Coordinating My Crafty Crap: Cupcake Cups

Happy Good Friday!

Cupcake Cups in a Jar 1

I’m going to go easy on you with a Fast Tip Friday because you’re probably trying to sort out your weekend and all the stores are closed.  This is all over Pinterest and the Google and I really like the idea, so here it is.

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Rather than poorly stacking all the different containers of your cupcake cups (because if you’re like me, you’re darn right you have several different kinds), or losing them in the back of a drawer, or having them get crushed by something heavier, why not arrange them all nicely in a large glass jar?  This is just the right level of cutesy that I can handle without vomiting glitter.  I can also see tying a pretty ribbon around the lid and giving it as a housewarming gift to an avid baker!

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Conversation Bunnies Place Markers

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I saw these on Oh Happy Day a little while back and thought they’d make a neat place marker.  So in the midst of running out apartment hunting (yay, moving again!), I churned out nine of these for our Easter dinner.

I picked up some wee hollow chocolate animals.  Hollow is key.

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Then I cut out conversation bubbles from two pieces of scrap book paper and grabbed a stencil to do the names.

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I also used some foil stars I had leftover from being a professor (no matter the age, all students love a sticker for good work!).

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Then you need some glue and some floral wire.

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Cut the wire so it will fit all the way through your chocolate animal — it will need to stabilize itself at the bottom — and all the way through your conversation bubble.

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Glue your two conversation bubbles together over the wire and jam it into your animal’s head.

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You may need to move the wire around a bit to get it steady but you’ll find the right spot. I stored mine in a plastic container until I was ready to use them as place markers.

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Breakfast Brownies

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When Atlas posted this recipe to my Facebook newsfeed and suggested I make it for the next time we went over for dinner, I knew it wasn’t really a suggestion.  I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand (because as we all know I’m a huge fan of butter, eggs, and refined sugar, and that’s not likely to change any time soon), so I did make some substitutions.  If you’d like to go for the original version, just check it out at Eat Drink Love.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and spray a 8″ x 8″ baking dish.  Line the dish with parchment paper so that you have two little handles sticking out.

Breakfast Brownies 2

Grind up about 2 tablespoons flax in your coffee grinder (wipe it out before and after of course, or use a separate one). Flax is amazing for you, but it will do you no good if you don’t grind it up first.

Breakfast Brownies 1

Add the flax to a bowl with 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 cup cocoa.

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Give that a good stir.

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Find a lovely ripe banana and smush it up with a fork.

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Add that to the oat mixture, along with 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup honey, and 1/2 cup milk.

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Stir that around and then slop it into your prepared pan.

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I forgot I was supposed to stir these in and so I sprinkled 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top.  Very decorative.

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Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the centre is solid and tests clean with a toothpick.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

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After cutting the brownies into little pieces, store them in the fridge.

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To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe.  I don’t like baking with coconut oil as I find it too heavy and greasy, and so that’s all I could taste, but everyone else seemed to like them just fine.

Tie-Dyed Eggs

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Cait and I decided to get up to shenanigans on Monday night and so this is what we did: we tie-dyed Easter eggs.  Not “tie” like TIEd into knots (though you do that), but “tie” as in, dyed using a neckTIE.  Yes. Neat, huh?

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So what you need to do is go through your tie collection or go to your local thrift store and pick up some silk ties (I used 8 ties).

Tie Dyed Eggs 1

There will be a tag on the skinny end of the tie that will tell you if it’s silk or not.  You can also do this with silk scarves, but I couldn’t find any at the thrift store that were 100% silk.

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Having done this project now, I’m going to tell you to look for ties that are made of printed or painted silk, like this:

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And to avoid jacquard-like woven silks, like these:

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I’ll show you why later on.

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Then you will need to dismantle the ties, removing the satin lining and the foam or fabric insert.  Ties are not sewn in a particularly sturdy manner, so it won’t take you long.

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Now you need some eggs.  We used 2 dozen white eggs.  You don’t have to use white ones, but the colour will transfer best to white.  With 24 eggs and 8 ties, we planned to have 3 eggs of each pattern.

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Cut a segment off your tie that will wrap completely around your egg.

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Wrap the fabric tightly around the egg (you can do it at any angle, but just remember that the smoothest side of the fabric is the part of the egg where the print will be the best) and fasten the tail with a rubber band. Make sure to do it so the “right side” of the fabric is touching the shell of the egg. I kept messing this up and Cait kept yelling at me. She’s tiny but mean.

