Saturday, April 16, 2011

How To: Hollow Easter Eggs

With Easter right around the corner, knowing how to blow an egg is essential to avoid having a massive amount of hard boiled eggs and potentially losing one during the Easter Egg Hunt! Before yesterday, I had never attempted to blow an egg as I thought it was going to be too difficult, but I was proven wrong. Just follow these steps and you will have ready-for-decorating eggs in no time at all.

In order to blow an egg with ease you will need a pin (I used a "T" pin), toothpick, a rubber ear syringe (found at drug stores), and of course, some raw eggs. The steps are as follows:
Securely holding your egg over a bowl, take your pin and poke a hole at the bottom of an egg. For this step, you will want to find a balance between being slow and delicate and having enough force. Once you have poked a small hole, widen it a little bit by turning the pin while it is inside the egg. Once your hole is about the size of a pencil eraser, flip the egg over. Repeat this step and make a hole on the top of the egg, slightly smaller than your last hole.
Holding the egg right-side-up, use a toothpick to break up the yolk inside of your egg. To do this, simply insert the toothpick into your egg and turn it inside of the egg. Do this for about 10 seconds. After this step, you may start to see a bit of egg escaping out of the bottom.
Now, take your ear syringe and place it on the top hole of the egg and squeeze. Before releasing, move your syringe away from your egg. Now you can release the syringe allowing air to go back into the syringe. (If you let go of the syringe over your egg, some of the egg's contents may be sucked inside of the syringe.) This step will force the egg's contents into the bowl below. Repeat this step until the egg is empty.
Finally, rinse out your eggshell with your faucet. That's it!

I promise that this is not as daunting as it seems. Once you try it, you will not be hard boiling all of your Easter eggs again :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ingredient Substitutions (Cookies)

I try to keep baked goods in my apartment and my angel food cake just ran out, so I knew it was time for another baking post. Yesterday I was craving cookies. This is fairly typical, so I decided to try a new recipe. I went to Martha's website (as she seems to always have what I'm craving) and found the perfect recipe: double chocolate coconut cookies. Doesn't the name alone make your mouth water? The only problem was that I currently don't have any walnuts in my pantry. Simple solution: ingredient substitutions. You can easily put a twist on a recipe by substituting ingredients. This comes in handy when you don't own an item that you need, or just to have some creative fun. For this particular recipe, I substituted the walnuts for oats and mmm are they delicious.
There are so many ways in which you can substitute ingredients to work with. The easiest ones to substitute are the final ingredients added to the cookies. These include the chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, oats, raisins, you name it.  The most important things about cookies is having fun and having a sweet treat, so think about substituting some of these ingredients into your cookies next time you have a cookie craving:

store-bought cookies (oreos, teddy grahams, etc.)
broken candy bars (reese's, kit kat, almond joy)
potato chips
hot chocolate mix (replacing cocoa)
yogurt chips
jelly beans
dried/fresh fruit

There is a fascination and allure to cookies being made with unique ingredients like potato chips and bacon, so I say if you don't have chocolate chips, throw in something you do have. The options are limitless.

I hope you enjoyed today's post. My next one is a tutorial about blowing your own Easter eggs, so be sure to check back soon :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Felt Easter Baskets

