Apr 26, 2013

Pretzel Day


I'm not even going to lie, nor shall I pretend to be humble.  The fact of the matter is that I'm good at making soft jumbo pretzels.  There, I confessed it.  It's not that I'm better than you or that I'm conceited in anyway, I'm just stating the facts.  And, since it is National Pretzel day - yes, this day exists, there is no better day to talk pretzels.



I used to make them every Sunday for my family.  And, sometimes quite often during the week too and then I'd walk them to my husband's work and share the deliciousness with his co-workers.  He loved it.  They loved it.  And I loved sharing, it was a win-win for all involved.  Then we moved and he started working from home and while I still like making them, taking them down stairs to his work, where he's the only employee, well, it's just not the same so I don't make them nearly as much as I used to.  

  

I did have a fun time teaching a group of 14 year olds how to make them once though, that was cool.  Plus, they had fun and giggled a lot.  Giggling 14 year olds, well, you either love them or run from them - this experience was a "love" them situation.  The photo above is Miss M giggling as she is trying to shape her pretzel.  (we made the aprons for the all the girls too - you can see that tutorial here:  Dish towel aprons)

So, do you want to make your own?  I should totally do a tutorial with photos on this one but I don't have any photos so I will just leave you with the recipe and instructions and we'll call it good.  Plus, I know there are a gazillion posts out there that can probably walk you through the steps visually should you need it.

Super Yummy, Super Soft, Super Big Pretzels

1-1/2 tsp Yeast
1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
1 dash Salt (don't skip this, it's needs it)
1-1/2 C 110 degree water 
(I never actually check to see if it's 110 degrees, I just use fairly warm water)
4 C Flour

1 TBLS Baking Soda
1/4 C Warm water

Step 1 - Combine yeast, sugar and water and let rest for 5 minutes or until yeast is frothy.

Step 2 - Add flour and mix well.  Knead until well blended, usually for me this is about 5 minutes.  Then Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise 1 hour.

Step 3 - Once dough has risen, mix in shallow dish the water and baking soda, stir to combine.

Step 4 - Set water mixture aside and break off a baseball sized pieces of dough and roll out with hands into a long rope.  Then form into desired shape.

Step 5 - Dip shaped dough into soda and water mixture, be sure to dip both sides and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the dough has been used.

Step 6 - Bake in pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 8 minutes our until lightly golden in color

Step 7 - Let rest for a couple of minutes and then brush with melted butter and add topping.  Kosher course salt or cinnamon-sugar are two of my family favorites.

Step 8 - my favorite step of all - EAT THEM!  Yum!

Tips:
- Depending on the size you make them, you can normally get 7 to 9 large pretzels from a batch.  Doubling the batch works ok but don't triple it.  For some reason every time I've tried to triple it, they always fail.

- If your oven doesn't go up at to 450 degrees just cook them at the highest setting possible but cook for a little longer than recipe says.

Enjoy!

Apr 20, 2013

Reversible, Re-usable, Gift Bag Tutorial


Ok, confession.  I don't share many sewing tutorials on here.  So, sit back and enjoy this rare moment.  I like to sew but I'm no pro at it.  I'm self taught and don't really know all the fancy-schmancy terms. I get asked at work all the time "Do you sew?"  and I always reply, "Kind of".  I consider myself a craft sewer (ever notice how sewer, as in one who sews, is spelled exactly the same as sewer, as in the yucky place under ground?  Ya, I just noticed that myself).  I guess the correct term is seamstress but lets face it, I'm a crafter, not a seamstress.  So, if you are a pro at sewing you have my permission to move on.  Just look the other way.  However, if you are not, and you like to dabble in textiles and crafting, than by all means, please enjoy this simple little project.


It's a reversible, re-usable, little gift bag that could easily double as a very basic purse.  And, for the record, I kind of think it is cute.  So, here's how I made it...


Start with your supplies:
Two different fabrics
Grosgrain ribbon
Two buttons
Small piece of leather string, narrow ribbon or twine
Paper ( I used card-stock)

You'll also need all the basics for sewing like thread, pins, scissors, and a sewing machine.
 

