Friday, June 22, 2012

Please Don't Eat Shawna the Sheep

I'm helping out in Primary teaching a group of 7 year old children.  They love games and I've found that doing a game half way through helps them to be more involved in the lesson.  This week's lesson is Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (Primary 2, Lesson 23).  I always check Sugardoodle for lesson helps and there are several for this lesson.  One of the ideas is a link to the March 2001 Friend, "For Little Friends" section.  There are two games at the bottom of the page, one of which is "Please Don't Eat Shawna the Sheep".  I can remember playing "Don't Eat Pete" when I was younger, so this game will already to be familiar to some.  I used the illustration from the Friend and created my own game board for the class.  If you would like a copy, then click on the image, download and print from your computer (personal use only).  I'll probably laminate mine and keep it in the Primary lesson binder.  This would also be a good addition to Family Home Evening, especially since it can be played with all ages.

Here are the instructions for the game: Lay the sheep on a flat surface. Then place a small candy on each sheep. One family member leaves the room while everyone else chooses one sheep to be Shawna. The person comes back and begins to eat the candies one at a time. When the person tries to eat Shawna, everyone yells, “Don’t eat Shawna!” That person’s turn is over. Replace the eaten candies and let someone else have a turn.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nuts About Dad Bow Tie Tutorial

 I'm happy to finally have a tutorial done for the good 'ole, neglected blog.  It is just in the nick of time for Father's Day.  There are so many good ideas out there for Father's Day.  We had a project day with our Webelos Scouts earlier in the month and presented them with a couple of gifts they could make including the Best Daddy Ever Beans, Hugs & Kisses Jar, and A "Tie-riffic" Card.  They were some of my favorite Father's Day gift ideas.

Fast forward to this week, I've been helping out in Primary lately and in preparation for my lesson I decided that we would do a gift for the enrichment activity at the end.  I wanted something that was interactive, but not too intensive (due to time and attention spans).  I've seen clear bags filled with candy and tied to form a tie or bow tie.  That was part one of my inspiration.  The next part came from all of the crafts that I saw that were Nuts About You/Dad.

My end result was actually a happy accident.  Originally, I was going to make the bow tie tag and attach it to the bag with a chenille twist tie or some twine.  When I went to pick up my print order from Office Depot, they had enlarged my document to fit the page.  Of course I didn't notice until I got home.  I was a little disappointed, but I decided to not give in to my OCD side (it was only a half of an inch longer).  So I went on to gathering supplies only to find that I was out of sandwich baggies.  Seriously?!  I buy the bulk boxes of baggies at Costco and I thought I had at least one more box left.

Well, I started to think of what I could do (without a trip to the store) and I remembered I had a box of cellophane treat bags sitting on a shelf in my craft room.  It didn't take long before I was creating what you see now and I'm actually more happy with it than my original idea. 

The nuts that I made to fill the ties with are Cinnamon Almonds via One Charming Party.  They are delicious (& dairy free)!  The only thing I would change is increase the spice and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (per comments on their blog) for extra crispiness.

Below are the free templates and tutorial for this project.  Click on the page that you want to download and a box will appear that will give you the option to save or view the file.  Once you've downloaded the file, you will be able to print from your computer.  You'll notice there are two different bow ties.  They are both modified to fit the stitching (that wasn't originally planned for) and the second one has a middle section since I ended up not attaching the tie to the bag in the center.  These are free for personal use only (meaning they can not be used for monetary gain).

Background Paper Credit: Celeste Knight

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

I made this little morsels the other day when I needed a thank you gift for a friend.  I had all the ingredients on hand and they didn't take long to make.  The only thing that I didn't like was the pretzels I had.  They were butter flavored and I would have preferred plain ones.  Next time I make them, I am going use different pretzels and put more filling in each one.  The recipe I used comes from Foodiphilia.  I have slight variations in the instructions, since I generally do not like to put chocolate in a freezer or dip things into chocolate that are frozen.  When melted chocolate is put in the freezer or fridge to set up, it will accumulate moisture on the outside.  When you bring the chocolate out of the freezer the moisture will evaporate into the chocolate causing spots and sometimes change the texture.  If you are going to serve them right away, then it may not be an issue...but I try to avoid it.

