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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Old Fashion Mac & Cheese

I am finally posted my mac & cheese recipe.  People are always asking me for this recipe and I have never written it down, so here it is.  I can now direct people to my blog for this recipe.  Enjoy!

Old Fashion Mac & Cheese
2-3 cups uncooked Elbow noodles (or any shape you like)
2-3 cups Whole Milk
3 tblsp butter
3 tblsp flour
2 -3 lb Your favorite cheese flavor (should be a strong cheese, I use an aged white cheddar) Shredded and divided in half
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375

1.) Make a roux, to make a roux you add the butter and flour into a sauce pan large enough for the milk and cheese to be added later. Cook the flour and butter for 5 minutes stirring constantly making sure it does not burn. Slight browning is okay.
2.) While the roux is cooking shred the cheese and get your water boiling for your noodles, add a tblsp of salt to your noodle water. Once your water is boiling add your noodles and cook 2 less minutes than the directions call for on your noodle package. Drain your noodles and rinse. Add the noodles to a casserole dish large enough to hold all your noodles and enough of the sauce you are making to cover the noodles completely.
3.) Making the white sauce: Your roux should be ready to make into the white sauce now that will later be your cheese sauce. Take your 3 cups of milk (if you are using 3 cups of milk & 3 lbs. cheese & 3 cups noodles, or two cups milk with 2 cups noodles & 2 lbs. cheese) and microwave till hot but not boiling. Add the hot whole milk to your roux and stir briskly so that no lumps form. (If after cooking for a few minutes you notice lumps in your white sauce you can strain the lumps out) Cook this white sauce till it becomes thick enough to coat a spoon.
4.) Making the cheese sauce: Add ½ the cheese to the white sauce and stir till melted. Once melted completely, taste your cheese sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
5.) Assembling your Mac & Cheese: Pour the cheese sauce over your noodles and stir to coat the noodles. The cheese sauce should cover the noodles completely but not drown the noodles. The more sauce the creamer the mac and cheese will be.
6.) Topping your Mac & Cheese: Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the noodle mixture and grind pepper on top of the shredded cheese.
7.) You can also take lays potato chips and place them in a freezer bag and using a rolling pin crush them finely and sprinkle them on top of the cheese for extra crunch.
8.) Place casserole into the oven at 375 degrees and cook till the cheese on top melts and starts to turn brown. The brown part is delicious!

This mac and cheese is best prepared and served immediately. The noodles tend to soak up the cheese sauce so it will become dry mac and cheese if made ahead. It’s still good though.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Easiest Shelves ever

Yesterday's project, shelves for Graham's shed so he can get his lawn mower in the shed and have plenty of room for his other "good" stuff. It's one of his Christmas presents. Only one casualty...I rammed the drill bit all the way through my little finger...scraped the bone going through...very very soar but I sucked it up and finished my job. I think it turned out great.

These took only a couple hours however one word of advise....do not let the home improvement store cut your plywood. I had them cut it for me and each strip was a different width which would not work in the application so I lost an over an inch on each board cause I had to re rip them to 14 1/2 instead of my original plan of 15 7/8 width for each shelf. Live and learn.

You can find the video here, and it's well worth watching.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Busy as a Bee

Here are a couple new items I will be including for sale at the boutique...(Are you getting excited yet?  I sure am!)
Remember my new Sizzix Pro???

Well there it is again if you missed it.  The best invention ever for people who hate to cut stuff out!  I purchased a huge banner die with cute scalloped edges.  Generally it would be used with paper but I used fabric.  I cut 12 layers with no problem.  I will be cutting out the banner pieces to be sewn together and packaged for sale for $3.00 per banner flag/each.  I will include fabric for the customer to make his own letter so they can built a banner that has the sentiment they want on it rather than purchasing a with a sentiment already fused on.  This way they could spell out their name or whatever floats their boat.
Here is an example of a banner with 6 banner flags and the word "Create" spelled out.

