Monday, November 22, 2010

Making a photo candle

This is a super simple craft that I learned back when I was really into scrap booking. Last time I used a white candle. This time, I couldn't find the right size candle in white or cream so I bought a red one. Turns out that the color bleeds right through the paper so that was a dud. I tried using a real photograph, thinking it wouldn't bleed through but I ended up melting part of the picture. So moral of the story is, you have to use cream or white. LaWanda found one in her supplies in cream, otherwise I wasn't going to be able to make this for Maria's wedding shower.

To make a photo candle, you need:
a copy of a picture on regular copier paper
4 pins
wax paper
an embossing gun, heat gun or hair dryer
embellishments (optional)

You take your picture and a piece of wax paper about the size of the picture, maybe 1/2 margin on each side. You line up the picture on the candle where you want it, then lay the wax paper on top of that. For a cream candle, you need to trim the picture so no white is showing so there will be little hole marks in your picture but if you use white, you can leave a little extra paper for the pins and you won't be able to tell pins were ever used. Pin the wax paper/picture to the candle.

Take your heat gun and use it to melt the wax on the wax paper and the candle just a little bit as well. Push it down with your hands to make sure it has a good seal.

Let it dry for a couple of minutes then peel off the wax paper.

Your candle is done now but you can add ribbons or other embellishments if you wish. For this one, I used a jute ribbon and a small charm that says "Head over heels". (shown in the first photo)

Super simple gift and fun to make too!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I first noticed these spiky balls on a tree in the spring.

Then I forgot about them until a few weeks ago when I saw some on the ground under the same tree. I wondered what was inside them so I grabbed one, like you would an apple, to pluck it and take it home where I would open it. Turns out, those spikes are hard and like hypodermic needles! I let go immediately. I thought I could get home with it cupped ever so gently in the palms of my hands. I took 5 steps before I had to drop it. So I stomped on it and these seriously deflated looking things came out. I found out they are chestnuts (well they would have been had they actually developed). I asked the owners if I could pick some to try them out. They said I could help myself. I didn't have gloves or anything so I waited a few days. When I went back they said that they weren't able to find any good chestnuts and they weren't sure what went wrong that year. They said I could still help myself but I decided it wouldn't be worth my time. She took me on a tour of their garden and gave me 2 eggplants and 3 jalapenos. I got a taste of stevia as well. It really is quite sweet! They have a fig tree and she said I could help myself in the summer time to those as well. She was a very nice lady!

Well, fast forward, I found this pecan tree on someone else's lawn. When we walk by I grab the pecans that are sitting on the sidewalk. I chat with the owner occasionally, whenever he's outside as we walk by. One evening, he was out chopping firewood for his wood stove. I asked him about the pecans and he said that they had already picked 42 pounds and I could have as many as I wanted. :o) I went back the next day for those. He mentioned he had a chestnut tree back near the barn and they never eat them so if I wanted to try some, to go ahead.

I've never had chestnuts so it's worth an experiment. The squirrels had already gotten most of the chestnuts. Note to self: collect chestnuts when they start falling, not a few weeks later. So I gathered the few I was able to find. I had to move the spiky hulls around with my shoes. I really didn't get many but I did get enough to at least find out if I like them or not.

Here's the tree...not a great picture since the sun was setting.

Here's what I collected. There's those MEAN hulls! I am learning alot about how nuts grow this year. I would never want a chestnut tree or a walnut tree on my property...but I would welcome a pecan tree.

This chestnut had the most personality. It was difficult to get out of the hull and it wanted to keep this mohawk.

Food is fun! :o)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I don't know what it is with my breads lately but they just don't want to rise like they used to. And not just the sourdough but with yeast as well. I need to go back to my original recipe that really rose well and see if I have any luck with it. The flavors are still good but I would really like a fluffy bread again.

