Just a little place for me to post to my hearts content. My crafts and creations, photos and thoughts.

Dec 17, 2011

*Dee-lish* Sour cream pound cake

  I made this for Thanksgiving when I had an over abundance of sour cream, and also needed something more for the dessert table. A quick search turned up a Paula Deen recipe. Made it, and LOVED it. Then I made it again a few days ago aaaaand its already gone! This doesnt make a small cake either. It comes out with a very fine, not too moist not too dry crumb. It bakes perfectly even and it creates its own fine lightly crunchy crust to the batter that is exposed to air in the oven. It's just sooo good. For thanksgiving I made it with my own muscle power and a few days ago with my bright new shiny kitchenaid stand mixer and both times it came out perfect and consistent.   For the recipe head over here to Food Network :) Thanks Paula

Dec 13, 2011

working on a deal site

Im venturing into other things because, well, that's what I do. I have way too many interests in way too many things. But this is a venture INTO not onto, ( does that only make sense in my head?) so I'll still be posting about all my normal junk too.

                   I'm very into couponing and finding deals and freebies lately. But I try, try, TRY  to use it only for healthy, and preferably natural or organic items and deals. SO I have made a sister site at the moment to post about things i think are worthwhile, and again mostly it's to help get things out in the open, rather than jumbled in my head ...so here it is in all its infancy glory with no bells or whistles!! Iv'e already posted a few little goodies...

                                                 Naturally Sweet Deals

Mar 23, 2011

Make your own natural laundry powder

   I had been meaning to do it for a long time, and finally I got the supplies and made up a batch of homemade laundry powder. I must say that I am pretty satisfied with the outcome! I found quite a few recipes both online and within the books I own, all seeming the have the same main components but with different ratios. I finally settled on one for which the “recipe” is
3 Cups of Washing Soda ~3 Cups of Borax ~3 grated bars of  fels naptha soap
ummm grating that bar of soap was horrible! Horrible!  so I only used one! Ha! and I think it still works splendidly. Perhaps next time I will chop ‘em up a bit then put them through a whirl in my new food processor? or maybe that’s a bad idea. Anyhoo, I mixed all the stuff up in a snappy lidded plastic food storage bin and when I do laundry I put in 1/4 Cup for a full load and 1/8 Cup for a small load. When the clothes are wet they have a nice soapy fragrance imparted by the fels naptha, but after the dryer I really can’t smell anything but freshness…So fresh and so clean.. clean.
I have a HE frontload and this stuff works fine and dandy. I also put in about a 1/4 Cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and I have no complaints.  If Fels Naptha soap is just too hard to find, I’ve read you can replace it with an ivory soap bar. You can also add a bit of essential oil to your mix to add a little fragrance. Next time I might do this and add some sweet orange essential oil and see how it goes.
Note: originally I was going to make a liquid or gel like detergent but figured the powder would be a little easier to store and dispense, but I think at some point I will make the liquid version just to compare.

Mar 22, 2011

Learning where to draw the line

   ALL photos from WD Device 4318
Wedding planning is rapidly taking charge of my life. But I love it! I really think it sort of combines all of my loves..planning..listing…dreaming..decorating..baking..and so much more.  I have a limited budget of whatever we can save by the wedding date and whatever is graciously donated to the fund by the ‘rents. However I think, no, I KNOW that even if I had a vast and unlimited wedding account at my disposal I would probably be doing everything the same. Here is what I plan to do, (this may be something I look back upon and laugh at because of my naivety but I sincerely hope that It isn't) I plan to:
  • Grow My own flowers - Why not put money into beautifying our own barren yard while at the same time providing us with our own blooms for the wedding, and I love to garden
  • Bake my own wedding cakes and desserts – I plan on having a glorious desserts buffet of cookies candies and several different flavored cakes. A stand alone freezer for the garage for all that cookie dough may be a necessity
  • Decorate myself –  I plan on making and/or purchasing all of the elements to use to decorate our venue. I plan on using my milk glass and vintage vase collection along with jars and glasses for centerpieces. constructing swags, flags and streamers for hanging. Displaying photos of us through the years with family.
  • Buy instead of rent -  When I can!
  • I pod=Dj – However I will need to buy one! I will graciously ask for i-tunes gift cards this coming Christmas and for my next birthday
  • Sew some linens -  I will look into what it would cost to sew my own napkins,runners and perhaps the tablecloths if I don’t use the ones from my fun vintage collection.
    We plan on hiring … a photographer with our style in our price range. This may be tough. A caterer for a delish buffet style dinner. A photo booth is a maybe but I would love for it to be a definite. And perhaps another little something I’m thinking but will keep to myself for now.
     Here’s the problem. Where do I draw the line? Where does it change from “This was so worth it!” to “What was I thinking”?  I don’t even allow myself to think that it will be stressful, which must sound like pure delusion to some brides who have gone before me. I do find I am the type of person who finds joy in these things rather than stressors that need to checked off of a list. Here is the thought that brought my little planning mind to a sudden hault….I was thinking about the coffee and tea station and I was thinking of all the ways I would set it up. Perhaps I should purchase another thermal coffee dispenser, have some cute tea options, some flavored syrups and organic sugar cubes , and then I thought, orrr should I just let/pay the caterer to do it? Am I ridiculous to plan out the COFFEE & TEA bar at my OWN wedding?  ( I’ll tell you the truth, right now my mind is saying do it! its what you love to do! enjoy and do it) I mean, It’s not like I picture myself in my wedding dress, standing behind the coffee dispenser asking “milk or cream?” I just picture myself enjoying the set up BEFORE the wedding.  I guess for now I'll just learn as I go.