Here is a close up so you can see the cute scalloped edging.

I am also going to be making some of these, I absolutely love these cute jars.  I've ordered the bits and pieces to make these too.  I'm thinking in different sizes.  I want some for my craft room!  You can get directions at www.acasarella.net.  You can even purchase them from her store.  I've seen other people do this but she takes the best picture I've seen!  Her blog is pretty kewl too so you might want to go take a look!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Easiest DIY Dowel Centering Jig EVER

Sometimes us DIYer's are self taught enthusiast.  Whether you are a DIY welder, woodworker or any other handcraft-er of sorts, you are probably like me in thinking "there must be an easier way"!
I had this "brilliant" idea (I always do) :) to make bobbins/spools like the vintage ones you can purchase on Ebay (if your rich and famous) and fill them with 5 yards of quilt binding. Because this idea is for the boutique project I've been involved in this past year I was determined to make these bobbins because the price of the vintage ones are too high to make any sort of profit on.  So I set out to make my own.  Now of course they will not be vintage but since even the vintage ones are so hard to come by I decided that ladies/gents that sew would love to be able to purchase replica bobbins with bias tape.
Okay so I made my first one.  It took me forever to figure out how to get the hole all the way through the dowel and have the hole in the center of the dowel...  Drilling a hole in a dowel straight is another story in itself and this post is not about that, it's about finding an easy way to mark the center of the dowel without a lot of marking with a pencil.  I found plans for jigs that you could use to scribe lines all the way around the dowel to get the center point. YUK  Since it is my intention to make 50 of these spool (I think they will be a good seller....hoping) this method was too time consuming and I hated having to draw all these lines over and over again.  So....  I began thinking about it...and this is so easy you'll want to kick yourself in the butt if you have ever tried any of the other options available on the internet for getting the center of a dowel!
Okay, finally I'm getting to the part you are probably waiting for, HOW to do it.
You have to have a forstner bit the size of the dowel you are wanting to mark the center of; one like this:

Then you need to get a piece of scrap wood at least slightly larger than your bit and at least 3/4 inch thick.
Using your forstner bit drill through your scrap piece of wood until the point (see the point on the bit above) barely comes through, leaving a tiny pin hole that can be seen on the other side of the wood where you did not drill.

This is a piece of 1x2 scrap pine I had from making a raddle (weaving tool) it is not necessary to have a dado cut into your wood, it's just a scrap piece I had and the dado wasn't a problem for this application so I used it.  In the picture below can you see the tiny hole left on the other side of the wood by the forstner bit?

Now, believe it or not your jig is complete....  place your dowel that is the same size as your forstner bit into the hole you made then using a small nail gently hammer that nail through this tiny hole into your dowel just enough to make an indentation, this is your CENTER YAAAAAA.  The indentation the nail makes will also help you when you begin to drill the hole you need in your dowel because your drill bit will not veer off course as easily.

Here I am placing my dowel into the jig, then I will flip it over.

Here is the jig with the dowel in it and flipped over.  I've placed a nail in the tiny hole and hammered gently enough to make a mark but not so much that I have to use a claw hammer to get the nail out.

Here is my perfectly centered hole in my dowel...YAAAAAAA

Now, even though this post is not about drilling the hole in your dowel, I thought I'd share another tip with you.  You can use this same jig to hold your dowel upright and straight for drilling your hole.

Now having said that, there is one exception.  If you have an awesome drill press that will actually drill a hole all the way through your dowel (I don't, I have to turn my dowel over and drill again to make a hole all the way through a dowel longer and a couple inches or so) then you will not want to use your jig to hold your dowel in a straight upright position, you will want to make another jig using the same forstner bit to hold your dowel upright and straight to drill your hole.  By the way, if you have a drill press that will drill all the way through your dowel...I AM JEALOUS!  :)

So here is my project started, in this item for sale there will be this rack made using Home Depot rulers that will have picture hangers on the back so it can be hung if desired and 5 or 6 spools (haven't decided yet) filled with 5 yards of bias tape on each bobbin/spool in different colors.  I think (still thinking about it) I'll leave the spools unfinished so customers can finish them if they want or not if they don't.  I have considered putting a color wash on them that will match the bias tape but that is more work so....thinking, always thinking.

