Saturday, December 26, 2009

Diary of a craftaholic Gift Exchange

Earlier this month I participated in a gift exchange from here. And Robin from here
sent me these adorable hand-stiched Christmas handtowels. Thanks! They are very cute and a fun addition to my Christmas decor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick and easy Christmas BINGO

So, I'm in charge of the Kindergarten Christmas Party tomorrow and was going to do Christmas BINGO. And I found this awesome web-site: that did all of the work for me. Just pick a theme, then every time you click print card it will

reload a brand new card for you. So, if you need to entertain any kids this week, check it out.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Easy Bread-Maker Bagettes

So, awhile ago I made these bagettes that I saw on Not So Idle Hands and they turned out really good. The directions were easy to follow, but you know me, I wanted to try to SIMPLIFY and use my bread-maker to see how they turned out. Today I had some extra time so I was trying to get as much ready for the week as possible. I was going to make these to freeze and then cut them up to eat with some spinach artichoke dip on Christmas Eve.

To me, it tasted just like the original recipe. It took 1.5 hours in the bread maker, then another hour to rise, then 20 to bake, so if you want it for dinner, start it in the early afternoon.

So, here are my directions:

Easy Bread-Maker Bagettes

1 package dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups flour (I used 1/2 wheat and 1/2 white)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 egg

In this order put flour, water, salt, and yeast in your bread maker. Then press the dough setting.

Then divide the dough in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll each portion on a floured surfrace into a thick, 12 inch rope, slightly tapered at each end.

Place ropes on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover again and let them rise till double again (I let them sit for about an hour). Now preheat to oven to 450. Optional: beat 1 egg and brush over the surface, then cut 3 (1/4 inch deep) diagonal slits across the top of each loaf.

Bake @450 for 20 minutes or until browned on the bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In case you haven't had enough sugar lately...

Try these oreo suckers. They turned out good and they were easy. And they actually do stay on a stick nicely. I ran out of sucker sticks and uses popsicle sticks. That worked fine. I think my scouts will be getting some today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can you spot the differences?

On Saturday we had our family picture taken at our Christmas party by my brother-in-law.So, I took these two photos and turned it into this: First, I put merged the babies face from one into the other since she was smiling in one. I also cropped, colorized, use the clone stamp tool to get rid of the plug and the stripe from the floor. I also blurred the line between the floor and the wall. I love Photoshop.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good deals

So, I went into Toys R Us today for one child to pick his present for his brother... and I came out with this. They had their PlaySkool Cottage stuff for 70% off. So, guess how much I paid for this?

It includes a market, cottage with stove, sink, washer, three packs of food, a nursery, a mobile, a vanity etc...

Retail value was about $400. I paid $99. I know my baby is a little young, and no I don't usually get this much stuff for one Christmas or Birthday. I think she will be getting this stuff for the next three years.

The hubbie thought it was a bit much, but he wasn't too mad. Do you mind storing bargains like this or would that drive you crazy? Would you have bought it if you were me?

12 Days of Christmas

I made this "12 Days of Christmas" craft by using a 12 count mini muffin tin. I found this one at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for $4.99. It came in a cupcake kit. I saved the other things that came with it for my 2 year old to use with the kitchen she is getting for Christmas. I spray painted it red and then spray painted glitter over it. There are 12 Christmas activities you can do with your kids under each magnet. I also put magnets on the back so it sticks to the fridge. Each day, your child lifts the magnet and then does the activity listed. This one says, "Do a Christmas Craft." And each year you can mix up the order of the numbers so the activities are not always done in the same order. I picked things that we do every Christmas anyway. It's just a fun way to get your kids involved.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Simple Birthday Celebration

My family had a Christmas party yesterday and I was in charge of a little celebration for my mom's Birthday, which is today. I thought I would share what I did in case you need some simple ideas to honor someone in your life.

