Bachelorette Party Cooking Demo

Bachelorette Party Cooking Demo

 

 

Hey everybody!   Last week I had an opportunity to conduct a cooking demo for a bachelorette party.  One of the ladies was kind enough to share some pictures with me so I thought I would post and share a little about the party. The class was conducted at Cook’s Corner in Green Bay.  We do similar parties in our or other folks’ homes.   One of the first discussions we have when talking about doing a demo or class is the theme.  Sushi, french cooking, soups, homemade pasta, farm-to-fork cooking are some if the ideas we have done.  Our direction today was Fancy Tailgating.  My first thought was to show how I build a cheese and vegetable platter and we did a cheese-prosciutto-crab stuffed mini sweet pepper!

 

 

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Here is the entire party including the Chef!  It was a really fun bunch….

 

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especially once we got some wine in those glasses!

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We talked about knife safety, cleaning and cutting vegetables, and working on balance of your presentation.

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We used broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, cucumber, honey mangoes, red grapes, fresh baguettes, oil and balsamic, goat cheese, sharp cheddar, parmesan, some mango chutney, and drunken apples and dried cranberries.

 

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We also played with some vegetable cutting tools.  A fun flower cutter and a carrot peeler that makes some great carrot ribbons that turn into flowers!

We don’t have a picture of the peppers but they were simple.  We cut some mini sweet peppers in half and cleaned them out.  Then blended cream cheese, cold pack cheddar, chopped prosciutto that had been sauteed with onion, garlic, and hazelnut liqueur, and imitation crab meat.  The result was a very smooth and tasty popper type creation without the jalapeno heat.

Thank you to all the women involved!  It was a ton of fun!

If you are interested in hosting a cooking class or demo, or require some catering/entertaining services please contact me at zen_of_cooking@yahoo.com.  Prices vary by service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hanging a Plate Collage or Can I Help You, Ma’am?

Hanging a Plate Collage or Can I Help You, Ma’am?

Hey everybody!  In an effort to do something about our sad, blue dining room wall, we decided to try a plate collage.  Amy has wanted to do one for awhile.  I love the idea, but it took me some time to get on board.  My concerns were in how to hang them while meeting three important criteria.  First, I want to know they will stay where we put them.  Secondly, we need to be sure the entire collage is balanced, centered, and visually appealing.  Finally, the previous criteria need to both be safe and inexpensive.

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After spending a fun day bouncing around town checking out antique stores, thrift shops, and our favorite resale stores we failed to find plates that fit our room design and/or our budget.  Amy couldn’t get the idea out of her head, though.  TJ Maxx was still open and she was determined to try one more place.  I held down the couch and watched a little Badger basketball.  A few minutes before store close, I received the above picture in a text.  Amy found the plates and was mocking up the layout on the floor of the store.  A few funny looks from salespeople and she was on her way home with the winners.

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Amy and I had researched how to hang these bad boys for quite some time.  The leading internet solutions include a couple commercial products (a sticky mat with a hanging loop on it or a device of rods and springs) and many home crafted ideas using an assortment of picture hangers, crazy glue, a glue gun, paper clips, and ofcourse, duct tape.  The commercial products carried a price tag of 4-10 dollars a piece resulting in at best,  doubling the price we paid for the plates.  Not to mention the mixed product reviews online.  Hot glue seemed to be the front runner in my mind, but I wanted something I trust more than a paperclip.  I remembered the speaker wire that I had been refusing to throw away for about 9 years and thought that would work brilliantly!  It is a thicker gauge than paperclips and the plastic covering would fuse well with the hot glue.

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I discovered through trial and error that the best way to apply the hot glue and wire was to lay a bead of hot glue on the plate and press the wire into it.  Use a disposable tool of some sort if you don’t have “chef finger tips”, that stuff gets hot!  Then another bead over the top.  We let the glue cure overnight just to be safe.  In the morning the glue had hardened and I knew it was going to hold.  There are a couple things to keep in mind as you start glueing your hangers.  First, cut each one 5-8 inches so plenty of wire is in the glue.  In addition, remember to check the orientation of the plates in relation to your hanger.  We don’t want upside down birds or something!  Finally, measure from the edge of the plate or the footing ring so all your hangers on matching plates are in the same place.  Oh, and make sure none of the hangers extend past the edge of the plate!

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While I was working on the hangers, Amy was tracing all the plates on paper, cutting them out and taping them to the wall.  This gave a starting point for figuring out where the nails and such should go.  Rather than a bunch of marks on the wall, you actually have a visual representation which is much easier to work with.

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We matched the layout on the table for additional guidance and specific plate placement.

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It then takes plenty of measuring and leveling to get all the pieces balanced and looking like it should.  I put the nails right through the paper and then removed the models and hung the plates.  A minimum amount of tweaking and it looked pretty fantastic.

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This why we are such a good team!  Amy has such an eye for design and creative ideas, and together we find a way to make it work.  Thanks for hanging out!

The Vanity for the Bathroom Remodel

We had been considering a bathroom remodel for awhile but were trying to hold off.  Then one day we woke up to water running through the walls into the rooms below, and our hand was forced.  Rather than spend just enough to bandage the problem, we opted to take the opportunity to remodel the room.  If you ever lived in a 100 year old home, you know this was just loosening the lid on the ol’ can of worms!   Each project lead to another problem solving adventure.  We took a fair amount of pictures and will walk you through the process beginning with the refinished dresser we used for a vanity!

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The picture above is the vanity we were replacing, obviously not the original piece.   As we searched for a new one it was quite important to us to keep some old character in this remodel.  We thought if we could find the right dresser, we could get an expensive looking piece on a  budget.  Amy found a long neck, brushed nickel finish faucet and really cool vessel-style sink.  On our journey for some old character to add, we found a dresser at a local antique shop what was the perfect fit, minus the mirror.

