Friday, March 22, 2013

Nutella Cream Pie

Obviously I need to practice  my food photography skills.  I promise this baby is worth it no matter how bad that picture is.

Most Nutella pie recipes are variations of the standard peanut butter icebox pie.  It's a great pie of course, but sometimes it's nice to do something a little different.  A cream pie is more rich than an ice box pie.  The thickening agents are egg yolks and cornstarch instead of Cool Whip and cream cheese.  It's a creamier pie with a smooth, silky texture.

Start with an Oreo crust.  Crush 16 Oreos either by hand (or rolling pin) or with a food processor.  Stir in 2T melted butter.   Press into a 9" pie plate and bake at 350 degrees until the crust is set and you can smell the cookies.  This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
in a medium sized pan combine:
2 1/2 c half and half (or 3/4 c heavy cream and 1 3/4 cups milk)
2 T sugar
pinch of salt

cook until simmering stirring occasionally.  While the milk and sugar cook, whisk together in a medium sized bowl:
6 egg yolks.  Yes, I said six.
1/4 c cornstarch
2T sugar

When the milk simmers carefully pour a small stream of milk into the yolk mixture while you quickly whisk.  Continue pouring until you've added half the milk to the eggs.  Then pour the egg/milk liquid back into the pan with the rest of the milk.  Continue cooking over medium heat until it becomes thick and a few bubbles burst on the surface, about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Stir in one at a time until smooth:
6T butter, chopped into smallish pieces (1/2" cubes if you feel like being precise.)
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c Nutella
2t vanilla

Pour into the pie crust and smooth out.  Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pie filling and put the pie in the fridge to cool for several hours.  Serve with whipped cream on top.

I do suggest you cut this pie into at least 12 pieces.  And then really, really enjoy yours.  It's awesome.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Prom Dress!

Sorry for the exclamation point.  I'm just excited to have it done and worn.  We had some drama Friday night where it looked like the dress wouldn't even make an appearance.  But here it is, right before she headed out to the dance.

The fabric is a champagne colored brocade, but it looks a little on the pink side when a flash is used.  Sadly it was after dark, so flash is all I had.

You can see the bustle on the side in this shot. It's a full circle of fabric, folded in half and pleated on at low hip height.  The center of the circle hangs lower than the skirt so she could have that high/low look that's so popular these days.   It looks a little dead here in the pictures, but the fullness of the bustle gave it a lot of movement and life, really adding so much to such a simple dress.

See what I mean?  She twirled for me.  She loved how it had so much drama when she moved.

And here it is from the back.  There is just a teeny little bit of netting under the bustle right at the top to give it some fullness and make a prettier drape.

And a detail shot.  I do a lot of hand sewing with these formal dresses. The bustle was hand sewn on so I could make the stitching as invisible as possible and have more control of the pleats.  You might notice there's no zipper on the back of the dress.   We moved it to the side so it wouldn't interfere with the bustle.  It made getting into the dress slightly tricky, but it worked.

 And a last shot straight on from the front.  There's a couple of changes I would like to make here.  We have a rhinestone accent that I didn't put on before her dance and looking at the pictures I would say the dress needs it.  I will probably do it before she wears it for her friend's prom . . . if he gets himself ungrounded by then that is.

You can see my daughter loved it.  She's a lucky girl getting these custom dresses for Prom. This one wasn't quite as elaborate as last year's dress, which from the seamstress's perspective was great.   She still looked lovely and had a wonderful time and that's all you can ask for from Prom.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sneak Peek--Prom

The fabric is hard to photograph because it's so shiny.   The dress is done, but we haven't had time for a photo shoot yet.  I'm hoping for something tomorrow.  We will definitely do it on Saturday.  We have an early prom around here.  It's crazy.

Next up:  a clutch to match.  It's lime green.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick Vinyl Project--Guitar Fret Markers

Got a kid learning guitar?  You might try this:

My husband gave a guitar lesson to our youngest son's best friend this evening.  The boy was brand new to the instrument and his guitar did not have fret markers on the edge of the neck.  A five minute session with my Cameo fixed that little difficulty for him in a way that would not permanently mark the guitar.

The numbers are Ahoroni font and I believe that one comes with the program.  They are about 1/4" tall.  I was surprised how well the Cameo cut numbers that small, but it was super quick and they came out great.  It took just a couple minutes to apply and a quick hit with a warm blow drier and a credit card will get them off quickly and cleanly when the boy learns his chords.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Teenager Tshirt

I've been hard at work with Prom Dress 2013, but there comes a point where you can only do so much sewing.  There are also those moments where you have to rip out all the seams on the muslin so I could create a new pattern from it.  And then cut it out. 

It's moments like that that get me looking for a new project.  I try to keep the new projects just a quick break so I can get back to the big project.  This week I made a shirt for my oldest son.  I used fabric paint and contact paper as a mask.

It was pretty easy to work with, but I do wish I had done it with black iron on transfer rather than the paint.  I found the paint a bit messy and I had a few spots where the paint bled under the contact paper.   Joshua loves it though and he says his friends did too.

I'm enjoying the t-shirt projects.  They are super quick and easy.  We've got a few more ideas for t-shirts.  The kids are loving coming up with their own ideas and have a whole list of projects for me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Perfect Lamp

Well, perfect for me anyway.  I love how it looks in the room.  It sits next to the couch on a little white plaster column.  The column I've had for over a decade.  It just keeps getting shifted from place to place as I find a better spot for it.   The lamp is new.  Newish.

A couple of years ago I was shopping at a thrift store with my husband when I saw this fabulous cast iron thing.   We had no idea what it was, but we had a great time making guesses.  We finally settled on calling it our "burglar b-gone because it weighs over five pounds (can you imagine getting a blow to the head with this thing?)  It was a drab, dark gray but had such interesting design I had to have it.  I paid seven dollars for it, brought it home, and hid it away in the store room.  I was over six months into the redecorating of the sitting room before I remembered the burglar b-gone.  I needed a lamp but I didn't want to pay the $40 it would take to buy the great turquoise lamp from Target that was too tall and didn't even come with a shade.

The burglar b-gone was perfect.  Just the right height and I already had it.  A quick paint job with a newly mixed paint sample ($1.20) and a lamp kit ($4.50+$4.00 for the harp) and a $10 shade gave me a great new lamp.

Lamp kits are fantastic.  I'm not kidding when I tell you it took me ten minutes to wire this up.  10 minutes.  Super easy.  The directions left a little to be desired, but I do have a bit of experience with wiring.  I have really only replaced old electrical sockets, but it was enough for me to be able to follow the diagram and get this done right.  Just remember when you use one that it is important to get your wires lined up right.  You can get fantastic fireworks if you swap the wires, but most people don't want fireworks next to the couch.  Don't be afraid of it, just test it outside if you aren't sure of your work.

So three lessons from this lamp for me:
1.  don't pass up great things at the thrift store just because you aren't quite sure what to do with it.  Of course, it really does have to be GREAT.  You don't want to fill your home with nice or cute things waiting for a spot.  Nice and cute are easy to find anywhere.  GREAT doesn't come along everyday.

2.  Just about anything can be a lamp and it's fast and easy to do.

3.  Always take before pictures.  Imagine how cool my Pintrest pin would be with a blah thing in the before and my awesome lamp in the after?  You'd think I would have learned after I forgot before pictures of the chairs.  One of these days . . .