Sunday, November 20, 2016

Banana Cream Pie

I don't often share the adventures of cooking on here, but cooking is an art too, so why not? Foody photos are fun all the same.

This evening's activity, making a banana cream pie. I've been in a pie making mood, practically wanting to make and eat every pie listed in the Betty Crocker cook book. 
My sudden burst of energy for baking started on the 17'th. We had some leftover pumpkin pie filling after canning most of it, so I was asked to make a pie crust. 
My pie craving didn't end there of course, and after finish off the pumpkin pie within several days, I still wanted banana cream pie, so that was this evenings activity. 

It was a group effort between myself and my sister. 

I joked and we laughed as we cooked. We looked up a pudding recipe for the filling, I got to work on first making strudel for the inside, then made the crust and learned a few things about flash baking with ceramic weights, all the while keeping an eye on the simmering pudding that needed to be stirred constantly while my sister set the mixer on and made meringue.
Cutting up banana, ladling in the pudding, adding the strudel, and watching my sister plop shiny meringue on top was a delight. After a good hour of assembling and baking, the pie had to sit in the oven and cool for several hours after that before it was taken to chill for the night in the garage fridge.
I learned a few things during the pie making process. My sister took a skinny spoon and wedged it all around the meringue to make it spiky, a way of having golden spots with cream colored crevices. She says it kind of looks like the cap of an acorn....which is funny to have on top of a banana pie. 
During the crust baking process, I discovered the weights are for preventing the crust from puffing while it cooks. Problem is we don't have enough ceramic beads for it to work as well as it needs to. Also, the crust shrank and sank slightly from the lip, a sign that the dough was a bit too wet. This resulted in a more shallow shell that couldn't quite hold all the pudding, which means we had a little snack after filling the pie to the brim as best we could.
The evening after.....

The banana cream pie didn't quite turn out the way I was expecting. A number of things could have been the cause of runny filling which was thick when I first added it before overnight cooling.

Could be excess moister in the bananas caused the pudding to thin, or perhaps the strudel topping of butter and brown sugar had something to do with it. That added ingredient wasn't part of the recipe, but I wanted a cookie flavor and didn't have vanilla cookie wafers, so I did that instead.

Either way, whatever happened will hopefully not happen the next time round. We may try the baked custard method instead of the pudding method next time, which can hopefully give us a nice firm filling. Regardless, the pie still tasted good, and we each had double shares, finishing it off in a single night.
Only reason we finished it that quickly is because banana cream pie goes bad quickly, and the filling was so soupy that there was a risk of the pie collapsing away to nothing if it sat longer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lime green and Marketside Baseball book covers

Currently on the project list, two different book covers made from packaging. Now that I've finished the mini case file books I'm onto the next projects.
I've saved some green colored cardboard from a Linkyo defuser device. It was once the inside part of the box, made to hold the device in place, but now it's being put towards crafts.
 I like the top sentiment "Unwind Yourself" with the leaves on green. This part of the box and the removed tab from the larger part of the box are going into one of my nature books. As for the larger portion, I hope to play with it as a book cover with some pages and decorated insides using a few Whole Foods paper bags.
More about this project and others will be mentioned later, hopefully when I'm all done with them.
The second book I've started on is going to be made from this Marketside pizza box which came with some baseball cards. The box art itself caught my eye, so in the stash it went.
I've been putting off making it for awhile, but I've decided it's time to get it done before it's too late. I need to experiment and explore while I still have the ideas fresh in mind.
I've already cut apart the box tonight into the dimensions I want the cover to be, and have made score lines where the spine will be. I'm thinking this book may be interesting to keep baseball memories in. I know I'm not going to need a book like this, but experimenting with new ideas is fun.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mini Detective File Journals

Back to the subject of these mini detective file journals. Like their larger brothers  their covers are made from old file folders and their pages consist of a variety of materials. Their fronts are simply decorated, and their backs are plain (left).
I made these minis using leftovers from the first three detective journals. This was a good way to use up gathered materials still in the bag, and mini books are great for carrying in a purse or bag for those moments a good mystery idea might come along.

I made two, the one file folder already having some existing writing on it (left). On both I stamped "CLASSSIFIED" using a set of Martha Stewart letter stamps.

The one with just the stamping across the top (right) has been gifted to a writing friend who writes her own mystery novels. I thought a book like this would be fitting for notes and ideas put towards mystery writing.
I bound the pages using silver O wires after punching pages with my Bind-It-All. The way it looks from the side kind of seems interesting to me, maybe because O wires remind me of literal backbones of a book.
The first and second book have the same set up as far as papers goes. There are a variety of materials, everything from green paper that has printing on it, old calendar block sheets, used planner sheets, striped paper, a few miscellaneous texture pages, and small security envelop pockets throughout.

