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81  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / A Winter Garden on: March 06, 2013 04:54:40 PM
I thought I'd share our winter gardening efforts.  Here's one of two garlic beds we planted in October. We have peas, lettuce, carrots and spinach planted in other exterior raised beds, those aren't up yet.

Inside the greenhouse is another story!  Here is the spinach we've been enjoying for the past few months.  Isn't it gorgeous?

This bed has spinach, lettuce and rutabaga greens.  Yum.

Our carrots are almost ready to harvest.  Baby ones, at least. 

Pea flowers.  We have both shelling and snow peas. 

A broccoli bouquet.  I've been putting this in stir fry and quiche.

Kohlrabi.  Amazing!  It's good raw, baked, fried and mashed. 

We grow our own citrus, even though we're in Virginia (zone 7).

Baby beets.

And inside the house, we've got peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes ready for transplanting into peat pots.  Those will be in the ground before we know it!

82  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Fairy House Tin on: March 04, 2013 10:00:52 AM
Here's a tiny fairy house tin I made for Zephyr in a swap.

It has a cardboard roof and a poly clay door.  There's a mushroom image under glass on the roof and a mushroom patch on the back of the tin.

Inside lives a fairy resting in front of some shelves of things she's collected, including a bottle of fairy dust.  The lady image is from Alpha Stamps.

83  SEWING IN GENERAL / Machine Embroidery: Completed Projects / Palmistry Pillow on: February 10, 2013 07:57:05 AM
I've been experimenting with the On Screen designer that came with my new sewing/embroidery machine.  It's like magic!  It's a sketch pad tablet that digitizes hand drawn designs.  Here's my first project, a palmistry illustration that I made into a pillow (my first ever pillow).   Grin

I'm going to have so much fun with this thing!

84  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Naan on: January 13, 2013 08:16:36 AM
I love Indian food so much!  Even though naan is getting more and more easy to find at the grocery store, I always make my own.  It's so fragrant and soft and yummy.  This recipe is adapted from one by Madhur Jaffrey. 

Here are the ingredients:
2/3 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
2 tsp. sugar
1 package dry yeast
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 beaten egg

Start by combining the warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp. of the sugar.  Set aside for a few minutes until it becomes frothy then add to the remaining ingredients and mix together.  Knead it for 10 minutes and put in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover and let sit to rise for an hour.

Here's what it looks like after rising.  At this point, you should preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and cut it into as many naans as you like.  This recipe makes 6 large or 12 small breads.

Roll them to about 1/4 inch thick.

Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  They go into your 500 degree oven for just 3 minutes. 

Look closely, you'll see they have puffed up a bit.  Switch your oven from bake to broil.  Once your broiler is hot, put your cookie sheet back in the oven on the highest rack for just 30 seconds to brown.  Watch them carefully!

85  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Cinnamon Rolls on: December 30, 2012 08:51:32 AM

This recipe came from a Family Circle magazine probably 15 or 20 years ago.  It was billed as the T.J. Cinnamon's recipe.  It is so very good, I hope you'll try it!

Start by dissolving two packages of yeast in 1/2 cup of warm to the touch water (110 degrees F.) and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.  Let it stand for at least 5 minutes to get foamy.  In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups all purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.   At low speed, gradually add in 1 cup warm milk, 1/3 cup salad oil, 2 eggs and the yeast mixture until well blended.  Slowly add in another 1.5 cups flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes.  I knead mine with a dough hook in my stand mixture but you could knead it by hand on a floured surface.

The dough is smooth and elastic after kneading.  At this point, put it in a bowl with about a tbsp. of oil in it, cover with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

While the dough is rising, make the filling.  You'll need 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.

Just mix all ingredients until they come together.

Here's the dough after rising for an hour.  Turn it onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough into a rectangle approx. 18 by 10 inches.

Spread the cinnamon filling on top then roll it up on the long side.  You'll end up with an 18 inch long log of cinnamon filled dough.  Cut the dough log into 14 equal slices.

Place the slices into greased 9 inch round cake pans.  This recipe makes two pans.

Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes.  Here's what they look like after rising.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (until golden brown).

I remove them from the cake pan after about 10 minutes and glaze with a mixture of 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla.   I hope you'll give them at try!

86  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Cornbread Sausage Cranberry Apple Walnut Stuffing on: November 26, 2012 09:21:07 AM
Here is my holiday stuffing recipe.  My family loves it!

I start with cornbread stuffing mix.  I read the back of the package for the recipe (amounts of butter and chicken broth to add) then start gathering other goodies...

I dump the stuffing mix in a huge bowl then crumble up and fry a package of sausage.  Once I drain off the fat, the sausage is added to the stuffing mix. 

An entire bag of cranberries are rinsed, picked over, and added raw to the stuffing mix.

I mince and saute shallots, 3 stalks of celery and a few sliced mushrooms in the amount of butter the stuffing bag calls for.  Add to the mix.

