Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Crisp

Here's another fall baking post from me. :) I can rarely make it out of the month of September without making some of this Apple Crisp. Again, it's a recipe from my mom that I've loved since childhood, and I've never bothered trying another recipe. I think it's delicious, and everyone I've ever made it for agrees (at least that's what they've told me!). Before I get to the recipe, a couple tips:

- If you have a mandoline, it makes quick work of slicing the apples. I'm not great with a knife, and my knives aren't very good anyway, so having a mandoline to do all the slicing for me is a godsend. I peel the apples, core them with my apple corer, cut them in half, and then it's just a few quick swipes across the mandoline (set at 1/4") and I'm done.

- When you get to the part where you sprinkle the topping over the apples, you'll probably think that there's too much of it and it's too powdery. Don't worry - I think this every time too, but it always turns out great after it bakes! Here's a picture of mine before I put it in the oven.

- It's mandatory to eat this with a generous serving of vanilla ice cream. I usually eat mine with more than is shown in the picture above, but I wanted you to actually be able to see the Apple Crisp in the picture. ;)

Apple Crisp

10-12 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
¾ cups sifted flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cups chopped walnuts
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
¼ lb. butter

Use a 9x13 baking dish. Put half of the apples in the pan. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Add remaining apples. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. lemon and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix brown sugar, flour, and oats. Cut in butter. Add nuts. Spread over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Berry Crumble

Jen should actually be posting this recipe, since I got it from her. But Adam and I have been obsessing over this recipe this summer. I wanted to post it before all the summer berries were out of season. You can choose any berry or berry mixture you like, and many are priced at their cheapest right now. This recipe couldn't be easier. If you do not have ramekins, you can cook them all in one dish and serve.

Mixed Berry Crumble

3 c. fresh mixed berries
2 T balsamic vinegar
10 T sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
pinch of salt

serves 4

- 400 degrees. In a large bowl toss berries with balsamic vinegar & 4 T sugar. Let stand 30 minutes

- In a food processor pulse remaining 6 T sugar, flour, butter, & salt until mix resembles fine bread crumbs (can use fingers). Dont overwork or it will turn into a pastry.

- Divide berry mixture in 4 ramekins. Sprinkle crumble mix over berries. (Dont be afriad to pack it in - the crust is too good to waste!) Shake dishes slightly to allow ingredients to settle. Bake until top is slightly golden, about 30 minutes.


Glitter Pumpkins

So I made Martha Stewart's Glitter Pumpkins. Just bought the kit from Michael's. I was a little worried they would look a little cheesy/corny but they turned out really pretty. Martha Stewart Glitter is amazing! I LOVED all three colors that came in the pack. I was nervous that the glitter wouldn't stick that well or would be hard to get it into the crevices but it covered all 3 pumpkins so nicely, with just one coat. I have TONS of glitter left over, too. All I did was follow the super easy directions on line. http://www.marthastewart.com/article/beautiful-glittered-pumpkins?autonomy_kw=glitter%20pumpkins
Martha (we're on a first name basis) used real pumpkins and I used fake ones (which are 40-50% off right now at Michael's) so they would last longer. It was a super easy craft and I think it's such a cute little fall decoration.

Feeling shy, are we?

...is this thing on? Ok, so only 3 of us have posted on the "about the authors" post. I spend some time thinking about why this might be...

1) you haven't posted anything crafty yet so don't feel like you've earned your authorship rights.

You would be wrong about this.

2) you don't want to share ANY information about yourself with the world (or fellow authors).

I can maybe understand this, but...there's NOTHING you can tell us?!? Not even that you like to scrapbook or doodle wildflowers during work meetings or long phone calls?!?

3) you haven't gotten around to it yet.

This I can also maybe understand. Life is busy. But I promise it doesn't take long and it doesn't have to be poetic or even very long. Here's a template:
My name is _____ and I live in ______, USA. I like to _____, _____, and _____.

4) You're feeling shy and/or modest about what to say about yourself.

See template above. And then remember that you were invited here because Rebecca or I know that you've got talent. And we like you.

Please share with us! I don't know most of you, but would love to at least know where you are and what you do...and anything else you'd be willing to tell!

Otherwise, happy Monday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Photo pillows

I saw a version of this in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts, which is a great book, and I would advise everyone to either buy it or check it out from the library. She did her pictures with a blue hue instead of sepia like mine and hers also didn't have the color borders on top and bottom. I started with a cream colored fabric made especially to go through a printer. You can also make your own printer-ready fabric with a solution called Bubble Jet Set 2000), but I couldn't find it anywhere. I cut the photos out leaving a 1/4 inch border (or larger depending on your twill tape size) and even wider on the outside border. Make sure the borders are all the same length (except for the outside borders).