Both books have a front and back compartment built into the cover itself for storing little odds and ends.
The second book has the same compartment system as shown here, which was helpful for when I decided to slip some extra scraps to the mix for playing with in the book.
Above are some pictures to show the subtle different in material for each book. The second book does have slightly different patterned security envelopes and pages obviously, but is mostly identical to the first.
First book's side contents. I added the same kinds of materials for both books. I added in some planner pages for journaling, some scrap strips of graph paper for using to decorate or add labels here and there in the book, a few business slips, mini calendar pages, some address book pages, a bit of brown paper, and some file folder scraps for turning into tabs.
Again, the second book has identical items.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

End of October crafts

Can you tell what I like? My inner goth and love for spiderwebs is apparent in my growing collection of ribbons, trims, and fabrics for using in journals and to create Monster High doll costumes.
Newest items in the bunch purchased yesterday are on the left and bottom of the display above. The scrunched and ripply elastic trim is what I've been wanting to make quick, easy tops for my dolls (requires less fitting).
It seems sort of random to talk about favorite Halloween trims, but taking pictures of sparkly things is just so much fun. :P
To the left are some new ribbon trims from the sale shelf of leftover Halloween goods. 70% off all Halloween items is hard to pass up when that means ribbon spools are only around $1.80 instead of $4 per spool. This year's grab is similar to last years grab (right), only this time the orange and black is sparkly, and the neat gold stuff is metallic.
 I was quick to get a few other things on clearance. Halloween paper napkins and foil goodie bags for Autumn. They have a nice foil sheen with colorful leaves on them, something I want to use in an Autumn journal that I've been gathering supplies for. 

The paper napkin pack was just as cheap as the ribbon, so I got some, and that means I get to play with them using decoupage techniques to create book covers, pages, envelopes, and pockets. I've never tried it before, but have seen what other artists have done with them. Cool stuff, so I look forward to experimenting myself, even more excited to try it because it's spiderweb themed. :D

My ventures to the craft store tend to end with me finding more than I came for, but so long as it's clearance or I have a coupon, it's hard to resist.
Seriously though, the main reason I went to Johann's is to find a corner punch for paper crafting. My corner punch broke because the metal's cheap and the device couldn't handle punching anything thicker than one sheet of card stock at a time. Though it was disappointing to have it break on me right in the middle of a project, it opened a window of opportunity to get something better, which I did. I found a three in one corner rounder from Fiskars with the same large corner rounding punch, along with a medium and small punch all part of the same device. 

From a personal preference as a paper crafter, I would say this new punch works rather well, so long as you don't try punching anything too thick (a couple sheets of heavy card stock at a time would be an example). 

I like the kinds of punches that face upward so you can see the alignment of your paper in the shaft. It helps me know the corner of my paper is flush with the punch.
I needed the punch more than ever to complete the pages of these mini detective case file journals, created from the leftovers of their larger brothers. I plan to make a more detailed post for this project later, aiming to possibly sell or gift these minis in the future when I hopefully have an Etsy store and proper set up. I'm sort of leaning towards the gift idea.

I found that making minis can be more productive and enjoyable compared to making large books which require more thought in the sense of how to fold and create signatures out of full length pages. In the case with mini albums that are around the same size as large greeting cards, I can make more pages at a faster speed because a single sheet of printer paper becomes two pages when folded in half.
Making smaller journals also means that despite having fewer supplies than normal for adding to something larger, for something smaller it will end up looking like double than what it is because, as I said, one page becomes two when cut down to size. 

This is just a peek at what's currently happening at the craft desk.

 Oct. 9, 2016

The spiderweb trim and some of the black trims shown in the main photo of my growing Halloween trim/fabric collection were actually bought on October ninth, along with a packet of aquatic blue trims. 
I got a few fun things for trying out on the sewing machine. The spiderweb trim was on sale in the Halloween section, I got the packet of teal trims for creating Lagoona fashion, and I got nine inches of some specialty trims including a fancy elastic band for creating a spiderweb skirt for my Monster High dolls.

I really like spiderwebs, and this trim is all sparkly, kind of a silver gray color in the light. It's going towards the wardrobe for one of the Monster High vampire dolls who can also play the role of a spider with the right costume. 

As for the aquatic trim, that will serve well for a whole future collection of Lagoona Blue fashion and maybe a few other projects.
 Oct. 10, 2016

My adventures in Halloween goodies didn't end there either. On the tenth I had found these Halloween washi tapes at A.C. Moore, for using in my new Spider Silk journal. Bats and spiderwebs are two of my favorite things for Halloween.
My eyes were also caught by the glowing green neon thread in the embroidery aisle of A.C. Moore. It's 100% polyester, and feels kind of weird, but the color was just too cool to pass up. I plan to embroider alien vine designs onto a Monster high doll shirt for Venus.
I have way too much to play with as it is for those dolls. Fabric for spiderweb dresses, trims for Lagoona, thread for embroidering a shirt, and a whole bunch of other stuff.