Step 1:  We start by making the most basic, simplest pattern ever.  Take your piece of paper and fold in half  long-wise.   Then eye-balling it, cut off a little bit off the top, probably about 2 inches.  I really don't know, I didn't measure.  Throw the little piece away but keep the larger piece.


Step 2:  Open your paper up and there you have it - a pattern.  Whoa!  I know, that was pretty complicated.    Next, take your pattern and trace out, then cut two squares from each type of fabric. When you are done you should have four squares total.


Step 3:  Take your squares and place them with their matching color and put right sides together.  You could, and probably should, pin them together on three sides.  I didn't.  See, a pro would probably pin.


Step 4:  Starting with one set, sew along three sides of the square.  Then repeat with the other set of squares.  Just make sure you are sewing each set with the same seam allowance and that you only sew three sides, not all four.  You need to leave one side open for it to be a bag.  


Step 5:  After the sides are sewn, I always take the bottom corners and just sew a little diagonal line and  then trim off the excess fabric.  This just helps the corners to fit into each other better.  


Step 6:  Next, take one - only one - of your sewn squares and turn it right side out.  I turned the chevron pattern right side out and left the red fabric with the right sides together.  Then place your two sets together, one inside the other.  To do this just put the set that is still right-side together (red) into the other one that you turned right-sides out (chevron). 


We've reached the point where you will need your other supplies.  So grab your ribbon, leather and pins.


Step 7:  Fold down each raw edge and pin the inside and outside together all along the opening.  Ok, here we go again, a pro would probably measure it all and iron it in place - I did not do that but you sure can.  You will get a crisper, more polished look if you do. 


Step 8:  When you've got the two fabrics pinned how you want them, simply take your ribbon and tuck one end in between the two layers of fabric and pin in place.  I prefer my bag handles to line up with the side seams like shown in the photo above.  Once you get one side in place, repeat with the other end.


Step 9:  And finally, before sewing it all together, take your leather piece - or thin ribbon - and tuck the ends in between the two layers of fabric, just like you did with the ribbon handles only this time you are putting both ends of the leather on only one side of your bag.  The ribbon ends went on opposite ends of the bag but the leather stays close together in the middle of the bag.

Also, just a tip, you don't need a very big loop.  Just big enough to go across the top of the bag and down the other side a short bit to loop around a button.  (If that doesn't make sense just look at the finished project photos, I think they show what I mean.)   

Step 10:  (Not shown)  Using your machine just do a simple straight stitch all around the opening of the bag. This will sew the two fabrics together but also secure your ribbon and leather in place too.


Step 11:  Once it is all sewn together, it's time to add the buttons so that the bag can close.  To do this take your leather loop and pull it across the bag and down to the front side.  Carefully mark where it falls - this is where your first button will go.  Also, keep in mind, you don't want it pulled too tightly or it might not close later on when the bag has stuff in it so make sure you leave a little wiggle room.


Step 12:  Start sewing on your first button.  As you push the needle through the fabric on the outside of the bag and into the fabric on the inside, attach the other button.  Remember this bag is reversible so you need a button on each side.  Also, don't pull your thread so tight that your buttons end up laying flat against the fabric.  You need the buttons a little loose, but not too loose, or leather won't be able to wrap around it.  


And that's it.  Here is the bag all completed with the loop around the button.  And, if you turn it inside out to make it reversible you'll see that the loop and button on the red works just the same as on the chevron.  

These little bags are really cute and do add a personal touch to gift giving.  True, a .99 cent paper bag is easier but these are unique.  Plus you can make them in any size you need, can wash them, and can re-use them over and over.  Well, once you give it away it's probably not a good idea to ask for it back.  However, the recipient could use it to pass along or they could use it as a little purse.  

My girls used these as purses for a long time when they were little.  You can make the strap long so it goes cross-body, or you can make it short so it's just a little grab handle or, like the one I just showed, you can make it long enough to be a shoulder bag.  My girls liked the cross-body version best for purses.


So, back to giving it as a gift, I like to fill ours with girlie things like headbands, necklaces, nail polish, lip gloss, etc... The bag, even though it is small, will hold a lot more than you think it will.  


