Thursday, March 29, 2012

tissue rosette wreath

I won't deny my love of wedding blogs. I simply can't. My sister got married last summer, and I avidly read them while helping her plan. I kind of didn't stop afterwards. Can you blame a girl? It doesn't bother me any. I love seeing ideas and events and creativity and projects.

In my recent wedding blog cruising, I stumbled upon a tissue rosette ball that a blogger wanted to try to recreate. I also loved how hers turned out, and knew I needed to give it a go.

Her original inspiration.

Her product.

Now these are pomanders, which I could've done, but I had a square shaped wreath on hand from a previous failed project, so I utilized that. (See, it pays to keep things even if you think they are ruined!)

This is how I did it:

Tissue Rosette Wreath 

What You Need:
styrofoam ball/wreath, or whatever it is you want to cover with the tissue rosettes
crepe paper, in the color of your choosing
a hot glue gun
ribbon, if you plan on hanging whatever it is you create


The real trick is learning how to make the tissue rosettes. Once you know how to do that, you can get in your groove of making them, and then cover whatever it is you want to cover.

To make the tissue rosettes took some practice. A lot of it actually. I couldn't wrap my head around the concept, and my flowers ended up looking very small at first. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, and then things started to shape up.

Start off with your crepe paper in your color of choice. I bought this jumbo roll from Hobby Lobby for around $1.25, but I heard you can get a 2 pack from the Dollar Store as well. Measure strips of the crepe paper into 24 inch lengths and cut them. I recommend doing many of these so you don't have to continuously stop to do more.

Next up, take one of the strips and crumple it up good. This step could be skipped, but it gives it some nice texture. Smooth the crumpled strip out and fold in approximately a third down the entire length of the strip.

Now gets the rolling and actual creation of the rosette, which is something I had to get used to. You grab one end of the strip of paper and start rolling. The photo above helps show how to hold the paper---have the folded down edge be at the top of the flower and facing inside as you roll it.

The beginning few rolls are small and help get the rosette started.

It's the next part that took me the longest to get used too. All other tutorials I read tell you that as you continue to roll the flower (like above) to twist the strip of crepe paper as you roll it. And essentially, this is what you do. But every time I tried, I found the flowers ended up very small. I realized I was wrapping it too tight.

So this is what worked best for me, but experimenting is how you figure out what will work for you. After you've started to roll a significant amount, I would twist the entire rest of the strip first, then I would take the twisted strip and wrap it around the center, creating a rosette. The wrapping is very loose, and this is what makes the rosette large. 

As soon as I would get towards the end of the strip of paper, I would flip the rose over and twist the end of the strip with the area of crepe paper you hold throughout. This connects the ends and "finishes" off the rose. As soon as I finished one, I would use my plugged in glue gun and adhere it on my square wreath. 

And repeat. A lot. Depending on what you're covering, you may need two rolls. The tutorials that did the balls used two. I ended up using one, with a bit left over and a lot of goof-ups. 

Slowly making progress and the flowers still look good! 

Here is my finished result: 

I had this wreath previously. I had hot glued greenery from fake flowers onto the inside, so I just covered the front with flowers. I didn't know what to do about the sides, as I thought flowers would be excessive. So some spanish moss from Meijer it was. It looks quite cute and spring-like. Colored crepe paper would be a blast and look beautiful, as evident in other tutorials. I'm considering adding something to hang from the center of the wreath, but I haven't decided. 

Can't wait to hang this up, as it was a labor of love. Now to figure out what to hang or display in the center...

linking up to

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

chicken broccoli alfredo pasta bake

This was a meal that was tossed together, but was easy and worked well. I had alfredo sauce waiting to be used, and this was the perfect way to use it. 

Here's the recipe: 

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta Bake

What You Need:
-1/2 box of pasta (I used whole-grain rotini, but any kind would do)
-2 cups broccoli (I used frozen, you could use fresh)
-chicken (we used a couple frozen breasts, easily cooked on the stovetop, cubed)
-1/2 of a jar of alfredo sauce
-1/2 of a Kraft Fresh Take (Italian Parmesan)


This is ridiculously simple! Essentially, you are cooking the chicken, broccoli, and pasta according to package or however you would normally do it. 

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Then, onto those ingredients.

I used half the box of pasta for a 8 x 11 baking dish, and followed the box's instructions for boiling the noodles. 

