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Congratulations!

The first of my 30 Days of Creativity Giveaways has a WINNER!  Congratulations to Emily in California who will be receiving a bottlecap necklace and a few other little goodies I threw in for fun. Wishing happy crafting and collage creativity to Emily.

Since the response was so small this time I’m contacting all those who participated for their shipping addresses and will send them each a little tag that I made.  Thanks to those who took part and watch for another giveaway soon.

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Day 30 (at last!): Honey Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

It’s over.  It’s all gone. Hallelujah!  Am I talking about 30 Days of Creativity or the amazing honey vanilla ice cream with decadent, dark, buttery caramel sauce?  Since I still have more ice cream and sauce to enjoy tomorrow I’ll tell you, it isn’t that.  I have to admit that I’m glad to be at the end of the 30 Days project.

But let’s talk about my project for today, my final creative offering for the month.  When I assisted with a cooking class, the teacher, Tom Hudgens taught us to start with dessert because he said no matter what might go wrong with dinner, if you have a great dessert, that’s what you’re guests will remember.  You want to be sure and get dessert made before you worry about the rest of the meal. Likewise, I wanted to have a sweet finish to what has ultimately been a sweet experience.

That seemed like a pretty straightforward idea but this has been one of my most frustrating projects!  One of those that seemed to go wrong at every turn. My original idea was to make a really good vanilla ice cream, a really good caramel sauce and swirl the sauce into the ice cream. I also wanted a crunchy add-in and considered pretzels, peanuts, and toasted almonds before deciding on crushed waffle cone bits. That is how this has become a “Do as I say, not as I do” post.   Don’t stir crushed waffle cones into your nice ice cream.  They just become soggy bits and do nothing to improve the pairing.  And please disregard the bits in the pictures.  I love my readers, but it’s Day 30 and I don’t have the time (or energy) to whip up another batch of ice cream.

Luckily I started on the caramel sauce last night because the first batch seized up and had to be thrown away.  I’m sorry, I didn’t capture any photos of it but you’ll have to take my word that it was a mess. When you get to the point that the sugar is melted and caramelized, you don’t have time to look for the measuring cup.  It will continue to cook and can quickly go from done to burned.

I read a few more caramel recipes and notes about making caramel and this morning I tried again.  YAY!  It worked and boy, is it good.  I mean this is why we go to Jazzercise!  So we can enjoy the occasional dish of homemade honey vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce.

But Rem some people don’t like caramel sauce, finding it too dark and bitter.  We agree to disagree on this because I think it tastes wonderful, especially with this ice cream – the two seem to become greater together than they are individually. Anyway, back to Rem.  If he doesn’t like caramel sauce that means more for me!  All is not lost if you are not a fan of caramel.  Just make the honey vanilla ice cream (which is pretty incredible by itself) and have it on a cone.

Or in a dish.  Both are good. But remember, don’t stir in any crushed waffle cones.  Best to eat the cones as they were designed to be eaten: not crushed into the ice cream but with ice cream in them.

This is a custard-style ice cream with egg yolks in it.  Many ice creams have more heavy cream in them but this is icy yet the cornstarch keeps it creamy, letting the honey-vanilla flavors shine.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook by Tom Hudgens

Ingredients:

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 1/4 cups half and half

2 Tbsp honey

pinch salt

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

4 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in medium sized heavy saucepan until there are no lumps. Pour in half and half, and add the honey, salt and the seeds and pod of the split vanilla bean. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until foamy on top and steaming.

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl.  Very slowly whisk in about 1 cup of the hot half and half mixture, then slowly whisk this mixture back into the saucepan of hot half and half.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until steaming hot and slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and let cool, continue to stir frequently for about 5 minutes.  Remove vanilla bean pod and discard.  Let cool to room temperature.  Stir in the vanilla extract and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.  Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.  Serve immediately, while still soft and creamy or pack the ice cream into a container, put in the freezer, and let it freeze hard.

My first try at caramel sauce ended in disaster.  In the version I tried both cream and butter were added with the cream going in first.  Well, the volume of cold  heavy cream going into the super hot pan of molten, melted sugar ended up causing the whole thing to seize and stay separate instead of blending into the decadent dessert I imagined.

When I compared several caramel sauce recipes one thing I noticed was most added the butter first and then the cream, and one also suggested warming the cream before melting the sugar.  This should prevent the problem I had with my first batch.  The other important tip is to have everything ready to go when you reach to point to add them, so you want your butter and cream measured and ready.

I didn’t read anything about making a larger batch but I doubled the following recipe and found I was having a problem with sugar crystals that I ended up having to strain out of the sauce.  I think it was from having too-large a batch.  It is possible that the heat was uneven or the pot not thick enough.  But in the end I got the results I was looking for: a flavor akin to the caramelized sugar that tops Creme Brulee.  Delicious.

Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

5 Tbsp butter

1/2 C heavy whipping cream

Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a large saucepan.  As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon.  As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring.  Swirl the pan a bit from this point on.

