Monday, July 2, 2012

Simple America Wreath

I've been a huge slacker lately when it comes to crafting! I've been busy on my weight loss journey and it's about a full-time job next to parenting! But in the spirit of Independence Day coming up, I knew I needed to get on the ball and get some stuff done for my home!

I saw a simple Valentine's Wreath back in February and I fell in love with it! So when I was thinking about what I wanted to make for my home, I had an instant idea! If you're strapped for time and want to create something quick, you can make one of these:

You will need:
  • Scissors
  • A sharpie
  • 2 Large cereal boxes
  • Cardboard
  • Red, White, and Blue paint
  • Hot glue gun with glue
  • Twine
First, I started by drawing stars on the printed side of one cereal box. I drew 3 extra large, 6 large, and 15 medium to small stars. I cut them all out and divided them into three separate piles. One extra large star in each, 2 larges, and divide out the rest accordingly. Cut a large circle out of regular cardboard for the wreath. I used a chip bowl to draw around for my circle. Cut out the inside part to make a wreath.

Paint each stack of stars a different color. One stack red, another white, and the last one blue! Let them dry completely. While they are drying, using one of the sides of a cereal box, cut out a banner. You can paint on anything you'd like, but I wanted mine to say, "AMERICA". Let it dry completely.

I arranged the stars on the cardboard wreath the way I wanted them, and plugged my glue gun in. I hot glued the stars in place with the banner.

Once it was cool, I hot glued one end of my twine onto the cardboard back. I used quite a bit like this:

I glued the other side of the twine down the same way to allow it to hang. With the leftover twine, I wrapped it around and through the stars to give the wreath a fun, country look! I think it turned out great!

I loved how simple and quick it was to make this wreath! It is not water-proof, so I will bring it in when (and if) it ever rains. I thought about going over everything with mod podge, but I probably won't! This will only be up for a few weeks anyway!

I hope you all have a fun and safe Independence Day! Drink lots of water and wear sunscreen!

Happy Creating/Painting/Gluing/Hanging/Crafting!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curious George Cake Pop Tutorial

A friend that I went to high school with asked me if I would make her daughter some Curious George cake pops for her third birthday party. I was a little intimidated by the offer, but I am always up for a challenge! I accepted and did some research on George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.

I decided to make the Man's face and hat as well as George's head. I had a trial run that had me test out 8 different ways to mold, shape, coat, and decorate before I found a method that was easy! I want to share how to make these guys so that you can create some of your own if your child has a Curious George Party!

You will need:

  • Cake Mix prepared and baked, then cooled
  • 1 can of frosting
  • Light Brown Candy Melts
  • Yellow Candy Melts
  • Pink Candy Melts
  • White Candy Melts
  • Vegetable Shortening (I use Crisco)
  • Cake Pop Sticks
  • Styrofoam Board
  • 1 Tube of black frosting (you can make your own)
  • Small Sandwich Bag

Bake your cake according to package directions. Cool completely. Crumble into a large bowl by cutting the cake into four pieces and rubbing two together at once.

This doesn't always ensure that all the pieces are broken apart. I use a pie dough cutter to find and break apart any large pieces. You can also use a fork or any other utensil to break up the cake.

When the cake is completely crumbled, add half a can of frosting and mix with a large spoon. You will want the cake to be the consistency of meatloaf. If it is too dry, add a large spoonful of frosting until you reach the desired consistency.

You are now ready to start shaping George and the Man.

I made a ball of cake that was about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of cake. I didn't measure, I just eyed the cake ball. Shape it into a ball.

Flatten the front a little where George's face will be. Pinch a little bit of cake on the sides of the cake ball to make George's ears, add one small ball on the top to make his hair. Smooth the cake so that it looks as if it was all one piece.It should look like this:

Place on a cookie sheet. Next, grab another amount of cake and roll it into an oval shape. Smooth it so that it looks like this:

Next, roll out a small ball of cake into a snake shape to fit around the middle of the cake ball. Shape it into a triangle shape by pinching the sides of the rolled cake. Break it into three pieces, like this:

Grab the large ball and one of the three pieces. Smooth each side into the cake ball, keeping the shape of the hat rim.

Add the other piece and smooth it into the next one. Add the last piece. If you are short cake for the hat rim, simply shape some more cake and fill in the hat until it goes the entire way around the center section. It should look like this:

To make the Man's nose, grab a small piece of cake and shape it into a long triangle. Press the top point of the triangle into the front of the face and smooth it. It should look like this:

Place the Man on your cookie sheet. Make another George head, then another Man head. Go back and fourth between the two until  you are out of cake.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. I do not recommend putting these in the freezer to speed things up. Set aside enough time to make these.

When you are ready to dip your cake pops, melt a bag of light brown chocolate candy melts to cover George's head. I always add a teaspoon of shortening to the candy melts to allow the chocolate to coat the cake ball easily and to allow the excess candy melts to tap off. I add enough to the candy melt so that when I pick up the spoon from the chocolate, there is a steady flow of chocolate. But be careful, if you add too much shortening, the candy melt won't harden.

