Monday, October 26, 2009

Corn Muffins Jar Mix

Christmas is right around the corner and I have so many people on my list that are difficult to shop for and would appreciate a homemade gift much more than a random, generic, trinket-like gift.  I think they'll also make nice holiday gifts for my neighbors instead of the traditional plate of cookies.  Anyhow, here's a short and simple tutorial for assembling a cornbread or corn muffin jar mix.  The recipe is from the side of Albers corn meal box, by the way.

Jar Mix for Sweet Corn Muffins

Gently dump 1 1/2 c. of flour into the jar.  It's best to use a 1/4 measuring cup so you can fit it down into the jar when you dump it, thus avoiding getting a bunch of unsightly flour "splashed" up on the sides of the jar.  If this does happen, use a pastry brush to gently sweep it off. 

Give the jar a little shimmy or tap it down on the counter a few times to get the flour settled and even across the bottom of the jar.

Gently dump 1 T of baking powder and 1/2 t. of salt on top of the flour.  Give the jar a little tap again.

Gently dump 1/2 c. of yellow corn meal into the jar next and give that a little shimmy, too.  You have to be careful not to over-shimmy because that'll disturb all your layers.

One last gente dump of 2/3 c. of sugar and another tap-tap-tap and you're almost done!

There should be just enough space left in the jar for you to place 18 (or so) regular-sized muffin papers.

Gently affix the lid and the screwband.  You can also decorate the lid.  For this bumblebee lid I stamped the design on a piece of yellow fabric, cut it out and then stitched it (with 2 strands of black embroidery floss) to the yellow gingham fabric.  The rest of the steps can be found in my tutorial for scrappy jar lids.


The last step is to affix a tag or label.  Be sure to include the date, what the mix is for, and these directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove muffin papers from the jar and place them in muffin tins. 

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 large eggs (lightly beaten), 1 1/4 c. milk, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, and 3 T melted butter.

  • Add the contents of the jar and mix until just blended.

  • Pour batter into 18-20 muffin papers, about 2/3 full.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes.

  • Corn bread variation:  pour batter into 8" square, greased pan.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.
This jar mix is going in a small gift basket that I'm working on as a Christmas present for Susannah's preschool teacher.  I'm going to include some locally-harvested honey from the farmer's market and that's probably it because I want to keep it modest and simple.  There are so many things you could add if you wanted to make it a larger, more extravagant gift.  Consider a muffin tin, napkins or towels that coordinate with the jar lid, nice wooden spoons, a wooden honey drizzler, or a honey pot...the possibilities are endless!

Also, to fill the extra space after you've added the ingredients to the jar, consider some more decorative muffin papers or even individually-wrapped candy.  I also thought of goingt to KFC and swiping some honey packets to stuff in there, but that might be a bit tacky depending on who you're giving the gitft to.  Anything that is easy for the recipient to remove before dumping the contents can be added to that portion of the jar instead of the muffin papers.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scrappy Jar Lids Tutorial

It's kinda late in the game, but have you heard about Scrap Buster's Month going on over at the Sew Mama Sew blog?  If you're like me and have a big Rubbermaid tub of scraps that you just can't get rid of because you might need them some day - check out all the submissions over there and you'll be able to put those scraps to good use.  Here's the tutorial that I'm submitting: 

I think gifts in a jar are perfect for any occasion.  Since they're homemade, they make an extra special gift and can be personalized to fit the receiver and the occasion.  Preserves, canned goods, soup mixes, cookie mixes, sewing notions, candy...the possibilities for what goes into that glass vessel are endless!  The jars can be topped off by adding a simple decoration, a tag or label, or some other crafty accessories - and voila! - you have a thoughtful gift that either stands on its own or makes a nice addition to a gift basket.

Here are a couple of links to gifts I've created with this tutorial:  an apple-pie-making-kit gift basket, (I'll be adding to this list as more are completed).

I'll share with you one of my favorite ways to give my jar gifts a finishing touch.  It's fast, simple, and you can use up some of those scraps you have laying around.

How to Make Scrappy Jar Lids

This is what you need:

jar lids and screw bands (any size)

fabric scraps to accomodate the size of your lids

fabric glue



a marker (doesn't have to be washable, I used a Sharpie)

lightweight cardboard (think cereal box or kleenex box)

batting scraps to accomodate the size of your lids

OPTIONAL:  buttons, ribbon, sewing machine, other crafting notions

This is what you do:

Iron the scraps you'll be using. 
Using your pen, trace a jar lid onto the cardboard. 

