Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Easy as Applesauce ...

Applesauce is really easy to make and it is the perfect way to use up apples that are past their prime.  I love to make applesauce for Christmas dinner but it is so easy it can be made whenever you want.  

 I like to use a variety of apples but if you have any apples that have gotten mushy then use them!  You can use as many of as few as you like.  I try to fill the pot but when I have a few mushy apples I use all that I have.

 Peel them.

 Quarter them.

 Core them and slice them. 

 Put them in a pot and fill the bottom with water.  Not much - maybe 1 cup.

 Cover and boil.

 Drain the water off (or drink it - it is now apple juice-ish just please wait until it has cooled).

 Get out your masher-smasher and smash away. 

 Add some cinnamon.

Stir and enjoy.  

Easy, right?  Now I never throw away mushy apples - I just make them into applesauce!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mason Jar Pies

I love mason jars and I love pie - so I guess that means I love love mini pies in mason jars (Did anyone else just have a flash back to 7th grade? No? Ok, moving on).  They are really easy to make and can be put in the freezer for an easy weeknight dessert.  Use your favorite pie recipe and follow these easy steps:
Use half pint wide mouth mason jars.  Wash and dry them. 

Make your dough - you do not need to roll it out (I told you it was easy).

Grab some dough and put it in the jar. 

Press it to the bottom and up the sides with your fingers. 

A nine inch pie crust recipe fills about 5 1/2 jars. 

Set your jars aside and make filling. 

Make your filling.  If you are making apple pie filling then make it first - it gives the filling the chance to sit and sweat some juices out.  Notice how I cut the apples pretty small?  That was on purpose - they fit in the jar very nicely cut this way. 

Fill jars.  If you are going to bake them right away then fill them right up to the top but if you are going to freeze them for later leave at least 1/2 an inch for the lid and the topping. 

Make your top - I like a french apple pie.  You can make some extra crust and use that for the top (use the jar lid as a template).

Yum!!  If you are making these for later put the top on and place in the freezer they will be good for a few months (but I know I would eat them way before that!).  If you are baking them now, call me so I can come over and enjoy them with you then bake them just as you would a normal pie but reduce the time by about 20 minutes.  You can always bake them longer if they are not done. 

There you have it - they were amazing!!

And a little note about the pie without the sides - while it tastes just fine the filling does shrink after it cools and it doesn't look very good.  I ate it before company came. 

I've made them for my sister's baby shower, just because, and even for Christmas dinner. 

**If you make a double batch of (9-inch double) pie crust then that works out pretty well with a single batch of filling and topping - It will make 10 or 11. **

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Earring Holder AND Chalkboard

I have made this earring hold for Micheal's sister, Stacey, for Christmas last year.  I will be making a few for my sister soon.  Here is how to do it!

You will need:
A frame (what ever size you want), hardware cloth (you can buy it at Home Depot or Lowes or your local hardware store), a can a spray paint (it you want to paint the frame which I did), a staple gun and staples, a screwdriver (standard/flathead), pliers, wire cutters, a hammer (not pictured), and an old sheet

Tools you will need - included in the list above.

Step 1- turn the frame over and use the screwdriver to take out the fantastic jaguar picture then use the pliers to remove the staples

Make sure to keep your awesome jaguar picture to use later (if you were lucky enough to get a jaguar picture like I was)

Step 2 - Move to a well ventilated area (outside), spread out your old sheet and spray paint your frame.  It will take several coats - be sure to let it dry between coats.  And, don't drop it in the grass and have to sand it and start over like I did.

Step 3 - While the paint is drying, unroll the hardware cloth and flatten out the crease at the beginning. 

Step 4 - Place hardware cloth over your awesome jaguar picture and . . .

cut it (a little larger to be safe) with the wire cutters.  You know what they say about measuring twice and cutting once - that is the idea here (well, I guess it is more like measure twice cut twice - but whatever).

Step 5 - Optional - I didn't like the crease where the hardware cloth was bend so I hammered it out to make it look better.  I used some shop paper towels so I wouldn't make the hardware cloth look even worse. 

Now you have your hardware cloth cut to a little larger than the picture.

Step 6 - Finish painting your frame and let it dry completely.

