Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: Coasters

I made these coasters using a ceramic tile and a napkin. I tell how in this previous post.
They were actually my daughter's homemade gifts to her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, but she was having trouble finding time to get them done. So we made a trade and I ended up doing them for her!!

I usually pick up the tiles at Lowes and I find my most unique napkins at Tuesday Morning.

These are a very inexpensive gift and they take very little time to make.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: Ornaments

These ornaments were made for me by my son, Nathan, and his wife, Jennifer. They will be extra-special to me since they will be living in Vanuatu for the next two years and won't be home for Christmas. This was their homemade Christmas gift to me. They gave them to me early so I could enjoy them this Christmas season.

This one was done by my daughter-in-law. It depicts my four granddaughters playing in the snow. My daughter-in-law would probably kill if she knew I was putting it on here for the world to see, so we won't tell her!! Of course, I love anything that has to do with my grandchildren.

My son did these of the world.

And since I'm a teapot junkie, they had to do one like this! Sorry about the quality of the picture.

And this is what my son can do when he puts his mind to it! Isn't this absolutely gorgeous? I told him I want a set of these, but since he's leaving for two years, I may have to wait a while!

Oh, and by the way, it isn't even done. See those tiny black lines? He informed me that he still has more work to do on it and it needs a clear coat.

My daughter had the same idea! She did these ornaments for me as well.

Here's a cute snowman on a lavender background:

And she did a couple of these:

Isn't it gorgeous? I want several more like it to grace my tree next year.

She painted a clear ornament with the gold paint, then added some stickers she found. She then spruced up the stickers with paint, then added a clear coat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: Farkle

My oldest son, Bobby, got really creative on his homemade Christmas gift to his brother, Nathan. He wanted it to be something that Nathan could take with him to Vanuatu. So it had to be small and it couldn't weigh very much since Nate & Jen are only taking six totes of belongings with them.

Here's what he came up with:

Have you ever played Farkle? It's a game somewhat similar to Yahtzee. It's a lot of fun and all you need is dice. And a cup to roll them in, if you want it.

Bobby started out with a block of wood and ended up with this! I think it is amazing workmanship!!

I think his gift took the top prize at our homemade Christmas. And this is the kind of thing that builds memories that will last a lifetime!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Tale of Three Pots

Thirty-one years ago, a set of shiny Farberware pots and pans became a part of our brand new family. They were a wedding gift.

The smallest pan lost it's shiny bottom layer a couple years later when I left my my oldest son's bottle heating on the stove one night before church. When we came home after church, the stove was still going, the bottle was dry and the wall beside the stove so hot you couldn't touch it. It's a miracle I didn't burn the house down!

I kept the pan and have used it all these years, despite it's handicap.

Each one of my children passed through the phase of unloading my pots and pans cupboard. Each one of my children used them as a set of drums. Each one of my children used the largest pot as a booster seat from time to time.

And each one of my children were fed countless meals cooked in these pots.

Sixteen years ago, we made the move from California to Missouri. The pots and pans came along. Their stainless steel didn't seem to have any trouble adjusting to the humidity of the summers or the cold of the winters. They just kept on cooking.

About five years ago, my kids decided I needed a new set of pots and pans. You see, my Farberware set have all lost their handles. One even perished in a kitchen fire.

But they were still cooking, so I couldn't bear to through them out. I just made room in the cupboard for the new set and kept the old. But I still used them, just about every day.

Well, three of those pots and pans are about to make another move. This time to Vanuatu. They are going with my son and his wife when they leave for two years on December 31st.

When my daughter-in-law mentioned that they needed to pick up some pots and pans to take with them, something inexpensive that they would probably leave there when they came home, I told her she could have them. I thought it would be fitting for them to go where I couldn't go and keep cooking meals for my son.

After all, they've been doing it for the twenty-six years he's been around. He's even scorched them more than a few times with his cooking!!

So now they are going with him to his new home. And when he returns, chances are the pots & pans will probably stay there.

All except the little one. I requested that it make the trip back home if at all possible.

Call me sentimental - it's true and I don't mind!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: No-Sew Blankets

My youngest daughter wasn't overly enthusiastic about the homemade Christmas idea. She doesn't consider herself crafty or artistic. She is a manager of a women's clothing establishment, works long hard hours during the holiday season, and would rather just buy her gifts. And I don't blame her!! But, since we agreed to do homemade gifts this year, she joined in the fun.
Here is one of the simple no-sew blankets she put together for her four nieces:

Boy, were they a hit!! The girls absolutely loved them!

The two layers are held together with these simple knots. They measured approximately 60" by 54".

Last year, the youth group at our church got together and made these blankets for the each of the children at group home in Haiti. It was something everyone could participate in doing and the children were so happy to have their own blanket!!

Christmas Cookies

Our family had our Christmas last night, eight days early. This is an "off year", meaning that my kids go to their in-laws for Christmas. They were with us on Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I made these decorated sugar cookies for our party. My daughter-in-law, Jennifer, helped decorate them.

