Monthly Archives: January 2015

Hello February!

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I just had to share this calendar from hello, cuteness! that’s pinned up to my bulletin board at work. It’s just perfect for Mrs. Dessert Monster! I can’t believe it’s already February!

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Say Cheese!

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Yesterday was National Cheese Lover’s Day! No, seriously. I thank God that we are fortunate enough in this country to celebrate the little things. So my husband and I decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches & cheese crisps for dinner. It didn’t seem like anything special, until my husband suggested we cook the grilled cheese sandwiches in the waffle maker (my waffle maker, of course). Waffle everything! So naturally I had to snap some pics.

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Of course, we put bacon on the sandwiches. And of course, my husband made the bacon in the cast iron pan again. Mmmm bacon (FYI: National Bacon Day is December 30).

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Emily from Joyful Abode wrote a great post about making cheese crisps that I’m not even going to try to top. All I can say is that I listened to her when she said to use parchment paper, and the cheese crisps came up really easily. I made some using Parmesan, some using a Mexican cheese blend, and some with a hybrid of the two. They were all equally delicious 🙂

Cinnamon Rolls – Waffle Maker Style

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In our house we have two waffle makers; his & hers. When I first moved in with my husband I was thrilled that he had a waffle maker. I began telling him how excited I was to make chocolate chip waffles, blueberry waffles, and more. He looked at me with his sweet eyes, smiled, and said, “No.”  I was a bit puzzled, especially because I knew he liked blueberry waffles. He then went on to explain that the waffle maker, which is older than both of us, had belonged to his Nana. He said that this waffle maker in particular made the best traditional waffles. He told me that when he was little Nana even bought a new waffle maker, but promptly returned it because it just wasn’t as good. So to preserve the integrity of Nana’s special waffle maker, we only use it to make traditional waffles, which really do come out amazing in that thing. I never got to meet Nana, but I can see the influence she had on my sweet husband & I thank her for that.

I was really glad to get a waffle maker for my bridal shower, though. Now I can make all of the crazy stuff! Side note: Check out this website, Will it Waffle? I may have to go get that book. 

Saturday Selfie!

Saturday Selfie!

On a lazy Saturday morning, we woke up and starting making breakfast. My husband makes my morning coffee on the weekends. He makes it better than I do. I typically just brew some espresso, throw in some milk and sugar and call it a day. He takes the time to froth the milk and tamp the espresso and all of that awesome coffee shop stuff for me. He is also the designated bacon maker in the family. I can make candied bacon in the oven (which I used to make awesome bacon chocolate chip cookies & maple bacon waffles) and that’s about it. If I try to fry it the traditional way, I will burn it. I can’t explain why, but the fact that my husband is such a wiz at it reaffirms my belief that we are meant for each other. So he stared cooking the bacon in our new cast iron pan that we are using for EVERYTHING. Seriously, cast iron cookware is amazing. Temperamental, yes – we got rust spots on all of it the first day we took it out of the box. But the way it cooks everything is awesome & worth the extra effort to keep them nice.

I had seen this idea to make cinnamon rolls this way all across the internet recently. I read several people’s recipes and comments, and most of them said to be careful with the heat because they can burn quickly. So I set the waffle maker to medium & they were done in about 4 minutes. I did manage to slightly burn my finger when I was trying to check the first batch for doneness (hence the ‘before’ picture of the first batch, and the ‘after’ picture of the second batch below). Don’t be clumsy like me.

