Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Excuse me...but do you have any Bon Coupon?

click the pic to embiggen

MY GOODNESS it is difficult to take pictures of shiny things, but when you are in love with aluminum you must learn to be zen about these things. (Or take a photography class. Which I did, once, a long time ago-it did not go well).

This latest shiny thing is a coupon organizer that I made for myself. The front cover says "bon coupon" which is stupid and funny and reminds me of delicious mustard. I deliberately made it so it would not be easy to read. Even though I am rabidly frugal, carrying coupons around the store makes me feel frumpy so I liked the idea of whimsically disguising my little book this way :)

I made the cover by gluing some cardstock letters to another piece of cardstock, covering it all with aluminum foil tape and then burnishing. It's hard to see in the picture but the letters are nice and 3 dimensional in real life. Then I bradded (word? not a word? I don't know but I like it) the nameplate to a piece of deckle cut white cardstock.

I put a little pocket inside the front cover to hold my grocery list, I like to use index cards for my lists and the pocket is cut to fit the 3"x5" size. I punched another piece of cardstock with a cute edge and glued it inside the pocket to make a little cover flap. A little scoring and the flap stays closed just fine, but I might re-address this later and add a closure. I couldn't think of anything at the time so left it plain.

I made my organizer a little different than the ones that you normally see. It fits me and my system better to organize my coupons by store, so I made a pocket for each store that I use coupons at, for a total of six. I only use a few coupons at each store so I didn't need any further way of organizing them (i.e. putting them in groups like dairy, canned goods, etc. is overkill for me!). I made nameplates using the technique that I made the cover with, but used different letters. I stuck them on with a little double stick tape and some more brads.

W*Mart. Because close enough is good enough in the heat of the moment.

After much fussing over details I bound the whole thing together using my Bind-it-All and some 3/4" o-wire.

I used store bought pre-cut letters, cardstock, cereal boxes, brads, some aluminum foil tape and a little piece of o-wire for my book, so it's construction was pretty frugal. I did use some tools like the bind-it-all, my sizzix embosser and circle die cutter, but you could get a similar product using a hole punch and some ribbon to bind it all together. And I barely used the embosser and the circle cutter--I covered two of the tabs on the folders because I cut them kind of funny. Don't tell anyone.

It's really fancy compared to what I used to use (a bunch of tattered envelopes labeled with a sharpie!) but I am sorta in love with it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I had to walk a little fast this morning, there were so many baby geese sleeping around the lake and their papa's were on patrol. If you so much as slowed down you were going to get a honk and a nip. Yikes! But it was worth it, I saw 9 different groups of goslings all in different stages of fluffitude. The little guys nestled in the sidewalk crack in the picture are a bit older. They have lost their golden downy feathers and are well on their way to the grays and browns of adulthood.

I also took a picture of my favorite rock. I didn't know Leon, but I always say hi on my walks.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I ♥ Aluminum

seriously fun to make

When I was a freshman in college my roommate was a beautiful and funny girl from Kentucky. Her father worked for an oil company and she had lots of little trinkets that were branded with the slogan for his division. I ♥ Asphalt. I thought it was the funniest thing in the world (I still do, kind of) but I didn't share the sentiment.

I ♥ aluminum, and lately I have been obsessed with it. I made the tags in the picture using aluminum foil tape, cardstock, a couple of different embossing folders (mine are Sizzix), a 1 1/2" circle punch, a letter punch set, Sharpies, my Crop-o-dile and a couple eyelets. I found the instructions in a brilliant tutorial at A Penny for your Thoughts.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


made from scratch: Yogurt, strawberry jam, and granola

I am in love with homemade yogurt. Made with raw milk and a little yogurt starter, it is like eating dessert for breakfast without the negative consequences. This stuff is creamy y'all, and unlike most commercial yogurts that I have tried, it's not very tangy. I'm not a fan of tangy yogurt, maybe it's because I'm a supertaster, but I much prefer a mellow-er yogurt. If you like your yogurt tangy you can use pasteurized milk, or just let the yogurt sit longer than six hours. 8 - 12 hours should do the trick, just keep tasting it. It's done when it's creamy and thick and tastes good.

In case you have a crock pot and a hankering for some yogie, here is how I make mine.