This is the first spool I made before the centering jig...if you look closely the hole is NOT centered.  :)  mistakes always seem to inspire creativity don't you think?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie OH MY.

I love this time of year.  All the special dishes and deserts that are made.  The house smells so good from the holiday cooking.  It's the time of year where our family and friends get together for a bit of good food and conversation.  I am so looking forward to giblet dressing!  It's my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  I never tell anyone what is in the dressing, and I always get so many praises on how great the dressing is.  Why ruin a good thing for people who are afraid of gizzards!  To me, well you can't have a good dressing without them.
Anyway I know it's a bit early but I'm already getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Every year I made my special pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie (made using the pumpkin butter) for the neighbors.  Five of my neighbors get a loaf of the pumpkin bread with the pumpkin butter of course and a pumpkin pie.
I've made the pumpkin butter, you can also make this delicious treat too if you like.  The recipe is listed on the right hand side of this blog page along with the pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie recipes, all of which are so scrumptious!

Making your own thank you cards!

I don't know about you but I absolutely love getting handmade cards.  I rarely get them in the mail these days but years ago people did send letters in the mail and sometimes you'd be lucky enough to get a note from a creative friend that took the time to hand make the note card!  On the other hand there are people like my husband that when he gets a homemade card he will accuse you of forgetting to get the card from the store and had to make one at home....I laugh at this, cause it's so hard to believe there are people that don't have an appreciation for ALL things handmade!
Years ago, maybe 10 or so, a friend dragged me to a card making bee of sorts.  I'm ashamed to say I do not remember what friend it was.  We made three cards and that was my first group project ever.  I had fun but never have done too much with card making.  Since I have so many hobbies I only make thank you cards and the occasional birthday card for the most part.  Here lately I have been making note cards that I write little notes in for my niece who is currently deployed.
Well as the boutique workshops are winding down and the end of this year and a half long project is almost over, I decided to make handmade thank you cards for all the wonderful ladies that attended our workshops.  We have been so blessed with so much participation that I had many cards to make.  I found this video on YouTube for the cutest thank you card and decided I'd set out to make this card.
Here is the video:

The unfortunate thing was, I didn't have the Cricut cartridge "Country Life" so I had to go get that and I didn't have the cute rubber stamp "Thank you sew much".  I wasn't able to get that stamp because it was retired, but I made due with a "Thank You" stamp I already had. I also had to get a couple Tim Holtz rubber stamps, I was so glad they were not retired!  This project took nearly two whole days to complete.  I had 45 thank you cards to make! The little sewing machine took the longest to make because there are so many tiny pieces to it.  It would have been less time consuming if it wasn't a Cricut project, Sizzix dies would have been so much faster. Here are pictures of a few of my finished cards...I couldn't make up my mind on the design.
I ended up choosing the one on the left but using brown ribbon instead of the tape measure ribbon.  Adding thread and a needle to the spool was just too time consuming since I had so many cards to make.
Here are some more pictures and close up's of the cards.  Also a picture of the huge mess card making makes!  I had to use my spare bedroom for this project because I already had a project going in my sewing room.  It was a bit tight but with two tables it worked out fine.  The mess is cleaned up now but I've left the tables and machines in the room for when I make my Christmas cards in the next couple weeks.  (Hoping to find time!)
I used my printer for the sentiment on the inside of the card.
Here is a box full of some of the cards.
Here are the tiny pieces needed for the sewing machine.

Here is the mess....

This would have been a faster machine to use!  I did use it to make my niece a thanksgiving card with a pumpkin on the front!
Another pile of junk!

