Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Storing Felting Needles

How pretty is this storage for needle felting needles or extra large, long needles, like the kind I use for doll/animal making?
To make a needle holder you will need some wool fiber or a small wad or ball of 100% wool yarn.
Stuff it firmly in your shaker and replace the lid, and put your needles through the holes on top.
Natural wool fiber has lanolin in it, which has the added bonus of keeping your needles in tip top shape!

Home made extracts

Flavor extracts are a key ingredient in many desserts, especially vanilla. Orange is another flavor that I find myself adding to most of my recent recipes. Its just as easy to add zest but having an extract on hand is convenient when you are out of fresh fruit or don't want to taint the color of a cream frosting or white chocolate etc.

  • 2-3 Vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup - Vodka
  • glass bottle with lid/cork
  1. Pick a glass bottle that can hold a whole vanilla bean. Clean and dry completely. Place vanilla beans in the bottle and cover completely with vodka. Seal well and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen. Give it a shake every day or so for the first week. 
Notes: Within 3 days you will begin to notice a light brown color and the extract was strong enough to use within 2 weeks. A month would be ideal but if you want to use it sooner start off with extra vanilla beans. I used 4-5 beans in my current batch and add more vodka as I use some of it. . You can use vanilla beans in the extract for recipes as well. They will be super moist and you can squeeze out the seeds easily.

Lemon/Orange Extract
  • 1-2 - whole organic lemons or 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup - Vodka
  • glass bottle with lid/cork
  1. Wash and dry fruit thoroughly before peeling off the thin outer layer. If any white pith remains, slice it off with a paring knife as they tend to add bitterness. Fill the bottle with peels and cover completely with vodka. Seal well and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen. Shake the bottle gently one a day for 2-3 days. Check for readiness after a week or continue to steep longer.
Notes: Use organic fruit or fruit not treated with pesticides or wax coating since we will be using just the peels here. I wanted the extract to have a strong citrus flavor and used a high zest to vodka ratio. Some recipes I saw online suggested straining the extract after a month but I've had mine steeping for about 3 months now it had not turned bitter on me. But do check on your batch and strain if needed after you are satisfied with the flavor.

These extracts will immensely improve the quality of your baked goods. The flavors are strong and provide a depth that can never be replicated by store bought ones.  Thanks to Akshayapaatram for the tutorial and photos

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DIY: ombre string

this method produces subtle color variations reminiscent of tie dye

  • you will need some dye (i used a powdered Dylon dye left over from a previous project)
  • cotton kitchen string (2 balls for $1 @ the bargain shop)--not the skinny one, you want to be able to see your color gradations + they show up better on thicker string
  • bamboo skewers (or a pencil or piece of dowel)-long enough to rest on top of your bowl
  • glass bowl, aluminum pie plate/dish or an old yogurt or sour cream container

  1. add cold water to the dye (or warm water according to directions on pkg) leaving about 1/4" - 1/2" from top of bowl
  2. insert bamboo skewers through string ball + suspend over bowl, so that 1/2 of the ball of string is submerged
  3. submerge for 10 minutes
  4. rotate string ball to the other side + submerge for 50 minutes
  5. unravel + hang to dry
  6. once dry, you can submerge again for 10 minutes if you want to dye any white sections of the string.
  7. experiment with "dipping" times for desired color hues. typically for ombre the first dip should be for the least amount of time, then keep dipping for longer periods to develop the color gradations that are typical of 'ombre'

    let dry completely + rewind into a ball or onto a spool, card or bobbin
    when i was unwinding the "dipped" string to allow it to dry i could see how saturated the color was and when it started to fade that is where i cut the length off.
    then i dipped the string ball in the dye bowl a second time
    this time i let it sit for 50 minutes almost entirely submerged except for a small section. then i dipped that section for 10 minutes.

Polymer clay crochet hooks

  • Polymer clay in various colors (Sculpy, Premo, Fimo, etc.) *if you just want the functionality without the hassle of mixing colors, you can make things easier by just using one color.
  • Straight blade or sharp knife
  • Cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Crochet hooks
  1. Choose 3-5 colors of clay and knead the clay until it’s soft and then roll the clay into little logs (I made them about 2″ long).
  2. Take all the logs and twist them together. Roll on a smooth flat surface.
  3. Fold over and twist again. Roll on a smooth flat surface. Keep doing this until you’re happy with the design. *Be careful not to do it too many times or it will all just turn into one color – likely grey or brown.
  4. Roll the clay smooth and until it’s about the width of a pen and about 4″ long. If you find your piece of clay has gotten too long as you rolled it out just cut off any excess clay so that you have it the correct length.
  5. Gently take the end of your crochet hook and with a back and forth twisting motion push the hook into the clay. Be patient, it goes in pretty easily as long as it isn’t forced quickly. Keep going until you’re almost at the end of the clay log.
  6. Now roll the clay with the hook in it on the smooth surface and taper the end closest to the hook.  Feel free to trim a little from the end if it gets too close to the end.
  7. On the side furthest from the hook, gently tap against your hard surface until it’s flattened.
  8. Ad a small circular piece of white clay to the end. This is where you’ll write the hook size with a permanent market or use a stamp to mark the size.
  9. Place  the crochet hook and handle on a cookie sheet that has a layer of parchment paper on it.  Cook in the oven at 275 degrees F for 15 minutes (add a few minutes if it’s thicker than 1/4″).
  10. Take out of oven, allow to cool.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vegan slow cooker fudge

