The Ginger bread House

Every year since my son was born we have made ginger bread houses. When he was really little we made houses out of graham crackers. That is the easiest to do with little ones.

Then when he got to be  about 4 or 6 we bought the prepackaged houses and would add our own candy.

It wasn’t till a few years ago that we started to make our own houses from scratch. I found a recipe  from a friend and we made our own dough. I drew the house out first and everything I wanted on the houses.Then I cut that out and put the houses together to make sure that it would fit. I actually had a few templates until I came up with one that worked. I then used those templates to cut out the dough.

After rolling out the dough, lay the templates on the dough and cut around. Place these sections on a bake  sheet and bake to temperature in recipe. As soon as the baked ginger comes out of the oven, clean up the edges with a knife. This will make it easier to put together when it is cool. Make sure the ginger is fully cool when you go to ensemble it. I found it helpful to have something for the walls to lean against when putting it together. Start with 2 walls and wait until that is dry before putting up everything else.

We love going to the candy store to find our decorations for the house. The other thing we do is save candy from my son’s trick or  treat bag. We put it in the freezer until December.

These pictures were our houses last year. I’m behind on doing this years houses. Hopefully we will get to it this weekend. I made the dough yesterday during our snow storm. This year I’m going to try a recipe from Martha Stewart. I down loaded her templates and cut them out. I’ll share it when we are done.

Enjoy this wonderful Christmas season.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Tracy

A Chic looking Bulletin Board & Tacks

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Make this Chic looking  bulletin board.

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I started with an old frame. I found this frame when I was helping my in-laws  unpack their storage container. They had just moved back to New England. This frame was really dirt, torn and ready to be discarded. I  ripped out the old mat, sanded down the frame lightly, wiped down with a damp cloth, sprayed with  primer, and 2 coats of desired color.

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I bought foam board and cut it to the size of the frame. The frame was so big that I had to use 2 sections of foam board. I taped them together with clear duck tape.

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After I made sure that the board fit tightly, it was time to wrap the fabric around the foam board.

I used clear duck tape to secure the fabric to the board.

Lay fabric out on table and leave about 3 to 4 inches extra to over lap on to the back of the board.

Iron your fabric first before applying to foam board. Start on the right side of the frame  half way up the board( Start on the longest side of the frame).

Tape and then press down on the tape to make sure it holds securely. Now go to the opposite side you just did and repeat the process.

After you do those two sides move to ( the shorter sides of the frame ). Repeat the process again. Work your way around the board pulling tight all the time. Flip the board over frequently to make sure the fabric is staying taunt.

I used a stapler to fasten the fabric covered foam board to the frame. I used the same method I did with the fabric.

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Check out the thumb Tacks. I made them with vintage beads and colored wire.

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I wrapped wire around the thumb tack. Once that end was secure to the tack I threaded the beads on to the wire.

To make the flower petals. I threaded seven beads on tot he wire  and twisted the wire around the tack twice and repeated the process two more times.

To make the loops I just added as many beads as I wanted and then twisted the wire around the tack to secure it.

These would make great custom gifts for friends &  family. Think of all the paint and fabric choices. They are endless.

Hope this has inspired you to breath life into some old frames you may have around your home.

Have a great night!

Tracy

The Joy of Farming your Land

Good Evening Everyone. I hope you are enjoying your spring. I’m enjoying the rain that is watering all the plants and trees that I planted this weekend and Monday.
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We divided my Raspberry bushes and got 33 canes out of it. The goal is to put up posts at each end of the Raspberry rows. Then we will run wire for the Raspberries to grow on.  We also moved the fruit trees. I hope they survive through the Summer.  Someday I’d like our property to be a pick-your -own farm. (Might not happen because we live in a Development.)
This property in it’s former life was a gravel pit.

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Here in the North East, the rule is not to plant until Memorial Day. We do have some things we can plant now that are frost hardy. We have gotten snow in May before, so it’s best to be cautious.
Peas are one of those harder crops. An old saying is planting Peas on Patriots day brings picking of Peas on 4th of July.
We envy the longer growing season of the southern states but we don’t think we could ever leave this property. (We are blessed with all kinds of wild life from the Marsh behind our house.) In the fall we hope to build a couple Hot Houses to extend the growing season. We  know of some farms in Maine that are getting crops in December.
We finally got to use compost that was broken down. It came from mulch that we had put in the compost pile 5 years ago. We know how to make good compost but we are not very good at doing the things  to  make it good.

Making Compost
A mixture of greens and brown yard waste. Green being grass clippings, deadhead plants, veggie scraps.
Brown is your raked leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds.
Start mixture with a bag of already composted soil, and water.
Mix the compost pile often (something we forget to do.) A pitch fork works well. You can also use composted Manure to start you compost.
Make sure that your pile is in a sunny area. Try and wet it once a week or more often in dryer times.
This Spring we are going to try and add worms. We are hoping that it will break it down faster.
I would love to hear  your composting ideas and how you reuse yard waste to enrich your gardens.

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It’s great when you can raise your food with compost that you made from previously raised food waste.

HAPPY FARMING!

Tracy

A Sweet Little Quilt Tutorial.

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Here is a sweet little quilt I made for my BF daughter.  I used small squares cut out from fabric samples. I had many fabric books left over from my Interior Design business. I hated to see them go to the land fill. I choice fabrics that the colors went to together.

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Find a pleasing look to your fabric design.

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Stitched the rows and then flipped them over and ironed the seams flat.

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*  Attached each row to each other.  Turn over and ironed the seams again.