First, I made a three-minute DVD with pictures of her life put to music. Then we played a "Mom by the Numbers"-- Showcase Showdown Game. Basically I found about 12 questions that the answers were numbers about her life. Check out this website to look up facts about the year someone was born. IE, what was the cost of a home, cost of a car, average yearly wages, cost of a gallon of gas etc.
Then you can some personal questions like how many houses have they lived in, jobs have they had, doors at their house, pairs of shoes in their closet, etc. etc. Then you divide your group up into two teams and ask them these questions. The team that gets the closest without going over gets a point. And then at the end the team with the most points wins.
I also made a simple party favor out of moms favorite candy. I found a few boxes of these at the Dollar Store, and divided them into clear gift bags. (Kids are great at helping with this). Then I used the actual box of candy for the top. I cut them to fit over the bags, and then stapled a picture of my mom when she was 20 to it. Cute and easy. \

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things to do with a Crystal Light tube...

So, if you are sick of eating soup to get those cans ready for your presents, here is another way to wrap those small gifts. During my couponing career (it's over now), I stocked up on the Crystal Light, and I kept the tubes.

Sometimes I feel weird keeping garbage, especially after having watched Hoarders a few times. But sometimes it just comes in handy.

Check out this post where someone made a much sturdier container for their Memory Game too. I copied her, but I just took the label off and wrote Memory with a black marker. Somedays you just put more effort out than others. :)

PS. In case you are wondering, I just took the label off and wrapped it with wrapping paper and then added a tag.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The best bread-maker wheat bread

Sorry if the pictures are doing funky things. I'm not sure how to fix that.

Ok, if you are a die-hard breadmaker who grinds your own wheat and never goes to the bread store-this post is not for you.

For the rest of us, you've got to try this recipe. (If you have a breadmaker)

My mom got this from a friend. And I got a copy a few years ago because it was so delicious. And this time of year I'm all about the soups and casseroles, which this bread goes beautifully with. But, some of the ingredients aren't exactly things you can pick up from Wal-mart. So, print this out, and then gather the ingredients from wherever you can. It will be worth the effort.

And wheat bread in the breadmaker can be tricky. It's very likely that it will come out like a dry brick. Not this one though.

Breadmaker Wheat Bread

1 1/2 t yeast
1 1/2 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c cracked wheat*
1 t salt
1 T dough enhancer*
4 t gluten

3 T honey
2 T oil
1 1/4 c warm water

Put in bread maker in order.
Use sweet bread setting.

*I had to research the cracked wheat. It's hard to find in stores. I was about the break out the hand-grinder from our emergency preparedness, when I saw we had a can of Morning Moo 9- Grain Cracked wheat that I opened.

*I got the dough enhancer and gluten at our local Preparedness Store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Table Runner!

I went to book club on Wednesday and at Amberly's house she had the cutest table runner. I got the wheels working in my head and decided to design my own. It was really quite simple actually, I made 2! One for me and one for a gift. I bought 1 yard of Super Soft fleece in Red and also 1 yard of this fabric that looks like lambs wool. Then 2 yards of leather type belt material, 4 belt buckles and 4 bells. Very simple right? I cut the yard of material in half and then took a carpenters square and laid it at the end and cut a v shape on each end of each piece. Then I laid them right sides together. I took the 2 yards of leather belt stuff (for lack of a better word!!) cut into 18" pieces and threaded the belt buckles on each piece. Made sure that the bottom of the belt was against the red fabric so that when its turned right side out again it will be right. I then pinned the pieces together with the belt sandwiched between and sewed around the whole thing leaving about 4 inches open to turn it right side out. After its turned right side out I hand stitched the opening closed and sewed bells on the points at each end. I think it turned out great! I didn't take picture by picture tutorials I didn't think about it until I was done. It went really fast though, I started cutting them out around 2pm and finished sewing at 4:30 that's 2 and a half hours to make 2. Now I didn't buy bells because I thought I had some at home. I got home and only had 3 so I finished the one I gave away and didn't get pictures of it. So this one still needs the bells, but otherwise its done.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gobble Gobble Gobble

It's kind of a late post, but when I went to my parents house for Thanksgiving and she had made the cutest thing.

Isn't it just so cute! If you go to they have these wood letters you can buy along with a whole bunch of really cute ideas!! Click on the wood crafts tab and watch the slide show. You won't be sorry!!!

