Rainbow Chevron Fan Makeover

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I’ve been wanting to do this project for a while. It’s seriously been on my to do list ever since I saw this on Pinterest. My daughter LOVES rainbow though, so I had to do it a little different. I posted some photos of this on Facebook and got a huge response, so I’m sharing all the details with you today!

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There are a few different ways you could do this. Washi tape (never tried it, but I bet you could make it work!), vinyl decals, paint (you would need to cut out a stencil or use painters tape to section it off, or I suppose you could just free hand it if you’re really brave!), or scrapbook paper and Mod Podge, like I did.

I cut out my design using my Silhouette Cameo (here is the free file if you’re at all interested! Just adjust how many rows of chevron you need, which will be how many blades your fan has, and cut the design out of each color. I was able to fit 4 sets of 4 on my page to cut, and just placed 4 colors of paper onto my mat.)

If you’re using paint, you can cut your design out of vinyl, contact paper, or cardstock, and use the design as  stencil.

If you’re using vinyl, just cut your design out of vinyl and apply it. If I had all the colors I needed, I would have gone the vinyl route!

I decided to use scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. I didn’t want the hassle and mess of the paint. It turned out a little bit iffy (I didn’t use enough Mod Podge for adhesive and ended up with bubbles and wrinkles), but over all, I think it looks awesome!

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Start out with a clean surface. Emma’s fan was a fake and faded laminate wood, so I painted it white. All I had to do was disassemble the fan (thanks to my hubby!), sand it (which was a breeze with his electric sander), wipe it clean, and spray paint it. If you’re not painting, I would suggest wiping down the blades really well using windex and paper towel.

Cut your design out of scrapbook paper using your Silhouette.

Brush an even but thin layer of Mod Podge over the back of the scrapbook paper, coating it thoroughly. Place it where you want it on the fan blade (I measured to make sure it would be even, and lined my blades up so I could ensure they would all be exactly the same.) As I found, if you don’t cover it entirely, you get bubbles and wrinkles. It’s been a long time since I’ve broken out the Mod Podge, clearly my skills need a little polishing! Let it dry entirely (if you don’t, you will end up with even more wrinkles).

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Once the Mod Podge is dry, you need to cut off the excess. I purposely made my chevron pattern a little longer to ensure my stripes were wide enough. To cut off the extra, take a nail file and file the edge. This will cut it off perfectly, leaving you with a smooth edge.

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Once it’s dry, brush a nice even layer of Mod Podge on top of the scrapbook paper. This will seal the scrapbook paper in and prevent peeling.

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Reassemble, and admire your work. This project didn’t take long at all (why did I put it off so long?!). I started it in the evening one day, and had it finished the following morning (working on it off and on because of drying times). It was really easy, and it seriously brightened up her room! I can’t wait to get a little bit more rainbow decor for her bedroom! I hope you liked my tutorial, feel free to share it (with credit given in link form) or pin to Pinterest!

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The proper way to soften butter (and avoid melting inside!)

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Most people have no idea how to soften butter. Just pop it in the microwave until it’s partially melted, right?

In baking class, I learned the proper way to soften butter. It’s easy, and takes barely any more time than just popping it in the microwave.

Take your butter and set it in the outer edge of the plate in your microwave. If you’re doing multiple sticks, just line them around the outside. Set it to 20 seconds. After 5 seconds, pause it and open to rotate your butter. To rotate, just roll it inward. Always turn it inward, that way you always turn it to a new side. This is also the reason why you put the butter in the outer edge of the plate, so that you know which way to turn it.

Repeat this process, stopping every 5 seconds, until the full 20 seconds is up. If you’re softening multiple sticks at a time, it may take more time.

And look! No melted center! Just perfectly softened butter.

Itty Bitty Cake Pops (Tips and tricks for making cake pops)

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(Forgive me for this incredibly long post, but it’s got everything you need to know about making cake pops! The idea for the mini cake pops was taken from here.)

I’ve never known what the big deal is about cake pops. They seemed pretty unappetizing to me. Cake, with no frosting? That just doesn’t sound good! That was, until I actually made them.

There are 2 kinds of cake pops. There are the kind that you mix and roll, and the kind that you bake in a pan. The cake pop pan was invented in an attempt to make it easier for people to make cake pops. All you have to do is pour in the batter and bake it. Easy, right? Unfortunately, these don’t taste too good. There is a reason that cake has icing. Cake by itself isn’t all that great. Everyone likes the icing! And the white chocolate coating is not enough to make up for the lack of icing.

When the cake pop trend started, I didn’t hop on. It has been trending for a long time, and this is the first I’ve started making them. They looked tedious, like they wouldn’t even taste good, and I just wasn’t up for it. I was so wrong!

