Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Apple Cider

So what do you do when you have a fantastic idea for a recipe, but suddenly realize you're missing one of the key ingredients, apple cider? And of course you don't have a car available to you during the day to go run and grab some?

Well, if you happen to have any apples around your house, then you can make your own! Without a juicer even! I searched around online and came up with several ways to go about this, here is the one I decided to go with.

Take your delicious, juicy apples - I used two Honeycrisp because that's what I had in the fridge. However, they seemed like a really good choice. Both Todd and I had a drink of the cider and it was unbelievable. Sweet, slightly tangy...and better than any apple juice I've ever bought in the store. I read that you want to stay away from apples such as Granny, since they're tart and will require that you add sugar to the final ingredient.

Wash the apple thouroughly as you won't be peeling it. Cut and core.

Place all the slices (skin included) into a food processor and puree.

This is what you're going to come out with 

I poured the sauce onto a piece of muslin that was placed over a bowl and tied with a string. Let sit for roughly 30 minutes so that it may drain into bowl.

After you've let it set and drain, there is still going to be a LOT of juice left in the pulp. You're going to need to squeeze all the juice from the cloth/sauce. It takes just a minute to do - but you want to keep squeezing until there's no more liquid to squeeze out. 

If you've managed to get the majority of the juice from the pulp, then this is what you should be left with. Something that looks akin to a dirty diaper. Sorry for the somewhat gross picture, but I wanted you to see that this is what was left over of almost two whole apples. Not much.

And this is my final product - roughly 1 3/4 cups of homemade apple cider.

As you can see, my cider is very dark and cloudy. You can continue to strain it to filter out some of the apple particles and clear it up a bit if you'd like - make it a little prettier. Tastes the same either way! I knew I was using mine to cook with , so I left it as is. You can also spice it up a little - maybe make some Hard Apple Cider? Um, yes please!!

And that's it folks! Easy peasey! Now I'm off to actually put it in what I was supposed to be making in the first place. Pumpkin Butter!

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Operation Gingerbread House

Are you ready for it? Are you ready to be inundated with tons of pictures of our Gingerbread House?  I'm so excited that it came out okay - we weren't sure it was going to, being our first attempt at one and all. But look! It's standing!!!!

Todd and I set a challenge for ourselves to use only edible items on it - so what you see is what you get! No toothpicks, hot glue or cardboard for us! Nope. We had to torture ourselves and go about it the difficult way. That's how we typically do things. :) Todd drew up the templates for the houses himself. Everything else was cut freehand by moi.

Ingredients consist of gingerbread, royal icing, gum drops, Mini M&Ms, candy canes, Sour Skittles, Dots, Snowcaps, Gobstoppers, graham crackers and sweetened shredded coconut.

Of course, each of our pooches got their own houses and water bowls.

Just in case we forget who it belongs to...

We're both so proud of it. There were high-fives flying all around this bitch. It's currently sitting in the middle of our dining room table - and there it shall stay until I get sick of looking at it, or one of the dogs figure out it's up there.

Todd's already talking all crazy-like about how's he's going to "go big" on it next year.... Should be a little more fun next time  since we now have a vague idea of what we're doing. I'll tell ya, we stood around staring at it and scratching our head quite a few times.

I'm thinking I might do a post in regards to the making of it. More for myself than anyone else. I want to jot down all the little tips I picked up so I don't forget them next year!

Hope you are all having a great holiday so far

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Golden Partridges in My Tree

I'm on a crafty little kick lately! It feels so good! I'm not even kidding you - the stress we dealt with while moving and everything that came immediately after made me really physically sick... Hard to maintain a positive frame of mind when you feel so horrible all the time. But I finally feel like I'm bouncing back! I feel so damn positive and am finally looking forward to the future again! Hence, more craftiness :)

Did I mention that it feels really good?

Anyhoo - I picked up the book Fa La La La Felt last year and finally got around to making one of the really cute projects in it. There are many. Too many for me to even contemplate doing this year But I'll probably make a couple more.

First one I made was a simple little number. Some cute little birds. Put it together last night while we were watching American Horror Story. Any other AHS fans out there? I am addicted. ADDICTED. In my opinion this is one of the best series I've come across. Next week is the finale - and I am sad. Very sad.

So - if you have this book and have made any of the projects out of it, send me the link! I'd love to see pictures! And if you're a fellow AHS fan, let me know! I always need fellow fanatics to chat about it with!

Happy Holidays! ♥

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our wee little tree skirt

♪♪♪Happy Holidays!!!♪♪♪

I did it! I finished a project!

When Todd and I brought home our wee tree, I was sad because we didn't have a tree skirt. So of course I broke out my mountainous stash of fabric, dug through it all and found a couple patterns I thought would do, then whipped one up!

Yeah right.

Do you like how I made that sound? Whipped it up? Agonized over it for more than two weeks is more like it! But we must concentrate on the important thing here, which is I that I actually finished a project! Finally! (have you caught on that I'm really proud of myself? really. the pile of half finished projects in my office is simply ridiculous)

Here is our wee tree skirt to go along with our wee tree...