Step 7 - Fit hardware cloth to frame . . .

and use wire cutters to cut the hardware cloth to the exact size.

Make sure it fits perfectly (or a close as possible)

Step 8 - Use staple gun to staple the hardware cloth to the frame.

Close-up of the hardware cloth stapled to the frame.


Here it is with a few earrings - how fantastic is it?

At the boyfriend's sister's house with her earrings and necklaces - she thought it would be perfect for long necklaces and she was right!  So, this could be an earring and necklace holder.  I don't know why I can't get her picture bigger - sorry you have to squint to see it. 

So, there you have it . . . How to make an earring (and necklace) holder.

It was quite easy and very inexpensive!  I had to buy the staple gun and staples which was $12.  The frame was $3, the spray paint was $1 (but, next time I will buy more expensive spray paint because you don't use as many coats), the hardware cloth was $10 - so the whole project was $26 but I have lots of hardware cloth left and the staple gun can be used for a long time.

But wait, there is more!!  I took that awesome jaguar print and I painted it with chalkboard paint then had Micheal build me a frame out of old barn wood and now we have this:

The cost of this project was free!!  I guess it was really $1.50 since I used half the picture from the earring holder.  I had the chalkboard paint (it would be about $5 if you don't have any), the nails, and the wood. 

It took a whole year to get the chalkboard done! Not that is was hard - it was super easy (here is a quick tutorial) but like everyone else I have a million things to do at any given moment.  But, it was definitely worth that wait because I love both items I made with my $3 thrifted frame!  See the chalkboard in action here and here!

What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hunk of Meat Monday: Leftovers

I had been putting out leftover beef in continers in the freezer.  Didn't know what I was going to do with it until I decided to try this:
Put the meat (mine is still frozen) in the slow cooker.  There is some chuck roast, something else, and a sirloin steak.

Cover with a can a BBQ sauce.

Set on low for 8 hours. 

Michael came home from hunting and said the house smells amazing and wanted to know what it was.  I told him leftovers and he looked at me like I was crazy and asked from when. 

When it is done pull it out and shreed it (the chuck shredded without my help).

You can put it on hamburger buns for sloppy joes, put it over pasta, use it in tortillas, or whatever else you want!

Yum!  Great use of leftovers without eating the same thing again!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Designer Hospital Gowns

A friend from work is having a baby in a few weeks and she wanted a designer hospital gown.  She asked me if she should buy one and we looked them up to see how much they are ($50 and up on etsy) so I told her that I could make her one and the fabric would cost much less than that. 

A few weeks later she arrived at my house with 4 fabric choices and left them with me so I could decide which to make.  Well, I made all 4!

I loved the brown and blue in this pattern. 

This pattern was really fun!

Beautiful colors!

My favorite fabric - poppies in black, orange, and red.

I used this pattern with few minor changes - I made the neckline a little larger, used 3 snaps on each shoulder (instead of velcro), used velcro to close the very top of the back (instead of ribbon), skipped the pocket and cardiac monitor hole, and adjusted the placement of the ribbon closure on the back (I fitted it on her).  As the pattern suggests I cut two of the larger sides to give her some extra coverage.  Each gown required 3 yards of fabric (with some left over), 6 snaps, half a yard of ribbon, a piece of velcro, some interfacing, and matching thread.  I didn't time how long they took but I would say an hour or 2. 

I think a nice touch would have been to add some ribbon at the empire waist (right below the bust) but I didn't get around to that.  Get two yards of wide ribbon if you want to add a little definition to the waist. 

I know she will be very happy with them once they get some use at the hospital and she is also planning on wearing them around the house for the first few days.  Maybe she will share a picture of one of the gowns on for us!! 

This would be a great project for a friend of family member who has to be in the hospital for anything.  A little something to brighten their day when they wake up from surgery or get done with chemo or radiation.  Michael's aunt just had to have surgery since she found out she has breast cancer so I would have loved to make one for her with pink ribbon fabric or something like that but when I asked when her surgery was it had happened that day - oops. 

It would also be a great project for a 4-H sewing club - make a few and donate them to a children's hospital.  I love when kids help out other kids!

What do you think?  Would you make a designer hospital gown?  Have you worn one?