Friday, April 29, 2011

PROM BOUQUET - made at home

$50 seems to be the minimum going price for a hand held prom bouquet these days.  CRAZY!  My son gave me permission (with an okay from his date) to give it a go at making one here at home for his junior prom tonight.

I rushed off to Trader Joe's at 8:30am this morning to make sure I got first pick at the day's flowers.

The dress is a purple/lavender color so I went with purples and whites with some greenery picked from around my yard.

Here is the selection of stuff I came home with from the store for about $15.

To decorate the outside of the hand held part, I picked up a few things at JoAnns in the clearance section - most of which I didn't end up using.  The floral tape which sticks to itself as it wraps is a MUST HAVE for this project.  I got it for $1.  The items I didn't use cost $1.50.

I may still use the lavender ribbon around the outside.

I also scrounged around the house and in the sewing drawer (which contains 40 year old products handed down from my grandmother).

I did iron and use a piece of wide satin ribbon which can be seen at the very bottom of the photo above.

Next I cut off the pricky things and excess greenery and anything that didn't look fresh and healthy from my flowers.  I made piles of the cleaned stems.  And got to work  - mind you I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to do this.

As you add stems to the bunch in your hand, you kind of let the stem fall to the opposite side of where you placed the flower head.  You end up with a big bunch in your hand having added them one by one around the bouquet, making sure they are even and well placed.  It looks like this.

Then came the floral tape and I breathed a sigh of relief as I was able to loose my tight grip on the bundle and give it over to the security of the tape.  I wrapped all the way down to the bottom and then back up to the top. 

Above is the wrap job with the stems still long.

Next, cut the stems to an even and shorter length - with something really sharp.  This was harder to do then I anticipated.

I then wrapped the satin ribbon from top to bottom and back up to the top.  I turned under the ribbon edge and used white headed applique pins - the only appropriate pins I had here at the house.  You can purchase white headed floral pins that are longer and probably better, but these seemed to work fine and hold well.  I went thru the tape AND into some of the stems for security - hopefully this will be okay.

And ta da!  The bouquet is pretty much done.  As I said above, I am pending a decision to add a lavendar bow or bows.  Feel free to offer your opinion on the bow.

Here are some more shots of the finished bouquet.  I placed it in a sturdy vase that wouldn't crush the flowers and put a scant bit of water in the bottom to keep the stems hydrated.  I removed a shelf from our extra fridge so there was room for it to stand in the vase without touching anything and gave it a final spritz of water on the blooms to keep it fresh.  I hope this will work and by 6pm tonight it will still look good!

Ah - now to breathe a sigh of relief!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blog Blast! Wonderful Wednesday Discounts

Wednesday is half price day at some of my favorite second-hand haunts.

Here are two of my happy bargains - at 99cents and 79cents, I'd catagorize them both as good deals.

Blog Blast! Quiche Creations

I've been trying to go to the grocery a lot less.  The trouble is I'm terrible at organizing my shopping trips and I refuse to be ruled by recipes.  The downside of that is I waste too much time and gas trooping off to the store on bitty shopping trips.

I only like to buy things when the price is right.  I don't use many coupons since I don't purchase a lot of processed food and I prefer organic and there aren't a lot of coupons for that.  I also shop at a variety of stores over several days, so I pick out what's good at a decent price at each place.  Often, I'm left with a quandary of what to cook for dinner.  Really, I don't mind cooking, but coming up with the food that will please everyone turns me quite grumpy.  At the time, I'm cooking for hubby and 3 teenage boys.

Hubby - eats most everything but doesn't like onions or mushrooms or beans (all of which I love)

Boy #1 - loves meat, eats just about everything I make (and compliments my cooking and thanks me) but doesn't like tomatoes (which the rest of us adore), tolerates Mexican food (which 3 of us put in our top 5 faves) and prefers not to have too much Italian (esp. with tomato sauce), which my husband would eat every night.  Boy #1 favorites are lobster and sushi (not exactly in my budget).

Boy #2 - loves chicken (yuck - I can't stand chicken, I don't eat much meat, I'm way picky about the meat I do eat and I can't stand raw chicken - EW), he would eat salad, especially chicken Caesar salad every night.  He's a bit more picky than boy #1 but pretty much tries everything and eats a bit of most things.  He's really trying to move into more food options.

Boy #3 - eats about 10 things.  period.  would survive on chicken noodle soup and P&Js and tater tots - okay, he actually does survive on these things with a handful of others.  Likes almost NOTHING I cook EVER - and nothing that anyone else cooks.  We were hoping he'd grow out of this but he hasn't.

Daughter (when she's home) - a lactose intolerant vegetarian.