I had the chicken already cooked previously, but a couple breasts cooked in a basic way on the stove top was perfect for this recipe. I cubed mine, but shredded would be a nice way to try it.

Using frozen broccoli, I followed the directions on the back of the package, essentially boiling the couple cups of broccoli in about a cup of water for 5 or so minutes. 

I set the cooked broccoli and chicken aside, and drained the pasta noodles before tossing the noodles back into the pot they were just in. With the stove top on low heat, add half the jar of alfredo sauce to the noodles and stirred it well. Then toss in the chicken and broccoli, and the hard part is done!

Pour the combined mixture into a 8 x 11 baking dish (or larger if you double the recipe and use the whole box of noodles). I happened to have lots of Kraft Fresh Takes on hand, as there were some crazy sales on them, and with additional coupons they were very cheap! The Fresh Takes have cheese, seasonings, and breadcrumbs, and there are many varieties. I've used a couple to coat chicken, but I decided to use an Italian Parmesan one to top this dish, and it was the perfect addition. 

Pop in the 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is nice and crispy. 

As we are super busy this week, this is the perfect dish to have in the fridge to heat up for a quick meal. Paired with a nice side salad, it seems to work well!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

easy cheesy garlic bread

I follow many a frugal blog, and stumbled upon a garlic bread recipe where they were utilizing sale items from a particular grocery store. It looked so good and so easy (original recipe here), so I adapted it a bit myself with what I happened to have.

It was easy, not time consuming at all, and completely flavorful. 

Here's the recipe:

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

What You Need:
1 loaf of Italian bread (you could use french bread or another variety as well)
3/4 cup butter, softened 
1/2 cup of Italian cheese (you could use mozzarella, parmesean, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. Take the Italian loaf and cut in half lengthwise.

3. Take the butter, cheese, garlic powder, and parsley and combine with fork. 

Seriously, yum.

4. Essentially "divide" the mixture into thirds. Take 1/3 of the mixture and slather it on one inside. Take another 1/3 of the mixture and slather it on the other inside. Place the two pieces back together, cut sides facing each other. Take the remaining 1/3 and slather it on top of the loaf. 

*I was going to freeze half my loaf, so I cut the full length of the loaf in half prior to the next step.*

5. Take the loaf and cut the loaf into slices. Do not cut all the way through the bread (this allows the bread loaf to remain virtually in tact, but the pre-cut slices make it nice once the loaf is out of the oven). 

6. Make a foil boat that surrounds the side of the loaf of bread, and place on a cooking sheet. 

7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. The top browns, and the cheese/butter/garlic mixtures bakes into the bread. 

This was so good! And took no time at all. 

I did freeze half the bread, as we are just a two person household and I want to maximize whatever we make into lasting. The half of the bread I wanted to freeze I didn't bake. Instead, after cutting the slices I set the half of the loaf on a plate and stuck it in my freezer for a couple hours. This allowed the butter/cheese/garlic mixture to harden. I then wrapped it in foil and placed it in a freezer bag.

If you decide to freeze some of your loaf, or make some to stash away, just thaw the loaf for 4 hours before following the heating instructions above. 

After baking the loaf, I promptly ate a slice. Or three. I'm anxiously anticipating breaking open the half in the freezer soon enough. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

diy spring canvas art

I think spring has sprung. 

More like summer, with these mid-80's temperatures, but I've definitely been ready to decorate with fresh colors for spring. I already made a gorgeous diy spring banner made of scrap fabric that is hanging beautifully over my craft table and I've decorated two small trees with glittered Easter egg ornaments. I needed something more. 

I think I found what I was looking for. Art doesn't have to be hard or expensive. I had bought a 2-pack of 8x10 canvases from Hobby Lobby for $3.99 (likely less with a 40% off coupon) and they were sitting around, waiting for me. 

I searched out ideas that were spring related, and saw many cute ones:

These were both lovely. I had originally seen a canvas featuring an Easter egg made out of buttons that I love (of course I can't find it now). 

I had so many ideas, I didn't know what I wanted. So I dug in my paints to see what spring like colors I had, and picked a green, yellow, and light aqua blue (ignore the ribbon bow--it was going to be incorporated until I decided not to).

I <3 Martha.

This is what I ended up with.

I used a round sponge that came in a basic brush kit to paint the yellow acrylic paint to cover the canvas. I love the texture that came from it. (Seriously, it's amazing.)