Then I placed them in the order i liked and glued the borders together. Next, I sewed cream-colored twill tape over the white borders to make it look nice and to stabilize the photos. To stabilize the fabric even more, I glued more twill tape over the white borders on the back as well (see below).

I cut the maroon borders to the photo fabric length and to my desired width (i wanted a medium-sized pillow) and pinned the borders and the photo fabric on the wrong sides and sewed together. I measured and cut cream fabric (for the back panel) the size of the fabric photos/maroon borders and pinned them wrong-side out and sewed three sides together and hand-sewed the remaining side after I put the stuffing in. I used stuffing because that's what I had, but I highly recommend buying an already made pillow insert for this project. It's much easier and I think it looks nicer.

There is so much you can do with fabric photos. I chose landscape pictures I took from Mt. Rainier, but you could use photos of your family, different color hues, etc.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Butter Pie Crust

I had a few requests for my pie crust recipe - I posted it today on my other blog but figured I'd cross-post it here, since, you know, we talk about this kind of stuff here.

Up until recently, I used a pie crust recipe that called for both butter and shortening. And, I thought I was making some great crust. Then a couple months ago I tried this all butter recipe and my dear husband stated that he liked it even better than my usual crust. So, I've made the switch over to using this one. It saves me from having to worry about whether or not I have any shortening. It also saves my body from having to process shortening. I think we're all winning.

Also, I've traditionally been a hands-on crust maker - no food processor, no cutting in with a knife (does that even work?!?). But I've made a switch over to using the food processor, if for no other reason than that it keeps my hands much cleaner. And, I think it might be a tad faster.

Combine 2.5 cups flour, 1 Tbps sugar, and 3/4 tsp salt.
Add in 1 cup of chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Pulse in the processor (or whatever method you like) until a coarse meal forms.
Then add in ice water, a few tablespoons at a time.
Here's where I go rogue. The recipe says 6 tbsp ice water. Here in this dry climate, I usually end up using 10-12 tbsp. Now, some pastry chefs would probably tell me that I make my dough too wet. I have never ever had a problem. The dough is easier to roll out if it's a tad moist. Basically you want enough water so that your dough is clumping and sticking together.

Then, turn it out onto a clean space, form a ball, divide in half, flatten into disks, wrap each in saran wrap, and let chill for at least 30 minutes - 2 hours. Or overnight.

If you are going to use this dough to make pasties (see below), then leave out the sugar.

Mmmm, pie crust. Any dough you don't use can be put onto a baking sheet, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and baked for 15-ish minutes...and then enjoyed with a class of cold milk.

Pumpkin Bread

I decided that for my first post I'd introduce you to my favorite recipe for pumpkin bread. Actually, it's my only recipe for pumpkin bread, as its a favorite from my childhood and I've never felt the need to seek out another. There's something about the fall that makes me want to bake, and this is almost always the first thing I go for once the weather starts cooling. It's super easy and can be whipped up in no time, even as a busy toddler crawls around the kitchen trying to get himself into trouble. It also makes a really nice little fall gift for neighbors - just wrap it in plastic wrap, tie a fall ribbon around it, and you're good to go! This batch I'm keeping for myself though...

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin (1 small can)
12-oz chocolate chips (optional, but highly recommended!)

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs, and pumpkin and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide evenly among 3 regular size loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

Who doesn't need more kitchen magnets?

I hope you aren’t getting sick of all these posts in a row. I twisted my ankle a few days ago and have been confined mostly to my one bedroom apartment, so time is something I have a lot of.

Here is an easy and practical craft that takes about 10 minutes to complete. Also, it's yet another way to display photos that you've taken and to use up scraps of fabric you don't want to throw away.

I got these tags that were supposed to be used for scrapbooking for a few cents. Then I tore the paper out of them and used the metal ring to trace a circle out of a picture/fabric scrap. Next, I cut out the circle, hot glued it on, and stuck a magnet on the back and I was done. Who couldn’t use more kitchen magnets? If you want to do this or some variation of this, make sure to use a big magnet (like a magnet the size of the ring) because I used small ones at first and they do not hold up most paper very well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just do it

Patterns are wonderful and I love the things I have made with them (like the sweet mary janes), but there is nothing like thinking up your own patterns and working/messing up/changing your mind/starting over to make what’s in your head into a one-of-a-kind design. This skirt that I made came out of an accident.

