Celebrating the Ultimate Pi Day

Pi…aka the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter… aka 3.14159265359 and so on… Celebrating Pi Day (March 14th) is a beloved tradition for math enthusiasts and pie enthusiasts alike. We have enjoyed celebrating this “holiday” for several years (not that we need an excuse to eat pie, but can you think of a better reason to do so?!)

A few years ago we enjoyed this apple pie on Pi Day.

This year Pi Day is kind of a big deal, because March 14, 2015 is 3.1415. Some people are even taking it to the next level, marking 9:26 on the clock. We decided that we for sure needed to celebrate this once-in-a-century event, so we planned a Pi Day brunch celebration with a few friends.  On the menu: Quiche, Pineapple, and of course assorted pies.

I had fun designing an invitation (I used Inkscape and Silhouette Studio) with a math pun or two in it.

We’ll be keeping the kiddos happy doing Pi art and activities, like this Pi in the skyline by What Do We Do All Day?, this Easy as Pi artwork by Pink Stripey Socks, this Circle Art by Momgineer, or this Pi bracelet.

My husband wants me to make Pi Day Tshirts; we’ll see how it goes and I’ll post pictures if I get that far.

Update 3/18/15:
Here are pictures of some of the things I made:

I used my silhouette machine to cut this design out of heat transfer material, then just ironed it on the shirts.

 

I did this onesie the same way as the shirts above.

 

Our welcome sign, right next to the Pi wreath on the front door. :)

I designed the shirts using Inkscape and Silhouette Studio. I’ll share how I use those programs together in another post. Peace!

Do you have any fun plans/ traditions for Pi Day? Do share!

Cara’s DIY Wedding

I was looking through my pictures and realized that I totally forgot to post about my sister Cara’s outdoor/ indoor wedding that happened in October.  Which is sad, because it was a completely beautiful, totally DIY wedding.  So I’m going to remedy the situation, and post some of the awesomeness now.

First, my husband BJ and I took engagement photos:

My sisters Marissa and Anna and I threw Cara’s bridal shower, and a friend was kind enough to host it for us.

Here’s the shower invite that I designed using Inkscape (a free Illustrator-like program).

Here’s a somewhat better view of the refreshment table.  We had a tea and hot chocolate bar as well.

Here are the favors for the guests- a packet with an herbal tea bag and a honey stick.  The tags were designed by me- again in Inkscape.

Cara and I spent hours making bridesmaid jewelry using beads and findings she bought online and at Hobby Lobby. Each piece was totally unique, but had a unifying theme. There was a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for each of the 11 bridesmaids.

The house and yard was transformed for the wedding and reception by the tireless help of many friends and family members.  Tables and chairs were covered with fabric from the stashes of my mom’s friends and sisters.

My cute and talented mother did all of the flowers- bouquets, boutonnieres, table arrangements, indoor/ outdoor, etc.

This photo doesn’t do them justice, these are just the only flower photos I could find.

Here’s one of the bridal bouquet.

Photo credit to Giffy Pix.

My mom also made the cake pedestals by gluing together glass plates and vases, filling the vases with dried flowers, and tying ribbon around them.

My aunt, sister Marissa and I did Cara’s makeup, hair, and nails respectively.

My mom made this lovely wedding gift with words of advice, featuring a hand- crocheted doily (My grandmother made one for each grandchild before she passed away, and my mom saved them to give at each wedding).

My mom and my aunts took a basically strapless wedding gown bought for under $200 and using their brilliant sewing wizardry, transformed it into Cara’s dream wedding dress- a much more modest, and classy looking frock.  I wish I had a more close-up detailed photo of the dress, but you can get an idea by the picture below.

My dad is a bishop- a lay clergyman in our church, so he was able to be the one to marry Cara and Jeff.  My sons were ring bearers.

These 2 photos courtesy of Giffy Pix

I made the ring pillows my sons are holding in the above pictures (tutorial to come).

Marissa was the fantastic artist behind this lovely cake and multitude of cupcakes. (Check out her baking accessories shop on Etsy!)

I also made marriage advice cards for guests at the reception to fill out and compiled them into a book for the newlyweds to enjoy down the road.

