Painted Silhouettes

30 06 2008

I had bookmarked this craft eons ago, because I thought it looked like a cute and easy project.  I turned out, when I actually had the time, that is was pretty easy, and I liked how it turned out.  I got the fabric squares at Joann’s several months ago, when they were on sale for a dollar, so I stocked up.

I first read through the original directions on Martha Stewart, and originally I was going to make my own stencils – I was thinking a bird series or some cute little woodland creatures.  But unless I have the exact outline to look at, my freehand drawing is pretty abysmal.  (Lifelike proportion?  Who needs that?)  So I decided to use the provided wren stencil.  I drew the stencil to the size I wanted on an index card, then cut it out.  I ended up using 5×5 canvasses, but I didn’t realize the originals were pretty big.  (If you watch the video on the website, you can see that.)

In the end, I think I preferred the smaller sized canvas.  They look very cute together on my bedroom wall.  I want to do a similar project with larger canvasses, but use actual silhouettes, along the lines of this.  I’m sure it will take me another eon to get that done.

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Cherry-Cognac Pork with Cranberry-Walnut Taboulleh

27 06 2008

I finally got around to doing two things in my kitchen – cleaning out the  refrigerator and going shopping for real food (not milk and cereal anymore).  I found a little jar of cherry-cognac sauce that someone had given me as a gift.  I had used it before on vanilla ice cream (yum), but looking on the label, it suggested using it on meats, such as pork.  So, luckily, I had a lot of pork chops and thinking of something fruity to go along with the cherries,  I found a recipe for cranberry-walnut taboulleh.  Overall, I liked how the sweet fruity flavors complimented the meat and the bulgur wheat.

Cranberry Walnut Tabbouleh (you can find the original recipe from Cooking Light here – I didn’t have some ingredients, so I improvised.)

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 c. chopped dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 minced green onions, white and green parts included
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. In a bowl, mix the bulgur, cranberries and boiling water.  Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. While this is soaking, add the olive oil to a skillet and roast the walnuts in the oil for several minutes – this is to release the flavor of the nuts and infuse the oil with walnut flavoring.
  3. After 30 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and toss.  Can be served immediately or refrigerated.

Cherry-Cognac Pork Chops

  • Cherry-cognac sauce (mine was pre-bought)
  • 3 pork chops
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season the pork chops with the herbs, salt and pepper.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and spoon a Tbsp or so of the cherry-cognac sauce over them.
  2. Place baking sheet under the broiler.  Broil for several minutes, until cooked about halfway through.
  3. Flip pork chops over, reseason and again spoon about a Tbsp on each chop.  Continue to broil until completely cooked.

I ended up making an extra pork chop for lunch, which is sure to be delicious.  My only issue was with the tabbouleh – I didn’t have several things the original recipe called for.  I thought I had lemons, but I had to use lime juice instead, and I ran short on that, so I think the tabbouleh was a tad dry.  I also sent the boyfriend on a Wegman’s run before he came over to get the parsley and the mint.  When he got to my house, the conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: (as he brings out two gigantic bags of herbs) “Where is the mint?”

Him: (pointing to the bag that looks suspiciously like cilantro) “Right there.”

Me: “This is cilantro.”

Him: “But it was in the bin marked ‘mint’.”

Me: (taking it out and smelling it) “This is definitely cilantro.”

Him: “Hmm, well I thought it smelled like cilantro, and I thought it looked like cilantro, but it was in the mint bin, so I concluded it must be mint.”

Me: (slaps palm to face)

But nevertheless, the tabbouleh was pretty good.





Hand Carved Stamps

18 06 2008

The other day I was looking for tattoo-inspired stamps to use in a project I was doing.  I couldn’t find one that I had in mind, and the other one came in an expensive set that I didn’t really like.  So I decided to try my hand at making my own. 

I had seen a couple examples of hand carved stamps elsewhere, but instead of following someone else’s instructions, I kind of winged it.  (It wasn’t that difficult – pretty self-explanatory.)

To do this yourself, you will need:

First, decide what image you want to make a stamp of.  I decided on a cute little robot I drew.  You can also use tracing paper and trace an image from anywhere, or you can use a freshly printed image from an ink jet printer.

Make sure to not make your image with too many small details – even the details here proved to be a little difficult to pull off.  Make thick, heavy lines, and I went over my outline a couple times so it would be easier to rub off onto the carving material.  I used a bone folder to help rub the image, but you could just use your fingers.

 

Next, cut out the stamp.  I used my X-Acto knife to do this.  I recommend cutting a half-inch outline around the image instead of cutting right on the lines – this makes for a flimsy stamp, as you can see with my robot legs.  (I actually had to superglue one of them back on – shhhh.)  You can carve out the parts of the outline you don’t want to show up in the printed stamp. 

Next you will use your carving tool to carve the shape of the stamp.  Keep in mind the parts that you carve will show up as white when you print with the stamp.  Go slowly on the more detailed parts – the effort will be worth it.

At this point I ink the stamp and print it to see what shows up.  Usually there are a few stray pieces I need to chip away at.  I made two test prints, and the third one I was satisfied with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it!  A pretty simple process with pretty awesome results.  These homemade stamps are really only good for simple images, but have so many possibilities – like your own designs!  I’m still in search of wood blocks to mount the newly carved stamps on, but that is a project for another day.





Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

12 06 2008

I had some free time today so I decided to get back into baking while the weather was still cool. I really like making cupcakes, and I always wanted to try them in ice cream cones. These turned out to be pretty cute.

I was too lazy to make the batter from scratch, so I used Pillsbury’s confetti cake mix. I got 24 flat-bottomed ice cream cones and filled them, leaving about a half to three-quarters of an inch from the top.

I then baked them according to the directions on the box. Some of them overflowed a little bit, so I tried to clean them up the best I could.

While the cupcakes were cooling, I made vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting

Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 7 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder.

Using a mixer, combine the first four ingredients. I find it easier to mix a cup of the sugar at a time, with a tablespoon or so of the liquid. Divide the frosting in half, and then mix the cocoa powder into one half. You now have both chocolate and vanilla frosting.

I then piped the frosting on the tops of the ice cream cones using a star tip. I only had a small one, but I would recommend using a large one, both for ease and a more ‘ice-creamy’ look to the frosting.

I then decorated the frosting with sprinkles and cinnamon dots for cherries. As you can see, my sprinkles were left over from Christmas cookies, hence the red and green. Voila! You have cute cupcakes!





Photography and crafting?

4 06 2008

My black and white photography class is going to be over in two weeks, but the good thing is that I’ve relearned the skills to develop film and make decent prints.  I’m planning on joining as a member at Genesee Arts so I can use the facilities over the summer.  Even though I’ve really enjoyed the class just for the sake of the awesomeness that is b&w photography, I sometimes wonder what else I can do with it.  I’m going to start saving the test strips for my prints, so maybe I can make something out of them.  Also, I was just invited to a local scrapbooking club, which I am insanely excited about, so perhaps I will be able to incorporate prints into my newly refueled desire to scrap everything.  Who knows?