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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Zulily Copycat

So today I placed my first order at Zulily.com. I know, I'm probably late to the game but I honestly thought they only had baby & maternity stuff since that's all I saw in the ads anywhere. I placed an order for a "princess" dress for my 7 year old who has a birthday coming up, so when I was done, I perused the site looking at every thing. One thing I came across was a plain white cotton onesie with an argyle print tie sewn on it. From the Zulily website:

It was $38, on sale today for $16. I was like holy cow, seriously? It wast cute, maybe $16 cute, but certainly not $38 cute! It just said 100% cotton, not even organic cotton. To me, that looked like something that could easily be replicated and I was up for the challenge since I just had 2 little baby boys born within my circle of family & friends within the past 2 weeks. Surely one of them could use it if I made one!

I started out purchasing a Gerber pack of 4 plain white onesies (for $7.00) that you can get at Target or Wal-Mart or whatever your preferred discount store is. I had to go to Hobby Lobby so I checked out their fabric department and found some cute argyle fabric. (I actually think they did have the exact brown argyle as the Zulily one but I didn't want to use that one LOL.)  I then washed my onesies and fabric and drew a tie. You can use my template here or you can draw your own. This one is for a size 0-3 month onesie. Just print it enlarged for a larger size onesie (I find if you print it out at 125% that's good for a 3-9 mo. onesie.) Cut out your tie on your fabric.

 Since my fabric was just out of the dryer, it needed to be ironed, so iron yours too if needed.


I then cut a piece of fusible tape a little shorter than the length of the tie. I wanted to be able to secure it to the onesie while I stitched it on but didn't want the whole thing ironed on because I have done that before and gunked up my needle. Yeah, not cool.

 Iron the tie to the onesie using the recommended heat setting for your tape.

Then mosey on over to the sewing machine, set it to your zigzag stitch and sew around the edges!

Isn't that cute! And you didn't have to cut off an arm or leg to buy it, and you had it in 20 minutes!

Now pat yourself on the back, and go show a comparison picture of the Zulily onesie and your newly created onesie to your husband ;) But seriously, is there much difference?

one 6"x 3" piece of fabric, washed
white or coordinating thread
5" piece of fusible tape
one plain white onesie, size 0-3 months

Print tie template and cut out tie. Pin to fabric and cut a tie piece. Iron if needed. Attach fusible tape in between the onesie and wrong side of tie and iron. Sew zigzag stitch around edge of tie with white or coordinating thread.

Wasn't that fun? Now I have 3 more onesies I can make cool looking ties on. :) What's a project that you've replicated from seeing on a retail site?

Check out this and many other great projects and ideas where I Party!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Ready for Cinco de Mayo

As you may or may not know, (from my "About Me" page) I'm a Cinco de Mayo baby. I think that explains my love of Mexican food (haha). But, since it's getting close to my birthday I've been thinking of food to make for my celebration and have been on the hunt on Pinterest. I even have a board named "My Cinco De Mayo Birthday Bash. I came across this wonderful recipe from wine & glue for Spicy Mexican Fudge. I immediately made it. Oh. My. Gosh. It was awesome!

I also discovered my camera had a 3-D feature... doesn't it look like you could just grab a piece? Sorry. I know that's mean. But the bright side is, it's sooooo easy to make your own!

Gather these ingredients:

3 cups milk chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Line an 8x8" square pan with non-stick aluminum or parchment paper.

Heat the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a pan over med-low heat until the chocolate is melted. Stir continuously so it melts evenly.

Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and pepper. I would recommend mixing the cinnamon and pepper together and then slowly adding it in and stirring to make sure it gets stirred in well. Because it starts to firm up fast, I think you get "hot" spots if you add it all at once and it doesn't get mixed well before it starts to firm. I had some pieces that were hotter than others, so I think if you do it gradually it will blend better. Just my thought.

 Immediately pour into the pan and spread evenly. Allow it to set in the frig a few hours.

Then lift out by the foil or paper and cut into pieces. Be prepared to be wow'd!  If you think the 1/4 tsp of pepper might be too much, feel free to use less but I used the 1/4 tsp and even my 7 year old loved it!

Check out all the wonderful Cinco de Mayo recipe ideas at Buttercream Bakehouse!

This post was featured at Easy Living Mom!
Adio`s !

Monday, April 22, 2013

Love The Earth!

Happy Earth Day everyone! I'm not one that makes sure everything I do is green, but I like to think I do take care of my space on the globe. Honestly, the only reason I began recycling before it was mandatory in our area was because I had a dream I needed a new heart, and they were made out of plastic. I was told I couldn't have one because I didn't do my share of recycling. I have recycled ever since. True story.

