Cricut

Cricut Access Challenge: Fancy Iron On Hearts & Making Mistakes

Glittered Love Heart Iron On
Glittered Love Heart Iron On

Some of my friends from Corgi Nation are getting bit by the Cricut Bug and it’s so much fun to help them combine their interests in corgis with their creative ideas with the Cricut!

My friend Billie just picked up an EasyPress over the weekend. Cathy, another friend, ordered her first machine online and is anxiously awaiting its arrival.  People all over Facebook are talking about the Cricut!  It’s so much fun for me, a long time devotee of Cricut.

But here’s one thing I noticed:  Newbies are expressing anxiety over learning how to use these powerful machines and the software, Design Space.

Some of you new to Cricut are afraid of making mistakes.

I hear it all the time in our Facebook groups.  They tell themselves they are “wasting” materials or time.  They struggle with getting their ideas to look the way they want them too.  And probably more importantly, they see all these folks making brilliant things and they get disappointed when their first attempts don’t live up to their expectations.

Folks! Don’t stress yourself out about this!

I have been crafting for decades and I can honestly say I have never achieved perfection!  Has that ever stopped me?

 

Flubbed Up Foil Heart
Flubbed Up Foil Heart

We ALL make mistakes. Even seasoned crafters, like me!

Back in my soap making days, when I had a batch of soap that didn’t look good but worked fine, I would package it up in a paper bag and label it “Ugly Soap”!

And let me tell you, Ugly Soap was quite the conversation started at my shows!! Most of the time I just explained that the soap worked fine, but didn’t look pretty. So I packaged them up at a great introductory price.

Sometimes–when I was feeling a little feisty–I would tell them the soap cleaned the ugly away just to see what they’d say! (Okay. I’m a little weird, I know!)

 

Hair trapped behind the iron on design
Hair trapped behind the iron on design

Let me be blunt:

You are never, ever, no matter how much time you spend or how many videos you watch, never going to achieve perfection in anything.

BUT that doesn’t mean you don’t try anyway. You try. You do the best you can with what you’ve got. You analyze and learn from mistakes. And then you try again.

We must always focus on progress, not perfection!

And, frankly, that’s the way I think we should all approach anything in life.

How does that relate to today’s project? I’m going to tell you.

Today’s Cricut Access Challenge is a collection of beautifully cut hearts that have been ironed on with my EasyPress2.  They are beautiful designs cut from beautiful materials, but they *aren’t* perfect.

If I look close enough, every single one of them has imperfections.

The foil one got crinkly in several areas.  I forgot to weed out the inside of part of another.

And, if you look closely enough, you’ll see I sandwiched both dog hair and my hair between one design!

Folk Art Heart in Patterned Iron On Design
Folk Art Heart in Patterned Iron On Design

Sure, they aren’t perfect, but the most important thing is I tried!

I can be proud of efforts and my achievements!

I gathered up some courage and just went for it. I didn’t get “analysis paralysis” and I didn’t dwell in “what if’s”.  I just persevered and completed the project.

This kind of approach to living is called “Wabi Sabi Living”.

Wabi Sabi Living is a Japanese tradition of understanding and knowing we will never achieve perfection, but we can learn to appreciate our efforts and our achievements.

“Now! Go forth and Cricut!”

Best to you always!

Miss Rita

All of the images used for today’s Cricut Access Challenge are free to Access subscribers.

Project link to Cricut Community
Project link to Cricut Community

 

You can access the Design Space file using the following link:

https://design.cricut.com/#/landing/user-project/125025099

Pinterest pin to this project
Pinterest pin to this project

Also, here is the Pinterest pin to the project: Cricut Access Challenge: Filigree Heart Iron Ons

I hope you will try making one or more of the beautiful intricately cut iron on designs in this project. If you do, post a picture here or on one of my other channels!

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on one of my links and buy something I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for using my links as this is how I support myself and keep MO in pickles and Ted E. Bear in chew toys–they both are insatiable!

But seriously….I do so appreciate your continued support!