*it looks better in person...

If you look at it closely, you can kind of tell it was handmade by someone who isn’t very good at sewing, but I love it. For some reason I made a big curve in the front and then had to cover it up with something. Then I accidently made the scrunched band and thought, PERFECT! I put it all together and it turned out better than I could have ever expected myself to make. If you haven’t already, forget the pattern and just start sewing. Well, of course, think about it first and have some sort of plan. Then just go with it. If you already make your own clothes, I want to see!

About the Authors

Ok, so this will be the post where we each write a little bio of ourselves. I'll erase the instructions after we've all gone in and added something, then we can put a link on the sidebar.

Curiouser and Curiouser is a space created by two curious ladies who wanted to share knowledge and inspiration with their creative friends and family. Ever in the pursuit of beauty, we're all trying to perfect what we already know, develop a mediocre skill, or get brave enough to try something totally new. Welcome to our creative community.

Jen: I love art but do not consider myself an artist. I love to cook - and that is probably the talent about which I feel the most confident. In recent years, I have taken up sewing, quilting, and photography. I wish with all my tiny heart that I had a knack for design and color. I do not. But maybe I can learn??? I have little hope for my paper-crafting abilities; that talent went to my sister, Stacy, who is also an author here. I live in Salt Lake City with my husband, Jonny, and my daughter Marian (born in 2009). I have an MPH and work full-time in public health while my husband pursues a PhD (and takes care of our sweet baby). You can read more about my family and my non-craft-related adventures here. Rebecca and I started this little website. I hope you like it.

Stacy: I’ve loved arts and crafts since I was little. I have a fuzzy memory of drawing a unicorn in preschool and having the teachers ooh and aah over it, and liking the way it made me feel. Drawing and creative writing were my arts of choice throughout high school and college, though I dabbled in other crafts and creative outlets as the opportunities arose. I discovered scrapbooking and paper-crafting as a young adult, and that is now my main obsession. I also love baking - especially during the fall and winter – and love to make homemade treats for friends and family. I received a very nice new camera for Christmas 2008 and have been very interested in improving my photography skills since then. I’m a stay-at-home mom to Benjamin, born 8-15-08, and am excitedly awaiting the arrival of his little brother, due in February 2010. My husband Scott and I live in Derwood, MD, and are happy to be growing our little family here.

Kallan: This is all new to me. I've never had a real interest in crafts, sewing, or blogging before I was married last July (2008). I guess I just never thought I could do it so I never tried. Marriage has done something to me and cooking started it all. I started cooking and baking for my husband and found out that I LOVED it. After that, I just haven't stopped. I want to learn how to do it all. Here's a few facts about me:

-Just turned 23
-I have about a year left to finish my degree in Nutritional Sciences
-I love to play sports and run
-I love dogs, especially my pup Pearl, the best dog ever
-I'm from Baton Rouge, LA and never thought I'd miss it this much

My name is Talane and I live in Secane, Pennsylvania - a small suburb of Philadelphia, USA. I was living in Houston before this, that's why I know Rebecca. I'm originally from Boise Idaho, I'm married to Derek and Lily is my sweet baby girl - she's 8 months old today. I love anything to do with design, art, and just creating anything. I LOVE to make stuff. I always have a project I'm working on. (Well, except for lately.) I'm trying to learn how to sew, I love to cook and bake, and I love everything to be pretty. I'm obsessed with finding good ideas. I subscribe to a couple of home design magazines and I faithfully tear out any pages I like and store them in a huge folder. I'm a little crazy about my house being clean, I'm a big believer in natural childbirth, and if I could choose, I would go to bed at 9 o'clock every night.
The end.

p.s. I've moved 3 times since we arrive in Pennsylvania a month ago so my crafting has been nonexistent, but I'm hoping to get started again very soon. Until then I just be jealous of everything everyone else is making.

Rebecca:Me. Lets see. I am 26 years old. I graduated with a degree in English. While I was in college I roomed with a fanastic roommate for a fantastically short time, but we have kept our friendship ever since. This girl has a name: Jen. Jen's friendship rose in importance when I asked her to be my bridesmaid when I got married almost 2 years ago to Adam, to whom Jen introduced me. Jen also introduced me to quilting, berry crumble (which I am about to post), Joni Mitchell, and the public transportation system when we both went to a baseball game with her brother Mike and husband Jonny. Jen also introduced me to the lovely world of blogging, by which thing we created this blog.

