Monday, January 31

Reverse Appliqué Tutorial: Boy's Valentine's Shirt

While working on Lucy's Valentine's dress, Henry expressed an ardent desire for a Valentine's dress of his own.  It's hard for him when 98% of the things I sew are for Lucy.  Not wanting him to feel left out, we worked together to make him a Valentine's shirt.  He picked the fabric for the heart and watched eagerly as I sewed and cut and trimmed.  
He was very happy with the result. 

I embellished this t-shirt using reverse appliqué.  It's a very easy process and I thought I'd share how it's done, just in case you have a three-year old boy in need of a Valentine's dress. 

1. I took one of Henry's t-shirts and removed the pocket with a seam ripper (hence the little hole on the right).  That small hole actually acts as a guide later on.  If you are working with a shirt that doesn't have a pocket, cut a small hole in the front of the shirt where you want the heart to go.

2. Cut a piece of fabric into a heart shape.  This heart is about 4" x 4".

3. Turn the shirt inside out and pin the heart over the hole you made in step one.

4. Using a straight or zig-zag stitch, sew around the edge of the heart.  Turn the shirt right side out and cut away the fabric that falls inside your stitching.  Cut close to your stitches (about an 1/8" away from the seam), but be careful not to cut through them.  

5. Baddabing-baddabang! You're done!  AND you have a happy boy!

Friday, January 28

Coconut Craze: Coconut Cream Cake

sorry that's such a blurry photo.  i was in a hurry to eat it. 

I thought it fitting to end Coconut Craze Week with the recipe that got me thinking about coconut in the first place.  How could I not be drawn in when the recipe called for coconut cream, coconut extract AND flaked coconut?  A coconut-lover's dream! The fact that I had to search five different stores before finding coconut cream only built my anticipation for this gooey, creamy cake all the more.  Incidentally, I have come to the conclusion that the main difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is that coconut milk is more widely available.  Technically, coconut cream has less water than coconut milk, but the coconut milk I used for my Coconut Sticky Rice, seemed plenty thick.  In the future (when I run out of the five cans of coconut cream I snatched up upon finding it), I think coconut milk will work just fine for this recipe.
 After living and breathing coconut for the past week, it's safe to say, I'm good.  No more obsessive thoughts about coconut, at least not for a while.

Coconut Cream Cake
1 package white cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
14 oz can coconut cream
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup flaked coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, water and coconut flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes and pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine coconut cream with sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes into it in even rows using a large fork or chopsticks. Pour most of the milk mixture over over the cake.  Gauge the amount of mixture you pour on the cake by how quickly it is absorbed.  Stop once it starts pooling on the top (see picture).  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  
  4. In a large bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with flaked coconut.

*If you hear of any writing contests that require the word "coconut" to be used as much as possible, let me know.  This post may stand a chance of winning!*

Thursday, January 27

Coconut Craze: Store Bought Staples

One of my all time favorite guilty pleasures..... Hostess Snoballs.  
While I love to bake, some things are so good store bought, there's no need to make them from scratch.  What could be better than squishy, pastel, marshmallowy, creamy centered goodness?  Not having to make it or clean up the mess!
Last year's birthday cake.  Lucky me!

Runner up for best store bought coconut treat would definitely be Brach's Neapolitan Coconut Sundaes.  Sadly, these are getting harder and harder to find.  Anyone know where to find these in Little Rock?  YUM!

And of course, there's the old coconut stand by.  You can't go wrong with a pack of Mounds or Almond Joy. Coconut and chocolate is such a good combination.  

I'm anxious to try something new...What are your favorite store bought coconut snacks?  

Wednesday, January 26

Coconut Craze: Coconut Sticky Rice with Mangoes

This recipe is sooo good as a wintry snack or on a cold morning as breakfast.  In fact, I've had it as both this week!  You can find coconut milk in most grocery stores (even Walmart carries it) in the Asian food section.

Coconut Sticky Rice with Mangoes
1 cup sticky rice or Jasmin Rice
1 cup + a bit more hot water
3 tablespoons sugar (or more)
2 pinches salt
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 ripe mangoes

In a glass, microwavable container combine rice and hot water.  There should be enough water to completely cover the rice and then some (about one cup + 10% more).  Soak the rice for 10 minutes.  Cover the glass container with a plate and microwave the rice for 3 minutes on high.  Stir the rice and microwave for another 3 minutes.  Repeat until the rice is translucent and the water is all absorbed.  OR you can use a rice cooker, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, combine coconut milk and sugar.  Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Be careful not to bring the coconut milk to a heavy boil or it may scorch.  Remove from heat.  Add salt and more sugar to taste.

Pour coconut milk over hot rice, reserving about 1/3 of the milk.  The rice will absorb the milk and become kind of porridgey.  Slice mangoes.  Spoon rice into a bowl, top with mangoes and more coconut milk.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25

Coconut Craze: Coconut Cherry Bars

Lately, I've had coconuts on the brain.  Maybe it's a secret mid-winter longing for a bit of the tropics, but for some reason my mouth is watering for coconutty goodness.  (And no, I'm not pregnant.  Unpregnant people can get cravings, too!)  So, I'm going on a serious coconut journey, and I'm inviting you to come along!  For the next several days, I'll be posting some of my favorite coconut recipes, just in case anyone else is in need of a little culinary sunshine.

First up, is Coconut Cherry Bars.  They are flaky and toasted and buttery.  This recipe is quick and easy.  You can't go wrong with that combination.  Thanks, Mom, for the recipe!

Coconut Cherry Bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, sliced
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, quartered
1/2 cup flaked coconut

1. In a bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter until well combined and pieces are pea sized.  Press into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

  • Crust

2. For filling, combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to                  the egg mixture. Stir in cherries and coconut. Pour over crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until   firm. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.



