Last minute ideas for St. Patrick’s Day

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last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com

pull out all your sprinkles!

It’s almost Spring!!  Pull out some rainbows and bright green clover!  Here are a few last minute ideas to do today.  As I’m working on these photos, I’m listening to a dramatization of the life of St. Patrick here (link only good for this week! Or you can buy the 2 episodes about St. Patrick here, so worth it!)  Celebrating a man with a Heart Afire, a slave boy who changed an entire nation!

To do a bit of fun decorating/eating, I just pulled out some things I had around here, green jello, green tea, green towel, mixed up a batch of lemon buttermilk pound cake and tinted it green,  we’ll eat some “Irish” food, Irish soda bread and a few treats (chocolates!) while we listen to the story of St. Patrick.  Check out my other St. Paddy’s Day posts! ;)

last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com

make some green cake….

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I found a 5 leaf clover pressed in my cookbook yesterday!!!! funny….

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hang a green kitchen towel

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a green box of Belgian chocolates, available at Costco right now.

last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com

FAIR TRADE chocolates! yay Costco.

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whip up some green jello (jello fruit salad?)

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pull out the green scrapbook paper (mostly from Christmas), punch a few hearts and make them into shamrocks…

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brew some fruity minty flavored tea….

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how about some green tea iced tea? (add a few drops of green food coloring!) I think I’ll go for the mint….

last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com

some green lemon/lime pound cake….using my new mini bundts!

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gotta love that green cake batter!!

last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com -

green mini bundt cake molds

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green mini bundt cakes for St. Patrick’s Day, add a little rainbow and a chocolate coin!

last minute St. Paddy's day ideas by dennasideas.com -

quickly decorate the mini green bundt cake with some white candy melts, rainbow sprinkles and shamrock sprinkles (and a chocolate coin!)

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I love to look at another sign of spring, the kids’ snow pea seedlings!

So, here’s wishing the top o’ the morning to ya!  I’ll leave you with an old Irish blessing:  “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.  And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”

A Gingerbread House for Spring!

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A Gingerbread House for Spring!

Gingerbread in Spring?  Does that sound strange to you?  Oh, wait, it’s not even Spring yet.  For sure not around here, we are officially still in winter for awhile yet.  But it seems like February is when I usually do end up making gingerbread houses, for one reason or another.  This year I didn’t make one at Christmas time (happens more often than not).  So sometimes I think I need one for my birthday.  (oops, I just realized we’re in March, duh!!!)  This year I made and ate some Spring-like gingerbread in honor of my sister and nieces’ birthdays!!!  (and had a lot of fun doing it!)  But this house really looks like it would be cute for Easter (so that’s what I wrote the on the picture!)  Here’s what I did:

Made gingerbread dough.  Rolled out and cut out pattern.  For this house I quickly printed off a great free pattern to use by Tikkido.  Great for those times you don’t feel like coming up with a gingerbread house pattern of your own.  And it turns out really cute!Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 004The kids did some gingerbread cutting and building of their own…Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 003For a tiled roof, I pressed a pattern into the roof pieces before baking, and used a clean drinking straw to poke some holes in the roof.Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 002Two color Royal icing decorating before assembling….Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 001Assembled and then added fondant flowers, leaves and strawberries and a little girl out front in her garden.Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 005The roof idea was something new I saw on Pinterest, so my little house was inspired in part by the beautiful house I saw here.Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 006Just a tiny bit trickier than a regular roof, but I love how it turned out!Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 009Spring Gingerbread House by dennasideas.com - Page 008And now this little house is gone!  Tasted just as yummy as it looked!!  Maybe I should make another one for Easter….Easter Gingerbread House by dennasideas.comEaster Gingerbread House by dennasideas.comEaster is a great time for gingerbread!!!  (I think that could be a European thing?! anyone??)

Maple Leaf quilt block flag

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Maple Leaf quilt block flag

In honour of our National Flag Day here in Canada, and especially this year, which is the 50th anniversary of the flag, I made my own little quilty version.  And yes, I’m posting it a few days late!  It’s the thought that counts.  Besides, if you decide to make one, it will be great for Canada Day this summer.  Here are some stats that I found on the government website about our Canadian Heritage.  A brief history lesson (it’s good for me since I didn’t grow up in Canada):

According to many historians, the maple leaf began to serve as a Canadian symbol as early as 1700 when, before the coming of the first European settlers, Canada’s aboriginal peoples had discovered the food properties of maple sap, which they gathered every spring.   In August 1860, at a public meeting held in Toronto, the maple leaf was adopted as the national emblem of Canada for use in the decorations for the Prince of Wales’ visit.   In 1914, many Canadian soldiers wore the maple leaf on their military badges, and it was the dominant symbol used by many Canadian regiments serving in the Great World War I.  Red and white were approved as Canada’s official colours in the proclamation of the royal arms of Canada in 1921 by King George V.  In 1964, the Government made the creation of a distinctive Canadian flag a priority.  When Parliament could not reach agreement on the design, the task of finding a national flag was given to an all-party Parliamentary committee.  After considering thousands of proposals for flags submitted by Canadians, the committee chose three final designs.  It was the single leaf, red and white design that the Committee recommended to Parliament. The motion was passed to adopt this design as the National Flag of Canada with a vote of 163 to 78 on December 15, 1964.

On February 15, 1965 our national flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Canada was just two years away from centennial celebrations when the maple leaf flag was made official by Royal Proclamation. In 1996, February 15 was declared National Flag of Canada Day and has been observed every year since.  February 15, 2015, will mark the 50th anniversary of the National Flag of Canada.

We are a young country, but it still surprised me that our flag is so very young!  I’ll have to ask my Dad if he remembers when the flag was adopted! ;)

In order to celebrate, I searched around online to find a maple leaf quilt block that I could sew up with some cute red fabric my sister gave me.  I found that Anjeanette Klinder had posted a tutorial for a very lovely maple leaf block table runner.  Another cool thing was that her maple leaves were made from charm packs, love that idea, but I as yet have no charm packs!  Anyways, the all-red leaf was what I was going for, you know, for flag day.  So I followed her instructions…mostly.  I’m not so good at quilty math and stuff like that, so the middle point on my leaf didn’t turn out like hers, I kind of just eyeballed it instead of following her geometrical directions! :)  I have really been having fun piecing together quilt block designs.  Love the way squares sewn together become fairly easy points and triangles!  Here is a quick step-by-step of how the sewing up of the maple leaf happened (sew and flip):maple leaf quilt block flag by dennasideas.com - Page 001

Then after playing around with the outer edges of the block (should I keep it square?), my daughter liked the more traditional flag-shaped rectangle, so I went for this idea, appliqued a stem, and added jumbo rickrack to the sides (because jumbo rick rack is just so jumbo and awesome!):maple leaf quilt block flag by dennasideas.com - Page 004Quilting powers activate!!!  I’ve been practicing, and this was a great project to practice quilting on.  I don’t have a walking foot or darning foot, so no free-handed stuff!  It’s all start and stop and turn and start, so the straight sides of the leaf were good to practice echo quilting on.maple leaf quilt block flag by dennasideas.com - Page 005I did what Anjeanette suggested and added extra batting under the leaf.  Another close-up.  Hey, not perfect, but great practice, and I just LOVE THE RED AND WHITE!!!maple leaf quilt block flag by dennasideas.com - Page 006maple leaf quilt block flag by dennasideas.com - Page 002I added tabs so we could hang this little flag up on the wall, and there it hangs!  O Canada!  Happy Flag Day!

P.S.  I even used Canadian spelling for this patriotic post!  Did you notice?  (I usually spell American style)

my sewist journey: making a minky baby taggie and stuffed blocks

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my sewist journey: making a minky baby taggie and stuffed blocks

I used to make Barbie dresses by cutting out a circle of fabric, adding three holes in the middle, fitting it over the head and arms of the doll, adding a belt, and there you go!  A great Barbie dress.  And then came dresses with a few hand-stitches involved.  Eventually, my mom let me use her sewing machine to make a few things…but I don’t think that went very well.  Fast forward many many years, and I find myself knowing a lot about sewing, from pure osmosis, but not really being able to even thread a machine.  From hanging out with my Mom and her quilting magazines, I started to feel the urge to really sew, like a real sewist.  (haha, that is a word apparently)  Sew, with the help of my Mom and a friend, I have started on the sewist path in life.  I can now thread and re-bobbin my machine.  Next step in this new world: tools.  I was almost overly excited with this purchase (thanks to a Michael’s coupon).  You people rarely see me so excited, I can tell you.  Now to begin: I have a cutting mat, ruler and cutter, bring on some fabric!denna's ideas my new tool set

