Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Improvement Feline Edition

The cat ripped off the plastic barrier on the cat door. I looked into ordering a new casing, but once I stopped laughing at the price, I decided it would be just as easy to make a curtain. I knew I needed something that was a 9x13 finished size and I didn't want to bust into my good, whole fabric. I found three strips of 18x5 inch fabric and serged the seams together to make an 18" by roughly 15" squarish block.

I cut down the fabric to 9.5x13.5 to allow for the seam (or any creative changes) and then used that block to measure out the twill lining that would go on the back. I serged the tops of the curtain and liner together. Then I pinned and hemmed the bottoms separately to the right length (13 inches) and sewed them separately. Finally I serged the sides together.

And no itty-bitty curtain is complete without a ruffle at the top. I used my new ruffler and set it to 12 (pleat every 12 stitches). It wasn't "ruffly" enough for me so I ran it again at 6. Still not what I wanted, but it was okay and the dark fabric hid a multitude of sins.

I attached it all with velcro to the curtain and then to the door over the metal casing. Now that the cat door is slammin', the paint on the door really looks like it could use some help. It's always something, no?

Anyway, go dress up your furry friend's digs. He'll love you for it.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mmmm....Peanut Butter and Banana Bread

Okay, maybe not so much. The Mister liked it well enough, but I thought it was a little sticky. The recipe actually called for muffins, but I was a rebel and made a loaf. I think it would have been better as muffins.

The recipe that I used is at the bottom of this post. I don't recall where I swiped it from, sorry. I used 2 cups of all-purpose flour, used regular 1% milk and added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract because everything tastes better with vanilla. I also omitted the chocolate chips, but next time I would add nuts.

Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 large egg
2 small mashed overripe bananas (3/4 cup)
2/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup milk (vanilla soy is yummy)
2 T. oil
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Measure and mix the first 5 ingredients together; make a well in center.
Beat next 5 ingredients with a whisk in another bowl; add to well.
Stir in chocolate chips; mix just until moistened.
Fill 12 greased muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake at 375ºF for 18-20 minutes or until the centers test done.
Let stand 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kiss-mas Trees

Again, I don't recall where I got this idea (note to self: must remember to take notes in order to give credit where credit is due). I knew I wanted to make something for The Mister to put in his office at work. I had sent him with a candy dish in 2008, but I wanted to send him with something that didn't have to come home since said candy dish did not return until Halloween this year.

I started out with one of those Styrofoam cones found in the floral department. I got green because I thought tree equals green. When I started adding the Kisses I decided I didn't like that the foam was a light green and the Kisses were a metallic forest green. It offended my delicate sensibilities. So I grabbed some foil paper and covered the cone with tinsel cheer. The silver Kisses tend to blend, but I just ate those so that the tree was made up of mostly red and green.

You handle that how you see fit.

If one is nice, two is twice as nice, don't you think? Since the cat tore the tree to smithereens this year we're thinking about making a giant sized version of this next year.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cat Nap Anyone?

This time the cat got the benefit of my sewing energy. I found this really cool, bright, softer-than-soft fleece in the remenant bin. I knew the cat would love it for a bed.

For this bed I just cut out a 20"x20" (I have 2/3 of a yard of fabric). I used the yummy fleece on one side and canvas on the other. I serged up each side leaving a small opening to stuff the pillow and add some catnip. Then I top stitched the opening and handed it over to His Highness.

It's good to be Pikachu.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Still A Longhorn Girl

Yeah, I know it's A&M. But we have to love our Aggie neighbors. And if I'm going to mess up on collegiate fabric it's NOT going to be UT. No way.

This tote bag was made with vinyl and has black nylon straps. It's 20x20 finished size and is flannel lined. I think I'm going to add this to my craft show inventory for now. I have several yards of this type of fabric in various colors and patterns that I've picked up in thrift stores and clearance racks. I'll probably create a little personal sweat shoppe in order to repurpose all this goodness.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boo Cupcakes

There's no real reason I'm calling these Boo Cupcakes other than they were made for a Halloween-themed event. The school carnival had an all-call for goodies for the Sweet Shoppe (I put the extra -pe on because it looks more carnival-y) and this was my contribution.