Sunday, January 23

First of 12

I just finished my first quilt square (a double pinwheel) for my friend Liz.  It's the first of twelve!  Check it out at my virtual quilting bee blog.

Friday, January 21

A Baker's Paradise

baker's twine

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Baking supplies,
I'm in love with you.

twist ties

 Lately, I've been obsessing over the myriad of adorable trims and trappings that are popping up all over the internet for bakers.  I haven't actually bought any, because I'm a little afraid to wake that beast.  The fabric beast alone is hard enough to tame.  But, thanks to my friend, Lissy, at least I have a few precious liners to love.  On second thought, a stack of cupcake liners is cheaper than a yard of fabric.  Hmm... I feel some justification coming on.

Below are a few of my favorites.  

Can you believe that Woodland Cupcake Kit?  Oh my!
Here are a couple of links to some of my favorite baking sites/stores/blogs to stalk.  Is anyone else obsessed, yet?

Post Edit: I just found another one... I think it's time to throw a party!

Thursday, January 20

A Package & A Cause

I think it's universally felt that good mail days are good days in general.  When this little package landed on my doorstep it said, G'Day." and I said, "Yes, it is!"  

Thanks to my wonderfully thoughtful friend, Lissy ( who really is the most caring, guileless person I know), I get to play with these super cute cupcake papers from Australia.  Lissy makes the most darling cakes and gifts, wrapped in lovely trimmings.  I wish she would start a blog, so everyone could see how talented she it.  When I asked her where she found such cute liners, she said she'd send some my way.  Lucky me!  And here they are:

 Don't they just make you want to bake something delightful? 

If you didn't guess, Lissy lives in Queensland, Australia.  We met when I was ten-years old and we were in the same grade six class at Whiteshill State School in Brisbane.  That is the same Brisbane now underwater due to terrible floods.  Thousands have been displaced and there is insurmountable damage done to the city. 
Never fear, Australia!  The blogosphere is on it!  If you would like to help, check out Make-It-Perfect's fund-raising auction.  All proceeds go to help flood victims.
Go HERE to see the auction items, raffles and read more about the cause.  
Check out some of the items up for bid:

Here are a few more auction/fund raising sites you can check out:
Chantal Vincent Art Auction (it's not just art, it's all kinds of things)
The Oz Material Girls

Thank you Lissy!  I'm sending good thoughts to you and all of our Aussie friends!

Meerkat Magic

 This has been the scene around here for most of the week.  It's been accompanied by the soundtrack of coughing, runny noses, stuffy noses, fevers, stomach aches, ear infection and pink eye. (If you're wondering what a fever, stomach ache, ear infection or pink eye sound like, it's this: "mooooommmmmm!")
  Poor Henry got the brunt of it.  He is such a sweet little patient, all cuddly and floppy and  loving.  Every afternoon, I snuggle him up on the couch, hand over several pacifiers and turn on Meerkat Manor.  Within two episodes, Henry is out like a light.  It works every time.  I'm hoping that the sickness leaves, but the afternoon Meerkat-nap stays. 

Thursday, January 13

Ottoman Empire

  I found this little darling at Goodwill for a price that was too good to pass up.  I've dabbled in reupholstering before and thought this would be fun to play with.

I got it home, removed the green vinyl only to find this little surprise.  I'm pretty sure that is cancer growing on the straw.

So, I wrapped it in plastic laminate (to seal in whatever delightful things are hiding in that hay), topped that with some thin batting and then... the piece de resistance: gorgeous velvet and cotton upholstery fabric donated by my good friend for the purpose! 
Those corners were a little trickier than expected.  Despite my weak staple gun skills (never mind that right corner), it's a very nice addition to the living room.  
Doesn't it look lovely with our new-to-us rug?  Another home-improvement-freebie from my design diva amiga.

Of course the children were in tears, begging me to take their picture on the new ottoman.  The children get want the children want.  I crown them emperor and empress of the ottoman empire.

Sunday, January 9

The Adventures of Apron Boy

Thanks, Grandma J, for the apron with red bowling balls on it!  It fits my big-helper-super-Henry-golden-knight-puppy-dog perfectly.  It came in very handy when we decided to make some chocolate chips cookies to warm up our wintry afternoon.
You'll have to post about the pattern, because I don't know what you used.

Friday, January 7

Step Stool Makeover

I have a little step stool in the bathroom which has seen better days.  I wanted to spruce it up with a new paint job, but...we have a pink bathroom.  Very pink.  So, choosing a new color that would "go" with all the pink was tripping me up.  
I have often wished I was better at that kind of thing-- the putting-colors-and-patterns-together-so-they-look-good kind of thing.  

Anywho, while at a party this week, I noticed the hostess had some delightfully decoupaged pieces of furniture and I was inspired.  So, in a moment of productivity (which is rare and short lived around here), I pulled out some scrapbook paper I'd bought a while ago at TJ Maxx (I <3 TJ Maxx) and got to work.

I prepped the stool by cleaning it really good with a Magic Eraser.  That's as good as sanding, right? 
Next, I painted a thin layer of Mod Podge on the steps on the stool.

I cut the paper to fit the step and painted a thin layer of Mod Podge on the back.

Henry kept saying it smelled like apples as he colored with dry erase markers and the Mod Podge dried.

I smoothed the paper onto the steps and put another coat of Mod Pogde over the whole thing.  After the glue set, I sealed the steps with a clear, matte Krylon acrylic spray paint.

I love how it turned out.  And, I even think it goes with the pink tile.  But, the real test comes when the kids spill toothpaste and water all over it.  Cross your fingers for me!
see what i mean about the pink?