Monday, April 23, 2012

DIY: Kokeshi Fashion Bookmarks

One of the paper crafts I prepared for B's crafternoon party was fashion paper bookmarks.  It is a project that is easily adaptable if you have an afternoon with your kids this summer.  I will share with you the easy steps on how to make your own bookmarks made out from up-cycled materials.
It is sure to be a hit with your little fashion designers, and what makes this even more of a hit is that it is simple enough for the young ones to do on their own.  And as if that were not enough, the adults would love this project to bits as the materials needed are already available in your home - even right this second!  
Fashion Bookmark #1:
You will need:  cardstock paper, magazine cutouts, cutter/scissors, glue.

1.  First, you need to draw a layout of the kokeshi doll on paper.  Make sure that the "dress" is big enough to serve as a canvass.  Since I was doing this for a craft party, I decided it would be easier to just do a one digital pattern and mass-print it outAlternately, feel free to draw out the outline of the dress freehand, the facial features can be drawn using a fine-tipped pen, the hair can be colored in using markers.

2.  Using a sharp cutter/scissors, cut out the outline of the "dress."

3.  The next step would be to scan through back issues of fashion magazines and cut out boldly-colored and strongly-patterned pages.  Sort out the clippings, and group according to color or pattern

4.  Now, unleash the creativity, and mix and match the bits of papers to come up with your very own fashion creation!  The resulting work can be something simple...

Or it can also be an elaborate mix of patterns

Fashion Bookmark #2:
You will need:  cardstock paper cut-out to the following shapes; dress shape, circular shape for the face and a semi-circle for the hair, paper puncher cutouts, cutter/scissors, glue.
And so nothing is wasted, the paper cut-outs that was taken out (the dress outline) can be made into still another kind of bookmark.

Fashion Bookmark #3:
You will need:  used envelope corners, nice graphics cut-out from magazines: 


1.  cut-out a corner from a used envelope
2.  glue the entire surface
3.  stick template/magazine cut-out onto the glued surface.
4.  press firmly together until glue dries up completely.

Happy crafting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cookie Craving

Summer means the kids are going to be home a lot more; for me, this also simply means that they are going to be asking for food a lot more.  Summertime in my house is about ALL things indulgent!  Most especially when it comes to sweet treats!  This is because for the rest of the year my kids' intake of sweets and cold treats are limited due to the threat of a sore throat.  Like me, they easily suffer from a sore throat after an indulgent snacking gone overboard.  

Like I said, it being summer, I have stocked my pantry full, my fruit basket is filled to overflowing, my freezer is also full of icy treats. We have a baking day every Saturday, and they get to choose what sweet treats they would like to make.

One of their favorite things to munch on is choco chip cookies.  And so I figured I could save myself some time by making this one VERY HUGE batch to last them the entire summer!  Yes!

And so we dumped in roasted almond, pistachios, dark choco chips, bittersweet choco chips, milk choco chips, white choco chips, sprinkles.... anything that is a delight to our hearts!
I simply just scooped the cookie dough onto a tray.
 And stored batches of them in several plastic containers. 
 Ready to be popped into the oven anytime the craving starts.

For a complete step-by-step on how to freeze cookie dough for future use, read this earlier post.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes + Goji Berries

Carrot cupcakes are the most requested cupcake flavor in my house for birthdays.  And surely, it was on top of B's birthday wish list for her recent birthday party, along with dark chocolate cupcakes.

 I have a lot of carrot cake recipes... some made tropical with grated coconut and pineapples, others made sweeter with the addition of raisins and choco chips, still others are studded with walnuts.  But for this cupcake variety, I made it unadulterated... this one is all about the carrots - finely grated carrots.  It is simplicity at its best.  

The only thing I added were goji berries, a staple in my pantry for making Chinese tonic soups.  My thoughtful and generous mother-in-law, who frequently sends over Chinese herbs and condiments, is a believer in the nutritional benefits of this small and red superfood.  
In recent years, the goji berry has gained popularity in Western health food stores.  But this nutritionally-rich and naturally sweet fruit has long been used in Chinese cuisine to make congee, tonic soups and herbal teas.
Fresh, sweet carrots and bright, pretty goji berries make for a wonderful combination... a delicious, moist, fluffy cupcake combined with a superfood ingredient.
Allow the dried goji berries to sit in warm water just a couple of minutes to soften, until they are nice and plump. 
Look at how the bright goji berries pop-out wonderfully in the batter.

Carrot Cupcake Recipe
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1/2 cup dried goji berries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line cupcake molds with papers.  I sued 3 ozs paper liners.
  3. Hydrate goji berries in warm water for 10-15 mintues, or until soft and plump.
  4. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots and goji berries, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
  5. Bake cupcakes 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing.
Cream Cheese  Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
  2. Divide equally into three small bowls and add food color, adding different amount of the food color if you want to make an ombre effect.  
The different soft shades of gradient pink make for a lovely display...

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