I haven't done any crafting in eons. It has made me sad.
So I joined the 50 in 50 craftalong. The crazy skills and wild productivity there has lit a fire. I'm not making progress on my 50 projects yet, but I am crafting. Sort of like priming the pump, maybe?
So tonight I dragged out my tub-o-clays and made this sheepy magnet for a friend whose birthday was Sunday. She likes sheep and has them everywhere, except on her fridge. Until now.
The design was based off a card I had only the front of, so I don't know who did the original, sorry. I stamped the "curls" with thin wire I formed and glued onto an old pencil's eraser.
On the gift, after modpodge, magnet attachment, and temporary attachment to part of a coffeehouse cup holder with a texture I couldn't resist.
Lotsa fingerprints, and the back's a mess. It's nice to be playing again!
I spent more time trying to hold onto the super-magnets than I did molding and stamping the sheep. Those things actually flew about a foot to a frame...after they'd been in the glue for several minutes.
But anyway, after a long drought, I'm crafting again!
When I had a bumper crop of habeneros, I hunted around for a recipe to turn them all into something for some special friends for Christmas. I found a recipe for habanero pepper jelly and was intrigued.
Even though the hurricanes cleared the garden for me and I got NOT ONE of those peppers, I bought enough to make 1/2 cup diced so I could make a double recipe of this edible stained glass jelly:
My taste testers say it's sweet with a following heat. They tried it over cream cheese, with crackers, and said it was plenty giftable. My SON (aged 12) wouldn't listen to the "wait-a-minute" rule and gobbled about 2 tablespoons...and was quite unhappy. (Moral of that story: If you try it, take it SLOW!)
Since Gustav made it a luxurious necessity, we've been eating this bread daily.
One loaf would last two days, but the second day's half wasn't near so nice as the first, when the bread was piping hot. DH liked coming home to the fresh-baked smell, too.
So, I modified it for a family of four, one of whom is a diabetic. In addition to being yummily warm daily, it also takes less rising time and less baking time, making it better for the 9-to-5 crowd who might not have three hours at the end of the work day to produce a hot loaf.
I mix the dough as my husband leaves (5:30 a.m.) , plop the bowl on the dryer (warmest place in the house), and put it out to rise before he comes in from work, somewhere between 9 and 11 hours later (depending on his day). By dinnertime at seven, it's ready. (I've also put it on at 8 on a Saturday, and it was still delicioius at 7, so you've got some wiggle room there.)
Here's the scoop: 1. Dissolve a scant 1/4 t yeast in 3/4 cup warm water from the tap in a medium bowl Thanks to Castaway, I now know that using tap water might not be not good. So, change this to using 3/4 cup very warm water, heated by your method of choice to around 120 degrees. (That's what other bread recipes I use call for.)
2. Place 3 T soy flour in the bottom of a 2-cup measure and top off with enough wheat/bread flour to make 1 1/2 cups. Soy flour adds protein and has less than half the carbs of regular flour but cannot be substituted in equal amounts. I roughly figured it reduces the count by a couple of carbs per slice, and it adds up. Soy also imparts a very slightly nutty flavor and I think I noticed that the crust is crispier when I add it, too.
3. Add 3/4 - 1 tsp salt (to your taste) to the flour, then dump into the water. Stir. It will still be shaggy and sticky just like the original loaf.
4. Cover your bowl with either plastic wrap or a plate that just fits, and put it in a warm place to rise all day. About 90 minutes before you expect to be eating fresh, hot bread, turn it onto a lightly floured dishtowel. VERY slightly knead it a couple of times, then cover and let rise. At this point, set a timer for 40 minutes.
4. When that timer goes off, put your dutch oven and its lid into the oven. Then set the oven to 425 degrees and preheat for at least 20 minutes. If your dutch oven is cast iron, be sure to put it in the oven before turning it on. I read somewhere that you never want to put a cold cast iron pot onto/into heat.
6. At the end of 20 minutes, remove the lid and sprinkle about 1 tsp cornmeal on the bottom of the dutch oven (Please be CAREFUL here...I have more blisters and scars from this point in the process than I care to admit! I'm a total klutz, though, so maybe it's only me, though....). Gently lift the dish towel and dough and sort of plop the dough onto the cornmeal in the pot. You can fiddle with the top carefully for a prettier loaf if you want, but it'll be fine, I promise. Do try to keep it off the sides because it kinda sticks and makes poky, hard-to-eat protuberances! If it gets stuck, grab a fork or spoon and just scrape the bits back onto the loaf, no sweat.
7. Replace the lid. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool enough so you can grab it to cut or tear it into bits, then devour.
