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1  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Super Easy Kid's Superhero Cape on: January 22, 2012 07:20:53 PM
Here's a link to a super easy superhero cape I made for my stepson for Christmas. It's not super fancy, but it's a play cape you can personalize and whip up in a couple of hours.

2  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / My garden - a labour of love (Pic heavy) on: August 12, 2011 10:35:02 PM
My garden this year consists of my 50 square foot garden plot in a local community garden, my balcony garden, and my assorted herb plants growing in my kitchen window. I actually have another "garden" in my living room, but for this contest I've avoided including my houseplants and have only included the garden that I planted this spring. Most of what you see was grown from seed.
My garden plot, taken last week.

Carrot flower (did you know they flower if you leave them in the ground for two years?)

Balcony garden:

My basil in my kitchen window.

3  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Voila! Undies and Beach Cover (from old dress) on: February 23, 2011 08:54:39 PM

I recently purchased a dress from the thrift store in the hopes of making underwear from the fabric.
Not only did I get some cute undies out of the deal, but I was also able to make a cute top and skirt for the beach to go with it!

Here is the dress:

And here is the underwear on its own:

And here is the top and undies:

And finally, here I am modelling the beach cover.

4  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / I made underwear! First project using a pattern. on: January 25, 2011 11:33:12 AM

and from the back...

Yay! My first pair of undies, and my first sewing project using a pattern.
A more detailed description of what I did (and some better pics) can be found on my website.

Any comments, suggestions? The fabric was free but I think it actually ended up looking pretty fun  Smiley
5  COOKING / Dessert / Trifilicious - A New Dessert Creation with Mini-Tute on: December 20, 2010 10:01:29 AM
I have been on a candy making binge this Christmas season, and for the most part I have been very successful. However, one fudge recipe didn't set properly and so I couldn't give it away as gifts. So, instead I decided to use the delicious fudge and make a trifle!

Here's a mini-tute, in case you want to try it:
It was time consuming but not that difficult, since the fudge was already made:

1 (12 oz.) pkg. butterscotch pieces**
1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk
1 1/2 c. tiny marshmallows
2/3 c. chunk style peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped peanuts
In saucepan, combine butterscotch pieces, milk, and marshmallows. Melt and remove from heat. Beat in peanut butter, vanilla, and dash of salt. Stir in nuts. Pour in buttered 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Chill and cut in squares. Makes 4 dozen. Store in refrigerator.

**To make the fudge "not work", use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of butterscotch
Let it set in the fridge overnight.Then, bake a cake (I just used a french vanilla box cake) in two parts. Use the first part as the bottom and then spread the fudge over it. Now, this won't look pretty. The cake will probably fall apart and the fudge won't spread well. That is okay  Wink
Then the next layer of cake, then the toppings! I used fresh whipped cream and frozen strawberries (strawberries are not in season this time of year, so I had to make do, although fresh of course would be better) and spread it evenly and thickly over the top.
I did this in a cake pan, but you can also do it in a bowl for the more appropriate "trifle effect".

(You can sort of see my son in the background, with his little fingers waiting to dip in the whipped cream!)

This dessert is awesome. Expensive and time consuming, but awesome. I highly recommend it for a party or get together as it's rich, tasty, and will feed a lot of people.
6  COOKING / Dessert / Chocolate Covered Caramels! *NOW WITH TUTE* on: November 30, 2010 02:52:19 PM

This Christmas I have decided to make everyone in my life candy as a present. After all, there is no such thing as too many treats at Christmas!!
The recipe I used is here:

It was relatively easy, although more time consuming that I had anticipated. They are delicious and set really nicely over night in the fridge.

2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.Grease a 12x15 inch pan.
2.In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, whipping cream, and butter. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) remove the pot from the heat.
3.Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and let the mixture cool completely. When cooled cut the Carmel into small squares and wrap them in wax paper for storage.

First, you need to make the caramels several hours before you dip them in chocolate (I made mine the night before and left them in the fridge to cool).
The caramels take a fairly long time to boil to the appropriate point (120 degrees Celcius), probably about 20 minutes. Be careful to remove them from the heat as soon as they hit this point, however, as they quickly burn after this temperature. It really helps to have a digital candy thermometer, although they are more expensive (mine was about $30). You could try with a cheaper plastic one, but be very watchful!

I poured them into the pan and let them set overnight in the fridge. Now, we didn't try this but it might be a helpful tip for next time - instead of just buttering, line the pan with wax paper and use that to life the entire sheet of caramels out when you want to cut them. I think this would make it easier to cut the caramels into uniform shapes. Mine ended up being very randomly sized Smiley

I made a second batch of caramels and gave them away just like this, wrapped in cellophane paper with a ribbon.