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Do this with all your eggs.  We adjusted the angle at which we tied on the fabric, because we were going to display our eggs all higgledy-piggledy in a bowl.  If you’re going to display your eggs in cups or something organized, you might want to consider tying them all the same way.

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This is one of the jacquard ties.  Much harder to get the fabric close to the egg.

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After explaining to Cait that the egg was one of the structurally strongest shapes in the world, I promptly put my thumb through it.

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Because we were now out of white eggs, we replaced it with a brown one as a scientific experiment. It’s actually frightening that one of our most oft-uttered phrases to each other is “For SCIENCE!”

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Once you’ve got all your eggs wrapped in tie scraps, you need to find some white or plain pastel cotton or muslin or similar scrap fabric.  Old pillowcases work pretty well.

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Cut the fabric into slightly larger pieces than you cut the ties.  Wrap the muslin around the egg and fasten it with another elastic over the previous fabric tail.

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This is definitely a time consuming job.

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We were, however, entertained by our rubber bands.  I picked up a bag at Dollarama, and I guess they got the rejects from various other manufacturers.

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Plop your eggs in a large pot and cover with water so they’ve got about 2″ of water above them.  Add in a cup or two of white vinegar, depending on how many eggs you’re doing.  For 24 eggs we used 2 cups white vinegar.

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Bring that to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.  When it’s done, scoop out the eggs into a bowl of cool water so they chill out faster.

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Carefully unwrap the eggs and store them in the fridge if you’re planning on eating them.   They tend to look a little sharper if you rub them with a little bit of vegetable oil to get a nice shine.

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Here are the eggs, next to their various tie patterns.  You can see that the jacquard ties (at the end) didn’t come out half as bright as we thought.

egg08

egg07

egg01

egg06

egg03

egg02

egg05

egg04

And here is the brown egg!

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I think it looks really neat with the red.  Here it is next to its white counterpart, for comparison.

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Cake Redux: Gluten-Free LEMON COCONUT Snacking Cake

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Okay let’s try this again.  If you were visiting last week you’ll know I made a neat little gluten-free cake I found in Canadian Living but I wasn’t totally happy with how it came out.  So today I totally changed the two main ingredients (and two less main ingredients, and the cooking time) and we’re doing this for a second time.  If you notice that the text reads pretty much identically to what I wrote last week, well, it’s because it IS what I wrote last week.  I mostly copy-pasted that stuff, but I bolded all the differences.  Deal with it.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons COCONUT EXTRACT2 teaspoons grated LEMON zest, and a pinch of NUTMEG.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 2

You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 3

You need 2 cups COCONUT FLOUR for this, and 2 tablespoons LEMON juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I just juiced the lemon I took the zest from. Fold the coconut flour and lemon juice into the yolk mixture.

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I totally forgot that coconut flour tends to suck up moisture.  If you do this, maybe just add 1 1/2 cups coconut flour.

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So I added in an additional 1/2 cup of MILK.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the flour/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all. Plop the batter into your prepared pan (or press it in this case) and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.

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This cake did not fluff up like the previous one.  Let it cool on a rack before popping it out of the springform pan.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).  A nice lemon glaze (try the juice of one lemon heated to boiling with 4 tablespoons sugar) would also work I think.

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Coordinating My Crafty Crap: The Ribbon Box

The Pie and I are in the market for a house.  Whee, I know, very exciting.  We haven’t yet found said house, however, and thusly we are still essentially living out of boxes in two rooms in the upper corner of my parents’ house.  Because it’s probably going to be a while until we find this unicorn of a house, I think it’s probably time I did a little unpacking.

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So this:

Ribbon Box 1

That’s the shelf upon which I am currently storing the piles of art and office supplies that I shoved into boxes back in August of 2013.  This shelf is also home to part of our board game collection.  So it’s haphazard and it’s ugly and I spend a good part of my crafty time digging through those large boxes trying to find the one thing I want and overlooking all the other great stuff I could also use, simply because I don’t see it.  Hence my new project of Coordinating My Crafty Crap 2014.  I’m not looking for a final matchy-matchy Pinterest-worthy organizational system for all my junk, but if I’m going to be here for a while yet I want to be able to sort out my garbage so I can see it and find it when I need it.  That’s the kind of organizational person I am: everything in its logical place.  It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to make sense to the person doing the organizing.  It’s going to be an ongoing project for me, as I try to figure out a system that works for me.