Here is my affiliate link:  https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

Remember if your order exceeds $50 and you use my code MISSRITA1 and link, you will receive an extra 10% off and free shipping on most items!  My code will *not* work for Access Subscriptions or machines (anything that plugs in).

 

 

 

Cricut

Cricut Access Challenge: Quick Cut Valentines

When I first started Cricut-ing many years ago, I immediately stopped buying greeting cards.

Back then I was a *big* greeting card buyer and easily spent hundreds of dollars every year in cards.

Suddenly having a Cricut was my reason to abandon that practice and make the cards myself.

Only…I didn’t.

I became so paralyzed with fear that my cards weren’t going to be “good enough” or “pretty enough” or “insert whatever reason here” that I just stopped sending cards.

It wasn’t until I realized that a homemade card is 100 times better than any store bought card that I began sending my greetings out again, which has rekindled my love of sending greetings.

Are you like me? Are you afraid that your work won’t be good enough? Or worse yet, have you left your Cricut in the Box because your afraid you won’t be able to create something?

If so, you aren’t alone. Every day I hear from Cricut owners that are afraid to show off their work. Or users that won’t even try.

Listen! Everyone has to start at the beginning. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We are all “newbies” at one time. Don’t be afraid to try, but also don’t pile on huge expectations at first. Start small and slow. Cherish your first attempts. You will soon be making amazing things and you can look back on your beginning projects with appreciation.

But the bottom line is you have to take that first step!

So, please, take that machine out of the box and make something simple–like these quick cut cards.

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 8.31.51 am

Today’s Cricut Access Challenge is a bunch of very easy, quick cut cards suitable for Valentine’s Day or everyday.

Each card in the file is perfectly sized, so no fuss for you. Just pick out a few sheets of paper—any color will do!–and hit “Make”!

Within a few minutes you’ll have a half dozen cards in your little arsenal.

And, more importantly, you will have accomplished something.

Build on that!!

Remember this: “Every journey begins with the first step!” Here’s your first step.

screen shot 2019-01-10 at 3.30.32 pm

Now, go forth and Cricut!

Here’s the pin to the project:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/273030796146030429/

Here’s the link to Cricut Community:
https://design.cricut.com/#/landing/user-project/124557212

Best always,

Miss Rita

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on one of my links and buy something I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for using my links as this is how I support myself and keep MO in pickles and Ted E. Bear in chew toys–they both are insatiable!

But seriously….I do so appreciate your continued support!

Here is my affiliate link:  https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

Remember if your order exceeds $50 and you use my code MISSRITA1 and link, you will receive an extra 10% off and free shipping on most items!  My code will *not* work for Access Subscriptions or machines (anything that plugs in).

 

Dutch Oven · recipe

How To Expertly Cut a Pineapple

PLUS learn to make Pera-Pina (Pineapple Rice Drink) with the leftover rind!

My Dominican friend stopped by this morning with a fresh pineapple!

I love fresh pineapple–it’s just so sweet and refreshing.  Some experts are now saying pineapple holds the secrets to reducing inflammation and pain, too.

As much as I love fresh pineapple, I rarely buy an uncut one.  Mostly because I’ve never been able to cut a whole pineapple correctly.  I always feel like I am cutting off too much fruit and throwing most of it away.

Enter my lovely Dominican friend–Santo Espinal–with a bag full of fruit and a fresh pineapple.  Since I have always struggled with the proper way to cut a fresh pineapple, I seized the opportunity to document the correct way to cut one from a true expert!   PLUS I got a delicious new drink to make with the unused rind and core…ALL of which I am going to share with you today.

 

Cutting a Pineapple the Right Way
Once cored, slice the piece into bite sized pieces

How to Expertly Cut a Fresh Pineapple:

  1. Twist off the crown and remove any dead leaves on the bottom.
  2. Using a sharp knife and holding the pineapple steady with one hand, begin making long cuts to the rind.  Be sure to remove enough rind that the dimples don’t remain.
  3. Work your way around the entire pineapple until all of the rind is removed.
  4. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut about a half inch from the bottom.
  5. Keep all the pineapple trimmings, excluding the crown, for making the pineapple rice juice.
  6. Turn the pineapple upright and cut off a side.
  7. Remove the tough core of each side–as if you are filleting a fish–and then chunk up the remaining fruit.  Keep the tough core for the juice.
  8. Chill the fruit and enjoy!