 This year, I have seen quite a few felt Easter baskets for sale. I looked at them and knew that you can easily make your own for less! I feel that if you can make something more personalized for a cheaper price, the choice is a no-brainer.
I made this basket for my Packers-loving boyfriend
All you  will need is some felt, embroidery thread with a needle, scissors, some thin cardboard (found from used cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc), and a basket or container to use as a guide. (You can still make your own without a guide, just know that you will want to have some sort of pattern. If you would like me to scan and upload mine, just leave me a comment) Also, for my felt, I bought four pieces of my main color and a piece for each of the accent colors. And now, here are the steps to make your own:
If you already have an Easter basket that you want to use as a guide, trace the base of the basket onto a piece of your main colored felt. Then stack the felt and cut your base out of all four pieces of that color.  Alternatively, you can ensure that your basket base is sturdy enough by using only two pieces of cut felt along with a piece of thin cardboard. If you choose to use this method, make sure you cut the cardboard base slightly smaller than the felt base so that you can sandwich and sew around the edges. Now that we have prepared our base, we will move on to the sides:
Place your Easter basket guide on its side onto your felt. Starting in the center, trace the top rim of your guide as you roll it on your felt piece. Then start back at center and repeat this step, rolling the basket the other way. Now that you have traced the top rim, repeat these steps while tracing the bottom rim. Once finished, you should have something that looks like this:
Stack four pieces of felt on top of each other and cut out your newly traced shape. Because my basket ended up being fairly small, the sides were sturdy enough being only two pieces of felt thick, but if you want your baskets to be very sturdy, you can use thin cardboard and cut out the traced shape onto two pieces of cardboard (again, making sure the pieces are slightly smaller than the felt).
Now it is time to start stitching things together. First you will want to stitch together the sides of the basket, but only on one side. Laying the four stacks on top of each other, stitch about a quarter-half inch from the edge. I chose to use a loop stitch, but you can also use a simple stitch as well. Now that you have made this stitch, pin the other edge of the side pieces together. Split open the pieces into two groups (two felt pieces each) and let it stand on. Not only will this help you visualize your finished basket, but it is easier to start attaching your base this way. Flip your sides over to the unfinished basket is upside down. Place your base felt pieces on top. Starting at the pinned seam of the basket (the side that you did not sew), stitch the base to the sides. Soon, you will have stitched around your base and will end up at the other side of the pinned seam. Depending on where you stitched the side seam, you may have a bit of extra felt (almost like a bubble of felt) left over. Just unpin the seam and let the felt set so it can be sewn flush against the base, and stitch.
Whew, you now have the base and sides of the basket done! It is downhill from here, I promise. To make the handle, cut your felt into two thin rectangular pieces. Make them as long as you want your handle to be. If your felt pieces are not long enough, just cut four pieces and stitch two together so they are twice as long. Now, cut your thin cardboard into the same shape, making sure it is slightly smaller than the felt pieces. Stitch the felt pieces of your handle together around the outside edges of your rectangles. Leave 2-3 inches unstitched. Take your thin cardboard handle piece and slide it in between the felt pieces of your handle and stitch up the remaining 2-3 inches.
At this point, I recommend decorating your basket before you attach your handle. This way, you can add a contrasting rim of felt. To add your decorations, you just cut out your shapes from your felt, and use white glue to attach. I chose to hand-stitch my pieces to my basket to be certain that it would stay intact. A great idea would be to cut out shapes and let your child glue them where he/she wants them to go. Then after you can stitch them so they are securely on.
Okay, so now you have decorated your Easter basket, all that is left is attaching your handle! This just takes a simple stitch and you're done! Now you can fill your felt Easter basket with your homemade Easter grass and other lovely treats :)
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial showing you how to make your own felt Easter basket. Be sure to check back soon for more Easter ideas! ♡

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Simple Strawberry Syrup

I purchased an Angel Food Cake from my grocery store today (sorry, I would love to show you how to make your own, but I don't have a beater/mixer). Because strawberries were on sale, I bought some and decided to make the easiest topping for my cake: simple strawberry syrup. Here is what you need:
Only strawberries, white sugar and angel food cake. The first step is to rinse your strawberries, and trim off their stems. Once your strawberries are prepped, place them into a bowl. With a sharp knife, cut through the strawberries inside of the bowl. Cut through the strawberries until they are cut to your desired size. If you want your strawberries to be finely cut, you can either use a food processor, or a pastry cutter (as I used).
After cutting your strawberries, add some white sugar. For one carton of strawberries I used 2-3 Tablespoons. Of course, you can add as much or as little as you'd like.

