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231  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Eye & Initial Resin Bottle Cap Pendants on: June 11, 2010 09:32:24 PM
My friend Ex_Gratia is working away this summer, and I thought I'd send her a little care package.  I have been making tons of resin filled bottle cap charms for the Steampunk Charms Swap, and whipped these up while I was at it.  I made a similar "eye" themed one for myself, so we can have matching necklaces... I know, we're dorks.  

Blue "Eye" on a silver chain:

Her initial and the eye pendants together:  
232  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Potholder Swap Gallery ~ Sendouts 6/30 on: June 07, 2010 07:55:32 PM
Potholder Swap Gallery

jennieingram ---> Wulf
Wulf ---> jennieingram

petunya ---> angelofmusic
angelofmusic (Sent 7/1) ---> petunya

Pearliepie ---> HippieKender
HippieKender ---> Pearliepie

theballandskein (returned to sender 7/8; Re-sent 7/8) ---> professionalpineapple
professionalpineapple ---> theballandskein
(Thanks for the pics professionalpineapple!  Kiss)

skullseamstress ---> craftylittlemonkey
craftylittlemonkey ---> skullseamstress

kwiltykate ---> donnevita
donnevita ---> kwiltykate

Babalina58 ---> Laideebugz
Laideebugz ---> Babalina58

SamanthaHope ---> pinkleo
pinkleo ---> SamanthaHope

ilovemybrachiosaurus (7/1) ---> laurasaurus
laurasaurus (Sent 7/8) ---> ilovemybrachiosaurus

Sherrie B, UT ---> gerbilgal
gerbilgal ---> Sherrie B, UT

Retromiad ---> christinacoghill
christinacoghill ---> Retromiad

Status Colors

Green = Sent
Orange = Sending Late with Communication

Blue = Received (but haven't POSTED yet)
Purple = Received & Posted
Strikethrough = Feedback Given

Click here to go back to our original thread
233  COOKING / Dessert / La Tua Cantante Cupcakes; Strawberry-Filled Vampire Cupcake Tutorial on: June 05, 2010 06:44:23 PM

La Tua Cantante Cupcakes
(Twilight Inspired Strawberry-Filled Cupcakes)

My good friend Ex_Gratia just turned 21 in April.  As her birthday was on a Monday night, and she already had a big party planned for the following weekend, she asked if we could do something simple and quiet on her actual birthday.  She thought long and hard about what we should do, and decided that she wanted to come over, have a glass of wine, some dinner, and watch Twilight & New Moon.  Pretty darn good plan I thought.  (Yes, we both admitted its not a very exciting 21st, but were okay with being dorks.)  So, after planning a delicious meal, I knew I needed to plan an even more awesome dessert.  I decided that in honor of the vampire filled evening, we were going to need  La Tua Cantante Cupcakes.  
To be more specific, Strawberry-Filled French Vanilla Cupcakes, oozing a thick blood-red filling from two perfect puncture wounds.

Since the dinner was on a weeknight, and I didnt want to be eating at midnight, I did some prep work on dinner and decorated the cupcakes that morning.  And I admit that I started with a boxed cake mix & pre-made frosting because I had so much other cooking to do.  (Recipes for the Milk & Mustard Baked Ham, and Hash-brown Casserole I made that night will come later!)  I knew what I wanted to make, and had seen plenty of cupcakes decorated with gel icing, which was not what I was quite going for.  I did bother to consult the interwebs about a few things.  Specifically the best way to FILL cupcakes.  Heres  my tutorial on all of it.

1 Cake Mix I used French Vanilla, which was very vampirific shade of white
1 container of Frosting I used Cream Cheese Frosting which I improved upon by adding a few drops of Almond Extract, 2 T of milk, and about C confectioners sugar
1 can of Strawberry Pie Filling
Shimmer or Pearl Dust (optional)

1 paring knive
1 butter knife
a few toothpicks
1 zip top bag (sandwhich size)
1 writing tip
1 coupler

Start by baking the cupcakes according to the package directions.  Allow them to cool completely.  I cannot stress this enough, they must be COOL!  While they are cooling you can doctor up your pre-packaged frosting if you wish.  I always add a bit of extract (almond), milk, and confectioners sugar to mine whenever I use to, to make it taste & behave more like homemade.  

Now, gather your hardware.  Begin by placing a cupcake on a stable surface, and find your most comfortable-to-handle paring knife.

Insert your knife, at about a 45 degree angle, into the cupcake about halfway between the center and the outer edge.  Run your knife around in a circle, to cut out a cone of the cake.   Slice off the tip of the cone, and hollow out any stray bits of cake that you think may get in your way for the next step

Now, use a spoon to extract a single strawberry, and a bit of its surrounding gel, from the can of filling.  Drop the strawberry into the cavity of the cupcake.