Christmas Wrapping

Ok, So each year when I start wrapping presents and putting them under the tree--the kids start fighting about who has the biggest present, who has the most presents (which I try to have them each have the same number under the tree but initially they all don't get wrapped at the same time)....what a dilemma!!!
I have tried one method where I wrapped the presents and then in secret mom code I put a shape on the bottom so I knew who's present was who's. It was ok but not my favorite so I went back to writing on tags and then the fighting began again. Plus the secret code method was a little confusing on Christmas morning.
My sister-in-law every year assigns her kids a reindeer name (they don't know who is who) then they find out on Christmas morning. {she has a 15, 13, 11, and 7 year old and they still love it}
Well, this year I have decided that I will wrap all of one child's presents in the same paper. No tag just the same paper. So I went out and bought 8 new rolls of wrapping paper and assign one roll to each person. I hope that this will help with the fighting and with less confusion on Christmas morning. I hopefully will start wrapping today so HAPPY WRAPPING everyone!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Card

I got some inspiration for my Christmas Card this year from my Creating Keepsakes magazine. They inspired me to think outside the box for my card this year. They had a layout with instructions for a Christmas tree made out of images of things you would see around your house at the holidays, ie, cookies, ornaments etc.
I thought it would be cute to use my kids eyes to make up the tree. Their instructions were for a paper version, but I thought I would save time and try to do it digitally. It probably took me just as long or longer to figure it out, but I finally did.
Sorry, I should have written down the instructions, and I probably couldn't do it again if I tried. Also in their magazine they had a list of Christmas quotes to use in cards and on layouts. Try something different on your cards this year. It's kind of fun!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I cannot help myself....

Ok, I told myself that I wouldn't post this. Part of the problem with this kind of blog is that I can't surprise friends with my craftiness. But after making this today I don't care. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't share this.
It's made from a pop-top food can. But the person receiving it will be the first one to open it from the top. Because you fill it from the bottom. You can fill it with candy or a small gift.
You might have seen it already, if not here are in the instructions in two different places: here and here.
One said you had to have Terrifically Tacky Tape. I was bummed because I didn't want to go to the store, but the other said your trusty glue gun works fine. It did for me.
Now, my sister-in-law will just have to be surprised with whats in it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Christmas Countdown

I wanted to get this post done yesterday..but you all know how some days go.

Anyway---I have wanted a Christmas countdown for the last couple of years but I didn't want something that was big and bulky that was hard to store. Well after looking at many and figuring out what I had at home so that I didn't have to buy anything, this is what I came up with. I have a sizzix machine with a die cut that is a envelope. So I punched out 24 envelopes.
Then I folded them and glued them and put a magnet on the back of it.

Then I put a number on it and came up with 24 things we could do in the month of December. I looked at a calendar so I knew what was going on and could actually do the thing I want to. For example: Sleep under the Christmas tree is on a Friday night, some of the easier things like do service for a family member is on a weekday. I wrote the ideas on a paper and put it into the envelope.
Then on a magnet board that I already have I created a Christmas tree.

I hope it works how I want it to. If not I will revise it for next year. But the most important thing is that the kids are excited about it.

The countdown is on!

Sorry, I know December has already begun, so this isn't the timeliest post. But one of the best parts about Christmas is the anticipation. And advent calendars help with the excitement. I finished this one yesterday (just in the nick of time). I got the idea here.

I probably should add block words "days til Christmas" on two more blocks like she did, so it makes more sense. I used sticker numbers, but you could use print-outs, die-cuts, etc.This is one my mom made me a few years ago. There are litte hooks around the wall hanging that you can move around numbered 1-24.And this is one you move the star down each day until the star is resting nicely above your stable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hat and glove organization

Now that winter is upon us,I thought I would share this trick I learned from my sister-in-law. We used to have a basket of gloves and hats in the coat closet. And of course, it would get dumped out and then abandoned every time a child looked for a matching set of gloves.

