Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wine Cork Pumpkins

I had a friend recently invite me over for lunch. Not only was there yummy food when I arrived, but a surprise craft she had been dying to try. I walked in and in front of me was a table full of autumn leaves, wine corks, hot glue guns, stamps, ink pads, and crafts supplies as far as the eye could see! I was in heaven! There could have easily been a heavenly autumn light shining down from above onto the table with crafty angel voices singing... does this lady know my love language or what?  She wanted to make wine cork pumpkins!

Wine cork pumpkins are a perfect little addition to your autumn/harvest decor
My friend let me know she had been dutifully drinking wine (for several years I hope, as she had THREE gallon sized bags of corks) and tucking the corks away for just such an occasion.

Leaves, and corks, and glue guns, oh my!
There were many to choose from.  The red wine corks had nice shades of purple, some pink, some brown on the tips of the cork.  The white wine corks had stayed their original light tan color.  We separated the corks into two piles, the red wine and the white.  

If you love wine and crafts, this wine cork pumpkin is right up your alley!
We were using some pictures off Pinterest for our inspiration, as some looked a bit pentagonal (angular instead of round edges) and we picked out one that had a more rounded look using the following pattern:

5 corks in a row
6 corks
7 corks
7 corks
6 corks
5 corks

I picked out an array of corks with different colors.  She had some stamp pads in plum and orange colors to help "enhance" any of the corks that needed an extra splash of a harvest color tint of our choosing.  I lined up my first row of five and simply started using a line of hot glue to connect the corks to each other.
I tried to pick a good mix of reds, purples, natural, and then one "enhanced orange" using the stamp pad
The glue gun makes fast work of the stacking.  Now onto row two which has six corks.  

Mixing up the colors a bit so it makes a random pattern of different fall shades
Rows 3 & 4 are seven corks long.  I sort of laid them out in front of the project to continue that "random" pattern where the same color isn't next to itself, but to mix and match all the shades throughout the same row, and not lined up with the color in the row below it.  It's like wine cork Sudoku.

When gluing between two corks I ran two lines of hot glue, one on each cork below for better adhesion
The interesting thing here is, the first three rows interlock with each other each time you add a new row, however the second row of seven is actually stacked directly on top of the row below it.  This will give you a more rounded pumpkin in the end, but be sure to use corks around the same size so they don't throw off your row height.

I love how the different shades are working out here, some light, some dark, some purple, some orange
The next row is back to six corks. I am not only gluing the new cork to the two corks below it, but a third line of glue to stick to the cork next to it.

Almost done with our cork pumpkin!
The final row is the same as the first with five corks.

It's turned out very cute!
Now, you get to gussy it up with some finishing touches. I chose an exceptionally cute cork without any blemishes to be the "stem" of my pumpkin. We also glued some realistic plastic fall leaves she had (branches from the dollar store).  A few of the branches had little acorns on them, so I thought that made a nice little touch.

Wine cork pumpkins could become all the rage
For a last little topper she surprised me by pulling out some raffia ribbon (looks like straw ribbon) that helped give it a rustic, yet finished the look.

The finished wine cork pumpkin!
Here was her finished design:

So adorable!  I love the yellow leaf here it looks very real, plus her stem has a top that looks great
We decided to try them out on a shelf she already had.  They went really well with her existing decor. 
Wine cork pumpkins in their natural habitat....
This was such a fun little project to do over a lunch visit! They would make a great little display for your entry table or fire place.  Make a set in different sizes, and display together. It could also be a cute little gift for a friend or a thank you give for a hostess.

I put mine right on the entry table as soon as I got home, and it fit right it.

Wine cork pumpkins rock.
So get some friends together, drink copious amounts of wine (or start saving up your corks from now on) and do a little craft project together. Bringing the world closer one craft at a time!


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Stakehouse Molasses Bread

I've finally found it!  You know that tasty, craveable, slightly sweet, dark, molasses bread that comes with your meal at steakhouses around the country?  Well, I've been trying to make it at home.  I've tried multiple recipes online and haven't been satisfied with the results, until last night. I have finally found one that works great! The bread is beautiful, soft, and flavorful!  It has a great texture and is best served warm from the oven and slathered with butter!

Steakhouse Molasses bread!  Soft, sweet, and hot from the oven.
Let's get started.  This recipe by the way was found at "It's always Autumn"
You will need

1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 3/4 cup of wheat flour
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of butter, room temp
2 Tablespoons of molasses
1/4 cup of honey 
2 cups of bread flour (can also use AP flour)
1 Tablespoon natural baking cocoa
1 teaspoon of salt 

Optional:  1 egg for an egg wash, and quick oats for a pretty topping 
Printable recipe found here: Click me!

