Sunday, October 28, 2012

Straight Leg to Skinny

I ordered these cords online at Ann Taylor.  First I accidentally ordered regular instead of petite.  Not only were they too long, but they didn't fit.  So, I exchanged them for petite.  The petites fit better, but they were kind of strangely shaped (the photo doesn't show how weird they actually looked on me).  I considered returning them, but I really liked the fit, fabric and color.

Changing the size of the leg on a pair of pants really only requires sewing one seam.  Most pants have a single seam on one side and a double seam on the other side.  On this pair, the single seam was on the outside so I took them in on the outside.  I turned the pants inside out and used a pair of skinny jeans that I like to mark my sewing line.

I took out the seam on the bottom of the pants (only near the new seam) so that I would be able to turn the hem back under after I sewed the new seam.  I sewed along my line and then sewed the hem back into place.

This only took a few minutes, and I'm really happy with the result!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Apple Cider Caramels

I stumbled upon these Apple Cider Caramels from Handle the Heat on Pinterest a few weeks ago when I made my Apple Cider Cupcakes .   I had leftover Apple Cider so I pinned the recipe, hoping that I would find time to make the caramels before the Apple Cider went out of date. 

My school was closed today for a hurricane day (which doesn't exactly make it feel like fall) so I decided to try the caramels (which did make my house smell like fall).

The recipe call for a candy thermometer, which I've learned can be pretty useful.  I took out my candy thermometer and it didn't work (my first thought was that it had something to do with the fact that I dropped in fudge last winter).  It turned out that the battery was dead, and we happened to have another one (surprising since it was a tiny size A13 battery and not a size that we would typically keep in the house).

Note:  The recipe says to heat the sugar and corn syrup to 234 degrees, which I did.  It also says to heat the final mixture to 250 degrees, but I couldn't get it that hot.  It was thickening up and making "caramel" on my spoon rest so I eventually just went with it.

My other issue was that I didn't have parchment paper so I used wax paper (I should have used aluminum foil as the recipe suggests).  The paper stuck to the caramels and I had to scrape it off before cutting them.  I haven't tried wrapping the pieces in wax paper as suggested yet.  I'm afraid that it will stick, but I do plan to try it. (Note:  I did end up wrapping the pieces in wax paper, and it worked very well!)

Apple Cider Caramels Recipe


2 cups apple cider
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed


In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cider to a simmer and heat until it is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 35 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Butter or spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl combine the heavy cream, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and reduced cider. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the sugar and corn syrup. Set over lower heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolved. Simmer the sugar mixture until a candy thermometer registers 234°F.

Remove mixture from heat, remove thermometer, and slowly and carefully whisk in the cream mixture (mixture may foam and splatter, you may want to wear oven mitts - you definitely want to wear oven mitts and add the mixture very slowly). Add the cubed butter and stir until the butter is melted and incorporated. Return the pan to the heat and cook over lower heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and sticky and the candy thermometer registers 250°F.

Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into the prepared pan (again, you may want to wear oven mitts). Let the mixture cool to room temperature or refrigerate until set. Once set, remove caramel from pan and cut into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting each end. Store caramels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Turtleneck to V-neck

Turtlenecks are one clothing item that I really dislike.  I'm sure they serve a purpose in cold weather, but cold weather is rare in South Florida. I purchased this one at Gap Outlet (even though I didn't like the fit or the fact that it's a turtleneck) because it was cheap and I really liked the color.  Since I don't have the opportunity to wear sweaters often, there's no reason to spend a lot of money on them.  I know I won't wear it with the turtleneck so I came up with the idea to turn it into a v-neck.  Remember, I'm relatively new at sewing (and completely self taught) so I'm sure that I don't really sew things the conventional way.  However, I think that this was a great idea (and it worked)!

Note:  The actual color is closer to the first photo - the lighting isn't correct in the ones below (I probably should have used the flash).

I began by using a v-neck sweater that I like to draw a pattern.  This helped but was not perfect because the neckline of the turtleneck was way bigger than the neckline of my favorite sweater.