Super easy and fun gifts, and they taste awesome.  However, if you want to go the extra mile:
After being cooled and cut,

 we then prepared the chocolate...
We bought some high quality chocolate in bulk (at the Superstore in Canada, although I'm not sure what stores would sell such a thing in other countries, possibly Wal-Mart). Chocolate chips would also work, we just used bricks because the quality of the chocolate is generally higher and the chocolate itself is usually fresher.
We shaved the chocolate and then melted it in a make-shift double boiler. We used a metal bowl that fit snugly over a pot, although other configurations (or an actual double boiler, haha) would work as well. It is important that the boiling water is kept from getting into the bowl with the chocolate, because that will ruin the consistency. (Sorry I don't have any pics of this process).
It is also best to do the chocolate coating in a cool, dry room. Heat and moisture will encourage the chocolate to seperate, which, while not affecting the taste, will affect the appearance of your candy.
We melted in small batches (probably 200 to 300 grams at a time) and once the chocolate was ready we sat down with a pile of caramels and dipped them by hand into the chocolate mixture. Obviously VERY clean hands are essential at this point. Make sure you keep stirring the chocolate as you dip to keep it from seperating. This process takes some practice to do consistently and it gets very messy, but it's also tons of fun!
We also melted some white "chocolate" (which as we all know is really just candy!) and drizzled it on some of the candies for a fancified effect.

The chocolates will be dry enough to move in about half an hour. You can tell they are ready when they lose their glossy finish.
If any of your chocolates get a whiteish finish it is because the chocolate did seperate a bit. Hopefully this doesn't happen but if it does, it won't affect the flavour, only the appearance.
I will be adding more pictures shortly. Hope this is clear, but if anyone has any questions please let me know!
7  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Lina Inverse from Slayers on: November 02, 2010 09:53:52 AM
This is my first attempt at both sewing anything and making a complicated Halloween costume, so it's a little rough. However, overall I'm pretty proud of it Smiley
The character is from a Japanese anime, and here is a little write-up about her:
And...here's my costume!

I sewed everything, except the shoulder pads, obviously. Those were made with paper mache and Christmas ornaments. Oh, and I didn't make the gloves, boots, belt or the necklace. I did make the bauble on the belt and the headband, though. And everything else, though, from hot pink pants to terrible yellow undies, was all me!

Another shot from a different angle, sans boots.
8  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Legend Of Zelda (Link) costume for my stepson on: October 26, 2010 01:48:09 PM
I'm not totally sure where this post should go, but here is my stepson's Halloween costume for the year. He's Link, from the Legend of Zelda. It's a pretty basic costume and I didn't sew all of it (the long sleeved shirt is still a little beyond me) but as it's my first sewing project I'm pretty proud of it. Plus, he loves it, so seeing the big grin on his face as he wears it is pretty rewarding.

I made the tunic and pants without a pattern; I just used an old T-shirt and pair of sweat pants of his and traced them onto the material, then cut, sewed, and prayed it would work! Thankfully it did, although I'm hoping next year I will be able to make something a little fancier.
The hat was super easy, we just measured around his head and then sewed the cloth together to make a little point. Soooo cute!
9  COOKING / Dessert / Chocolate Zucchini Brownies with Cream Cheese Icing on: September 22, 2010 04:52:15 PM

Okay, so this recipe is technically for chocolate-zucchini cake, but that is NOT what it tastes like.
This is the recipe (taken from http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/04/chocolate_zucchini_cake.php)

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake (BROWNIES!!)

- 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
- 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee -- this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won't taste it in the finished product
- 3 large eggs
- 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
- 160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
- Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.

Now, I did not desire a glaze. I desired frosting, so I made cream cheese icing.
Very simple, just 1 pkg cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup icing sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix with electric beater (if you have it) or get a great arm workout Smiley
Wait until cake cools, ice, and devour. You might find it pretty rich, so small pieces are a good idea...well, they can be, anyway.
Also, this cake doesn't make a lot, so you are probably better off using a smaller pan for a nicer look end result. Mine kind of ended up looking a bit weak.
10  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Fresh, Homemade Salsa! on: September 21, 2010 12:06:57 PM
I grew tomatoes and jalapenos this year, so of course I needed to try making my own homemade salsa.
It's super easy and super delicious! The only tricky part is getting the right ratios, but the nice thing about salsa is that you can always add more of whatever is missing without changing the quality of the product.

Ingrediants (makes about 2 cups of salsa):
Tomatoes (3 large, very ripe)
Onion (1/2 cup)
Garlic (2-3 cloves, depending on how much you love garlic)
Jalapenos (1-3, I'd say each jalapeno takes it up a notch!)
Cilantro (3 tablespoons after chopping; it's quite a bit of fresh cilantro)
Fresh squeezed lime juice (I use about half a lime)

Dice onion and garlic into fine pieces, then run a couple cups of boiling water over them (I put the garlic and onion on a cloth in a pasta strainer to do this). I then let them cool while I chop everything else.
Then, peel and seed the tomatoes. It's much easier to do this with very ripe tomatoes. Dice into small pieces.
Dice jalapenos, keeping the seeds if you like it hot!!!
Chop the cilantro - just the leaves, not the stems. This can take awhile, lol, but it's worth it.
Mix everything together, stir it up, and squeeze the lime juice.

I usually let it sit for a day for all the flavours to fully develop. It's a good idea to use an airtight container as this recipe is pretty potent smelling.

Then, add some yummy tortilla chips (that's my next project!) and enjoy!

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