As part of my picnic project week, I wanted to make some great supplies for an actual picnic. Last time I went on a picnic it was during a hike at Castlewood State Park with my husband. I had planned ahead, discovering that there were some tables next to the river right at the end of one trail and before we started our second trail. When we went to sit down, some workers told us they were moving the table, leaving us with nothing to sit on. So much for that idea! I also forgot to bring napkins so I was woefully unprepared for lunch.
I wanted to be more prepared before our next hike or picnic in the park so I brainstormed a few ideas but nothing was as great as this picnic caddy I found on Snowy Bliss. As you can see above, I already had some cute blue and white plates from Target so I went back to the store to see if they had any placemats or napkins in the same line. Sadly the line was being discontinued but that meant I got the last 2 placemats on clearance. Score 1 for me!
I didn’t manage to find any cheap napkins so I decided to make my own. I used some fabric leftover from my striped porch pillows and made two handy napkins. Jen Giddens has a great tutorial for making napkins if you’ve never done your own. I followed the same method using a 14 inch square when making my own. Jen has drawings of the process and technical details while I just have some pictures.
Now back to the picnic caddy. My first goal was to have all the items I wanted to place in my caddy. I now had the napkin, some plasticware (I’m hoping to upgrade to reusable items next time I’m at the store), a straw, and a plastic bag for trash or leftovers. Since I had those, I was ready to proceed with the actual construction of the caddy. You’ll want to turn your placemat short side up and fold your placemat up till you find a height you like. I did this to the placemat on the right in the photo above.
Now the cool part about this picnic caddy is that it will roll up in the end. To help it stay put, you’ll want some ribbons to tie it shut. I used some 1/4 inch ribbon for this. I cut it 1 yard in length and then cut it into quarters. Take 2 of these 1/4 yard quarters and line them up together on the left side of your folded up placemat. When you find a position you like, pin it in place. Pin both the left and the right sides together.
Now you’ll want to topstitch around the edges. Remember to sew only where there are two layers of fabric. Since you’re topstitching, sew about 1/4″ or 1/8″ from the edge. In the photo above I show you the path to follow when sewing. Make sure to sew right over where that ribbon is.
Lastly, find an arrangement you like for your napkins and other supplies you gathered at the beginning. Sew in straight lines to make holders for all the items. I took advantage of the pattern in my placemat to hide some stitches by stitching in the ditch (aka sewing inside of the seamlines already there).
Now just roll it up and you’re good to go! I love how tiny the picnic caddy rolls up to be so it won’t take up much room in my bag or a picnic basket. It also nicely matches my plates. As a bonus, should the parks crew every steal my picnic table again, I have an actual placemat to eat off of. That’s right, I will be dining in style on my next picnic.
Over on my facebook page I’ve asked everyone what their favorite picnic foods are and I wanted to ask it here too. I love a good fruit spread or even just an apple or an orange while my husband insists on pudding cups for every picnic. What’s your must have?Pin It
One of my favorite summer drinks is a cherry limeade. Actually I love going to Sonic and grabbing any of their summer drinks and sipping on them all day long. I have a weakness that started when my brother was a carhop back in high school. It’s never really left me, I’ve just grown up a touch.
When I saw the recipe for a Cherry Limaretto on Today’s Nest, I knew I had found the perfect drink for me. A cherry limeade with some amaretto in it sounded too good to be true. There’s only a trace of alcohol in it so you don’t get too tipsy and it doesn’t overwhelm the cherry lime flavor of the drink. The drink tastes just like my favorite summer drink and it’s perfect for sipping at your next picnic.
From the Fresh Nest blog
- 3 ounces Amaretto
- 3 ounces sour cherry juice
- juice of one lime
- ginger ale
- Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice. Pour amaretto, cherry juice, and lime juice into shaker. Shake for 10 seconds.
- Fill 3 glasses with 3 ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glasses, then fill the rest of the way with ginger ale.
I’ve been holding back on this month’s centerpiece till this week because it goes so nicely with my picnic week. I love this centerpiece because it used items I had on-hand. The basket is leftover from a gift packaging years back. I’ve been storing spare candles in it but my closet makeover (details coming soon!) meant the basket was now sitting empty. I lined the basket with a clean bandana, leftover from my college days.