So, this is perfect solution. It's an over-the-door shoe hanger. And each compartment can hold a pair of gloves, a hat, scarf etc. Now if only the munchkins would put their gloves back without being asked.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pie Tutorial

Hi all, I am joining the crew! My name is Tammie and I have prepared a pie crust tutorial for today. I love making pies, and my husband loves to eat them!!! My mom is a great cook, and she taught me none of it, I didn't want to learn I was going to have my own maid and cook!! Huh, that didn't work out like I planned, but making a pie crust is probably the only thing in the kitchen that I do better than my mother! Maybe that's what motivates me to keep making them!! :-)

I tried to do this step by step, but taking pictures of step by step is not as easy as it sounds. Steps aren't always clear and taking a picture with my left hand while doing something with my right is next to impossible. Do they make camera's for lefties??? I could sure use one, or maybe a tripod and camera remote that I could take pictures with my teeth. What do you invention idea??? Here goes, I hope this makes sense and you don't get bored before your finished!!!!

Here are the ingredients you'll need to make a basic double crust pie or 2 single crusts.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup of shortening (Crisco)
1/2 tsp salt
6 - 7 Tbls. ice water
Pie crust is a very simple recipe with basic ingredients.
Step 1 use a pastry cutter and put the flour, salt and Crisco and cut in. Now I know that I have heard it said that you shouldn't over work pie crust, I have come to discover that for me at least that rule is after the water has been added.

Keep mixing until it looks like this, now if you read in the Betty Crocker cookbook it says to blend until the texture of cornmeal, but if you've never worked with cornmeal you might not know what that looks like and I don't think it looks like cornmeal anyway! Just make sure all the flour is blended into the shortening. It takes about 3 min with the pastry blender.

This is where pie crust becomes tricky and this is my trick. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over your mixture and lightly stir in with a fork. Don't press just sort of toss, as you toss, the water adheres to the mixture and sticks together.

Add 1 Tablespoon at a time at this point and keep tossing with your fork, depending on the moisture in the air depends on whether or not I add a 7th and sometimes if its a humid day (not usual in Idaho) I've only added 5 but that is very rare. At 6 if there is no loose flour left or if there is very little take your hand and squeeze it all together into a large ball.

Do not knead!!! Just squeeze into a ball.
Split the ball into 2 equal halves.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you need to use it. If its in the fridge longer than 1/2 hour then it might need to sit for a few minutes to become slightly pliable before rolling out.

I would like to make a small disclaimer. I have read many, many different ways to do pie crusts, and I have tried most of them. Most recipes tell you to work with very cold ingredients I have never noticed a difference between cold shortening and room temperature except cold is harder to cut into the flour. Before rolling, I like my dough slightly chilled, because then it doesn't stick to the wax paper when rolling out, but not too cold because then it seems crumbly when I try to roll it out. (10 min chill is plenty) I have noticed that the pie crust doesn't shrink as bad if the pie sits for at least an hour before baking and is chilled before baking.

Put your crust between two pieces of wax paper and roll out. As you roll peel the paper off the dough on top press lightly back on and flip to the other side and then re roll and repeat, until its the right size. Just before you lay your crust on the pan, make sure that both sides of the wax paper have been loosened (or peeled and lightly pressed to the wax paper) or it could possibly tear your crust when you try to take it off on the pie tin, take the top paper off and lift the bottom paper turning crust over onto the pie tin.

If using this recipe for a fresh fruit pie, cream pie or cheesecake type filling you will need to pre-bake the crust. Roll out the crust slightly larger than the pie tin, center and lay over the top.

Take excess and tuck underneath edge to give you enough dough to crimp/flute.

tucking the extra underneath
fluting the edge
The first pie is ready to be filled for a two crust pie and have the top added, the second is ready to be baked and then filled for a single crust.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 min, let cool and add your filling and serve. I will post a couple of pie recipes next to give you a few options.

Superhero Cape Towels

Instead of PJ's this year, my boys are getting these capes inspired by Martha in this article. Of course, I had to SIMPLIFY, to make it work for me and here are my changes:

My tools and materials:

Bath Towel


Superhero Cape Template (from the link above)


Paper-backed fusible web

Straight Pins

Sewing Scissors

Matching Thread

Ironable Velcro (much easier than sewing on velcro)

I pretty much followed her directions, except I just appliqued the shield and the lightning bolt using the fusible web and a zig-zag stich.

I did not do a button and button hole like she did. I just followed the directions from the velcro to iron on a closure for the front to go around their necks. Measure around your neck (or your childs if it's not a surprise), and then iron one on the front of the towel, and the opposite piece on the back of the towel.
I've been meaning to make my boys these for a long time now. Check, check, check that off my list.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is someone bugging you for a wish list?

Then you have to add these to your list! These are Tim Holtz - Non-Stick Micro Serrated Scissors. My sister (who used to work at Archivers , so she is up on all of the latest scrap booking gadgets) brought these to Thanksgiving so we could work on our scrabble tile pendants (pics to come).

I have to tell you that these are seriously the best scissors you will ever use. I will never be satisfied by another pair of scissors again. These are so comfortable and so precise. The directions for the pendants tell you to sand off the edges, but these are so precise I didn't need to do that.

So, let that desperate person who doesn't know what to get you know about these. You will have a very merry Christmas if you do. I promise.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have been asked to share how to make here goes. I don't have photos now, but I can add them in the next time that I make tamales.

What You Need
Corn husks
Large container or sink for soaking
Container or plastic bag for keeping the husks in
Tamale dough
Steaming bucket or something you can steam them in

Tamale Dough
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm water or broth
1 1/2 cups lard or shortening
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.
After Masa is prepared-
Gradually add in the salt, cumin and onion powder.
In a separate bowl, whip lard or shortening until fluffy. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined.The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa, water or broth as necessary. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Tamale Fillings

Pork and Chicken
1 pork roast (6-8 pounds) cooked and shredded
1 large chicken (5 pounds) cooked and shredded
1/2 c corn oi
6 Tablespoon chili powder
2 Tablespoon garlic salt
3 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon (or less) black pepper
2 Tablespoon salt.

Beef filling
3 cups shredded beef
8 large roasted chiles- skin, seeds and veins removed and coarsely chopped.
1 white onion- peeled and coarsely chopped.
6 cloves of garlic- peeled and crushed.
1 jalapeno- seeded and diced
3 potatoes- peeled, boiled and chopped into large chunks.
1 cup homemade chile sauce or store bought.

Green Chile
1 cup green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup green chile sauce
1/2 cup whole corn kernels added to dough

México Del sur
2 cups shredded chicken, seasoned with hoja santa
1 cup fresh, whole corn kernels
1 cup finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red chile sauce

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken marinated in citrus flavors
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
2 serrano chiles, finely diced
1/4 cup orange juice

Black Bean and Cheese
2 cups seasoned black beans
1/4 cup liquid from beans (bean broth)
1/2 cup of cilantro
1 cup queso panela shredded
1/2 cup onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 cups cooked shrimp or lobster
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup mariscos sauce- 1/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, seasoned with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped.

How To Wrap a Tamale

Here's How:
Sort the husks
Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces.

Soak the husks
Place the husks into a large bowl or sink. Cover husks with warm water. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl) on top of the husks to keep them submerged.

Prepare the husks
Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Use only the larger and medium sized husks for the tamales. When looking at the husk, they have a narrow end, a broad end, and 2 long sides.

Adding the dough
Lay a husk on a flat surface. Place 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick.

Spread about a tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough.

Locate the long side with a 2 inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Fold the bottom empty part up.

Set tamales upright in a steamer. You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose. You may have something else you can use to create the same effect. The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water.
Steam for about 90 minutes

Do not let the water boil up completely. Add hot water to the pot as necessary but keep it away from the tamales. If some of the husks are too small or you have trouble closing them, use extra pieces of husk to wrap around the open areas.

Lazy moms stain fighting magic

I admit it. I don't take care of stains immediately. Especially with babies who guarantee at least one blow-out a day, not matter what size or brand of diaper you have. Those bm's are just destined to head out the back door.
So, I make a pile of stained clothes and take care of them once a week. And my method works. Almost every time.
So, you need: stained clothing
Your secret weapons: Fels Nafta: (This is the cheese-looking bar. We have gotten our at Winco. They are cheap and last for a long time) and Oxi-Clean.Then you set your washer to soak and while the tub is filling , scrub the stains with yours Fels Nafta. Then when the washer is filled, put a couple of scoops of Oxi-Clean. Then you let it sit for a couple of hours. Or a couple of days depending on how you week is going. Then wash and dry as usual. And wa-lah. Good as new.