Peel and slice an apple, add it to the mix.  Once I have all of the add-ins, I stir in the amount of chicken broth called for on the stuffing package. 

In my house, half of the stuffing gets walnuts.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350.
87  COOKING / Dessert / Caramel Chocolate Covered Apples on: October 30, 2012 04:56:47 AM

I make these every October.  They're so easy!  I used fuji apples in the past until I discovered giant honey crisp apples. 

3 giant apples (or more if you decide to use smaller ones)
1 bag of caramels (I used Kraft caramels)
1 bag of chocolate chips (I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate chips)
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste

Wash apples and set them on parchment paper.  I use a small plate for each apple for ease of transport.  Microwave the caramels and corn syrup on medium power at 30 second intervals until the caramels melt.  Stir in vanilla.  Spoon over the apples then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on medium power at 30 second intervals until melted.  Spoon over the cooled apples.  At this point, you can also add nuts, sprinkles, candies if you like.  We are purists.  Cheesy   

To serve, cut the apple in slices and remove the seeds. 
88  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Halloween Lap Quilt on: October 13, 2012 12:24:19 PM
I finally finished the decorative Halloween quilt I started this time last year.  It's nice to get a WIP off of my list.

I used orange eyeball fabric for the back. 

Here's a closeup of the center panel.  I'm pretty proud of myself for not letting this go yet another year unfinished!
89  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Patchwork Drawstring Bag Tutorial on: October 04, 2012 07:44:19 AM
I hoard love Halloween fabric!  When I got partnered with cackle for the Mini 13 Days of Halloween, I decided to make a patchwork bag as her container.  I've received some Halloween fabric in swaps over the past few years and my quilt shop sells their bolt ends for 20 cents an inch so I'm always digging in their bins and have never passed up a spooky print. I took some in-process photos, here's how I made it.

The first thing I did was cut out 48 2.5 by 2.5 inch squares, then laid them out how I thought they looked best.  See those word squares at the bottom?  They were from a pair of PJ pants I found at WalMart after Halloween on sale for $5.  They didn't have my size but I bought a pair anyways to craft with some day.  The best part?  They glow in the dark (oh yeah!)   Cheesy

Being careful of the fabrics that had a 'this end up', I started sewing the squares together in rows of four with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Once the row was completed, I ironed the seams flat set it aside, and went on to the next row.
When I had all the rows completed, I started sewing them together with the same 1/4 inch seam allowance.

It came together pretty fast!

I chose linen for my accent fabric at the bottom of my bag, but you could use most anything.  I cut a piece of linen 3 1/2 by 24 1/2 inches and pinned it to the bottom of my patchwork piece.  It would be really easy to pin it to the wrong edge of the patchwork, so make sure you notice which end is up.

Another 1/4 inch seam and it's attached.

I gave it a hand embroidered detail by doing a large running stitch with six strands of orange embroidery floss right along the seam I just sewed. 

Now it's time to turn your large rectangular piece into a tube which will form the sides of the bag.  Just fold it in half with right sides together and sew and 1/4 inch seam up the edges.  Press the seam open when you're done.  Do not turn it right side out, leave it as-is for the next step.

Using a compass, draw a 7 3/4 inch diameter circle on a piece of paper then cut it out.  This will be your template for the bottom of your bag.  Cut the linen circle and pin it to the bottom of the tube.

Sew the round bottom to the sides of the bag with a 1/4 inch seam.

Clip the curve about every half inch with sharp scissors.

The lining is really similar to the process you just did to make the exterior of your bag.  Cut a piece of fabric 11 by 24 1/2 inches and sew it up the short side into a tube.  Cut another 7 3/4 inch circle, pin it right side together to the bottom of your tube and sew a 1/4 inch seam.  Clip the curve. 

For the drawstring case, cut a piece of fabric 2.5 by 25.5 inches and iron a 1/4 inch seam along one of the long edges.  Turn both of the short ends over 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch run a seam down the middle to give the drawstring opening a finished edge.  NOTE: the drawstring used in this project was actually 1.5 by 24.5 inches and I decided for future projects, I would increase the width in order to make it easier to sew.

Place the lining inside the exterior bag.  The wrong side of your lining should be touching the wrong side of your patchwork piece.  Now it's time to attach the drawstring case along the top of the patchwork piece.  With right sides together, pin the un-ironed edge of your drawstring case to the outside of your bag.

Remove the Bernina's sliding table and sew the drawstring case on using a 1/4 inch seam.

The final thing you need to do is to fold the drawstring case over and hand stitch the ironed edge to the lining.

Thread a drawstring and you're done!

90  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / It's time to vote for our cooking challenge winner - Bento Lunch! on: October 02, 2012 03:56:34 AM
It's time to choose our cooking challenge winner, voting is open thru October 10th.
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