its painted by a pro!) be careful to keep all of the lines sharp, with no brushstrokes showing. To look closely at some examples, just google, “pictures of leopard skin patterns”

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I would also recommend taking a few steps back every few minutes. Where I saw gaps, or spaces, I added more black spots with paint.

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So, that’s basically it… Today I am going to try to do something with her IKEA furniture and curtains…don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted… I am actually getting close to finishing her room! By March break I should be ready to renovate the bathroom! (no, seriously… my plan is that on March break I am going to change the countertops, sinks and tile in the upstairs bathroom!)