Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First Time Painting.....

....Miniatures, that is.  Yup, I have gotten into the realm of miniatures!  Eh....  one more thing for me to craft with, I know.  And yes, I know it has been forever since I have updated this blog.  Life seriously kicked in for a while, and I spent two months homeless (well, living with my sister while looking for a place I could afford), but I am now in my own apartment!  Which means, I actually have space to do a lot of my crafts!  Woo!!!

Well, I will be updating about the other ongoing crafts and stuff as I finally get around to them!  In fact, I started a new cross stitch, but I will not post about that one much until I finish/give the finished product to my friends for the holidays.  I don 't want them to get a sneak peak here.....

So yes, back to my quick little update about the miniatures I have gotten into.  I had never gotten into miniatures, even back when I played D&D a lot more often than I do now (I live too far away from my group, and I don't have a car to go see them often).  But then I discovered Stonehaven Miniatures on Kickstarter.  And I liked their Dwarves... so I backed them!  And then they did Gnomes.... and of course I had to back them then as well!  Especially when they made the little gnome chef with the butcher knife and skillet... which I was pushing for in the comments!

And then they did the Elves, which I wasn't going to back because my funds were quite limited... having just moved into an apartment, and startup costs and all that... but then they kept adding more and more that I liked... and I backed that one!

Now I'm broke....

But March will be my favorite month!  Birthday, Game of Thrones season 4, Stonehaven Miniatures.....

Yeah.

Well, now that I am in my apartment, and I have a little alcove that is my craft area (pictures will be added later, seeing as I am at my sisters' house, using her internet....), I have had time to start my painting!

And after watching hours upon hours of painting and basing tutorials on youtube, and on miniwargamer, and other various sites, I finally decided to attempt.

And, because the trolls are much bigger than the dwarves and gnomes....  I thought they would be a good place to start.  So, here are my trolls!  Now, I know... they need some touching up... but I did that already, I just don't have the pictures to show it!  So, if there is any advice for me, please let me know in the comments!  Also, I am working with about ten paints, so I am still building my paint supply.

So, without further ado, here are my trolls!




Yeah, the picture quality isn't the greatest... and the lighting could be better.... but hey, it was with my phone!  And I am working on getting a better light source.  But, gathering awesome stuff like that needs funds, and so will be a slow gather on my part....

Well, until next time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crafting updates....

Yes, I know, its been forever since my last blog post.  But, fear not.... just because I haven't posted does not mean that I haven't been working on things!  Not only have I been working on my current cross stitch projects, I have started another!  Yes, another... hahaha  And, I have been getting ready for a move.  My friend (who I am helping out with various sewing projects) and I are looking for a new place, so it will be hectic for a little while in my life.

First up on the progress list!  Middle Earth!  It took me some time, because I did not have all the colors I needed to continue, and its also summer... I have had a hard time concentrating on it during nice days, so I have a feeling that most of the progress on this work in progress will be in the winter time.  I will finish it tho! It just will most likely take me many years hahahaha.

I think its turning out very pretty XD

Next on my progress over the last few weeks/months...  I have started a Riders of Rohan cross stitch!  The design is not mine... There was no actual patterns, and any copyrights go to their correct owners.  Since I'm not actually putting it up for sale or adding a pattern online, it should be fine.... right?  lol  All I did was find the awesome picture online, and just freehand copy it.  I'm hoping to get this, the Tree of Gondor, the Dwarf Door, and something for the Elves hanging on my wall, along with the map.  It will be fun!   And it shows my nerd off very well XD



Next up:  I have a KitchenAid that was given to me.  And its white.  And ugly.  And stained.  And it just didn't go with my decor.  I have wanted to keep it out on the counter, but eugh.... yeah.  So, I gave it a makeover!  First, this is what it looked like:





And then I cleaned it.  Holy cow did it take forever.  And there was cookie dough in places that I didn't think cookie dough could get to!  Helpful hint when cleaning... take as much apart as you possibly can.  Also useful when planning on painting it XD  The poor motor in the back was so caked with flour (and I don't even want to know what else) that I'm surprised it still worked!!  So, after the very long cleaning time, came the sanding time!  Just enough to take off the outer coating of the varnish.  Helps the new paint stick better, see?  Also, took off a tiny bit of the staining, but not that much.  Makes you wonder what stained it in the first place.... And I swear, the stain was on it before it was given to me!


