Friday, September 4, 2015

Minions Birthday Party




On august was my middle child's birthday and he is all about The Minions at the moment... Who isn't really? They are funny and adorable, so I decided to make him a Minions themed birthday party and I knew had to start with something that will commit me to finish what I started soooo.... I started at the party invitations and sent them as soon as they were finished.
 
Here is how they turned out...

 
I printed all the details on a white paper and pasted it on the blue part.

After I was finished with the invitations I started building a cupcake holder. To make it, I used two pieces of pvc pipe and some thin cement board that we have left from some building project and then I wrapped all the pieces separately with colorful fabric that matched my Minions theme. I would love to be able to give exact measurements but I eyeballed everything so I hope the pictures help you get an idea of how I made it.


 
For the cake I decided this year that I was going to make a super cake! I must say that this was the first time I got my hands on fondant but I absolutely loved working with it... I think I found a new passion! In order to reproduce what I had in my head I had to start small... so I made a little prototype of  a Minion... it didn't came out to accurate but I just wanted to feel the fondant and decide if I was gonna be able to work with it... here is my tester Minion...
 
 

Interestingly enough I made a few rookie mistakes by running out this test...
 
1. Fondant melts in the fridge!!! I had no idea, but when my little guy here started to run down its colors I did my research and yeah... it melts in the fridge, so I had to keep all my minions in an air tight container.
 
2. I also found out that it dries out pretty quick so keep what you are not using covered or wrapped in cling film when you are working with it.
 
3. Your cake HAS to be room temperature when you cover it with fondant or the sugar will melt all over it. This was an absolute bummer!!!! It was the day before the party and I put out of the freezer the first layer cake, and I was so excited about it that I didn't wait for it to defrost, instead I covered it with the fondant straight away and low and behold my cake was melting in front of my eyes. I didn't know what to do but then I read somewhere that with the hair blow dryer you can actually fix it and so I did. It worked. It took and awful long time but it worked and I was able to save my cake. So...yeah, room temperature cake.
 
4. The cake has to be a dense cake... if it is spongy it will sink with the weigh of the fondant. I made a banana cake for this project which is pretty dense so I was good with that. I will post the recipe for my banana cake soon.
 
5. I read a lot about how to stack a two tiered cake and I found lots of ways to do it but I used my own. I put a big piece of PVC pipe, like the ones I used for the cupcake holder (may be 3 or 4 inches wide) and stuck it right in the middle of the bottom layer and then just let the top one sit on it. It worked pretty good.
 
Anyway... for being the first time working with it... I didn't do that bad. Everyone that saw it said it was gorgeous and my son was super impressed.



 
 
 
 
 Hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to get as many ideas from it as you want. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.
See you soon...


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Simply Crochet Cowl Neck Poncho Pattern Review and Info


 
When I saw it on the Simply Crochet Magazine I just knew I had to make it at least once... little did I know... I have made three... and counting!!!
 
It is a very easy pattern. If you have tried my tutorial on How to Crochet a Basic Granny Square then the pattern for THIS PONCHO will be a piece o' cake!
 
I would like to give my readers a little help though. The cowl is made out of a combination of "Front Post Double Crochet" (FPDC) and Back Post Double Crochet (BPDC).
I am not going to make a tutorial on this because I found an amazing video tutorial from Meladora in which she explains in much detail how to crochet these two stitches. You can find her video HERE.
 
Another note that I would like to leave for my readers about this poncho pattern is that it uses the UK terms for the crochet stitches and the ones that I have been teaching in my Crochet Basic Series are all in US crochet terms. If you know how it works then you just need to keep that in mind when you crochet your own poncho but if you struggle with it a little bit, our friends at the Simply Crochet Magazine made us a few Conversion Charts that you can find HERE.
 
This is not a free pattern I must say but it is worth every penny you pay for it... it is simple, it is easy to read, to follow and of course... it is gorgeous.
 