The colors were much brighter than they look in these pictures. Either I don't know how to take pictures, or there is something wrong with my camera. I'm leaning towards the first option!!
If you would like to try some of these, you can get the recipes here and here.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: More Aprons

I have four granddaughters, two of whom love to help there mother in the kitchen. So I decided to make them their own aprons. Now they won't have to hitch their mom's aprons up to fit!! They are ages four and six.

I made their aprons out of fabric I already had, floral prints I picked up at Wal Mart this past spring.

I made each apron adjustable. The ties go around the neck, through the sides of the apron, then tie in the back. They can tighten or loosen them as needed.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: Aprons

If you have read my blog, then you know that my son and his new wife are going to be livingon the island of Santo, Vanuatu for the next two years. They leave on the 31st. It's going to be pretty rough over there. What I mean is, it's very likely that they will have to hand wash their clothes!! For two years - can you imagine that!?! That's what I would call roughing it.

Anyway, since we're doing the homemade Christmas thing this year, I was trying to come up with something useful to make for my daughter-in-law. The corn bags won't work, since they won't have a microwave. Then I started thinking about their laundry. Then it came to me - a good set of aprons would save her clothes and hopefully save her a lot of washing!

So I made her aprons for Christmas. I made them out of home decor fabric, since I wanted something fairly heavy and hardy. And I also wanted something pretty.

Each apron has a large pocket on the front, which doesn't show up very well in these pictures.
I found the fabric on sale at Joann's, so I have about $7.00 in each of these aprons.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Homemade Christmas: Corn Heating Pads

Last year after the Christmas, our family decided to do a "homemade Christmas" this year. Of course, most of us put it off until the last minute, even though we've had a whole year to plan and create! So, I have spent the last week working like a crazy woman on my Christmas gifts. So have my kids. We're all hopeless procrastinators!!

Here is one of my projects:

Corn Heating Pads

My mother made a couple of these for our family several years back. We absolutely loved them!! They are a good source of moist heat for those annoying aches and pains. They are also great during the winter for cold feet or just to cozy up to. You just pop them into the microwave for several minutes, and you have hours of warmth.

The corn heating pads my mom made for us didn't have an outer cover - just the corn bag itself. So you can imagine what they looked like after several years of use. And then, they left home with my kids so I didn't even have one anymore. That's right, my kids stole them!!

So I decided to make everybody their own corn heating pads this year. I've made a dozen of them for Christmas gifts and plan to make about a dozen more after Christmas to give to friends and extended family. The pad or bag that holds the corn is made of muslin. The cover is made of flannel. I made the back of the cover so that it is easy to slip the corn pad out and then the cover can be washed.

The approximate dimensions are 11" x 17". After Christmas, I'm going to make a neck pad as well as pocket warmers.

The cost of the corn was about $6.50 and I paid around $2.00 per yard for the fabric, so these turned out to be a very inexpensive gift.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tuxedo Cake

Check out this Tuxedo Groom's Cake! I make this for a wedding Thanksgiving weekend. Not a great time to make a cake, but I wasn't going shopping anyway. I don't have finished pics of it. They were adding flowers or ribbon or something to the top.

This is a Devil's Food cake, with a chocolate pudding filling, and chocolate syrup added to both layers. Standard buttercream with almond flavoring. The tuxedos and bow ties are made of craft foam since my customers didn't want to use fondant. The buttons are black buttercream.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Black and White Wedding Cake

I did this wedding cake for a couple in our church this past weekend. This one just about finished me off!! It sure looks pretty though.

The cake the bride showed me, the one I used as a model, was covered with fondant. But since cost was an issue, we went with buttercream. When you're using fondant on fondant, it sticks better, especially when the add-ons are heavier, like roses. So to make sure they didn't fall off, I left the roses on the toothpicks that I formed them on, and just stuck them into the cake. It worked well.
I made the roses and leaves three or four days ahead of when I needed them, so they could harden. I also added Gum Tex to the fondant to make it more workable and so it would dry quicker.

I purchased velvet ribbon instead of using fondant. Fondant ribbon looses it's shape so easily, and I didn't need the added stress! And, once again I cheated with craft foam - I made the swags out if when I started having issues with the fondant.

The design, with the smaller tier being underneath larger tier, created havoc with my normal support system, so I had to improvise to overcome that as well.
The figurine on top in the first picture was provided by the bride. It was too tall and heavy and actually make the cake top-heavy, so I didn't put it on until the bride and groom were taking pictures and cutting the cake. I was afraid it would fall. I would have chosen a smaller topper, possibly even spray painting it black - wouldn't that have looked cool?
Anyway, congrats, Rachel and Brad!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

Here's a Pumpkin Cake I whipped up this weekend for an auction at our Christian school. It's a Marble Cake covered with a Fudge Frosting and then iced with buttercream frosting. The stem is fondant.
I baked the cake in a bundt pan, then curved the edges to help create the pumpkin shape.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Candy Cake

I made this cake for my second granddaughter's birthday. She went through all of my books, looked over all the pictures, and finally decided on this one!

The tiers are 6" and 10", covered with fondant. The swags and pieces of "candy" are made of fondant as are the letters. The gumdrops are candy instead of fondant. I ran out of time! I purchased the lollipops at a candy shop.