And here is it is all filled up and ready to go.

Enjoy! 

Apr 17, 2013

Beauty!



I mentioned in yesterday's post some things that have been worrying me about the concept of "beauty".  Specifically how it is being defined socially and how my girls are digesting it.  I posted yesterday afternoon and then last night one of my Facebook friends, not knowing I had made those comments, shared the following video.  It's pretty amazing and well worth your time. It's a short study/experiment done by Dove.


It's human nature to pick out our flaws and wish we looked different but like the video says in the end, "We are all more beautiful than we think".

I'm hanging on to that thought today and hopefully it will stay with me for a long time as I navigate the whole beauty thing with my daughters.  They are beautiful girls but I don't want them to get so caught up in their outward looks that they forget to develop the beauties inside that really matter.

I read some where about a mom who would encourage her daughters to do everything they could at home to look their best but then she'd say, once you leave the house forget yourself, and your looks, and serve others. I fully agree with that.  It goes hand in hand with my favorite two words "Kindness Matters" and if they can be kind and help others feel beautiful, well, that is beauty in action and that's really all I can hope for.

Apr 16, 2013

I'm Here

Hello!  It's been awhile.

So what have I've been up to in my absence?  Let me show you really fast.



1 - Custom Orders:  Look how cute! I know I made it so that might sound a little conceited but really the praise goes to a clever mom who contacted me recently.  She had the fun idea to request a custom pendant that had her son's baseball number on it.  Fun right?!  Now she can wear it to his games.  


2- Digging out!  Yup, if you haven't heard, spring isn't happening anytime soon in Northern Colorado.  We thought it was.  The girls have been on their bikes a few times and then we opened the door this morning to this!  Crazy.  We really need the moisture though so I'm thankful for it.  Plus, added bonus, I got a snow day off of work - my kids were so jealous!


3- Mother's Day orders:  I'm still running my mother's day special. If you are interested in buying a gift for Mom, I'm offering 20% off of all orders over $10 in my Etsy Shop.  The offer runs until April 30th, just enter the coupon code MOM20 at check out.  

Also, kind of tied to the mother's day thing,  I've been playing around with yellows lately.  I love the color yellow but like it in small doses so I'm totally happy with these new pendants that just have a pop of yellow.  Plus, they both go with this bracelet. 


Mom just might like the matching set!  Just sayin'.  :)




4 - So annoyed!  I've been sporting this lovely thing for the last couple of weeks.  I did something to my hand right before Christmas at work, I was putting a big bolt of fleece away and heard a pop, I just thought I pulled a muscle.  Turns out it's really a crafters worst nightmare - carpal tunnel has set in since I hurt it and lately I've been struggling with it.  Do you know how hard it is to play with clay, or close jump rings, or paint?  Everything I love to do with my hands is difficult as my hand goes numb and then my arm aches.  It's so annoying!  The brace is helping though and I'm still crafting, I can't give it up as it's like therapy for me.


5- Thinking About Beauty!  I wrote a blog post last week that I never posted.  It's still sitting in my edit box waiting for action.  I took a couple of my girls out last week and did a fast little photo shoot with them.  It felt great to be behind the lens again and feel the spring air - yes, that was before #2 on this list happened.  The problem was that as I was editing the photos I kept replaying some conversations I've had with my girls lately about beauty.  Specifically how it's defined.  I'm sad to admit that I haven't been very good about helping them define beauty in a way that goes against the stereotypes that society would have us believe.  All three of my girls are struggling one way or another with the idea of beauty.  The twins want to wear make-up to be more popular and Miss M is approaching the age of being able to date and has concerns of her own about being cute enough, noticeable enough, thin enough, blonde enough. The girls that get the dates all look a certain way.  Don't my girls know how amazing they are?  Haven't I told them?  And for all three, they are amazing and beautiful but really it has absolutely nothing to do with their looks.  It's who they are becoming.