First put 1 cup of warm water, 1 Tablespoon of dry active yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar into your stand mixer. 

I'll admit, this looks a tad gross.  Like I need a lab coat and a beaker to proceed.
Let it "proof" for 10 minutes, (or sit around until bubbly and foamy).

Ah that's better... I think
Add in 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons of room temperature butter, 2 Tablespoons of molasses and 1/4 cup of honey.

I finally found a "molasses bread" that actually uses real molasses!
Once combined a little bit, add in 1 cup of the bread flour (we just used regular AP unbleached flour), 1 Tablespoon of baking cocoa power, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Turn the mixer on low (with the bread paddle).

It's the unsweetened cocoa power that gives this bread it's darker hue, but luckily not a chocolate flavor at all.
Mix the dough together a bit, then add in the last 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour.  I ended up using the whole remaining 1 cup.  Kneed the dough for 10 min on low, until the dough ball pulls away from the sides. The dough should be soft and elastic. Pull the dough out and roll it into a ball, place in a bowl where it can rise for 60-90 min, covered and in a warm place.

Pretty lil' dough ball
After 90 minutes (we did the full time recommended) we peeked under the tea towel and found it had doubled in size.

Hello big ol' bread lump!
We decided to split the dough in half, to make two long loaves, because my hubby gave me this handy dandy french bread loaf pan, that makes two loaves at the same time (and helps the loaves keep their shape instead of flattening out like they would on a regular cookie sheet).

Just sort of stretched and gently pulled the dough into a long tubular shape

Then your bread needs to rise a 2nd time for an hour. In a non-drafty place.

You really have to be patient to make yummy bread.
After an hour the bread has started to fill out the loaf pan.  Since I wanted this to look and taste like the bread you get at the Blank Angus Restaurant around these parts, I brushed the top of the loaves with an egg wash

action shot

Then sprinkle on some of those quick oats and they will stick to the egg wash.

Look how pretty!  Now it looks like a longer version of the round rolls you share at the restaurant
Bake the bread at 350ยบ for 27-30 min. By the time these are ready to come out of the oven, your house will smell amazing!

Activate smell-o-vision here
You can let the bread cool all the way, or if you're like me and can't resist, cool it just a little and try to cut a slice while it's still warm so it will melt the butter.

Our hopes were high at this point.  It looked great... it smelled great... but would it taste great?

My hubby surprised us with some fancy Kerry Gold Irish butter, he had been saving for just such an occasion. The bread was still warm enough to start slowly melting the butter... YUM.

Steakhouse Molasses Bread, warm from the oven
We served this with some slow cooker loaded baked potato soup and green salad with garlic butter croutons.

Feast your eyes on all that delectable goodness!

I have to thank Autumn for this recipe that turned out fantastic!  It's soft, it's got a great texture, it smells fabulous... AND it tastes amazing.  It's the closest I've ever come to that yummy restaurant bread at home. 

You're gonna want to make this!

This would go great with a number of warm soups you make this fall and winter, but I will admit, it also tasted delicious toasted up in the morning for a hearty little breakfast treat.  So look no further, I've done all the searching for you.  Make this molassess bread and you won't regret it!


Sunday, September 09, 2018

Gussying up a 2-inch binder

Well it's back to school time again.  Time for those long school supply lists and new clothes, and backpacks, and science calculators... you get the drift.  Anyway, now that I'm the proud owner of some teens and tweens, we have added 2-inch binders added to our lists of things we need. The required 2-inch binders the school requested are plain, boring, and usually only available in two colors (black or white), as opposed to the 1 1/2 in binders, which come in every pretty and/ or sparkly pattern in the known universe. Why the larger binders don't get the same fancy treatment? We may never know.  The girls had the thought last year that we really needed to gussy up our binders by personalizing them. We ended up having so much fun doing it again this year, I thought we'd post about it.  

School Binders - all gussied up and personalized
All you will need for this project is a plain, plastic sleeve binder (of any size), and then scrapbook paper, magazines, old calendars, print outs from the computer, stickers, anything your heart desires. This doesn't have to be just for school kids.  I ended up using this same technique on some plain 3-ring binders for my work as well and they are so pretty to look at now!

I let the girls first pick a "theme" for the binder. We used scrapbook paper in pretty colors to use as a background.  My middle loves leopards, so her was pretty easy to start with. 

She LOOOOOVES leopards.
We ended up using some computer print-outs we had left over from her leopard party, and that strip in the middle binding area is a leopard paper sack lunch bag (we had used them as favor bags at the party). We had an extra one of lying around that we trimmed up and it was put to good use.

