Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tree Stump Wedding Cake


I have just started making wedding cakes for friends when they ask me.  I offered to make on for a couple at our church and she wanted a rustic tree stump wedding cake, but did not want it done in fondant.  I actually found it a lot easier to do in buttercream.

This cake is done with a 14 inch, 10 inch, and 6 inch cake.  All three tiers were a double layer of cake put together with buttercream frosting in between.

The 14 inch cake was put on a 16 inch thick cake board.  I hot glued dark brown ribbon around the edge.  The second two tiers had a thin cake board the size of the cake. To start with I made butter cream colored with ivory food coloring.  I used this to fill in the cracks in between the cake layers and frosted the tops with it.  To paint the tree rings on top I used a 1 inch wide clean paint brush dipped in ivory gel food coloring.  I just dipped it once for each ring which gave it the blended effect.


For the bark on the sides of the cake I colored the buttercream with black and chocolate brown gel food coloring.  It gave it a nice earthy gray color that was perfect for the bark of the tree stumps. To apply the frosting I just used a small frosting spatula and applied it from the bottom going up in rows.  What is nice about doing a tree stump is you want lots of texture.  Just let the frosting do it's thing!!


After I applied the tree bark I let the frosting set up for a while before I attempted to "paint" it!!  Once the buttercream had crusted it was time for the fun part.  First I used a wooden skewer to carve a heart in the middle tier with the couples initials in it.  Then the painting commenced!! I used a small paint brush to paint around the heart and the initials and used black gel food coloring to paint it.  Then I used a 1/2 inch wide flat paint brush dipped in black to go around each cake.  I tried to hit the high areas with the black and made sure I got some of the bark on the top of the cake as well.  After the black was done I went around each cake again this time using the ivory gel food coloring shading in areas with that.  For the bottom tier I put fresh frosting around the edge and topped it with crumbled chocolate cake to resemble dirt.  



The morning of the wedding I assembled the cake and added the finishing touches.  I used some gorgeous artificial flowers and artificial succulents and it was topped with the cake topper the couple had chosen. The cake was revealed to the couple before the wedding separately while I was there.  They took pictures of their reactions seeing their cake for the first time.  The look on their faces was so rewarding for me to see!!!  I was thrilled to make this cake for a special couple in our church!



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Probiotic Strawberry Lemonade

      My son did a 4-H project in the summer where he made all kinds of dairy products. He made cheese, yogurt, and butter! A waste product from making your own dairy foods is whey. The first couple things he made we dumped it down the sink. Before you start yelling at me, I did learn from my mistakes! Ever since then I have found some amazing uses for whey and now consider it my "Green Gold"

     One of our favorite uses of whey is making probiotic lemonade. I canned some strawberry lemonade concentrate this past summer. Here is the link to the recipe I used. All I add is whey and some sugar. The bacteria need to feed on sugar. I still want it sweet so you need to add extra. The extra sugar is ate up by the healthy bacteria!





Here is my sugar, whey (left over from Greek Yogurt I made earlier), and my strawberry lemonade concentrate.

You need a gallon glass container and filtered water too!  I put mine in a gallon drink dispenser. That way when it is finished I just put it right into the fridge and dispense it from there.



Put the concentrate in your container. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of whey. Add enough filtered warm water to dissolve sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then add enough filtered water to fill the container. Leave about a 1 inch head space. Cover and let sit for 2 to 3 days. After 2 days check it. It should be super fizzy and Carbon dioxide bubbles should be seen rising up and down in the container. If it is not real fizzy let it go one more day. You don't want it to go too long because it will start to turn to alcohol. Which is fine if you want that, but not good for kids! When it is ready put it in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation process. It will continue to ferment over time so it is best used with in a week. Ours never lasts that long!



The great thing about this lemonade is it is full of probiotics and is great for your gut! I served this recently at my sons birthday party and my dad loved it!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Purple Minion Cup Cozy

Cup Cozies are all the rage right now. I started making some and selling them at craft shows.  I can barely keep up with my stock.  I started with a basic design and just changing things up to make different designs.  When they started selling like hot cakes I decided I better write down a pattern so I could remember how to  make more!

You are welcome to sell items made from this pattern, but please don't sell my pattern or copy it and claim it as your own.  This is my first time writing a pattern so if you see mistakes let me know.  I know how I make it but sometimes it is hard to convey to others what you are doing!  Enjoy!


These fit a 16 oz coffee cup, on a 12 oz pop can, or on a 16 oz bottle of water!


