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1  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Pancakes and chocolate syrup, anyone? on: April 19, 2009 09:32:26 AM

Not that the picture is especially beautiful (or the food itself, for that matter), but as I was making chocolate syrup for pancakes this morning, I got to thinking... Does anyone else do this? The syrup is kind of a chocolate sauce, made with sugar, butter, cocoa powder, etc. (no flour, though). My friends I have met in college had never heard of it and thought I meant dumping cold Hershey's chocolate syrup on pancakes, and my father's side of the family thought that too when my brothers and I would ask for it as kids.

My mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother make this, so I was wondering if anyone else's family had their own version. I would love to know if this is a Southern thing or what!
2  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / Recycled Shrinkies! on: April 17, 2009 04:20:51 AM
For a recent swap, I made my partner some horror movie-themed Shrinky Dinks.

Here's a picture she took of one:

Linnea Quigley!

I had never done these before, but I found a tutorial for making them from plastic packaging instead of buying the sheets. It worked really well, so I thought I would share.

    Clean #6 Plastic
    Permanent Markers
    Aluminum Foil
    Oven and Tongs or Oven Mitt

1. Obtain a piece of #6 plastic (polystyrene). Most clear containers at salad bars, delis, and grocery stores will work. Just flip it over and look for a 6 inside the recycling arrows. If you ask nicely, theyll usually give you a fresh one.
2. Cut any excess plastic away to make a flat sheet (use both the top and the bottom), and recycle the excess.
3. Draw or write your desired image or text on your plastic canvas using permanent markers. The total image will shrink to about a third of its original size, and five or six times its original thickness.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 350, and place a rack in the lowest position. Create a tray out of the aluminum foil by bending up the sides. Technically, you could cover a baking sheet with foil, but  the thinner surface allows for more direct heat and quicker shrinking.
5. Place your art in the tray, then use the tongs or an oven mitt to place the foil on the bottom rack.
6. For the first minute your art will curl up all crazy-like, but soon, it will flatten itself out. If you have an oven door through which you can see, then just keep an eye on it. If your door is solid, open it just slightly (as you would do when broiling) after 90 seconds. Total time for a large piece (5-6 starting size) will be about 3 1/2 minutes.
7. Using the tongs or oven mitt, remove the tray. At this point, its still plyable, so if you want to flatten it more, or add waves or bend the corners, do so CAREFULLY within the first ten seconds.
8. Now, you can do as you please. Its still cut-able, sand-able, drill-able, glue-able, and plenty more. Attach it to jewelry, make a luggage label, or even a guitar pick!

(This tutorial is not mine; it is copy-and-pasted from this website: http://www.curbly.com/Chrisjob/posts/2252-DIY-Shrinky-Dinks-)

Happy crafting/recycling.
3  COOKING / Dessert / How NOT to Make Cake Balls on: April 05, 2009 05:23:36 PM
Since everyone and their mother is making cake balls right now, I thought I would share my recent attempt.

I am in a swap right now that is psychobilly/horror punk-themed, so I wanted to make some nice zombie-esque baked goods to send along with my package. Luckily I talked to the post office first to learn my package would be traveling way too long for my baking to arrive in any state better than rock hard, but I wanted to try out my idea anyway.

This is a crappy artist's rendering of what things were supposed to look like when finished:

... Sometimes I forget I am not Master of Speed, Time, and Chocolate. This is what we ended up with:

HUGE, ungainly, hideous cake balls!

I disregarded Bakerella's thing about them being about quarter-sized, so there was no way at all I could throw those things on sticks like cupcake pops as I originally planned. They were ridiculously rich to be that large too, such that no one could eat a whole one at once! As far as coating the entire thing in chocolate, at that size, as they were rolled in the chocolate, they were falling apart just because it was taking so long. I ended up just slopping it out of the bowl onto the cake. I thought the white ones looked kind of pretty/less than hideous, though, with the chocolate oozing down like that.