Cut out the circle on the inside of the line so it's just barely smaller than the actual lid.
Trace the jar lid onto the batting.  I used two layers of hi-loft quilter's polyester batting.  You can experiment with using more or less, depending on what loft of battting you have and how much "puff" you want.

Cut out the circle right on the line.  It's okay if it's not perfect.
Trace the lid onto the front or the back of the fabric.  It doesn't matter which side because the edges will be covered up by the screw rim.

Cut out the circle on the outside of the line so it's just barely larger than the lid, or at least the same size as the lid.
These are the pieces you should have now:

Start assembling all these cirlces by putting glue on the cardboard piece, making sure to avoid the very edges.

Place the batting on top of the glued cardboard and press it down.

Put glue on the bottom/wrong side of the fabric in the same fashion.  If you're using the same glue I used, don't apply it too liberally because the wetness will seep through the fabric and you'll be able to see it on the finished product.
Place the glued fabric on top of the batting and press down gently.

Set the this little "batting sandwich" on top of the jar lid. 

Fit the screw band over the top of everything and screw it onto the jar, gently so the fabric doesn't pucker.

And there you have it!  A sweet little lid to "top off" your gift-in-a-jar!  You can also bump it up a notch by adding ribbons, buttons, patchworked pieces of fabric, etc.  Here are a couple of quick how-to's for accessorizing:

Adding buttons and/or ribbons to the fabric top:

After you've cut out all the circles and before you glue the pieces together, glue a button (or two or three) to the right side of the fabric.  Let it dry and then continue on with the directions for assembling.

If you want to add a ribbon (or combinations of ribbons), glue them in place on the right side of the fabric circle.  Then, chop off the excess and continue on with the directions for assembling.

Making a patchwork scrap for the fabric top:

Lay out the fabric how you'd like it to appear.  It needs to be an inch (or more) larger on all sides than the actual jar lid that you'll be tracing onto it.

With the right sides together, sew along the sides where the fabric needs to be pieced together.  I sewed two of these small triangles together at a time to make two larger triangles:

Then , I sewed the two large triangles together, trimmed the seams, and ironed everything flat.

Now place the jar lid in the center of your patchwork design and trace and assemble as usual.

In case this post wasn't long enough already, here are some examples of what I've used my miscellaneous scraps to create thus far.  The only thing that's missing is a label telling what is contained within these lovely jars.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Go Bananas!

For my daughter's third birthday we decided on a banana party, which kind of included monkeys because they go hand in hand.  We kept this one on the simple side because I was a bridesmaid in a wedding that took place the day before the party, so I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to preparation.

The banana invitations were my favorite part!  The peel was made of felt and I came up with a pun for the wording - corny, but I love it!  I got the jumping-off point for this idea from a jungle theme party described on the Parents magzine website.

I had to include a pun in the thankyou notes.  They were a very simple creation, really.  I think my creative energies are tapped out when it's thankyou note time and they always seem to get the short end of the stick.  I found the stickers on Ebay.  They were scratch and sniff stickers, but they were also "vintage" (probably from the 80's?) so their smell and their adhesiveness were gone.  Cute, nontheless!


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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Housewarming Gangsta Style

While cross stitching is on my mind, let me share what I made this summer with my floss and needle.  I don't usually have a hankerin' to cross-stitch during the summer months because I like to be busy outdoors when the weather's nice.  I wanted this project to be done by September, though, so I did a lot of stitching in the shade this summer while my daughter played in the backyard wading pool. 

I have a sister who just finished building a house.  Her first house ever (she has been a renter up until now) and we are all very proud of her.  I'll be throwing her a housewarming party as soon as she finishes painting and gets all moved in but I made her this little treasure as an advanced congratulatory gift:

Yes, it says "Fo' Shizzle, welcome to our hizzle."  Yes, it is funny.  Think of it as a satirical piece - combining the two drastically different worlds of cross stitch and 21st Century "gangster" lingo.  Traditionally, cross stitch is conservatitve in nature and often features a scripture verse or depicts an oh-so-wholsome scene with teddy bears or flowers or a nice sampler.  We don't expect to see a passing trend (courtesty of Snoop Dogg, I believe) immortalized on Aida on the wall of a white girl from Washington's home.

I don't know if anyone else will find the humor in it, but I know I do and I'm sure my sister will, too!

I used an Old English alphabet that I found in one of my cross stitch books and I found a great resource for .pdf files of 9,10,11, and 14-count graph paper that came in very handy for the design layout. 

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