Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Patriotic Jars

I wanted to jazz up the mantle a little with something patriotic for Memorial Day.  If I can, I prefer to use what I already have rather than buy more things.  I was on Instagram and saw jars that were painted through Michael's.  I'm loaded with jars and I have a lot of acrylic paint so I made a mental note to do this sweet little project.  It took about an hour and half to get the three jars painted.  Add some flowers and it is a nice decoration that brightens up that area.  

I will seal the jars before I put them away because the paint will scrape off easily since I used acrylics.  Hopefully if I pack them away carefully I will get many more uses out of them.  Then again, distressed is still a popular look.
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dryer Balls

I read about dryer balls a while ago and had some yarn to make them.  Dryer balls are said to cut drying time by 20% and they soften your clothes in the dryer so you don't need to add a dryer sheet.  I had read that you can put some lavender oil drops on the balls to scent them for the laundry but I didn't do that because not everyone in our house likes that scent.

I had 3 skeins of each color and ended up with a dozen balls.  In order for the balls to felt, you need to use 100% wool.  I had some other yarn I was going to use that said it was wool but upon reading the label, it was 80% wool, not good enough.  It has to be 100% wool. After I wound the balls, I used a needle to thread the ends into the balls.
Then I put the balls in the legs of some hose and tied between the balls with linen thread to help the balls hold their shape.  One place I read said not to use the wool yarn to tie between the balls because it would melt to the hose and be a hassle.
I boiled the balls for 10 minutes to help the felting process begin.  Then I put the water and hose with the balls into the washing machine and washed them on the hottest setting and dried them.  I did this twice before using them.  Some of the blue from the hose bled onto the balls but it hasn't affected clothes dried with them.
This is what they looked like after they were done.  3 of the balls were in the dryer being used when I took the picture.  I typically use 6 balls in the dryer and it has definitely has cut the drying time.  The dryer we have been using in the kitchen used to have to run 2 times before the clothes were dried but now they are done with one drying cycle.  So happy to be saving electricity and money.

One thing I learned is not to wind the balls neatly like you would for knitting or crocheting.  Wrap it but go all different directions forming the ball.  I had a couple that I had to trim because a portion (it looked like a cap) fell off from the ball.  Those balls were fine and usable after I trimmed them.  I'm thinking if you spent more and got super good quality wool yarn they would felt better than mine have, but that said, they have worked well and will felt more with each use in the dryer.  In my case, it is good to have a dozen balls because a ball or two goes missing when my kids do their laundry.  Eventually they make it back to the dryer.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Berry Treat

I've had this to share for a couple of months and didn't remember until today.  My husband made us this berry treat on a Sunday night a couple of months ago.  I think it would be a nice addition to a brunch, afternoon tea or a baby shower.  It was light, refreshing, and not overly sweet.  The pastry itself could have used a little more time in the oven to brown up, but what he did works too.  :)

Berry Tarts

1 pkg. refrigerated pie pastry
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4C confectioners' sugar
1/4t almond extract
2C blueberries
2C raspberries
1/4C slice almonds toasted (*he omitted this for the kids)

Preheat oven to 400.  On a lightly floured surface, unroll pastry sheets.  Roll each to 1/8" thickness.  Cut with a 3" cookie cutter to make 8 circles or shapes.  Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; prick holes in pastries with a fork.  Bake 8-10 min. or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and almond extract until blended.  Spread over cooled pastries.  Top with berries, pressing lightly to adhere.  Sprinkle with almonds and confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Note - to toast the almonds, spread on a 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Or, spread the nuts in a dry nonstick skillet and heat them over low heat until they are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
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