Yogurt in a Crock Pot:
prep time: one minute!
cook time: 10-16 hours

1/2 gallon raw milk (you can use pasteurized milk, but I think the best flavor comes from raw)
1 cup plain yogurt

Heat your milk in the crock pot on its highest setting. Once the temperature of the milk reaches 180 degrees turn your crock pot off. This takes me about 2 hours, but mileage will vary depending on your crock pot. You will now need to let the milk cool down to 116 degrees (another couple of hours--check your temp frequently!). Once it has, stir in the cup of plain yogurt.

Put the lid back on your crock pot and let the milk sit for 6-12 hours. I let mine sit for 6 hours. For me, this is the point where the milk has turned into a thick cream (yogurt!). You will need to make sure that the crock pot maintains a temperature between 90 and 116 degrees for the duration of the 6 to 12 hours. I do this by wrapping a polar fleece blanket around the crock pot to help insulate it. If you ever feel like your temperature is dipping too low, just turn the crock pot on for a few minutes to get the element warmed back up.

There will be some whey leftover from the yogurt making process--I drain mine off using a yogurt strainer but several layers of cheesecloth in a colander would work too.

Next time...home made granola!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Beyond Brilliant Bread Baking

I make my own bread and every time I eat a piece of it I feel like I am in on some giant secret that few others seem to know about. It's really, really good. Like, so good that I go to bed early because it means I can wake up at the crack of dawn to have some toast. So good that you will turn up your nose at bakery bread, because yours is better. The secret is multi-grain cereal, I use Bob's Red Mill 10-grain.

I got the recipe from watching America's Test Kitchen on PBS. If you are unfamiliar, they are like Alton Brown's nerdy cousin from Maine. You need a subscription to Cook's Illustrated to access the bread recipe on the America's Test Kitchen website, but luckily I found a copy of the recipe here that you can have for free. One little thing, she doesn't describe how to shape the loaves at the end. After you have got the two rectangles, roll them each up like a log, starting at the short end. Pinch the ends to seal and you're done.

I hope you take the time to make some bread today. You won't regret it. I've already made bread so I'm going to make peach cobbler. MMMMMMMM!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

'Allo, Poppy

Spending the afternoon making flowers for my Etsy store. And eating jellybeans. Shhh, don't tell.

Emerson Made giveaway over at Lee La La

I just saw the cutest clutch at Lee La La! Best of all, she is giving one away for free. Follow her blog and you will get an entry in the drawing for this adorable treasure from Emerson Made.

It could have been worse

Strawberries in the sink, before the fire

It all started with a vacation. My dad was going to Texas to visit his brothers and sisters but, intoxicated by spring, he bought a flat of strawberries the day before he was scheduled to leave. As a result, I got the flat, minus the 4 or 5 berries he managed to eat while he packed.

"Jam!" I thought. I had everything I needed to make it, but it had been a while since I had canned so I was a little nervous. But, I followed all of the directions and things turned out pretty well.

I did accidentally set myself on fire for a minute, but miraculously my hoodie withstood the flames really well and I don't have a mark on me. I had three burners going on the stove. On the front right burner I had the giant canning pot, heating up to sterilize the jars. On the back left I had the jam cooking, and on the front left I had the lids boiling away. Right about the time that the lids finished the sterilization process the jam had reached the scum-skimming stage. I took the lids off the front left and moved them to the back right burner to sit. Then I got hot! All that steam was getting to me so I took off my hoodie. Then I realized I was wearing a new white shirt underneath (jam splatters!) so I took the hoodie and wrapped it around me like an apron, tying the arms behind me like strings. Ominous foreshadowing: this meant the hood was dangling in front.

Next I noticed that the jam was going to be done before the jars were sterilized, so I cranked up the water holding the jars before getting to work on the scum. The pot was so large that I really had to get my face in there to see where all the scum was. Suddenly I smelled fire. Looking to my right I saw black smoke coming from the bottom of the jar pot. I panicked and turned the water off! Then I realized the black smoke was coming from me!!! I had leaned a little too far over the still-hot front burner while skimming and my hood had burned up pretty good.

I got four jars of jam out of the whole thing and nobody ended up in the hospital. Lesson learned? I need a giant stove! One that can accommodate giant pots for giant batches of jam. Then I wouldn't have to set myself on fire while skimming scum because I had to stagger one of my pots to the back burner. Doesn't that sound lovely?

In my dreams! In reality I'm more of a less is more person, so I think I will just move the jar pot to the back and keep the jam in the front :)