Take a few George heads out of the fridge at a time. I usually take out 3 to 4. Dip a cake pop stick into the chocolate, then insert it into the bottom of George's head. Dip the cake pop into the chocolate to cover the entire cake pop. Tap off the excess chocolate, but not too hard. You don't want the cake pop to fall off the stick. Stick the cake pop into your Styrofoam block and let dry completely. They should look like this:

With the leftover chocolate in my chocolate melter, I added the same amount of yellow, pink, and white candy melts. I didn't have much chocolate left, so I added 6 pieces of each into the melter with my chocolate. I did not need to add any extra shortening, but if your candy melts are too thick, add a little bit of shortening until you reach the desired flow. You want a color that is tan, not too dark, not too light.

I used a regular spoon to make George's face. I dipped the back side of my spoon into the chocolate and gently made George's face. I say gently because the hot chocolate will melt the chocolate that's hardened on your cake pop. You can always go back and redo this step if you pull too much of the dark color up. I also made two dabs on each ear. This is what they looked like:

When you have made each face, empty out your chocolate melter. Fill it back up with yellow candy melts.

When they are melted completely, add shortening like you did in the above steps. Pull out a two Man's at a time from the fridge. Dip a cake pop stick into the candy and stick it into the bottom of the Man's head. You will want the stick to go about 2/3 the way through the head, but not the entire way. When head is secure, dip the top half of the head, the Hat part, into the yellow. I put one side in and rolled it around the rim to cover the entire hat. Tap off any excess candy melts CAREFULLY. If you tap too hard, the stick may come through the head or fall off completely. Stick the cake pop into the Styrofoam board. It should look like this:

*EXTRA STEP IF YOU USED CHOCOLATE CAKE* Re-dip the hat portion so that the strong brown color doesn't come through the yellow. If you used white cake, don't worry about re-dipping the hat.

After each hat has been dipped, clean out your chocolate warmer again. Put in equal amounts of white, yellow, and pink candy melts to make a flesh color.


Add shortening like you have to the other colors. When ready, use a spoon to pour the color onto the Man's face. Be careful to not get any on the hat. Tap the cake pop to allow the candy melt to cover the face. Quickly turn over the cake pop and spoon more candy melt on to the back of the head, then turn over again and tap off the excess candy melt. Place in Styrofoam block to dry completely. It should look like this:

For the last part of candy melting, clean out your chocolate melter. Place 5 to 6 white candy melts into the warmer. When they are melted, there is no need to add any shortening. Use one end of a chopstick or clean paint brush. Dip into the white candy melt and place onto each cake pop to make eyes. Let dry completely. They should look like this:

Now you are ready to decorate! Fill a corner of a small sandwich baggie with black frosting. You won't need very much. Cut a very tiny hole in the corner. Pipe black frosting to make George and the Man look like this:

Let the cake pops dry completely. The frosting takes a little bit to dry, but once it does, you will be able to handle them.

Happy Baking/Molding/Decorating!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Been a While...

This month as been crazy for me. I've been watching a friend's kids three times a week while she recoups from shoulder surgery. With my three and her two, I haven't been able to get anything done. I clean the house at least 3 times a day! Once before the kiddos come over, once while they nap, and right after bed time for my girls. I've been super exhausted, but when I have a free moment, I've been working on my middle daughter's birthday decorations! I will be posting all about her party, cake, and decorations after her party!

I've also been asked to make Curious George cake pops for a birthday party. I decided to have a trial run and I am glad that I did! After the 7th attempt, I finally found a method that works! I will be posting a tutorial on how to make these guys in a few days!

Until then, I hope all your crafting adventures are keeping you busy and happy!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mini Pancakes

One breakfast that my children go gaga for is pancakes. I LOVE making pancakes in fun shapes and colors. There is never a regular shaped pancake in my kitchen... until recently. With the amount of pancake mix my family goes through, we buy a big bag from the Industrial Size aisle at our Walmart. The pancakes are delicious and super easy to make. I usually make my kids fun shapes, then I am forced with the task of slicing them up into bite size pieces. A few weeks ago, I had had enough of it. I decided to do something I should have thought of 1,000,000 pancakes ago! Make them mini-sized!

They are super simple to make, super fast, and super convenient! They are already bite sized, so I don't have to cut them up! The girls giggled the entire time they ate each small pancake! The recipe and how-to is as simple as can be! You will need:
  • Complete Pancake Mix
  • Water
  • Griddle
  • Spatula
  • Maple Syrup
Mix the pancake mix and water in a bowl according to package directions. Pour into a squeeze bottle (I used a funnel to pour the mix into an old cleaned out ketchup bottle). Heat griddle on medium heat setting, but make sure it doesn't get too hot when cooking. When griddle is hot, turn down heat and squirt a small amount of batter onto the griddle in a small circle.

By the time I squirted the last pancake, the first was ready to be flipped over. Flip the pancakes over one-by-one until they are all turned over.

Remove from heat onto a plate when cooked the complete way through.

Stack and serve with warm maple syrup! Enjoy!

Happy Cooking,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Blog Design by {Happy Potamus Designs}

Noticed anything new around here?!