Mar 17, 2011

~Wedding Fun~ Renting vs. purchasing Silverware Part 2

formal setting
   I have been figuring 20 extra flatware sets over my expected guest count. This may be overkill, I’m not sure. Also I would like to have  a set for each hired individual that works at our wedding which may only be a few.              Ill assume 120 guests + 20 extra settings for a total of 140 needed sets. From the few companies I have looked into, the averages come out as
dinner knife .45,  butter knife  .38,    dinner fork .38,  teaspoon  .38.
I am thinking of having a dinner knife, fork and spoon at each setting, and having a dessert fork and coffee spoon set up on the dessert buffet table for later. If we end up not serving soup well, the spoon can be used for whatever fits your fancy. Swirling ice cubes in the lemonade for example.
I also would like to have a butter knife, or small fancy condiment knife, one for every two people. So about 4 per table (along with  4 butter dishes). People can share a bit right?    (plus 20 extra)
So back to the equation. .45(knife)+.38(fork)+.38(spoon)+.38(second fork)+.38(second spoon) X 140 settings= $275.80   
 ~plus~  .38(butter knife)x 90=$34.20 for a grand total of $310            Now this is with the cheapest options available from the rental companies. The quality, I’m assuming, is a step or so above a really cheap economy flatware.  Because I do not have the items in front of me and the pictures don’t show many angles I am figuring that what I would get through renting might be slightly higher quality than what I will get if I buy. I still think purchasing is the way to go for me.
PROS: you own it! the money you spend doesn’t go away after the night is over, you can sell some or all of the settings to make back some money, there are no hourly time restrictions so you will not be charged an additional day if you don’t have it cleaned and ready to go.
CONS: the quality may not be tip top, but hey it’s not like there will be expensive settings there to compare it to and people just want to eat and dance anyway right?
    Ok, onto the resources and fun stuff, I have found a few different places offering pretty inexpensive flatware. So far I have done comparison work on two.  First AmericanDiscountTableware.com  has a few flatware sets. The “heavy weight” Windsor or Dominion style flatware, one of the cheapest, work out at approx.  .19 c a spoon, .25 c for a salad(dessert) fork, .27 c for a dinner fork and .55 c for a dinner knife.  *So 22 sets of 12 spoons(264)=$50.16, 12 sets of 12 dinner forks(144)=$38.64  12 sets of 12 dessert forks(144)=$35.16, and 17 sets of 12 knives(204)=$112.88 Grand total of  $236.84
( note: I am in the process of figuring shipping costs from this company)
another option is the “heavy weight” vibro finish Crown flatware, which works out to approximately $292.56crown_header
Restockit.com has some interesting options also, however the sale that makes the prices worth it end this Sunday. I did a whole work-up but seeing that the sale ends so soon I will watch to see if they have a sale again and do a new write up then.
Ikea currently has a 16 piece set on sale for 3.99  essentially making each piece .25 cents. and each 4 piece setting cost only $1! Not sure if this deal will disappear soon or not. This is an in-store deal only so you would have to find your local Ikea to scoop them up. Even though they are a bit modern looking for me I may attempt to visit the store and see how they measure up. ikea
I will continue to work on finding inexpensive suppliers and update when I do. It’s probably safe to assume at least ONE of my equations is off, since my brain can only handle so much at a time Smile