Be sure not to overfill, because you will need to place the cupcake top that youve cut out, back on top.  Repeat with all the remaining cupcakes.

Now, frost your cupcakes with your improved-upon frosting.  The stickiness of the gel should hold the tops onto the cupcakes while you frost.  If you like your vampires to sparkle, you can also take this opportunity to add a bit of Shimmer or Pearl Dust onto the top of the frosting.  These are commercially available and completely edible cake decorating products that can be found in cake, party supply, and craft stores including Joanns or Hobby Lobby.  They are generally just brushed on with a pastry brush, but be sure to check the directions on whatever you purchase.

After frosting your cupcakes, you are ready to add the all important oozing puncture wounds.  Start by taking a toothpick and making two small holes into the frosting, about 1 1/4 to 1 apart.  You only need to go through the frosting on this step, not all the way into the cacvity in the cupcake.  Dont worry if you do accidentally pierce the top of the cupcake, but dont go out of your way, or make a mess, going any further in.

Next, take a zip top bag, and cut off the tip.  Fit it with a coupler, and a writing tip.  (These cake decorating products come in very useful in the kitchen and can be found cheaply in any cake, party supply, kitchen, or craft store.  The tip slips between the two pieces of the coupler, which screws together, with the bag between them, holding the tip in place.)  Fill the bag with some of the strawberry pie filling gel, but not any of the berries.  Try to avoid any berry pulp as well, as it can clog the tip.  Remove the excess air from the bag, and zip closed.  

Place the tip down on some wax paper and begins squeezing the bag to start dispensing the filling.  Now, start with one of the puncture wounds you have made.  Place the tip at the hole, and squeeze the bag lightly, making a small stream of gel.  Gently increase the pressure the closer you get to the edge of the cupcake, so that the blood pools in a larger drip than it started as.    

Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.  Be careful not to put too much filling right at the edge, if they are going to sit a while before serving, or gravity may do its work and pull some of the heavier drops off the edge and youll have to go back at touch them up later.

Serve the delicious treats to the hungry hoards and bask in the glow of their wonder at youre amazing cake skills.  

Pssst...  Chocolate cupcakes with cherry filling would be amazing too!  Just sayin'...
234  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / The Meadow - My Newest Cluster Bracelet (Pic Heavy) on: May 24, 2010 03:16:52 PM
I've been so busy with work lately that I haven't taken time to post any of the new jewelry I've made.  Which is clearly a shame, since I'm in love with this new cluster bracelet.  I was inspired by the description of Bella & Edward's Meadow in Twilight, but I think it works as a stand alone piece.  

"The meadow was small, perfectly round, and filled with wildflowers violet, yellow, and soft white. Somewhere nearby, I could hear the bubbling music of a stream." - S. Meyer, Twilight

I love the way that the light catches it.  Somehow it seems to glow, even under fluorescent lights, especially the bright green hearts.  I used glass flowers in shades of violet, yellow, peach, pink, & sky blue, bright sap green glass hearts and leaves, and silver charms. The beads and charms create the nicest gentle tinkling music.  Charms include bees, butterfly, leaves, flower, squirrel, dragonfly, sun, and moth.

Comments or constructive criticism is always welcome.  Smiley
235  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Ultimate Twlight Charm Bracelet - Version 3.0? Pic Heavy! on: May 24, 2010 03:02:14 PM
I can't seem to stop making cluster bracelets.  I think it's starting to worry my husband...  Actually I'm not sure what worries him more; my constant crafting or my constant rereading of Twilight.  I've made several versions of a Twilight charm bracelet before, but I think this one is my favorite.  It has a nice weight and jingles gently, but isn't too heavy. 

I used red glass hearts, clear and red cut glass beads, black and red Swarovski crystals, black mother-of-pearl stars, charcoal glass pearls, and a ton of charms.

Charms include:
Apple - Forbidden Fruit
Chess Queen - Bella's finding her place within the Cullen's
Rose - an ancient symbol of love
Piano - Edward's love of music
Crystal Heart - Cold, hard and throws rainbows in the sun
Lion - Edward Cullen
Leaf - Forests of Washington state
Truck - Bella's ancient vehicle
Fork - Forks, WA
Swan - Bella Swan
Motorcycle - Bella's relationship with Jacob
Wolf - Jacob Black
Believe - a reminder of the supernatural
Celtic Knot - Unending Love
Chess Pawn - Bella at the beginning of the Saga
Baseball - the Cullen's family

I also made a necklace to match:

236  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Absinthe/Green Faerie Art Nouveau Bookmark on: May 24, 2010 02:55:53 PM
I've always loved the mystery and allure surrounding Absinthe, from the  beautiful Art Nouveau advertising and mad Parisian artists, to changing whirlwind of the Turn of the Twentieth century...  Too bad I don't actually care for the drink itself! 