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I liked the shape of the waffles better when I did 2 rolls at a time instead of 3 (I can be weird about shapes sometimes). The pack I used came with 5 – go figure. But regardless of the shape, the waffles came out awesome. They were the perfect combination of crunchy and soft. The cinnamon sugar caramelizes & gives the outside of the waffle a nice crunch, while the inside stays that familiar cinnamon roll soft texture. The little squares are perfect for holding a ton of ooey gooey icing. I’m not sure I will ever go back to putting these in the oven. My husband said, “These are awesome! You can quote me in your blog if you want.” I’m such a lucky girl 🙂

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So after the delicious breakfast, the only thing left was to clean up. I didn’t use this tip, but that website I mention earlier, Will it Waffle?, has a great tip on how to clean waffle makers. Scrape off as much gunk as you can, and then make a regular waffle in it. That waffle should pick up anything left on it. It makes sense; such a simple idea with leftover/discarded batter. What I did this time is after I scrubbed it with a soft soapy brush & wiped it, I put a wet paper towel in it & turned it on to let it steam. Then I wiped it up with a dry paper towel. Everything came off pretty easily. All clean for the next waffle project. Any ideas as to what it should be?

Pinterest Projects In Real Life

I love Pinterest. A lot of the ideas for my wedding came from things I saw on Pinterest. But before I talk about those, I wanted to share some of the various Pinterest projects, large and small, that I’ve done around the home.

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Bedroom Mini Makeover

I came across this blog one day and knew I had to copy it. The steps were fairly easy. My only struggle was that the black letters I wanted from Hobby Lobby, which were 12″ tall & frequently go on sale, for some reason did not include an ampersand. So I bought a plain wooden one from Amazon, painted it black, and Mod Podged it. The frames I got from the clearance section at Michael’s; 20 x 24. This is a very simple, yet elegant in my opinion, way of decorating an entire wall.

Engagement Photo Collage

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This project didn’t have a particular pin attached to it exactly, but it looks Pinterest-y to me! I was developing prints for our save the dates, and Walgreens had a great deal. So I began to think of ways to display 4 x 6 photos without framing a bunch of little pictures. I used the same type of frame as I had for the bedroom makeover, cut a piece of cardboard to match the size, and painted it black. I used a glue stick to attach the pictures to the card stock I was using for the save the dates, which was 4.5 x 6.5 so there’s a nice little border. I then mounted the card stock framed pictures to the cardboard with glue sticks & Mod Podged (is that a word? I’m going to keep using it) the whole thing. For the final touches I bought some little wooden letters, and again this time I could not find an ampersand to save my life (Michael’s this time). I ended up buying some sticker letters that were approximately the same size/font which included the elusive ‘&’, and painted both the letters and sticker to match the card stock frames. In the sticker aisle I saw these really cute ‘we’re engaged!’ stickers & there you have it.

Once we get our wedding photos back we will replace this in our living room with some of those, but it’s been really nice to be able to look back on that day and smile. My mom took those pictures at a local park. We had such a blast; still on the high from getting engaged the week before. That newly engaged feeling was great. The only thing that has topped it for me is this wonderful newlywed feeling. Every time I say ‘my husband’ I smile.

Button Crafts

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One of the best parts about having nieces & nephews is doing things like this for them! I have always liked having small charms like buttons & sequins, but have done very little with them. Then one day I came across this button elephant & button monogram. Aren’t they adorable? I had to make something like this for my nieces. This involved some patience and a lot of hot glue. I traced my designs on to one of those hard thin canvases, & just starting placing buttons. Then I used the sequins to fill in the gaps. For the L, the zebra buttons are just white ones I drew stripes on. Nothing too fancy! Gluing sequins was a lot of work; the hot glue kind of melts them. I wonder if a different glue might be better for them, but to be honest this was the messy fun type of project that I like sometimes. I recently read one of those life hack things that said putting petroleum jelly around the end of a glue gun helps prevent getting webs of glue everywhere. I have not tried this tip personally, but next time I use my glue gun I will.

Our First Tree Ornament

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This Pinterest project was super easy & makes me all happy when I look at it. I feel like I have to admit that I actually made this after New Years right before we took the tree down (I’m one of those Christmas-isn’t-over-until-January-6th people). After Thanksgiving, I told my mother-in-law we were getting a real tree and she reminded me of this Pin she had seen. So when we picked out our tree we asked the guy to cut us a slice from the bottom. I didn’t even drill a hole in it. I just used a screw eye hook (not gonna lie – totally had to look up what the ‘screw with the hole that came with my picture hanging kit’ was called) & manually screwed it in to the tree slice. After I was done writing on it in Sharpie, I sprayed the whole thing with an acrylic sealer.

