Thursday, February 26, 2015

Western Blue & Gold

We went right from piano to pick up a cake and then on to church to set up for the Blue & Gold.  I finished setting up the games right just before people started arriving and didn't have the opportunity to take pictures.  I have to use what my son took to share this event.

I started off my morning making several batches of popcorn.  You can see in this first picture a quart jar of popcorn below the balloons.  I don't recall the flavor of Jell-O I used just that it was berry and it would have been blue jello.  I used a recipe from Our Best Bites for the berry popcorn.  I didn't have time to dig through my book for my friend Sharon's recipe.  I had to make extra caramel popcorn because that is a favorite for one of my girls and she wanted to be sure there would be some for her.   Two jars went on each table.
The jail and trading post on the wall took an insane amount of time to make between sketching the buildings, drawing the letters and then painting it.  One of the Cubs took the jail home with him.  The paper cost $2 and I used Crayola paint that cost $5.99 for 6 colors (I had a 25% off coupon).  Not to spendy for something that adds a lot to the decor.

The piece below was by the cake, which oddly enough, my son didn't take a picture of. I was surprised because if there is something he likes, there are usually 20 pictures on my camera. I snapped a picture at home to share.  I really don't like making medallions.  I even made a circle to help when I was getting that center down, but I still find it a challenge.  Gobs of hot glue was used on that! The wrapping for the jar and idea came from HERE.
I bought some horseshoe shapes at Michael's near their wood section and painted them silver.  I used that as a weight for the balloon.  This wasn't the centerpiece I intended but I couldn't find what I was looking for and I was shooting to keep this at a reasonable cost.
We told a story about life on the prairie.  The cub standing brushed a broom on  the backs of the 3 on the floor for the wind, had a flashlight on their heads when it was sunny and squirted them with water for the rain. The Cubs did another skit about water and at the end they throw the "water" out at the audience but the bucket was filled with popcorn.  Pretty funny!
One of the games we played was Straight Shooter.  Each person took a straw and five toothpicks.  They stood 3-5 feet back depending on size and tried to blow their toothpick in the pan.  

You can see another game behind them, Ten Gallon Hat Toss.  They had to get as many cards as they could into the hat in 30 seconds.  I didn't find that one a successful game because they stood to close or just chucked the whole deck at once instead of going one by one.
Here they are getting ready to play Rattlesnake Tag.  The head tries to catch the tail (rattle).  Once the "rattle" is tagged, he becomes the head.  They have to hold hands in the line the entire time.  This one got a little crazy and they had to be reminded if they were causing the line to fall, they were going too fast.
This game was the Barber Shop.  They blew up a balloon, put shaving cream on it and then shaved the balloon.  The goal was to be the first done without popping the balloon.  So glad I brought towels to clean up the boys and the floor.
Other games we played but I don't have pictures of are:  Snake in the Hole - I brought our cornhole game so 2 could play at once.  I put some rubber snakes from the dollar store on and around them.  They got to take the snakes home.

Tin Can Toss - 6 can stacked in a pyramid on the table.  They needed knock the cans from the table with a beanbag.

Wild & Weary Trail Relay - they had a "bedroll" (rolled up pillow or small sleeping bag) between their legs.  They went several feet to a hula hoop where they tried to "Lasso a Bull" (we just used the backs of the chairs).  They went up to the chair to get a broom and soda bottle where they "Took the Cattle to Market" by having the broom in constant contact with the bottle back to the start line.
We then proceeded with awards and cake.  We skipped the dinner this year but will most likely have it again next year. :)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Velvet Cake Stacks

This year I made a special little treat for Valentine's Day.  The recipe came from the Cooking with Paula Deen magazine and is very similar to the fudge cake that has been popular for 20+ years with sour cream and a box of pudding.  The difference is flavors of the cake and pudding and no chocolate chips added to the mix.

The recipe calls for 24 cupcakes from each mix.  I just did 12 and then put the rest of the batter in an 8" round cake pan and baked it.  I used the left-over filling between the 2 layers.