Earth Day is also my husbands birthday.  He claims he's "too old" to be bringing a birthday treat to work so I snuck around that by saying they were Earth Day treats. I saw the pin on Pinterest for some Earth Day cupcakes and cake pops. I decided to go with cupcakes since there are all men and only one woman at his work. For some reason I just don't really see men chowing down on cake pops LOL. 

Aren't they cute? The pin from Bird on A Cake has directions saying to cut off the cupcake tops, and take a small heart cookie cutter and hollow out a heart, fill it with red frosting and put the top back on. Cute idea, but I'd rather have more frosting on my cupcake than that. And I know frosting them takes away the good view of the "earth" look of the cupcake, but I just decided to frost them anyway and stay a bit away from the edges so you could see the earth still. I also remembered that I had some edible heart cookie decorations so I would put those on to represent the "love" of the earth. 

Start out with whatever your favorite vanilla cupcake recipe is. I have yet to find the perfect vanilla cake recipe, which is why I won't recommend one here. It's OK, but nothing that knocks my socks off (like my chocolate one does!) I'd love to hear if you have a tried and true one though. Divide your batter in half and add your green and blue coloring. Scoop a spoonful of each color in each liner, one side blue, one side green and then add small dab of opposite color on each side.This is not an exact science, whatever you get in there is fine.

Bake per your recipe and when done you have little mini "earths"!

Let the cakes cool and frost with your favorite vanilla frosting. Now, that I do have, and I've tweaked it so that I think it's perfect. If you have your favorite, go with yours! This batch made 24 regular cupcakes and about 15 minis, so I doubled my recipe (I like to add lots of frosting and didn't want to run out.)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
this original recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups
print recipe

2 sticks softened butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes on medium speed with a paddle attachment in your mixer. Really beating it for a few minutes makes a difference. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, until 3 are added, with mixer on slow to avoid blowing it all over. Reserve your 4th cup for if you need to even out the consistency. With mixer on medium, add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream and beat for 2-3 minutes. Use more sugar and/or liquid until desired consistency. I like to add a little more vanilla than the 1 tablespoon. :)

I used a large round tip (Wilton 2A) to frost and gently added an edible heart decoration.

Go in peace, enjoy the earth... and a cupcake!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY honey, I love you!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Perfect, Super Easy Treat

5 ingredients - that's it! But, they aren't the usual 5 ingredients you see all over Pinterest that are recipes that include graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. I have yet to find any that have the super simple ingredients from the recipe that I grew up with (thanks Mom!). It was my turn to make bars for my daughters soccer team concession stand this week so Peanut Butter bars are what I chose. They are a HUGE favorite of my kids, and seriously, a 9x13 pan doesn't last a day in our house (and it makes 36 bars!) I'm not normally a sweet eater, but I always manage to eat my fair share. My kids thought it was torture to make them and not be able to have any, so I made another batch last night. They are also very popular at any gathering you need to bring a treat.

Peanut Butter Bars 
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups dry powdered milk
1 -12oz pkg milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 250○. In a bowl, combine the peanut butter and corn syrup. Gradually add the powdered milk, mixing thoroughly. (I like to just dig in with my hands because it's easier). Spread and pat into a 9x13" pan. Sprinkle chips over the top evenly. Stick in the oven for about 10 minutes to melt the chips, remove and spread the chips evenly. Cool in the frig for a bit, then let come to room temperature to cut into squares.

You could just melt the chips in the microwave but I'm not a microwave user and I think it's just easier to heat them up a bit in the oven.

See, how easy was that? I told you it'd be super easy! Print yourself a copy!

The hard part is to try and eat just one. As far as I know, it can't be done. :)

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Cheeseburger Love Affair

Have I mentioned I love a good cheeseburger? And like them in several forms (except  Bisquick's Cheeseburger pie recipe.... yuck.) My last post was about a grilled cheeseburger sandwich and now I'm going to share one of my absolute favorite soup recipes... Cheeseburger & Fry Soup. Here in Wisconsin it's been pretty cool still (36 degrees at lunch) so I decided this would be a good one to make today. And I had some burger that needed to be used up. I didn't take any pictures as I was making the soup, the troops were pretty hungry and I needed to just get it done. But, it's all basic food prep stuff, so you'll be fine. However, I will share a picture of what we are working towards just to keep you interested. :)

Mmmmmm....a creamy base soup with the likings of a cheeseburger & fries! And a few croutons for the "bun".

You'll need whatever you like on a cheeseburger. I would throw in a can of petite diced tomatoes but then my kids would turn up their noses. I already have one child... wait for it.... who doesn't like bacon. Can you even fathom such a thing? 

