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21  COOKING / Dessert / Baklava on: December 29, 2013 04:36:24 PM
This was supposed to be my entry for the sweets challenge.  I was so happy to have it in the oven and looking beautiful.... until I realized I hadn't taken the in process photos.  DOH!  But these are beautiful so you just get to look at them anyway.

Baklava!

Baklava isn't particularly hard, just time consuming.  So if you have about two hours one night and want to impress everyone with your baking excellence, try it out.  The first time I brought this to a family function whatever years back, hub's Grandmother was astounded that a home baker could make such a thing.  It blew her mind.

Recipe:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baklava-II/Detail.aspx
basically is a sweetened nut mixture in between sheets of filo brushed with butter.  Then you make a sugar/honey syrup to put over the top.  I like the look of cloves on top, plus I like the spicy taste, but many people don't so either tell them to discard the clove, or omit. 



I like to put mine in individual cupcake wrappers so it's easy to grab one.


Thanks for looking  Smiley
22  COOKING / Dessert / Better than Robert Redford Dessert on: December 28, 2013 09:16:57 PM
Better than Robert Redford Cake



This is known by a bunch of different names, but I learned it as Robert Redford.  It's a creamy, nutty, chocolatey, cheesecakey pie and it's extremely rich and delicious. 

I've also made this gluten free before, using a GF flour in the nuts, just make sure your pudding is GF (most Jell-O instant is, just check the label to make sure your specific box is)

Ingredients:

1 stick butter
1 c   flour
1 c   chopped pecans

8 oz   cream cheese
1 c   powdered sugar
1 c   cool whip

1 small   box chocolate instant pudding
1 small   box cheesecake (or vanilla) instant pudding
2 c   milk

handful of miniature chocolate chips

Directions

Combine butter, flour and nuts. Press into 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool.
Fill with the following blend - cream cheese, powdered sugar and Cool Whip.
Top with the pudding mixture - both pudding packages mixed with 2 cups milk.
Top with rest of Cool Whip and mini chocolate chips
Refrigerate

You start with the crust.  It's a nut layer.  Just press it in there evenly.  I always seem to get a thicker layer in the middle so spread it out to the edges well.


Add the cheesecake layer over that followed by the chocolate pudding layer, and then the whipped topping layer.


Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over.  You could also use chocolate shavings, but chips work just fine.


Tada!  Look at those beautiful layers.


Now cut yourself off a big slice. YUM!


So good and rich and it's great to make before the big party.  Could make it in the morning or the day before even.  After that the chocolate chips start to seep, but that doesn't effect the flavor.

Good luck!
23  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Secret Playroom ~ Hobbit Hole on: December 27, 2013 08:47:49 PM
One of my girls' big presents was to get a secret reading room under our stairs.  It's in our movie room so we call it the Hobbit Hole.  It turned out so well!  I can't take all the credit, hubs did most of it, but we've been doing it since September, so many months in the making!  We worked hard on it, knowing they're getting older (7&9) and things like this won't be exciting too many more years.

Innocent wall


Secret door!


At first it was a Nemo themed playroom for my toddlers, but it became a storage area instead.

Wall


Door to the storage room.

We built a wall between

and knocked the walls out.  


Built one side into a closet.  


Built in book shelves.


You have to pull back on 'gateway to foo' to open.


Inside.  New paint, new floors, edging, lighting, bookshelf for the girls books....


Had a stupid pipe we needed to cover


Became a brownie door!


Finished!



Thanks for staying with me through this long post!  We are super excited about this and my girls couldn't be happier.  They stay in the Hobbit Hole from morning to night.
24  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Face Paintings on: December 05, 2013 04:49:11 PM
Been getting into face painting lately.  I'm thinking about going professional next summer, but I'm kind of a six month hobby person so we'll see if I want to stick with it next year.  As for now I'm having fun with it! I have been buying paints and supplies for a professional kit if I want to go on, but I'll always have it to do for volunteer work and for fun anyway.

Now forgive my line work on the designs, these are all my first tries but the best looking ones I'm willing to share lol.  I'm still in the practicing and getting quick stage.

Big Flowers


Scorpion


Wore this one to opening night of Catching Fire ~this one was tricky.  I had to do the mockingjay in reverse because of the mirror reflection


And because I always have to do something Harry Potter.  There was a challenge to make these little puff balls into something.


Flower fairy


My little knight


My favorite of the batch!  A fantasy tiger.  Took me about 20 minutes.  If I go pro I'm hoping to half that time. 