Leopards on the inside too! She can put school papers behind the leopard print out, and fun drawings she did in front of it.
Don't forget the inside sleeves!  More leopards and to top it off, we found a leopard pencil holder pouch, which finished off the look.  The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

a few different pages of scrapbook paper in coordinating colors

The other two girls originally just picked pretty scrapbook paper in coordinating colors the first year.

My youngest wanted shades of pink on the inside (but of course), with sparkling folders and a pink pencil pouch to tie everything together.

These folders are a fun way to add some pizzazz and fun into your work or school day.

This year we got a little more fancy!  We still used the scrapbook paper as a background, but added pictures according to the new themes they picked this year.  For my youngest, she loves all things having to do with husky dogs.  Check our her folder this year:

Husky dogs make adorable binder covers
We used an old calendar.  Okay not even an old one, it was THIS YEAR's calendar, and we used all the months up to August.  We also used the tiny thumbnails on the back of the calendar and used the tiny pictures as both the seam down the middle of the binder, and the pockets on the inside. To help keep the smaller pics from sliding around, we taped them to some scrapbook paper to keep them in place under the plastic sleeve.
The scrapbook paper keeps the little pictures in place
Not to mention the scrapbook paper makes it so much easier to slide the smaller pictures down into sleeve area, which can be a tight fit.  It looks adorable now.

And my oldest had immersed herself in all things K-pop (Korean pop music) culture, k-drama, etc. and wanted groups like BTS, NCT, Red Velvet, and Stray kids all over her binder.

I'm sure if your kids are in the BTS "army" right now they are probably gasping all the air out of the room.
Meanwhile, her binder edge she thought some of the band logos would fit nicely down the side.

She was so excited to find these vertical logos for the groups
Even my somewhat boring work folders received a make over too and they are quite enjoyable to look at now throughout the work week. It's a win win for all.  

Such a nice thing to look at during the work day!
 So all and all we had a great time, we used recycled materials or things we had on hand to personalize and gussy up the folders for school.  If they change their mind or want to add to the folder throughout the year it totally up to them and easily adjustable! Happy creating to you and yours!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Easy Ham Egg and Cheese Cups

When life gives you an extra dozen eggs, you make... lemonade?  Well, close, you make something for dinner with eggs of course.  Something new, but quick and easy (preferably), and so you suddenly remember one of those cooking videos that fly by on Facebook every once in a while and you think yes, I am going to TRY that tonight! This recipe couldn't be any easier, with three main ingredients and some seasonings to taste. Make them for breakfast before school!  Make them for dinner! I give you: Ham, Egg, and Cheese cups.

Ham, cheese and egg cups, a quick easy breakfast or a super fast dinner!

You will need (brace yourself here)
Shredded cheese
Muffin pan (greased with cooking spray)
Salt/Pepper/Seasoned salt
Parsley (optional) 

Muffin tin pan, greased
Place slices of ham (we had thin sliced lunch meat) in the bottom of a greased muffin tray. I only did one slice this first time out, Next time I will use bigger pieces or maybe 2 pieces of ham

The girls thought these looked like flowers.  Next time I'll add two pieces to make a slightly larger holder for the egg
Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese in the bottom of the ham cups.

Then crack one egg in each muffin space

The eggs filled the muffin cup all the way to the top, luckily they stayed in place

Season with salt, pepper or seasoning salt

I wasn't sure if these would be well liked, so we just made a few to try out the first time
Bake for 12-15 minutes.

That's it!

(Note the video stated 15 minutes, which left us with almost solid yokes, while reading the printed recipe said 12-15 minutes).  Next time I will back off the time a few minutes to get a slightly runnier center.  

Baked ham egg and cheese cups

Add a sprinkle of parsley to make it loo fancy... and there you have it. 

Pop these babies out of the muffin tin and plate up with some biscuits and fruit.

Pretty and delicious! Not to mention low carb and keto friendly too if you eat them alone.

I was surprised even my child that is not that crazy about eggs ate this and asked for a second one! 

The ham baked up nicely into a thin, crispy "shell" around the edge, and it tasted very much like prosciutto.

15 minutes was a little too long for our liking but the flavors were great. Next time 12 or 13 minutes I'm thinking.
This was so easy the kids want to make it by themselves next time, so that's a big win win for us.  Besides being great for breakfast or a quick dinner, these would also be great if you are cooking for a crowd.  Just pop in several muffin trays and you could be cooking a dozen breakfasts at once!  Enjoy!

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