Velvet Cake Stacks

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (7 oz.) jar fluff
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed

Pink Velvet Batter:
1 box white cake mix
1 (3.3 oz.) pkg white chocolate instant pudding
4 large eggs
1C sour cream
1/2C oil
1/2C water
6 drops red food coloring

Red Velvet Batter:
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. cheesecake instant pudding
4 large eggs
1C sour cream
1/2C oil
1/2C water

For the filling, beat cream cheese and marshmallow until smooth.  Beat in Cool Whip until combined.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line your muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine all of the ingredients for the pink velvet cake and spoon into 24 prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 15-18 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 min., remove to cooling rack to continue cooling.

Combine all of the ingredients for the red velvet batter and do as you did for the pink velvet batter.

Once cooled, remove the paper liners and cut off the rounded top of the cupcake and let the family snack on them another time. :)  Half will be red-pink-red and the other half of the stacks will be pink-red-pink.

Stack the cake round putting about a tablespoon of filling between the layers. Pipe some filling on the top with a star tip.

A simple, yummy treat that looks fancy enough that the family feels a little extra love.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Build a Bouquet

I learned a few things making this bouquet, which is lovely.  I have the stamp set that goes along with this and only used the dotted stamp for the pansy and the lined/woodgrain looking one for poppy.  I still need to attach leaves but I wanted them in the jar I was using before doing that so I would have a better idea of where to place the leaves.

Let me tell you about the stamping first.  I made the poppy flower first because I put the black centers together first thing.  The precut petals have a smooth side and a rough side, ever so slightly matte looking side.  I stamped on the shiny smooth side.  The petals needed a lot of drying time.  After the first flower, I stamped off on paper and then onto the petal to make the drying time quicker if needed at all.  I didn't realize at this point that the drying time would be quicker if I had stamped the other side.

Daisy - The directions are good enough that come with the bouquet, the pictures didn't help that much and actually mislead me on how far down to start wrapping the petal strip around the wire.  The first daisy I made I followed the instructions, stamping and all.  Here's the thing, the daisies I like and know have a yellow center and white petals.  There is no yellow going up the petal so I eliminated the stamping on this flower.  The other thing I mastered by the 3rd flower is wrapping the petals around the center.  The first time I wrapped, I tried to keep the petals tightly wrapped to the wire which resulted in it going down almost inch from the button center by the time I finished wrapping.  It looked like an Easter Lily but with petals.  I used the floral tape to bring it up some but it has shorter petals and looks funky.  I learned to just keep wrapping on top of the other white and not go down at all.  This results in the bottom of the white being 1/4-3/8" wide and the floral tape is used to fill in and make it look smoother in the transition from wire to flower.

Poppy - I mentioned above about the stamping and later learning about the two sides.  The poppy was pretty easy to put together.  I did do these wrong and didn't follow the picture.  When gluing the bottom of the petal, I over did it making it cup-like.  It made sense in my mind because I thought the bottom would be covering the black.  They still look fine, but follow the picture as far as how the bottom petal should be glued.  The petals are then attached to the side of the black, not the bottom.  The black is covered with the green flower bottom.

Pansy - easy to do.  I have to admit I liked this one better than I thought I would.  I think it is because it is smaller and there are 3 stems combined.  I did stamp the dots on the flowers but I used Pool Party instead of Island Indigo.  I just wanted a more subtle look.

Wild Rose - another one I eliminated the stamping on.  Interestingly,  I glued the petals the same but I have one (far right) that is more open than the others.  Must have to do with the placement when I attached the petals.

Chrysanthemum - Not my favorite flower.  Looking at the directions, it says to "Separate petals and curl under slightly with a bone folder."  Looking at the picture, it looks like the tips should be curled up while the center goes down.  I may go back and redo the tips on this flower.  It would be good to have the tips going up do add a little something different.

A time-consuming project.  I think it ran me about 6 hours but I'm not sure as I had to stop to take kids to basketball, work, etc.  I didn't really track it closely.  I worked on it on Monday, Tuesday and finished Thursday (minus the leaves).

I do like it.  I saw where someone made the flowers into a wreath.  Perhaps I'll give that a go.  I do have the die to make the flowers, but I'm curious as to what paper to use.  This is a cotton paper, like tissue paper.  Cardstock seems like it would be too thick.  Someday I'll find out. :)
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

This is my favorite blueberry muffin recipe.  I like it because the batter is thick enough that the blueberries don't sink to the bottom before they are baked.  The other thing I like is that it isn't too sweet.  So many blueberry muffin recipes I've tried taste more like a dessert than something you would have at breakfast.