I filled the basket with some cheap wine, my cobalt blue glasses, and some French bread. I added some grapes I’d been munching on to complete the tablescape. I know it’s only June but I wanted to start introducing some patriotic colors into this month’s centerpiece. Hey, June has Flag Day so I’m not too far off on my color scheme.
I will confess that the bread and grapes didn’t sit out like this all month. I might have raided them the evening this photo was taken. We had an Italian feast this past week and all the perishables and the wine were victims of the raid. The basket is still a great centerpiece item though, it’s perfect for filling with fresh flowers or breadsticks with our dinners this month.
Don’t forget to view all my centerpieces for the year by clicking herePin It
I’ve been in a mood for a picnic all year long. The 4th of July screams picnic time to me so I’m in picnic mode right now. All this week I’ll be sharing some picnic-themed projects in case you’re as excited about picnics as I am.
For today I’m sharing my favorite potato salad recipe. It calls for just 5 ingredients- potatoes, eggs, bacon, mustard and mayonnaise. It ends up tasting like a baked potato in salad form. You can season it to your tastes, I like some dill, pepper, and sea salt mixed into mine. This is a great recipe to make ahead the night before. The flavors do well sitting overnight and the food will be chilled just in time for your picnic.
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Wash the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and boil till soft, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the potatoes and let them cool completely.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon. Let it cool and crumble into small pieces. Set aside. If your eggs aren't hard-boiled yet, this is a good time to do it. Chop the egg into small pieces.
- Once everything is cooled, cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together in a large bowl. Stir in the potatoes and coat them evenly with the sauce. Add in the bacon and eggs and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
After I went blueberry picking I got right to work cleaning the berries so I could start using them. I had all the ingredients on-hand to make my blueberry muffins so I just jumped right in. My recipe has a sturdy enough batter that you don’t have to worry about coating fresh berries with flour to prevent sinking, the berries just stay put on their own. If you don’t have almond extract you can easily substitute vanilla.
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Line 18 cupcake pan spaces (or 12 regular and 12 mini cupcakes)
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. Mix in almond extract.
- Add baking powder, salt, and half the flour and lightly mix. Pour in half the milk, stir, then the rest of the flour and milk and stir till just mixed. Fold in blueberries and spoon into cupcake liners.
- Stir together the sugar and nutmeg for your topping and sprinkle on each muffin.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes for regular muffins and 15 minutes for mini-muffins.
Last week I invited my friend Wendy and her mom along with me to go blueberry picking. I had gone last year and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go again this year.
I go picking at Wind Ridge Farm in New Melle, Missouri. They also have blackberries and peaches depending on the season. They aren’t open for picking every day but they do update their website, twitter account, and facebook page to help you plan your next pick date. This method ensures that the plants aren’t overpicked and that guests have plenty of picking options.
When we arrived this year we could see the blueberries hanging off the bushes before we even entered the field. You just grab a bucket, listen as an employee tells you the best places to pick, and have at it. We spent less than an hour picking casually and ended up with about 2 1/2 pounds each. The blueberries are $2.99/lb and they even take credit cards if you have your whole family out there picking.
Their next pick date is on Sunday from 8 AM to noon or until the field is all picked. You could celebrate Father’s Day with some blueberries or even some blackberries since they will have a small batch of them ready to go. After we went picking we did a scenic drive along Missouri’s wine country. There are several wineries out in the area so if you time it right you could pick one day and stop for some lunch at a winery before shopping (like we did).
I’ve been planning out all sorts of delicious blueberry treats since I saw the fields were open and you can see them and other berry treats on my Berry Picking pinterest board. Coming up tomorrow I’ll show you my first cooking project or you can check out my favorite blueberry buckle recipe on my travel site.
I had wanted to build a birdhouse for quite a while. And by “build a birdhouse” I really meant decorate one so when Michaels had a sale on their plain wood birdhouses, I picked one up and got started on the decorating part.