ME - I avoid sugar and white flour as often as possible.  I love fresh, organic, homemade goodness.  Love most veggies (zucchini, spinach and asparagus being the top 3) except I can't STAND okra!  I do love seafood (not scallops tho I will eat them) and I prefer as little meat as possible.  I like most cuisines that aren't American.  Mexican, Spanish, Indian, Thai, Japanese, French, Middle Eastern, Greek, etc...

And all THAT brings me to QUICHE.  Quiche (okay Vegan extended family, ignore this post, yes, I'm talking egg pie), is something that I can through together quickly with just about anything in the fridge.

This quiche had spicy chicken, mushrooms, spinach, corn and zucchini
Last night I made a spicy chicken Mexican quiche, and a spicy veggie variety for myself.

This one was served with a gorgeous spinach, strawberry, goat cheese and walnut salad

Here are some quiche tips:

1.  Don't sweat the crust.  If you like a crust quiche, buy prepared crust - whole wheat frozen is available at Whole Foods or the white flour in a tube or box from Pillsbury is available in the grocery.  When I do make a crust, I usually make it at home using this recipe:

(from Horn of the Moon Cookbook, makes 1-10inch crust)

1 cup of flour (or flour blend, your choice)
1/3 cup cold butter cut into pieces (or Earth Balance, which I use)
2 - 3 T of very cold water
dash of salt
roll out using sparse amount of flour

I usually pull out the food processor or Kitchen Aid but have been known to do it by hand with a pastry cutter as well.  Crust doesn't need to cook before adding quiche ingredients.

2.  Skip the crust.  More often than not, I don't even make it with crust - maybe that makes it a fritatta?  It cooks faster, prepares more easily and there is less mess.

These show a quiche without crust

3.  Vary the number of eggs or use combinations of egg products.  Use the fake eggs from the grocery or the kind that come in a milk carton.  I use brown organic cage-free.  You can also use all whites.  Most of the time I use 3 eggs per crust quiche and 4 eggs per crust-less.

4.  Vary the stuff inside.  I usually pre-cook, but don't overcook, all the stuff I put inside.  I have used chicken, spicy chicken sausage from Trader Joe's, most veggies, frozen corn, left over veggies from previous dinners, etc...

With sloppy but homemade whole wheat crust.

5.  Vary the cheese - use what you have on hand.  I have used blue, feta, goat, Gouda, brie, cheddar, etc.

6.  Consider the top.  Make it extra pretty by doing a lattice crust on top, thin slicing tomatoes or olives for the top, or adding something like roasted red peppers to the top.

My basic quiche recipe is to whip up the eggs with about 3/4 cup of sour cream (any variety) but I've also substituted, whole milk or half & half and even whipped cream cheese for the sour cream.  Then I fold in the cheese.  If it's cheddar, I usually grate it.  I put the non-egg mixture in a canola sprayed dish then pour the egg/cheese mixture over it and make sure the veggies etc.  are submerged.  I typically cook it in a 375F oven for about 30 mins without crust and 45 mins with crust.  I cut it into pie pieces as soon as it comes from the oven but let it stand for at least 5 mins at room temperature to set before serving.

Have fun.  Eat - Enjoy - and most of all...DON'T SWEAT DINNER!

Blog Blast! After School Snacks

Okay - I never LOVED Leave it to Beaver, it was too corny.  But, the housewife from those times was so apron-y and thoughtful with her children.  I'd say we've veered away from that daytime pump and dress wearing woman in our day.  But, some of the good things that kinda mom could provide are little niceties that kids probably still appreciate.

Today, I thought I'd add a little June Cleaver to my kids after school life.  So, I readied up a bitty tray of yummies for the boys. 

I do realize that chocolate covered pretzels alongside of whole wheat pita triangles with Sabra hummus wouldn't have been what she served.  However, it was well-received by my boys.

I also provided Boy #1 with a true fave of his (and mine, tho. we are the only two who appreciate it) that being the Roasted Seaweed Snacks (see this post about them by VegNews) purchased from Trader Joe's.  No, this would definitely NOT have made for happy homecomings for Wally and the Beaver!

Happy Snacking!

Blog Blast! Running Reward #2

I was washing up the dishes after dinner a few nights ago and when I was rinsing out a can I'd used for the dinner before placing it in the recycle bin, I took a second glance at it and decided it would be reUSED rather than reCYCLED. 

It was a small little tin, so it'd be perfect for buttons or beads or other crafting what-have-yous.

I decided to crochet a little jacket for it.  I should have consultant Lucy's blog at Attic24 FIRST, since she apparently has an awesome pattern for it.  But, I didn't.  I made up my own single crochet pattern with a bit of edging around the top and it turned out just fine.

