Friday, June 29, 2012

Cherry Upside Down Cake

I love Cherry season, and while usually the cherries don't make their way into anything but my mouth, I decided to take extra care to make an actual recipe with some this year. What better than an upside down cake? This is super yummy, and could easily be made in muffin form if slicing cake and slightly messy cleanup isn't your thing.

To make this yummy cake you will need:

1-1½ cups of Bing Cherries, pitted
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1½ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cups Sugar
½ teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
⅓ cups Vegetable Oil
1 whole Egg
⅓ cups Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 8"x8" cake pan (a 9" circle would also work great, or you can line muffin tins and make muffins!) I always use softened butter, spray would be fine I'm sure.

I start by pitting my cherries and adding in some lime juice (I don't use any fancy cherry pitter, I savagely take out the pits by hand and look like quite a barbarian by the time I'm finished). Stir this together and set aside.

After your pan has been greased, evenly spread your 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the bottom. Spread on your layer of cherries, then dot with 2 Tablespoons of butter.
Next, make your batter. Combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 2 cup measuring cup; add the egg, milk and vanilla. Mix this together and add to the flour mixture. *This makes a very thick batter that bakes up surprisingly light, you've been warned.

Pour the cake batter over your cherries and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, then remove to a cooling rack to cool. When ready to remove, slide a knife around the edges of your pan and invert onto a plate. Enjoy all the yummy cherries and sugar seeping into that cakey goodness. MMM.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I had about the busiest week ever at both of my jobs and it has left pretty much no time for anything but work (not to mention I'm been incredibly stressed out). The above instagram photo is a little peek into an ingredient that has been quite abundant here in the Pacific NW as of late, and I will be sharing a recipe or two this week featuring cherries, this tasty red fruit.

In fact, I have a few recipes almost ready to post, including a tasty Pina Colada popsicle/granita recipe my husband created this past week. Hold onto your Summer food crafting hats!

In the meantime, if you find yourself missing my more frequent posts and ideas, feel free to follow me on Pinterest or Facebook, where even on my busiest days I seem to find time to add a tidbit for you all to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paper Gerbera Daisies

My favorite flower is probably a gerbera daisy. I love the bright colors they come in, they seem to last quite a long time in a vase compared to other varieties, and something about them is just plain fun. I have been working on a pattern to make some out of paper for quite awhile, and came close to finishing it up for a Craft Wars challenge, but decided to hold off and work on it a tiny bit more to make sure it was just right. Here are my results, let me know what you think!

To make your own paper daisies you will need:

Paper of choice (I used a magazine)
Daisy Petal Template
wire stem
Decorative button
floral tape (optional)

I started by making a template for my petals. Since cutting these out gets rather time consuming (or maybe it's just the fact I always cut these out while doing something else like watching a movie?) I opted to go with only 3 different sizes of petals, cutting 2 of each size to make one flower. You could certainly play with the size on your computer/printer to get more like 5 or 6 different sizes of petal templates and use smaller petals in place of a button center, as I used.

I've never seen a flat daisy, so I used my scissors to gently curl each petal a little before gluing my edge tab under. As this daisy is made with magazine paper, not much pressure is needed, and you want to be careful not to tear your petals, as they did just take you awhile to cut out. I will mention, these work pretty great with vellum papers -- I'll get photos of the one I attempted and post it later on, but the fact that these only make a slight cone shape in the center once assembled makes them work well with thicker papers as well as thin.

I found these great flower shaped buttons and decided they'd look great with my flowers. You could use just about any button you like, or if you don't like the button look, attach your button to your floral wire stem, then cover it with a little batting and wrap it in your favorite fabric or some tissue paper.

Then start adding your petals on (you will need to poke a small hole in the center of each one before putting it on the wire), arrange them as you like (you may need to add a little glue between each layer of petals to help them stay in place) and wrap the stem in floral tape if you want. I always wrap mine with tape as I think it look nicer, but it is not necessary.

If you want to check out more handmade crafts and recipes, visit this link party at Frugal By Choice, Cheap By Necessity.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Craft Wars

I was recently approached by Pippa Armbrester of Pippa Patchwork to take part in a new series on Buzzfeed called Craft Wars. It pits two or more crafters against each other in themed contests, how great is that!? For my contest, we had to repurpose an old book or magazine (the original request I received was for a home decor item made from an old book or magazine). Above you will see the project I came up with: a book clock. A very fabulous book clock at that!