It was a bit crazy to arrive just a day or two before the wedding and everybody work like mad to throw it together (after a several months of distance planning), but I think it turned out fabulously!  And the newlyweds are still doing great!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

{This was originally posted in 2010, but I still have people asking me to share this recipe, so I am re-posting it and trying not to let my mouth water too much.}
I could have titled this post “The Best Rolls. Ever.”  -and it would have been true.  My childhood memories of Thanksgiving dinners at my Grandparents’ house always include hovering with my cousins over the napkin- covered baskets full of steaming, homemade, mouth- watering rolls.  True, we loved just about everything put on the table for the Thanksgiving feast… but oh, the rolls!  We could have stuffed ourselves just on those beauties alone.  After I got married, my husband and I begged my Aunt Susan for the recipe, and she so kindly shared it with me.  I have made these rolls so many times now, and they taste just like I remember.  (I think what makes them so delicious is the butter… there is a lot.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)  I almost feel like I am sharing a secret family recipe, but I think great food is meant to be shared, and I hope you will enjoy these rolls as much as I do!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

Yield: 48 rolls

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. water, divided
2 rounded Tbsp. yeast
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
5-6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Melt 1 cup butter in 1 cup of boiling water.  Add 1 cup of cold water and when warm to the touch add the yeast and sugar.  Allow to sit 10-15 minutes or so until bubbly (this is called “proofing the yeast”, which ensures that the yeast is active and gives flavor to the rolls).  Then add 2 eggs, mixing well (do this in a large bowl, or your stand mixer bowl).  If you have the time, sifting the flour first will help make the rolls even more light and fluffy.  Add 5-6 cups of flour, adding the salt and baking powder between the 4th and 5th cups of flour.  For me, 6+ cups of flour is what it takes.  Mix well.  The dough should still be soft and sticky.  Let rise double in bowl while covered with a clean, non- fuzzy dishtowel (about 2 hours).  You can speed up the process a bit by placing the bowl in a warm area, e.g. preheating the oven for about 3 minutes, then turning the heat completely off, and placing the dough in the oven to rise.  Punch the dough down and divide into thirds.  Roll each dough ball into a circle (about 14 inches in diameter) and cut into 16 wedges with a knife or pizza cutter.  Roll each wedge up from the fat end towards the middle of the circle.  Set on cookie sheets, cover with dishtowel, and let rise again, 1- 1 1/2 hours (or you may freeze the dough at this point).  Optional: Melt the remaining butter and use a pastry brush to top each roll with a little butter.  Bake rolls at 400* F for 9-10 minutes.
Variations: Use this dough to make orange rolls or cinnamon rolls by adding 2 tsp. vanilla extract with the eggs.  Roll the dough into 2 rectangles, butter the dough and sprinkle with (a lot of) sugar & grated orange peel, or brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough into a log shape and use a piece of long thread or dental floss to cut the dough in 1 inch intervals by sliding the floss under the log, then crisscrossing the ends and pulling tight, all the way through the dough.  Arrange circle slices on baking sheet, let rise, and bake as directed above.
Enjoy!
My additions in italics.

I look forward to baking these rolls next week.  They are definitely one of my favorite parts of the meal (foodwise of course).  I can hardly wait!  I would love to know if you try them out, and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have (with the understanding of course that I am no culinary master)- just leave a comment or shoot me an email.

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

My Super Cereal Supplement: A Granola Recipe

Here’s a post of Marissa’s from the archives that you might enjoy!

Being young, married, tight-budgeted college students, my husband and I have been trying to get creative and think of things that we can make on our own, that we would normally pay more for at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, one of those things that a large part of our grocery budget is dedicated to is cold cereal… When we came to this realization, and talked about the possibility of reducing the cereal consumption in our home, there were tears…. Yeah, I cried! I know it sounds silly. But you don’t understaaaandd! – My whole life up until now, cereal has always been a part of my breakfast. It has always been there, waiting for me, like a true friend! How could I even think of including any other breakfast food in my morning meal? And all through my single years of college, what would I have done for breakfast and dinner, if I hadn’t had my cereal waiting there so patiently in the cupboard for me? I could go on, but I’ll spare you my “life cereal” poetry… that’s just embarrassing.

As we talked about cutting cereal out of our lives, I thought of my morning bowl of cereal and all its deliciousness and glory. I couldn’t bear to let it go. I knew I had to come up with a solution. Well, I actually came up with two!

SOLUTION #1: only cut back on cereal, rather than cut it completely out. Instead of going through 3-4 boxes of cereal per week, cut it down to 1 box, and supplement it with other foods like eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt. It’s been working pretty well so far. I tried buying two kinds of cereal and splitting them each in half, so that we could have a variety still, but keep it at 1 box’s worth of cereal. That has worked decently well – I just put the other half in a gallon ziploc bag.

