Saturday, December 31, 2011

Disc Dog 2011

Every year the Disc Dog international championship is held in our town (no idea why!) and we love to go watch the dogs flipping through the air after Frisbees. These pictures are actually from about mid October, but holiday pics kept taking priority!

It runs for two days but we are never able to stay long ~ the first year it was freezing rain, the 2nd year it was a newborn out in the unbearably hot sun, and this year the weather was mild but the toddler was restless.

Disc Dog, 1

Disc Dog, 2

Disc Dog, 3

Disc Dog, 4

Orson did find the jumping dogs hilarious, but could not take the (short) down time between competitors. Justin went on a few walks with him to let him run around & happened to miss all of the really good leaping dogs. We had to leave sooner that we wanted to, but at least I got to see the below duo from the Japanese team.

Disc Dog, 5

Disc Dog, 6

Disc Dog, 7

Disc Dog, 8

Disc Dog, 9

Disc Dog, 10

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sweets

Making marshmallows has been on my To-do list for a *long* time. I've seen so many girls rave about them, saying how they are so far superior to the store bought type. I couldn't wait to try them!

I finally gave myself a deadline & said they had to be made before Christmas as a trial run in case I wanted to make them again for a holiday snack. And so a couple of weeks ago I whipped up a batch from this recipe ~ half regular & half chocolate peppermint!

Homemade Marshmallows

The verdict? The recipe was a little more difficult than I had expected (mainly I think I had the heat too low so it took twice as long to reach the right temperature), and the regular ones really didn't taste much different than a store bought marshmallow. The chocolate peppermint ones were very fun & tasty though, so I could see it being worth the effort for flavored marshmallows but not so much for the plain ones.

I did see some other versions that used egg white and I would be curious to try those as well, just in case I am still missing the super-awesome marshmallows I heard tale of.


While I was in an experimental mood I also had to try these Chocolate Covered Cheetos!

Chocolate Covered Cheetos

The actually tasted a lot like chocolate covered pretzels, barely any cheese flavor & not weird at all. We have more chocolate & are going to making these again for Justin's family for Christmas Eve snacks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seeing Spots

After sassi214 posted about her new nail dotters I wanted a set myself! While they are meant for decorating fingernails they are really just tools with a metal ball on each end that you can use for lots of different crafts. I already had one for clay and was excited to get a set with different sizes.

The first thing I wanted to use them for was polka dot nails. They were easy & so adorable! (This is after about a week and many minor touchups along the way)

Polka dot nails, 1

Polka dot nails, 2

You an find dotters on eBay for super cheap. The set I got look just like this, although I wish I had a set that gets even larger like these. After the dots I tried to do fish scales but the largest ball was much too small.

Or, instead of buying dotters, you can use anything with a round end for similar results. I saw lots of girls online using a sewing pin stuck into a pencil eraser! Bobby pins or the end of a paintbrush were also suggested. I'll have to hunt around here for something a little larger.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Putting all of the photos on My Recipe Book quickly showed me which recipes badly needed an updated picture. Here is the new shot for the Chicken Pot Pie ~

Flaky Chicken Pot Pie

The old pic looked like a mugshot!

Currently I am shopping around for some large ramekins so I can make single servings of our favorite casseroles. Who wouldn't want to be served their own tiny casserole dish? I'm eying a gorgeous set on Amazon but waiting for more to be in stock.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Owl Cookies

I made up the dough logs for these cut-and-bake owl shaped cookies for our Halloween party, but decided to stick them in the freezer for later when we ended up having more deserts than we needed. A week or two later we sliced them up to create these ~

Owl Cookies

Pretty cute, huh? Well, let's just say these three were the only ones to survive out of a huge batch ~ the candy corn noses melted on the rest & turned into a puddly mess! The first recipe I saw did actually use candy corn noses but linked back to the original recipe which used cashews instead, which is the recipe I followed. I did not bookmark the first one ~ perhaps she used a different baking temperature or time?

But the noses were not the only flub. While the lighter part of the cookie was not bad, the darker brown centers were dry and crumbly & just tasted terrible. The coloring was added by stirring in melted chocolate, which you would think would be tasty, but it did not turn out well.

While I did like the way the owl cookies were quickly shaped, I would definitely recommend ditching the actual recipe. Use a firm cookie dough you know & love and find another way to change the color!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

JapaneseTemari (Inspired) Balls



How About Orange is always a great source for crafting tutorials and free printables (I love her blog!). She recently found an online Japanese magazine teaching how to make little embroidered felt balls, inspired by the traditional Temari balls, but all of the directions were in Japanese. I offered to translate & she updated the post with my translation. How fun!

I know the translation is not the best as I had to do a lot of guessing and paraphrasing, but I think overall it turned out really well and explains a lot of parts that would have been difficult to understand with pictures alone. It was a nice change of pace from all of the vocabulary cramming I've been working on lately & I hope to be able to work on something like this with her again. Meanwhile maybe I should search for some Japanese craft sources myself & share the translations here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween Party

Most years we like to throw a Halloween get-together for our old college friends ~ an excuse to make themed foods & throw together a costume! There was no way we were going to attempt that last year with a newborn, but this time we were up to the task.

First I made a few new decorations. A while back we bought a set of 9 8x10 frames to fill up an empty wall that has been plaguing us since we moved here. I finally got around to hanging them & filled them with some Halloween themed papers & print-outs.