I promise the next post will not be something that involves food.  I just realized I've posted all food items that have a neutral color palette.  We do eat colors around here!  Anyway, I've sewn a couple of things over the past few weeks that I want to share.  They all will include links to free patterns!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Agave Marshmallows

A couple years ago, I was looking for treats that didn't have highly refined sugars.  I really liked marshmallows and I was tickled pink to find a recipe for ones made with agave nectar.  They turned out beautifully on the first try and my husband even likes them better than regular marshmallows.  I started to blog about these delectable treats back in early 2009, but never published the post.

Since that time, I've experimented with variations and different flavors.  My favorite is a vanilla bean marshmallow with toasted coconut.  The agave lends a nice, subtle flavor.  It is much stronger when you first whip up a batch, but it mellows as it sets up.  I'm almost sure you could replicate this recipe with honey in place of agave, if you don't like agave or don't have any on hand.  These are really simple and easy to make if you haven't made marshmallows before.  You don't have to worry about cooking a sugar syrup to a certain degree, which also eliminates the need of a candy thermometer. 

 On a side note, there is a new recipe book out dedicated to marshmallows of all shaped and kind, called "Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever".  I can't wait to get my hands on it and review it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Who doesn't love a warm soft pretzel?  They are definitely a snack that we love around my house.  When I started making these pretzels, I would make them into bite sized pieces.  They were good, but I like them best in pretzel form.  Plus reheating them is much easier when you aren't dealing with tiny pieces.

In preparation for our upcoming Pinewood Derby (for Cub Scouts), we had our Webelos Scouts make part of the refreshment...soft pretzels.  I made a double batch of dough ahead of time and then my lovely friend/Webelos Leader brought all of the ingredients to our Den meeting, so the boys could experience measuring the ingredients and mixing the dough.

I was surprised at how involved the boys wanted to be in mixing the dough.  When it came to shaping the dough into pretzels, they caught on quick.  Even my  friend's five year old was able to produce nice looking pretzels.  It was great to have so many hands to get our 36 pretzels shaped and ready for the boil & bake.  I highly recommend getting your kids involved in making these.

One of the best things about these pretzels, besides being delicious, is that they freeze really well.  Once they have cooled, place into freezer bags and freeze.  They can be reheated in a toaster oven or conventional oven.  I toast them for about 5 minutes, but that will vary based on your toaster oven.  For conventional oven, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes (until pretzels are heated all the way through).

After you make the recipe once, you will realize why I double the recipe and freeze the pretzels.  They are perfect snacks and everyone loves them!

P.S.  This is another recipe that the butter can be subbed with Earth Balance, for those with allergies or diet restrictions.  I've made them both ways and they are both tasty.

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay's recipe.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a wonderful friend, who is also my Visiting Teaching Partner & the wife of our Bishop, who makes The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...seriously.  My husband is an aficionado of cookies (& cookie dough!) and now he has two favorite cookies; this one & his Mom's Almond Sandwich Cookies.

Since my friend's name is Catherine, my husband aptly named these cookies C4's for Catherine's Chocolate Chip Cookies and they are totally 'da bomb!  They are slightly puff with the perfect combination of chewy and a little crispy on the bottom.  It is exactly how we like our cookies.  You have to try them and then tell me how you like them.

P.S.  Make sure you have an oven thermometer, unless you know your oven well.  I've had a ton of success with all my baking once I invested in one.

P.S.S. These cookies can be made with Smart Balance or Earth Balance in place of the butter, for those that can't do butter (due to diet or allergy) and they turn out really well.  Of course butter is best, but not everyone can do butter.

2 Years Later

Life has bought me back to my neglected blog, which needs a bit of a makeover.  I'm in the midst of trying to be the best mom I can be while balancing my other passions in life.  Ahh, the joys of motherhood!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lucky Cupcakes {Happy St. Patty's}

I'm posting a holiday treat before the actual holiday....It's a miracle!
These are dark chocolate cupcakes with creme de menthe frosting.
The little bows and shamrocks are made from gumpaste and then lightly brushed with edible Luster Dust.