Both the bread and the biscuits look like whole grain but I only used white flour in them. The sourdough sponge is made from rye flour though so I guess that's where the color is coming from. It's not that I didn't want to use whole wheat flour but I had none. I had to locate a good container for my wheat grinder since it is gone. I finally found one so I hope to be pulling it out and using it soon. :o)

Sourdough Flax Seed Bread

2 cups active sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)
1/4 cup flax seed (optional)
1 tablespoon poppy seed (optional)
4 1/2-5 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1 1/4 cups cold bottled water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey


1 (Optional) Put the sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and poppy seeds in a hot, clean, dry skillet and stir them. Let them roast, with frequent stirrings, until they become fragrant. Be careful to make sure they don't scorch! Toasting the seeds makes them - and the bread - much more tasty. You may also roast the seeds in a 375F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

2 Mix the active starter, water, oil and honey together. (I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook for this process.).

3 Add the (optional) seeds.

4 Stir in the flax meal.

5 Add the salt and then stir in the flour one cup at a time until the dough is too thick to stir.

6 Pour the dough onto a floured work surface (or turn up the speed on your Kitchen Aid) and knead until the dough is resilient. The dough is a rather sticky dough; it's important not to over-flour the dough.

7 Once the dough is well kneaded, turn it out into an oiled bowl, turn and cover.

8 Let it rise until doubled.

9 Deflate the dough, knead briefly, cut and shape into rough loaves.

10 Let the dough sit, covered, for 30 minutes, then shape into final loaves.

11 Let rise, covered, until doubled.

12 Preheat the oven to 375°F.

13 Bake 30 to 45 minutes.

Sourdough Angel Biscuits

1 cup sourdough starter (active and bubbly)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
4 tablespoons shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter or 1/4 cup margarine


1 Measure sourdough starter into mixing bowl.

2 Add sugar.

3 Dissolve yeast in warm water.

4 Add to starter.

5 Cut shortening into mixture of salt, baking powder, and flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

6 Add to starter mixture, stirring well with a fork.

7 Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently, adding more flour if necessary.

8 Roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut with biscuit cutter.

9 Dip in melted butter and place in a greased cake pan with edges touching.

10 Cover with a cloth or plastic and set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

11 Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: I found that they didn't rise mush so I would suggest not rolling them so thin. Seems odd to me that with three rising agents that these things didn't rise...

I definitely like the bread better than the biscuits... and the bread was about the same amount of work, just more waiting time is all.

Apple Bacon Pie

As weird as this sounds, it sounded really good to me. So I went ahead and made it. I followed the recipe and it was really good! I would only use 4 apples next time instead of 6. It has been my breakfast every morning this week. This is the second time I've made pie crust. It's so easy, I had forgotten that.

Bacon Apple Pie

1 double pie crust recipe - home made or store bought
4-6 apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
Lemon juice - about a tbs
3/4 lb of bacon, smokey and salty
1/3 cup white or brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon plus other spices, if you would like
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs butter

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the bacon into 1/4 inch chunks and fry until quite done but not crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper toweling. Reserve grease for another use.

*If using home made pastry lay half of it into a pie pan and roll out and then cut the other half into strips to use for lattice. If using store bought pastry defrost it completely and then turn one of the pans worth out onto a cutting board. Roll the pastry flat with a rolling pin and slice into strips for the lattice top.

* As you slice the apples toss them with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you are ready to assemble the pie drain the apple of any extra lemon juice and then toss with the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Some recipes call for a tablespoon of flour to get tossed in here too. I don't use it but you might like it.

*Start to layer the apple slices into the bottom pie crust. When one layer of spiced apples is in sprinkle some of the bacon bits on top. Add another layer of apples, more bacon and then a third layer of apples and bacon. You can pile the apples quite high in this pie, tucking them in and laying them well to form a solid mound. Dot the top of the pile of apples with butter cut into pea sized pieces. Sprinkle some sharp cheddar cheese over this if you are being really decadent.

*Follow these instructions to create a lattice crust on top of the pile of apples. Crimp all the edges well and place the pie pan on a baking sheet and then place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pie is very fragrant, you can see bubbly juice coming up through the lattice crust and the crust itself is nicely browned. Poke the pie with a knife to make sure the apples are tender then remove the pie and let it cool a bit. All pies are just as good at room temperature or cold and it will hold together better if you let it cool a bit. It will be worth the wait.
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