Monday, June 24, 2013

Fold a Shirt in Two Seconds

So every once in a while you come across a time saving tip.  Then, on rarer occasions still, you find something so revolutionary you stop dead in your tracks and call people over to make sure what you are seeing is real.  So when I saw this link on Facebook the other day I was skeptical.  They claimed you could fold a shirt in under 2 seconds.  Say what?  I watched the friendly man demonstrate the technique on YouTube, then flabbergasted, I demanded my hubby go find the nearest t-shirt so we could try it ourselves.  Bing bang boom, a few mere seconds later we had not one, but two shirts folded using this simple technique.

You are gazing at 4 second shirts my friend...
How cool is that?  Soon we were running upstairs to the laundry pile to try this out some more.  By the way, I guess there are some minor limitations to this technique.  It only works for short sleeved and polo/collared shirts. Not too bad though, especially if you have a big pile of kid's summer shirts to fold and put away.  Even better, teach your kids to fold and put their own shirts away.  The nice thing about this technique is it's not just for the small fry. I can guarantee my hubby will be folding all of his graphic tees this way from now on.  So without further adieu, run and grab the closest short sleeve shirt (and someone to marvel at your awesomeness) and check out this video tutorial:

Enjoy and happy folding!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Gift - One Smart Cookie

Well it's the last few days of school for us and I realize we still need an extra quick thank you from the girls to their wonderful teachers this year.  Our homemade ice cream as a gift was a BIG hit before the Christmas break, but they wanted to try something different this time.  We have already purchased one of the teachers a very special book they had been wanting, but I thought something else with a homemade touch would be nice.  Also I thought it would be more thoughtful if it was something the girls could help contribute to.  We LOVE baking so I came across this cute free printable on Pinterest and thought I'd pass it along.

Idea, label picture, and adorable free printable from Iris over at her blog: Sweet Metel Moments
All you need is your favorite cookie recipe (I think we are opting for the easy toll house one on the back of the bag of chocolate chips) and a small box or container of some kind.  We will have a fun time baking them up this afternoon and pre-wrapping them in a plastic bag before placing them in the paper container.  Here is a link to the free printable (it will print three on one page of card stock)  Click here for link to the free printable:

Picture from Iris' blog -Sweet Metel Moments - by the way, these printed up beautifully!
Also here is a tip for getting these to print correctly (Found in the comment section of her blog after some people had some of the words not turn out correctly).  First, don't just print from the open file from the website, but save the pdf to your computer.  Next go open your adobe reader program and open the saved file, then hit print.  Cut it out, attach a pretty ribbon and you've got yourself a lovely little last minute gift of homemade gratitude.

Update:  Here's what we came up with for packaging.  We found these adorable boxes at the Dollar Tree.  It happened to be in the same shade of teal green that was on the border of the cookie printable.  I also found some matching teal ribbon in the Dollar Tree craft section (there was only one, I took it as a sign from God).

Just by making this teacher gift YOU become the "smart cookie"
I like how the cream color in the bottom of the box sort of matches the light brown shade of the cookies inside the word "cookies". Cute cute cute.  Alright, now I'm off to bake to fill these babies up.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buterrfly Cutout - Free Template

So we recently had a beautiful butterfly bash here for my daughter's 7th birthday. She picked the theme of butterflies and we ran with it.  One of the cute ideas I found (I actually ended up using in three different ways at the same party), was this adorable free butterfly cut out I found over at Martha Stewart's website.  I thought I'd show you how I put them to good use.

Bright and beautiful butterflies add a sweet touch to your birthday, baby, or bridal shower.

First, here is the link to the free pdf template.  It is very simple and I would recommend printing it up on white card stock so it is more sturdy for tracing.  She had a couple of cute ideas for using these butterfly cutouts:

pictures from the Martha Stewart website

How cute and lovely are these?  I thought using them on the straws for the glasses would be perfect for this party.  I simply used some pretty left over scraps of card stock I had in different designs and patterns, and traced many a butterfly while I was watching TV, a few nights in a row.  Soon I had amassed a large pile of the pretty bugs in many shades. One thing I thrive on by the way, is being thrifty.  If I can plan ahead and make some of the decorations myself in an inexpensive way, I really pride myself on that.  You can still throw a beautiful party on a budget.

I had purchased some pink and purple paper favor bags at the Dollar Tree (10 bags for $1) and had this idea to slightly bend the butterfly (so it would look three dimensional) and hot glued it to the top 1/3 of the bag.  This made it look like the butterfly had landed right on the bag.

This made for a very cute effect!
Matter of fact I thought it would be perfect when the kids came, they could pick the color of butterfly they wanted and I would write their name on that.  This is how they looked before everyone arrived sitting on the fireplace mantle. 

Here's a close up.  I love how they look like they could flit away at any second.

The next way I was going to use these little guys was on the straws.  Originally the tutorial had suggested cutting two slits in the middle of the butterfly and slipping it over the straws.  I had a slight issue with this, in the fact that it had a big chance of not staying up very well, especially if a kid was going to be handling it.  I thought oh, I'm going to have to glue dot, or tape each one of these to make sure they stay put.

The original way with the split in the middle
Since my hot glue gun was all fired up still from the favor bags, I wondered if I could use a very small amount on the straws to stick the butterflies on.  Would it melt it and make a hole I wondered?