As a mom, and I know I'm not the only mom who does this, I push my kids to comb their hair, wash their face, match their clothes, and look their best but one thing I haven't been very good about is telling them "why" it's important to do those things.  There is an inner confidence that grows when you know you are taking care of yourself and you respect yourself enough to clean up and look good.  Sadly though, I think they are following what they are seeing in the media and through their peers and they think they have to look a certain way so they will be liked by others.  They want to fit in, they want to be liked and they want to be beautiful.  As a mom I need to continually fight against those messages they are being bombarded with it.   It's not the make-up, waist size, or hair color that define beauty.   This is occupying my mind like crazy lately.    Do you have daughters?  What have you done to help them understand that beauty is more than skin deep?


6- Robots - I've been making robots again.  I've had some requests for these because of Robotics teams.  Fun, right?!  Just like the baseball pendant above, these little guys are going to moms who are supporting their kids robotic teams.  I don't have photos but they come in green, purple, blue and grey too.

ok, that's all - the end!

Apr 6, 2013

Trim!

Last week I ran into Lobby of Hobby for a quick purchase, while I was there I noticed that all the ribbons and trims were 50% off.  I'm kind of embarrassed that I know this, but Hobby Lobby puts their ribbons and trims on sale for half off pretty much every other week.  For someone like me who has a ribbon addiction, that is good news.  Plus, they almost always have some cute stuff.

While soaking in all the wonderful colors and patterns I noticed some new trims that I had not seen before so, big surprise, I bought them.  Aren't they lovely?!


Yes!  Yes they are.

So, what can you do with these things?  Well, you could use them for what they are meant for, you could trim things with them.  Pillows, clothing, hand towels and such!  That would be nice.  Or, you could turn them into cute little bracelets.  I'm pretty sure you can guess what I did.


Would you like to know how?


Start with your trim.  It's best to pick a narrow one, no bigger than the ones shown.


Next, take the end of your trim and wrap it around your wrist to get a measurement.  Don't measure it tight, leave a little bit of wiggle room so the bracelet will dangle a bit when worn.


Next, cut your piece of trim to the measurement you determined to work best for your wrist.  You can also lightly singe each end.  To do this, just hold the ends near a lit candle - don't put the end in the flame - that would be bad, just near enough to melt the fibers a bit.  This will help to keep it from fraying.


Next, get out two crimp clasps.  If you aren't familiar with these they are sold in the jewelry section of most craft stores and come in various sizes and shapes.  I like the ones shown because they are a perfect size for the trim I chose and they are easy to use. 


To use them all you need to do is just put them over the end of your trim and close them shut.  I didn't need any special tools for these as it was easy to secure them tightly with just my fingers.  They have little teeth on the ends so they kind of bite into the fiber and hold really nicely.


After you put the crimp on one end, just repeat the process and do the same thing to the other end.  When you are done you should have something that looks like the photo above.  

It's starting to look like a bracelet already.  


Next you need to add on your clasp.  To do this grab a few jump rings and a lobster clasp and have them out and ready to use.


On each end of your crimp clasp is a small loop.  Add a jump ring to each of those loops and then attach the lobster clasp to just one of those jump rings.  


And guess what?  That is all you do.  Super easy.   


You can use all different kinds of trims and you can even add on charms or other decorations if you feel inclined to do so.   


 The very last thing you need to do is just put them on and rock their simple awesomeness!

Enjoy!

Apr 5, 2013

Big thanks & An Offer

I've been absent a bit this week.  Lots of stuff going on around here which means my posts have been scarce but I needed to pop in real quick and send you all a big.....


The response to the camp fund raiser was HUGE!!!   We, Miss M and I, thank you all so much.  She is still sewing her little heart out and I'm packing them up as quickly as I can.  The good news is we are getting close and all orders, whether they were jewelry or hairpins, will be shipped out tomorrow.

Thank you again!!!

Also, not to freak you out or anything but Mother's day is just a month away.  What are you going to get for mom?  Jewelry?  Yes!  Great idea.  


If you are interested, I'm offering a Mother's day special for 20% off all purchases over $10 in my Etsy shop.  The offer will run until April 30th.  Just enter coupon code MOM20 at check out.


Oh, and if you see a design you like but prefer it in a different color, just let me know, I can most likely make it in the color you'd like.