 Then outside we went with some lovely cardboard (I used pizza boxes... yummy!) and the lovely spray paint!  I used the Rust-oleum High Heat paint that is intended for grills and such, because have you ever felt how hot a kitchenaid gets when doing lots of thick doughs?  Yeah....   It gave it a beautiful flat black look that I really like actually XD  Unfortunately, I fear I may need to get some enamel coverup or something to go on top of it, cause I feel like I can chip it super fast.    So:  Here is the finished product (for now ;p) of the kitchenaid makeover!  I will be getting some lovely decals to go on it (the whole main inspiration for doing the makeover in the first place!)  This is what I want for it!!!!  In the coppery color!  Soon, little KitchenAid, soon.......

And on that note, since I feel like showing them off, my sister and I got our tattoos done when we were in Minnesota visiting our family!  They are memorial tattoos, for my mom.
This one is my sisters.  My mom loved hummingbirds, and would always have feeders and flowers that they loved hanging around the house.  She wanted a hummer that didn't look cartoonie and I think the artist did a wonderful job!!!  So beautiful!  She plans on getting everyones (her kids, and her deceased sister in laws' to start with) birth flowers surrounding it.  It will be so pretty!!!

 And mine!!!!  The fuschia because that was one of her favorites (ties in with the hummingbird, too!) and the writing is in elvish.  She wasn't the biggest fan of Tolkien's works, but she was always super excited that I had planned on getting a tattoo in that writing style.  She thought it was so unique and so me.  So, I had someone at TheOneRing.net transcribe her name for me.  So the top says "Tammi Jean" and the bottom says "Mother Dearest".  I love it.  So much!

And no, its not crooked.  The picture was just taken at an angle.  Blame my dad, he took the picture XD

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bottling up some extracts

Almond and Orange extracts.  I figured it was about time to see how the experiments panned out!  The almond, seen in this post, was a beautiful murky color.  Just look at that color!  It smelled wonderful too (once I opened the jar).  I can't wait to try it out, possibly with this yummy almond apricot oatmeal scone recipe that I have.  I may or may not post that recipe in an upcoming blog.  Depends on if people want it!

 So, as seen in my loverly Halloween post, I have all these little mini booze bottles.  I like them, they are pretty (some of them) and can be darn useful!  Either for little potions bottles or for bottling up small amounts of extracts!  (And I have them because I work as a booze seller, and the little ones make it a lot easier on my wallet for when I want to try what we sell.  In WA the liquor prices are so ridiculous that I can't afford to get bigger bottles anymore.)  As you can see, I have one little St. Germain bottle, and two little Domaine de Canton bottles (yum!  Try that one with some Limonata San Pelligrino, delicious!). I also have one of those little flask funnels, also darn useful, and for more than just filling up flasks with booze!~ 
 So, I used the tried and (not)true method of using a coffee filter to filter out the solids of the extracts.  This method sucks.  I have to admit it!  Especially with the almond one.  The almonds were somewhat pointy so they liked to break through the coffee filter.  Also, it dripped through it so slow that it was almost useless.  If you happen to have cheese cloth or something else to strain it through, I would highly recommend you use that.  I'm pretty sure I didn't get as much extract out of the almond one as I could have.  Oh well.... Its an experiment, so it works for me!
 I was able to fill up one bottle (about 50ml full) with the almond, and I did have a little bit left over, but not enough to warrant cleaning another bottle (dishwashers are my friend XD).  Like I said before, it smelled so good!  I think the color is not as white as I was expecting because I toasted the almonds before making the extract.  Hopefully that will lend more flavor though!
 The orange extract (also smelling amazing....) definitely yielded more liquid for the final product.  Then again, I'm pretty sure that I started out with more liquid.  See?  Also, it was a tiny bit easier to strain, without the poky almonds.  Still a pain, though.  I will definitely be investing in a better filter system for when I strain my vanilla extract.  Which, by the way, still has a few months left before I start playing with that one.  The lovely orange extract filled up both of the Canton bottles, as well as most of another mini!
One of those ones will definitely be going to my sister to play with. Well, there you go, the first results of my initial two extracts!  I won't be posting too much in the next month or two, unless I get a severe craft itch coming on.  First, a trip to Minnesota to visit family and then we will be doing some serious moving, because by the time we get back we will only have a month left on our lease to find some new diggs.

 Now to figure out what I want to make with some orange extract.  Hmmm.... any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making a Recipe Binder

I know, the whole 'make your own recipe binder' thing has been done like crazy on different blogs all over the internet.  I should know, I've looked a bunch of them up to get different inspirations for this one!  See, I will be moving within a few months (the lease on our current place is up at the end of July, and we will all be parting ways and going in different directions) and I'm trying to think of ways for me to lighten my load, so to speak.  One of them is to get my recipe books and all that together and organized (and paired down...)  One of the things I will slowly be doing over the next month or two is copying down the recipes that I do actually use from various cookbooks so they are all in one spot.



 As you can see, I have a lot of cook books.  This actually isn't even all of them.  And, this doesn't include the year subscription I had to Food magazine a few years ago.  Or the magazines I've gotten that are not included in that subscription.  Of course, I'm not getting rid of ALL of these cookbooks... family ones are staying.... that wonderful Feast of Fire and Ice one (that the GoT feast I did came from) and such are not leaving my possessive possession...

But yes, cookbooks will mostly be going away.  As you can see they take up a TON of space.  So, what I have been working on is my own lovely cookbook.  For a while, I've been using one of the premade binder cookbooks, the ones that you can write your own recipes on 4x6 cards, and have them all match and be pretty.  In fact, this is the one I've been using!  It was a gift to my mom from a close friend, and I've been using it (with her, but since I'm the main cook here, it kinda got inherited to me...)



 Its pretty.  I like it.  But, it didn't quite fit my needs.  See, it didn't quite have the categories that we pertinent to me, and whenever it got dropped everything would spill out and go everywhere.  Even if it was a drop from my hands onto the counter.  Besides, when you have a 16lb cat who thinks that nothing is allowed on the table, and runs in circles on it to knock everything off... well, lets just say things get knocked over fairly often.  And, I filled up all the cards very quickly, as well as all the pages.

So I finally caved and decided to make my own!  This way, I could customize it, and actually put things where I wanted them to go!  In categories that make sense to me!  Hopefully they make sense to everyone else, too.... >.<  So, without further ado, here is my new, handy dandy cookbook!  (sorry... spend too much time watching children's shows with my niece and nephews.... *images of a blue dog running around flies through my head*)
Yes, I called it Omm Nom Nom.  I couldn't think of anything else!!!
 I got a nice quality 2" notebook binder off of amazon.com (I love amazon, just so everyone knows...) and I made it pretty using scrapbook paper that I had.  I have a ton of it! Love it for different crafts and all that. I used a bunch of it to frame pictures for my mom's celebration of life.  That turned out beautiful.  Back on topic, with the binder I got two packages of extra wide dividers, so the categories wouldn't be hidden among the page-protected recipes.

I got dividers that were blank paper, so I could write and put fun things on them.  Like this!  Mom with her empty Tippy Cup (inside story) and a recipe and story about her favorite cocktail.  Of which, us kids learned how to make as soon as we could properly reach things.  Lol...  Love having a bartender for a mom, and miss her so much.
I love having the pockets on the front and back of the binder, because, like others have done when making their own, recipes that have not been tried yet can live there before being properly filed in a keep spot (in the book) or a non-keep spot (in the recycling).   Soon to be added to the cookbook:  binder pockets.  To go behind each category for miscellaneous recipes that either don't fit, or need to be filed, etc.  I forgot to order them, so they are not making it into this update....