Cake pops are delicious. To make them, you actually mix the icing into the baked cake. You don’t use much icing, so it’s not overly sweet or dense. When you mix it together, it creates this delicious moist dough. It’s exactly like cookie dough. Okay, it doesn’t taste like cookie dough, but consistency is just like cookie dough. The taste is amazing. It goes from being a baked cake, to being like a cake batter fudge. I don’t even know how to explain it. Like cake batter in a more solid form. Soft, sweet, creamy.

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I started making cake pops at work. It was my first time, and it took a little trial and error to get it all figured out. So far I’ve made them a number of times, and a number of ways, and I’ve worked some of the kinks out. So now I’m here to share it all with you.

Prepare all of your ingredients. Make sure you have a large sheet pan lined with wax paper to store the cake pops on before dipping, and a large piece of foam to stick the cake pop sticks into once they’re dipped. Set out your cake, chocolate or coating, the proper bowls you’ll need, and sprinkles or decorations.

Making the cake pops:

You can make cake pops out of lots of things. You can use any flavor of cake. Chocolate, white, strawberry, lemon, funfetti. (For funfetti, use white cake, and add rainbow jimmies in the last part of mixing. If you use fiunfetti cake mix, it will turn into a brown blob when you mix it. Don’t use nonpareils, because the color bleeds and mixes with the dough). You can also used cooked brownies to make cake pops! Just make sure they’re a good moist brownie (not too much crust).

Start with your baked cake. You don’t need much. Whenever I bake a cake and need to cut any excess off, I put it in a ziplock and throw it in the freezer. I also do this with cakes that get botched (like if I forget to add an ingredient, and it’s not cake worthy, but will taste perfect find mushed up.) You can do the same with extra cupcakes, too. The reason it’s convenient to do it this way is because you don’t need much cake to make cake pops. If you bake an entire cake recipe, you’ll end up with a TON of cake pops (especially if you’re making them itty bitty!). It also makes it easier to make just a few cake pops if you’ve got a craving!

Throw your baked cake into a stand mixer and turn it on low. Mix it until it turns into crumbs.

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Add about a tablespoon of icing. I used this buttercream recipe, but you can also use canned if you aren’t up for making it (though it’s incredibly easy and only takes a minute!). Once you’ve added your icing, mix the cake and icing until it forms a dough. If it doesn’t form a dough within about 2 minutes of mixing, add another tablespoon or two of icing. Your dough should look like this when it’s the right consistency.

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Roll your dough into balls. It’s really up to you how large to make them. Plan it out according to your cake pop sticks! If you’re making them itty bitty, use tooth picks, and make the cake pops about 1-1.5 teaspoons. If you’re using cake pop sticks, make them about a 3-4 tablespoons.

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Dipping:

Once you’ve got them all rolled out, prep your coating. You can use coating chocolate (the most preferred because it’s easy to work with and doesn’t bloom as easily), real chocolate, or white chocolate. My favorite to use is white chocolate because the taste of it goes the best with the cake. The real chocolate tastes pretty good with chocolate cake pops or brownie cake pops, but blooms much easier than white chocolate. (Blooming of chocolate is when it’s improperly heated, and the cocoa butter separates from the rest of the chocolate. You get a gross white film on the chocolate and it loses it’s good texture. It can be revived by re-melting it the proper way).

If you’re using white chocolate, you can thin it down by adding vegetable oil to it. White chocolate is NOT the same as dark chocolate, and adding cream to it makes it seize (guess how many times I did that before I learned a lesson!). To thin out your white chocolate, add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil at a time until it’s thinner. I found that a couple teaspoons worked well, and didn’t mess with the ability to harden. If you don’t thin out your white chocolate, it will create a thicker coating and be a little bit more difficult to work with. It will all depend on your brand of chocolate though.

Dip your toothpick or cake pop stick into the chocolate and stick it into the cake ball. You only want to stick it in about 3/4 of the way. If you stick it in all the way, it will split the cake pop right down the center, and it will be more likely to break in half or fall down the stick. If you don’t stick it in far enough, it will fall right off the stick during dipping. You want the chocolate to ooze out the bottom when you stick it in. The reason for this is to create a little shelf for the cake pop to sit on. Once you dip it, it will form a nice little coat around the cake and keep it in place.

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For larger cake pops, you can dip them as soon as the chocolate is dry. To dip, make sure you have plenty of chocolate, dip the cake pop about halfway in, and use a spoon to coat the rest of it. Pull it out and tap it on the side until the excess has dripped off. Be gentle, so you don’t break the cake pop. Stick the dipped cake pop upright into a large piece of foam to dry.

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If your cake pops have problems staying on the stick during dipping, put it in the freezer to firm up and try dipping again.