My goal was to make the birdhouse coordinate both with my house, which is red, white and blue, and my garden, which has a lot of copper pieces in it. First up was spray painting the house white. I wanted just a light coat to let the wood grain shine through so I used a spray primer. Next was my plan to tie in those copper influences. I found some kitchen backplash tiles at Lowes.
I bought a whole sheet and used only 2 panels so I have plenty leftover for another project up my sleeve. You see those extra inches on the left without any detailing on them? I used them to make a nice front for the birdhouse’s roof while I used the actual panels to cover the roof. I just used some scissors to cut and hot glue to adhere it all to the birdhouse.
I decided to paint some red accents on with some basic acrylic paint. I just painted the perch and the base. Now the next most important part was to drill a hole in the top of the birdhouse so I could hang it outdoors. I just drilled a hole directly across the top with a small bit. To help it stay more decorative, I added some grommets to cover the holes but I needed a larger bit to make sure it fit. I just hot glued them in place when I got the hole the right size.
Now I wanted to protect all my hard work so I sprayed on a clear lacquer before putting it outside. I let it dry 24 hours because of the high humidity here. I didn’t want any haze in my topcoat. Here’s the final look.
Don’t you just love how well it matches my new windchime? I also included a secret pop of red right at the entrance. While I don’t really expect many birds to make this their home, I do think I’ll drill some small holes in the bottom just in case so rain can drain out.
How have your projects been going?Pin It
I’m back with another Jeni’s ice cream recipe. After making Salty Caramel ice cream, I wanted to try a flavor that was much more simple. A classic chocolate recipe sounded perfect. I decided to try the recipe for The Milkiest Chocolate in the World Ice Cream.
I don’t want to keep republishing all of Jeni’s recipes since I think her book deserves the credit and it explains a lot of the process in it but I will show you the ingredients and say the process is very similar to that of the first recipe I tried. One note, Jeni’s recipe in the book has a small typo so make sure to check her website for updates to the book. In this case you need 1 1/4 cup of cream instead of the 1/4 cup that is printed in the book.
In this recipe you don’t use cream cheese, instead you use evaporated milk. Jeni explains that the goal is to keep the chocolate taste more pure which I’d say she accomplished in this recipe. The change in ingredients leaves the ice cream tasting a little sweeter too. My husband described the flavor as chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. That enhancement made this ice cream taste anything but simple. I wished in a way that the flavor had more distractions because chocolate was the star and a whole bowl might be a tad overwhelming.
The only problem I’d say exists with this recipe is how thick it gets. With cocoa, cornstarch, and chocolate there’s a lot of chance for clumps to form in the ice cream. To remedy this I suggest sifting the cocoa before you add it to the pot. Then run the ice cream base through a sieve first as you add it to the chocolate and again as you put it in its chilling bag. You want this ice cream to be as smooth as possible to get the purest taste. Also, Jeni suggests freezing this ice cream for at least 4 hours but I’d recommend going overnight. The ice cream really solidifies and the flavors enhance overnight. I know waiting is hard but trust me, it’s worth it.Pin It
I recently bought some resin Adirondack chairs (in blue) for my front porch. My house is white and my front door is red so I wanted to tie the color palette together with some Americana influences. I decided that pillows would be the easiest way to do this. My shopping trip left me disappointed. I could only find really expensive pillows or those with an old fashioned feel so I decided I’d just have to make my own pillow covers. I bought some waterproof outdoor pillows from Michaels with a coupon but when I went to the fabric store I found myself in the same conundrum– everything was too old-fashioned or too expensive.
The solution: a Target shower curtain. The modern rugby stripes matched my color scheme, the size of the fabric meant I’d have fabric leftover for future projects, and the shower curtain would add some waterproofing making the pillows more durable. I also came up with a pillowcase design that resembles a sham. That way you get a seamless look from the front but you can just pop the cover off and throw it in the wash.
This design can be made in under an hour. The main skills you need are measuring skills and the ability to sew in a straight line. You’ll sew 4 straight lines per pillow. You’ll need a flat surface, yardstick or ruler, a cutting device (rotary or scissors), washable fabric marker, an iron or pins (check under “making the hems” to see which you need), matching thread, and a fully stocked sewing machine.
