Friday, December 20, 2013

Shrinky Dink Photo Ornament

Yeah...you heard that right.
Shrinky Dink and photo in the same sentence.
And if you are wondering...it is NOT inkjet printable Shrink Film.
Yeah, because I am a rebel like that.


So here is how this all started.
I agreed to help make some Shrink Film ornaments for bunch of kids from the church, about 65. Well I started by tracing the design onto the Shrink Film with Sharpie, but realized it was going to take forever and a day. The package of Shrink Film says that you can use rubber stamps. It also says that it is NOT inkjet printable. But whatev.
So I decided to test it out, and guess what?
It worked!

So this is what you do:
Start by finding an image that you want to use. I used a photo of my new baby niece, Brooklyn.
I changed it to black and white using Picmonkey, and then did a little more editing. I added a banner and some text, and then cropped it down to a square.


Next, use your 300-400 grit sandpaper to sand one side of your Shrink Film.

Wipe all the dust off of the film and then print your image onto it.
*MAKE SURE AND PRINT ON THE SANDED SIDE.
*Also, use the fast/economical setting on your printer. The lowest quality your printer has. You want the least amount of ink possible, so it doesn't smear.

Set your  printed Shrink Film aside to dry for a few minutes while your oven preheats. You want it to be between 300 and 350 degrees. I used 350.

When your oven is preheated, cut out your image and punch a hole or two for the ribbon.

Place your Shrink Film onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and then cover the Shrink Film with parchment.

Bake for 2-3 minutes, until the Shrink Film has shrunk down to about 1/3 to 1/5 of the original size. Remove from oven and let cool.
*If the Shrink Film is curled or anything when it comes out, just flatten it with a spatula and put it back into the oven for another minute. It is very forgiving.


Once cooled, string with your favorite ribbon or baker's twine. Beautiful.

Isn't this baby GORGEOUS! If you could see her steely blue eyes you'd die!
 

Oh, and P.S.
I bought my Shrink Film at Joann's. $6 for 6 sheets. I used 1/2 sheet for this ornament. Not a bad deal.
You can also buy it in bulk from Amazon.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift Wrapping Tips

Yeah...it's really that time of year.
Time to wrap your Christmas gifts.
Crazy.
Anyway.
I'd like to share a quick tip or two about gift wrapping.
Specifically for Christmas time, and specifically for kids.



 Growing up I remember my Mom rustling around under the tree on Christmas morning trying to remember which gift was what, and in what order she would like them to be opened.

Well, I have a solution for that problem. It may be about 10 years too late for my Mom, but it's definitely not too late for me.

Tip # 1:
Choose a different gift wrap for each one of your kids. I have 3 kids, and I buy 3 different gift wraps. Each kid has all of their presents wrapped in the same paper. The is no rummaging through gifts trying to read the gift tag to pass out presents.
*Also keep in mind to have a completely different wrap for your "Santa" gifts. I wrap all the Santa gifts in brown packing paper and tie it up with a really fancy ribbon and gift tag. Something silver or gold would be magical too.



 Next...
 I usually have the same or similar gifts for each one of my kids. Like they all will get a video game (a Wii game for one and DS games for the others). Maybe they will all get a toy that is similar in price. They will all have an equal number of gifts and I want them to open their similar gifts at the same time. It's easy to forget what's what when it is wrapped under the tree.
Hence...

Tip # 2:
I do a sort of a code, or cheat sheet on the bottom of my kids' presents. You could also do it on the gift tag, but I don't use gift tags because I know which gifts belong to which kid based on the gift wrap.
So basically, if I had 3 presents for each kid, I would write a 1 on the bottom of the presents I want them to each open first, a 2 on the ones I want them to open second and so forth. In the picture I wrote A-1, B-1, and C-1. A, B, and C stand for my kids. That was unnecessary in my case because of the gift wrap, but you get the idea. If your kids don't have the same initials like mine do, you could use their initials and then the # of the gift.


And last...
Do you ever go to wrap a gift and realize you don't have any ribbon? Or maybe you are like me and you love fancy wired ribbon but are too cheap to buy it. Either way, I have some great alternatives to your traditional ribbon or gift bow.

Tip # 3:
Use something a little less traditional. Like fabric! Cut, or tear, strips of coordinating fabric to  wrap around you gift like ribbon.
Or, if you have some ribbon scraps that are not long enough to go around the gift or make a bow, you can wrap 1 piece of ribbon or fabric around and then tie the ends around your scraps. Who needs a bow. Not me.
Or, maybe you don't have ribbon or fabric...but I can guarantee you have gift wrap. 'Cause you are wrapping gifts, duh. Well, use this little mini-tutorial below to use "gift wrap paper ribbons". No extra supplies required. Just gift wrap, scissors and tape. Easy. And cute.



These tips are definitely not huge and life changing, but they make my Christmas mornings a tad less crazy. And seriously, I need a lot of breaks in the mental health department this time of year.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Apple Crumb Pie Cupcakes

Hey there!
I shared this post a couple weeks ago at Sugar Bee Crafts! It was a great opportunity for a new blogger like myself to guest post at one of my favorite blogs!

Now I get to share this yummy cupcake recipe here!

This cupcake is a remix of my favorite pie. All the same flavors and ingredients, just in the form of a cupcake. YUM!

Apple Crumb Pie Cupcakes.



Okay, now let's get to baking. This cupcake basically has four parts. The cake, the frosting, the pie crust crisps and the streusel crumbs. It sounds time consuming, but you can make the frosting and the toppings during the time the cupcakes are in the oven. Seriously, it's so worth it!

Apple Spice Cake
1 stick butter- soft
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
(or, omit cinnamon and nutmeg & use 1 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice)
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups finely chopped or grated granny smith apple (I used 4 apples and my food processer)
*In a mixer, or large bowl, mix butter, oil, both sugars, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Mix in soda, powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until fully incorporated. Mix in flour until smooth. Last, add apples. Quickly stir until evenly combined. Fill cupcake wrappers about 2/3 full (an ice cream scoop is the perfect size to fill a cupcake). Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.

 
Slightly Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter- soft
1/2 block cream cheese- soft
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1 tsp. vanilla
about 6 cups powdered sugar
a splash of milk
*In a mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, caramel and vanilla until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth creamy texture that forms soft peaks. Scoop frosting into an icing bag or the corner of a gallon bag. Twist and close the end with a twist tie and snip about an inch of the tip.


Streusel Crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
* Mix flour, sugar and butter until it starts to resemble dry crumbs. It will look dry, while also holding its shape. Drop crumb mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, stirring mixture half way to prevent burning. Crumbs should be golden brown and slightly crunchy. Let cool and set aside.


Pie Crust Crisps
1 pie crust rolled thin (I used store bought)
cooking spray
cinnamon and sugar mixture
* Slice pie crust into thin strips about an inch long. Line up on parchment lined baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until crispy golden brown. Let cool and set aside.


Assembly:
 To decorate, make an assembly line. On a large surface, set out cooled cupcakes (and an extra wrapper for each cupcake if you want to get fancy), frosting bag, toppings, and your serving platter or cupcake box.
Place each cupcake into the extra wrappers. Frost each cupcake by making a swirl, starting on the outside and working your way to the middle. Top each cupcake with some streusel crumbs and a pie crust crisp. Repeat with all of your cupcakes, until you are finished.

 
Now that is a plate of pie! Okay, so it's not actually pie...but I seriously can't think of anything much better than a cupcake that tastes like my favorite pie. I hope you will try this fun holiday recipe!