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We cut the mirror and top molding off for other projects.  Over a few days, I cleaned, sanded, and altered the piece.  The intention was to cut two holes in the top, one for the drain and one for the tap, but we needed room for the plumbing.  The small drawers and middle one were taken apart and permanently attached to the front, making room for the plumbing and suitable access when bottom drawer is removed.

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The finish was an oil based ebony stain.  I did 5 coats of stain and 5 coats of sealant, rubbing with steel wool between each application.

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I took on a great dark luster and looks so classy.  At an antique shop in Door County, we found small glass knobs that match the doorknobs all through the house.  The sink and faucet were attached and plumbing finished.  Put a couple screws in the back, anchoring it to the wall and caulked all the top joints.  Stay tuned for the rest of the bathroom remodel coming very soon.

Repurposed Ladder Shelves

Repurposed Ladder Shelves

 

With planting season coming up quickly, we thought we would share our plant stand project.   This is a great project that repurposes an old ladder making it a functional shelf.  We use ours to shelve starter seeds in the sun room, and then it turned into a book shelf for the off season!  This is  a fairly simple project that should be done in a day, maybe two with painting.

Start off by cleaning and putting a light scratch in it with a fine sandpaper.

 

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For the shelves, I used a well aged hardwood pallet.  Cut the planks down, leveled them as needed and fastened them with screws.  Remember when using older, dry wood, pilot holes are your best friend.  Just drill them with a bit smaller than your screws.  This will result in much less cracking of the boards.

Amy found a really cool color from Benjamin Moore called Weston Flax  that looks great in the bright light of the sunroom. click here to see the color http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/westonflax

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We will be posting more pictures of it as we change it back to a plant shelf in the coming weeks. We can’t wait!

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent

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I wanted to share with all of you an easy recipe to make your own laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent is not only expensive, but if you look at the ingredients you will see how many harsh and toxic chemicals are listed.

Find out more information on the list of toxins here:

http://www.philstar.com/health-and-family/2013/04/09/928381/wash-alert-beware-toxic-detergents

After researching online I realized how easy it was to make homemade laundry detergent.  I chose to make a simple powder version consisting of:

  • Fels-Naptha Bar Soap ( You could also use Zote, Ivory, or Castile bar soap)
  • Borax
  • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

I was able to find all of the ingredients I needed at the grocery store for less than $15.00

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The recipe is simple:

  1. Get out your blender, food processor, or Ninja.
  2. Add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup Super Washing Soda (it is important to add these ingredients first so the bar soap doesn’t stick to the blades)
  3. Cut up one bar of Fels-Naptha and add to blender

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Blend the ingredients together until they become a fine powder.  Take your time to pulse the ingredients so you don’t over heat your blender.  The ingredients will more effective the finer they are ground.

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I made two batches that filled about a six quart jar.

You only need to use 1 – 2 tablespoons depending on how big of a load you are washing.  I am guessing that this jar will last a long time and I still have enough ingredients left to make several more batches.

So far this homemade detergent is working great!

It costs a fraction of the price and I feel so much better knowing that I am using natural ingredients to clean our clothes.

Next up, I am going to share with you how to make wool dryer balls to replace dryer sheets!

Enjoy your Sunday : )

– Amy

 

 

A Sweet Project for Kids

A Sweet Project for Kids

I wanted to do some fun Valentines Day art project with the kids last weekend.

Since conversation hearts are the classic candy for Valentines Day, I thought these would be a perfect medium to use.

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I saw some paper mache frames at Hobby Lobby that were only $1.99 and thought those would be perfect.  You could also use any type of wood frame.IMG_5919

I had acrylic paint already at home and the kids painted their frames and then added candy hearts.  We used Tacky glue so it was easy enough for the kids to use.They had fun picking out their candy hearts eating them too.  A simple and inexpensive project brought lots of smiles : )IMG_5928IMG_5969

I bought way too many candy hearts and then remembered I had some small canvases in the basement.  We painted them in fun colors and added hearts.

Evan made this one below.  We hot glued some string to the back and I hung on our door.  I love it!

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You could also hang it on the wall or just set on a shelf like the one I did here.

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If you get creative there are so many other ways you could incorporate these little hearts.

Happy Valentines Day!

 

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DIY Jewelry Organizer

January is a great month for organizing projects.

If you are like me your jewelry is probably a tangled mess and you may not even wear most of the jewelry you own because it isn’t easy to access.

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I have tried coming up with many different ways to organize and jewelry boxes just never worked for me.

I finally found a really great and inexpensive way to organize jewelry and wanted to share it with you.  This project should take less than 20 minutes and cost around $20.

Supplies:

  • Cork Board (any size depending on how much jewelry you own) I used a 23″ x 35″.
  • Fabric (any type of fabric will work).  The fabric I used happened to be from a curtain panel I wasn’t using.  Find a fabric that will work well with the room you are displaying it in
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun
  • Push Pins
  • Another Person to help

Lay the cork board on your fabric piece and cut around the cork board leaving 2-3 inches around the frame.

Fold over one edge of the fabric and staple around the frame.

Fold over the alternate side next.  This is where you want to make sure you have your helper.  One person should be holding the fabric tight while the other person staples.

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Do the same for the remaining two sides.

Now begin inserting the push pins and hanging your jewelry.

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You can display by standing on a dresser or hanging on the wall.  If you hang on the wall you will need to attach a picture hanger on the back.

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I love the fact that I can now see all of the necklaces that I own and it actually looks pretty cool too.

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Now…..what to do with the big pile of scarves : )