Sew, the other day I picked up a little kit for a ‘baby taggie blanket’ at a (insert heavenly music) quilting store and decided that I would make it for the next day’s baby shower.  First I needed to test my new rotary cutter….on something……here this will do….she doesn’t needs sleeves anyways…??????????????????????

The new kit was an assortment of cut ribbons, a small rectangle of flannel and a small rectangle of…..purple minky.  (Yes, that’s really a word, too)  At the last minute I decided maybe I should look up ‘tips for sewing with minky’ online.  Well, it turns out it’s a good idea to wash your fabrics before you use them…sewing with flannel and minky by dennasideas.comI read this after I had cut the flannel.  Instead of making just a little blanket, I thought how cool it would be if I could make some baby blocks to go along with it.  (I was feeling ambitious with my new tools!)  And so now I needed to wash the pieces.  I really didn’t think I could or should skip that step.  (Someone said that the minky is treated with sprays for bugs!)  I carefully threw them in the wash in those little mesh washing bags…..and came back to this:??????????????????????ugh.  Who knew flannel unravels so much!?  (Probably everyone but me).  I was able to salvage my pieces, and since there wasn’t an exact pattern for the taggie blanket, I just kept trimming.  This project had to keep going, no matter what.??????????????????????This was the piece for the stuffed blocks which I was going to make with scraps of flannel and minky.  *Maybe I should pause here and insert a little dictionary of terms, since they were fairly new to me and might be to you, too.  A “taggie” blanket is an extra small blanket for a baby to play with, rimmed with “tags” of ribbon.  Have you ever noticed how fond babies are of playing with and sucking on those little tags on the bums of stuffed animals?  Someone somewhere noticed and invented these cute, mother-sanctioned, play blankets.  Cool, eh?  And now about the Minky…..

As I was starting my project, it was immediately interrupted by supper.  While we were eating, I casually mentioned my new little project, and added offhandedly, “I had to wash my Minky” into one of those conversation lulls that sometimes happens. Talk about your supper conversation stopper.  After a long awkward pause, and a few ‘Mom-what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about-?’ glances, I explained that Minky is a fuzzy furry kind of fabric sometimes used to make quilts or backing quilts, and it may or may not have little bumps all over it.  Ahhhh!

I dare you to try that phrase out at your next supper party.  (You could practice it a few times out loud right now!)  It might get some interesting reactions, if you sup with non-sewers.??????????????????????Sew, I tried to make sure I figured this all out.  Right sides together, ribbons facing in, check.  It seemed like a bit of quilting should be added to keep the minky and flannel together and un-floppy.  Some notepaper as a quilting pattern seemed like a good idea.  Pin that slippery Minky down!??????????????????????Just sew over it….??????????????????????And easy as pie, tear away the paper…..or not……??????????????????????the stitches looked like they’d rip out, so I ended up using a seam-ripper (another cool tool) to perforate the paper and to c a r e f u l l y rip it out from around the stitches.  Waaay more work that I had originally bargained for.  Now for those exciting, 3D blocks!  The pattern in the magazine looked straight forward enough…??????????????????????Wow, I couldn’t believe it!  Matching up the dots and actually following instructions left me with an actual 3D block!! Oh wait, you have to turn it inside out???????????????????????Maybe leave that opening a bit bigger next time…..   And sew, 2 blocks were sewn and I felt very accomplished and proud.  Tada!  Here are the pics: baby taggies and blocks by dennasideas.com - Page 002 baby taggies and blocks by dennasideas.com - Page 001baby taggie and blocks by dennasideas.com - Page 003Found some fun baby sleepers to go with my sewing projects!baby taggies and blocks by dennasideas.com - Page 004The best part: finishing on time for the surprise baby shower!!  It’s nice to give something that has had a lot of my time, love, and work put into it.  I definitely learned a few lessons…..probably won’t be buying or washing Minky in the near future, will sew edges of flannel before washing, etc.  I figure every project will teach me something new.  Oh, wait, that sounds like school or something, yuck!  What I mean is that I plan to have fun making some awesome sewing projects in the near future, whether I learn something or not!