Hot glue + plastic straw .... will it work?
Well I did a test and low and behold, with a very thin stream of hot glue the butterfly instantly stuck on.  I had my hubby be the straw tester, hoping and praying no liquid would spill out on his shirt.  Well... it worked!  I started gluing like a fiend and soon I had a good rhythm going.  I had a package of multicolored straws in the hues of green, hot pink, orange, and yellow, which helped add to the "uniqueness" of each butterfly straw.

The day of the party I placed them in a few of the cups where drinks would be available, which looked really cute.

I placed a basket next to the cups with the title of "nectar sippers" where people could pick their own straw

This was a big hit!
When the kids got to the party I would write their name on the butterfly of their choosing and then we left all the cups on the counter.  This is a big plus if you don't want cups all over the house.  The potential for spilling and clean up is less as well.  Here's some nectar sippers now:

So cute!
The last way I used the butterfly cutouts (since I had a lot left over) I used them to label food at the party.  Just used a sharpie and wrote each food item down so people would know what they were getting.

You can't see it, but the butterfly veggies has a label that said "butterfly garden"
So there you have it.  One simple template and I used it three ways.  I could also totally see these in shades of pink or blue for baby shower, delicate pastels for a bridal shower or summer tea party, a Mother's Day brunch, or even a garden party in the spring.  All in all it was these little touches that added greatly to the whole ambiance of our beautiful butterfly birthday party.

Love love LOVE these sweet little butterflies!  We had many other great ideas for our butterfly party.  I will post more soon.  Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Since father's day is right around the corner, my thoughts turn to the favorite desserts of my husband and father.  Today I wanted to focus on a dessert that is one of my hubby's all time favorites - Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  For Christmas a few years back, he thoughtfully gave me some cast iron skillets (Let me tell you, that box weighed approximately 1000 pounds, I could barely lift it from under the tree).  Now, I heard a rumor that these bad boys are perfect for cranking out one delicious cake, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Nothing has quite the show-stopping pizazz of the pineapple upside down cake
So here is what you will need: (full printable recipe found at the end of this post)

1 box yellow cake mix (or pineapple if you can find it)
1 large can of pineapple rings (drained, with juice reserved)
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
maraschino cherries without stems 

By the way if you don't have a cast iron skillet, you could always melt the caramel topping in a pot on the stove and pour into the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan, and still follow the rest of the recipe.  Okay, so gather your ingredients:

Gettin' ready to bake!
So the first thing you want to do, is pour the dry cake mix into a bowl.  Technically you are going to almost make this per box instructions.  I say ALMOST because you are going to replace the 1 cup of water in the recipe with 1 cup of reserved pineapple juice you drained from the can of pineapple rings.  Everything else is the same.  So after the 1 cup of pineapple juice, add 3 eggs, and 1/2 cup of oil.  Mix for 2 minutes with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet on the stove top, melt one stick of butter on medium heat.

I'm sure Paula Dean is smiling down on me right now...
Many recipes will call for 3/4 stick of butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar here, but heck, the BEST part of this cake is the caramely topping so why measure so precisely?  I use an easy one stick of butter, to which you add one cup of brown sugar.

NOW we're talking!
Turn up the heat to medium high and stir this around until it gets all melty, and gooey.  

Activate smell-o-vision here.
Once it is all melted together, you can take it off the heat and now it is time to add the pineapple rings and cherries!  Start with a ring in the center and then gently place rings around until all the space is filled up.  Put a cherry into each center and then bam, already this is looking mighty fine.

This lovely design will show up as the top of the cake, once we flip it over after baking
Now grab your waiting cake batter you set aside earlier, and you don't just want to pour it in, the pressure will make the rings shift out of place.  The better option is to spoon the batter gently over the rings until everything is covered.

slow and steady wins the race here
Next you want to pop the entire pan into a 350ยบ oven.  I usually use the box directions that would be for a 9x13 pan, but check your cake after about 30 minutes and let it cook longer if needed.  You want it to be a lovely golden brown.

Looks so boring, right?  Just you wait!
Now some people will say to run a knife around the edge of the cake, and you can.  I noticed the sides of my cake had pulled away from the cast iron, and I thought we would be okay but I ran the knife around just in case. You don't want this to be right out of the oven hot, but you don't want to give it much cooling time either. This is the trickiest part and please be CAREFUL.  You are going to need some serious arm muscles, as the cast iron is super heavy even when empty.  Now it's full of delicious cake and hot molten caramel and fruit.  I was a little nervous, so I called hubby in for this part.  Using oven mitts, he put our round serving plate over the top (like a lid), and with his other hand on the cast iron, flipped the whole thing over in one fluid motion.  Set the serving plate down on the counter while holding the cast iron on top of it, and slowly start lifting the pan away... MAGIC!

Trumpets should sound at this point
So if you have not thrown out your back in this process, you should have a lovely cake, with the pineapple all cooked through and golden.  The cherries have hopefully stayed in their place.  If some or a section of the topping sticks in the pan you can carefully remove it and "repair" it on the top of the cake. The ooey gooey butter and brown sugar have melting into the cake (my favorite part) Seriously, check this OUT!

Mmmm Mmmm good!
Let the cake cool completely and prepare for "oos and aahs" when you serve this masterpiece to family and friends.  It's lovely by itself or served with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on the side.  Delicious!  I personally don't love the fruit as much as I love the golden caramel cake topping.  I almost move the fruit out of the way to get to the "good stuff". My hubby, on the other hand, a big fan of tropical fruit of any kind, is in heaven with every bite.

This is a great cake to have in your baking arsenal. Here is a link to a full printable recipe.   Always makes for a dramatic presentation and tastes fabulous to boot.   Enjoy!

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