If you make no-knead bread and have easy, healthful additions, I'd love to hear what you do! Sooner or later, DH's bound to get bored with the same ol' same ol', you know? I keep wanting to add cheese or olives or something, but I haven't yet! Ideas?
Q:What do you do when power is out for days and days and days and there's no more bread? (My husband is diabetic, and we have to keep an even number of carbs per meal, and whole-wheat bread is a staple.)
And of course, since you are out of power due to Gustav the Horrible, all the grocery stores for 100 miles in all directions are also in the dark and anyway, many roads are impassable.
A: You remember how delicious montyfull's no knead bread is and craftily decide to try it on the gas grill outside!
The delicious result:
It works, with these adjustments: --DO preheat the cast-iron dutch oven. Just be sure to put the dutch oven on the grill before you light the flame so that it heats at the same time as the grill. Even with our house roiling hot, the iron was a good 20 degrees cooler than the ambient air! You wouldn't want to crack your nicely seasoned pot!
--put some distance between the bottom of the dutch oven and the flame. I used, variously, an upside down camp skillet (handle halfway melted...not good), a pot (too far from flame), and a foil-wrapped cake pan, which worked great. (It was one of my good cake pans that I was afraid would get ruined, so I wrapped it.) First loaf, made right on the grill, was burned on the bottom. Oops. We just cut off that part.
THIS loaf was juuuussst right!
--turn your gas on about medium high and leave it there. I think having the grill lid down helped keep the temperature even, so if you have a lid, close it. If you don't, let us know how it turns out!
--leave your bread in for about 20 minutes with the lid on, then check it every 5 minutes or so until it's a gorgeous crusty light brown.
We had whipping cream, a jar, and and two kids with LOTS of time on their hands, so we started making homemade butter, too. (We had butter, but that would have been just too simple.)
It's not the only crafty thing we did in the dark, but it was by far the most delicious!
My kids are both in middle school, and gifts aren't as elaborate or numerous for middle school teachers as they were in primary school. But still, I wanted to give something to each teacher. No apples allowed, either. Between them they have 9 teachers.
Inspiration: I was planning an event with a couple of teachers one day a few weeks ago when another teacher burst into the room holding her pants together at the waistband, desperate for a safety pin. I was surprised to learn that not one of the teachers had one (I sure did when I taught!), but it gave me some ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week. All the kids' teachers are getting one, plus the teacher who provided timely inspiration!
I give you, The Contingency Kit !!
(And by jove, my homemade foam core light box seems to work!)
I brainstormed for things one might need in a car or in a school desk and here's what I came up with:
a sewing kit ($1 at Dollar Tree) extra safety pins of varying sizes (stash) adhesive bandages ($1 for 60) pain reliever ($10 for 40 individual 2-packs) stain remover wipes (from laundry room, maybe $4?) antibacterial wipes (from kitchen, maybe $3?) Flossers ($1, plus jewelry bags from stash)
Total Time: About four hours (including cutting out, sewing, stuffing, stringing mop coins, but NOT shopping) Total cost:About $4 each. (It would be less with stash materials and zippers!)
The empty bag, the other side of the card:
The card is just microsoft "apple" clipart with words describing teachers scattered around. (I chose the apple because it was an empty shape and used the right colors! I HATE giving apples to teachers! I have an attic full, left over from my 15 years in the classroom!)
I used various buttons from my stash. The zipper, yellow mesh, geometric fabric, and mop coins for zipper pull: about $2 per bag. Not as cheap as it could have been; I could have used mixymatchy stash stuff, but for some reason it was important to me to match the bulletin board I made for all the teachers!
All lined up waiting for the kids to stuff them:
I like it that the kids made a contribution to the gift, too. I was glad to pass the project off at this point.
All ready to go...whew!
(We added Hershey's Bliss candies, plus a couple of the bags have gift cards to local eateries for the kids' "special" teachers.)
A stash-busting cozy for a plain vanilla tape measure.
You push the translucent pink flower button on top and the tape retracts.
Personalized on the back for a favorite 19-year-old who likes to sew...
The little plastic pull tab didn't match the funky colors, so off it came. I replaced it with ribbon and a button from my stash. (The dark part on the end of the ribbon is the fray check, not yet dried. Sorry!)
Here you can see the tape measure pulled out.
NOTE: The top design is based on a patch I saw somewhere, maybe here or FLIKR...I'm sorry I can't give credit. I have to start taking note of that kind of thing!
Question: How important do you think it is to the overall attractiveness to have the stitching on the sides lined up? I notice that I did a reaaaally bad job of making them match. Does it matter? Other Ideas? Comments? Suggestions?
