4/9/21

Making Hard Cards

My stash of cards is dwindling, so it's time for me to replenish. I started with the Hard Cards (sympathy and other cards for not-happy occasions) since they are my least favorite to make. I used this simple design by Susan Opal to create these:

Sorry for Your Loss / Sympathy (affiliate link here and below)

For each card, I chose two coordinating papers and adhered them to a card base. I stamped sentiments from this Hero Arts set onto scraps using black ink, then added clear embossing powder and used my beloved heat gun to set it. I'm pleased with how they turned out and love how this easy design translates so well for sympathy cards.
Next time, cards for happier occasions!

4/8/21

Homemade Wonton Soup

Our family loves wonton soup. By doing some of the prep ahead of time, the soup can be on the table in under 15 minutes, making it perfect for a weeknight meal. 


Steve got me this set of melamine take-out boxes for my birthday and I'm in love. They're so cute and the perfect size for a serving of soup. I already had the spoons (affiliate link). 

So what's the secret to homemade wonton soup on the dinner table in minutes? Making a huge batch of wontons ahead of time and freezing them. 


Then all I have to do is heat up some broth, add plenty of ginger and whatever veggies I have on hand, and then drop the frozen wontons into the boiling broth. In minutes, dinner is on the table.   

You can put pretty much anything you want into your wontons. Start with a ground meat, then add shredded veggies, some aromatics, and a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. I usually wing it, but for posterity's sake I actually measured this time so I could record what I used. 

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Beef Wontons


                                       8 oz. ground beef                                             1 T. ginger, minced
                                       1/2 c. shredded carrots                                   1 T. soy sauce
                                       1/4 c. shredded cauliflower                           1 tsp. sesame oil
                                       2 cloves garlic, minced                                    square wonton wrappers
 

Brown ground beef in a large frying pan. Transfer the cooked beef to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat behind. Saute the carrots and cauliflower in the pan until just tender. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Return the beef to the pan, then stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Remove from heat. 


Create a comfortable station for filling the wontons (it will take awhile!). You'll need a small dish with water and a cookie sheet to put the filled wontons. 

Put a wonton wrapper into one hand and use the other hand to spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of filling into the center. Do not overfill!


Dip a finger into the bowl of water and use it to moisten along two of the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper diagonally so that the moistened sides line up with the dry sides. Press the air out around the filling as you fold, then pinch all along the edges to seal. 

Set the filled wonton on the cookie sheet. Continue, placing each wonton onto the cookie sheet, making sure they don't touch. When the tray is full, cover the wontons with plastic wrap and put it into the freezer. When the wontons are completely frozen, after approximately one hour, transfer them to a ziplock bag and return them to the freezer. 

4/7/21

A Look at the White House China Collections

I've been reading a lot of books about the White House recently. I've always been an avid reader, and before the pandemic I went to the library at least twice a month to load up on a stack of books. When the library closed, I switched to using the library's eBook service, which recommended J.B.West's Upstairs at the White House after I indicated that I'm a fan of memoirs. (Affiliate link here and throughout the post). When I finished West's book and rated it highly, Hoopla recommended more behind-the-scenes at the White House books. I've now read and enjoyed Alonzo Fields' My 21 Years in the White House, Henrietta Nesbitt's White House Diary, as well as Kate Andersen Brower's The Residence. I also read one book that I particularly enjoyed despite it being intended for kids: Joe Rhatigan's White House Kids

One of my favorite things about reading digital books is that I can quickly and easily look something up as I'm reading. Of course, "quickly" looking up one fact often turns into an hours-long descent into a fascinating topic. Thus, I ended up spending a lot of time researching the White House china collections. Among other things, I learned the Trumps did not design a signature china collection, a tradition followed by almost every previous president. If you are interested in learning about the White House china, this timeline is very interesting, and I recommend giving it a look. 

While I can say with near 100% certainty that I will never be asked to design a set of presidential china, it's still fun to think about what the deRosier pattern would be. Simple, clean, and elegant, for sure. Pure white, not ivory. Perfectly round, not scalloped. Beyond that, I'm not sure. 

I couldn't find images of all the presidential china collections in the public domain, but I did find one for my very favorite set, the GW Bush collection. It's elegant and interesting without being too busy. 


There is a better photograph of it, and of many of the other presidential china collections, in this Architectural Digest article. My second favorite, the Reagan setting, shares a similar interesting diamond pattern around the edge. Clearly, the deRosier setting should be inspired by this element!

There are plenty of other sets I like, particularly those of Wilson and Truman. However, having not been in the White House to see how the china looks with the architecture and furnishings, there might be others I love more for the specific location. What are your favorites? Tell me in the comments!

4/6/21

S'mores Campfire Treat Centerpiece

Out of the 2600+ blog posts I've written, my one about the World's Best Classroom Birthday Treat remains my most popular of all time. Today's project uses the same "recipe" to fill this cute campfire treat centerpiece. Affiliate links below. 

 

S'mores Campfire Treat Centerpiece


Materials:


Steps: 


Cut 7 teardrop shapes of various sizes from the yellow cardstock to make the flames of the campfire. Shade the edges with orange color pencil. 

Cut 5 cylinders from brown cardstock. Use a dark brown color pencil to draw concentric circles on the ends to mimic the cut ends of logs. Draw knots and bark lines randomly along the length of the cylinders. Switch to a brownish-red pencil and draw more bark lines, then again with light brown. 

Glue the logs together with craft glue, then add flames behind them. Use the tape runner to apply adhesive to the bottom of the display case, then press the campfire against it. 

Add spots of adhesive to the top of the display case. Pull bits of cotton from a cotton ball, separating them until they are whispy. Stick the cotton to the adhesive to mimic the look of smoke. Continue until the top is mostly covered. In this picture, you can see that I've covered the top already and have a large pile of cotton left over. All of that is from a single cotton ball. 


Prepare the s'mores trail mix


Fill the display case with trail mix. Sprinkle additional trail mix on the clean tables around the display cases so that hungry guests don't destroy your centerpieces.  


This would be a really fun activity for a Cub Scout Blue & Gold or other Scouting event, as well as for a camping-themed birthday party.

4/5/21

Summer of Rock

There are some benefits to staying home for a year (and counting!). All that time we'd ordinarily have been traveling, seeing friends and family, and otherwise leaving the house could instead be put into doing things around the house. One of those was making improvements to our front yard. 

Summer of Rock (affiliate link)
The whole thing was our neighbor Curt's idea. He wanted us to replace the grass strips by the sidewalk with rock. Then he decided we should replace the lawn, fix the patio, and add rock and mulch. Curt made all the plans and we helped him execute them. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

Huge thanks to Curt. Good neighbors are the best.