Friday, August 23, 2013

DIY: Baby Bowling!

 So being from Milwaukee, I LOVE a good game of bowling...hey?!
So naturally, when I spotted a baby bowling game up on the local swap board,
I HAD to get it. But then it hit me...I can DIY this one baby!
So, this cutie pie helped me out.
She eats these cereal snacks daily
....and I save the plastic containers
When she has polished off a container, I just clip off the label...
Peel it off and run them thru the dishwasher.
See how easy that is?
You could use some cute washi tape, but since I was out, I used good ole Sharpie!
Grab your fav colors and get started!
fill in the 2 ridges that are molded into the plastic.
5 "pins" later, we are ready to bowl!
Now, dollie loves to haul around baskets, boxes and bags.
So this bin was perfect for storage!
Once we picked our bowling alley, she took the pins down our lane for set up.
Since she insists on knocking them down, I was the pin setter-upper.
We were without an official bowling ball, so we improvised!
Heeeere she goes!
She is working on the "stop and THEN throw the ball" thing.
Aaaaand ....smash!
Your turn mom!
Here we go!
Of course I won't object to a little help for a spare : )
So sweet!
Great for those long rainy days indoors.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Phat Food Friday: Easy DIY NO COOK freezer Jam!

Do not ignore this post!
I know that making jam sounds know, canning & all.
That is usually super complicated and needs special equipment, right?
A friend clued me into super easy, no cook way to make freezer jam!
If you have just a few things, you can whip up a batch in less than 30 minutes!
Now, while living here in Alaska, we get some really great views...

I know...epic calendar picture views!
BUT the summer is fleeting and we need to savor every minute here.
So I decided to give this freezer jam thing a I can remember these summer days!

 I am always so excited  in spring to see these flowers in bloom.
They are the flower of the Salmonberry.

 By mid July, you see these ripe GIANT berries all over the place.

 They are similar to raspberries, but the taste is a bit different.
See how HUGE they are!

So, I rustled up a berry picking partner, grabbed my ice cream buckets and filled 'em up.
You of course, can use any fresh berry of your choice!
I even picked a few rogue Blueberries and added them to my mix. worth it!

Aren't they beautiful? The jewel toned jars make my mouth water...

Ok. Lets get down to business....VERY EASY FAST jam business : )
You need to pick up these great mason jars ...they even come with the lids & rings!
Make sure that they say FREEZER SAFE on them.

See? FREEZER SAFE in blue there.
You need the jars to be straight at the mouth in order to freeze.
If you use the jars with a curve at the top, the jar may crack in the freezer.
No thanks to big sticky glass jam mess in the freezer. Right?!
Alternatively, you can just use a plastic freezer safe container too! 
I chose the glass jars...they are super cute...
and will be used for many a Pintrest craft later on : )

Next, grab a container of Real Fruit Instant Pectin.
I used the Ball brand that was on my grocer's shelf.
Check the label to be sure its for Freezer jam with no cooking required.
We want fast and easy jam, right?

Ball makes it even easier by printing the directions right inside of the label!
You don't even need to read the rest of my post, you can just listen to the jam authorities : )

Last ingredient: Sugar. Regular ole sugar...mmm.

Ok. Let's review.

For about 2 half pint jars of jam (2 cups), you need:

1 & 2/3 cups of fresh berries of choice
1/2 cup regular ole sugar
2 Tablespoons of Real Fruit Instant No cook Pectin
Freezer safe mason jars or plastic containers
2 bowls
A spoon
A masher (fork, potato masher, meat hammer, your fist...but that gets messy)

Now that you have your stuff all ready, lets get started!

Submerge your berries in cold water in a large bowl.
If you picked your own this is very important to get rid of the bugs and debris.
If you are using store bought berries, a quick rinse should be fine.

Sift out the berries and set them aside.

Eeew. See all the junk?  Not in MY jam!
Rinse out the bowl.

Great. Now put your clean, de-bugged berries back into your bowl.

When you think you are done, smash some more.
You really want to break apart all of the skins to release the juices.
This makes a better jam.
The next step is important. So important that I forgot to take a picture. I did not want to mess up my jam!

Add the sugar & pectin mixture into your mashed berries bowl.
Mix thoroughly for 3 minutes.
The jam will start to thicken...and, well look more like jam.

When your 3 minute mix time is up...spoon/pour the mixture into jars.
Do not fill them up all of the the top of the jar!
Your jam will expand when freezing, and we do not want that
big sticky glass jam mess in the freezer.

Do not put those cute lids on yet.
Let the jam set for 30 minutes.
See the nice 1/2" of space that is NOT filled with jam at the top?
That's how you want yours to look.

Now, wait for 30 minutes to let the pectin work its magic.
Go ahead and add your cute label to the top of the lid now,
or just write it on in sharpie.
You may want to add the date too.

When your 30 minutes is up...You are done!
Screw on the lid of your jam jars.
You are ready to snack on a jar...or store them.