 

 


 

How to make Pera-Piña, aka Pineapple Rice Juice:

  1. Chunk the pineapple rind and core and place it in your Dutch Oven.
  2. Add 1 cup white rice and about 1/2 cup of oatmeal to the rinds.
  3. Fill the pot up with water and set to boil.
  4. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  The mixture is starchy, so expect a film to form on top.
  6. Process the entire contents in a blender.  You may have to do this in batches, as I did, because it requires a bigger blender than I have.
  7. Strain the blended juice–admittedly this part is difficult as my blended juice was very, very thick and still super hot to process.  If this happens to you, I’d suggest you add water to your mixture to help strain it better.  Or you can skip the straining and use a spoon to scoop out any big pieces that may be left behind.
  8. Sweeten if desired.  Most Dominicans add sweetener, but I could see not doing this.
  9. Chill the juice thoroughly before serving.

 

 

And THAT, my friends, is how you expertly handle a fresh pineapple according to a native of the Dominican Republic.  Oh! And you also learned how to be extra frugal by using the discarded fruit for a delicious drink!

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe and instruction, please let me know.  My Dominican friend Santo knows a LOT of interesting recipes and is always trying to show me them.  If you are interested in learning more about Dominican/Caribbean food and culture, he is ready and waiting to show us all a few things!

Fresh Pineapple
Never let a fresh pineapple intimidate you again!

 

 

DIY · Dutch Oven · recipe

Chicken Stock in your Dutch Oven

I realize we are living in a world of conveniences and one of those “easy outs” is using canned or boxed broth/stock.

To be honest, I also use broth in my cooking, but I can sincerely say the quality of the homemade stuff FAR outweighs the convenience of the cans. Most of the famous chefs would agree, I’m sure.

But what’s a home chef to do?

Well, you could make your own stock, of course! Actually it’s an so easy–albeit messy–process and it would make full use of the chicken carcasses left over from a nice chicken dinner. If you have Dutch Oven, the process is easier–but just as messy. Sorry!

Are you ready for this? Cuz imma lay it down for ya.

First, you need a cooked chicken.

You can cook your chicken from scratch, like I did with my Chicken in a Dutch Oven or you could use a store-bought rotisserie style chicken, it doesn’t matter. I’m assuming that you have made a meal or two out of the chicken and mostly what is left is skin, bones and some hidden meat. That’s what we want. (The picture above shows a whole chicken I cooked in my Dutch Oven, but I have seriously done this with nearly all the chickens I get from Costco. Go, Costco! Whoot!)

The first step to making your own stock is to throw everything (Really…everything!!) from the leftover chicken into your Dutch Oven. Bones, skin, even that gelatinous stuff that congeals on the bottom of the plastic container. (It’s gross, I know…don’t look at it. Just throw it in!)

Then chunk up a couple of carrots, a few ribs of celery (if you have it–by the way, this is a great way to use up those veggies no longer salad-worthy!) and a whole onion cut into quarters (keep the onion skin on, because it adds color and flavor). Throw all the veggies in with the chicken carcass. Add some salt and pepper, too. Now cover the entire thing with water.

Bring the entire pot to a boil and then reduce it to simmer. I partially cover my Dutch Oven during simmering, so not a lot of the water evaporates. If you are leaving it uncovered, check as you simmer to make sure you haven’t lost a lot of water. Add more if necessary. You are going to simmer this big pot a long time…at least a couple of hours. This is a fun chore for a rainy/snowy day, by the way!

Simmer your chicken a good long while. You can check on it every half hour or so and add more water if you think it needs it. You’re aiming for an entire pot of liquid with a mess of bones on the bottom.

After a couple of hours, the meat and skin will completely fall off the bone and the bone structure will break down, too.