For mini cake pops, I found that the only way to make it work is to freeze them. If you’re making the mini cake pops for children, make sure you break off the sharp tip of the tooth pick so that they don’t hurt themselves while eating it. Dip the tooth pick in chocolate, and stick it 3/4 of the way into the mini cake pop. Once you’ve done this with all of them, put them in the freezer for about 30-60 minutes. This will make them firm enough for dipping. Having frozen cake pops also quickens the drying time. If you’re doing a large amount of cake pops at a time, you may need to stick them back in the freezer, because they will defrost while sitting out. Follow the dipping process referred to above.

If you’re using sprinkles, make sure to sprinkle them before the chocolate dries on the cake pops. With frozen cake pops, the drying time is much shorter, so do it immediately.

Decorate as you please. You can do so many cute things with cake pops! Bakerella is my favorite place for cake pop ideas, she has done so many cute things!

IMG_0635F IMG_0623FThis time, I made a cute little picture out of my cake pops. My little girl is turning 4! I made these as a practice for her birthday.

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If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments. I will answer what questions I can, and update my post accordingly.

Homemade (Edible) finger paints

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When I originally found this recipe, I thought it sounded interesting to try, but figured it wasn’t a big deal if it was edible. I kind of thought my 2 year old and 4 year old were a little old for eating paint. Weeeellllll, the very first thing Charlie did with the finger paints was taste test. I guess I was wrong!

The recipe came from this blog.

What You’ll Need:
1/2 cup Cornstarch
2 cups cool water
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar

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Mix all of your ingredients and heat them on medium heat on the stove. Stir often (and constantly once it starts to get hot) until the mixture thickens. Once it’s thickened, remove from heat. You can put it in an ice water bath (I just filled my sink with a few inches of cold water and placed the pot in there to cool). Once it’s cooled, divide into separate dishes (baby food jars work great for this!) and add food color. Mix thoroughly.

I made a 1.5 batch of this, and it was enough for 8 of the 4 ounce jars filled about 3/4 of the way full.

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Strawberry Raspberry Bellini

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Summer is almost here, and the hot weather is upon us. What better way to end your day than a frozen cocktail?

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What You’ll Need:
1 cup Frozen fruit (or fresh fruit and ice)
1 cup Wine (I preferred to use the White Zinfandel I had on hand)
Sugar or simple syrup to taste (optional)

Just add the ingredients to your blender, and blend for 1-2 minutes. Pour into a cup, prop your feet up, and enjoy.

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For this recipe, I used frozen strawberries and raspberries. It gave the drink the most amazing red color. Not only was is delicious, it was gorgeous to look at as well! For frozen drinks, I always use frozen fruit rather than ice, because it retains it’s flavor much better and doesn’t get watered down as it melts. It also gives the drink a better texture (sometimes you get a chunky ice texture if the drink isn’t blended properly).

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How to soften Brown Sugar

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Last year I made a post about keeping brown sugar soft. I had found a tip online about putting marshmallows in with your brown sugar to keep it soft, so I tried it, and it WORKED! So far I’ve not had a problem with my brown sugar drying out. But what happens when your brown sugar is already dried out? Not just a little dry, but hard as a rock? Maybe you bought too much and didn’t use it quickly enough, or else you left it open in the cupboard. Brown sugar is very finicky and it doesn’t take much to dry out. Once it’s hard, it’s impossible to properly measure, it ruins recipes, and most people just throw it out. So I’m going to tell you how to fix it!

I recently came across a package of brown sugar at work that was hard as a rock. I literally had to chisel at it just to get it out. After some googling, I finally found a solution that works.

Take a couple sheets of paper towel. Wet with water, and wring it out. Lay the moist paper on top of the brown sugar and seal the container shut. Leave it for 12 hours. Come back and check it. I’ve done this a few times now and it has worked every time! There was one time that I came back to find that the paper towel was completely dry. All you need to do it rewet it and seal it again, and let it sit for another 12-24 hours.

Once you’ve sufficiently softened the brown sugar, you can either break it up with a spoon or fork, or stick it in your stand mixer.

And don’t be alarmed by what the sugar looks like when you first open it! When you use the wet paper towel method, the sugar closest to the towel gets very moist and the molasses will leach out of it, leaving it looking slightly soggy and white. Just mix it up well and it will look much better! Now that your brown sugar is soft again, throw a couple regular sized marshmallows in the container to keep it soft.

Spring has sprung!

Spring is FINALLY here!

Winter seemed to drag on and on this year. Normally we have a few odd warm days in late winter, but this year it didn’t happen. In fact, we had some really weird weather here in Michigan. We had a warm 70 degree day in May. And the next day it snowed. A few days later, another 70 degree day, and then snow the next day. I am SO happy that we’re on to 70 degree days every day! Here are some of my favorite parts of spring and summertime.