My categories are:

  • Appetizers/Snacks
  • Salads/Dressings
  • Sauces/Gravies
  • Soups/Stews
  • Sandwiches
  • Pastas
  • Side Dishes
  • Main Dishes
  • Breads/Muffins
  • Cakes/Cobblers
  • Pies/Pastries
  • Cookies
  • Extracts/Spices
  • Beverages
  • Miscellaneous
  • Tips and Tricks


 Yeah, I know, that is a lot of categories.  And, yes, some are not usually found in pre-made recipe card books.  Thus, my initial dilemma.  Making it this way makes it very ease to eventually move half of these recipe categories (ie the baking department) into a different book when this one gets too full.  I like that idea very much, personally!  And, besides, this suits my needs right now very well.

Within this lovely cookbook, I have a few different sized pages for various recipes.  First, I got a box of 100 4x6 picture holding sleeves.  It was actually cheaper to buy the ones made for pictures than it was to buy the ones made for recipes.  Plus, the ones that I kept finding for the recipes only had two slots per page, and were not full sized pages.  So, picture album sleeves for the win!

Also, I got a bunch of full sleeve page protectors, and, yes this may seem weird at first, but give it a chance, a thing of business card protector sleeves.

Yes, I said it, business card protector sleeves.  Also, baseball card protectors would work really well, too.  Think about it, recipes that are very small (such as cocktail recipes, or spice blends) that you don't want to waste a full recipe card on, let alone the space for the recipe card!


Look at these things!  Fricken useful if you ask me! Magazine cutouts. Cocktail recipes, the little things that come of bottles of booze (I work at a liquor store, so I end up acquiring a lot of these...)  Spice blends, which to me usually taste better than the store bought ones.  Things like that!


And, honestly, I don't think I saw that idea on any other blog about making your own book.  Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though!

Back to the making of bit.  With that whole stack of magazines that have been just taking up so much space. I butchered them.  Plain and simple.  I took my lovely pair of scissors, and chopped them up to little pieces.  Well, not all of them went to little pieces, some of them stayed nice and big.  And, now I can recycle the now non needed magazines, and clear up a whole area of storage.  Bonus!
 Not only did I salvage a bunch of recipes from these books, but there were a lot of useful things in them as well.  Thus my tips and tricks section of the book came into being.  And then I had fun with metallic sharpies.    And now I can keep the little techniques that they had in the book, so I would have a lovely little thing to look back on when I actually need the technique refreshed.  I actually did use the butternut squash one last time I made something with one of those.  Did not know how to properly break one down , and now that I do... so much easier!
So, this is my cookbook!  Omm Nom Nom is a work in progress, but the basic structure is built, and will be evolving as time goes on.  And, as I copy recipes from all those cookbooks and get rid of the books themselves.  A yard sale will soon be in the works, I can see it now....

Making a Recipe Binder
(aka What you need)

  • A binder.  Size depends on what it will be used for.  Maybe you want to make individual ones for main meals, desserts, beverages etc.  Then, you may want 1" or 1 1/2 " instead of the 2" like the one I used.
  • Page protectors.  Size also depends on what it will be used for.  Full page sleeves for pages printed off of the computer, or for things scrapbooked together out of magazines to make nice full pages.  Sleeves that fit the specific cards used (in my case 4x6).  Or even using the business card or baseball card protectors, for the little recipes.  
  • Dividers.  Preferably the extra long ones, so you can actually see the categories if you do use the page protectors.  Otherwise, the end of the divider gets lost amongst its companions.
  • Paper.  Yes, I know... paper?  Well, you want your book to look pretty, right?  Whether its scrapbook paper like what I used for the cover, or something awesome printed off of the computer.  I've seen some pretty cool ones out there.
  • Recipes.  Yes, I know, moot point if you're looking at this.  But still, recipes.  Could be hand written ones passed down the generations, or printed ones off of blogs like thepioneerwoman.com (love the recipe I linked... you gotta try it!!!
Put it all together, and you should get something that's awesome.  And useful.  And could be given as gifts.  Or something that just makes you hungry looking at it.  ^-^

Monday, April 1, 2013

GoT Food Extravaganza!!!~~~~

Season three premier of Game of Thrones was last night.  Oh Ma Gawd......  I love the show.  That's all I have to say about that...