The first Poncho I made, I followed all the instructions and it came out exactly like the pattern said it would... I just changed the colors of the original one, but for the second one I made, the green one, I let my creativity take charge of things and I added a stitch pattern that gives it a little playfulness as it breaks the lines and I also added a few more rows to make it longer.


Anyways, I hope you guys give the pattern a try and if you have any questions just leave me a comment and I will answer as soon as I can. I will leave here all the links again for you to find all the info you need.

Cowl Neck Poncho Pattern from Simply Crochet Magazine
How to Crochet a Granny Square - Basic
Meladora's Front Post and Back Post Double Crochet
UK and US Crochet Conversion Charts from Simply Crochet Magazine

See you soon...

 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Summer Bliss Crochet Coasters Tutorial for Beginners


 
Hi guys! Well... who misses summer days? anyone? I think that all around the globe we dream about those  sunny, beautiful, colorful summer days. Those days in which everything looks brighter, the kids laughter leaves a happiness footprint in our memories,  the birds chirp louder and even the bees and bugs seem to be minding their own business instead of buzzing aimlessly around my hair.
 
All week we have had rainy days and that is how I came up with this beautiful coasters. I was trying to bring some sunshine into our grey week so I thought... what better than a bright Summer Bliss Coaster to light up my table.
 
Here is the tutorial:
 
Materials for this project:
  • Cotton yarn  in Red, Orange, Coral and Yellow
  • 3.5mm crochet hook.
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Scissors
 
Rnd.1: With red yarn, Ch4 (counts as magic ring + 1st dc) 11dc in 4th ch from hook, sl st on top of initial ch 4. Fasten off. (12 dc made)
 
Rnd 2: With orange yarn, Join in any stitch of the previous row. Ch3 (counts as first dc), dc in same st as ch3, 2 dc in each st around. Join with sl st on top of initial ch 3. Fasten off. (24 dc made)
 
Rnd 3: With coral yarn, join in any st of the previous row. Ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc in same st, dc in next st, *2 dc in next st, dc in next st*. Repeat from * to * all around the circle and join with sl st on top of initial ch3. Fasten off. (36 dc made)
 
Rnd 4: With yellow yarn. Join in any st of the previous row, ch3 (counts as first dc), dc in same st, 1 dc in each of the next 2 st, *2 dc in next st, 1 dc in each of the next 2 st*. Repeat from * to *, join with sl st on top of initial ch3. (48 dc made). Don't fasten off.
 
 
Rnd 5: ch1, sc in same st, ch2, skip 1 st  *sc in next st, ch2, skip 1* repeat all around and sl st in first sc.
Rnd 6: *sc into ch1 sp, ch3, sc in nxt ch1 sp* Repeat from * to *. Sl St on 1st sc. Fasten Off.
Weave in the ends with the tapestry needle.
 
I hope you enjoy making this coasters as a beginners project. If you find any trouble with this pattern please leave me a comment.
 
You may sell the products you make out of this pattern but please refer back to my blog for the pattern credits and please do not copy my pictures or this pattern into any other website.
 
See you soon...
 



Monday, April 13, 2015

Homemade Burger Patties - From Scratch

Hi guys!
There is a saying in Spanish that goes like this "Lo prometido es deuda" which means, "what you promised, now you owe it".
So I promised in my last post of the Homemade Burger Buns - No Machines that I was going to show you as well how to make the burger patties. I know (and I think I have said this before) that there are many places all around the world were you can buy good quality frozen patties and just pop'em out of the freezer, grill them and they are ready, but here, in this jungle paradise you can't find anything like that, I even have to grind the meat on my own.
 
The markets here are very... I guess you can say... "real"...  when you go there shopping you get to see and learn a lot about where your food is coming from and how does it look when it is not processed, and though at the beginning this was shocking I guess in time, you realize that you actually love the freshness of  it. 
Any way, I will show how to make the burger patties assuming that you do have ground beef available in your local shops,  but if  you don't, and you don't know how to grind it, please leave me a comment and I will be glad to help you out with this.
 
