Sunday, August 11, 2013

Copper jewelry

I picked up a beautifully wrapped petoskey on my trip up north this summer, and immediately set out on a mission to find a piece of beach glass to pair it with. I picked up a number of interesting stones which should inspire some crafting (eventually). As soon as I had a free moment back home, I was off to the bead store. I just received a great pair of copper earrings (7th anniversary), so I picked up some copper chain and wire, and a sterling clasp. After a few test wraps, I decided to pair the petoskey pendant with a small piece of blue beach glass. I hammered the copper wire prior to wrapping which I think gives it a classier look.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Plum ice cream with ginger and mint

So rather recently my father has adopted a (mostly) vegan diet for environmental and other reasons. For Father's Day this year, I decided I would make him vegan ice cream. The first attempt was peanut butter chunk with cocoa chips. It was pretty good, except that the 100% cocoa bar wrapping was so much like a candy bar that I failed to realize that it was unsweetened and VERY bitter (I recommended he avoid the chocolate chunks in that one). Ok, so lesson learned? Inspired by the seasonally good price on plums at the local grocery store, I decided to revisit Ginger-Plum ice cream and give it a vegan twist. Well, ok, so remember the "mostly" part? I am using honey in this recipe which technically isn't vegan but was given the green light by dad. You could substitute with maple syrup or agave nectar for a fully vegan recipe.

4 black plums, chopped 
1/2 cup (vegan) sugar
1/2 cup honey or vegan alternative

2 sprigs spearmint, stems removed
1 inch disc of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

2 cans organic full fat coconut milk 
1 dash cardamom

1 tsp arrowroot powder (optional)

Combine plums, ginger, sugar, honey, and mint in a saucepan (1) and cook over medium high heat until plums are soft and sugar is absorbed (2). Puree in a blender or food processor and strain, discarding skins (3). Chill puree and cans of coconut milk in the fridge (at least 3 hours).

Combine puree with coconut milk and arrowroot powder* and whip until combined and somewhat increased in volume. Once mixed, transfer into the bowl of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove to a freezer safe container and store in freezer for 1 hour or until ready to eat.

(1)  (2)(3)      

* Arrowroot powder, or a similar starch, can be used to decrease formation of ice crystals in the final product and is often recommended in vegan ice "cream" recipes.

Serving Suggestion: This treat has a refreshing flavor that may be too strong alone. However, paired with a slice of angel food cake, fresh berries, and whipped cream you have a perfect treat for a hot summer day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Baby Shower Magnets

I have posted previously about the super cute marble magnets I made for my office. I have since made several batches of these as gifts as well as to sell for fundraisers. Around last November I was selling these at work to support one of our fundraisers, and a friend and coworker joked I would have to make some for her baby shower favors (we didn't know at the time she was or was about to be pregnant!). Well, I took her seriously and a few months later happened across an adorable print of girl dolls that was just about the perfect size for these magnets. Since I still didn't know she was pregnant, let alone that it was a girl, I bought it as I could always use it for my daughter's scrapbook or for future fundraisers. As it turns out she is pregnant with a girl and I put this paper to good use. 

Disc magnets (diameter should be smaller than size of marble)
Flat bottom clear marbles (not irridescent)
Elmer's ceramic and glass cement
Scrapbook paper

1/2" circle punch (diameter should be similar to size of marble) or scissors
Optional for packaging:
Jewelers bags
Card stock
Paper trimmer

Punch out desired patterns from paper using the circle punch. Apply one drop of glue to design and press onto bottom of marble. Center design onto marble and then hold firm for 30 seconds, pressing to make sure all sides are sealed. Add another drop of glue to back of paper and apply magnet. Hold firm again. Let set for several minutes.
After glue has set, use a slightly damp washcloth to clean any excess glue from the magnet (this is a great time to do a quality control check on your glue application). Repeat as desired. Using 3 areas of the design on the 12 x 12 paper I selected, I was able to make 35 sets of 3 magnets each.

To package, cut a sheet of cardstock approximately 1/2 inch shorter and thinner than the size of your bag. I find a small jewelers bag (2 x 3.75 inches) is a great size for 3-4 of my magnets. Insert the cardstock halfway into the bag and then arrange marbles. Push cardstock and magnets into the bag and seal. The cardstock will discourage the magnets from shifting and attaching to one another. For the baby shower gifts, we printed the front of the cardstock with my information and the back with a personal message. What a cute way to welcome a new baby!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kennel Quilt

OK, so this post is going to be a test of using my tablet. Let's see how it looks.

A few months ago we started a quilting group at work. We started out with a couple of string quilts funded by the company. Our next project was making kennel quilts for animals displaced by the tornados in Oklahoma. These are very small - 12x18 inches. I decided to try some more strip quilting.

Strips of 3 or more coordinating natural fabrics
13x19inch coordinating fabric for backing
12x18inch or larger cotton batting
Coordinating thread

Prepare strips of equal width (1.5in or so). Sew 3 to 6 together along long sides. Repeat, assembling strips in a different order. Cut perpendicular to the seams in 2.5 inch widths. Nowalternate strips  from the two unique sets and reassemble. I was able to create a nice basketweave effect using this method.

To finish, I cut the assembled front and back to size, and sewed together like a pillowcade. I basted together scraps of batting, inserted, and stitched closed. I used a wavy line to quilt in order to enhance the basketweave effect. This was only my second attempt at machine quilting, and first attempt at free form. My standard walking foot was not ideal, but got the job done! What do you think?