This batch I used: 

Cheeseburger & Fry Soup    click here for printable version

1 lb ground beef, cooked
2 1/2 cups water
3 tsp beef stock or boullion granules
4 cups (?)Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed into bite sized pieces. (I really can't say exactly how much to use, I really just wing it every time I make it)
1 tsp crushed garlic
black pepper (no measure, just shake some in)
3 tbsp finely chopped onion*
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped kosher dill pickles*
1/4 cup chopped pickled sliced jalapenos* (I buy these by the huge jar from Sam's Club)
approx 4 cups milk, 1/2 cup reserved
4 tbsp flour
approx 1/2 bag of Patrick Cudahy fully cooked bacon pieces* (or cook up & crumble your own)*
8 oz any kind of melting cheese. If you like Velveeta, use that cubed. I don't care for Velveeta so I use Sam's Club nacho cheese sauce (again, I buy a big can!) You can add regular cheddar cheese but make sure it's not the pre-shredded kind, it doesn't melt well. Shred your own block of cheese.
few squirts of ketchup*
few squirts of mustard*
1/4 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper*
croutons (plain work best, or flavored with salt or pepper)

* these items are personal preference as to how much you want to add based on your liking. Feel free to add more, less or omit.

Cook your ground beef, drain and set aside.

In the same pot (with all grease removed) add your water, beef granules, cubed potatoes, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked. Add dill pickles, jalapenos and 3 1/2 cups milk; heat through. Combine flour and balance of milk until smooth; gradually stir into the soup. Bring back to a boil and stir while cooking about 2 minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat, add in bacon and cheese, stirring until melted. Squirt in your ketchup, mustard and cayenne pepper if using and stir to combine. Serve in bowls topped with more bacon, cheese and croutons.

Go enjoy!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little of This, A Little of That

I have had all these thoughts running through my head all week of things I wanted to talk about and I just haven't been able to sit down and collect my thoughts. But, tonight I will just start and see where it takes me.

First, do you know April is National Grilled Cheese month? Ah, yeah it is! Grilled cheese is always something I've enjoyed changing up a bit, whether with just different cheeses, throwing in some bacon and tomato or whatever. But I decided since it's actually a designated month for it, I'm going to get creative. And by creative, I'm going to say in my house because I'm sure somewhere it's already been done but I'm going to do it here. One of my favorite things to eat is a good cheeseburger. I love a loaded cheeseburger and cheeseburger soup - so why not do a cheeseburger grilled cheese? And what goes better with a cheeseburger than fries?

I started out by cutting my fries (with my cutter) and soaking them in cold water for about 10 minutes. Then I drained the fries and blotted with a paper towel.

 Next, put them in a Ziploc bag with a little bit of oil and french fry seasoning and shake those babies good!

 Then spread them out on a cookie sheet, and I line it with the non-stick aluminum foil. I throw them in the oven on convection at 350 to speed up the process because I don't really like waiting too long! ;)

 About every 10-12 minutes, I flip them around.
Then, I get my beef and add Weber Gourmet burger spice and Patrick Cudahy fully cooked bacon pieces. I buy several of those at a time because we use them like crazy - in everything (well, almost)! Take off your rings and mix it up good! Then I made the patties into rectangular shape to fit my bread.

Now, if it wasn't 40 degrees, rainy and feeling like it's 10 degrees out, I'd be outside grilling these. But because that wasn't an option today, I just cooked them in a pan on the stove. I set them aside, covered to keep them warm until I get my sandwich ready to grill. I then got out my bread, pickles, jalapenos and cheese. I wasn't quite sure what to do with my ketchup and mayo, so I just put a thin layer of mayo on the inside pieces of my bread and put the ketchup on after the sandwich was done, just by lifting the bread. So, I buttered my bread pieces, laid down my cheese & pickles, put my burger on there, then jalapenos, another piece of cheese and my top buttered bread. I would've liked to have had tomato too, but I didn't have any. At this point I switch my fries to broil just to get them crisped up a little. So as I'm grilling my sammy, I'm also flipping my fries around. Yes, I'm talented like that. LOL

When it's all done, it looks like this:

Yummy, eh? Melted Gouda cheese, bacon, jalapenos, pickles... and fries

Throw some cottage cheese on the plate and you're all set!

What's your favorite grilled cheese combo? Are you going to concoct something really yummy for National Grilled Cheese month?
For dessert, I had some chocolate cupcake bites that were unfrosted I've had in the frig until I decided what I was going to frost them with. Scanning the kitchen, I saw bananas and decided to make banana buttercream frosting. My usual buttercream frosting recipe, but threw in a ripe banana. 


We like eating the bites because they're so easy to pop in your mouth!