Here's how it looked.

Once I'd finished it, I looked about on google images for other crochet jar jackets and I added some to my new PINTEREST account.  I've only just started with Pinterest and I like it, but I'm still learning and it does take a lot of internet time.  I already spend a bit too much time with hand on mouse!

Enjoy my pinterest crochet jars here:

Next time, I think I'll do a bigger crochet jacket in double crochet.  I'll have to keep my eyes out for a keen jar at the washing up.


Blog Blast! Bird Rewards

So, yesterday I went for a run.  I stopped running due to plantar fasciitis problems back in November.  I just started up again about 4 weeks ago.  I used to run 3 - 4 times per week, only about 3 miles.  Now, I'm limiting myself to two to save my foot.

Well, after 4 months OFF, every running step I KNOW I took too much time off.  My foot is okay so far, but my cardiovascular abilities are not what they were.

I'm not a good runner or even a fast one, but I was (and hope to be again) pretty dedicated.  I'm also a fairly new runner having started participating in a running group in January 2010.  That said, 3 miles in 33 mins about killed me where I was at least at a 10 min mile before I took a break.

So, every day that I run, I tell myself that when I'm done I can do a craft.  Yesterday I rewarded myself with TWO crafts.  One, was to make the felted bird for one of the birdhouses I made a few weeks back.  I re-watched the training video from Betz White (the birdhouse and bird were part of an online workshop I signed up for with Betz and it was wonderful).  I made the bird to match the birdhouse.  I think I was better at making the birdhouse than the bird.  But here is the finished product.

And here are a few more bird closeups...

Running Reward Craft #2 coming up... stay posted!

Blog Blast! Easter Day Applique

Since my two middle boys were up in the Catskills having a visit with my daughter at her college on Easter Day - the rest of us at home were pretty lazy.  We didn't have a big celebration or an Easter egg hunt or even a special meal. 

But, my hubby did get to work on his current building project (a new shed attached to the back of the house to house our bikes and stuff)

and I got to sit and sew. 

Since my applique class ended, I have to admit, I had put my blocks aside.  But I hadn't taken them off my mind.  I had already cut out all the pieces and prepared everything to complete block 4 so I set right in on the stitching

Block 4 required piecing two-part leaves (a lesson for later) and a bit of off block construction - not to mention the creation of some long bias strips for the stem parts.

It turned out pretty well.

Here's how it looks (sideways):

Blog Blast! Easter Friends are Loved

Not that I have a bunch of followers who are waiting to hang on my every word (though that'd be fun) but just in case anyone has been missing my posts, I am going to make a bunch of posts all in ONE day!

Here is the first.

Last week I sent two cute little amigurumi babies to my niece and nephew (scroll back a post to see them close up). 

Both my sister and brother-in-law posted TOO CUTE photos of niece Maisie on Facebook sharing her new friends,  So, here is how the bunny and chick were received.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Treats times TWO!

So after I made the cute little amigurumi chick, I decided I couldn't stop there.  After all, I have a niece (Maisie - almost 2) AND a newphew (Quinn - recently 5).  If I was going to mail a little package to them, it would have to contain TWO cute little amigurumi treats.  SO... I found this free pattern and set to work.

Let me introduce, "Bunny Boo."

 So here are the two sweet little Easter amigurumi that will get packaged up and put in the mail.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Amigurumi Chicks and Felted Birdhouses

I've been absent from the blog posts but not absent from creating content to tell you about.  A few weeks ago I signed up for my first ever online craft workshop.  I am so glad I did.  The craft for the workshop is FELTED BIRDHOUSES and it's taught by craft author, Betz White - one of my favorite craft authors and bloggers.  I loved the little birdhouses she showed and I knew I had to learn to make them.  Betz's workshop is detailed, informative, easy to follow, and professional.  It's awesome!

For the past couple of days, I have been knee deep in felted sweaters, wool blend felt, embroidery floss and glue.  I have completed two of the four bird houses I designed as part of the workshop.  Here they are:

When I complete all four houses (with felted birds attached) I'll post more photos.  Each side of my birdhouse is embellished in a differnt way.  The two above show the side with the "front door."   The tudor style birdhouse is fashioned after my own house and the one of the left is inspired by my vision of a classic little girl's storybook house.

Since I had my bag of fiberfill hanging around my workshop, I decided to switch over to a crochet needle and try out a little AMIGURUMI.  I'm so intrigued by this type of Japanese Crochet.  There are a lot of talented amigurumists out there - if that's not a word, well I've just invented it!  I had no idea if I had the skills to follow an amigurumi pattern.  I'm slightly challenged when it comes to following a pattern.  However, this type of crochet uses mainly single crochet so the stitches themselves are easy.  Counting is a must!  I started simple.