They went really fast despite their ugliness; rooommates, friends, and such stole them out of the fridge every time they came into my apartment that day. I plan to make them more like what I intended soon, since I still have a ton of sticks and white chocolate that didn't get used.
4  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Beginning vegetarian needs help on: March 27, 2009 05:24:54 PM
I decided a couple weeks ago I wanted to go vegetarian and maybe later make the switch to being vegan. I went on my first vegetarian grocery store trip a couple days ago. I don't feel like I bought much more as far as how many meals things will make and how long the stuff will last me, but I think it ended up being more expensive than normal.

That's kind of my question: Does eliminating meat from your diet and adding more fruits and vegetables make your grocery bill higher? Is that just a normal thing? Or is there a shopping strategy that I did not employ? I don't know anyone personally that's vegan or vegetarian, so there's no one I can ask except you Craftster folks.

Thanks for reading. Thanks more for helping.     Smiley
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Easter Box Recon on: May 02, 2008 02:14:45 PM
I wasn't going to put this project up at all, but my male and the friend I crafted this for insisted it was good enough to warrant showing. Schwhatever.

My friend was cleaning out her dorm room and threw a little Easter-themed box at me. She had little use for a small, oval box with a cracked-out looking rabbit on it, so she asked me to do something cool with it. Hours of searching for pictures, cutting them out, Mod Podging, and sealing later, we have this nice thing.


Yay, Catwoman!
6  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Journal Cover on: April 30, 2008 07:51:16 AM
Okay, so maybe this isn't nearly as exciting as other people's journals they're making, but at least I found a use for something I was going to throw out. As I was cleaning up my room and preparing to move out (and by that I mean, "I was avoiding studying"), I found a little Mead notebook. I don't really take notes in that small of things, so I made it a neat cover for use as a journal.

It was a fabulous waste of a few hours over a few days. Oh, and that's a Chuck Palahniuk quote. I don't normally read him (the existentialism gets a little disgusting to me after so many pages), but I saw that quote and thought it matched the little Tori Amos postcards I have. I still have four or five postcards left to do something with...
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Frame Re-Vamp on: April 23, 2008 11:34:29 AM
I heart frames! Anyway...

My brother is graduating from high school and heading out to "seek his fortune," as it were. A gift was in order, so I got to work crafting.

Before. I recieved this frame from something at some point in the distant past and had never used it, mainly because I had no sisters.

After. Tah-dah! A terrifying picture of my brother and me, surrounded by fortune cookie fortunes that I've been collecting for the past three years or so (I still have a bunch left if anyone has any neat ideas for something else). The one outlined in black on the bottom says " Smiley We are very happy together.  Smiley"
8  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Twenty-First Birthday Box (Lots of Pictures) on: April 14, 2008 09:05:48 AM
A friend of mine turns twenty-one today. I thought I'd be crafty and make her something, and this is what I came up with.


Top of our happy box, with a vintage sleaze paperback cover.


Painted and bejeweled.

The pretty pink inside, with drink recipe cards and mini drink mix bottles.


Recipe cards, with smaller versions of the jewels on the outside. My camera refused to focus on the cards. Ah, well.

So there's my project. Hopefully she'll like it.    Smiley

9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Recipe Malfunction on: April 13, 2008 09:08:32 AM
I look through a lot of food blogs. I really like trying new, interesting methods and dishes, but since they are really new to me and interesting, it's hard to find anyone to talk to when things go really wrong.

Case in point: khachapuri.


That's what it's supposed to look like. Mine end up looking like biscuits and holding barely any of the delicious filling (egg, yogurt, feta, and mozzarella). I've made these twice now, and after last night's batch being even more disastrous, I decided to seek help. This is what is supposed to make the dough:

3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups plain yogurt

I do that. Everything goes in the way it's supposed to. My dough ends up really thick and sticky, to the point I can't even work with it. I tried adding flour as well as refrigerating it for a bit. It was still way, way sticky, and last night, it wouldn't even cook through.  Huh

I'm not a really experienced maker-of-food, but the recipe seems really straightforward. I get soooo frustrated when things turn out crappy. Anyway, hopefully you can help, but thanks for reading anyway!   
10  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Reading Patterns on: April 07, 2008 10:40:03 AM
I'm a pretty new knitter, and I was wondering if anyone had any easy guides or resources about figuring out how patterns work and what all those letters and numbers mean. I'm ready to move on from scarves to other things! Websites are preferred, but any good books would be great too.

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