The book showed the lollipops made out of fondant as well, but Nicole didn't know that and I think that's why she picked this cake. Couldn't dissappoint her, could I?
I added the multi-colored ribbons on top around the candy sticks because it seemed a bit bare.

Friday, October 9, 2009

HOPE, A Candle For A Cure

Mia Bella's Gourmet Candles announces 'HOPE', A Candle For A Cure!

Help Us Find A Cure For Breast Cancer.

Profits will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation For Breast Cancer Awareness.

For every 'HOPE' candle purchase online, Scent-sations, Inc. will contribute $6.00 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Scent-sations, Inc. also has announced that they will donate the $4.00 handling fee that they normally charge distributors for each candle sold online. So that means a total of $10.00 will be donated! Wow!!

And as a Mia Bella Gourmet Candle distributor, I personally will donate another $4.00 to the Mid-MO Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation For Breast Cancer Awareness for every candle sold online.

If you would like to help out with this great cause, click here

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Franklin/Pogue Wedding

Congratulations, Paige & Codi!!

I made this wedding cake for a couple from our church this weekend. The frosting was buttercream with almond flavoring - yummmm! The ribbon around the bottom of each layer (which doesn't show up very well in this picture) is fondant. The flowers and petals were provided by the bride and were silk.
Can you tell the groom is really into Ford Racing? I made the emblems from color flow several days ahead to give it time to completely dry.

And the flower girl just happened to be my six year old granddaughter. I told her I wanted to take her picture and she struck the pose! You can definitely tell her mom is a photographer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Canning Experience!

I just had to show you one of my late summer projects. Eleven pints of salsa made from tomatoes and bell peppers from our garden!! My grandma would be so proud!! You, too, Mom! I also did several quarts of just plain tomatoes.

Although I grew up with a grandmother and a mother who canned and froze everything they could get their hands on, it just never "took" with me. I think maybe I had to pick too many strawberries and cherries and elderberries and goose berries and peaches and apricots and apples (just to name a few) when I was a kid. So when I decided to can salsa, I had to call my little sister and my daughter for directions and advice. Sad, I know!!

But it was actually pretty easy and fun! I'll definitely be doing more of it next summer.

I also put some okra and squash in the freezer. I even froze some tomatoes! My grandma and mom always canned tomatoes, but a couple of friends said they freeze them. Ever hear of doing that? We'll see how that turns out when I try them this winter!

I'm one of those strange people who loves winter. But, boy, am I missing my garden!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Very Buggy Birthday Party!!

Yesterday was my youngest granddaughter's second birthday. Her mom didn't have any preference as to her cake, so I decided to do the honey bee and ladybug cake which are featured in the Wilton Celebrate With Fondant book.
Sylvia was fascinated!!

These cakes were surprisingly simple to make. To get the round body shape, use the sports ball pan and the mini-sports ball pan for the heads. They are covered with fondant and all the spots, stripes, eyes, eye lashes, etc. are fondant.
To finish out the centerpiece, I purchased a piece of light green fabric to set the cake plates on, then shredded green tissue paper in our paper shredded for the 'grass' around the bugs.
I'll definitely be doing these cakes again!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Melancholy Evening At Home

Well, it's finally happened.

Reality has set in.

I can tell this empty nest is going to take some getting used to. So much for hoping to get past it without feeling any pain.

My in-laws left for California today, the last of our family who came out for our son Nathan's wedding, to leave. That was bad for my delicate mood. I've been on the verge of tears all evening.

I kept busy most of the evening framing a picture of one of the granddaughters - I found a really good deal on a custom frame at Michaels. But that's another post.

And Nathan even stopped by for a few minutes to visit, which helped, temporarily.

But then he started telling about what all he and Jen did today, getting ready to leave for Vanuatu. And how anxious he is to be gone. And how they hope to be gone by November. Not what I needed to hear!

Did I mention that I hate empty nests?

It's all part of the process of life, I know, but I really dislike this stage!

On a brighter note, we did find out today that we're going to be the grandparents of a grandSON come January!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nate & Jen's Wedding

Here are a few pictures of my son's wedding. My niece, who flew in from California, was the photographer. The pictures are unedited, so she's probably going to clobber me when she finds out that I already posted them! Oh, well. Several of them are candid shots.

The bride before the ceremony. Her bouquet was white roses surrounded with yellow tulips:

My granddaughter, Nicole, was one of the flower girls:

My oldest granddaughter, Natalie, served as the minature bride:

My daughters, who served as bridesmaids, with the bride. Her colors were Tiffany blue and yellow:

My husband and I with our four children:

Our entire family, including grandchild #5! We find our next week if it's a boy or a girl!!

Nate & Jen:

Nate and I:

My four children acting normal:

Nate and his brother, who also served as one of his best men:

A Sonic commercial!

And a McDonald's commercial!

My three year old granddaughter, Nicole, being carried down the aisle by her daddy. She spent most of the ceremony on my lap:

Communion during the ceremony:

Signing the marriage license. My oldest son looks like he's losing it!

A bubbly departure!

You can see pictures of the cakes I made for the reception here.