I covered the border in the same way with a sponge in the light aqua blue. 

I figured I wanted some text, but didn't know what. "Hello spring" is something I was thinking at the moment, and it stuck. It happened to be short enough letter/word wise that it fit, so I dug out stamps I already had and stamped "hello spring" in green.

And then this magical beauty came to be:

Who knew you could love a little detail so much? The stamp set I was using had flower stamps, and I found one small enough that would work over the "i". I used a beautiful coral color and added an aqua blue rhinestone for the center. 

Love those colors! I was going to add ribbon, or something else, as I wasn't sure if it felt done. After a night to think about it and a chat with my sister, I discovered it was perfect for me. It now it sitting nestled between a couple bronze candle holders on top of a shelf.  

I think I'm in love. With spring. And with my newest spring artwork addition. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

roasted garlic twice baked potatoes

I never had these growing up, but discovered them through recipe searching about a year ago. Needless to say, they have become a favorite.

The recipe is basic, but they are divine. I made a huge batch this past Sunday, enough so we could heat them up for dinners throughout the busy week and even some to freeze for upcoming meals.

Here's the recipe:

Roasted Garlic Twice Baked Potatoes

What You Need:
8 russet potatoes (or other baking potato)
3 cloves of garlic
splash of olive oil
1 cup butter
1 cup bacon
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
black pepper, to taste
shredded cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)

1. Wash your potatoes and give them a good scrub. Poke a few holes in the potatoes before placing them on a cookie sheet so they are ready to go in the oven. If you decide to do the roasted garlic (and I totally recommend that you do) put your whole cloves  with a splash of olive oil on top in tin foil. Close the foil loosely on top, and place the garlic on sheet as well. Put the potatoes and garlic into a 400 degree F oven for one hour. 

2. The smell alone will make your belly rumble, and after and hour, take the potatoes and garlic out. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. 

3. Gather your ingredients to make the filling, and start filling up a bowl. Add the 1 cup butter, 1 cup bacon, and 1 cup sour cream. (See how easy the measurements are? Keep them similar, but adjust them to your own liking, or omit or add whatever ingredients you fancy.)

4. Open that tin foil and pull out the beautiful garlic. The garlic will squeeze so easily out of it's papery shells. Add those to the bowl as well. 

5. Step away from the filling momentarily and get back to those potatoes. Use a dish towel to hold them while you cut and scoop their insides out, as they will be very hot. You can cut the potatoes in two ways: either so you end up with 2 long pieces or 2 short pieces. I traditionally have cut them as they appear on the left (which would be perfect for a party I think), but I decided to give the other way a go too. Make sure once you cut each potato in half to cut the "bottoms" off each piece so they can stand and not wobble over once you fill them up. 

6. Once cut, use a spoon to scoop out all the insides (and add them to your bowl of ingredients), leaving a structured enough shell to fill back up with potato goodness. 


7. Now add the 1/4 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt, black pepper to taste, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I used a potato masher this time to combine all the ingredients, but I've also used a hand mixer. Figure what consistency you're going for and run with it. If needed, add a bit of milk to get the right mashed potato consistency. 

8. Once the concoction is all combined, fill your potatoes back up. Mine them to overflow a bit, but that is how I think they should be. I end up using all the shells and all the filling (minus one or two big bites along the way...), but if you don't, no big deal. I placed my potatoes on the same cookie sheet and topped with with a little amount of cheese. This is necessary in my book, but can be skipped. Place them in your 350 degree F oven for approximately 30 minutes. 

The will smell divine, and you will want to eat them right away. At least I did. And with a small dollop of sour cream.

You can't say no to that, can you?

Now I ate some right away, put about half into the fridge for this upcoming week, and half in the freezer for upcoming meals.

To freeze:

I went ahead and cooked them all the way. I pulled the amount of potatoes I wanted to freeze and placed them on plates that I shoved into my freezer. Forget about the potatoes for a couple of hours in order for them to really firm up. After a couple of hours, I took them out and placed them into a resealable ziploc freezer bag.

To reheat: 

Take out the amount of potatoes you want when necessary, and bake them in a 350 degree F oven for approximately 45 minutes, or when the tops begin to get a bit gooey and cheesy again.

I can't wait to enjoy these for awhile, and I think I'm going to have one right now. 

I don't mind that it's not even 11 a.m. yet. They are just that good.