As soon as the sugar crystals have melted and turned a dark amber color, add the butter to the pan and whisk until the butter has melted.
One the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat.  Slowly add the cream to the pan and whisk to incorporate.  Adding the sugar and the cream will cause foaming in the panWhisk until caramel sauce is smooth.  (if necessary, pour sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps of sugar).  Let cool in the pan for a few minutesThis will keep nicely in a jar in the refrigerator.  I saw a note that said it would keep for a month.  Not at my house!

The 30 Days of Creativity have come to an end.  I was in great company with so many other creative people.  I loved and continue to enjoy looking through the wonderful photos on Pinterest.  I’m delighted with all the great comments and support I’ve received and also with my growing list of subscribers.

I will certainly continue to be creative and share that here.  But not every day.  And not tomorrow.  I will be having a giveaway of some of my 30 Days creations, so watch for that and thanks for stopping by.

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Day 28: Bottle Cap Necklaces with Aquarium Tubing Beads

Collect some bottle caps for these fun necklaces.  You probably want to wash them.

For the beads you will need plastic tubing that is used for aquariums.  I got mine at a Pet Store.

Drill a hole in the edge of the caps (or have someone do it for you).  You can also make a hole with a hammer and small nail.  I used a Crop-A-Dile II to punch some holes but ended up with holes too close the the bottom of the bottle cap.  It was kind of a problem, so don’t do that!

This is a good place for your hole.

If you have the right-sized circle punch, punch out some cute designs for the center of your bottle cap.  I think this is 1 1/4 inch.  Otherwise, you’ll have to trace a circle of the correct size and cut out your image for the centers.

It’s a good idea with  most paper to punch out another sturdy piece of card stock to back your image and glue the two pieces together.  If your paper is double sided, I strongly encourage you to do this.  Otherwise your image can be ruined by the other side of the paper showing through.

Glue your circle of paper into the bottle cap.  Squeeze a thin layer of Diamond Glaze or similar dimensional adhesive over your image and let dry.  (Remember those holes?  This is where I had a problem – holes that were low on the side of the cap leaked the Diamond Glaze that I put in.  What a sticky mess!)

Cut aquarium tubing into matching lengths, about 3/4 of an inch in length.

Cut small pieces of paper to coordinate with the bottle cap pendant, and with a round toothpick, roll the paper into a tube to put into the aquarium tubing bead.  Trim the ends.

Put a jump ring into the hole that you created in your pendant earlier.  I only had some jewelry pins so I used small pliers and made a small loop on one end, put the loop through the hole and added a few beads than bent another loop at the other end of the pin.

If desired, add a few crystal embellishments to your pendant.  A drop of Diamond Glaze will glue down the crystals.

Thread the aquarium tubing/paper beads along with some spacer beads and your pendant onto thin leather cord. Tie a knot in the leather cord.  Wear.  Enjoy.

Good night.  Day 28 done, two more days to go!

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Day 27: Photo Cards

Day 27: Pick out pretty photographs from your files, scale the photo to work with your cards, print them onto nice, heavy, smooth paper, trim them and glue to ready-made folded cards of different colors.  Easy, huh?

I needed an easy project for today and had this one in mind.  I like to take photos when I’m out on a weekend hiking or visiting a beautiful garden or farm.  I share the photos with friends and that’s about it.  Using them for cards is a way to enjoy them again and give them new purpose.

The photo of plums on the upper right was taken on a visit to Green String Farm in Petaluma, CA. with Rem.  I took the pictures of the tangerines and dates and the colander of raspberries when I assisted Tom Hudgens with a series of seasonal cooking classes.  The icelandic poppy pictured below is from Filoli, a beautiful estate and garden in Woodside, CA that I like to stroll around with a friend.  These pictures are all connected with good memories and it is a pleasure seeing them and using them.

You could fold colored card stock (cut an 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch sheet in half for two cards) and use that, but I had cards left from this great assorted box of 50 textured cards in various colors with envelopes that I got at Michaels a few years ago and they were ready to go. The brand is is DCWV or Die Cuts With a View.

I wanted to try something – I signed my first initial with my last name and the year on the front of the cards.  About halfway through I decided I didn’t like how it looked on the front of the card so for the remaining cards, I left it off. Which way do you prefer? The inside of all the cards is blank.

The finishing touch is a signature or initials on the back of the card. I have a wonderful rubber stamp I received as a gift (thanks, Carson!) that came from the Etsy shop called Love to Create Stamps.  I stamped it in grey ink on white paper then added some color, cut them out and adhered them to the back of the cards.

I’m really delighted to have so many new subscribers here -WELCOME!

Thanks for taking a look.

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Day 26: Fused-Plastic-Bag Pouches and Tote Bag

OK, I read about this technique early on in my 30Days of Creativity project research, and I knew I wanted to do it!  You take flimsy plastic shopping bags and fuse them together with an iron to create a thicker, more sturdy plastic.  Once you’ve got your fused-plastic material you can make any number of things but I loved the idea of these small, zippered pouches and tote bags.

