Saturday, January 30, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Syrup = YUM!

I decided to finally get around to making some homemade chocolate syrup today after Donna telling me she had found a recipe a couple of weeks ago. I found a couple of recipes that looked good and combined them. Because, well..... I just don't know when to leave well enough alone when it comes to cooking and baking or anything else for that matter.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 pinches salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tbsp light corn syrup

Mix the sugar, salt, and the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and wisk in the cocoa. Continue to wisk and let it boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Be careful not to let it boil over; almost learned that lesson the hard way myself. Remove from heat and let it cool about a minute before wisking in the vanilla. This way the vanilla won't burn off with the high temperature. Let it cool 10-15 minutes then pour into a glass jar or squeeze bottle, and store in the refrigerator. It will stay good for several months. Yields a little over two cups.

I think you could eliminate the light corn syrup if you wanted to and maybe just cook it a minute or so longer. I just happened to have some on hand already so I used it. I saw several recipes that didn't call for it though.

I think it tastes just as good if not better than Hershey's. Aly had a glass of chocolate milk after supper tonight and I am having some in a cup of coffee right now and we both agree it is delicious. And yes, I will be awake until midnight now drinking coffee this late. Thankfully I have plenty to keep me busy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Candyland Birthday Party Inspiration

Since starting back to school, my crafting time is limited and I have only been working on the quilt I have already shown you a preview of. So, I thought I would share the inspiration for the girls' birthday party this year. I'll start with the cake.
This one was made by Amy Vickery.

I saw this one at Lakes Cakes.

I want to do the big containers full of candy for the girls birthday party, but will need plastic if we do it at the park. Oh I just had this though, we can do a big piece of candy or gum (round ball) as a pinata! I wanted to have one again, but make it myself and a round ball is definately easy enough for me to do. The I can use tissue paper coming out the ends to look like the twisted wrapper part. Or I could make it look like a big flat piece of candy shaped like a peppermint or something to, whichever the girls prefer.

All of these inspiration pictures were posted from a Christmas party over at Bakerella

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I was doing some cleaning/ decluttering under the kitchen sink today and decided to go ahead and mix up another batch of homemade laundry detergent since the small batch I made has been working so well for us. This got 2 boxes of ingredients mixed up into 1 smaller bucket and saved me some space.

For my Hotpoint Super Capacity washer which according to the Hotpoint/ GE website is about 3.2 cu ft, I use 2 tablespoons per load. Sometimes I only use 1 scoop but that's rare. Only if it is a whole load of stuff that isn't very dirty. You can see pictures of the ingredients HERE in my All Purpose Cleaner post.

Cost of Ingredients:
1 box Borax $3.74
1 box Washing Soda $3.38
1 bar of soap - $1.00

To make the detergent, just mix 1/2 box Borax, 1 box washing soda, and 1 bar finely grated soap.

Total initially spent $8.12 since you can't buy 1/2 box of borax.
Actual cost per load=
1/2 box borax $1.87
1 box washing soda $3.38
1 bar soap $1.00
= $6.25

This makes enough for 165 loads of laundry using 2 tbsp per load for a total cost of 3.8 cents per load.

Compare to windfresh powder at Sam's @ 6.7 cents per load.

You wouldn't think this would be the case, but the soap is honestly the hardest ingredient to find. You don't want to use these extra moisturising dolled up soaps, but a good all purpose actual cleaning soap. I used my own homemade soap. Fels Naptha works great at cleaning, but it irritated Abby's eczema, so I just use homemade b/c I know exactly what is in it and it doesn't bother her. I also found Octagon for $0.79/ bar at Hometown Grocery in Seneca. Haven't tried that one with Abby yet. Zote is another brand you may be able to find.

And for what it's worth to anybody, through lots of prayer, trial, and error, we figured out that MILK was the thing making Abby's eczema really flare up. Turns out, I guess she's not so much allergic, but just sensitive to milk. We eliminated just milk, not all milk products from her diet and the eczema has gotten anywhere from 75-90% better. She still has dry itchy skin, but not the all over red flared up burning patches to go along with it. It would probably improve even more if we eliminated yogurt and cheese too, but the girl has to get calcium from somewhere and we can handle the level she is at now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MY Quilt

Yep, this baby is for ME!

All of the fabrics except the red are from my Great Aunt Bertha. The white one was an old feed or flour sack. I literally cut it apart myself so I could use the fabric. How awesome is that! The solid teal and the white with the blue and teal flowers were pieces of fabric that she (or someone) had purchased and used part of already.

The size right now is 42" x 56". I really like to have plenty of quilt to wrap around me when I watch TV so I am going to try to find some fabric that will coordinate well to use as a border to make it a little larger. But, here it is for now.

