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I try to eat healthy like 90% of the time (that’s a lie, I really aim for 75%). I’m not anti-carb by any means, but I don’t eat a ton of bread/pasta/rice etc anymore (don’t worry, I go off on cupcake binges every other month).

With that said, I decided this winter that I wanted ¬†bread maker. If I’m going to eat bread, I want to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients. But I certainly wan’t going to pay retail for one. Who knows how much I’d use it? So my loving husband found me one at a garage sale for $10 (isn’t he the best?!).

I’ve never made bread before. And I feel like I’ve had a lot of baking disasters this year, so I was nervous to make a loaf. It seemed too easy. You just throw the ingredients in the machine and three hours later, it’s done?

First loaf, I am happy with the results.

Yup, it tasted just as good as it looked!

So, now we’re going to work our way through this recipe book. Up next is a BACON bread.

You may or may not have noticed that my posts are far and few between. I’m sorry. I’m working on it. I’m having a hard time juggling Ken, Brian, work, working out – and attempting to keep a (semi) clean house. I am currently working my way through some projects I started right before I found out I was pregnant with Ken, now that I can fit into the patterns, I might as well finish them, huh?

But Brian has been doing some crafty things. He really went above and beyond with this project – he turned a used Burley bike trailer into a cargo trailer, with minimal effort (or $$$).

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Homemade Bird Feeders

We’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors now that spring is here, well, that and it’s like 70 degrees every day (awesome). Ken has taken a liking to chasing birds around the yard, and we have taken a liking to watching Ken chase the birdies. He runs after them, yelling “hiiiii birdie!” with his arms out, like a mummy.

We need more birds.

We stopped at our local Ace Hardware for some other stuff, and they have a generous display of bird food to purchase by the pound. So we filled a bag with the most generic one they had (hey, so if you know anything about birds and bird food, please do tell). It cost us a whooping $1.50.

The Ingredients

What you need:

  • Bird food (bird feed?)
  • Spatula
  • Peanut Butter
  • Toilet Paper tubes (or pine cones or whatever)

Spread the peanut butter on the tube, roll in bird seed.

Come on birdies!

Hang in a tree for the birdies to enjoy.

We shall see tonight if this milkshake brings the birds to the yard.

Trunky Decorating

My parents used to have a beautiful tree in their backyard. He was just a generic tree, but absolutely perfect. The perfect climbing tree, which would have been awesome if I had any upper body strength. His name was Trunky.

This was Trunky, a few years before his untimely death in 2010.

We loved Trunky. Well, most of us anyways. But eventually he got old, and my parents made the tough decision to end his poor life by chopping him down, into small pieces.

Here is Trunky today:

Bye, Trunky!

What does this have to do with a craft blog? Is this just some sappy dedication to your childhood tree?

It has everything to do with crafting! You might remember last year, the Ray Family Christmas Extravaganza had The Rocks Glass Invitational (which I won, of course) . I wanted to keep the competitive crafting tradition alive, and with the help of my sister, I suggested that we decorate Trunky disks as a family, as a competition. The idea was well accepted by all parties. You see, my dad had left a bunch of the branches in the driveway for firewood (or for decoration, not sure). My sister wanted to take a log to have on display in her living room. And that’s when the idea struck – we can cut up a log, then everyone can decorate a piece of this family history.

[a big THANK YOU to Leah, for getting these action shots!]

Everyone worked really hard! You could decorate any way you wished – we had three wood burners, paints and glitter glue. I am pretty sure all of us went the wood burning route, except some of the kids. And on a positive note, no one got injured.

Adult Division

Kids Division

The winner of the RFXX2011 Trunky Decorating Contest:

Congratulations, Andrew! This is the family crest he created for us.

If you’d like to check out the other contestants, here are links to all of their images:
Iowa (Ginny)
Playboy Bunny (Leah)
Ray Iowa (Ginny)
Drunk Face (Dan)
Ray Crest (Andrew, Winner)
Impatient Face (Brian)
Butterfly (Penny)
RIP (Becky)
Sun Star (Tim)

Turtledove Meringues

By now you’ve figured out that I love love love holiday baking. I really love sharing my baked goods too! But 2011 was really about getting healthy for me, so back in October I was convinced that I wasn’t going to do much holiday baking. That totally went out the window ūüôā

For the most parts, I made classic favorites – Peanut Butter Balls, Oreo Balls, Peanut Butter Cup cookies. As my mom and I were finishing up our baking day, I decided I wanted to try these cute meringues, Turtledove Meringues to be exact. The picture was just too cute!

So I measure out my ingredients. I had never beat egg whites before, so I was totally surprised when they went from being regular egg whites to being foam. It was so cool!

And here’s my final beauties:

Turtledove Meringues

Ingredients
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Directions
Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until small peaks form.
Keep beating, and slowly add sugar, one tbs at a time, until more peaks form.
Shape your turtledoves using the meringue in a frosting or Ziplock bag, doing this on parchment paper works great, but don’t plan on using the paper a second time.
Bake at 300 for 15 minutes, then turn oven off and leave in oven for 30 minutes.


Here are my turtledoves compared to the ones in the book. I think they turned out really well.