 

Simple Thanksgiving table setting

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It’s very hard for me to do anything simple and modern looking.  It just is.  I love to look at trendy simple things: clothes, home decor, scrapbooking pages, patterns….anything.  And I love it.  But when it comes right down to it, it’s impossible for me to duplicate that look in anything I touch.  It starts out simple, but very soon another element creeps in, an extra detail here or there, some brighter color sneaks in….and soon whatever I’m working on is full right up with all sorts of visual junk!  Yes, I am a messy person, and it usual shows up even in my “designing” (art, decorating, crafting,  junk making, whatever you want to call it).  It’s hard to stop myself.  I know, I know,  I’ve heard: Art is knowing when to stop.  And I agree.  And I guess that’s where the line between crafty and artist is drawn.  All this to say, I felt rather proud of myself for creating (in my mind) a simple modern-looking Thanksgiving table setting this year.  It was excruciatingly hard to hold back and not add more and more, but I forced myself and getting some new simple dishes from Ikea helped (and a time crunch helped, too).

Last year’s Thanksgiving table here was more like what I usually do.  This year I tried a new color scheme, and I must say I liked it.  I just loved the bright colors (that is normal for me) what wasn’t normal was the more simple decorations.simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 008A plain white cake stand, a dried gourd (from Guatemala), a couple of small pumpkins and pomegranates, a few candles, a bunch of purplish carnations and a few green flowers.  Yes, it did involve a shopping trip to IKEA for a few things: new blue dishes, a couple of blue candles, purple table runner, purple juice jug and purple serviettes.  I had lots of orange things already in my stash :)  simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 007No time for place-cards this year, just a few plain wooden leaves from Walmart.  I did print out some Thanksgiving things on kraft paper, but we didn’t really use them…..they were to make a thankful paper chain.  We were thankful without the craft.  The rest of the photos were taken under the dining room lighting so the color looks kind of weird….simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 006 simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 003I quickly crammed all the flowers into an orange bowl (and left the other non-color-coordinated flowers in the kitchen).simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 002simple but pretty, I thought.  And yes, that is an old fashioned jello mold!simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 004For that old fashioned, traditional touch.  I enjoyed it, even if few others did!  I had made one awhile ago, from an old recipe, then totally lost the recipe!!  So this was kinda made from my memory: grated carrot, crushed pineapple, orange gelatin (jello), and a cup of plain yogurt.  Does anyone have a recipe like that?  It would be nice to have the exact amounts!simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 001My daughter the turkey, I mean, my daughter cooked the turkey this year!  She did a good job, though we had a few nervous moments ;)

There was a kids’ table this year, with a few Snoopy treats…very simple (not like the other Peanuts kids’ table)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 016When the younger kids couldn’t take the wait for supper, we gave them a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal.  It’s what Charlie Brown and Snoopy served in the classic cartoon: buttered toast, pretzels, popcorn and jelly beans!  (It’s starting to be a tradition!)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 015Another food that is now a Thanksgiving tradition around here is Guatemalan enchiladas!  I think this was the day after Thanksgiving, though traditionally they are served on Nov. 1st in Guate.  (It was a short weekend with family, so we had to cram a lot of food into it)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 018 Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 017Mmmmm good!!  I’ll have to post the recipe someday…. :)   And so that was our little Canadian, American, Guatemalan Thanksgiving!!

 

Thanksgiving Cranberry snack food ideas

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Thanksgiving Cranberry snack food ideas

I’m afraid that when I was planning my little Thanksgiving snack table this year, I forgot that not everyone loves cranberries as much as I do.  Cranberries are just so “in” at this time of the year!!  My eyes were enticed by all the lovely-looking cranberry recipes online…their beautiful shape and color….and especially the ones robed in cheese!!!  I didn’t even think about people in this world who do not favor the red little things.Cranberry cheese dip: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comFresh cranberries were on my shopping list, and didn’t need no “checking twice!”  Cranberry cheese dip: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comThis baked cheese and cranberry dip was very easy and quite tasty.  Great for filling one of those hollowed out sourdough breads….Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comI used this recipe called Gooey White Cheddar and Cranberry Dip with only four ingredients: cream cheese, white cheddar, fresh cranberries and olive oil.  Of course I added in a bunch of freshly ground black pepper because that’s what we do at our house.  It was quite a mild tasting dip, but I really enjoyed it; the tart, hot cranberries were delish.