When I found this graceful pewter bookmark and oddly shaped dichroic glass bead, I knew exactly what I had to make; an Absinthe bookmark!  I hope you like it.  As always, comments and criticism are welcome. 

Detail of charms:
237  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / New Owl, Tree, Bird, Star & Fairy Earrings on: May 24, 2010 02:48:46 PM
Hi everyone!  I've been so busy with the dance concerts and plays we've been putting up at work, that I haven't had a spare moment to post any of my jewelry in ages.  I made these earrings a month or so back, and really like how they came out.  I was going for simple and elegant... 

Blue Moon Copper Owl Earrings with turquoise mother of pearl disks

Blue Moon Silver Owl Earrings

Copper Tree of Life Earrings with green freshwater pearls

Copper Songbird Earrings with mother of pearl disks

Silver Stars with Violet Crystals

Celestial Faerie Earrings with bronze freshwater coin pearls
238  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Potholder Swap (Sendouts 6/30/10) on: May 19, 2010 02:07:18 PM
Our awesome gallery can be found here: Potholder Swap Gallery

Swap name: Potholder Swap
Craftster member who is organizing this swap: jennieingram
Sign-up date range: May 19 June 2, 2010
Date to send item by: June 30, 2010

Limited to a certain number of people? (optional): No
Restricted to people who all live in the same country? NO

Swap Organizer himself/herself meets these conditions:
- Has fully read the Swap Info Guide: YES
- Has successfully completed two swaps as a participant: YES
- Is not organizing more than three swaps right now: NO
- Will recruit a co-organizer or give all details to a Swap Moderator if this swap has more than 25 participants: YES
- Is at least 18 years old: YES

Swap Organizer will check each participant to make sure they meet these conditions:
- Has been a member for at least one month: YES/NO
- Has posted at least 15 times: YES/NO
- Has completed one swap successfully before signing up for multiple swaps at a time: YES/NO
- Is not currently signed up for more than five swaps: YES/NO
- Does not have any negative feedback: YES/NO
- Participant has agreed that he/she is at least 16 years old: YES/NO
- If within the US, understands that Delivery Confirmation number is required for this swap: YES/NO
- If outside the US, understands that a mailing receipt copy is required for this swap: YES/NO

Details of swap:
Who wouldn't love something sweet and crafty to brighten up their kitchen?  In this swap we will be making 2-3 potholders for our partners.  Please indicate in your questionnaire whether you would prefer to make 2 OR 3. Potholders can be quilted/sewn, knitted, or crocheted.    

Swappers who are interested in swapping an additional item, such as a tea cozy, matching kitchen towel, or placemat, may indicate their interest in the questionnaire below. THIS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT.  It is just an option for those people who may be interested. I will attempt to match up people who are interested in this option, but I make no promises.  Swappers will be matched up first based on allergies & shipping, and then on swapping preferences.

As in all Craftster Swaps, DC#s are REQUIRED.

Posting pictures is required in this swap.  If you believe you will have trouble posting pictures for any reason, please mention this in the questionnaire below.  Please also take pictures of the items that you send, in case your partner has any unforeseen problems posting.

I reserve the right to refuse anyone. If you have feedback that shows a history of incomplete packages, very late sending, ill-communication, lack of DC #'s, lack of picture posting, etc. I may refuse you. I want this to be a flake-free swap!

For a wonderful swap experience, communication is the key.  Please keep in touch with your partner and your organizer.

Notes about Sending, Receiving, and Feedback
   SENDING: Take pictures of your items before you send.  When sending, you must use a DC# (or for overseas keep that receipt). Keep your receipt until your partner receives.  PM organizer and partner when you send.
   RECEIVING: PM organizer and partner when you receive.  Take pictures of received items. (Please take quality pictures, like ones you would take of your work.)  Post pictures in gallery in a timely manner.
   FEEDBACK: Given when both partners packages have been received (verified through PM or DC#) and pictures have been posted.  

NOTE: Lack of communication and explanation, such as no PMs of sending/receiving, will be noted in your feedback.  

If you want to participate, information to send to organizer:

Name of swap: Potholder Swap
Craftster username:
Email address:
Your real name:
Mailing address including the country:
Would you be willing to ship to an address outside your own country?
Confirm that are at least 16 years old or, if not, that you have moderator approval(YES/NO)
Confirm that you understand that Delivery Confirmation (DC #s) are required. (YES/NO)

Do you understand that posting pictures is required in this swap, and do you have regular access to a camera? (If this is a serious problem, please talk to your organizer so something can be worked out for you.)