SOLUTION #2: (This one is my favorite) Make. Granola. That counts as cereal, and do you realize how much cheaper it is to make it??! I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for really simple granola, with typical ingredients you would have on hand. I have made it 4 times now, each time, changing it a little so I liked it better, and now, I have come up with a recipe that I really like! I’ll share it with you because I’m just hoping it will give you as much joy as it has brought to me. :)

Honey Almond Granola

2 c. old-fashioned oats (or 1 c. quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned if you want it to be in clusters)
¼ c. Sliced almonds
¼ c. + 1 Tbsp flaked coconut
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp vanilla pudding powder, divided
½ tsp cinnamon
Scant ¼ tsp. salt
½ c. orange blossom honey (or clover honey)
* milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Measure 1/2 cup honey into a liquid measuring cup, an then add milk on top of the honey* until it is up to 2/3 cup.
3. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, vanilla and almond extract to the honey and milk, mix together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Bake at 280 degrees for 35 minutes. (check every 10 minutes, stirring each time) Bake until golden brown. Let it cool (and if you want it to be in clusters, let it cool before you stir it again), and store in an airtight container.

For a low sugar version – I have made it without the brown sugar or pudding powder, and just let the honey do all the sweetening, and it is still delicious.

I have found that Granola is a very forgiving recipe – you can really tweak it to meet your desires – If you want to add something or leave something out, you can, and it won’t mess it up!

*EDIT 7/28/10: I found out that boiling the honey for 1 minute and then adding it to the dry mixture helps to soften the oats so they aren’t so hard and crunchy and hard to chew…

**Rochelle’s notes 6/18/12:  An alternative to using quick oats is to just pulse the old fashioned oats in your blender for a few seconds.  I have tried this recipe with agave and it works well.  A fun way to change this recipe is to add in some dried fruit after the bake time.  I usually go with craisins, but you could add whatever you like.

Happy Pi Day!

We almost missed it this year… 3.14 (and what a shame to miss any opportunity to eat pie, no?)
Luckily, despite busy schedules, my sisters were able to head over here tonight for a while.  And between Cara’s mad apple pie skills and Marissa’s proficiency in blending (can you tell I’m feeling a bit punchy after all that pie?) we came up with some masterpieces.

No, the picture isn’t backwards… see comic below!

Yum… homemade apple pie and chocolate fudge (tofu) pie (no picture of that one, unfortunately)!  Ahh, contentment!

And just for fun…

Hope you were able to enjoy Pi Day!

Merry Christmas!

Are you all ready for Christmas?!  It seems like no matter how early I start preparing for Christmas (and believe, me, I’ve been at it for months now) I just keep adding more to my list of things to make/ do.  Oh how I love Christmas time!  I’ve tried to not completely over-schedule myself, wanting to keep in mind the reason behind the Christmas celebration- which for me is about remembering Christ and also filling my heart with compassion and love and then acting on it.  I am touched by all the kindness I have witnessed or heard about this season.  That warm fuzzy feeling is the reason I decided to try an experiment over this past year: a series called Making the World Sweeter.  My hope was that (as Ebenezer Scrooge said in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol), “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  My original goal was to incorporate into my giving a monthly crafty project for charity other worthy project- and invite all of my readers to participate.  I did participate in some sort of giving each month and I was able to join and blog about eight projects- many of you also participated, which was awesome!  I have to say, I have felt good this year!  Although I wasn’t able to do a project every month, I feel like I stayed with my goal of being mindful of others and mindful of my giving.  I think an added bonus that I wasn’t expecting was an increased feeling of contentedness and gratitude for what I have.

Many of the projects in this “series” (which you can see if you click on the “Making the World Sweeter” link above) cost very little if anything, but had the ability to affect someone’s life profoundly.  Quite a few of the projects are ongoing, so if you are interested, take a look at some of the projects and you can still participate!  (Some of the projects include knitting or crocheting hats for newborn babies, making sanitary pads to help girls stay in school, sock monkeys for kids displaced by fires, and ideas for “drive-by” giving (for the homeless) to name a few.)

Anyway, I hope it has been a good year for all of you, and that you are enjoying this wonderful Christmas season!  I wish I could wish each of you a Merry Christmas and hand you a plate of cookies, but just know that I am sending goodwill and happy thoughts your way- yes you!

P.S: Because I like to be helpful, and I know that some of you might still need to come up with a few gifts for various people in your lives, here are a couple of ideas that might be of use:  😀

I made these crocheted stars found at Jellywares and I think they make sweet ornaments (thin yarn and small hook) or drink coasters (thicker yarn and medium hook).