Watching the storms roll in. I LOVE a good thunderstorm!

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Cutting into the first watermelon!

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Some iced coffee.

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Bon fires and roasted marshmallows.

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Popsicles (You will be seeing many popsicle recipes from me this summer!)

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Picnics outside.

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It turns out we’ve got a few gorgeous shade trees to picnic under!

I’m so excited for summer this year! We have a gorgeous yard, and for the first time, central air! I will no longer fear the 100 degree days. I will have a refuge from the heat! We can play outside in the water and then come in to cool down. It will be heavenly!

Cold Brewed Coffee (and my favorite low carb way to drink it)

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Spring is finally here, along with warm weather. What better way to kick it off than some cold brewed coffee!

For this you’ll need:

Coffee grounds
Room temperature water
Large bowl or tub with lid
A fine mesh strainer (though I’ve found a regular colander will work, but takes more time to drain)
Cheesecloth or paper towel

The ratio that I grabbed from the Pioneer Woman’s website is 1 pound of coffee per 8 quarts of water. If you cut it down, that’s 2 oz. of coffee per 1 qt (about 1/4 cup measured, to 4 cups water), or if you just want to try a small amount, you can cut it down even more, about a tablespoon of coffee to 1 cup of water.

(ETA: I rarely measure when I make my cold brew. This last time I did measure, and I used the recipe listed above, and it was incredibly weak! I like my coffee good and strong. Cut the amount of water in half, and it will be more of a coffee concentrate. If it turns out to be too strong, you can add water to it(or just let the ice melt away in it). Personally, I like it strong and sweet. But beware, it’s like cocaine!)

Cold brewing takes a bit longer than traditional brewing, but in the long run, it saves time. You need to prepare it ahead of time (it takes a good 8-12 hours to sit), but if you make a large batch, it’s always ready (which means no more waiting on the coffee pot!) I usually start a batch in the afternoon, and strain in the following morning.

Start with a good strong coffee. I like to pack a lot of punch, so I use this espresso blend. So far it has served me well. It has a nice taste to it, lots of caffeine, and because it’s cold brewed, no bitter taste.

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Measure out your coffee grounds in a nice large tub or bowl. Make sure it can easily be covered, you don’t want flies getting into your coffee! Add your water, and mix.

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This will make your kitchen smell HEAVENLY. You know that coffee aisle smell? That. Not the somewhat skunky smell of coffee when it brews, but the delicious smell of fresh ground coffee. And if you use a flavored blend (like the Starbucks Caramel coffee, another highly recommended one!), it smells even better.

Now cover it tightly and let it sit. It really only needs to sit for about 8 hours or so, but I’ve let mine sit as long as 24 hours, and it only makes it absorb the flavor better.

This is what it should look like once it’s been sitting a while.

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Once it’s time to strain, you’ll need to find your strainer and another large bowl or tub.

Line your strainer with paper towel or cheese cloth. If you’re using paper towel, I suggest double layering it.

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Pour your coffee through your strainer and let it drain into the bowl. The paper towels should catch most of the coffee grounds.

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I always strain mine twice, because there’s always those pesky grounds that fall through. This is what it looked like after a second strain of my batch.

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See? No one wants that in their coffee.

Once it’s been strained, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. I just use a large tub with a lid on it. You can normally find them in the tupperware aisle at the store. The one that the Pioneer Woman has is gorgeous. It’s huge, and has a spout on it for easy pouring.

Now, you can prepare your cold brewed coffee any way you like. You can add some ice, caramel, and cream and blend it in a blender to make a frappe, or just drink it on ice with cream.

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My favorite way is cream and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. The almond milk gives it just a tad bit of sweetness (and the unsweetened vanilla almond milk is very low carb). The cream adds just a little bit of creaminess to it. If I’m really in the mood for something sweeter (like later in the day), I’ll add some sugar free vanilla or caramel creamer. YUM!

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Look at all those gorgeous creaminess.

There are SO many ways to enjoy your cold brewed coffee. Give it to a coffee lover as a gift, blend it up with some ice and cream, drink it straight, or use it in a recipe. It is ALWAYS good.

Under Construction

My blog is currently under construction. I recently decided to set it up more like a webpage than a blog, and moving all of my content around is taking a great deal of time. With work, kids, and other obligations, it’s taking me a while to get it all sorted out. Most of the tabs at the top will not be working until I’m done. If you need to find a post, either type it into the search box to your right, or browse the categories (drop down box on the right sidebar). Thanks for being patient! I will have lots of good posts to make once this is all over with!