DIY Crafts

Easter Monday

On the Third Day, He rose from the Dead. Well, depending on how you like to do math... It's Easter!  So, Happy Easter everyone!  I had a lovely weekend celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.  I attended church at Shiloh Baptist Church with beautiful friends, we decorated Easter eggs, and we had an  amazing, leisurely brunch outside.

Golden Eggs and Painted Eggs

Golden Eggs and Painted Eggs

This is my second year in attempting to make artistic Easter eggs.  Last year, I made marshmallow eggs and basket cake.  This year, I decided to decorate real, hard-boiled eggs.  I kind of wish that I had blown them out so that I could preserve them, but there's always next time!

Easter Basket Cake with Homemade Marshmallow Eggs

Easter Egg Decorating Tips

  1. When dying eggs, use one cup near-boiling water with one tablespoon of vinegar.  Then, add as much food coloring as you'd like!  The more color, the darker the egg.
  2.  Switch things up and use brown eggs.  You will get deeper colors.
  3.  Consider actually painting the eggs.  We used acrylic paint, and it worked beautifully!
  4. For the gold leaf-wrapped eggs: I dyed the eggs per number one and let them dry.  I then lightly brushed a very small amount of transfer adhesive on the eggs, and let it dry for about 20 minutes.  I then covered the egg with a gold leaf sheet, and gently pulled off the remaining gold leaf.

Golden Eggs and Painted Eggs

 

Gingerbread Houses

Homemade Gingerbread House: Etched Chocolate Bat Door The concept of making and decorating a gingerbread house is appealing in so many ways.  You can expressive yourself in a creative, artistic manner through baking.  And you do it during the holiday season with family and friends. Win, Win, Win, Win! I am a late bloomer to the gingerbread house game, as last Christmas was the first time that I EVER constructed or decorated one (I never even did the milk carton/graham cracker thing in school).  Last year gave me a glimpse into the planning and dedication that is needed to construct and decorate a gingerbread house.  The entire project can be completed in one day, but it's much easier if you plan in advance and construct/decorate over a couple of days.

Gingerbread House Igloo: "Ginger-gloo"

<!--more-->Over Thanksgiving, my mom, sisters, and I decorated gingerbread houses.  It was so therapeutic to post up in the dining room with Christmas music playing, making shingles from non-pareils and walls from sugar cubes.  I decided to switch things up this year and not make a "traditional" gingerbread house, but instead a gingerbread igloo.. or a gInger-GLOO.  It took me multiple attempts to bake the dome and tunnel, but it worked out!  The most difficult part of making a gingerbread house for me is the actual home construction--making the walls, and roof pieces all line up, and stay together with only royal icing!

Gingerbread House Recipe, adapted from Making Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Dough (Enough for 1 house or an army of gingerbread men)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter, softened (2 sticks) 3/4 c. (100g) firmly packed brown sugar 3/c. (250g) molasses 5 1/4 c. (630g) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 c. (6 oz.) cold water

1.  Cream first two ingredients until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and blend on low speed.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves into a large bowl. Stir in salt.  Add flour mixture and water to butter/sugar/molasses mixture, and blend until all of the flour is absorbed.

3. Spread the dough out on a sheet pan, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until you're ready to roll it out (at least 3 hours, ideally overnight).  It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or the freezer for up to one month.

rolling out dough with a rolling pin

Baking gingerbread over a bowl in the oven

Gingerbread Tunnel

Decorating the Gingerbread IglooDecorating with Sugar Cubes- Decorating with Sugar Cubes

Gingerbread House Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roll out the dough on a clean, flat, floured surface.  Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin.  The dough should be 1/2 inch thick so that the structure can support the weight of itself and the decorations.  Using a template, cut the dough with a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, and transfer to a baking sheet.  Bake until deep brown, but not black (about 20 minutes). **Be sure to bake it until crisp and completely dry--this is building material--not a cookie!

2. Transfer the pieces to a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely (at least 25 minutes).

3. Using a 12 or 14 inch cake board, commence assembly.  Using a pencil, lightly mark where you want the house to sit on the base (cake board).  Place royal icing in piping bag, and use the icing like glue to assemble the house.  Let the pieces dry completely before beginning to decorate.

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

5 1/4 c. (630g) powdered sugar 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1/2 c. egg whites

1. Sift the powdered sugar after measuring it. Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the sugar.

2. Combine the ingredients with a mixer on low speed, then beat them on high for two to five minutes (until snow-white and fluffy).  **Keep the icing bowl covered with a damp towel to retain moisture.  The mixture hardens and crusts quickly when exposed to air.

My favorite 7-year old's gingerbread house.  Her little house improved SO MUCH from last year!

We even invited some youngsters over and helped them to each construct and decorate a gingerbread house.  The kids--ages 7-14--were all entirely engrossed in the project.  It was really great to see them so focused on being creative little decorators.

decorating gingerbread houses

Wine + Art

On a recent trip to Baton Rouge, I went to Corks-N-Canvas, an art studio that mixes learning to paint with drinking wine.  I was instantly intrigued--we all think of pairing wine with cheese, but why not art?

The studio focuses on the concept of art as entertainment.  With a little instruction, anyone can paint.  My mother had already been to the New Orleans Magazine Street location where she painted a crooked house. My mother happens to be extremely artistic, so her pieces looked very good.

That was an interesting thing about the class.  Yes, we were all painting the same object, but, everyones looked different. Very different. There was a bonafide artist sitting next to me, and her painting was downright inspiring.  The class was three hours long--though I was so into it, I could have used an extra hour or two.   Music even played lightly in the background (I was impressed by the playlist, which included India Arie).  It was therapeutic.  I was able to focus all of my energy in one place--the tip of my paint brush and the strokes that followed.

I have no doubt that this concept will be popping up all over the country.  Those of you with a lot of liquidity, look into franchising options!