Cutting the Fabric
First up, you’ll need to make the cut. Well, cuts. I have 2-16 inch square pillows so I used a simple bit of math to calculate the size of fabric I needed to cut out.
pillow height + 1 inch = fabric height
pillow width + pillow width + 8 inches = fabric width
If you want to cheat and avoid some grade school math, just get 16 inch pillows like I did. My fabric height was 17 inches (16+1=height) and my fabric length was 40 inches (16+16+8=40). I marked the first 17×40 inch section on the fabric and cut it with a rotary cutter, though scissors will work just fine.
Since I was using striped fabric and I wanted the pillows to match, I cut off some excess fabric before cutting out my second pillowcase section so the stripes would start at the same position for both fabrics.
Making the Hems
You’ll want a finished edge on these pillows so step #2 is to hem some edges. If you use a normal fabric you can use your iron to hold your seams but since my polyester wasn’t holding an ironed hem, I used pins to hold the edge.
Place your fabric right-side down. You’ll first want to fold over both of your short edges 1 inch and iron or pin it in place, then fold that same edge over 1 more inch and iron or pin this edge securely. You’ll want to sew each of these hems in place by topstitching through all three layers of fabric. I sewed about 3/4 of an inch from the right (folded) edge. Make sure to repeat this step for all the short edges on your pillows.
Creating the Pillow
Place your fabric right-side up. You should have something resembling a placemat in front of you right about now. You’ll want to measure out the halfway point on the long side of your fabric. I started with a 40-inch length of fabric and used up 4 inches making the seams (2 inches per side) so my fabric should be at 36 inches long now. I’ll want to make my center mark at 18 inches.
This next part is a little counter-intuitive so make sure to read it twice before attempting. My pillow is 16 inches in length so half of that is 8 inches. Place a ruler next to the edge with the 8 inch mark (or half the pillow length) of the ruler at the center mark on the fabric. Make sure your ruler is facing with 0 on the right end of the ruler for this part. Watch the images for clarification.
You’ll want to take the left (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 16 inch mark (or your pillow’s length) on your ruler.
Now take the right (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 0 inch mark on your ruler. Your fabric will overlap near the center.
Now you’ll need to pin the bottom raw edges together. Repeat with the top raw edges.
Sew a half inch seam along the bottom edge. Then sew a half inch seam along the top edge. Repeat with your second pillow.
Turn your pillow case inside out, pushing out the corners firmly.
Now you can just slide the pillows into the pillowcases and you are set! The hardest part of this project is just the measuring. With 4 straight lines even a beginner can sew these pillows. See how they add that pop of color my front porch needed.Pin It
How many of you drive an older car? I have one really new car and one really old car. How old? I bought it my senior year in high school and my 10 year reunion is coming up soon. It was already used when I bought it and right now it has over 241,000 miles on it. The car is likely to fall apart before it stops running. I’ve lost a gas cap and a door handle but I still get better gas mileage than most people I know. I also can’t handle the idea of saying goodbye to the car that lasted me through my first job, senior prom and the glitter I swear is still in there, those crazy Hello Kitty decorations I put in it, all those trips to and from college, the trips with friends, and the memory of taking my little puppy home in it.
In an effort to make my car last just a little bit longer, I decided to do something about my front headlights. If you’ve ever driven an old car you know that they can grow hazy thanks to oxidizing. It isn’t just a pain; if I can’t see the distance that could mean hitting a deer on the rural roads I live on. I saw on Pinterest that you could use toothpaste to clear off that haze but I didn’t know how great it would work. I decided to test a different method on each headlight, toothpaste for one and baking soda for the other. For the baking soda, just add enough water to it until it forms a paste. Here’s the results:
It might be hard to see how it ended up so I made a detailed comparison for you.
And a quick before and after of each of the lights
While I didn’t see any miracles like the original pin showed, I did see an improvement from both methods. It may be a bit hard to see on your screen (click the images to enlarge) but the baking soda paste ended up getting the haze off just a touch better. It also used less product making it the more cost effective solution as well. I think I’ll keep applying baking soda to the headlights each time I wash the car until they look like new or until the car gives up and goes to car heaven.Pin It