 
Burger Patties Recipe from Scratch
(makes 6, 125 grs. Patties)
 
Ingredients:
  • 600 grs. of Ground Beef. (I use tenderloin and grind it at home)
  • 1/2 a white Onion finely diced
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 egg
 
Method:
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  • Make 125 grs. (4 oz) balls with the meat mix and press them down to form the patties. This will be really sticky. It helps if you wet your hands with some water.
  • Grill or fry them until cooked. (you can tell they are done when you press it and the juices come out clear).
  • Serve with a nice Homemade Burger Buns - No Machines and some French fries.
 
 
I really hope you guys enjoy this recipe and leave me a comment if you have any questions about it.
Happy cooking!
 
 
 
 




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Homemade Burger Buns - No Machines

As many of you know, a few years ago my family and I left everything we had, packed up what we could and went to live in the jungle -hence the title of this blog-. We have had great times as well as hard times, it just comes with it and we treasure every moment that we spend together discovering our new lives, but there is something that we miss dearly (besides the obvious which is loved ones) and that is a good greasy plate of pure junk food! There are no fast food restaurants were we live so we had two options... settle or do something about it. After years of trial and error I finally nailed it, I made my own fast food meal, there is nothing fast about it as everything is made from scratch, but it was definitely worth the time and effort. The kids absolutely loved it and it is the closest I have come to making a fast-food-like burger with the bonus that I know exactly what is in it.


So today I have decided to share this recipe with you with the hope that you and your family will enjoy it just as much as we did. I will start with the buns and on my next post I'll explain how to make the patties.
I have shared a very easy bread rolls recipe in my post The Only Bread Rolls Recipe You Will Ever Need so if you have tried that one before, this one should be a walk in the park for you.

Burger Buns Recipe
  • 1/3 cup of butter 
  • 1/3 cup of white sugar
  • 2 Large good quality farm eggs (this is the secret  to a perfect bun;)
  • 1 cup of  milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 Tbsp. of Instant Dry Yeast
  • 2 Tsp. of Salt
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 egg slightly beaten + 3 tbsp. of water (egg wash) *Optional*
  • Sesame seeds to sprinkle *Optional*
  1. Warm up the butter and milk to a little bit higher than body temperature (110 °F - 43 °C). If you don't have a kitchen thermometer, test with your finger, you should feel it warm but not hot. 
  2. In a large bowl lightly mix sugar, eggs, yeast.
  3. Add the milk and butter mix to the bowl. Mix it lightly and let it sit for 10 minutes so the yeast wakes up. After ten minutes you should be able to see a sand color foam on top of your  mix.
  4. Add flour and salt and mix with your hands until everything comes up together. I live in a very humid environment so I usually need to add  an extra 1/2 a cup of flour, try first with 4 cups and if it is still sticky then add a little bit more.
  5. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 3 or 4 minutes. Come on now! This is the no machine part of the recipe so let's burn some calories here! Use the heel of your hand to push the dough forward and then bring it back together again. Repeat this kneading motion until the dough looks smooth. It should only take 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Form a ball and  lightly grease a bowl with some butter, put the dough in there, cover it with a clean tea towel and let it rest in a warm cozy place for about an hour or until it doubles in size. **I put mine inside my oven with just the light of the oven on. If yours doesn't have a light you can place a cup of boiling water inside the oven so the steam works up a nice warm environment for the yeast to do its thing.**
  7. Punch the dough down and cut into 8 pieces (first in half and then half of half...etc until you have 8 pieces) and form balls with them.
  8. Place the buns on a lined baking tray 1 inch or 2.5 cm apart from each other. (I use a silicone mat on top of the baking tray and with that I don't have to grease it or spray it but if you don't have one of those, you can use parchment paper and spray it with baking spray or grease it with butter. Cover the buns with a tea towel, and again let them rest in a cozy place for an hour or until they double their size.
  9. Preheat oven at 350 °F - 180 °C
  10. Brush the buns with egg wash and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. *This step is optional. I actually make this same recipe everyday for dinner rolls without this egg wash step.*
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
  12. Let them cool for a couple of minutes and then pass them to a cooling rack.