Cover the bowl of cut and sugared strawberries and refrigerate overnight.
 Finally, scoop onto your angel food cake and enjoy! For variations, you can use a variety of fruit. Another favorite of mine is tangerines. Have fun experimenting with different options and enjoy your simple syrup :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

For the Love of Cereal (I'm Sorry)

Sorry for my absence these past few days. I have found myself constantly running in and out of my apartment, which is apparent through the vast amount of cereal I have been eating as meals. I am planning on doing a new post tomorrow so check back for more fun. Thanks for being patient :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Licorice Weaved Candy Baskets

If you ever find yourself googling "basket weaving" know that you are not alone. I found myself doing just this yesterday afternoon as I thought of a unique Easter candy idea: licorice weaved baskets! Before even attempting this, I knew I was out of my element, but I was up for the challenge. Here is my finished result:
If I were to make another one of these baskets in the future, I would have chosen to do a square base as opposed to the circular base I used (because the square is simpler), but below are the instructions for the circular base. Bear in mind that I am new to basket weaving :)
First you will need these ingredients: pull-n-peel licorice, and any small Easter candy. Take 2 pull-n-peel licorice and peel apart. You should be left with 18 thin pieces of licorice. Taking 2 pieces of licorice form an X. Repeat this step so that you have 3-4 separate X's. Lay these on top of one another staggering their positions. The end result should look like this:
Now, take another piece of licorice, starting at the center of all the X's, choose one of the ends and go over the piece. Then going around the circle, alternate going over and under each licorice end, staying as close to the center as possible. As soon as one of your licorice pieces runs out, grab another piece and start where the other one ended. To bind the two together, you can squeeze and roll them together. Continue going over and under the licorice ends until you have a base size that you desire.
Once you have completed your base, cut the end of the licorice you were using to weave and tuck in. To form the sides of your licorice basket, take a piece of licorice and measure how big your licorice will need to be to form the side. Cut the licorice piece to size (let's call this licorice piece y). Once again, weave over and under each licorice end and seal licorice piece y by squeezing and rolling the ends together. Continue this step up the side of your basket. Keep in mind that the first loop (licorice piece y) that you will use to form the side will be the hardest step, but once you have established that you are now weaving on top on each licorice piece y, it goes easier. Weave as many licorice piece y's as necessary until your basket is your desired height.
Now that your basket is the appropriate height, you will notice that you have extra ends of the licorice. Simple trim these shorter and tuck into the basket. Some will be tucked on the outside of the basket and some will be tucked on the inside of the basket. This depends on whether the licorice end was over or under the final licorice piece y. *Make sure that you leave two pieces (on opposite sides of the basket) left untrimmed. These will help form the handle of the basket.
Finally, Take The two opposite ends of licorice and seal together over the basket (again, twisting and squeezing the ends together). Now, take 2 new strips of licorice. Using these two pieces along with the licorice ends you just sealed together, braid the handle. leave a tiny bit of extra licorice on both sides so that you can tuck the two ends of the new pieces of licorice into the basket, and you're done!
Trust me, this is a tough project. I definitely underestimated it; however, the result is worth it. I now have a completely original Easter treat that is completely edible! If you need any clarification on any of these steps, please leave me a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Cleaning: Teacup Bathroom Organization

Today's post is a simple Spring Cleaning tip to help you organize your bathroom. If your bathroom is anything like mine, than you find that you have a lot of little items running around your drawers. For this quick solution, all you need are some tea cups and/or saucers. I got this idea here at the Decorology blog :)

Just take out all of your things, arrange the tea cups and saucers in whatever order works best for you and use them to organize your items! You will find that this tip is perfect for rubber bands, bobby pins, necklaces, and everything else that is hard to find. I personally was thrilled to finally have a way for my earrings to hang, while still taking up minimal space. I already owned this set of white teacups (sadly saucer-less), but if you don't own any already, you can find cheap ones at thrift stores and garage sales. I may actually venture out and replace this white set with an eclectic mix-and-match set of cups and saucers. Make sure when you are shopping for your teacups that you pay attention to their height. The drawer obviously will need to close, so see how short they need to be. For most bathroom drawers, I think the typical shaped teacups will be fine. If, however, you don't want to organize a whole drawer with this method, you can also do my variation of placing a single tall teacup on your bathroom counter. As I mentioned before, I was in need of an earring holder, so I took the earrings that I wear most commonly and hung them from the rim of the teacup. Inside is my favorite necklace.