  • 2-1/2 cups Chocolate Chips, [I used dark chocolate chips because of their health benefits. Ghirardelli is a good brand and works well with this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, (canned, not in a carton)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar, optional honey or maple syrup
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fudge is perfect for the slow cooker because it doesn't scorch or burn.
Add chocolate chips, coconut milk, honey and salt, stir to combine. Cover and cook on low 2 hours without stirring. It's important that lid remain on during this 2 hours.
After 2 hours, turn the slow cooker off, uncover, add coconut oil and vanilla, stir to combine ingredients. Allow to cool in uncovered slow cooker, until fudge has reached room temperature...approximately 4 hours. Using a large spoon, stir vigorously for 5-10 minutes until it loses some the gloss.
Lightly oil a 1 quart casserole dish. Pour fudge into dish, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Cut into 10 pieces. This fudge is very rich and meant to be eaten on occasion as a treat.
Note: Canned coconut milk can be found in the Asian or organic sections of most grocery stores.

Clean Eating Fudge Recipe

The next time you have that insatiable craving for chocolate, take a little time to make our decadent yet guilt-free Slow Cooker Fudge.  Made with dark chocolate and coconut milk, Slow Cooker Fudge is as nutritious as it is delicious.
Dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to throughout the body, and maintain level blood sugar.  It is also loaded with antioxidants to ward off cancer causing free radicals.  As for coconut milk, it is an excellent alternative to dairy and contains high amounts of vitamins and nutrients to fight illnesses.  With a touch of honey, our fudge is perfectly sweet without adding any refined sugar. Just like most slow cooker recipes, the process is so easy that it is just a matter of tossing the ingredients in the pot and letting the slow cooker do the rest.  Slow Cooker Fudge quickly becomes a favorite for most families.

Butter in Your Food Storage

bottle butter and store it for 3 year.

Items you need:

12 – 8 oz. jelly jars, lids, and rings (clean and sanitize bottle prior to bottling butter)
5–¼ pounds butter or margarine (5 pounds + 1 stick)
1 cookie sheet (optional)
1 cooling rack (optional)
Getting started:

Sterilize your jars and lids. (I wash my jars in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting and boil my lids like normal. I am into machines doing most of the work.)

Place your twelve jars on a cookie sheet. (This makes it much easier to handle the jars; instead of putting the jars in the oven and then taking them out individually.)

Preheat oven to 225°F.

Phase One:

Open up twelve sticks of butter and cut each stick into two – three tablespoons sections and one – two tablespoons section.

 Drop the two – three tablespoons sections in the bottom of the jar length wise.

 Then very carefully place the one – two tablespoons section in the middle on top. The butter will stick up a little above the rim.

 Do this with all twelve jars.)

 Put your jars in the oven at 225°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

 (If you placed your butter in the jars carefully, the butter will melt evenly down into the jar with out making any mess.)
Phase Two:

While your butter is melting in the oven, open up the remainder nine sticks of butter and cut each stick the same way you did before (two – three tablespoons sections and one – two tablespoons section).

 After the butter has melted in the jar, take the jars out of the oven. I place them on a cooling rack.

 Now here is where math helps. In nine of the jars drop in two – three tablespoons sections.

 In three of the jars drop in three – two tablespoons sections.

 This is ¾ stick of butter in each jar.) The butter should fit easily into the jar, make sure it is slightly below the rim level.

 Prior to putting on the lids, ensure that the rims are clean of any butter.

 Place the lid on each jar.

 Screw on the ring, finger tight. You are putting the ring on just to keep the lid in place.

 Put the jars back into the oven for 45 minutes at 225°F.

 The butter will separate into its solids and liquids. The solids will be the lighter opaque substance at the bottom of the jar

Take the jars out of the oven. I place them back on the cooling rack. Let the jars cool. In a couple of minutes you will here the sound of popping when the jars seal. (I love that sound.)
The Finish:

After the jars have cool down, I double check all the jars have sealed. All the lids should be concaved.

Tighten the rings on the jar and write the date on the top of the jar. The butter is good for three years.

Now You Have Butter in Your food Storage
When you open the butter you will have to stir the solids back into the liquids. If you used butter with salt, you will find the salt crystals are larger. When you eat the butter, you will be able to feel the salt crystals in your mouth. If you cook with this butter, you will not find any difference. This butter will not go back into a solid when you put it in the refrigerator; it will stay in a creamy state.
Thanks to Teresa Tronier for the tutorial and photos  

Friday, October 24, 2014


Making Sprouting Jars {a project from DIY Mason Jars}
  • Quart-size Mason Jars
  • Sharpie or other marker
  • Plastic needlework canvas
  • Scissors
  • Dried seeds or beans used for sprouting
Plastic needlework canvas used to create a screened airflow for sprouting jars may be purchased at hobby and craft stores.  The canvas comes in many colors and sizes as noted by the variations on the left.
STEP 1: Trace the lid of the jar onto the plastic canvas. Consider using varied canvas sized to allow sprouting of even very small seeds. Cheesecloth also may be substituted when sprouting very small seeds.


Stop the fruit bats

well here is a pretty useful tip for those with fruit trees in their yards recycle the containers strawberry's or take away food co...