The good news, everything is cleaned up, all dies are back in their boxes and this mess above looks like I was never in that room except to set up some tables and my machines ready for a project!  :)  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This is hilarious!

If you remember, my son adopted a little Min Pin named Artemis.  Well of course he is spoiled rotten.  I get to dog sit often and have fallen in love with this crazy little dog.  He loves to wear cloths, he is the nosiest little bugger I've ever met and he is absolutely hilarious!  My son sent me these pictures and I nearly peed myself laughing so hard!  Here is Artie in all his glory...
Can you believe they caught a picture of him in his P.J.'s yawning????
WT HECK ????

Sleeping with his tongue hanging out????

So adorable!
He makes the weirdest faces...what is he thinking here?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Table runner in redwork

I did a post a while back showing some red work and some cross stitched items I've made.  Of course cross stitch is very very very did I say very time consuming but it has hit the scene again.  Red work on the other hand is a very fast satisfying art.  The red work on this piece is about 16x20 and took me 4 - 2 hour evenings in front of the TV.  I was thinking of doing a crochet edge and making it into a sort of doily but then I remembered the 10 minute table runner Carla Kennedy made at the retreat and decided to give it a go!  I am happy with it.  I am sending this to Donna so she can see how red work looks in all one color.  I choose a color that is close to her heart or at least I believe to be since her entire house is made up of this blue teal color.  Anyway another project completed....what to do next???

It's a show and tell bag!

I am so excited about this project for the boutique.  Katherine from the guild has a friend from another guild that shared this pattern with me.  She is also going to let us sell the pattern as well as the finished bags.  I made 6 of these bags for the boutique (none for myself yet, but soooooon).  The first one I made was fairly expensive because the pattern calls for 1 1/2 yards of lined quilted fabric.  Even with the 40% off coupon the bag cost over $20.00 to make.  Well since we don't really know what people are willing to pay for stuff like this I thought to myself...hm.....how can I do this cheaper.  The bag is so huge it will hold a king size quilt to take to the guild for show and tell.  It is the perfect bag for this so I didn't want to scrap the idea...
So what I came up with is using bed spreads.  There are some really cute bed spreads that don't really look like bed spreads and you can get them at Marshalls, TJ Max etc...for dirt cheap.  I bought a king/queen for $23.00 and a queen/full for the same price.  I was able to get three bags out of the king/queen and two out of the queen/full bed spread and well that is a bargain!  So I made my six to sell at the boutique and we can sell them for 20/25 and make a profit but the one I made using pre-quilted fabric we will have to get 35 out of it to make a profit.  Sometimes it really does help to think "Outside the Box"...hehehe
Here are our bags for the boutique...and remember we will also have the pattern, YIPPEEEEE.  Mary was so sweet to model them for me.  She is holding on the left the one that cost so much and the one on the left is a bed spread.  I didn't take a picture of the wild pink ones but I think you get the picture.  Very useful bags...come get one!

French Macaroons at Sur La Table

I decided to take a class on French Macaroons at Sur La Table this past week.  I have made them before and they did turn out nicely but I thought they might have some secrets to share since I love these delicate little cookies.  Here are the ones I made about 6 months ago.
Okay so they are not so beautiful but oh they did taste good.
So I took the class and well, there were no secrets to be had but it was tons of fun.  I did not take a picture of the finished tiny little macaroons mostly because they were not very pretty.  They actually had over cooked them.  I was a bit disappointed in the class but oh well, it was FUN.  We made pistachio, pumpkin and chocolate and I do have the recipes for these so when I make them I'll be sure to try not to over cook them.
They have a class in Nov. for tamale making.  I have made empanada's and enjoy making them so tamales are basically the same thing but not deep fried.  I am hoping they show easy technique on how to roll them.  I am excited about this class and am hoping not to be disappointed ....since I've not made tamales I think I will not be...:)
Here are some pictures of the macaroon class: