Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Celebrate the Brother: Airplane Mobile

When moving my darling 3 year old into his new room, I chose a color scheme of light blue, red and white. It seemed to work out well with the furnishings and bedding we had available. As it turned out, this made today's project even more fitting.

Our little guy is a typical boy's boy. He doesn't care if he's filthy. He like trucks. He likes trains. He likes airplanes. So when my husband's sweet Grandmother was downsizing her well-trimmed Christmas tree last year and invited the family to take some ornaments home, I knew these charming painted wooden airplanes would be coming home with us. They are so nostalgic and remember so many great family Christmases... I just love them.


To turn them into a mobile, I simply formed some thicker copper wire I had around into arcs with loops on the ends (pliers!), as well as in the middle, then attached them together with more looped spans of wire. So easy! It does have a homemade look to it, but I don't mind that in this application.


I think this could be cute and successful using any sort of non-holiday ornament. I'm pondering making something like this for the baby's room, but I haven't settled on a theme I like that is adequately gender-neutral. Hmmm.... well, at least I'm not short of time :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get Crafty: Homemade Wreath o' Blossoms

I ran into a how-to to make this great seasonal decoration over at a fun blog called The Pretty Poppy. Actually, I came to it via another adorable blog that showcased a pretty wreath made using the tutorial at delia creates. She was a guest blogger on MADE (if you've never been over to MADE, you really should! Blogger/crafter Dana is fabulous, and very generous with her creative genius). I loved Delia's yellow scheme so I adopted it for my own wreath. The small grapevine wreath had been lanquishing in my garage for months years, and this project was the perfect cure for 30 minutes of boredom! And I had the fleece around so it was a *free* project...



I think it turned out so cute... maybe you want to make one too? Or just spend your whole afternoon reading those great blogs like others *ahem* that I know? Delia inspired me with this fantastic bolero... Oh, I want one! Well, and to be that gorgeous...

Monday, September 27, 2010

From the Kitchen: Creamy Chicken and Broccoli for the Slow Cooker

I haven't been the best about cooking for my family lately, what with being a bit nauseous with the morning sickness and all, but some days I really try to make a real meal anyway. My husband plays late night hockey a couple nights a week, and I don't want him to starve for lack of a good meal! My solution on a recent night was to find a crock pot recipe for chicken that appealed to my own current tastes and dietary restrictions (read: "not spicy").

I looked in a few cookbooks to no avail. Commence the online research! Without too much trouble, I encountered a yummy sounding but poorly illustrated recipe on Allrecipes.com, then made some of my own alterations. About 8 hours and one lovely homemade loaf of bread later, it turned out delicious! It earned a happy review from my husband and compliments from my sister-in-law who stopped by unexpectedly. It was wonderful to have actually cooked a great meal and then have company over to document it!


Creamy Chicken and Broccoli

Ingredients:

4 frozen chicken breasts
1/2 cup Wishbone Italian dressing, (drain and dispose of the oil first, then measure 1/2 cup)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth (or 1 cup water plus 2 bouillon cubes)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese with chives
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg frozen broccoli florets, cooked and drained
Hot buttered spaghetti

Directions:

Place chicken in small crock pot; pour dressing over top. Turn slow cooker on to low and ignore for 5-7 hours. In a small bowl, microwave broth to boiling. Add in condensed soup and cream cheese and stir until fully mixed. Stir in  thyme, salt and pepper. Remove most of chicken liquid from crock pot, then shred the chicken. Pour in cream mixture and continue to cook on low for 30-60 minutes. Mix in hot broccoli florets. Serve over hot buttered noodles! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random Finds: Late-Season Rummage Sale Success!

I just got back from our cozy little town's bakery with my family. Fresh pumpkin doughnuts after a crisp, cool walk. So much Fall goodness! This time of year is the very end of the end of garage sale season. A local church hold their annual mission trip rummage sale this weekend, so when I was up and dressed, I hopped in the car and went. How could I not? Who doesn't love a rummage sale?

I'm glad I went because, for my even $20, I got a lot of goodies!

$7.00 - One paper grocery bag stuffed full of lots of fun. I packed in some fabric scraps, a cute pink vintage sheet, some vintage sewing notions, 2 vintage embroidered hankerchiefs, plastic canvas for the kids to practice their sewing skills, a newborn Easter outfit (it included a hat with rabbit ears... I couldn't help myself!), a fun green rug for the sunroom, and a roll of 100% cotton batting for an upcoming baby project. But wait! There's more! My favorite part... four pristine hardcover Martha Stewart books (I love Martha's books... there's always some inspiring ideas to be found).

$3.00 - A set of 4 lovely emerald green faux silk chair cushions... just perfect for our sunroom table and chairs.

$10.00 - I picked up another folding table and 3 folding chairs, in fairly good condition. My husband and I have been hosting a Thanksgiving party every year since we were married, and we always need more seating. This will also free up a different table for my work area... always nice :)

So much fun! Now, since I still have some energy left today, I'm going to go get something done (and then watch football)! Have a great Saturday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feature Friday: rikrak

Oooh! This week's featured shop is so much fun. A visit to Etsy shop rikrak stirs up a child-like candy shop feeling... so much color and light you simply want everything. And you want it now! These eco felt Christmas stockings are a very popular item, and it's no wonder why!


"Modern and sustainable patchwork" is the purpose and accomplishment of this charming shop. Kristal Davis, a Toronto-based textile genius and mother, has had a love for color since she can remember. She was featured in an Etsy "Quit Your Day Job" article in 2009:

"Kristal's business rikrak was born when she found out she was pregnant with her son. As her passion for making quilted baby play mats grew, her quilts began catching the eye of local boutiques and Etsians. Since joining Etsy, Kristal has made well over 1,500 sales, has sold through 90 boutiques around the world (after finding her shop through Etsy), and has been featured in five major print publications.  Her success on Etsy has enabled her to stay at home with her son instead of going back to her previous teaching job.  She hasn't looked back since!"


I just love the vintage fabrics she recycles for her bright happy coasters and wallets... I want to shop where she shops! I recall a blog post she wrote a while back where she said each time she uses up the last scrap of a vintage tablecloth or bedlinen, she get's a teeny tiny bit sad. I can relate to that feeling, but since she's obviously a textile opportunist, I'll bet she's also a little bit excited to have to go searching for more :)

In addition to making fabulous eco-friendly things, she also blogs fabulous things at her own rikrakstudio blog and is a regular guest writer at Etsy's Storque, author of The Collector series. Her talents are clearly not limited to the sewing room! I enjoy discovering Kristal's life-loving personality through her writing, and I'm happy to have encountered her work regularly through Etsy. When people talk about being a part of "the Etsy community", I have to say that sweet, bubbly artisans like Kristal are a huge part of the attraction to get involved.


Thanks, rikrak! (all photos and designs are Copyright © 2005-2010 rikrak™)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Life in a Nutshell: In The Family Way

I am beyond thrilled to be able to finally post this... you see, I'm expecting! Today marks 12 weeks for my teeny tiny snuggle bug.


This delightful little addition is our fourth, so pregnancy and its associated joys and discomforts are no surprise at this point. That each pregnancy is different is completely true, but there are some things that seem fairly predictable. To be concise, one gets bigger and bigger and, after approximately 40 weeks of being constantly poked and prodded by both health professionals and strangers in the supermarket, you get a take home the very best kind of souvenir from your hospital stay.

I'm thoroughly looking forward to this little person's arrival in early April, and I'll be posting about some baby-type projects in preparation (this new series will be called "In the Family Way"). I've already started giving our thrice-occupied nursery a much needed overhaul, and I've got an assortment of projects to go before it's actually inhabitable again. That work began before the gestating, but it's slowed to a halt these last 2 months. Lucky for me I've got about 28 weeks to go...

So, now you know... TheJuneBride is once again embarking on the trip of a lifetime. A fortunate and strange voyage full of hope and surprises...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From the Kitchen: Classic Angel Food Cake

I had never more than pondered the existence of angel food cake prior to joining Weight Watchers 18 months ago. Generally, I would think delicious desserts primarily comprising sugar and flour wouldn't be compatible with dieting, but this heavenly dessert works. A taste for it has stuck with me long after I lost the weight (yay!), and it's one of the very few desserts that I prefer without frosting. I know... I can feel your incredulousnes... but it's true. I actually prefer the sticky, honeyed crumb of a fresh angel food cake unsullied by accompaniments.


My preferred recipe comes from good ol' Betty. Crocker, that is. I picked up a 1950 edition of "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" at a yard sale in 2004, and it has been one of the most useful tools I've accumulated since becoming mistress of my own kitchen. It ranks right up there with the KitchenAid and the garlic press. True, it discusses the benefits of eating balanced meals from all seven food groups (well, 3 of those are now collectively "fruits and vegetables"), but any cookbook willing to absolutely insist that you simultaneously consider the factors of appropriateness, appearance, satisfaction, nutrition and cost when planning and preparing meals knows a thing or two about joyful and gracious cooking. But I digress....

Betty Crocker's Angel DeLuxe Food Cake
"Light as air... fluffy as a cloud"

Ingredients:

1 cup cake flour (can substitute 1 cup sifted all purpose)
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Measure and thoroughly sift together the flour and confectioner's sugar. In a large mixer bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla and almond extract. Beat in mixer with whisk attachment until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar while continuing to mix. Continue to beat on high until mixture holds stiff peaks.



Gradually sift floud/sugar mixture over the egg white mixture, folding in gently with a spatula just until incorporated.



Scoop batter gently into an ungreased tube pan, then run a knife though the mixture several times to remove air bubbles.


Bake 35-45 minutes, until top is golden brown and no imprint remains when cake is touched with a finger. When cake is done, rest pan upside down (I use a beer bottle stuck in the center tube) until completely cool.


Remove from pan and just try not to begin tearing off soft golden pieces before serving time. I dare you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Kitchen: Ray's Salad

Please allow me to wax poetic for a minute about the disappeared days of summer... a fine evening spent with friends sometime in June. Our collective children explored, trampolined, and played in the pool. The adults watched the happy melee from the back porch and talked. Our friends had a great garden this year, with lots of salad greens, sun-ripening tomatoes and cold frames to prolong their harvest. These friends love food... they have a passion for delicious, healthy edibles. Organic, free-range, local (or, better yet, home-grown). They know what to buy and they know how to prepare it.

Our meal with them was one of my most fond memories from this summer... pure enjoyment in all aspects food-related and otherwise. A particular highlight of the meal was a salad they "threw together" from their garden. Fresh mixed greens and sweet tomatoes. Dressed with an impossibly good mixture of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, and topped with crumbled feta. It was so fresh and aromatic, I had to have more even after dessert. I don't think I'll ever be able to replicate this delight (I've tried!)... it was more than the sum of its parts. If curing bacon can incorporate notes of the woods used to smoke it, this salad incorporated the goodness of the people who made it and the atmosphere of happiness that surrounded it.

Mmmmm... this is what food should be...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feature Friday: Treasury Time

I haven't compliled a treasury in AGES, so in lieu of a specific feature today I'm simply showing off my treasury. I have included several shops I know and love, including SeaPinks, Xenotees and NzLbags, and some others that are new to me but very intriguing. I realize this isn't the currently ubiquitous Fall palette, but I was in a mood and just went with it. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From the Kitchen: Butter Rolls

Oh dear... I've gotten so far behind with kitchen posts that I'm afraid you're going to be inundated for a little while. Can you handle it? To be kind, I'll start with a recipe that might help you be more bouyant than you'd like in this sea of gastronomical indulgences... soft, delicious butter rolls!

This recipe is one of my true standbys when company is coming. It's easy to make the dough in a bread machine or in a mixer. I can't count the compliments it routinely receives, and it's basically foolproof. And there are limitless variations! Give it a whirl and you won't be disappointed...




Butter Rolls
(from an old Oster breadmaker manual)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cup berad flour
1 tsp table salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water
7/8 cup milk, warmed to body temperature
1 egg

Directions:

Use ingredients to make dough in your breadmachine according to the manufacturer's instructions. When dough is ready, form into 12 smooth balls and place in a casserole pan or cookie sheet. Allow to rise for 30 minutes; meanwhile preheat oven to 350. Bake rolls for 18-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Variations:

For garlic herb rolls, add 2 cloved pressed garlic and several teaspoons of any herbs you like into the dough pan before putting it in the breadmaker. Baste risen rolls with butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds before baking.

For cinnamon rolls, use this dough and baking instructions, but fill with either of the cinnamon concoctions here.



Yum and double yum!