I am curious about paintings, sewing, decor, thrifty alternatives, recipes, photography, gardening, paper, embroidery, flowers, cooking, film, photography, discovering, and anything I can CREATE.
I have a crush on Martha Stewart, Amy Ross, Heather Ross, Katie,Joanna Newsom and Greer Garson.
I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies, Rebecca is my favorite movie. I also love Bollywood films, old films, reading, poetry, birdwatching, writing in my journal, decorating my home with homemade goods, running, learning new things, seeing new things, and being a part of this blog.

Candace: Hello! It's been fun learning from all of you. I enjoy having the opportunity to be creative, whether it be crafts, cooking, baking, or coloring a picture of Minnie Mouse (which I just did). I love running, hiking, reading, and being around people. I went to BYU-I and got a BS in Early Childhood/Special Education. I moved to Las Vegas to do my student teaching and ended up staying here and nannying. I'm really itching to start teaching again and that will probably happen before the end of the year, when I move back to Texas. I love children, especially those sweet little ones who have learning disabilities. I'm 25 years old. Oh AND I'm Rebecca's sister. I love her. YAY for curiouser and curiouser!

Carrie: I am Carrie. I just turned 31 and live in the Washington DC metro area with my husband and our three boys. Luke is five and a half, Noah just turned three and Isaac will be a year old next week. I am not sure when my love of crafting started. I was well into college before I started to see myself as creative. I had many an epiphany about my creative abilities while taking my required art class. I try and find ways to spend more time sewing, scrapbooking, cooking, and taking pictures than I spend running errands, cleaning or picking up Legos. I will admit though, sometimes the Legos win.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fondant is easy!

Fondant always seemed to be really hard to make and not very tasty, but I always loved how it looked. Recently, my sister-in-law’s and I decided to take it on and try our luck at making/decorating with the seemingly difficult icing. It turned out much better than expected. We each made our own cakes for the base and coordinated different colors so that we all didn’t show up with the same color.

It's not the prettiest cake, but it was tasssssttttty. I used an "R" for my last name. That other thing is supposed to be a flower...

One word to describe homemade fondant: messy. I used this recipe which calls for marshmallows and it was delicious but messy. Here are a few tips that I found would have been helpful to know when I was making fondant:

1. They aren’t exaggerating in the ingredients list when they say to GENEROUSLY grease your hands and the counter your working on. This stuff gets really sticky so keep the grease handy and don’t be afraid to use a lot.
2. Knead it a lot. I thought I kneaded it enough because it looked smooth, but when I started rolling it out, it had some air pockets from tiny balls of powdered sugar I didn’t see before.
3. Make sure you have someone with clean hands available who can hand you things.
4. The recipe says you brush it with water to get the fondant to stick to the cake, but I used my favorite icing (recipe below) and it worked great, tasted great, and kept the fondant moist.

My mother’s icing recipe:
-soften half a stick of butter and mix with 2 cups powdered sugar
-add 2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract (you may want to add more/less milk depending on your desired consistency)

Tell me how it goes!

My favorite wall

When I was deciding on where to start so that you can kind of get to know a little about me, I decided on posting about my favorite craft/art form, photography. I LOVE taking pictures and have loved it since I was a pre-teen. I always kind of thought I had a good eye for it. Growing up my mother often complimented me on my photos, but she could have just been humoring me like a good mother should. She also loved photos, but mostly of embarrassing childhood shots of me naked or with my finger up my nose that she loved to show to my friends and boyfriends. Now that I have a semi-nice camera and an okay photo-editing program, that love has become an addiction. I bring my camera wherever I go and I’m always trying to learn more and more about photography. So, if you know a lot about cameras, lighting, editing, etc. please teach me. I am for sure an amateur.

*I took that pic on the bike trails at memorial park

As of yesterday, my favorite photos have just been sitting in a box or still on the computer. I made myself go to thrift stores and buy cheap frames (only $2.00 each and I got some pretty ones!) or get them half off at Hobby Lobby, put pictures in them, and put them up on my "proud of my pretty pictures" wall. I wake up every morning to see my favorite photos! This is so easy to do and all the different colors and shapes will brighten up the room (especially if you live in an apartment with ugly white walls like me). The floral print frame is a $2.00 plain wooden frame that I wrapped in a floral chiffon fabric. This is not a new concept, nor is it the most fancy of designs, but it just feels good to create something and display it. As I get more frames/pics/artwork, I will add to the wall. The possibilities are endless...

p.s. Please don't look at my ugly comforter that my husband refuses to get rid of.