When you see the broth has become golden and your chicken has broken down, turn off your pot and allow to cool. Sometimes I just cover it and let it cool on a cold burner and come back to it later, because the whole mess is seriously hot! Watch yourselves, folks!

Once your ingredients have cooled to the point where you can handle them, head on over to the sink. You will need a big colander and another pot or bowl about as big as your pot. You are going to do the first strain of your chicken stock, so place the bowl under the strainer in the sink and slowly empty the contents of your now cooled Dutch Oven into the colander (this is why you cool it!).

I’m not going to lie. This step requires some practice, but know that and give yourself time. This is a learning process and you will improve. Note, too, that you may have to lift the strainer from time to time to help all the broth get into the bowl. Oh! And do remember to use a big enough bowl under the colander, so you don’t have to put another one there. (It’s an easy beginner mistake)

Once you’ve strained it the first time, it’s a good idea to strain it again. Some of those bones and things tend to sneak by the colander on the first pass.

In the end you should have a colander in the sink full of junk and a big pot of gorgeous, delicious chicken stock. If you are a true dyed-in-the-wool New Englander (like me!), you might pick through the colander for chunks of chicken you missed before the simmer. But that’s not for everyone, so you can just bag that junk up and dispose of it if it grosses you out too much. Work up to it! Haha!

You might notice, depending on how your bird was prepared, that you’ve got a thick stripe of fat that floats to the top of your pan. This happens often when I make stock with my Thanksgiving Turkey, because of the butter used in it’s preparation, but it’s also there on a store bought chicken. If you want to reduce the fat in your broth, place the strained pan of stock in your fridge for an hour or so and then use a spoon to delicately scrape off the congealed layer of fat. I’d you live in a cold climate, consider putting the covered pot on your porch in the winter (!) to accomplish this task. Depending on how the bird was originally prepared, this could be a good half inch of fat you are losing, but don’t worry, because there is still some left even after skimming.

After straining and skimming, you will have several quarts of gorgeous, glorious homemade chicken stock, which can be used to make anything.

Generally I will use half of the stock to make a soup or stew. You could make a simple noodle soup as shown or add your favorite ingredients (barley, rice, noodles, carrots, etc.) and make a more complex main course. Either way, you won’t be sorry you pushed your way through this messy process.

You can store the remaining broth in your fridge or even freeze it!! One tip I got a long time ago from either Julia Child or Martha Stewart (sorry that I don’t remember!) was freezing the stock in ice cube trays and then–when frozen–storing them in a zippy bag for future convenience. If you do this, make sure to put them in a bag once frozen! No one wants to have chicken broth ice cubes in their drink. Plus the stock you worked so hard for will get freezer burn and that would be a shame.

You may want to even water the stock down further if you are making soup. If you are making a gravy or creamy based dish, keep it full strength though.

I hope you will try to make your own broth at least once. It’s very helpful and you will feel so frugal you will squeal with delight (like I do!)

One critical note: As you know I am a dog owner and lover. Please–as much as they might go wild for them–don’t give chicken bones to your pups! They may like a bit of cooled stock–my Odie loved my stock–but never bones!

And that’s it!!

Are you going to try it? Have you already done it and would like to share your thoughts? Please do!!

One final note: I hope you’ve noticed, faithful reader, that I’m trying hard to provide you with lots of fresh and interesting content on my blog. Reviving my blog is one of my New Years Resolutions this year. So could you find it in your heart to become a regular reader and tell your friends about me? It will be super nice to know I have a small following and I’m not just talking to myself. I surely would appreciate it! Thanks!!

Christmas · DIY · recipe

Pizzelle: Auntie’s Italian Cookies

If you come from an Italian-American family, I have no doubt you had one auntie who seemed to be “in charge” of making the pizzelle for all the family gatherings. I’m pretty sure that’s because pizzelle makers were a bit expensive and therefore hard to justify as a purchase in more than one household.

In our family, my Auntie Elisa was the pizzelle maker.