Cinnamon ornaments/ gift tags are a lovely gift or package topper.

These pop top cans could be filled with Christmas goodies for a fun neighbor gift.

You might find some inspiration in our “Tutorials” section, fun things like:

Infant Scratch Mitts for the wee ones…

Easy Shower Caps (a colorful and unique addition to a spa- themed gift pack)…

DSC_8066

…Or these Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles– trust me, they are divine!

Wishing all of you the Merriest of Christmases!  See you next year!

I have a problem….

Yes, I have a problem.  It is called “I-start-too-many-projects-and-get-overwhelmed-and-don’t-finish-them-until-many-months-later-if-ever.”  We can just call it procrastination for short.  I have so many ideas, and some of them I just don’t realize how big they are until I am in the middle, and then you know the rest.  It’s a very sad story.  I have an adorable apron pattern and project which I mostly finished- in March, like maybe 75% of the way, and then stopped.  I have been working on sewing and making a pattern for toddler training pants (for potty training) but temporarily lost steam on that too.  I have some yummy summer recipes I would love to share, I just need to write them down.  I intend on finishing all these projects, but when?  Who knows, right?  So I am telling all of you so I have some accountability.  Hopefully by stating my intentions here, I will be motivated to finish projects I have already started!  Ok, but now I feel a little insecure (haha) because it sounds like I haven’t finished any projects at all (besides what I have already blogged about).  Well, I have, but they are kind of little things, and don’t necessarily deserve a blog post all of their own.  But here are a few things I have worked on and actually finished over the past couple months:

Noah’s Ark cake for my baby!  Marissa and I did this together before she left.  We used marshmallow fondant to make the animals and cover the cake.

First pair of potty training pants- adorable, but a bit too small.  Still working on it!  I also made a car seat protector pad, but no picture.  Look for more on this!

I got to help prepare a gorgeous tea party as per tradition for my mom, aunt, sisters, and some of my cousins.

Just to prove I was there this time… (I am on the left)

I helped my mom re-cover the window seat cushions.  This was NOT a small job!  We worked on it in March when I was visiting, and finished it the last time I was there. 

The other cushion.  Yeah, I know it is pretty much the same, but you know, it has to be representative of the amount of time spent on it and all.

I bought this girly chair at a garage sale last summer for $2 and finally got around to re-covering it this year for my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine- themed 3rd birthday.

Ok, I am getting to work!

PS- If you are new to our blog, and would like to be among the first to be able to get new patterns and tutorials (once I actually finish them!) please follow or subscribe to our blog! 😀

Anthropologie- Inspired Cake Platter and Cupcake Tower

Earlier this month we decided to throw a little birthday party for our sister Cara’s 19th birthday.  We made a lovely dinner and scrumptious death- by- chocolate cake and cupcakes.  In order to be able to adequately display and serve our desserts, we made a thrift store run the night before and following the trend from all over blog land, made stands out of mismatched kitchenware.
Marissa found awesome fiestaware in complementary colors for her cupcake tower, and I stuck with white for several stand- alone, stackable pieces.
We simply adhered the cups to the plates with epoxy, and let it dry overnight with books on top as weights.
Here is the cupcake stand, made of plates and mug- style cups:

This is the cake platter.  I used quite a large dinner plate and a vase for this stand, and the other ones are all cups and saucers.

After the party was over, I didn’t want to have to find a place in my already packed kitchen to store several different platters (imagine my husband’s raised eyebrows when he asked where I was going to put it), so I stacked them and made it part of the permanent decor, as a fruit stand.

I love the variety of the colors on the white background.  I put almonds around the tiny saucer (too small to fit fruit) but if I were using it for a specific meal or event, I might put berries or something on it too, or even cut fruit.  It is very versatile, since it can be stacked or the pieces can be used separately, depending on my needs.  So useful, and so lovely!  And all for less than $5 (no raised eyebrows about that)!

A quick note about gluing the pieces together: We used E6000 glue, which is nice because it doesn’t stick to your fingers, and it is flexible, allowing you to position the pieces a little bit once you put them together.  The best way to get a really strong hold with the glue is to put some on both pieces you are about to glue together, then let them sit, separately, for several minutes while the glue cures a bit.  Then, very carefully, position them together the way you want them (it helps to figure this out beforehand and mark the placement), press firmly, and even use something heavy like a book to sit on top overnight.  If any little bits of glue are showing after that, you can carefully rub it off (it is kind of rubbery).  Then for washing, just do it carefully by hand with hot soapy water.