Mar 16, 2011

~Wedding fun~ renting vs. purchasing silverware part 1

                                                                                        iMOM Formal Place Setting
I have started the time consuming process of researching rental items for our wedding. My question is this, why would I rent if I can buy for the same amount of money or less? My first item of question is “flatware.”
  I call it  silverware, however true silverware sadly, will not be making an appearance at our wedding.  Stainless steel will be, which I know is what the majority of brides use anyway right?   Now it comes down to High end, heavy, polished flatware  or light weight, somewhat dull economy flatware. Of course the rental prices between the two differ somewhere between 25 or more cents per piece. If you were to have a super traditional setting with 7+ silverware pieces per guest at 100 guests, it would cost an additional $175 to opt for the fancier flatware. ( again this is the difference in price ~lets say 7 pieces per guest at 100 guests…economy flatware at .38 =$266. Fancier flatware at .63c ea. =$441…difference $175)
  Now I understand that for shiny, heavy, fancy silverware that adds to an elegant place setting, this cost difference seems to be not so bad.  For others-me!- it just doesn’t matter that much.  This is just the flatware, there are so many other way more important aspects to a beautiful celebration, and I would prefer to put that  money towards other things if I don’t just end up keeping it for myself Smile
I am now entertaining the idea of purchasing ALL of the flatware that we will use at the wedding. I am going for a more casual look and feel, having a place setting consisting of  3 main pieces, a knife, fork and spoon and a smaller fork and spoon later for dessert and coffee. I plan on purchasing extra pieces along with a few cute butter knives for each table along with serving pieces. I am going to work on compiling my resource lists and comparison charts for my next post!
to keep these posts from turning into essays I will break them up into parts for my own sake and for anyone who might stumble upon and read.

Mar 11, 2011

Milk Glass

{Some of my collection}
 Ahh Milk glass,...sweet satisfaction. I have been collecting this grandmother-y, simple yet elegant, thrift store regular for a while now. It probably all began with the fact that milk glass is so inexpensive. I was a teenager when it first began to appeal to me. It had that vintage feel that I loved with a cheap price tag and I could build my "collection" with reckless abandon. Seriously, has there ever been a yard sale, second hand store or salvation army that didn't offer at least one piece?
    I remember not too long ago ogling my grandmother's large Fenton milk glass hobnail basket...that's a mouth full...so she insisted I take it...INSISTED!  I wonder if milk glass, in the eyes of some older generations, comes across as a cheap, dust collecting, knick knack thing of their past. "oh, that old thing? take it, please!" But perhaps not. It may lend a sort of sentimental feeling since some pieces may have been around since their childhood.
   I started collecting and storing away for my future home...um, way before the home ever came. before it was even in the horizon. I'd like to think I wasn't the only one that was like this. It was sort of the adolescent version of playing house I suppose. When we moved in over a year ago, I had boxes and boxes...I think I'm blushing a little.. to unpack full of vintage things that Id been squirreling away for years. My milk glass being just one of them.
  Now I must say, this recent surge in the desire for milk glass, especially at weddings, has somewhat put a wrench in the works for me. Its partly because not only is it turning into THE definition of an indie wedding, (and who wants to play follow the leader?) But also because its driving up the prices everywhere! Ok so it's not super expensive now or anything, but searching for different or unusual pieces online results in, in my opinion, silly inflated price tags. Now I am not trying to claim that I am the only person on this earth who has a thing for milk glass and who loves it an collects it. No, I admit there are many out there. I am just a new kid to the team. But it is just a little sad to see my quaint and unassuming little milk glass turn into the bell of the ball so abruptly. Probably only to be forgotten again  and left in the dusty shadows. But what's old is new again, and fashion repeats itself over and over. Well when the 15 minutes of fame is up...I vow this,   I will always love you :)
{ ..needless to say I will be using my milk glass at my wedding! }

Mar 10, 2011

Well Wed on the Cape

I'm really, really excited for this saturday. My honey and me will be taking a little trip down to the cape to attent the WellWed Cape and Islands wedding affair. yahoo!. 
  A weekend ago we attended the Great bridal Expo in Boston. Insert huge yawn here. It was
sooo not my thing. We made a quick round, got a few free wedding mags (for inspiration book purposes) and left. It was pretty much the culmination of all the things about weddings that drive me crazy. Bla, cookie cutter, and expensive. But it was my very first wedding event anything. Even though I had a slight (ok huge) idea I wouldnt get too much of it, I still made us go. It was free, with the exception of gas and parking and it got us out of the house.
   So this saturday is looking like a lot of like-minded fun. Artsy-fartsy, colorful, lively fun. And even though I don't anticipate being able to afford many of the vendors or services, one can dream. Dream translates to steal  borrow ideas, make them myself and take all the glorious credit. bwa-hahahah!