Every family gathering and holiday Auntie Elisa would place a plate of gorgeous snowflake shaped cookies–complete with the distinctive aroma of anise–on the table for enjoying with coffee and company. Admittedly, I was completely enamored of pizzelle as a kid and I guess I still am today.

Sadly, when my father passed away in 2011, it became too difficult to continue our extended family gatherings and my annual pizzelle consumption took a dramatic nose dive.

Last year, I was ecstatic to find some authentic pizzelle in Costco and I remember bringing a small package to my Auntie Anna’s hospital bed. Her son and my cousin, Ricky, went on and on about them and it reminded me of the annual family gatherings we all attended. How I have missed those times.

Last year I lost two of my favorite aunties–Auntie Mary and Auntie Anna–and their passing has had a profound effect on my thoughts about family, home keeping and love ever since.

So, despite suffering from a serious knee injury this Christmas, I was determined to reinstitute some old family traditions and one of them was making the delicate, snowflake-like cookies that are called pizzelle.

Luckily I had procured a pizzelle maker some time ago; it was still new in its box and hanging out among my many Christmas decorations. Unfortunately if there were instructions, they were long gone, so it was up to me to figure out how to use it. Thankfully there is the internet and I cobbled together an updated recipe for chocolate pizzelle and set to testing out my maker.

If you can get your hands on an authentic pizzelle maker, I would urge you to try. There is nothing like a freshly made pizzelle! When they emerge from the iron, they are very pliable…but you only have a few seconds to shape them. It’s a fun challenge.

Obviously they can be enjoyed on their own with a fresh cup of coffee…but they are also excellent vehicles for a little extra something if you can work fast enough!

You can roll them like cannoli shells and fill them with homemade whipped cream. Or you can shape them into bowls and add a scoop of gelato! They could even be folded like a taco shell and stuffed with berries and cream!

And, obviously, they can be enjoyed plain, too!

So here’s my take on a Chocolate Pizzelle for you to enjoy. You’ll notice that they don’t have the traditional anise flavoring (or any flavoring!), but you can add it if you’d like. Orange or peppermint flavoring would taste especially good

Chocolate Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 1/4 CUP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I prefer unsalted butter in my baking, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute regular butter and adjust the salt in the recipe)
  • Water to adjust the thickness of your batter

If you are a purist and want to make your pizzelle the “old fashioned way” the ingredients are much the same

Classic Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • Stick of melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. anise extract (you can substitute almond or even vanilla extract, but anise is the most traditional)
  • Water to adjust thickness of your batter

A few hints:

  • It’s important you start with the right consistency batter, so after mixing all the ingredients slowly add water until you get a thick batter….you don’t want it too watery
  • Heat up your iron thoroughly and then spray with cooking spray so your cookies won’t stick
  • Don’t use too much batter for each cookie! I used a standard table spoon and put the batter in the middle of both cookie Wells
  • You should stay with your cookies as they are cooking! They only take about two minutes and you CAN definitely over cook these. When you open the iron, the cookies will be pliable. You will learn as you go…it’s like pancakes!
  • The cookies will remain pliable once removed from the iron, but not for long! Seriously…like ONLY a few seconds. So if you want to shape them, have your tools–little bowls, medium sized rolling pin, funnel–ready BEFORE you take out the hot cookies
  • The iron gets hot…BUT (unfortunately) the best way to remove the cooked pizzelle is with your hands…another reason to work quickly
  • Only add one teaspoon of extract to this recipe and only if you want to! Pizzelle are not suppose to be super sweet, but subtle. The chocolate flavoring really came through without any extract and was made for a very nice “adult” cookie (therefore MO shunned them! Haha!)
  • It’s traditional to dust pizzelle with confectioners sugar, but it’s not necessary…they shouldn’t stick together
  • Store your cookies in airtight containers or zippy bags and they will last for several days!

I hope you enjoy my recipes! And if you have an Auntie, give her a call! She is always happy to hear from you!

Please note: When I started my blog, I didn’t realize I would be sharing so many recipes. I am now in the process of figuring out how to make my recipes printable, so please bear with me until I can figure that out!