*Once  all the pieces are sewn together  sew them to the main piece of fabric.

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*  Use purple single sided bias tape to out line the squares.

*  Sew the main fabric, a natural filler , and muslin all together.

*   Quilt the layers together. I used the sewing machine.

*  Sew Quilting bias around the Quilt to finish it off.

* To add a little whimsy I made Yo Yos. Cut out circles, hand sew a loose stitch along the circle. It will pull together as you go along.With the Yo-Yos with a trim, I sewed on bias tape to them before I hand sewed them into their puckered state. I then sewed them onto the Quilt.

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This was my  first Quilt I have every made. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to make another one. I hope this inspires you if you’ve never made a Quilt. Start small and enjoy!

HAPPY SPRING!

Tracy

Candy Gifts

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Great gift idea to make with kids!

I purchased most supplies by Make’n Mold. I found them at our local craft store.  This was the first time I’ve made candy so I wanted something that was easy to follow and child friendly.im0000121

To make the accent colors inside the candy molds use vanilla chips and food coloring ( I used coloring that was for candy. I wasn’t sure if I could use the kind for cakes and cookies. If  anyone knows , please let me know. )

Heat the vanilla chips in two separate squeeze bottles. Heat for about one minute, take bottle out and squeeze until chocolate is melted. If need be put back in Microwave for 15 seconds and repeat. Then add coloring until the desired shade is achieved.  Use a long wood skewer  to mix the color.

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After mixing color, squeeze into molds.

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Melt the chocolate of choice to pour into the mold.

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I don’t have a double boiler so I improvised.


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Add lollipop stick and cover with chocolate at base.

Chill for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Then pop them out.

Place them in a food safe container/plastic. Close with a twist tie or pretty ribbon.

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The pretzels are very easy to make.

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Use rod size pretzels.

Melt the chocolate. (I used white and milk chocolate separately) I found it easier to spoon the chocolate over the pretzel half way to the end of the pretzel.

Place pretzels on wax paper and apply the sprinkles at this time.

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To add a second color to the pretzels, let the pretzel cool and then apply the second color over it.

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Present in your favorite way. Great gift to give at holidays, family gatherings or just for the fun of it.


Window boxes for less

Here is a post from last summer.

You can check out my old blog @ Visionsofsuagrplums.net

Inexpensive Window Boxes

I finally got my window boxes. We’ve lived here for 5 years and I have always wanted window boxes on the front of the house. I love looking at houses with beautiful over flowing window boxes. My husband was worried about damage that the water might cause to the house. I came up with an idea that puts the boxes far enough away from the house that their should not be any damage.
I got all the material from the Mill Store. The unfinished boxes with plastic liners were only $14 a piece. Most window boxes I looked at were $75 and up. The brackets were $5.00 a piece. This was a very inexpensive project that added a lot of character to the house.I originally wanted to buy antique brackets but I couldn’t find enough that matched. I needed 8 brackets. I have four windows.

First thing I did to prepare the boxes was:

  1. Drilled about 30 holes in the bottom of each box
  2. Sand the boxes before painting
  3. Primed the boxes
  4. Used exterior paint ( I used 2 coats of left over paint from the house trim)
  5. Re drill the holes (paint can clog the them)
  6. I cut huge holes in the plastic liners so they would drain easily
  7. Placed one layer of newspaper on the bottom of the liner.
  8. Fill with potting soil and compost.
  9. Fill with plants. ( Choose filler flowers( I used pink Becopia) Usually small buds, trailing flowers & vines( Vinca or Potato Leaf as an example) and then a main flower ( I used ruffled Petunia)

I placed the brackets on the house with the long side faced up. The window boxes sit right up to the end of the bracket. ( I wanted a 2 to 3 inch gap between the house and the window box. )Once the flowers fill in you really don’t notice the gap. The window boxes were drilled to the bracket from underneath.


Notice the Whimsical bug. This was from the Kith & Kin Studios a few years back. My sister-n-law designed the wings and I designed and painted the body. We had them in all kinds of playful colors. Someday I’ll post the Fat Fairies we made. They are adorable.
You can really change the look of your house with this project. Next month I’m going to replace the summer flowers with Mums and Decorative Cabbage, and this winter I will have Holly berry, mixture of greens and red berries.

Have fun with them.

A Child’s Apron Tutorial

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Make this child’s apron in a couple of hours. Less if you have no interruptions and you can sew a straight line fast. I’m still working on that.

Measure the waist of whom the apron will made for. Take half the waist measurement and use that as the width of  your apron. For the length use about 5 inches from the knees.

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Cut out the pattern. Now measure out a smaller pattern to go on top of the main piece you just cut out. This piece is about 2 1/2 inches all around smaller.

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Measure out the strings to go around the waist. String length is the waist measurement plus, 18 inches added on each side.

Use quilting  bias for the apron strings.Matched the bias to the fabric or get creative.  Use a complementary color or whatever your heart tells you.

Put the strings up to the fabric to make sure you like how it looks before you sew any more.

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Fold the edge over on the fabric that will be on top. You don’t want any raw edges showing. Now sew.

On the fabric that is the larger piece,  use  double Bias tape for the edges. When you are  done sewing these two separate pieces,  put them together and place them between the quilting bias tape.

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The ends of the strings, fold the fabric over to show a smooth edge. Sew this.
Place the two sides of the bias tape together and sew all the way to the other end. This should seal your ends and give a finished edge to your apron.

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Have Fun making this! I would love to see your versions of this apron!

Enj0y!

Tracy