Check out the berries in this muffin . . .

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1/4C butter, softened
1/3C sugar
1 egg
1t vanilla
2-1/3C flour
4t baking powder
1/2t salt
1C milk
1-1/2C blueberries

1/2C sugar
1/3C flour
1/2t cinnamon
1/4C butter

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla; mix well.   Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.  Fold in blueberries.

Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle over muffins.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until browned.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Serve warm.
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Smoky Chicken Chili

Now that we are in place that actually experiences cold weather, I am happy to make soups, stews and chili.  We actually had a couple of pipes freeze one night a week or so ago.  I had been running the taps at night but I fell asleep in the family room and never made it to bed.  My husband didn't think about it when he went.  Oddly, I expected it that the frozen pipes would have been in the storage room but it was the pipes running above the ceiling in the downstairs kitchen.  Our house has 2 kitchens, but only 1 stove.  I use that kitchen as my stamping/sewing room.

I digress . . . I haven't made this chili in at least 5 years.  The last time I made it we lived in New Mexico and I came across the recipe in a Southern Living magazine.  I called my husband at work around lunch time and told him we were having this chili, salad and bread for dinner.  It worked, he made the effort to get home at a reasonable time. :)

Smoky Chicken Chili

2 poblano chile peppers, chopped
1 lg. red bell pepper, chopped
1 med. sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil
2 (14.5 oz.) cans zesty diced tomatoes
3C shredded or chopped smoked chicken (1 lb.)
1 (16 oz.) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1-1/2C low-sodium chicken broth
1 envelope white chicken chili seasoning mix

Saute the first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over med-high heat 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir in diced tomatoes and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil over med.-high heat.  Reduce to low, simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.  Serve with desired toppings.  Yield: 9 cups

Toppings:  shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, sliced black olives, chopped red onion, tortilla chips.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt

Last spring I somehow came across Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  I saw that the instructions would soon come down and I downloaded them.  I ended up buying one of her books for the previous mystery quilt, which I also liked.  I made a mental note to do the mystery quilt this year.
In October she posted the paint chips to use a guide for the colors of the material.  I was at Lowe's that day getting the colors.  I started buying material that weekend.  It was really hard to find the blue/aqua color and I didn't buy all that I needed.  It wasn't until I was doing the first clue that I realized I still needed 1/2 a yd.  I wrote on the paint chips how much material I bought of each color at what store.  I took pictures with the fabric and the receipt (or something that tied it to that store) so I could easily know where to go to if I wanted more of a material.

Here's the thing, the first clue is posted the day after Thanksgiving.  A much better way to spend Black Friday than shopping in my opinion, but I didn't start then because we had company, I needed to decorate the house for Christmas and then there were those Christmas cards I had to finish and get in the mail.

I started 2 days after Christmas on a Saturday and worked like crazy to get all the clues done by the reveal, which came a day early.

 Clue 1 - 100 broken dish units and 80 half square triangles
 Clue 2 - 100 double diamond units
 Clue 3 - 120 units
 Clue 4 - 40 of each broken dish unit (note the pink/white are reversed)
Clue 5 - 4 of the pink blocks and 25 of the blue blocks
 Clue 6 - Putting together 25 of these squares (12-1/2")

Clue - (no picture) we had to sew 2 of the rectangles from clue 3 together (black in the center) and cut 36 squares from the aqua fabric.

This next picture is before the borders are sewn on.  I have to be honest, when I saw the reveal picture, I wasn't jazzed with it.  It looked like some sort of a pixelated image and I was disappointed.  Now that it is done, I'm quite happy with it.  It is bold and bright. 
I'm binding it with pink.  I am still hand-stitching it to the back but it is pieced and I quilted it Saturday.

If you want to download the instructions you can find them HERE.  I thought she took them down June 1st but in some post, it is mentioned that it will come off of the blog to be published sometime in the spring.  

I'm happy to be starting 2015 off with a completed queen-sized quilt. 
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Cards

Along with the other two cards I posted, I sent these out.  I think I mailed off 87 cards this year.  These can be found on Pinterest.

Cheerful Christmas
 Endless Wishes
 Festival of Trees
 Festival of Trees/Frosty
 Festival of Trees
 More Merry Messages
 Ornamental Pine
 Paper Pumpkin
 White Christmas
 White Christmas
 Wondrous Wreath
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