Then there was this spicy sounding recipe for Cranberry Salsa that just looked so gorgeous and used all of my favorite ingredients.  It is pictured in the orange bowl in the middle of the table above.  Now this recipe was interesting…..so easy to make.  But it was not a favorite with my bunch.  In fact, no one really liked it much….except me.  I ate it for days afterwards!  On and in everything.  Sometimes I’d be eating it and it just tasted like a regular tomato salsa, the cranberries didn’t stand out super much.  But other times I really got the cranberry flavor.  And it was sweet.  So sweet and spicy!!  I think I will totally make it again and eat it all, by myself if necessary!  Such a healthy salsa!  The main ingredients are fresh cranberries, cilantro, green onions, honey, cumin, lime juice and a jalapeño (I didn’t have a fresh one, so used some pickled ones. Careful, don’t make it too hot!)  You can click on the link above for the how to.cranberry punch by dennasideas.com -

I also made some hot pink cranberry punch with more fresh cranberries and juices (smells wonderful).  With all the cranberry going on, it was a good thing there were also a few non-cranberry foods on the snack table, like some cheeses, grapes, chips, Texas Trash and Turkey Cheese-ball for those non-fans of the tart berry!!
Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comIt was a fun Thanksgiving snack table to put together, though almost as much work as the main meal!  Oh well….. Thanksgiving snack table by dennasideas.com -Happy cranberries everyone!

Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese-ball and Texas Trash!

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Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese-ball and Texas Trash!

Gobble gobble!  That’s something you see written a lot at this time of year.  I would say “hear a lot this time of year” but honestly, it’s been years since I’ve heard a real turkey’s garbled yell.  Not something the next door neighbors keep in their yard.  Maybe your neighbors do…..?

I don’t love turkeys, but I do love cheese-balls!  And snacky foods.  And cheesy foods.  So I saw this baby on Pinterest and felt in my bones that I should copy it!  I followed the recipe from Homemade in the Heartland for this handsome gobbler, though I didn’t have all the decoration ingredients.  We ended up having a Thanksgiving snack table before the actual turkey dinner, and this gobbly guy fit right on it!Turkey cheeseball: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comInstead of starting life out as an egg, he started out as this (cream cheesy, oniony, pinappley goodness):Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comAnd then rolled around in this (pecans):Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comI found that after sitting around a while, the pecans started to soften up (especially the next day).  I think I would try and roll him in pecans at the very last minute before the party!  I used white chocolate chips for his eyes, glued him together with black candy melts.  His neck is a pepperoni stick and candy corn for beak and feet!Turkey Cheeseball: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comWith the extra red candy melt I made his “gobbler” and wrote….a little word….I was in a hurry, ok?!!  (and my brain has been turning to mush lately)Texas trash: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comTo go along with Mr. Gooble, I was all excited to try this traditional Texas snack mix!  (Texans, tell me the truth in the comments below:)  A delicious recipe for Texas Trash!  I found it on Little Magnolia Kitchen and just changed her recipe a bit to fit with what I could easily find.  The only Chex cereal I could find was Honey Chex  (see photo above)!!  And the nacho flavored Bugles.  I made up half the recipe, and could barely squeeze it into my pan.  Little Magnolia’s recommendation to use a large aluminum foil roaster is a good one….next time!  I didn’t have steak spice, so just kinda made my own with what I had.  So things were kinda different, but kinda……AWESOME!Texas Trash: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comIt turned out Y.U.M.M.Y!!  Definitely a hit!!!  I think it might go on our “traditional” list.  We thought of our Texan relatives while we ate it!! ;)  (Oops, should I have said that???)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comThere were some other new recipes that I tried out this year…..let me get it together and I’ll do another post…..