Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Funny Baby Pictures

Haven't posted in a while.  I've been really busy at work, but I just wanted to share some pictures that I like to take of my kids.   The top two are of Avery when she was a baby, the rest of of Lex.  Makes me smile when I see them, hope it makes you laugh too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to Make Easter Eggs in the Shape of Bunnies

I did this last year for Easter, but because of my blogging hiatus never got a chance to post it.  These aren't Easter eggs that you would hide, because the shell is removed, but its fun to make as part of an Easter meal.

I bought these egg molds from Amazon and am so happy with them.  Not only are they super cute, but because of the cute shape my daughter loves to eat her eggs.  The molds are meant to be used for eggs, but I've also used them to mold rice, and you could probably even make jello in them (small batch).

Making these bunny eggs are super easy, all you need to do is hard boil the egg, when the egg is cooked through, remove the shell (carefully because egg is hot), and then stick the egg into the mold.  You do want to do this when the egg is still warm or else it will break apart.  Some of the eggs I've made were perfect where the entire egg would take shape without excess, other times I would have to trim the excess sides.  Large eggs are the best size and old eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs.

Here is the best way to make a hard boiled egg:

Place eggs in a pot large enough to cover them with at least one inch of room temperature water.

Bring the water to a full boil.  Remove from heat once the water boils. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes.

This is the best method I have ever found to make hard boiled eggs.  I never get that overcooked green rim around my yolk when I make eggs with this method.

Bunny eggs!

The set comes with both a bear and a bunny.

I used extra large eggs, so there was excess egg that I trimmed off.

This picture is so old of Avery last year shoving the egg into her mouth.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cupcakes for Dummies (St Patrick's Day Rainbow Cupcakes, Topped with Lucky Charms)

The cupcakes I've made in the past never tasted as good as the ones at the specialty shops (like Sprinkles Cupcakes).   I've tried different recipes and none of them were great.  Then it got me thinking, maybe its not the recipe but the technique.  I googled and googled and finally found a few tips on making better cupcakes that has helped me tremendously.  These tips may seem obvious to some, but for me it was a switch went off and my cupcakes were instantly better.

Tip 1:  Your butter does not need to be at room temperature if you are using a electric beater. You want your butter to be a little cooler than room temperature so it does not become a greasy mess when you fluff your butter and sugar.  Your eggs should be at room temperature.

Tip 2: Fluff your butter and sugar.  I mean really fluff it, do not skimp on this step!

Tip 3: Sift your flour and then measure it.  I know this one I rarely did and when I did sift, I would measure then sift, which is the wrong order!  You will see in the image below how much left over flour I had after I measured 3 cups, sifted, and remeasured three cups.  Three cups of unsifted flour was more like 2.75 cups of sifted flour.  (I read the best measurement is by weight, but I haven't gotten that advanced yet).

The more obvious tips:

Tip 4: Mix wet ingredients and then dry.

Tip 5: Don't over mix dry ingredients into wet.

Tip 6:  Use cake flour

Tip 7:  You are baking, be precise.

Here is the recipe that I used for my cupcakes.  It's actually the recipe printed on the Swan's Down Cake Flour Box.  Since I made cupcakes, I did adjust the time from 25-30 min to 15-20 min.

Swan's Down 1-2-3-4 Cake 

1 cup butter 
2 cups sugar 
3 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour, sifted 
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake trays.  Recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

In a mixing bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl sift flour (remember this is the second sift, the first sift was before you measure the flour) with baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings to creamed mixture, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into cake pans. 

For cupcakes bake for 15 - 20 minutes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on racks. 

To make rainbow cupcakes simply divide the batter into ziplock bags or bowls and mix in food coloring.  Scoop each cupcake with a little of every color.

Buttercream frosting recipe here:

Rainbow Cupcakes topped with a Lucky Charm

Remember to sift flour!

This is how much flour that was left over after I sifted.

Cream butter and sugar well!

To make rainbow cupcakes I colored each portion of the batter in ziplock bags so I could pipe it into the cupcake tray.

Batter in tray, I didn't want to over mix my batter so the food coloring weren't completely mixed in.

Inside a rainbow cupcake.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crochet Minnie Mouse Inspired Headband

I have so many hobbies and not enough time.  I love picking up new hobbies, but with each new hobby comes new supplies.  Crocheting has always been a love of mine, but because projects take so long I rarely start a project.  Avery has been watching a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV lately.  She loves the short skits of "Minnie's Bowtique"  This Minnie Mouse inspired crocheted headband was a simple project and only took me an hour to complete.  I didn't use a pattern I just started crocheting in rounds using a stitch my aunt taught me.   I have written up the pattern below, but bear with me this is the first time I'm writing a crochet pattern.

hook: H-8 US

Approximate head size chart for babies to adult:

0-3 mo   13-15 inches

3-6 mo   15-17 inches
6-12 mo 17-19 inches
1-3 yrs   18-20 inches
4+ yrs    19-22 inches
Adult      21-23 inches


ch = chain
ch-1 sp = chain-1 space, the space formed when you crocheted a chain stitch in the previous row
sc = single crochet
st = stitch

hdc = half double crochet


Chain to length specified above.  (For mine I did chain 75 for a 3 month headband)
Join with sl st, ch 2 (be sure your chain is not twisted) 
Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook. [ch 1, skip next ch, sc in next ch.] Repeat across entire row. Join with a sl st.
Row 2: ch1, [sc in the next ch-1 sp, ch 1.] Repeat the sequence in across the rest of the row. Join with sl st.

Repeat Row 2 until desired width.

Chain 18
Row 1: Hdc in third chain from hook, and in each chain across. Turn.
Rows 2-6 Chain 2, half double crochet in closest stitch and in each all the way across, turn.

Take finished rectangle and pinch in the middle. Spin yarn around center to form bow.  Double knot, leave extra yarn to attach bow onto headband. Attach bow or flower using embroidery needle.

For flower I used a variation of the pattern below:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Different Ways to Use Salt Dough

I was having fun with salt dough lately. In my past posts I used it to make gift tags during Christmas time. I thought it would be fun to make other types of gift tags with them. Since it is a dough/clay feel I wanted to see if I could wrap it around a glass votive to create a personalized candle. I also wrapped it around a mason jar and imprinted a quote on it.

Fun salt dough ideas.

To make the votive I cut the dough straight with a pastry scraper.  

 I used my favorite letter stamps.  You can buy something similar them on amazon.

For the salt dough around the mason jar I left rough edges.  Let the dough dry on top of whatever surface you want it to take the shape of.

Here is the recipe for salt dough:
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup warm water
 Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl and kneed until the consistency of play doh.
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