I look forward to telling our kids about this ornament one day as we are decorating the tree, listening to Christmas carols & eating gingerbread cookies. *Sigh*

My Big Fat Tri-Lingual Photo Collage

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Man, was this a project! We had this very large blank wall at our place. I had been looking at pins like this one & this one. You do the math. The first step for me was actually finding ‘family’ in the three different languages. Originally I had said I wanted something like ‘family, love, faith’, but my husband was the one who came up with the idea of the three languages. I love it; it shows off our melting pot pretty well. So after some searching I found this shop on Amazon. They have lots of cool stuff, and I’m very pleased with the quality. Lightweight, but still really solid. The only thing is that they took FOREVER (2 weeks) to arrive. So if I order from them again I will definitely do expedited shipping, or learn to be more patient. It depends on what my wallet tells me at the time. Along with the words I knew I wanted an ‘M’ & I knew I wanted a cross. The cross is actually a painting I did back in college when I first became a Christian/was saved/met Jesus/insert-Christian-jargon-here. The ‘M’ is from Hobby Lobby; same as the letters from the bedroom makeover. The rest just fell in to place.

We had bought the mask in Venice intending to do something with it, and it fit in just right. The big picture in the center of the collage was actually taken by us in Burano, which I highly recommend seeing to anyone visiting Italy. I cannot wait to someday go back. Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, next was the frames. I had several 8 x 10 & 11 x 14 because I usually buy frames if I see them on sale or clearance. Then I went to the dollar store & just picked up a bunch of 5 x 7 & 4 x 6 frames. This picture doesn’t do them justice, but it’s actually a bunch of different styles of frames. So with the frames all picked out, I started designing the layout. Basically I gathered all of the frames, sprawled myself out on the floor with them, and started arranging. I’m kind of type A/ kind of OCD about certain things like lines and shapes, so I made this more like a rectangle and less like a free-form collage. Of course I couldn’t actually leave all of this stuff on the floor, so I used measuring tape to record the dimensions & took lots of pictures of the set up.

I actually didn’t pick out what pictures I wanted to include on the wall until after I had done the layout. That made it a lot easier to be like ‘OK I need this many 8 x 10 landscape, this many 5 x 7 portrait,’ etc. Once I got all of the pictures I wanted developed, the only thing left was to hang everything up! One day after work I just grabbed the hammer and started going at it. I put up the ‘Family’ word first, then the cross painting & the M. Then I put the Burano picture up in the center, followed by the 2 bottom corners. After that it was just a matter of trying to follow the measurements I had done on the floor earlier, and making sure it looked nicely spaced on the wall. So, the whole process from conception to execution was probably about a month. I love this wall. This is my favorite thing about where we live right now & when we move I will be replicating this idea in some way.


So there you have some of my older Pinterst projects. What are some of yours?

Little Monster!

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My first attempt at a graphic/icon/picture for this site! I’ve never had any fancy software like Photoshop, so I’ve gotten used to doing all of my drawing/graphic stuff on MS Paint. I used a couple of Instagram-type editing apps and voila! My little monster 🙂

We all scream for homemade ice cream!

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A friend of the family sent us a gift certificate to Crate & Barrel all the way from Italy! It was such a nice gesture. My husband & I ordered the most practical thing we could think of: an ice cream maker! We anxiously awaited its arrival. In the mean time I had made some chocolate mousse (a recipe for another post this post!) & had some left over egg yolks. Thus the idea for custard-style ice cream was born. While we waited for the machine to arrive I looked up some recipes, but I ended up using the one from the Cuisinart recipe booklet with some minor changes. Instead of whole milk I used 2%, and I couldn’t find vanilla bean at the store, so I just omitted it. There are plenty of simpler ice cream recipes out there, but since this one has egg yolks it requires some cooking (for food safety reasons).