Well, I own the loverly A Feast of Fire and Ice cookbook (and I frequent the blog innatthecrossroads.com quite often) and I decided that for the much anticipated premier, that I would make a bunches of foods.  And I did....  if you count four things 'bunches' hahaha

Be warned.... this post is picture heavy and foodgasmic.  You have been warned...

So here be the final product....  minus the lovely dessert.

Mmmm... Ommegang Iron Throne Pale Ale.  It
was quite delicious, and I am not a big beer
person at all.  So that's saying something...
And here is how all that yumminess came into being...  Most of the foods mentioned from here on out can be found on the Inn at the Crossroads food blog.  If not in there, then they can be found in the fore mentioned book, written by the lovely ladies who run said blog!

 I started with the brown oat bread!  Since it has rising etc times, it was good to begin with!!!   I was going to use the steel cut oats (pictured left) but then I found the old fashioned ones hiding in the cupboard.  It smelled so good.... hot molasses being soaked into the oats.... yum!!!  Then the yeast makes it all yummy and bubbly!  Now I want to go get another slice......





After the lovely bread was placed in the oven, and in turn making the house smell AMAZING, I got started on the medieval applecakes.  My friend Jill helped with this part!  

 As the pastry dough was rising, the filling got done.  Oh man... I swear, the spices added to these apples were so good.   Cinnamon-y with a bite!  Its from those lovely little things called Grains of Paradise..  And the 'strong powder' that goes on them! It made more than enough filling, so I'm sure I'll be making something else with the left overs... Or I'll just eat it by itself.  But a cobbler does sound good with it.  Then again, so does just sticking a spoon into the bowl.  Hmmm... decisions decisions....   Then, after everything is puffed up, and cooked up, the assembly happened.  Sorry, was too busy chatting during that part.  Then the frying came!  And like the cookbook said, these are the medieval version of doughnuts.  And they were so tasty!  But alas, those were for dessert, not for dinner.... we snuck some in our gobs anyway!


 Then came the star of the show.  Seriously.  This was delicious.  The medieval beef and bacon pie.  Let me just say, I love meat pies to begin with.  This one, with the hint of saffron in the crust, and the sweetness of the fruits cooked in with the tartness of the vinegar....  Foodgasm.  That's all that can be said.
 Then, while that baked, filling the house with even more delicious smells, the carrots got their treatment!  Roman Carrots.  4th century recipe.  They were different.  Good, not what I was expecting, but rather tasty.  I'm glad I omitted the fish sauce though.  They were really good as they were!  

And, around the same time, since this is when the meal was all starting to come together, I slices up that lovely brown oatbread.  Oh it smelled so good.  Nice and dense, perfect with this meal.



Finished pie!!!  It was so tasty!!!  I highly recommend going and getting the recipe and eating it for yourself!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Extracts with Rum

So, its been a hard month so far.  My mom passed away Jan. 30th from still unknown causes (Harborview is still investigating why she died) and we have been getting things ready for her Celebration of Life on March 2nd.  So, lots of things have been going on.

But, I have been working on things that are crafty as well.  They have been keeping my mind busy.  Also, because mom drank rum and no one else in the house will touch the stuff...   First was orange extract.

We had one orange left sitting out, and I decided that I might as well try making extract out of it.  I mean, why not?  So, I zested the bugger.  After cleaning it of course.  I didn't want any weird tastes from whatever they put on the skins of fruit.

