Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Something Blue Necklaces

Laid out on wax paper, drying and not looking very well staged... I unveil the glass tile necklaces for my Something Blue Brigade!

Just want directions without the random chatter... scroll on down to the bottom...

First off, the group does not have 30 ladies in it. That would be overkill... and crazy.  The group does consist of my closest girlfriends and family members. I chose some designs to specifically suit the wearer and some designs to be universally pretty so that there were options for those who already have an outfit in mind or want something they can wear again.  The process was pretty simple once I got started, but you will definitely want to snag a video tutorial on this project.

I started with the kit from Papernpearls on Etsy.  That really is the easiest way to go and the customer service is fabulous!  At first I wanted to snag scrapbook paper with fabulous blue patterns, but I quickly realized I really wanted them to be as unique as the ladies who would be wearing them.  I scoured the internet for blue fabrics, patterns, wallpapers, and random images. For my cousin who is into the cosplay scene, a Captain America star from the center of the costume.  For my soon to be sister in law who loves Dr. Who, a Tardis. The possibilities are endless and you can really find fun ways to represent each woman in a way she will appreciate.  I wrapped mine up in inexpensive favor boxes with a piece of navy blue felt and mailed them to their new owners with a handwritten note and a page on the joys of the Something Blue Brigade. 

TUTORIAL

Things you will need: 
  • glass tiles
  • bails (hooks for the back)
  • paper or fabric you want to use for the image
  • diamond glaze
  • small paintbrush
  • wax paper (optional)
  • superglue
  • something to hang it with (chain, ribbon, etc)

Super simple directions:
  • trace the shape of the tile onto your paper or fabric
  • cut just inside the lines so there will be no overhang
  • double check the cut shape against the tile before adhering
  • squirt a small dot of glaze onto the back of the tile
  • use brush to spread glaze to tile edges
  • adhere the paper or fabric image side down to the tile
  • gently rub the fabric or paper to remove bubbles
    • optional method (totally easier) - flip tile onto wax paper and press down firmly to remove bubbles
  • let dry 10-15 minutes
  • using brush add second coat of glaze to seal paper or fabric
  • let dry several hours (leave them over night to be safe)
  • using super glue, adhere the bail to the back of the tile, let dry
  • string that bad boy up
  • look gorgeous in your new necklace



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Message for the Man About to Marry my Friend

Every man about to embark on the lifelong commitment to the woman of his dreams should get a letter.  Or a list.  Rules perhaps.  The duty to pass along those rules can come from anyone... anyone except the bride to be.  That would just be wrong. But mother in laws, best friends, sisters... all fair game in the letter/list writing business. But what should go in that letter?   Well, that's up to you and the woman you represent.  For one of my very best ladies, I went with the following: 

Happy Wife = Happy Life

A brief summary on how to keep Chelsea (and the people who love her) happy

  1. Never yell at Chels... unless there is imminent danger (alligator in the closet, house is on fire, space debris headed toward her, etc).
  2. If one of you has to win an argument, let it be Chelsea. Heck, she's probably right anyway. 
  3. Neglect anything and everything else (laundry, hockey - even the Bruins, beer, etc) if it means not neglecting Chelsea. 
  4. Everyone says "don't go to bed angry".  Really? Go to bed as mad as you want.  But don't wake up that way. Honestly, exhaustion does not make reconciliation easier, but snuggling under the sheets might.
  5. Tell her something wonderful every day. Not just, "gee, you're pretty..." Something like, "Seriously, Chels, I'm so freaking lucky! You are a thousand times better than steak and potatoes and I love you more than sleep. Now get your sexy self over here for a sensual smooch... BAM!"
  6. ALWAYS take her side if she's upset with someone... even if it's me. She needs to know you always have her back.
  7. Don't forget to write it down. Chelsea loves the adorable doodles you make for her. Don't stop giving them to her until your hands shrivel up from severe arthritis. Then pay one of your grandkids to draw them for you. 
  8. Ladies first. Hold open the door for Chelsea.  Kidding. That's nice and all, but I mean during SEXY TIME. Brown chicken brown cow... 
  9. Be a solid bathroom buddy. Toilet seat down. Tinkle in not on the toilet. Dry floors are key, champ.
  10. We know you love Chels.  Otherwise we wouldn't have let you sweep her off her feet and all the way to Boston. Remember to tell her that you love her EVERY DAY. No exceptions. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sour Cream Cupcakes with Cherry Compote and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Sour cream cake, cherry compote, chocolate buttercream