We invited our friends from church, Bobbin & Co. & her husband, over for burgers & the inaugural ice cream. Before they arrived, I gathered my ingredients: milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, egg yolks, & vanilla extract. The milk, heavy cream, salt, & half of the sugar got whisked together in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once combined, I brought the milky mixture to a slight boil. While that was heating up, I beat the remaining sugar & egg yolks together on low until pale & thick.

wpid-photogrid_1420344971650.jpgThis recipe was a lot of fun for me because I also got to use my new favorite toy: the Kitchenaid mixer. I told my husband that I was looking forward to getting married long before he came in the picture because I knew the first thing on my registry would be a red Kitchenaid mixer. And it was!

Once the milky mix was boiling, I added 1/3 of it to the yolky mix & beat until combined. Then I added another 1/3 & used the stir setting on the mixer, before returning this new combination to the saucepan with with remaining 1/3 of the milky mix.

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Stirring with a wooden spoon, I cooked the mixture on low heat until it thicken slightly. I had to confer with my husband on what exactly ‘coating the back of the wooden spoon’ was, and I think we did a good job deciding. The next step in the recipe said to strain the mixture. I almost skipped this step since I had omitted the vanilla bean earlier, but I’m glad I didn’t. The strainer got out all of the bits of egg yolk & what not, and I ended up with a nice & creamy ice cream in the end. At this point, I tasted the warm liquid & it reminded me a lot of the sweet cream flavor from Cold Stones, so I’ll definitely have to experiment with that in the future.

Finally, I added the vanilla extract. I was tempted to add more than the recipe called for (again, no vanilla bean this time around), but after adding the 1.5 tsp the recipe called for the mixture tasted wonderful to me. To bring the liquid down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, I used my nesting bowls & put some ice water in the larger one. I can’t take credit for the idea, I saw it online recently somewhere. Genius, really. Then off to the fridge it went for 2 hours, which was just enough time to make some bacon cheeseburgers & enjoy them with our friends 🙂

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Once we were done with dinner, I poured the mix into the ice cream maker. After a 20 minute spin cycle, the first ever batch of ice cream was ready, but it was too soft to serve right out of the machine. So I poured it into an airtight container and put it in the freezer. Cuisinart suggests putting it in for 2 hours, but we couldn’t wait that long. Once our burgers were sufficiently digested, about an hour later, we served up some ice cream. It was delicious! I think the taste can be compared to Blue Bell’s vanilla ice cream. There was no ice cream left at the end of the night! Batch #1 was a huge success.

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Custard-Style Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar, divided

1 pinch of salt

5 large egg yolks

1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together milk, cream, half the sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture just to a boil.
  2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks & remaining sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat on low until the mixture is pale and thick.
  3. Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, beat about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, stir, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly & coats the back of the spoon. Do NOT boil the mixture – egg yolks will over cook.
  4. Strain the mixture. Add the vanilla extract & bring to room temperature. Cover & refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Turn on the ice cream maker, pour in the mixture, & let mix for about 20 minutes. The ice cream will be soft. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container & freeze for 2 hours.
  6. Enjoy!

New Year, New Blog!

As we sat on the couch this evening watching Oregon mollywhop Florida State in the Rose Bowl, I announced to my husband of 12 days that I wanted to start a blog. Being the incredibly supportive & tech savvy man that he is, he helped me get my domain up and running in no time. What better way to start the new year than with a new blog? Or rather, what better day to start a blog than January 1, 2015?

2014 was a whirlwind of cooking & crafting. The crafting was for our recent wedding. It’s funny how I will remember 2014 as the year we got married, when really I should remember it as the year we spent engaged (well, 10 months of it). The cooking was both for nourishment & to keep my sanity during the aforementioned engagement.

I am a rookie. I’m a rookie Christian, a rookie wife, a rookie blogger, a rookie chef, & a rookie crafter. I don’t think I will ever feel like an expert in many of those categories. But if in 2015 I can honor God & love my husband while making cookies & writing about it I will count that as a win.