8x10 Halloween Frames

The top left & bottom right are from my old Skeleton Key fabric print with my "Happy Halloween" pumpkin stencil in the center. There are some paper snowflake style cut-out spiderwebs on the other two corners, a cut out of "Trick" & "Treat" laid over candy corn paper down the center, and on the sides is pumpkin paper where I painted on some jack-o-lantern details.

Then we have the pretty paper lanterns, inspired by some of Martha's. For the frame I cut a piece of black posterboard in half (long-ways), made a template & traced that side-by-side four times (with an extra tab to attach the ends together). For the orange parts I glued in panels of tissue paper and drew the designs with black Sharpie. The lanterns are the same on the opposite sides (two designs per lanterns), so I drew out my designs on scrap paper first & then traced that so they would be the same.

Halloween Lanterns

For the food we decided to make Hand-burgers, but were not able to find a good cookie cutter locally (only one tiny hand). If we had planned it far enough in advance I could have ordered one online, but with the short notice I had to make my own. I found a tip online that you could do this by buying a large cookie cutter, cutting it open & re-shaping it for your custom shape. I ended up having to use two & just duct taped the pieces together, since this is not something we'll use again, but you can also use food-safe adhesive or solder.

Hand-burgers, 1

I forgot to get good pics of them, but they looked great & were pretty easy once you have a cookie cutter! They even stayed together well on the grill, which we worried about.

Hand-burgers, 2

I also made this candy corn themed Cheesecake Mousse, which ended up being a mild disaster. I realized later that the cream cheese really needed to be warmed in order to mix smoothly with the other ingredients, but the recipe mentioned nothing about this. While they were still tasty, they were *full* of embarrassing chunks of cream cheese. Lesson learned!

Cheesecake Mouse

Our friend Candice brought over these adorable Boneyard Brownies (complete with label!), full of clever tombstone names & gummy worms.

Candince's Graveyard Brownies

And here she is posing as the Tardis with her husband dressed up as Dr. Who! The part on top of her headband even glowed with a blinking blue light. Awesome costumes!

Dr. Who & his Tardis

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Bought a bear costume & turned Orson into the world cutest ewok!

Ewok, 1

Ewok, 2

Ewok, 3

Ewok, 4

Ewok, 5

Ewok, 6

Our little ewok was joined by Han & Leia ~

Ewok, 7

Ewok, 8

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pinterest & Page Updates

Do you ever set out to do a small task, and it ends up leading to one project after another?

A while back I joined Pinterest and am really loving it*. I had seen lots of friends using it but thought it was the same thing as Tumblr & was non interested until Sara opened my eyes with a post about it. Basically it is a visual way to store your bookmarks/favorites, using photos for each link (and text), and I desperately needed something like that to sort through all of the recipes & projects that I've marked. And you can see what your friends add for even more ideas. I already have over 500 'pins'!

Having all of those lovely photos has made it a lot easier to find inspiration, and I've been cooking & creating so many of the new things from those links. But I've found that whenever we start to make our weekly grocery list I automatically go to Pinterest now and completely ignore our old favorites. It made me realize just how important those pretty pictures can be.

I considered adding our favorite recipes there, but since the majority of them would be from my own site I thought that would be a little tacky (like I'm pinning my own stuff for exposure). Finally I decided what I really needed to do was add photos to my recipe index, instead of the boring text links. The old page looked like this ~

Old Recipe Book>

I did like the 'recipe binder' feel of the old page, especially since I used a photo of the actual binder I use, but there was just too much text to read through. The new page is pretty plain, but the photos are such an improvement!

New Recipe Book - 2011

While working on the recipe page I came across some horrible photos that really needed to be updated! I realized I had already taken new pictures for two of them but never gotten around to switching them out ~ the Greek Chicken and the Polynesian Chicken. (Normally I would post about the new pics on here, but you can check the links if you are interested)


The recipe page's new look had me itching to makeover my website's front page. It had been on my to-do list for a long time but was never really a priority, regardless of how ugly it was! Here is the old front page ~

Old Front Page

That layout was very outdated, I haven't used my Etsy shop in years! (It was vertically centered on my old computer but screens are generally bigger now. Unfortunately there is no good way to center it for different sizes) The new page is pretty clean & simple & uses another one of my fabric designs for the background ~

New Front Page - 2011

I'm not desperately in love with either of the new pages but definitely think they are in an improvement! Not too shabby, considering I threw them together in a day.


*While I do love Pinterest, the site is a little too glitchy for my liking. I have one recipe that I can not remove or edit, sometimes photos will not show up (which is the whole reason I'm using the site!) or changes you make to your text will not update. I contacted the customer service and they said that it was a problem with the cookies not updating quick enough or something & they would work on it. The problems seemed to be fixed after that, so I was happy, but now they are back. It's not enough to make me regret using the site, but they kind of need to get their act together!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

JapanFest - Costumes

JapanFest - Blue hair

We were surprised at how many people dressed up or wore costumes for JapanFest! With the big crowd it was sometimes hard to get a photo, but I kept snapping them whenever one popped into view. We were greeted right away by Piccolo ~

JapanFest - Piccolo

One of the most common 'costumes' were the Lolita girls, although for all I know they might dress this way every day! I think this one spotted me ~

JapanFest - Pink Lolita

This mother & daughter set were adorable ~

JapanFest - Lolita family

There was plenty of traditional clothing as well ~

JapanFest - Kimono couple

JapanFest - Merchant

JapanFest - Blue kimono

JapanFest - little girl