You can store this buns in an airtight container and they will last for a few days.
You can also freeze the dough and bake the buns when you need them.

To freeze the uncooked buns stop at step 7, then place the buns in an airtight container and freeze them (don't squish them it is better to use two containers than to squash them). 
When they are hard and frozen you can pass them to a zip lock bag for space saving purposes.
Whenever you need them, you just take them out of the freezer the night before, let them thaw and rise all night on a baking tray previously greased or lined with parchment paper. Continue with step 9 as instructed.
I hope you guys try this recipe, if you  have any questions please leave me a comment and I will surely come back to you with a more detailed explanation of how to make this delicious Homemade Burger Buns.
See you soon...

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Crochet a Double Crochet Stitch (English and Castellano)

Hi everyone!
I am bringing you today another tutorial on our series Crochet Basics.
The stitch I will be teaching you today is called the Double Crochet Stitch. In my experience, this is the most versatile stitch and the one that is more comfortable to wear if you are applying it to make clothes. All of the endless variations of this specific stitch are going to depend on where do you put the stitch in the project, but the actual way of doing it doesn't change.
I am hoping to bring you in the future a few of the variations that I am talking about, but for now, let's go back to basics and learn how to make a double crochet stitch.(video below written instructions)

Double Crochet Stitch Written Instructions
Yarn over the hook, insert hook through stitch from previous row, yarn over hook and pull through the stitch (3 loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 loops (2 loops left on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 remaining loops (1 loop left in hook). Double crochet done.

It is important to understand what you are doing because that will allow you to know where are you going to place the crochet hook next. For that purpose, I am going to show you a few pictures that show clearly which one is the next stitch. I hope It is easy to read for you as this is a crucial stitch to learn when crocheting.

Instrucciones del Punto Vareta
Montar la lana en el crochet, insertar el crochet a través de un punto de la fila anterior, monta la lana y jala a través del punto (3 vueltitas en el crochet), montar la lana y jalar a través de dos de las vueltitas (quedan 2 vueltas en el crochet), montar la lana y jalas por dos (queda un punto en el crochet). Punto vareta hecho.

Es importante que entendamos lo que estamos haciendo para que podamos ver con claridad y saber en donde vamos a insertar el crochet en el siguiente punto.  El punto vareta es un punto crucial al momento de tejer proyectos completos y por eso espero que estas fotos sean lo suficientemente claras y fáciles de entender.

How to Crochet a Double Crochet Stitch (English Version)



Cómo Tejer en Crochet un Punto Vareta (Version Español)



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I will be coming back soon with another basic stitch called Triple Crochet. Till then... Happy Crocheting!!!

See you soon

Friday, March 27, 2015

Homemade Ragu Recipe

Honoring my Italian roots this time I am going to show you how to make a Homemade Ragú sauce. I absolutely love this recipe because is so simple to make and it goes a long way when it come to versatility. You can make this sauce as I am showing you in the recipe below or you can substitute the herbs for others such as basil, or add some cinnamon, cloves  and bay leaves for a Mediterranean  twist, or maybe some mushrooms  for an Italian touch. 

As I grew up I have always had at home this same sauce but instead of oregano and rosemary, the original recipe, the one that only "la nonna" can make,  calls for a handful of basil and it turns up absolutely delicious, but... I like to use this sauce to mix with other things in order to get different dishes and basil doesn't always go well with some things and that is why i am bringing you the rock bottom recipe for a homemade Ragú that I assure will get you out of any midweek dinner crisis. If you know what I mean ;)

I know that there are many commercial brands that sell this type of sauce, and maybe you are asking yourself why would you spend your time making something you can easily buy? The reason for me is a no brainer...My family! I want to give them the best I can possibly put on their plates and  there is a bonus to it too... once you try the freshness of a Homemade Ragu Sauce, you will never go  back to the metallic taste of the commercial ones. Just give it a try.
 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium size onions chopped roughly
  • 2 kg. (4 pounds) of fresh tomatoes chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of beef or chicken broth
  • 3 or 4 oregano stalks and the same of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Method
  • In a large pan heat the oil and fry the onions until soft and golden brown (not burnt)
  • Add garlic and tomato paste stirring so it doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan.
  • Dump in the tomatoes, chicken or beef broth and the herbs stalks and all. (there is lots of flavor in the stalks, we'll get them out later)
  • When it starts boiling set the burner at the lowest and just let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
 
*Notice that I haven't added any salt just yet, this is on purpose given that I am not a chef, I rather be safe than salty, so I add it at the end.
 