Store your jam in the freezer for up to a year.
(I put one jar straight into the fridge and store the rest in the freezer)
When ready to use, just defrost in the refrigerator the night before.
You can snack on the jam out of the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Those sweet smashed berries really help me out on days like this.
Trust Alaska there are too many!

But, on my chilly winter morning, I will take a bite of my super yummy home made jam, close my eyes, and remember the few summer days like this one...


Saturday, August 3, 2013

~Custom Party Plates~

Custom DIY Party Plates were a must for me! Oh, I know what you are thinking...plates? REALLY!? Yup. I had a Classic Winnie the Pooh party favors were to be found for a birthday!!! I spotted a few shower themed items...and then the Modernized Pooh First Birthday decorations were available too. But, when you have already decided on a just cant change the vision! Can you!?
 So, I scoured Etsy for some cute luck in finding someone who made my items. Then, inspiration hit. I would just have to do it myself! I did find these great Classic Winnie the Pooh digital scrap book papers on Etsy. Then I searched for some plastic plates to use with my papers. I really wanted the edge of the plate to be decorated, so the theme could be seen with the cupcakes on top. Round and oval plates did not have great potential as they are curved. Decorating the edges of those would end in a bubble filled wrinkle smudge fest. No thanks.

I found these great clear square dinner and dessert plates on Amazon. BINGO! With a bit of planning and the always trusty jar of magical Mod Podge, I was off to complete my Custom Themed Party Plates!
Now, I know the thought of eating printed scrap book paper with your meal does not sound very yummy. That is why I needed clear plastic plates. They allowed me to Mod Podge onto the BACK side of the plate, eat my food off of the food safe plastic plate and still see my pretty papers!
And yes, I can't stop thinking of how I should have ironed that table cloth...
Pretty Themed Party Papers
(Scrapbook papers, home printed papers, photos, wrapping paper etc.)
Scissors/Paper cutter
Mod Podge
Damp wash cloth
Aluminum foil (Optional to cover area where you will let the plates dry overnight)
Lets get started. First, I took a plate and measured the length and width of the edge and the center.
Here is a photo of the finished backside just to give you an idea of the shape I needed to cut.
I wanted to leave gaps between each piece of I did not have to worry about matching up alllllll of those edges!

Next, I sketched out the shape I needed to cut.
I used a scrap piece of paper for this so I did not waste my pretty stuff : )

Once I cut out the scrap piece, I made a few adjustments to the length or the angle of the paper.
Keep in mind, you want this piece to be just a little smaller than the area that you are gluing onto.
This way, you can be sure that you do not have an edge of the paper hanging off the front of the plate.

Now that you have your practice piece all nice and perfect, use it to trace onto the BACK side of your pretty papers. Cut out the paper for all edges and the centers of the plates. If you are using 2 different sized plates, you need to repeat the above steps for the other size and papers. Be sure to try and center your favorite parts of the pretty print.

Double check the fit of the papers on the plate edges and centers. Trim as needed to fit just a bit SMALLER than your intended area of coverage.
Now, when you have EVERYTHING CUT OUT, you can start gluing.
Turn your plate upside down.
You need to apply the glue to the BACK SIDE OF THE PLATE.
You do not want to eat the paper, remember : )
When you apply your paper, you want the fabulous print to show on the front, so you will put the PRINT SIDE DOWN on the back of the plate (wrong side of paper facing you)
You will have a craft sandwich in this order...
1) Upside down plate
2) Magical layer of Mod Podge
3) Upside down pretty paper (wrong side facing you)

Back of plate is shown above....front of plate is shown below.
Now that we are straight on the order we need to have
... here are some tips.
Brush your magical Mod Podge onto one of the edges of your plate in a smooth layer.
Do not have sooooo much of the glue that it runs down the plate...and do not have soooooo little that it dries before you finish applying the glue.
You need to work fairly quickly here so it does not dry out on you.
When you place the paper onto the glue, line up the longest edge and then quickly smooth out one piece of precut paper with your fingertips. Don't push so hard that the glue squeezes out of your craft sandwich, just smooth enough to remove any air bubbles.
Be certain to get rid of your bubbles now because once they dry, that is it. You are stuck with them.
If you have any drips of glue, gently dab/wipe off with a damp cloth.
If you rub too much, your paper will tear and come right off, so be careful.
Don't worry too much about excess Mod Podge is magic, remember?
It dries clear so that you really will not notice it at all.
Allow the glue to dry overnight, with the plates upside down. You do not want to do alllll this work only to return to your pretty party plates glued ONTO the table, do you? I also found it handy to let these dry on top of a layer of foil or wax paper...just in case of a drip or two.
4 Dinner and 4 Dessert Plates later...I  was ready to party!

Awww! I really enjoyed creating my darling daughter's Custom Themed First Birthday d├ęcor!
I hope it inspires you to customize your next party!

The possibilities are really endless! You could even use this technique with ANY paper or fabric for a custom look. Do not limit yourself to plates either! Serving Platters or cake stands could be done in the same way!
Hmmm....this may just be a great way to use fabric...even on the back of a few glass plates! Hmmm : )