Here is the pattern I used by Quilting Treasures.
They have a lot of free quilting patterns on their site.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Twisty Hairstyle

I finally figured out how to do a "braid" that was really just a twist. I could never figure out how to get it to stay twisted before, but I stumbled across this video today at The Story of a Princess and Her Hair. There are some really amazing haristyles for little girls on there. I do not do anything nearly that elaborate to either of the girls hair. They are too impatient and my hairstyling skills are seriously lacking! I have never mastered french braiding, but this simple little twist was really quick and easy. Plus, I just don't see the point in spending so much time on their hair. Aly is like me and hers is coarse and frizzes like crazy.

Trying to insert a picture of what her hair looks like when she wakes up some mornings here, but Blogger doesn't like it aparently b/c it won't work right now. Oh well, moving on for now.

I think it would look better if I did a much smaller section of hair, but you get the general idea.
Here is a close-up of it in Aly's hair.
I even managed to get one in Abby's hair upon her request.
By the way, anyone that has known Abby for very long knows that she absolutely HATED having her hair brushed. She has a very tender head, which is part of the reason for the super short haircuts she has had for about a year now. It started when she cut a little piece of her ponytail last year right before Christmas. I took her to get a super short haircut at that point. It looks cute on her, but you just can't DO anything with short hair. About a month ago she got really picky about her hair and started brushing it like a billion times a day. She even sleeps with a hiarbrush under her pillow! So, now we have decided to let it grow back out longer as long as she keeps up the brushing routine herself.

I am definately going to have to try this one too:
A Faux French Braid for Those of You Who Can't... because I definately CAN'T. Or can't very well anyway. I just have to pick up some of those tiny rubber bands first. Ours have joined the lost sock society I guess. Here is a picture of it from her blog.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are probably my favorite kind of cookie. Chocolate Chip runs a close second though. Actually, my Grandma's Oatmeal Raisin Sunflower Seed cookies are actually my favorite to eat, but they are harder to make so we don't have them as often. The girls were delighted when I told them we could make cookies for breakfast this morning. No, they aren't a healthy breakfast cookie, but I figure they can't be any worse than a poptart.

The original recipe from Mama. I think she got it from the box of Kroger brand oatmeal when we were kids. You can tell I have made these many times.

Kroger Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups oatmeal
Cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in oatmeal. Drop by spoonfulls and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.
This makes a LOT of cookies. Not sure exactly how many. I usually only make 1/2 batch. Of that I cook 1/2 right then, and the other 1/2 I go ahead and scoop out onto a cookie sheet. Then I put those in the freezer overnight so they are frozen solid. Then I put them in a gallon ziploc bag so I can pull them out and cook them as we want them. You can also freeze them already baked, but doing it unbaked lets you have fresh hot homemade oatmeal cookies without all the mess later.

I prefer to use a cookie scoop so that all my cookies turn out the same size and are nice and round. I can never seem to get them even when I use a spoon to scoop them out.

I stuck a few M&M's on a couple of them before I baked them. The girls liked them but I prefer the plain ones.

They will look like this when they are ready to come out of the oven. They should look slightly golden brown but still underbaked. This will make sure they have a crispy outside but a little soft and chewy inside.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I usually don't bother to make New Years Resolutions, but thought I had some realistic things I would like to accomplish this year. I'm going back to school this spring, so I need to make sure I write these things down NOW so I can look back and check them off as I get them done.

1) Organize my craft and sewing supplies.
2) Organize my work stuff- no more cardboard boxes everywhere.
3) Finish at least 1 quilt.
4) Spend more time actually playing with the girls and let them sew more too.
5) Get more exercise. (the new Wii the girls got for Christmas should help)
6) Manage my time better. (an absolute must since I'm going back to school)
7) Cook from scratch more and do a better job of menu planning so we eat healthier.
8) Last but not least, find a church to go to. Especially for the girls to be in Sunday School. We have just been lazy about going and finding a church we like since we moved here 2 1/2 years ago. (Angel, we would love to visit yours sometime.)

That being said, I will post my BEFORE sewing and craft supplies pictures. I took pictures of everything as it looks right now. I promise no straightening up or messing up to make it look neater now or have a more impressive AFTER result.

My Second Quilt

I finally finished Aly's quilt this afternoon. If I had thought ahead, I would have started working on the binding one day earlier so I could have at least finished it in 2009. Oh well, a finished quilt is a great way to start off 2010 if you ask me, so here it is...

Aly chose to have a silvery grey to have hers tied with. It is a super soft bamboo yarn.

Just look at those beautiful blue skies we had today!

She wanted the green kitty fabric as her back strip and binding. She said it reminded her of her cousin Phoebe.

I love the crinkled look the back has. Too bad it isn't from being washed and dried, but just from being shoved, not folded, in a rubbermaid box for a couple of months.

That is 980 little squares per quilt, so 1,960 little squares total for the 2 quilts.

As much as I loved making these quilts for the girls, the next quilt will be for ME! And, it will have something other than squares, larger pieces of fabric, and completely random so there is less thought involved.