Thanks for looking!  Hopefully I can add a bunch more designs soon!
25  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Face Painting Fun! on: October 31, 2013 08:09:38 AM
My daughters were going to have kind of plain costumes this year, so I wanted to jazz them up with some face paint.  Went online and bought a pallette and found I really enjoyed painting!  So I've played all we could this month.  Good month to practice, you can actually walk around the grocery store with a painted face and people would just think Halloween, lol.

I ended up doing face painting at our kid Halloween party and one girl came back the next day to get hers done again.  I've already had repeat customers! 

Anyway, here are some of the designs I've done this month.  Most of the designs are copy-cats from Lisa Joy Young, or from pictures I've found on the internet.






























Thanks for looking!
Happy Halloween!  Smiley
26  Category Challenges / Bath and Beauty: Challenge Entries / B&B Challenge 4: Henna inspired nails on: October 15, 2013 04:16:08 PM
Last month I went to a local festival and had an amazing henna sleeve done.  Sad blank nails at my finger tips just wouldn't do.  So I made this design, trying to flow through my henna design.  Used a brown and my konad nail stamps. 

It's a brownish sparkle color-- Revlon 140 "Fall Mood"
With Konad stamps-- flowers on m60 and dots and swirls on m64

I liked the brown because it had a shimmer and felt it complimented the color the henna made.  The flowers, swirls and dots reminded me of the henna patterns.



The whole sleeve with my nails.  The henna sadly has disappeared now and I miss it.  Was gorgeous!  If I find that henna booth again, I'll be standing in line for sure.


Nail Polish


The swirls disk


Thanks for looking!
Happy Challenge!
27  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Beads: Completed Projects / Ravenclaw Set on: October 08, 2013 07:18:14 AM
Made this set for a swap partner.  I wanted to make a fun bracelet, but something different than the classic charm bracelet.  This one is made on stretchy jewelry string (a few lines so hopefully it doesn't break) and connected in the middle by the circle closure bead.  All the charms are attached to it.  There's Luna's glasses, Ravenclaw crown, eagle, textbook, and wand---things a great Ravenclaw would need for Hogwarts classes.

The beads if I remember correctly were lapis lazuli and tiger's eye stones.  It didn't feel finished so I added some matching earrings too.



Thanks for looking Smiley
28  IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES / Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects / Castle Building "Block" Stamps on: October 08, 2013 07:07:51 AM
Building your own castle out of blocks is so much fun, why not do it with stamps too?!

Here is a build your own castle kit of carved stamps.  You can stamp them any way you'd like.  You could build Hogwarts or Cinderella's or just your own personal castle.  Possibilities are endless!  I made one set for a swap partner, but loved them so much I have my own too.



The blocks are cut out a bit more chunky that I think gives a fun look, plus it's faster to carve when you aren't worried about lines being exact. 




Making of and testing pic.


Thanks for looking!
Have a great day.
29  COOKING / Dessert / Caramel Apples on: October 07, 2013 08:14:39 AM
It's fall, time to break out the caramel apples!  These are made from a kit.  It was still one you cook on the stove, but really I should have just made it from scratch.  It wouldn't have been too many more steps.  Oh well, they still tasted great, or at least the first few I dipped.  As I was getting to the last of the caramel those hardened up like a fudge consistency instead of gooey taffy caramel.  I still enjoyed my smores though!





Smores! mini chocolate chips, mini dehydrated marshmallows, and crushed graham cracker bits.
30  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Shrieking Shack Musical Globe on: October 01, 2013 09:09:37 PM
Here is my creepy cool glass globe for the Marauders from Harry Potter.  There is the whomping willow made out of twisted wire, an old worn down looking Shrieking Shack, and of course Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail.



Music Box Video
http://s114.photobucket.com/user/secretsmilesshop/media/IMG_0580_zps162afcb1.mp4.html

Some detail views without the glass.
Marauders.  Werewolf, Dog, and Rat were all clay, and the deer was a plastic piece I painted over.


All just under quarter sized




Back.  Shrieking Shack was made out of chipboard I cut into pieces and glued together.  Added texture with crepe paper and painted it.


Some making of pics.
        

Was a big challenge to create, but so rewarding when it was complete.  It was one of those things that you think you may never finish, lol.  Had a neighbor come by that could not believe I made it myself.  Made me smile.

Thanks for looking!
Have a great day.
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