What types of potholders do you like to make?  (Quilted, crocheted, knitted, other?)
What kinds of potholders would you like to receive?
Do you have a favorite style of potholder?  Square, mitt, Crazy Zori, Pocket?
Would you like to make 2 or 3 potholders?  
What are your favorite colors?
What color and style is your kitchen?
Would you prefer something that matches your kitchen, or something to suit your personality?
Do you have a favorite theme or motif?

Are you intersted in swaping an additional object like dish towels, a tea cozy, placemat, etc.?  (THIS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT! Just an option for those who wish to do so.)
If so Is there anything else youd really love for your kitchen?

Do you have any allergies?
Do you, or any member of your household smoke?
Do you have any pets or other allergens in your home?
Do you have a wist or list of favorties to help your partner learn more about you?


Please label Personal Messages (PMs) to organizer with title of "Potholder Swap".  When you send, label message as "SENT: Potholder Swap".  Send this message to the organizer and your partner.  When you receive, label message as "RECEIVED: Potholder Swap".  Send this message to the organizer and your partner.

Also, always remember to read the Swap Info Guide to find other rules about participating in a swap.

Link to our original interest thread can be found here: Want to swap handmade potholders?
239  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Slow Cooker Mexican Lasagna on: May 16, 2010 04:24:23 PM
Slow Cooker Mexican Lasagna

Made this for my Crafternoon Delight meeting today.  Sadly everyone had to leave before dinner... Oh well, more for DH and I!  I read a few similar Crock-Pot Enchilada recipes, but didn't really like anything I found, so I made this up with what I had on hand.  

Three things to note: I always use slow cooker liner bags, since I hate dishes.  That's what the plastic bag looking thing in my slow cooker is.   I highly recommend them.  DO NOT try to use any old plastic bag, as they are not made to withstand that level of heat the way liner bags are!  
Also, in this recipe, I used a 6 quart oval crock pot.  You could also easily use a smaller 4 quart pot, since this didn't quite fill to the halfway point in my pot.  A round crock is also perfectly fine, and your tortillas would probably slide right in, and not need that extra half tortilla per layer.  
Finally, all my ingredients came from the wonder that is Aldi.  If you haven't been to one, but think there might be one in your area, check them out!  I've added in prices next to each ingredient to give you an overall meal total.  Also, these are Aldi's regular prices, not sale ones!

3 chicken breasts  ($3.00)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder ($.03)
1 tsp. chili powder ($.05)
1 Jar Enchilada Sauce, divided into two separate 1/4 cup portions, and the remainder ($1.19)
1 small can of green chilies ($.59)
1 small can of tomato sauce ($.30)
1 can of black beans ($.59)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed ($.33)
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese ($1.15)
6 tortillas, 2 cut in half ($.60)
2 green onions, sliced thinly ($.20)

Start with the chicken.  Mine was frozen, so I rinsed off it's ice layer, then sprinkled on salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and a light drizzle of enchilada sauce.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until cooked through.  Let the chicken rest about 15 mins, then shred it with 2 forks.  

Lay down 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the crock pot, and spread around. Next, place the chicken in a mixing bowl with the green chilies, tomato sauce, black beans (drained & rinsed), corn, and remaining enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine.

On top of the layer of enchilada sauce, place one and a half tortillas.

Place 1/3 of the chicken mixture on top, and spread out evenly.

Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese (about 1/4 cup) on top of the chicken, and then top with another set of tortillas.  Repeat the layering process with the remaining chicken.

Top the last layer with the remaining 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce.

Bake for 7-8 hours on low.  30 minutes before serving, sprinkle on another layer of cheese, and 2 thinly sliced green onions.

Total cost: $8.03.  Serves 6 very hearty portions, or 8, with a side like Savory Corn Muffins.   Cheesy
240  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Snuggle-bot 5000 wants to be your friend! on: April 25, 2010 10:43:37 AM
Story behind this post:  One of my very awesome students, Dustin, came in all sick last Friday.  He worked most of the day, but looked miserable.  After a 9 hour shift waiting tables the next day he was rushed to the emergency room to find out that his appendix had ruptured!  And after they removed the appendix they decided he needed to be there about a week, because he's also diabetic.  Poor Dustin!  Ex-Gratia and I whipped this up to bring him in the hospital.   

Meet our new friend, the Suggle-bot 5000!  

A close up of our dear robot's face...  He's sad because he's not yet snuggling anyone.

Ex-Gratia add the last few stitches before bringing him to his new person:

Ex-Gratia, with our completed Snuggle-bot:

He's made of grey faux-suede, several metallic fabric scraps, and some vintage buttons we had laying around the costume shop.  His eye, heart, and monitors were all appliqued.  I hope you all enjoy him!
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