Today, we are taking baby steps, and attacking my ribbon “box.”  I put that in quotations because the last time I had a designated ribbon box it was so full it actually burst at the seams.  Then I moved, so in the interim the ribbons have all been tangled up in one of those cardboard boxes.  Well, today we are going to change that.  This is my ribbon collection.  Appalling, I know.

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There’s a bunch of stuff in there that isn’t even ribbon, like rick rack and bias binding.  And washi tape.  Tape goes in another box entirely, bub.

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But I do have a large number of ribbon scraps that I have saved off presents and packages and I hate to throw them away (because I ALWAYS come up with a use for them).

I’ve seen a number of projects where crafters use dowels to line up their spools of ribbon in baskets with convenient holes and everything is very Martha Stewart hunky-dory.  But most of my ribbons are not on spools and I don’t have any fancy pants baskets.  I do, however, have this lovely sturdy box, which held some of the accessories to a set of gaming headphones I gave the Pie as a wedding present.

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I’ve kept the box because a) it’s lovely and sturdy and b) it has this shockingly fantastic orange interior.

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And then I also have a tube full of wooden dowels, which I picked up on sale at Michaels forever and a half ago.

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The dowels are ever-so-slightly longer than the box is wide.

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My plan is to cut them down so that they are flush with the inside edge of the box, meaning that I can put all my ribbons inside and still be able to shut the lid.

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So I carefully measured the dowel and used a teeny tiny hacksaw I found in my dad’s garage to trim them up.  I have since kidnapped said teeny tiny hacksaw and adopted it as my own.  I love tiny tools, and my dad’s hands are huge.  I don’t even know why he has it.

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Anyway, then I measured out where I wanted the dowels to go on the box.

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And used my teeny tiny hacksaw to cut down just to the level I wanted, which was about halfway (conveniently it was also where the double black layer started).

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I used a box cutter to cut along the bottom.  It was easier.

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My first dowel in the first slot.  And the teeny tiny hacksaw.

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You see how it’s flush with the edge of the box?

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Okay so the second dowel, I had some form of brain fart in the measuring, and it came out crooked.  But I’m not that fussy. With all the ribbons on you can barely notice.

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Once all the dowels and slots were cut (I have five dowels in there) it was time to deal with the ribbon.  I wound it around the dowel and fastened it with a little piece of tape just to keep it in place until I needed it.

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This took me a LONG time.  I have a lot of ribbon to work with.

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It was fun to do the stretchy lacy stuff.  I strung everything on sorted vaguely by type: all the lace together, the grosgrain all on one dowel, etc.

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I’m quite pleased with the result, and the lid fits on just fine.  I will be honest with you here: not all my ribbon fit on the dowels.

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I probably could have cut the box differently to fit in a sixth one, but the loose ribbon I have left is all in larger amounts that is easier to deal with.

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I’ll probably also adorn the outside with something appropriate, but probably not until we’ve moved into a place where I can put it more permanently. One step at a time, right?

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Gluten-Free Orange Almond Snacking Cake

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I came across this recipe in the May 2014 issue of Canadian Living.  I haven’t really felt like doing too much cooking in recent days, but this one looked easy and post-able enough that I figured I’d give it a shot.  This is one of those cakes that is “naturally” gluten-free, meaning that you’re not looking for a flour substitute.  It’s more that the recipe doesn’t require anything flour like in the first place to keep its structure.  It’s also dairy-free too (just don’t use butter to grease the pan), if that’s something you’re interested in.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 2

You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 4

You need 2 cups ground almonds for this, and 2 tablespoons orange juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I used the store-bought almond meal because I’m lazy, and just juiced the orange I took the zest from.

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Fold the almonds and orange juice into the yolk mixture.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the almond/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 8

Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the almond/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all.

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Plop the batter into your prepared pan and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes.

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If you need to, run a knife around the edge of the pan and leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Mine came right out, but I’m not always this lucky.

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Don’t worry — it will sink in the middle.  They always do.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).

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This cake was pretty good.  I think I’d like to make it again, but this time I would do it with lemon zest, lemon juice, and then coconut flour instead of almond flour for a more tropical cake.  I think I would also bake it differently.  This one you can see was still a little runny in the centre, but the outside was starting to burn.  I think I would bake it for longer, but at a lower temperature, like 325°F. Thoughts?

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adventures in grown-up living

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