Sometimes I get wheels off.  I mentioned the bake sale that we were hosting in the office.  I mentioned that I went overboard.  I didn't mention that I failed to follow one consistent recipe for anything... except the Guinness Cupcake, that I'll get to next. For now... Sour Cream.  Don't knock it until you've tried it... it's magical.

Compote (I feel like I should look up compote... I'm not sure I'm using it right)
To make this sweetened cherry, thick mash, with its own syrupy goodness... you probably want to check out google. Let's get real.  This is about to be the sketchiest "recipe" you have ever read...

  • small bag of frozen, pitted cherries
  • cornstarch
  • sugar
  • vanilla extract
Thaw your cherries on the stove in a pan.  As they get hot, use a fork to mash 'em up.  Should be a juicy mess of cherry mash.  Add sugar to taste. Add a tablespoon or less of cornstarch (really depends on how sweet you made the dang things).  Still not thickening on the stove? I guess add some more. Like a zing of vanilla? Like 1/4 tsp is ENOUGH. Yep... good luck with this. After it looks sufficiently thick and jam like, and taste like a cherry extravaganza... let it cool. 


Cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter on medium until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and egg. Stir in sour cream. Add flour mixture.  Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full. Place a spoonful of cherry compote in the center.  Cover with batter (I used a pastry bag for this).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 

THEY WILL LOOKED DEPRESSED IN THE CENTERS.  Sorry to yell, but I don't want you to be disappointed. 

Chocolate Buttercream
I fall back on Wilton for this one.  I say use whatever strikes your fancy.  I went with chocolate to give it the chocolate cherry combo that I'm pretty sure was originally created to appease grumpy women.  Winner... It still works. At least on me. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Yum and yum! The office had a charity bake sale in the spirit of breast cancer awareness this month.  Don't get the wrong impression.  We aren't talking about a small, free standing business office with a handful of homemade cookies.  We are talking a major corporation with 5 floors of a 16 floor tower.  This required a little more thought than I would usually put into a bake sale... because so many people would have the ability to see and taste what I served up.

Must. Be. Awesome.

No one wants to be the uncool kid who is left to each lunch alone at the loser table. That doesn't change in the real world. So... I hedged my bets with multiple offerings. Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting.  Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sour Cream Cupcakes with cherry compote filling and Chocolate Buttercream. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting.

First, hot chocolate cupcakes. I used this recipe from Food.com with a few adjustments.  I didn't use their topping and I added mini marshmallows to the mix and baked in regular cupcake tins with liners.

Hot chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting

Ingredients
Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups very hot water
  • 1 cup mini dehydrated marshmallows (added these and then threw in an extra handful because I love marshmallows)

Directions
Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Transfer to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and blend briefly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, mixing at low speed until just combined. The batter will be quite thin.

Pour the batter into coffee cups lined cupcake tins and arrange them 1-inch apart on a sheet pan or a rectangular cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), and the center feels firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool on the pan. Place cupcakes on cooling rack.

For the frosting, I looked to Rachel Ray for this recipe.

Ingredients
Frosting:

  • 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 16 ounce tub  marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff brand)

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.
Beat in one-fourth of the sugar until fluffy, then repeat with the remaining sugar.
Beat in the vanilla, then stir in the marshmallow cream until well blended.