I used this free chick pattern in honor of the Easter season.  Today after school is officially the first day of spring break for my kids.  I'm not sure any of my kids (21, 18, 17, 15) would want a little amigurumi chick, but I'm thinking my really cute, little red-headed niece Maisie might!  So, I got out some light yellow cotton worsted weight yarn and had a go at it.

Here's what I made.

And here is the back side of the little guy.

Even though this was a really easy pattern, there were no instructions about HOW to attach the wings and tail to the body, so I used a matching piece of pearl cotton embroidery thread on a semi-large tapestry needle and I "winged" it.  It doesn't show too much and I knotted the two ends of the thread together tightly to make sure it didn't come apart.

The pattern showed a glued on beak and bead eyes but since I am giving this to an almost 2year old, I didn't want any of the pieces to come off - so I sewed down the felt after gluing it and then I stitched the eyes around a crochet stitch so they are not detachable.

Here's what's up in the next few days... I need to make the felted birds for the birdhouses, continue to work on my applique Blocks #4, 5 and 6 and I DEFINATELY need to get working on my highschool senior's photo albums -YIKES.  Oh yeah, I guess I need to fit in cleaning the bathroom, hanging the laundry, and pulling the vast amount of weeds that have begun appearing in the planting beds, etc etc... it never ends does it?

I am blogging about the graduation photo project over on my other blog, SherYourScraps.

Thats all for today - Cheers!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Applique Updates - Blocks 2 and 3

I almost finished block 2 a few weeks ago. . . except for the circles in the middle of the flowers (I love this flower design, so classic - I know I'll use it again in another applique design).  In applique class I learned how to make "perfect circles."

Here is Block 2 BEFORE the perfect circles were added to the middle of the flower:

"Perfect Circles" have an entire life cycle unto themselves.  I can't say I ENJOY the process of making them.  But, I do like that there is a process for making them perfect.  AND... it's SO much easier to sew on the circles without having to needle-turn the edges.  Once the circles are made, the applique part can be done painlessly.  I have learned to make A LOT of circles all at the same time so that they are ready and prepared when I need them.

To make perfect circles, I used mylar templates called surprisingly PERFECT CIRCLES (by Karen Kay Buckley).  I bought them in a little pack from Cloth & Bobbin, my neighborhood quilting store.  You can use note cards instead of the mylar templates if need be but you have to cut out a circle pattern from the note card.

Step 1: Trace around a perfect circle template on the back side of your fabric using a fabric marking pen.
Step 2: Make a running stitch about one-eighth of an inch around the outside of the marked line.  Begin and end on the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 3: Trim around the outside of the running stitch, about one-eighth of an inch. You don't want to get so close to your stitching that your fabric would fray too close.

Step 4:  Set the perfect circle template on your fabric and give a tug on the 2 ends of your thread.  This should cause your fabric to fold in around the template.

Step 5:  Spray a little bit of Magic Sizing - Light Body into the lid of the sizing (find an entire spray can of this stuff at the dollar store or grocery store for about one dollar but DO NOT use spray starch, it contains sugar and moths or other bugs may eat into your project by being attracted to the sugar - seriously).  The spray will look slightly foamy and also somewhat liquid when you spray it into the lid.

Step 6:  Use a cotton swab or a small paint brush to drip sizing onto the folded edges of your fabric and press a hot iron over the wet fabric until it hardens around the template.

Step 7:  Peel back the edges of the folded fabric and remove the circle template.
Step 8:  Give another tug on the thread to re-form the circle.  Turn the circle over to the right side and press it again with your iron.
Step 9:  Clip the thread strings shorter.
Step 10:  Applique your perfect circle to your background fabric!  Voila.

The other day, I created ALL of the perfect circles for blocks 3 and 4.  It was a circle extravaganza!

You can see the ring of mylar circles in the middle of the photo.  The ring came with the set.  The circles come in a pack of 4 each of a variety of little sizes.  There are templates for bigger perfect circles as well.

 So - since I had completed ALL of my circle making, I was able to also complete the applique of Block #3 as you can see in the photo above.

I thought I'd show the first 3 blocks together.  Here they are.

I have cut all of the templates and several of the fabric pieces for blocks 4, 5 AND 6.  Block 4 has some OFF BLOCK construction which I will discuss in the next update.  Block 3 also had OFF BLOCK construction used in the "fried egg" flowers (see red, yellow, orange flowers above).

More updates soon
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