Thursday, February 14, 2013

DIY Valentine's Scratch Tickets

So, for Valentine's Day this year, I did something I saw on Pinterest: I made these awesome, homemade scratch tickets!

They're actually really simple: Just print out some graphics with hearts on them onto cardstock, and write your "prizes" on them. While your ink's drying, mix up your paint, which is 1 part dishwashing soap to two parts acrylic paint. I used silver, but you could use any color, like pink or red or whatever. My mix was one tablespoon dish soap to two tablespoons silver acrylic paint, and that was WAY too much. I still have a jar of this stuff.

Anyway, the next step is cover every part of the Valentine card that will be scratched off with a layer of white crayon; in my case, I colored over all my hearts.

Then, paint over your hearts with a small paintbrush. The paint has to be pretty thick, but not abnormally so. I also found that the wax from the crayon kept the paint in place a little bit. But neatness still counts!

They have to dry for about an hour or so because the dish soap retards the drying process.

And it actually works! I'd show you how they look scratched off, but, well, the prizes are personal. :D

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creamsicle Cookies!

So, over on Pinterest, I saw a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies, so, for the Superbowl, I knew I had to make them. The recipe was easy to find then, but the sites since been taken down as an "attack site," whatever that means. So, go ahead and click the link to the Pin, if you want, but skip clicking to the site, k?

Anyhoomers, that picture there is of my Orange Creamsicle Cookies, and, let me tell you what: they are AH-MAY-ZING. They totally taste like an "orange-ier" version of that creamy, frozen, ice cream delicacy you remember from childhood.

I've put the recipe on one of my recipe cards, which you can download as a 300 DPI PDF file:

Or, copy and paste:

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (OR 2 sticks butter) [I used butter flavor Crisco.]
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange zest (about 2 oranges' worth)
2 tablespoons orange juice*
1 bag vanilla chips

*I found that the mixture was too dry when I put in all the dry ingredients into the wet ones, so, since I had zested oranges just sitting around, I squeezed those a little and added the juice to the mixture. This was NOT part of the recipe I used. The juice might make your cookies a little "orange heavy" for your tastes, so, decide for yourself.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

In another bowl, cream together your butter/shortening and sugars. When well mixed, beat in egg, vanilla, and orange juice (if you're using it).

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing well between each addition.

Stir in orange zest and vanilla chips until well incorporated.

Roll dough into small balls and place about 1.5" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Do not let them overcook!

Let cool on baking pan for a few minutes before removing to rack or tray to finish cooling.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on how large of cookie balls you roll.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Decorator Bins From Cereal Boxes

So, the computer I use for all my work stuff, well, it's 7 years old. Things wear out. This was the case with my hard drive. Last Thursday morning, I went to to turn on my computer and the hard drive made a horrific grinding noise and then I got just a black screen with a blinking cursor. BIOS showed that the computer wasn't even seeing the drive. I have to assume that the drive is completely toast, though I will try to access the files there to make sure that all is, indeed, lost. Since I automatically save my files and work documents to an external drive, the only things I have lost are about a year's worth of emails (I know, I know: back these things up... but I am HORRIBLE about that, hence, the external drive) and a rather vast collection of fonts, neither of which I care a whole lot about, so, outside of the fact that I spent ALL DAY yesterday formatting and setting up a new hard drive, I haven't lost much.

In fact, the inability to do any "real" work actually gave me some time to complete another project I saw on Pinterest: making decorator bins from cereal boxes!

I have been saving cereal boxes (much to the dismay of my family, who can't figure out why I won't throw "garbage" away) for a few months now, and, when I saw my opportunity to make these, I even stole a couple more boxes even though the cereal wasn't all eaten yet. The bags inside the boxes work just fine as containers, you know. Anyway, I started by cutting the front and back panels from the boxes I'd saved:

 I had enough panels to make two boxes: one that was 13 inches long by 10 inches wide, and one that was 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. My next step was to measure the angles so that the bins would have a nice slanted stance. For this, I measured one and half inches from the bottom corner of the side panels and drew a nice slanted line from the corner above it:

For the short front and back panels, I measured in two inches on the bottom corner and drew my lines. I also ended up cutting about two inches off of those panels, so that the whole thing would fit nicely. This meant a lot of matching up lines and corners and whatnot to make sure everything would fit together nicely.

Then, I cut everything out a little wide, measured again, and trimmed to fit. Now, I had all my stiffening panels:

Next, I laid out the pieces on some fat quarter quilting material I had. I had worried that I wouldn't be able to fit all the pieces onto a fat quarter, but they almost all fit. The only piece that was different (and only on the smaller bin) was the bottom piece, which I cut out of a leftover piece of drapery fabric in a nice, contrasting orange stripe.

And then I repeated the layout and trace routine for the lining fabric:

Now, time to sew. First I sewed all the outside fabric pieces to the bottom panel piece:

And then I sewed all the lining side pieces to the lining bottom piece:

Next, sewing the outside to the lining, which was tricky, because I was sewing a BOX. The important thing here is to pay attention to what gets sewed to what. This means turning fabric this way and that sometimes, inside and out sometimes, etc. So, anyway, I sewed three of the four corners of the outside to the lining:

And then, before sewing the last corners together, I slid in the bottom piece of cardboard into the pocket I'd made:

 Before sewing it shut, sewing the last corner together, and then repeating all of the above for the larger box.

Now, in the instructions I linked to above, it says that you can sew right through the cereal box panels. I tried this. It worked okay for the first two sides, and then I got halfway through the third side of the first bin I was closing up (the big bin), and my sewing machine grunted and then broke the sewing needle. Without a backup needle (silly me), I had to enact a backup PLAN.

Sewing machine needles with cases - Pack of 48 (Google Affiliate Ad)

Now, someone a little more experienced with sewing projects would probably grab some fusible interfacing tape and iron the top seams and border pieces together, but I am not that person. No, I didn't have any tape like that (I do NOW, though), so I got out the hot glue gun and carefully seals the tops of the bin sides and then adhered the trim pieces the same way. (Luckily, I had sewn the edges of MOST of the trim pieces before I tried sewing the damned cardboard.)

Thermoweb 101642 Heatn Bond Hem Iron-On Adhesive.38 in. x 10 Yards (Google Affiliate Ad)

So, after much aggravation (as is typical for me with sewing projects), I had two finished decorator bins:

Despite the problems, I am actually sort of pleased with how they turned out. It helps organize the baby's toys and they look good in my office, where all her toys are being stored until her room gets built this summer.