Mar 9, 2011

Banana Choc. Chip muffins

     I've been on a self prescribed low sugar diet for over a month now. It is tuuuuuuff! First off, I love sweets. Second, I love to bake. I gave in a little the other day and made some banana chocolate chip muffins that came out nice and moist.  I ate a few. Yikes. My knees and joints, which had been taking a much deserved vacation from pain (I am so convinced it is from the low sugar!) began to ache and swell a few hours after my indulgences. Now, is this all in my head? I'd like to think not. Cutting the sugar and feeling the result of decreased pain gives a sense of control over something that normally plagues me daily and a pain reliever doesn't help. So I'm on a quest for low sugar recipes for baked goods so that I can have the best of both worlds. Anyhoot, here is the recipe for the muffins! I must say they came out just the way I had hoped. Is it just me or does this picture gives them a oatmealy raisin appearance?

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
preheat oven to 350 F, and lightly grease muffin pans or use paper muffin cups

Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour                               
  • 2 teasp. baking powder
  • 1 teasp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teasp. salt
Wet ingredients
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3 c loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1 1/4 cup of mashed ripe banana, I used 2 medium.
  • 3 Tablespoons milk, or cream
  • 1 teasp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
 Sift together the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix together all of the wet ingredients except
for the chocolate chips. Then incorporate the two and add the chips. simple enough right?
I used medium-ish muffin pans and at 18 minutes they came out just right. I got 16 muffins.
 I'm going to make these again using a large muffin pan and muffin liners for that straight from
the bakery case feel.

Feb 25, 2011

Macaroon (Macaron) craze

 You probably would have had to be living under a rock for the past year, maybe two? three? for the macaron craze to have eluded you. Ok, I say macaroon but I will spell it Macaron so that I can somewhat feel authentic. However I am going to attempt to train myself to say it authentically so that it doesn't impede itself on my beloved coconut macaroon.
 I have never had the pleasure of tasting one. But from the sound of it, I think it would be something I would really enjoy. A smooth, crunchy exterior with a slightly chewy, soft center? add to it a buttercream or jam filling, endless flavor possibilities and combinations and always having a base of almond. YUM! I Have requested this book from my library and eagerly await for the arrival.

I'm having some friends over next weekend and will attempt to make one or two flavors.
There is one area I will do a little more research into, which is coloring. I believe the
addition of a fruit juice for color may disrupt the chemistry that makes a meringue,
however I am not sure. I would like to eventually add the India Tree natural food coloring set
to my little baking stash. I havn't had much luck in finding it so more than likely I will order
                   it from Amazon.
Mmmmm, brightly hued frosting, why does it look so good?

Feb 24, 2011

from "I will" to "I do" and everything in between.

So It has happened, (well actually a few months ago now) We are FINALLY engaged!
It took the boy 10 years, but the glorious day came.
on October 29th,on our 10 year "dating" anniversary(also his birthday),
my sweetie woke me up, got onto his knee and opened the ring box. I teared up, and smiled.
I had teased him for years that I wanted an unexpected, surprise of a proposal. um, this it was.
Just the day before I was talking with a good friend on the phone. "do you think he'll do it tomorrow? your 10 year?" No waaay i said and thought. We have been in each others faces
every non-working, waking and sleeping moment for the past 10 years. and for the past year, even more so, working on our first home, our personal "Money Pit". :)
So yes! when he came to my side of the bed before our normal wake up for work time, I thought perhaps it was just a cute little anniversary morning kiss. Then it took over. Whats he doing? why is he on the floor? I'm half awake, this must be important. He smiled devilishly, and popped an open ring box into my sight. You know, I'm not sure of what was even said. Giddiness, smiles, some tears of joy and then phone calls to Mom, Dad and my sister.
I suddenly remembered it was a Friday morning. " you have to go to work" I said with a frown, I think he thought I was crazy. "of course i took the day off" he said and laughed.
I desperately need to get back into crafting, creating, imagining and doing.
This wedding may be just the thing i need to kick start myself back into creativity.
I want to make as much as possible. It will be a simple, yet elegant, do-it-myself, homespun and homemade type of occasion. I mean what better way to incorporate all of my loves?
Crafting, baking, planning, gardening & lists, endless lists! I cannot wait!