Yep! My blog has had a makeover! When I entered the craft blogging world, I stumbled upon a blog called Artsy-Fartsy Mama. I instantly fell in love with her recipes, projects, and more! When she got 1,000 followers on her blog in early January, she hosted a weeks worth of giveaways. The very first giveaway was from the Artsy-Fartsy Mama herself, Lindsay! She runs Happy Potamus Designs and the giveaway consisted of everything from a header, menu/sidebar titles, buttons, signature, to installation! I entered on a whim and a week later, I found out that I was the lucky winner!

Lindsay contacted me and took down all my info! With a month, she told me she'd have my design up for a preview! I was so, so excited! When I opened the site link, I jumped around my house for a good five minutes! I love, love, love, love, love, LOVE the design!

Every single thing is exactly how I imagined it, except BETTER! The paisley background, my three favorite colors (pink, green, and orange), my character, the little Tare Panda, the buttons, the fonts... everything is just as I asked!

If you are in need of a blog design, you need to go to Happy Potamus Designs! It will be worth the money! The next time I need my blog updated, she'll be the one to do it!

Lindsay, Thank you so much! Once again, I'm going to tell you just how amazing and talented you are! I know you're a wife, mother, friend, and more, and that you have a lot of demands on your time, but I want to thank you for the time you spent on my design! I appreciate it very much! You're simply the best!

Take a look around and if you have any comments for Lindsay, you can leave them here or contact her!

Happy Designing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

This year was the first year I've ever made homemade color for my Easter eggs! We've always bought the kits from the store. With our budget being tight, I decided to try the homemade version and see how it worked.

I bought Tone's Neon Food Color Kit last year for Halloween for cupcakes. I never looked at the box before, but it had some colored eggs on the front!

I thought to myself, "Maybe I don't have to buy an egg coloring kit after all!" I turned the box over and found this!

 My husband and I can fruits, veggies, and more, so we had a gallon of vinegar on hand. This was going to be easier than I thought! I got out my other normal colored food colors, too, and made 7 colors! Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple! I counted the drops it took to fill up a 1/4 tsp. It is about 25 drops of food coloring. This made it a lot easier to just drop the color into the water instead of washing the measuring spoon after each color!

My oldest daughter and I started coloring some eggs! I decided to try the egg-in-whisk method I saw on Pinterest.

My daughter LOVED it! I didn't like it so much... it got my fingers all colored from removing the egg each time. But I didn't mind too much because Caity had fun! Here are our beauties!

 The colors were all super vivid! Which is how I like my eggs to be colored! I like them bright enough to be seen when they are hidden in the house or outside in the yard! Sadly, we didn't hide/find these eggs. I found a recipe for colored deviled eggs on Pinterest and had to give them a shot!

I got to cracking the eggs and I thought the trash bag full of the shells was gorgeous! I just had to snap a few photos!

I sliced the eggs in half and put the yolks into a bowl and the egg whites into another. I put 5 drops of the neon food coloring into a mug that was 2/3 full of cold water. I put 1 tsp. vinegar in with the water. I put three egg halves into each mug. It took a while to get the color I was looking for with the pink, green, and purple. The blue eggs took the least amount of time to reach a vivid color. After the first batch of eggs, I ended up putting a few drops of regular food coloring into the cups with the neon colors. I added 3 drops of red into the pink cup, 1 drop of yellow into the green cup, and 4 drops of blue with 2 drops of red into the purple cup. After the next batch, I had the colors I liked!

While the eggs were drying, I whipped up the egg yolks for the center. I used my sister-in-law's recipe for Deviled Eggs. I wish I could give you actual amounts for each ingredient, but I can't. You have to go by consistency and taste. Someday I will go by measuring cups, but I rarely do! Here's what I used:

-Egg yolks
-Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
-Green stuffed olives (pimento inside)
-Salt and Pepper to taste

I pushed all of the egg yolks through a mesh strainer. It is a little time consuming, but it ensures that there will be no chunks of egg yolk. I prefer this method! I put a big blob of mayonnaise on top of the yolks, squirted some mustard into the bowl and mixed it into the yolks. I put 15 olives into a mini-food processor with some of the liquid from the jar. I processed the olives with juice until it was all finely chopped. I added them to the yolk mixture. I added the same amount of mayo and mustard until I reached the consistency I wanted. I added a little bit of salt and pepper to the mixture afterwards. I spooned the mixture onto the egg halves and put them in the fridge to chill before I served them!

The eggs were a hit at our family dinner! The kids just loved them and it got them to WANT to eat them!

I was in charge of dessert and I found a cute idea on Pinterest that I just had to try!

I made Funfetti cupcakes that I dyed green and used Pink Lemonade frosting that I also dyed green to make the grass. I had some trouble with the grass, but I just winged it for the most part! I thought mine looked more like the kind of fake grass you buy for Easter baskets! I topped each with 3 mini-cadbury eggs!

Everyone enjoyed them! I think I will make my own frosting next time. The pre-made stuff was a little too runny for me. I had to work with what I had! But I think they turned out well, all things considered!

My family had a great time! I hope you all enjoyed your Easter!

Happy Baking/Creating/Cooking/Easter!