To make the shamrocks:
-Roll a small amount of gumpaste into a ball.
-Put ball onto working surface & press down until you have a nice, plump disc.
-Use a toothpick to notch about a 1/3 of the way in. Repeat process on the opposite side of the first notch. Then repeat on top and bottom of the disc.
-Pick up the disc & roll the toothpick between each notch (rounding the petals a bit).
-Add a small tapered gumpaste rope for the stem.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Agave & Vanilla Roasted Walnuts

I'm back...I hope! I've been MIA on and off for the last couple of months and I continue to get e-mails asking where I've gone...thanks :) I'm recovering for a 2nd spout of an icky virus that has been going around. Anyway, enough of that and on to the good stuff!

Around here, we try to eat healthy as much as possible (except on Sundays when we have our "family" get togethers & eat whatever we want). I like to have some healthy treats to cure the sweet tooth during the week. Today I made Vanilla Roasted Walnuts sweetened with Agave. It is a simple & delicious recipe from one of my {gluten-free} favs, Elana's Pantry. Look at those yummy little vanilla bean specks. I'm going to try this will other nuts, like pecans & almonds. This recipe goes together pretty quickly, so it makes a good last minute gift. I'm making some for "Thank You" gifts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Happened?!

Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!! My blog has been changed mysteriously. I looked at it yesterday and somehow today all of my preferences & graphics are gone :( I know I downloaded my settings somewhere....

I hope to be back to normal in a couple days.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Like many others, I've been OBSESSED with making these flowers. It started this past summer and grew from there. My favorite was a headband I made with some vintage lace and other fabric. Then I made a bunch for Christmas, which is why I'm now getting them on the blog. I have a few more that I didn't get pics of...they were all coordinating for Christmas with my moms & sisters & niece. Maybe I'll get a pic the next time I visit.

There are plenty of tutorials out there. If I would have waited a few months, then I wouldn't have had to figure things out for myself, but oh well! Here are some links to free tutorials:
Everyday Chaos
Sis Bloom
Once you have the flowers down, then you can make this:
Scientific Seamstress

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello January!

It is hard to believe that it is already January and already a New Year. Most people blogged about it in the first few days...but I'm just a little late.

No big resolutions on my list. I have a goal to strengthen my spirituality, among other things. My new job at church is Camp Director for the young women. In our area, the camp program is year round and the girls are certified before they go to camp. I'm excited to be back with my girls, after a 5-month break (when we switched wards). My goal is to bring a little fashion into camping...I was one of those girls that brought a butane powered curling to my first year of camp. I think it will make camping more fun for those who aren't die hard fans. Of course, it is not the top priority (survival and spirituality come first).

So Hello January! We are one month closer to some real warmth.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Easy, Cute & Fragile

You've probably seen some style of Shrinky Dink rings floating around the blog world (there are several tutorials). I made some a while ago when I first spotted them. I somehow forgot why I only made a few, until I made a couple for stocking stuffers. My problem with these cute rings are that they are fragile and break easily. The rings can be worn for a short period of time as long as you aren't doing anything too active. I need to find a way to make them a spray on something. Any ideas?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Fav Way for Lemon Meringue

A yummy addition to a fun Girls Night! The recipe was absolutely perfect. Thanks, Martha! I've made lemon curd before for my award winning cake, though the recipe was slightly different the process was nearly the same. It was the first time I'd made seven-minute frosting, though. I really didn't know what to expect, but I liked how it turned out. It has a light, fluffy, glossy finish and torches perfectly. The flavor is very similar to a meringue (like on a lemon meringue pie), except I think I prefer the seven-minute frosting. These Lemon Meringue Cupcakes are labor intensive and well worth it.

The cupcake tags were really simple. I created them in Photoshop by creating a circle and adding the text on an arc (adjusting to the curve of the circle). Next I added a name in the middle and age behind it (adjusting the opacity to 50%). I flatten the image, then adjusted it to the size I wanted and filled the page. I was really wishing I knew where my circle punch was, but it is in a box I cut them out by hand. I added a pick and a feather with the good 'ole hot glue gun. I really wanted to have glitter on the black outer edge of the circle, but ran out of time (next time!).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Girls Night

Who doesn't love a good Girls Night? It is so fun to get to know other women on a more personal level. I've also learned a lot of new things. For instance, last night I learned that a peacocks bum is very soft! Not sure how that topic came up, but it was probably because we were making feathered hair pieces.

Every once and a while our Girls Night will include a craft. We were celebrating my friends bday that night and she had been wanting to make feather hair pieces for a while, so I thought it was a perfect time to do it. Even though our craft resources are slim over here (the closest Micheals is an hour away and that is if you don't hit a bridge opening/closing...which I never miss!), everything turned out. I pulled a lot out of my craft stash and then other people brought some supplies to add to the mix. It was a lot of fun.