Then I got this not-so genius idea to make Ghosty Meringues. They didn’t turn out quite as awesome, I should have added more sugar or substituted the food coloring for the flavoring or something. They just weren’t as puffy, but they were just as delicious.

Glass Etching with the Rays

The Ray family is pretty creative.

In 2007 we exchanged flasks as part of our Christmas gift exchange.

Pretty cool huh? We engraved, glued, painted, and even ordered online! 

Andrew and Leah hosted Christmas this year, and they needed some new glasses. Apparently Leah and her friends have a tendency to break them. So, Andrew decided to have us do some glass etching.

The first step is to create your design. It works best to draw on paper and transfer to the contact paper, or just simply draw on the contact paper.

My design was detailed and I chose to find an image on the internet to use. So we printed it, then I cut it out of contact paper with an x-acto knife. If you look at the glass, you can see that one design is already attached to the glass. 

You can either have the etched design be the cutout, or have the etching around the cutout. Now, I’m not 100% sure how the etching works, but it’s basically like an extremely toxic substance that you paint onto the glass. Leave it on for like 5 minutes, then we would wash it off and paint it on again.

Here’s everyone’s final glasses:

^ Brian’s, flames

^ Mom’s, wood grain, or an eyeball

^ Tim’s, robot/alien

^ Tim’s, bottom, spaceship

^ Dad’s, pipe

^ Ginny’s, strippers

^ Ginny’s, strippers

Why did I chose strippers to decorate the glasses? Because this was a contest. And I knew that strippers on glasses would win. I won a trophy, and the 2010 Ray Family Champion.

Fused Plastic Clutches

The other day I stumbled upon some fused plastic baby bibs. Very interesting. I like the idea – the food comes right off. But that’s also the problem. The food would slide right off to Ken’s shirt (where most of it is destined to land anyways). So I think we’ll stick with terry cloth bibs for now. Ken’s a drool monster anyways.

Anyways, that bib reminded me of some clutches I made this fall for a sale. Of course they didn’t sell, but I think my bff Ashley snagged a couple for herself. I feel incredibly honored when my close friends and family actually WANT things I make!

I really should write a tutorial for this with photos…
So the meat of the bag is just a big piece of fused plastic. Before I sewed the sides, I “quilted” on another piece of RANDOM fused plastic – all those colorful pieces are leftover chunks from other scraps. I used the same color of thread for simplicity, but you can see where I traced over various lines and shapes. I believe the scrap piece was big enough to cover the back too. If you look at the bottom, you will see that not all of the edges are secured down. It’s plastic, so it won’t fray or anything.

After I sewed the bag I added gathered ribbons and attached them securely.

This is another bag embellished with leftover scraps. I used lots of greens and gray for this. The flower is made out of overheated plastic, you can see where it bubbled from being too hot.

This happens occasionally. It’s not something I ever set out to do, but if I leave the iron on too long or have the wrong types of plastic together, this happens. At least I’ve found another use for it.

This one is pretty simple, gathered ribbon and assorted buttons sewn on. Fun for fall.

If you’re looking for more fused plastic bag ideas, check out my Crafts: Fused Plastic Bags collection on Flickr.

Pumpkin Oatmeal and Pie

One thing I forgot to mention this fall was my pumpkin obsession. I made the most perfect ever pumpkin pie – my first one!

Don’t mind the slightly burnt crust ūüôā The pie itself was wonderful, no burnt spots or weird custard valleys. Husband approved.

This was an accidental pie. I was making another pumpkin dessert (apparently I decided not to document it) that called for the pumpkin pie mixture, but accidently doubled it. I just happened to have pie crust, so I took a chance and made this pie. Oh, and by accidently doubled it, I mean I had a brain lapse and thought I needed double the pumpkin. I didn’t have enough evaporated milk so I used skim for half. It turned out fine. The other dessert was a sort of pumpkin bars – you pour the pumpkin pie mixture into a 9×13 pan and sprinkle with a box of cake mix. The official recipe calls for a white cake, but I used chocolate and it was still great.¬†

I also made a lot of pumpkin oatmeal.

This is great for breakfast. I roughly used a recipe found here Рshe makes hers a little healthier, but I needed some more sugar. This was for breakfast after all!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (uncooked) – not quick cook
  • 1 cup pumpkin (or a can)
  • 1 3/4 c milk
  • 2 eggs (or 3, if you want more protein and a more¬†quiche¬†feel)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1/3 c brown sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it)¬†
  • Optional: raisins, marshmallows, almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375.¬†
  • Grease a 9×9 pan – use a 9×13 if you are going with 3 eggs.¬†
  • Beat milk and eggs, add vanilla, pumpkin and pie spice.
  • Add oats
  • Add any optional ingredients if you are using them, pour into pan and sprinkle with more brown sugar.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes – just make sure it’s not runny.¬†

This is great warm, right out of the oven. I like to make it on Sunday and eat it all week for breakfast. Also great if you’re having company.¬†

The other pumpkin-riffic recipe I made was pumpkin butter – which also did not make it to the photo shoot. I followed a recipe on AllRecipes.com – I just kinda stumbled across it and was interested. It is delicious on toast.