  • Take out the stalks of the herbs you put in, the leaves most likely fell in the sauce, that's fine. 

*I have in my kitchen a stick blender, but if you don't, you can get the same results with a regular blender or a food processor.
 
So... blend everything until you have a smooth sauce now try it with a teaspoon and add salt and pepper to taste...
 
Taaaahh Daaaahhh!!!!!
 
Homemade Ragu... done!

 
Well, I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and let me know what dishes have you created using this same sauce.
 
See you soon and buon appetito! 




 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to crochet a Single Crochet and a Half Double Crochet Stitches

Continuing with our Basic Crochet Series, I am happy to present you my two latest tutorials.
This time we are going to learn how to make a basic Single Crochet (sc is the abbreviation for it and this is how you will find it in most patterns) and a Half Double Crochet (hdc).
Single Crochet (sc).HERE




Half Double Crochet (hdc)HERE



On our next tutorial I will show you how to make a double crochet and a triple (tr) crochet stitch. After we learn how to crochet this basic stitches, we are ready to start making simple beginners patterns such as beanies, scarves, dishcloths...etc.
Hope you enjoyed learning with me today.
See you soon!



Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to crochet a Granny Square: The Basics



I have recently made two dresses out of granny squares and i wanted to share with you How to make this easy, simple and yet beautiful crochet square.
I have to say that this is my first crochet pattern tutorial and I hope that more are coming as I shine and polish my "crocheteer" skills in the future.
I must say that there are different ways to accomplish the same results...this is the way I do it and the one I find the easiest.
 
This is one of the dresses I made. It is all made out of granny squares and just added some ruffles on the sleeves. She loved it and she does look gorgeous in it.
 
 

 
 
Basic Granny Square
Materials:
  • 1Crochet hook that fits the thickness of your yarn
  • 3 small pieces of yarn color of your choice.
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle to weave in the ends
 
Method:
Rnd. 1: With color "A" Ch 4. (This counts as center stitch and first dc) 
 2dc in 4th ch from hook, ch 2, *3dc in same sp, ch2* repeat 2 more times. Sl st on top of initial ch4. Fasten off.
 
 
 
Rnd.2: Join color b in any of the ch2 spaces from the previous row. (We'll call these "corners")
  • Ch 3 (counts as first dc), 2dc, ch 2, 3dc in same space. Ch1.
  • *In next corner from previous row 3dc, ch2, 3dc all in same sp. Ch1*
  • Repeat 2 more times from *...* sl st on top of initial ch3. Fasten off.
 
 
Rnd3. Join color "C" in any corner.
  • Ch3, 2dc, ch2, 3dc all in same sp. Ch1.
  • 3dc in next ch1 spce from previous row. Ch1
  • *3dc, ch2, 3dc all in next corner. Ch1
  • 3dc in next ch1 spce from previous row. Ch1*
  • Repeat from *...* 2 more times. Sl st on top of initial ch3.
  • Fasten off.
 
 
Here is a variation with a flower which I hope to post how to make soon.
Once you get a hang of the basic pattern... the sky is the limit! You can make blankets, tops, bags...you name it! Hope you have fun with it.
See you soon!
 
 
 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crochet 101 - How to crochet a Slip Knot & Basic Chain?



Hi everyone! There's people that have been asking me for a rock bottom basic tutorial on how to start crocheting and that's how I came up with this little video in which I will show you how to make a Slip Knot (Sl Kn, this is the abbreviation that you will find in most patterns when it refers to this specific stich). The Slip Knot is the first stitch you put on your hook when starting a project. All projects start with a Slip Knot, and what makes it special and important is that it is a knot that slides which makes it useful when you want to crochet in the round. 
There are many ways to make a slip knot but I find this one the easiest one for me. 