Even non-crafters came to enjoy the food and conversation...two very essential parts to any successful Girls Night. The menu included Spinach Salad in Parmesan Frico Cups, Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, Tropical Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips, Cherry Bombs and a sweet friend brought yummy Peppermint Brownies. All of it was delicious!

Christmas Brulee

This was my second attempt at making Creme Brulee. The first was successful, but I didn't have the cute little ramekins or a high powered torch. I used a glass 9" round baking dish and a butane torch.

This time I had new little ramekins (from World Market) and a propane torch. I would recommend both! My hunny really liked helping on the torching part. I think this will become a tradition at my inlaws. We all loved it!

The recipe I used is compliments of Alton Brown. The only change I made was using half and half instead of cream. No one noticed :). A quick tip is to save the vanilla bean pod to make vanilla sugar.

Happy Torching!

Indoor Photography

I've done a lot of photography since the end of summer. I've come to a conclusion that I do not enjoy shooting in the winter time, because it is too cold and gloomy. I love shooting outdoors, so winter time has forced me to practice indoor shots.

Since we don't have little kiddos running around at my house, I use the next best thing...our dogs. My little girl dog loves the camera and is a great model (she must take after me). Our boy dog doesn't really care and usually doesn't pose for me, so I stick to my girl.

Last month I pulled out my flash that I got when I was 16. It works great on my DSLR. I'm still learning on getting the best shots indoor, but I'm getting better! I learn a lot from flickr forums and blogs. I also try to apply some of the things I learned when I was younger. The best advice I can give is to learn the basics, then play. Whenever I have a question I search the blogs and usually find my answer! My favorite place for the basics is Pioneer Women. There is also a wealth of information about cameras & lenses on Ken Rockwell's site.

I'm Back!

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back & ready to blog! Since my posting in November, we finished the remodel project on our new house (the contractors left 2 days before Thanksgiving!), hosted Thanksgiving with 19 people, put on a Church Christmas Party, made Christmas presents, spent time with both sides of the family for a couple days around Christmas and celebrated the New Year from our home. Add a couple photo shoots, work outs, etc and you've got my life for the last few months. I'm ready to slow down a little bit.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Whoville Ward Christmas Party

My husband and I were in charge of the Christmas Party at our church. It is quite an undertaking (especially without a committee). Luckily I had some great people in the kitchen and a wonderful person doing a program. The Elders Quorom put on "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas". The script had been altered to fit our area and the church. It was a hoot! Then we had a couple of musical numbers. The meal was sooo yummy, too. We heard many rave reviews for the next couple of weeks. I took my camera and went to take pictures, only to find I had no SD card in my camera!I took a pic of some of the decorations I made, before hand. I made all the decorations by hand by myself (never again!). I made several wreaths and swags (for the tables) in the same style. I got the idea from The Red Thread. All the bulbs on the wreaths were hand painted. The plan was to hand paint all of the bulbs (for the swags), but I ran out of time and energy. I also made paper snowflakes and we strung lights across the ceiling. I was happy with how everything looked and everyone had a good time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Easy Fall Treat

November is really here, now! Most of you are probably coming off of a sugar high, so a sweet treat may not be something your craving. Maybe in a week or two? I was thinking they might be a good addition to Thanksgiving, but they would be good anytime :)

These are Ginger & Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches, that Sandra Lee would be proud of.
You need 3 ingredients; Anna's Ginger Thins, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, & Chocolate Jimmies. The Ginger Thins are perfect for ice cream sandwiches, because they are thin and almost graham cracker like...which helps the cookie to absorb the moisture from the ice cream making the cookies soften slightly. It is very reminiscent of a classic ice cream sandwich, but with a flavor twist!
-Start by allowing the ice cream to soften. If it is too hard it will break the cookies. If it is too soft, then you will have a mess and the majority of the ice cream will end up outside of the cookies.
-Next, take a Ginger Thin and plop a big scoop of ice cream in the middle of the cookie.
-Top it with another cookie and lightly press down until the ice cream hits the edges.
-Roll in chocolate jimmies or any crunchy topping of your choice.
-Cover and freeze overnight.