Friday, January 29, 2010

Handmade Napkins



I decided to sew some napkins. I'd like to go paperless in my kitchen, but I've become too dependent on my paper towels and Clorox wipes for cleaning up. So, I'm hoping this will balance some of it out. Plus, it is a nice way to add some cheery fabric to your table. I cut 12 14 x 14" pieces of fabric for my napkins. Some dinner napkins are larger, but I feel like I'm covered in a sheet. I folded each edge over 1 inch and pressed it with a hot iron. To save time, I used heavy card stock and marked a line one inch from the edge to measure the fabric. I then folded in the raw edge and hemmed around the edge at about a 1/2 seam. I'm planning on make some more. Cotton fabric does shrink after washing, so consider this when deciding on the size.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Orange Yogurt Cake



This is a wonderful no-fuss from-scratch cake. It also is small, so you won't have a two-tiered frosting covered monstrosity staring at you for days saying, "eat me." My boys love this as a special treat. It's nice and light. I even served this at dinner party. I've modified mine from a Martha Stewart recipe...

Prep: 10 min Total: 35 min
Makes 1 8-inch cake

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 Tbls orange juice
1 tsp orange liqueur
1 8 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray pan. Combine all ingredients, except oranges and powdered sugar. Pour into pan. Bake about 25 minutes. Let cool.

2. Dust top with powdered sugar. Garnish with orange segments.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Tail of Two Piggies...



Yes, I know that is a horrible pun. Since the economy is in a downturn, I thought a craft about saving money was appropriate. I guess everyone is feeling a little pinched one way or another, and I don't exactly live in an inexpensive area. It's unseasonably cold and poor Monkey has a cough, so I decided to break out the craft supplies. I thought the new year would be a good time to introduce my boys to the concept of saving money and hopefully encourage me to set a good example. So, we made piggy banks. We started by using recycled items (a great way to save money). See, I'm doing it already! Here's what you'll need...

Materials:

Plastic container with lid (peanut butter or mayo jars work well)
Paint
Acrylic varnish/medium
Brushes
Foam sheets, construction paper or felt
Wine corks
Box cutter or exacto-knife
Glue: tacky glue or use hot glue gun
Chenille rods/pipe cleaners
Google eyes or black dots made from a hole punch

Begin by painting the outside of the container. The boys chose pink. Paint the lid, if you wish. Paint cork. Luckily, I had a lot of corks on hand, which makes me either a hoarder or a lush. Answer? Yes and yes. Let things dry completely before painting on a second coat, otherwise it will take off paint as you brush. Also, I use plastic applesauce containers for paint. They are a great size for the boys. Tater and Monkey both did a very good job with painting. Tater was a bit more thorough, but Monkey made an effort.


I made a makeshift apron for Tater by cutting off the bottom of a Target bag. It worked fairly well, actually, but Monkey refused to wear one.

Then, cut out oval shapes out of foam, felt or paper for nostrils. We picked a pink. I made ear shapes by drawing gothic arches. See below for you philistines who'd have to google "gothic arch." You'll have to adjust the length to suit the size of ears you what.

I cut those out and made two snips in the bottom about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long making three tabs of equal widths. You'll use these tabs to attach the ears to the body. You can adjust tabs to get the desired ear shape.

Next, cut an opening for the change. An adult should do this, duh. Glue nostrils onto the snout. Glue on the ears. I started by gluing down the middle tab and letting it dry. Adjust the tabs for the ear shape you want; then glue down. Glue on four corks for legs. Hot glue works faster than tacky glue, but obviously, have an adult use the gun. Use some type of sealer. I used an acrylic medium/varnish to protect the little piggies. Poke a hole in the bottom of the container with a screw driver. Curl the chenille rod around the handle, making a spiral. Insert chenille rod into hole, and secure with glue. Glue on eyes. We used google eyes, of course. There you go. Start saving.