Materials
    Crochet Cotton
        Purple
        White
        Black
    Yarn
       Silver
  Buttons
     1 or 2  black 7/16th buttons or size of choice
    Crochet Hooks
       5mm U.S. H
       3.75mm U.S. F

With Purple and larger hook, ch 24. Join in ring with sl st into first ch, taking care not to twist ch.
1st rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each ch around. Join with sl st to first sc. 24 sc.
2nd and 3rd rnds: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to fi rst sc.
4th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in fi rst sc. 1 sc in each of next 11 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 26 sc.
5th and 6th rnds: As 2nd and 3rd rnds.
7th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in fi rst sc. 1 sc in each of next 12 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 28 sc.
8th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc.
9th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Change to Black and Join with sl st to first sc. Break off Purple.
10th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in fi rst sc. 1 sc in each of next 13 sc. Rep from * once. Change to purple and join with sl st to first sc. Break off black.  30 sc.
11th and 12th rnds: As 2nd and 3rd rnds, Join with sl st to first sc.
13th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in first sc. 1 sc in each of next 14 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 32 sc.
14th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc. Finish off. Sew in ends.

Eyes: Make 1 or 2 depending on what type of minion you want.
With smaller hook and white do 6 sc in a magic circle.
2nd rnd: Ch 1. 2 sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.  Break off. 12 sc
3rd rnd: With sivler  join any on circle with sl st. Ch 1. *2 sc in 1st st, 1 sc. Rep from * 5 times. Join with sl st to first sc. 18 sc. Finish off leaving long tail for sewing.

Finishing:
Sew on eyes over top of black band.
Sew a button on each eye.
Using black stitch a mouth onto cozy.
Using white stitch teeth above mouth. I used just short back stitches close together for the teeth.
Using purple tie fringe to top. I centered 6 fringes using a double strand of yarn.  Fray the yarn.

Snowman Cup Cozy

Cup Cozies are all the rage right now. I started making some and selling them at craft shows.  I can barely keep up with my stock.  I started with a basic design and just changing things up to make different designs.  When they started selling like hot cakes I decided I better write down a pattern so I could remember how make more.  

You are welcome to sell items made from this pattern, but please don't sell my pattern or copy it and claim it as your own.  This is my first time writing a pattern so if you see mistakes let me know.  I know how I make it but sometimes it is hard to convey to others what you are doing!  Enjoy!




These fit a 16 oz coffee cup, on a 12 oz pop can, or on a 16 oz bottle of water!

Materials
Crochet Cotton
     White
     Orange
     Black
     Color of Choice
Crochet Hooks
     5mm U.S. H
     4mm U.S. G
Buttons
   2 black 5/8" buttons or size of choice

Using Color of choice (scarf)  and H hook ch 24. Join in ring with sl st into first ch, taking care not to twist ch.
1st rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each ch around. Join with sl st to first sc. 24 sc.
2nd and 3rd rnds: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Change to white and join with sl st to first sc.
4th rnd: Ch 1. 2 sc in first stitch. Sc in next 4 stitches. Ch 3. Skip next 3 stitches. Sc in next 4 stitches. 2 sc in next stitch. Sc in next 11 stitches. Join with sl st to first sc.  26 sc.
5th round: Ch 1. Single ch in every stitch and ch. Join with sl st to first sc.  26 sc.
 6th rnd: Ch 1. sc in every stitch. Join with sl st to first sc.
7th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in first sc. 1 sc in each of next 12 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 28 sc.
8th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc.
9th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc.
10th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in first sc. 1 sc in each of next 13 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 30 sc.
11th and 12th rnds: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc.
13th rnd: Ch 1. *2 sc in first sc. 1 sc in each of next 14 sc. Rep from * once. Join with sl st to first sc. 32 sc.
14th rnd: Ch 1 sc in each sc around. Join with sl st to first sc. Finish Off

Scarf:
With same color as scarf  and size H hook ch 30.
Sc in 2nd ch from hook. Sc across. 29 sc
Row 2: Turn, ch 1. sc in each sc across.
Row 3: Turn ch 1. sc in each sc across. Finish off.
Sew in ends. Use 2 strands of yarn and put in 3 tassels on ends.  I tied them in a knot and cut off.
Insert Scarf in the space left at bottom. Tie the scarf.

Nose:
With orange and size G hook ch  7
Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc, hdc, dc, dc, trc. Finish off leaving a long tail for sewing.
Sew in end. With long tail sew nose onto face.

Finishing:
Sew 2 black buttons onto face for eyes.
Using black yarn sew on a smile!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sun Dried Tomatoes in a Dehydrator



I love dehydrating things. This year I saved up my money and invested in a 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator! It has been fun drying new things with it. We plant a huge garden at my parents house each year. Among the things we planted were over 200 tomato plants. We plant about 50 different varieties!

So what do you do with the abundance of all the grape, cherry, and pear variety of tomatoes? You can only eat so many salads, right?



Don't ask me all the names of these. I don't know! My mom does though, they own a small family green house and sell the plants. I just help plant and water!

I slice the washed small tomatoes in half and put them cut side up on my dehydrator trays. Lightly spray with a vegetable oil spray of your choice. I used Canola spray because that is what I had. These would be great with Olive Oil spray. Then lightly sprinkle with herbs of your choice. I used Italian Seasoning.



Then put them into your dehydrator set on vegetable setting. My dehydrator has vegetables set at 125 degrees Fahrenheit. You could go as high as 135. But you don't want to go any higher than that. Dry until firm, but not brittle. If they feel squishy they still have too much water in them. This will take 10  - 30 hours depending on the thickness of your tomatoes. I pulled them off the trays as they got dry. 