I was short on time so I used...gasp!...a mix. As usual I brushed the top with simple syrup to keep the cake moist. Cupcakes tend to be a bit drier than their big cake counterparts. If I'm going to use a mix I prefer to use Duncan Hines. The only time I use a store brand cake mix is when I'm making Tres Leches cake and I add so much moisture in the form of milk that having a dry store-brand cake is actually a bonus. But I digress.

I tried the Land'O Lakes frosting recipe for these cupcakes. I used butter-flavored shortening instead of real butter since that what I had on hand. I keep butter in the freezer, but I didn't have time to bring it down to room temperature. Also since this project was a matter of quantity and I didn't want butter sitting out during the carnival I chose to use the shortening. I let Rosita (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer) go about a minute more than the usual 5 minutes and it helped get the "gritty" right out of the frosting. We love Rosita!

I used Wilton gel color in "violet", but with the yellow coloring from the shortening the frosting turned out almost black. If I got this color for anything other than Halloween I think I would have been disappointed. Here I think the color combination screams "wicked".

I rather liked how the frosting on these cupcakes turned out. It was really easy to work with and it wasn't overly sweet, which buttercream can tend to be. The word at the Sweet Shoppe was that the cupcakes were fast movers so I'm happy.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black Ribbon Wreath

My Halloween wreath. I got the idea from The Long Thread and thought I'd give it a go. I'm not that big on the "scary" part of Halloween, but I liked the elegant look of an all black wreath. It makes a statement. It says "I'll participate in the tradition of the season without being a complete goon about it all".
I think I would have gone with a narrower width (I used 1.5") so that the overall look is tighter. I added a metal ring to the ribbon that the wreath so that I could hang it on an inside door with a removeable hook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cocoa Cupcakes

I suppose it goes without saying that these have been a hit in our house. It's chocolate, right? The thing is I'm actually not *that* big of a chocolate fan.

So I tried two recipes, one for the cupcakes and one for the frosting, to make a kinder gentler chocolate cupcake.

Chocolate Cupcakes
(the original version was on a jar of Hellmann's mayo, but my version is below)

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker because I got it on sale at some point)
1 mayonnaise (NOT salad dressing a/k/a Miracle Whip)
1 cup water
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Beat by hand for 200 strokes or with a hand mixer for 2 minutes (I let my little chef help out with this part until he got tired...or bored). We mixed by hand because I prefer to save Rosita, my beloved Kitchen Aid stand mixer, for icings and breads. I didn't want her dirty before the big show.

Bake according to package directions, which in my case was 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I think that might have been a tad too long in my oven because the cupcakes seems a little dry. Way more dry than the "super moist" claim of the original recipe. I managed to up the texture by adding simple syrup to the tops of the cupcakes. think I would bake for about 18 minutes next time if you were wondering what I would've done differently.

Cocoa Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup butter softened
1 8 oz. packages of cream cheese softened (I used the store brand, but not "lite")
4 cups of sifted confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/4 cup powdered cocoa
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of evaporated milk
2 teaspoons of almond extract

In a stand mixer cream together butter, cream cheese and almond extract. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time thinning with milk. Mix on low (I used #2 on my machine) for about 5 minutes until well blended. Fill a pastry bag and a #12 tip with the icing and frost as desired.

We tried them last night, but I have to say they're better the second day and they held up quite nicely despite the humid weather right now. I liked that the chocolate didn't scream and the cream cheese really mellowed out the sweet of the icing.

I wish I had chocolate jimmies or something else to decorate the cupcakes. I think these would be great Groom's Cupcakes or birthday cupcakes with the right toppers.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Knit Out

If you're in the Austin Loopers! is holding a summer knitting and fiber arts craft camp for students going in to 3rd - 5th grades. Everyone leaves with a cool new skill, yarn, a set of needles or hook and the start of a great project. The sessions will be held June 8 - June 12 or July 20 - July 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m in the Oak Hill area.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Cookie Bouquet

I made this cookie bouquet for Mother's Day. Fun! Fun! I love cookie decorating. This summer I plan to have a "kids camp" for the boys. I think they'd get a kick out of "coloring" cookies.

Monday, May 4, 2009


See what happens when you teach kids to knit?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Administrative Professionals Day Gifts

I made these for the staff at Isaac's office. These are altered Starbuck's Frap bottles. I painted the lids with acrylic paint and used the CM punch for the circles on top.

A quick, fun project!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easter Cupcakes

I liked the basket and the geometric (of course!) designs the best. High yield shortening really does make a difference in buttercream!