I stumbled across this tutorial for a quilted tree skirt at Sew4Home, which is an awesome little place filled with DIY tutorials to use around your house. The directions seemed pretty clear and concise, so I thought I'd give it a try. It included making your own bias tape, which was the first time I'd tried my hand at that....and I can safely say that sucks. I have a hard time getting the right spacing on the folds. This of course could be due to the fact that I can't cut a straight line to save my life....which I'm sure in turn contributes to the fact that I can't sew a straight line...

I'm super happy with the way it came out. In several places the lines aren't all that straight, but it looks nice and serves it's purpose! I was thinking that I could do small embroideries and attach to the individual panels for each year we use it. I suppose I could start this year....

Here is a close up of the four different fabrics that I used

and here is a photo of the adorable little ties that hold it together in the back

There are several inhabitants of this house that are so fond of it that it's become their favorite place to nap....

Loving the holidays and all the projects they bring. But I have a hard time keeping up with all the wonderful ideas I keep seeing and would like to try out. But one thing at a time. We're still working on our gingerbread house, so I need to finish that before I start another major project. Anyone else have any projects that they have or even haven't posted on their blog? I've been a pinning fool lately :)

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Krispie Men

Remember my wonderful little Walmart find of Gingerbread Mallows? We made some equally wonderful noms out of them last night!

These little marshmallows are divine! The majority of their yumminess is in their spicy after taste....

Gingerbread Krispie Men

6 cups of Rice Krispie Cereal - any rice cereal will do
1 bag of Kraft Jet Puffed Gingerbread Mallows
3 Tblspns Butter

3/4 C. Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Tblspn Shortening
Gingerbread Man cookie cutter

Melt butter in a saucepan with marshmallows over low/medium heat, stirring constantly (I reserved 12 marshmallows from my bag for another project, so I didn't actually use an entire bag).

Once melted, remove from heat and stir in Rice Cereal until completely coated.

Let mixture cool for a moment and then pour Krispie mixture out onto a greased aluminum foil lined surface (I covered a baking sheet and used that). With buttered hands press to desired thickness.

Grease gingerbread man cookie cutter. While mixture is still semi-warm and pliable, use Gingerbread Man cookie cutter to cut shapes from Krispie mixture. Take any Krispie scraps and keep pushing them together so that you can maximize the amount of men you get.

In small saucepan over low/medium heat, melt together chocolate chips and shortening stirring constantly. Allow chocolate mixture to cool to handling temperature, then pour into a plastic bag (I used sandwich size). Snip the corner off of plastic bag with scissors and decorate men.

I was able to get 12 4" gingerbread men at roughly 1/2" thickness.

I promise you the semi-sweet chocolate with the gingerbread is really, really

Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday! We're having a kind of bum around the house in your pjs day... It's 19° outside and neither of us is willing to brave the cold for anything other than Starbucks. I can't believe it's that cold out and we still don't have any snow! Last year it'd already been snowing for weeks at this point! I guess I should consider us lucky - but truth be told I was really hoping for a white Christmas!!

Have I mentioned that we are starting Operation Gingerbread House? I didn't mention that we were going to attempt a gingerbread house from scrap this year? Say whaaaaaa? My oh-so-handsome hubby has totally jumped on board with it and we cut out the templates last night and made the dough, which is currently chilling in the fridge. As soon as I hit publish on this puppy we're going to roll it out and start to cut! Of course there will be a post dedicated to just our wee little house - whether it's a FAIL or not!

'til next time...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our wee Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree is up and ready to be adored by this family for the next month!

We sat all the pooches down and explained to them that there will be absolutely no lifting of any legs on any part of this tree.

Fletch suddenly wasn't so excited about it.

So far the tree has stayed upright - which surprises me seeing as there are tons of fuzzy butts knocking by it each day. I'm sure I've probably spoken too soon though. We have good years with Christmas trees, and we have bad. There was one year that the cats decided to try to scale the tree at least once a day - we ended up having to attach the tree to a screw in the wall so it'd stop falling over. This year we went with a smaller tree - 5 foot Frasier Fir, so even if it does fall, it won't be far! :D

'til next time...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quiet as a mouse

I woke up this morning and my house seemed so quiet and empty. All weekend long I was lucky enough to have Melissa, one of my best friends from school out from Tennessee. She drove up with her beau and stayed the weekend. I can't remember the last time we had so much fun! The weekend was filled with laughter, libations, an awesome turkey dinner and an incredible bonfire that our burly men created.

I was having much too much fun to be bothered with taking many pictures - which is highly unusual for me. Besides, we were in our comfies most of the weekend drinking and I wasn't in much of a state to have photos snapped of me anyway. All in all it was an awesome time! I'm already working on Todd, trying to talk him into driving out to Nashville for New Years Eve. I can't think of a better way to spend our New Year!

'til next time...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just a slight difference

Before the word 'treat':

aaaaaand after....

There's just a slight difference.

It's all in the ears, ya know. :) Anyone with a pooch has seen this face. This is actually what I have to do to take any sort of picture of Crystal or Mobee. Bribe them. Both have a very serious aversion to the camera. They are fine around it, until it is pointed at them. Then they run and hide - weirdos. Not Fletch though. He's a camera whore. I usually have to run my camera on Continuous Sport in order to catch these guys - which is why there is a grainy quality to the photos. I'm not in love with my camera. I'll put it that way. Any digital camera tips for taking photos of dogs? I'm working with a Nikon Coolpix L110...and getting tired of blurry, fuzzy butts.

'til next time...