Having recently moved, the hus and I found ourselves in need of a new living room clock, so I decided to use this opportunity to whip one up! You can go here to check out the step by step tutorial and vote for your favorite project (even if you don't vote for my clock)!

Also, get ready for some more recycled book and magazine projects coming to the blog very soon, as I actually had several projects in the works because I couldn't decide what I liked best. Included is a new paper flower tutorial on Gerbera Daisies that I am especially excited about, and will be posting next week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Polka Dot Table Runner

I've been trying to come up with ways to keep myself from turning my dining room table into a catch all. Every tie I clean it off, it seems within seconds to be covered again by mail, craft projects, to do lists and more. So far my best defense has been trying to keep some kind of decoration on it, but a centerpiece isn't always good enough. So the other day I thought up this table runner! It's so cheap and easy to do, that you could change it almost every day if you wanted. It would also be super cute as a party decoration!

To make your own all you need is:

Scrap book paper or Card stock (here I used card stock)
Large circle hole punch (you could use a fancier shaped punch if you prefer)

That's it! Two supplies! How great is that? I will also point out that as long as you don't feel the need to attach these to a backing of some sort, you can re-use your punch outs in several other crafts later on :)

I am addicted to ombre color schemes lately, so I chose several shades of orange for my runner, but you could use any combo of colors or patterns. Start by punching out your polka dots. I punched out about 3 12"x12" card stock sheets worth of dots for my table (53" in diameter). You could also arrange your dots in a sunburst pattern, in which case you'll likely need more dots. Experimentation is key here, and you can't mess up!

Once you have your dots punched out, arrange them as you see fit! I started with my white dots on one side spaced pretty far apart, and then went to light orange, orange and dark orange. PLay with your spacing and colors until you come up with what looks best for you and your table.

In the end, I couldn't resist adding my ombre pom pom centerpiece as well. Complimentary colors make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: Sewing Made Simple

Hey Everybody! I have a ton of sewing projects lined up over the course of the next few months, so I decided to get a book review up for those of you that might not yet be well versed at sewing! Sewing Made Simple icon is a great sewing primer by Tessa Evelegh, and is published by one of my favorite independent publishers, Chronicle Books icon. I would highly recommend it not only for sewing newbies, but seasoned vets, as it is full of great tips, and has about 20 projects that utilize and build upon the skills shown including clothing and home decor projects.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it is a beautiful book, with great photography and the kinds of special details I come to expect from pretty much all Chronicle Books. No white borders here, your pages are trimmed with lovely fabric prints in colors and patterns that will inspire you to pick up the book and start sewing as soon as you lay eyes on it. There are also tons of full color photos, as well as some cute, hand drawn diagrams.

There are some really great sections on sewing machine anatomy and tips on buying a sewing machine (which I actually found incredibly helpful as I inherited my current machine from my mom when she bought her new one, but I have been thinking about the possible upgrade to a machine that does more stitches and fancy-pants work like one touch buttonholes and the like). It definitely helps you to get a starting place for what you may need or want in the wide world of sewing machines! If machines aren't your thing, there are also lots of tips and techniques on hand sewing (including "must know stitches" complete with diagrams!).

The total sewing novice will appreciate all of the labeled and numbered photographs the book provides you with on different types of threads, needles, scissors, buttons, etc. Heck, those who have been sewing for years may have their eyes opened to something you just never used before because you didn't really know a good application for it!

My favorite part of the book is that every section has helpful little tip "bubbles" that give you a tip or trick on how to make a technique easier. If you used to steer clear of zippers, or pin tucks, it might have a tip that makes them your new favorite thing (I know I'm excited to try out pin tucks on lots of new projects!).

My one and only gripe for the entire book is that some of the patterns in the back need to be taken to a copy store and blown up to a usable size. I love instant gratification, so to have to go someplace to get my patterns blown up before I can use them is a little irksome. Other than that I think this is the perfect book for anyone that sews or wants to learn!

Chronicle Books provided me with a copy of this book for review. All statements and opinions above are my own.