Thursday, September 25, 2014

Easy Homemade Christmas Stockings with Fur Cuff

I made up this pattern myself and I was very pleased at how forgiving it is and how easy it was for me as a beginner. I made five total and after figuring out how to make the first one it only took me about an hour or less to make each one. It doesn't take very much fabric and though fur is expensive you don't need very much. I think each stocking ended up costing less than 2 dollars in the end. I picked coordinating fabric for each member of my family. I know Christmas is still far away but I wanted to put this out there in case anyone wanted to make some, since nobody wants to start Christmas projects at the last minute. I made the stocking pictured 2 years ago and made my fifth this month, which motivated me to finally write down the directions and get the post out. Text instructions are at the bottom of the post. I hope this tutorial makes sense!

1. Draw and cut out pattern using newspaper or a store ad. I just looked on the internet for different stocking shapes and drew one that I liked.
2. Layer your batting and fabric in this order: batting, fabric print side up, fabric print side down, batting (4 layers total).
3. Pin pattern to your layers and cut out. Remove the pattern and reinsert the pins. Sew around sides but not at the top. (I just lined up the edge of the fabric with the edge of my pressure foot). You can trim the edges a bit if you want. **This is the only step where you have to be really careful about how you sew, because it's about the only part that where mistakes will be visually obvious in the finished product. Be very careful as you sew so that your lines are smooth, especially around the rounded corners of the stocking foot, because when you turn it right side out it will be very obvious if your curves are not smooth. The lining doesn't have to be perfect because it will be stuffed inside the stocking and no one will see the edges.
4. Two layers of stocking lining - lay out, pin pattern on and cut out. (I used a reversible ivory color fabric, but if yours isn't then make sure you sew with the right sides facing each other, since you will be stuffing it in the stocking and you want to see the right sides when you look inside your finished stocking.) Remove pattern and sew lining around sides but do not sew the top.
6. Turn the lining right side out.
7. Leave your stocking wrong side (batting side) out and stuff it into the lining.
8. I cut my fur 5 inches wide and cut a piece that stuck out about 1-2 inches on both ends after wrapping around the top of the stocking (my piece was about 17-18 inches long).
9. Hem one raw long edge of the fur (just fold over and sew with a big loose stitch or hand sew with a big loose stitch, use a needle to hand pluck out any fur that becomes matted down in the stitches on the visible side).
10. Pin fur to top with raw edge of fur on the top (make sure the fur side is facing/against the lining of stocking).
11. Make hanging strap (I cut my strap piece 2 inches by 8 inches and folded the sides toward the center then the whole thing in half again (pressing flat with an iron) and did a straight stitch to stitch them together).
12. Pin the hanging strap onto the side you want it against the lining, hanging straight down. I had my hanging strap stick out 2.5 inches.
13. Sew the hanging ends of the fur together, trim excess if necessary, and then pin the fur (with the hanging strap in between the fur and the lining) all the way around, pinning all 5 layers together. Sew all the way around. I just lined up the edge with the edge of my pressure foot. Thankfully this step does not have to be perfect because it all ends up getting hidden when you turn the stocking out for the final time. This project is VERY forgiving.
14. Turn stocking right side out, the strap should be sticking up now, and then fold the fur down.
15. Hang stocking and enjoy your work of art!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Cornbread Souffle

I adapted this recipe from multiple sources. It took me a few tries to optimize this recipe but I think I finally figured it out.  This is a really rich recipe that is not exactly low in calorie, which is why it's so delicious. However, it's perfect for a holiday dinner or a church potluck. I actually took this to a church potluck this weekend and everyone raved about it and it was gone before we left.

2 eggs, beaten
1 package cream cheese, 8oz, softened to room temperature
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mixes (8.5 oz boxes)
1 can creamed corn
1 can corn, drained (or approximately 2 cups frozen corn)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Combine eggs and cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a greased slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-5 hours or on high for 2-4 hours. You will have to optimize this recipe the first time you make it for your slow cooker because you want to be careful not to over cook it and different slow cookers will vary. Check it periodically. You want to cook it just until a knife barely comes clean when inserted into the center so that it will still be moist and delicate. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Easy Light Asian Peanut Sauce

soy sauce
packed brown sugar
natural peanut butter

adapted from here

Combine 3 parts soy sauce, 3 parts brown sugar, and 1 part peanut butter. Add more peanut butter if you like a stronger peanut flavor, but I think this ratio is just right. Warm on stove or in microwave and whisk until smooth. Serve with rice, rice noodles, plain ramen noodles, or as a meat marinade.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spicy Italian Chicken and Pasta Soup

I LOVE this recipe and have been making it for a few years now but I've made a few changes to it and wanted to revise it on my blog. I also changed the name. Adapted from Your Homebased Mom

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (*more for more heat)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small or medium onion minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes
3 cans chicken broth (or 1 box)
8 oz shredded chicken (**see slow cooker option)
4 ounces mini bow tie pasta, Barilla brand (cooked separately to al dente, drained)
1-2 tablespoons dried basil
parmesan or mozzarella cheese shredded, for topping

Saute onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil over medium heat in a medium stock pot until onions are tender. Add can of tomatoes, broth, and entire can of chicken with the water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta and basil. Serve with cheese sprinkled on top and toasted french bread, if desired.