Also I will show you how to make a Chain Stich (Ch). This one is the basic chain most projects start with a chain though not all of them, but I guess if you can't make a chain you can't really crochet, so...

I hope you enjoy watching it.
(If you can't see it here, click HERE for my Youtube link)

  




Our next tutorial will be covering two basic stitches, and these are the single crochet (sc) and a half double crochet (hdc).
Suscribe so you don't miss it!!

See ya soon!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sewing, Crochet and other crafty stuff

Hey Everyone! it's been a long time since the last time a wrote something and trust me I missed it greatly, but as a result of the involuntary negligence against my blog i found the time to make lots of pretty things that i can't wait to show you.
Thanks to all of you that have patiently waited for me to finally come up with something to post. Hope you enjoy what you see...
 
This beauties I made for Christmas. My nieces were thrilled with them. There is just something special about a rag dolly. They came up pretty good and they are the perfect size. I got the pattern from OhSewDolling.com some time ago but now I can´t open this site anymore, however I found the Etsy shop for this and many other patterns of beatiful rag dollies. OhSewDollin Etsy Shop
 
 
I have also been crocheting a lot, and though i am not designing yet i have been trying lots of patterns that I found online some free and some for a Price but have enjoyed all of them.
 
Check this Lacy V Shopping Bag by Cathy Phillips...
This bag turned up gorgeous and it is super easy to make, the pattern is very well explained and it makes a beautiful gift.
 
The one on the left has a base that i made with thin rope to give the base some sturdiness but the original base in the pattern is pretty straight and sturdy enough and comes out very neat. Great Pattern! and it's free!! you can find it in this link of her Ravelry shop
 
The flower is not in the original pattern and i hope i can make a tutorial for it soon, neither are the handles, i bought those at my local craft shop.
 
 
 
I also made this lacy espadriles or slippers. They are so comfortable to wear and with the bonus of the cord soles you can wear them out in the Street and not only as house shoes.
The blue ones i made without the pattern just by looking at pictures online but the orange ones i made with the original pattern from Crochet Craft Santini Blog and they came out way prettier and cute. You will find in her blog the most beautiful crocheted ítems ever!!! She is gifted for this craft. I have bought a few of her patterns and they are absolutely gorgeous! and the patterns have all the information and explanations you may need to complete the project.
 
This specific model of the orange slippers I made is Coral Lace Espadrilles by Ingunn Santini, and you can find the pattern for sale for the cord soles (absolutely great!)HERE.
 
 
 
Flowers, flowers and more flowers... can you tell i love flowers?
I made this very simple cowls, (the ones on the top) they are just very chunky yarn and a bunch of dc stitches and voilá! add a flower and you are ready to go.
 
 
The blue scarf is called Aquatic Blossom by Crochet Geek. It is absolutely beautiful and it looks hard to make but once you get a hang of the pattern then it just flows very easily and the final product is gorgeous. The original pattern calls for certain ammount of initial stitches but i found that this was to small for me so you just add a Little bit more if you find your self in the same position, as i said is very easy and it is gorgeous.
 
The Green scarf there comes from a website i absolutely leeerrrve!!! It is written by a very young girl but trust me when i tell you... she is gifted for crafts. Her website is Hopeful Honey and the model of the Green scarf in the picture is...Chunky Infinity Scarf by Olivia.
 
 
And last but definitely not least, for the ones with a sweet tooth like me... i finally learned how to make Eclairs!!! this récipe is very easy to follow and the result is absolutely perfect. The récipe for these delicious Ecalirs is by Anna Olson´s from her show Bake with Anna Olson. HERE is a link for the récipe
 
 
My people here go balistic everytime i say i am going to make these.
 
Well i hope you enjoy reading about what i´ve been up to all this time and hope also to encourage you to try any of this tested récipes and patterns.
See you soon...