There was only one problem.  I don’t sew.  But lucky for me I have my pick of people who DO sew right in my family and when I asked my sister Kathleen, she agreed to help me out.  Which is why these turned out so well!

First I needed to create the fused-plastic material we would be working with.  I scavenged some great plastic bags (a variety of sized and weights, from the flimsiest produce bag to a really sturdy, heavier plastic, large sized shopping tote bag).

Here is a great tutorial by Anda Lewis.  She has more experience doing this.  Check it out.

Fused Plastic Bags:

Open a window or door so your work space is well-ventilated.

Cut off the handles and bottom seams of the bags.

Cover your ironing board with parchment paper.

If your bags have any design on them, turn them inside out so the ink is on the inside.  When it is heated, the ink tends to run and make a mess.

Layer between 6 and 8 single layers of plastic with your prize pieces of plastic on the top.

Cover the plastic with parchment paper

With iron set at medium high, start pressing,  moving it constantly.  Be sure and go to all the edges.  Flip it over, and iron again.  Now, careful, because it is hot, check and see if your plastic is all fused or needs a little more heat.  If it is bubbled or has places that seem to still be in layers, iron it some more.  The bags have different thicknesses, so you may need to do a couple of trail runs.  My first try was too thick but I got the hang of it.

I can’t give you the specifics on the sewing.  But Kathleen assured me that if you DO sew and have a sewing machine that can handle heavy-duty sewing tasks, this is an easy sewing project.  She put both the zippers in and let me do a few straight seams (well, they were supposed to be straight) but after I sewed one whole pouch the wrong way out, I handed over the sewing side of things with relief.

But I really DID some of the sewing.  See photographic proof:

While she was sewing, I kept her dog, Ruby, company.

Kathleen suggests putting in the zipper first to make it easier.  Like this:

I love how these turned out!

The outside layer of the pencil pouch was a bag from Flax and if you take a close look at the photo you can see the bags are “80% recycled material”!  So we’re re-recycling them!  The zippers and thread are new so these pouches are probably 80% or more recycled.

I scavenged the plastic bags, fused the plastic and trimmed the pieces, but Kathleen did all the sewing on this great little tote bag.  Thank you, Kathleen and Ruby for helping me see this project come to fruition.

When I went to see my folks and show off the project for Day 26, I also got to see their dog, Molly, and I couldn’t resist a picture.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Day 25: Pickled Carrot Sticks

My creation for today: pickled carrots sticks with garlic, ginger and dill.  I won’t really know how these are until they’ve been soaking up the lovely brine (at least 24 hours from now – in reality, I’ll probably have some with my lunch on Monday), but I have a good idea they’ll be delicious.

I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen (who in turn had adapted the recipe from Gourmet Magazine), with a bit of  Sunset Magazine thrown in, so they have a good lineage.

Pickled Carrot Sticks

1 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (about 3″ x 1/3″)

1 1/4 C water

1 C cider vinegar

1/4 C sugar

2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

1 1/2 Tbsp. salt

1 1/2 Tbsp. mustard seed

2 slices of peeled ginger, about 1/8 inch thick

Several sprigs of fresh dill

Put carrots in a heat proof bowl.  Bring remaining ingredients except the fresh dill to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes.  Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered.  Put carrots with the liquid in an airtight container with the dill sprigs and chill at least one day for flavors to develop.  Keep the pickled carrot sticks in the fridge in an airtight container and they should keep for a month…but I know mine won’t last that long!

Thanks for the visit.

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Day 24: Gnome Makes File Folders from Calendar Pages

Wow!  I was up in the wee hours of the morning finishing yesterday’s post and when I checked my email earlier today I learned that WordPress.com had featured that post on their homepage Freshly Pressed! My mailbox had over 50 emails which is huge for me.  A warm welcome to each and every one of you including all new subscribers.

I was pretty bleary today as a result of the late night crafting and blogging so it’s a really good thing that the theme for Day 24 is Garden Gnome!  I have a needle felted gnome that I made and he must have either felt sorry for me or wanted to cash in on my 15 minutes of fame.  Because he crafted the creations for today: file folders from calendar pages.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a chance to clean up my crafting space (read the living room) and put some craft supplies away so I can get going on the last dash to the end of June and the final days of 30 Days of Creativity.

As far as I can tell, these folders were created from pages of a Paper-Source calendar, which is wonderful since their slogan is “Do Something Creative Every Day”.  Aside to 30 Days of Creativity Team: maybe they’d like to participate next year and donate cool, creative stuff!

If you had some beautiful paper that was large enough you could fold your own folders – simply trace around a file folder and cut it out.  Score and fold the crease in the center.  If you have thin paper that is pretty but isn’t strong enough you could use a glue stick to cover an existing folder.

These are the calendar pages before they were cut and folded.

Finished folders.  Thanks, Mr. Gnome. Very creative!

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