Orange zest... smelled yummy....
 I read somewhere on another blog about making extracts that you can add sugar to the zest.  It called for a full teaspoon, but I thought it was a little much, so I added about an eighth of one.  But hey, experimentation is the best!  Who knows how it will turn out!  I wont for a few months at least..... >.>

 So I mixed the zest of one orange, the tiny bit of sugar, and one cup of white rum together in a sanitized mason jar and viola!  It looks like watered down orange juice!  I mean... the beginnings of extract.
The recipe I used is as follows:
Zest of one large orange (Navel for me)
1/8 tsp sugar
1 cup white rum or vodka (80 proof)

Zest the orange, making sure not to get too much bitter pith, unless you want bitter extract.  Mix the sugar with the zest, then place in a clean mason jar.  Add prefered alcohol.  Seal, shake vigorously, and store in a cool dark place for two-six months.  Shake at least once a week.  The longer it sits, the stronger extract comes forth.  Enjoy!

That was last week that I did the orange extract.  Note to self, after zesting an orange, do not let it sit for more than a few hours before consuming.  I did, and pealing off the zest was hell!

This is what I did today.  I finally got my pack of vanilla beans from amazon.com.  Soooo happy!  It was mucho cheaper buying that way than it is trying to buy beans from the super expensive local stores.  Seriously.  This pack was $18ish bucks for (as you can see) many beans versus $8+ for two single beans.  I'll pick the amazon ones any day....

I pulled out nine beautiful beans (I decided to go with Tahitian beans this time, I might try Madagascar beans when I eventually get through all of these...) to make a nice big batch of vanilla extract.  My plan is to make at least two batches of extract to bottle up later this year as X-mas gifts.  This first batch is with... yeah.... rum!

I know, I said rum!  The bottle is empty... no Ketel One in it...  Thats my brother's favorite vodka...


Begin by splitting the lovely heaven sticks down the center and scrape out some of the little black bits of absolutely delicious smelling caviar.  Mmmm... our kitchen still smells yummy...  When done, shove all the heaven sticks, aka vanilla beans, into the empty bottle and then drop all those lovely little black bits into the bottle as well.


I figured I was doing the extract, might as well through a bean into the sugar while I was at it and make some vanilla sugar!  (I scraped the black gold out of that bean to add to the extract....  the bean will still work in the sugar without the seeds!  I mean, there will still be some in there anyway, my scraping skills need some work and I don't get it all in one go anyway...)



Anyway, back to the extract....   I then measured out a little less than three cups of white rum to add to the bottle stuffed with vanilla.

 And I poured... and watched the little pieces of black gold float through the bottle.  I then added a little more rum to it, because I wasn't sure how much would fit into the bottle with the beans taking up room in there.  Doesn't it look delicious?  Can you smell the vanilla?  I can~~~~  I guess I need to invent some smell-o-computer things for others to smell it too... (I'll stick it next to the time making machine that I need to invent in order to get one of my favorite bands out this way, cause they are booked solid right now and would need more time in order to come out and party here....) Or, you could just buy some vanilla.....
And voila!!  Vanilla extract with rum has been started!  Now it shall sit for six or more months, with random shakings at least once a week.

For the recipe:
Three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol.

Split vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at one end hooked together.  Optional: scrape out the caviar to add manually to the bottle.  I read some people do, some don't, so I guess its personal preference.  And whether or not you want tiny little black dots floating around in the extract.  I think it adds character!  And a feeling of home-madeiness...  Add beans, seeds, and preferred alcohol (vodka, rum, whiskey, etc) and seal.  Shake.  Store for six plus months.  The longer it sits the tastier it gets!  It gets a fuller bodier flavor the longer it has the beans in it.

Easiest thing to remember, ever.

Seriously, I didn't even need to look it up in the little extract/liquour book that I'm writing for myself.  I'll post more about that some other time, probably....

Well, that is what I've done so far!  I'll be posting some stuff about them later on in the year on the progress of these extracts.  I'll probably be doing another batch of vanilla extract with vodka later.  My plan (with my sister) is to give little bottles of extracts for gifts this year, including a 'comparison' bottles of rum vs vodka (maybe even whiskey) vanilla extracts for people to try different versions of them...

....and on that note, I will end this here....