*For added heat, top individual servings with crushed red pepper

**Slow cooker method: Let raw chicken cook in broth, tomatoes, and spices until chicken shreds. Add in pasta and basil at the end.

Updated 1-12-2020

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Little Piggy Cake

I used a 9 inch for the bottom layer, a small spring form for the middle, and the top half of a cupcake for the nose. I used the bottom side of large chocolate chips for the eyes. I found the cardboard cake holders at Walmart (4 for$4). 

Personalized Mini Martinelli Bottles for Party Favors

I made these personalized labels for mini Martinelli's bottles as a party favor for my grandparent's anniversary celebration. I just designed them on powerpoint, printed them out on regular paper, and taped them over the real label. I bought the mini Martinelli bottles at Walmart in the juice aisle. You can also find them at Dollar Tree sometimes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anniversary Cake

I made this cake for my grandparents 60th Anniversary Party. It was a triple layer (though each layer was single) with a 14" base. Bottom layer was carrott, middle was chocolate, and top was lemon. It was the first time I did the swirl roses and they were super easy! I just found a video on youtube and showed me how to make them. I did a cream cheese buttercream frosting which was too soft to work with but tasted good so I will need to look for a better recipe in the future. The cake has lots of flaws (I masked some of them by sprinkling a coarse sparkly sugar over the cake) but I think it turned out well and I learned a lot for the future while doing it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homemade Poppy Seed Fruit Salad Dressing

1/3 cup fruit juice or 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries*
1 T vinegar** 
2 T sugar***
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t onion (or small chunk of onion) 
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp minced from a jar)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Mix first set of ingredients in blender or food processor until everything is pureed and well mixed. Strain seeds if necessary and add more sugar, vinegar, or salt to taste. Stir in poppy seeds. Store in refrigerator and use within a week.  * I have used lemon juice, lime juice, fresh pomegranate juice, fresh apple juice, peaches, mangos, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. If you use a fruit with lots of little seeds (like blackberries) you will need to strain it before adding the sugar. If you use juice your dressing will be thin, if you use fresh fruit it will be thicker and more like what you would find in a store bought bottle (you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out). I also found that with fresh fruit the oil in the dressing didn't separate out right away.** I prefer using white vinegar. I have tried red wine and rice but I think they are too strong. *** I add more sugar depending on the sweetness off the juice/fruit (may need up to 1/2 cup if using lemon or lime juice)

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY Edible Cake Paint

I love decorating cakes but I don't love making many different colors of frosting because one it is a pain, and two, it's hard to get the colors correct and dark enough without using the expensive dyes made specifically for frosting. I also do not like fondant. So I invented my own cake paint and it's super easy and costs almost nothing. You only need three ingredients - powdered sugar, food coloring, and water.

I just put about 1-3 teaspoons of powdered sugar in a little glass cup, added a few drops of food coloring and stirred with a paint brush. Then I added a drop or two of water to thin it out. You want it thin enough to paint but not too thin or it will run, basically about the consistency of acrylic paint, but maybe just a touch thinner. If it is too thin just add a pinch or two of powdered sugar. Then just paint it onto your frosting with paintbrushes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dump Truck Cake

Use my DIY Edible Cake Paint for this cake

I frosted my entire cake white and then painted the red and yellow and black. Then with the rest of my frosting I made it yellow and used my piping bag and tips for the stripes and accents (using this amazing technique to fill the piping bag). I needed about 1.5 batches of frosting (buttercream recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook).

I used a toothpick to draw on the white frosting so that I knew where to paint. If you mess up with the toothpick just run a butter knife in warm water and smooth it out and do it over again.

To make the dump truck cake (I got my inspiration for this cake here) I used 1 cake mix divided between a regular bread pan and a mini loaf pan. I leved the top of the big one to make it flat and just cut the ends off the mini loaf so that it was the same width as the bottom of the truck. I left the round top on the mini loaf. I used the cookie part of oreos to make the dirt and mini chocolate donuts for the wheels. The entire cake cost me less than 5 dollars to make.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fabric Applique Greeting Cards

I made some greeting cards recently with fabric scraps and Heat 'N Bond and some good quality cardstock. For the dark colored cardstock I used double sided adhesive tape to secure white paper on the inside. I just printed some basic shapes from microsoft clip art and other clip art I found online and traced them onto the heat n bond.  For the thread on the birthday hats I just layed it underneath the fabric before ironing on the applique. Keep the iron moving while putting on the applique or else you will get an imprint on your cardstock of the edge of the iron. I put a piece of white copy paper between the applique and the iron. Then I put the cards inside a heavy book (like a dictionary) to press them flat for a few hours because some of them bowed a little from the heat of the iron. I added embellishments (beads, ribbon, buttons, etc.) with a hot temp glue gun.