I put a piece of paper inside my favorite sweater and traced a pattern.  I cut out the pattern and cut the turtleneck off of the sweater I was re-purposing, then used the pattern to cut the v in the new sweater.

I measured to make sure the v was centered and then cut it out.  As you can see, the neckline of my brown sweater was smaller so I had to make adjustments.  The neckline on the blue sweater ended up being a little bit bigger than I would have liked.  I used strips from the turtleneck to create the edging around the neck.

The first strip that I cut was perfect because it had the finished edge.  I used that piece for the front.  I cut the next piece twice as wide, folded it, ironed and sewed it so that it would also have a "finished" edge (I considered leaving the raw edge showing but didn't like the way that it looked).  To make the v in the front, I laid the two front pieces on top of each other and sewed them at an angle (the angle will depend on the angle of the v on your sweater).  I also sewed the pieces of the collar together, then sewed the collar onto the sweater.

It's not perfect, but there is a much greater chance that I will wear it now than before, that is, when it cools off a little.  I was sweating while trying to take photos of myself wearing the sweater (inside - with the AC on)!!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Door Hanging

On Sunday I challenged myself to create a fall door hanging using supplies that I already had.  I gave myself a time limit of about an hour, but this actually only took about 10 minutes.  I began by grabbing all of the "fall worthy" supplies that I could find.

I knew that I wanted to start with a burlap base, but I didn't quite know how I would create that base.  I began by cutting a strip of burlap that was about 4 inches wide.  I then rolled it into a tube and secured it with hot glue.  Once that was done, I kind of twisted, looped, tied and glued it(I know that makes no sense, check out the photo below).

I glued some small potpourri pumpkins, small pine cones and a fall leaf inside the loop.  Then I tied some ribbon around it, and I was done.  This was a very quick and easy project!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Roast Beef Au Jus

We've been really busy on weeknights lately, which means that I haven't had much time to cook.  Last week I decided to plan early so that we would have food for the rest of the week.  Gabe wanted Roast Beef with an Au Jus sauce.  I looked up some recipes but eventually decided to create my own version.

I served the beef with mashed potatoes and biscuits.  Gabe really liked it (I liked it too, but I was happy to have his approval).

Roast Beef
Sweet Onion
Garlic (two cloves)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Black Peppercorn
Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce

Slice sweet onion into rings and smash garlic cloves.  Place both in the slow cooker.  Add water, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix the spices (one to one ratio) and rub onto the beef.  Place the beef in the slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Cider Cupcakes

It's fall - though it's actually unrecognizable in South Florida!  It's 85 degrees outside rather than 95 degrees and most Floridians will accept that as reprieve.  Everyone is talking about Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and Apple Pie and decorating their homes with the colors of autumn leaves (though the autumn leaves, and winter leaves for that matter, are green here).  I decided to get in on "fall" by making Apple Cider Cupcakes!

These Apple Cider Cupcakes are filled with Apple Butter and frosted with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.  I thought the Apple Butter would be tough to find, but after I didn't find it at Publix, I decided to try Carmine's Gourmet Market (in Palm Beach Gardens, FL).  Carmine's was the right choice, they had several kinds of Apple Butter, and it was easy to find.

I had never made "filled" cupcakes and thought it might be tough, but it was actually pretty simple.  I used a round piping tip and a Ziploc Freezer Bag.  Stick the tip in the cupcake, squeeze and you're done (just be sure to stick the tip in the cupcake before squeezing).  I only put a little bit of Apple Butter in the cupcakes.  Of course you could choose to use more or less depending on your preference.

These cupcakes were frosted with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!

Recipe from Lehigh Valley Live


2 eggs, room temperature
1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup apple cider
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
apple butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar
10 tablespoon butter, divided
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 12 cupcake wells. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, then 1/2 of the cider, and repeat, ending with the last of the flour and mixing only until incorporated. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool thoroughly, inject with apple butter in the center of the cupcake, then frost.

Frosting Directions:
1. Melt brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat. Whisk in cream; blend well. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally. 2. Place remaining 6 tablespoons butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running, slowly pour in cooled brown sugar mixture; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition until completely smooth. Chill slightly for a firmer texture, stirring occasionally.

Happy Fall!