All together in one place:
Here's all you need, measurements obtained from whatever tape measure you buy:
Step 1: Make a pattern for the case, then cut it out.
a. Begin by measuring your tape measure's plastic casing. Mine was 2 1/8", and I used Publisher to draw a perfect circle as a pattern. You might trace yours or use a compass.
b. Next, measure the circumference and the thickeness of the tape measure casing. Mine was 6" around by 1/2" deep exactly. Again, I used Publisher to draw this shape. You can use a ruler. Trim these pieces, then cut them out of your base color felt.
Step 2: Embellish the felt.
Step 3: Construct the cozy.
a. Decide where you want the tape to come out. I chose to have the tape poke out at the bottom right of the design, since all the people I've made them for are right handed and the user should be able to see the design as they pull the tape measure out.
b. Sew the top to the side strip. I used the blanket stitch , in short, even stitches. Your thread could coordinate or contrast with your base felt color, but if you're not very practiced at the stitch, go with thread that matches your felt to hide a multitude of goofs!
c. Begin sewing the bottom to the side strip. When you're about halfway through, slip the tape measure case inside and line up the end of the tape measure with the slit in the side. Finish stitching. Tie off neatly and poke your knot back inside the cozy.
Step 4: Dress it up. If the little plastic piece at the end of your tape measure doesn't match, cover it! Here's how, copied from my sheepish cover elsewhere on Craftster.
a. Pull out several inches of the tape measure. Clip a big honking office clip tightly about 3" from the end of the tape measure. (WHY? Ha. The first one I tried rolled up right on itself inside, even though it had been stuck on a "click" when I let it go as gently as I knew how! I pried the case open and tried to rewind, but nothing I did returned it to a useable condition. I ended up cutting the tape measure off and gluing it along the edge of my sewing table. I threw the spring and case away. *Sigh.*)
b. CAREFULLY remove the little plastic end that came on the tape measure, using a blade if you need to. Be sure to leave enough room for the button to be sewn on so it doesn't cover the numbers, even if it means the ends are ugly. You'll be covering them up, anyway
c. Cut two pieces of ribbon: a 3/4" long strip and another, longer strip about 1 1/2".
d. Make a V from the longer piece of ribbon. Use a little dot of quick-tack glue to hold the V next to the end of the tape measure, being careful not to get too close to the Zero measurement.
e. Wrap the 3/4" strip around the whole thing, both the V and tape measure. Let the raw edge end up where your button will cover it. Again, use a dot of quick-tack glue to hold all this together.
f. Sew the button through all layers using double thread. Hide your knot under your button and the back will look clean.
I can't seem to find it today to show you, but some crafty Craftster has a really cute little sock monkey pincushion for her avatar. I printed it, knowing that my friend Jill loves monkeys and is developing a "thing" for sock monkeys. I knew sooner or later I'd be able to do something with it, and with Jill's birthday being tomorrow, I made her a sock monkey pincushion.
I couldn't get the original mouth to look right. I looked long and hard at the avatar and the gazillion sites for sock monkey making but just couldn't get anything right. I eventually ripped it off the face so much I had to make a new face/top!
So in the end, I went girly, to match my friend's e-mail signature, which is an animated monkey (complete with bouncing crown)!
Here she is:
Also, I've looked in all the usual stores and cannot find wool felt, only acrylic. Any ideas?
Tuesday: 9:00 a.m. Overhear acquaintance saying, "I need 14 heart-shaped ornaments for (a noble cause)...but I've looked everywhere and can't find hearts. No time to order from someplace because the thing is Thursday night."
Vaguely remember hearing about heart yo-yos, Google it, find this excellent tutorial.
I hope the recipients like them. Maybe someone could think of something very Valentine-y to do with them besides make ornaments? They'd look cute connected in a pillowtop or quilt, but how would you do the second (etc.) rows?!
"Hey, mom, I wanna go to E's 14th birthday party Saturday. She likes lime green and fuzzy stuff. What can you make her?"
One day to make something. *Scrounge, scrounge.*
I find about 1 1/2 yards of left-over lime green fleece. And a regular 21 x 21 pillow form. Pretty dull.
Uninspired, I decide to run an errand near the local strip mall, whereupon I happen to enter Big Lots and find body pillows (big ol' squishy bolsters) with icky fleece covers.(Lots of free lint included. They must have dust-mopped the store with them!) But they're only $8 each and I have a sticky lint-remover. And a length of silky green fleece just waiting.
So E's getting this, with a pocket for her mp3 player (or whatever). DD loves it, I hope E will too!
Detail of mp3 pocket:
They're actually pretty straight, but like I said, it's a really squishy pillow...