I started with 2 1/2 trays of tomatoes and got a little less than 2 cups. 



They are so delicious. Yes I did try one. They can be used in baked goods or thrown into soups and allowed to rehydrate. They smell so good and keep that beautiful red and yellow color!

Store the sun dried tomatoes in an air tight container. You can also put them in a cute jar and give them away as gifts! I make these chalk paint jars out of recycled jars! I will have to post a tutorial the next time I make a batch of them!






Saturday, July 11, 2015

Paper Mâché Elephant Head

Our theme this year for VBS is Camo Kilimanjaro. I decided to make a life size Afican Elephant head for the kids to pose in front of to take their pictures. It was quite an under taking but I was quite pleased with the results.


I first cut out the basic shape of the head and ears in cardboard. I used wire coat hangers wraped around each ear to it onto some plywood that was on this stage already at our church. Then using newspaper wand old wrapping paper I began to shape the ears and face. Taping it to the plywood. I used diluted Elmers glue 50/50 concentration to dip the newspaper in to paper mâché.


I cut a pool noodle in half lengthwise and then wrapped it each duct tape to get the shape of the tusks. I was going to use cardboard tubes but the ones I had were too heavy. The pool noodle worked great! I then used some gutter screen to get basic shape of the trunk.


After I got one coat of paper mâché on the elephant head I did some further shaping on the trunk and face then I did a second coat of paper mâché on the entire thing!



Now it was time to paint! I used some tempera paint because it was cheap and what I had on hand. I mixed white, black, and brown to get an earthy tone gray. I painted the head two coats with this. Once dry I dry brushed on some brown and darker grey to get shading. I used some off white wall paint for the tusks. Again it was something I had left over and it covered the tusks in one coat.


We added some decor to further the theme. We later covered the black plywood with some dark green fabric to bring it all together!



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Making Yogurt



My son is taking a dairy food science project for 4-H this year.  So we have been learning how to turn milk into all kinds of great food.  One of my favorites so far has been learning to make yogurt.  I had no idea how easy it was and how much cheaper it is to make your own fat free Greek yogurt.  The only thing was my kids did not like it.  They are used to flavored and blended yogurt. So the first time we made Greek yogurt we put it in containers and put it in the freezer.  I found on Pinterest that you can make frozen yogurt pops by taking Greek yogurt and putting in the Kool-Aid Liquid Drink Mix. My kids loved it.  Both fresh and when we froze them.  We have tried orange and also used Crush Drink Mix that was strawberry flavored.  Both taste great!!

To make Greek Yogurt I found a recipe for Skyr. Which is an Icelandic version of Greek Yogurt.  You can find the link to the recipe here.



To start with you need a gallon of skim milk and pour it into a pan. 

 
You will need a thermometer. Slowly heat the milk to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stirring frequently to prevent the milk from burning.  A film will form on the bottom of pan.  Just be careful not to stir hard and stir the milk solids into the milk.  Once it hits 195 degrees take it off the heat and let cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  I put the entire pan in the sink with ice water to speed up this process.
 


When the milk reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit it is now time to inoculate the milk with your culture. You need to use some plain yogurt that has live active cultures.  Once you make this once you can keep a little back from each batch to save to make the next batch.  Take some of the warm milk out of the pan and add 4 tablespoons of your yogurt. Blend until smooth and then add to the milk.  You also add rennet to this recipe.  Do not use the Junket rennet that you find in the grocery stores.  This does not work for cheese making or this recipe.  Use a good quality cheese making rennet.  I ordered mine from New England Cheese Making Supply. Crush half a tablet and dissolve into 1/4 cup of non chlorinated water.  Add this to the milk mixture and stir thoroughly.
 


 
Put on the lid!
 


Then wrap the entire pot in 2 to 3 towels.  We did 3 towels.  We put the pan on the towel and wrapped it up in it.  Then repeated that process with 2 more towels.  Then you set it on your counter and leave it for 12 to 16 hours.  Both times we have made this we do it in the evening and let it sit overnight.  I have checked it after 11 hours and it was done. 
 


When you open up the lid the next day it is like magic!! It is so neat to see how the bacteria did its work and formed yogurt.  The rennet makes it extra thick almost like cheese curds! You can see how the whey has separated from the yogurt!
 
 
Next you need to cut the yogurt into squares.  It makes it easier to scoop out of the pan this way.  Don't cut to the bottom of the pan and scrape up any film that may have formed on the bottom of the pan.

 
Now scoop your yogurt into a strainer.  I use a clean muslin dish towel to strain off the whey.  Put this into a strainer in a bowl.


 
Now let your whey drain off.  I tie mine up to my cupboard to let drain.  This can take 2 to 4 hours. 
 

 
This is what it looks like when the whey has been drained off.  I just use a spatula to scrape it out of the towel.

 
Use a whisk or mixer and blend until smooth!! You now have very nice and thick Greek Yogurt!!