OK, so another thing I had on my mind was, I had previously said I ordered some custom fabric labels from Spoonflower to attach to items I make. I received the labels and they are so neat! Only problem was, when I placed the order I had the labels match the previous theme of my blog which was owls. They are still cute, and I will still use the labels but I think I might redesign some others. 
And while I had heard others say custom labels were expensive, I thought they were very reasonable. I bought a fat quarter size for just under $10 and shipping was only $1. So I have 144 total labels which only makes them 8 cents each. When you think of a fat quarter being $10, then yes, that's expensive but you have to break down what you're getting on that fat quarter!

So if you find yourself in need of some cool fabric labels that you can design yourself (it's super easy, I used the regular address labels template in Publisher and saved it as a JPG file and you upload that to their site) I would highly recommend going with Spoonflower. I did re-order some new ones today (and I used a coupon code ETSYPARTY12 and got 10% off, don't know how long that lasts.) So try it- you'll be glad you did.

UPDATE: My new labels :)

My first label went on a rag quilt I made that I am donating to a friends school's Spring Fling class basket theme of handcrafted baby items to be auctioned off. It was the first rag quilt I made and I had found a jelly roll that was on clearance at Jo-Anns so I decided that would be a good opportunity to try making one. So I never had any specific baby in mind (I certainly don't have any!) or any recipient, I was just seeing if I could make one. I did. It was easy. And I had fun! And I used this tutorial from Sweetwater to do it.

my cute label!

I love the faux chenille look the "rag" edges give

one side is the "rag" side and the other is nice and flat

a very cute blanket, just didn't have anyone to give it to until now!

So off my quilt will go to a little someone who will love it forever. Or so I'm going to tell myself. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Look

Man, the last few days have been a roller coaster ride. First, I was all excited because I had learned some new things for my blog, found some really good tips (which I will share in a different posting soon) and when I implemented one of them, my whole blog took a dive. I didn't know it was one of those changes for a few days so during that time I was extremely frustrated. I just had to walk away from it all for a while and come back refreshed to tackle the issue. Well, as you can see (if you've been here before) my blog is refreshed too....... a whole new look. I had previously been using a free template from Leelou Blogs which was great to use for a few months starting out. Since the free Blogger ones are super boring, I certainly appreciate Leelou offering time and services for free templates.  But, I think they are a tad bit "cutesy" for me and being an old woman and all, decided maybe now was the time to pay to get something a little more sophisticated. (ha! I just laughed at myself.) And, I found that sophistication very reasonably priced at Delicious Design Studio out of all places, the Netherlands! It was hard to choose which one I wanted out of a few choices that fit my need, but I went with this and I love it. I even had a question and they answered it right away. Kudos for their customer service!

Sooooo..... what's happened in the past week? Well, I made some reeeeally good cupcakes. I have my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and made some the week before last. I normally don't eat the sweets I make but I have played around with a chocolate frosting recipe that makes it perfect in my mind (or mouth!) and so I find myself eating them... quite often. Instead of making a mess eating a normal sized cupcake, I thought I'd just make them bite sized this time so I could just pop them in my mouth easier, thus not making a mess. Turns out, that's kind of dangerous because they are easier to eat and you keep telling yourself like 5 equals one regular cupcake. I decided to put a little twist on the cupcake bites, a lime twist. I figured all kind of fruit is good covered with chocolate, a lime has to be too, right?

My "go to" chocolate cake recipe is this, and I just adapt it to make cupcakes:

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
adapted from www.hersheys.com

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa (I use DARK cocoa)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" round baking pans or prepare cupcake pans with liners.

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your mixer. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. (I stir by hand a few times to mix everything so the dry doesn't fly up in the air when you turn on the mixer) Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in boiling water by hand (batter will be very thin & runny, this is OK). Pour batter evenly into cake pans OR by using a ladle into regular size cupcakes OR into a condiment bottle to squeeze into mini cupcake liners.

Once you make this cake and see for yourself how runny the batter is, you will be so impressed that there's not a drop of batter on these pans. That's how important it is to use a squeeze bottle for this size!
For the 9" rounds, bake approx 30-35 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean.
For the regular size cupcakes, I found 17 minutes was good for my oven.
For the mini cupcakes, I found 14 minutes was good.

For awesome Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

2 sticks softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (I use DARK cocoa)
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Cream butter for a few minutes in the mixer on medium speed. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, starting mixer on lowest setting until mixed well. Add cocoa and melted chocolate and mix well. Add vanilla and add cream 1 tbsp at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Add more milk/cream or sugar if needed. 

Now for this particular batch of frosting, I omitted the melted chocolate and vanilla and added Cherry Lime-Aid I had in the frig and added the zest of one whole lime. Even my kids liked it!

I just scoop it into a ziploc bag and cut the corner off to frost the cupcakes. 

I took my plate of "bites" and a glass of wine and went to watch Call The Midwife on PBS.

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