Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beautiful Fruit

I cut these open for the girls and I was just blown away by the amazing color variation in these pluots.  They really are nothing too exciting to look at on the outside, and then you cut them open and they are breathtaking.  It's funny how many things are like that.  I have been having this conversation with my daughters (I have three) a lot lately about their friends, where beauty truly comes from, and that things are not always what they seem to be from the outside.  This just reminded me of that a bit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Attempts at Organization

I am working on these these in an attempt to organize my art stuff as well as the girls' art things.  I just took some fabric scraps, cut them to the size of some cans that I saved.  I then coated the fabric with Modge Podge and put it around the cans and smoothed it out.  After they dried for a couple of hours, I put another coat on the cans and then let them dry.  I think these are a lot prettier than the paper cups I was using to put their colored pencils.  Don't you agree?  I have a few more to do, but hopefully I will have their Art table organized by the end of summer.  I found this was great project to recycle food cans as well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Healthy Summer Treat

It is starting to get HOT!!  When it gets hot around here, one of the first things my girls ask for is ice cream.  Ice cream is yummy but not the healthiest snack.  I have tried a lot of recipes for smoothie pops, but I have found that the easiest thing to use is just plain yogurt, and it tastes good too.  I buy a big tub of yogurt and spoon it into the molds.  After they are frozen, put them under the faucet for a minute and they come right out of the mold.  It is fun to use a couple kinds of yogurt to make them more exciting too.  My kids love them because they taste good, and I love them because they are easy and healthy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ginger Pear Soap With a Little Bit of Ricing/Seizing Action

I feel like a mother after her baby takes her first steps.   This actually started out kind of rough, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to keep this one.   

After making a quite few batches successfully, I decided I wanted to make a layered soap. The bottom layer went together beautifully.  I used the same recipe as before, coloring with nettle leaf powder and using a very yummy pear ginger fragrance.  It thickened up pretty quickly after I added the fragrance, but I wasn't too worried.  It went into the mold nicely and I started the second layer.  I decided not to put any color in the second layer, so I thought it would be a lot easier.  Boy was I wrong.  I added the fragrance at a light trace because the other layer had thickened so quickly.  I thought this would take care of the problem.  Instead, the batch started ricing on me (formed little rice-sized clumps and separated).  I kind of panicked and after trying to blend it a little bit, I quickly poured it into the mold.  I consulted the Internet for information on ricing, which told me to blend it to try to smooth it out, so I spooned it back out of the mold (careful not to disturb the other layer too much) and mixed it up with my hand blender.  It started to seize a little bit, but seemed to at least to mix together, so I spooned it quickly back into the mold, wrapped it up, and crossed my fingers. 

In the morning, I unmolded the soap (I noticed it was quite bumpy on top) and surprise, it looked pretty good!  I did notice that the top layer has some areas that are lighter in color, but I think it is going to be OK, as they are not brittle, hard or otherwise suspicious looking.  I will definitely keep a close eye on the texture and test the pH more closely as it cures, to make sure it us safe to use before I use it or give it away.  I am actually kind of grateful that I had this experience early on.  If this happens again, I will definitely be prepared.  I wasn't able to find too much on the web about ricing, so hopefully this will help some other newbie soapers out there. 

I do have to say that I am officially in love.  I cannot wait to start my next batch of cold process soap.  Each time I unmold some new soap, it feels like Christmas! You never really know what you are going to find!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Super Easy and Yummy Cookies

It's almost the end of the school year, and I don't know about you, but we are swamped with end of the year festivities.  This is also just around the time for class parties and last minute requests for cookies or treats.  I love, love, love simple Spritz cookies.  They are so buttery they just melt in your mouth.  So, I adapted a simple spritz recipe slightly to make these easy treats for my daughter's class.  They are tiny but heavenly.


1 1/2 c. butter
3 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Guitarrd Milk Chocolate Chips (These were the perfect size for these dainty cookies, but not too small either).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter in mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, egg, baking powder, vanilla, and almond extract.  Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping the sides of the bowl half-way through.  Beat in remaining flour a little bit at a time until combined.

Put dough, at room temperature into a cookie press. Use any shape you like as long as it is solid in the middle to put the chocolate.  Press dough through and make sure cookies are at least 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook about 8 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges.  Quickly remove from the oven and immediately press chocolate chips into the middle of the cookie.  Do not let cookies cool before you do this.  Within minutes, the cookie will be to hard to press the chocolate in properly.  Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.  These definitely taste best when cooled completely and the chocolate is able to solidify.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Birthday Soap

My newest obsession is soap making. I am getting a lot of ideas from Soap Queen, which is a wonderful blog if you are into this sort of project.  These were fairly simple to make and a lot of fun.  There is a video tutorial here on how to make this soap using clear stamps. These would make a great gift or party favor.