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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cakes


I get a nice release of energy from making cakes.  Once you master the art of fondant-making, you are golden.  I have a nice recipe that I use with every single cake I make.  You will love it.  It. Is. So. Easy!










 Fondant:

3 cups mini marshmallows
2 Tbs water
3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Put the marshmallows and water in a microwavable bowl.  Cook on high for 30 seconds.  
  2. Remove from microwave and stir.  Return to microwave and cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Continue this process until the marshmallows cream together.
  4. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and stir until a sticky ball forms.  It may be best to use your hands for mixing, but they will be extremely sticky.
  5. Add colors and knead them in.
  6. Enjoy!

Refinish Leather Furniture For Less Than $20



My husband got a phone call a few weeks ago from a woman in our neighborhood who wanted him to remove some furniture from her home as she was expected new furniture to be delivered.  The couches she was tossing were leather.  I have always been a fan of leather furniture, but have never been a fan of the price tag that comes with it.  When he plopped the couches on our driveway, I immediately told him I wanted to refinish it.  He gave me that you-are-oh-so-crazy look, and I began looking up information on the process.  What did I learn, you ask?  Ah….I learned that I could successfully refinish leather couches for less than $20, and that it would look just fine--even though I had never attempted such a project before.  Interested?  Well then stay tuned.  This one is going to be a good one.



The lady had owned a small dog, and that dog just loved jumping up on the couches.  Can you see all the scratch marks?  These things were not in the best shape--thus, my husband thought I was crazy.

After spending some time trying to track down some leather dye (I am a fan of Amazon, but I had some free time and wanted to get these bad boys done NOW) I finally got in touch with an associate at Joann's.  He had personally colored some leather couches with Rit Dye!  Did you hear that?  Rit Dye!  You can get some here.  I used two boxes of the powdered Cocoa Brown since my couches were already brown.  I paid less than $6 for the two packages.


First, I cleaned off all the furniture--a couch, a love seat, and two ottomans--with some rubbing alcohol.  I wanted to make sure the dye would take to the unworn parts of the leather.




 Next, I mixed my dye in a bucket (this will ruin a white sink!) according to the package directions.  I got an old rag, dipped it in the dye mix, held my breath, and started swirling the dye onto an ottoman in circular motions.  I had to work it into the cracks and crevices left by the puppy scratches, but it worked.  After I did one ottoman, I just knew this project was going to be a giant SCORE!





See how that dye just sinks right in?  It was amazing.


I went over each piece a few times.  Some of the parts that were originally rubbed off took the dye a little better than the regular leather parts, so I had to keep adding dye until I got a consistent look.



The dog had really done a number on this love seat.


 This was after one coat of the dye.  You must do more than one coat, or it will come out blotchy.  However, by the time I had finished one coat on the love seat, it was already ready for another.  I didn't have to wait several hours in between.  It was all just one continuous project.


I let the couches dry overnight.  When I used a white cloth to rub them the next morning, I still got a little dye coming off.  I ran back to Joann's and grabbed two bottles of this Leather Studio leather finisher.  You can check that out here.  I paid about $3 a bottle, and got two bottles.


I took a new rag, and applied the Leather Studio the same way I had applied the dye.  I put some on the rag, placed the rag on the couch, and spread it all around using circular motions. This stuff gave the couches a nice shine, without it being too shiny.  A few hours later I went back out with another white rag, and tested again.  NO dye came off!  I rubbed and rubbed in several places to make sure we would not get any dye on our clothes, and it was clean.  I had succeeded!  


This is a dark picture, but here is the love seat in my living room.  Good as new.  I am happy to report that the couches have been in our home for a few weeks, and so far they still look amazing!  Good luck with your project.  Happy homemaking!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lemon Bar Goodness


I have been searching and searching for the perfect lemon bar recipe.  I love me some lemon bars.  It is such the perfect combination of sweet with a little zing.  I made a batch the other day, and we literally couldn't get them out of the pan.  Sigh.  FAIL!  However, I wandered across a recipe in my box the other day, and I decided to give it a whirl.  Now, I did make a few adjustments.  I like to actually taste the lemon in my lemon bars, and I like them just a little gooey.  Sound like you? Then this recipe is for you, my friend.



First you take the butter and make it slightly soft.  You don't want it to be melted, but you also don't want to struggle when you cut it in.  Think pie crust, but a bit easier to work with.  I stick mine in the microwave for about 11 seconds.  Seems to do the trick.  Next you are going to add your flour and powdered sugar, and mix it all together.  It will resemble a flakey pie crust.  I add a small amount of water to make it a bit easier to work with.  Smash it all into the bottom of a greased 9X9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes.



While you are waiting for the goodness to bake, get the lemon mixture ready.  I can't express how great the difference is between lemon juice and fresh lemons.  If you have a fresh lemon hanging around the house, definitely use it.  Mix together your flour, sugar and baking powder first.  Next, add your lemon juice.


Mmmmmm….can you begin to smell that sweet goodness in the oven?  Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 3-5minutes.  I like to keep my crust soft and chewy, and if you wait until it is too cool to add the lemon topping, it will be a little bit hard.  Add the lemon mixture to the top of the crust and toss it in the oven for another 20 minutes.



 Watch it as it bakes.  You only want the sides to be slightly browned.

This next step is what makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE with lemon bars.  Squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon.  I got about 1 tablespoon from mine.  Now add some powdered sugar to it and mix.  I used roughly 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar to mine, but you may use more or less depending on how much juice your lemon blessed you with.  You want the mixture runny.  It needs to easily slip from your spoon, but don't make it so runny that it resembles water.


When you bars emerge from the oven, take the lemon glaze and just spoon it in little swirls over the top of the bars.  This will give you that lemon kick that you have been craving.


When the bars have cooled, sprinkle them with some powdered sugar and enjoy.  Good luck with these little square of Heaven.  I ate half my pan in two days!  Oopsie…



INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup of slightly softened butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice (fresh)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • lemon juice and powdered sugar to make glaze
DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix together butter, flour, and powdered sugar and mix together well.  Add cold water and form a dough.  Spread into the bottom of greased baking 9X9 pan.
  2. Bake for 14 minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. Mix together sugar, flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in beaten eggs, and fresh lemon juice.
  5. Pour over crust and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Mix together left over lemon juice with powdered sugar to make glaze.  Drizzle over the lemon bars and let cool.
  7. Once bars are cool sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut, and serve.