That's all for today. I hope that this inspires you to reorganize your drawers! Even if  you do not use this for your bathroom, it can also help with small office supplies or any other drawer full of tiny items. Happy Spring Cleaning :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nested Eggs Cupcake

 Today I was craving cupcakes and my mind immediately went to these Easter cupcakes from Martha Stewart's website. All you will need is cupcakes, icing, coconut and egg embellishments (I used speckled egg shaped M&Ms).

Because I wanted something fast and easy, I just made my cupcakes from a chocolate cake mix. A great trick for chocolate cake mixes: use coffee instead of water! Not only does this make your cake taste richer, but the consistency is moist and perfect. While your baked cupcakes are cooling, start making your icing. As usual, I made iambaker's butter cream frosting, found here. Finally, toast your shredded coconut. To do this, you simply pour some shredded coconut into a pan over medium heat. Every few minutes, stir the coconut. Make sure you keep your eye on this because you don't want any coconut to burn. Once your coconut has reached its desired color, remove from heat and pour onto a plate. Now that you have all of your components, you just have to assemble the cupcakes! First, ice your cupcake. Next, roll your cupcake on its side onto the toasted coconut plate. Now you have created your nest. Place your embellishments inside of the coconut nest and you're done :)
These cupcakes are wonderful. I think I will try to make variations so that I can eat these all year. The crunchy coconut compared to the moist texture of the cake was perfect. I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed these. Please, please make them for yourself. Not only are they a perfect dessert for Easter, but they are irresistible.
Thanks for stopping by! ♡

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fun with Literature

Today's post was inspired by this book wreath found on Real Simple magazine's website. I thought this would be a perfect decoration for a reading corner, or room! Also, if you have an old book lying around that you know you will never touch, you might as well turn it into art. I did not have such book myself, so I went to the dollar bookstore in Burbank to buy one. Because I felt bad for buying a book to rip out its pages, I chose a book that happened to have multiple copies. Alright, so now that you have selected your book, you will need to gather a few more items: a wreath (I found mine at a dollar store), an adhesive (I used white glue and tape, but hot glue would also be good), and some twine for hanging (you could also use string or ribbon).

First, rip out pages several from your book. Don't worry about how many you rip because you can always rip more as you need them. I have to admit, I was hesitant to try this craft because the idea of ripping pages out of a book seemed incriminating to me, but once I started ripping, I found it to be a lot of fun. Also, the way I see it, you are turning this book into art, so it is still living on, just in a different form. Anyway, once you have pages torn from the book, roll up one page and hold is closed at one of its ends. You can choose to have your wreath with the torn edges out or the torn edges hidden. I chose to do a mixture of both. Once you have your rolled up page, simple slide it into one of the wreath's crevices. I found that I did not have to use an adhesive for the majority of my pages, but if you want to be certain that your pages do not slip out, you can easily glue all the pages in place. Repeat rolling and sliding your pages into the wreath, working on the outside of the wreath to the inside. Use your judgment to determine where each page should fit. Once you have enough spiraled pages tucked in to your wreath, find pages from your book with no writing. These pages will be used for the interior border of your wreath. Tear the page into thirds. Glue the end of one of these strips to the front inside of the wreath then glue the other side of the strip to the back. Do this process with enough strips to cover the wreath so that only pages are visible. Finally, flip your wreath over and tie your twine around the wreath and hang!

This craft is slightly time consuming, but repetitive, so you can easily make this while doing other things. For a variation, you could also dye the pages in coffee or tea before you make the wreath to change its color. I hope that you try this on your own, as it is a fun way to recycle old books :)