Monday, April 9, 2012

Silhouette Painting

As promised, here is what I did with the 2 canvases left out of my 7-pack from my Name Plaque.  These are Silhouette Paintings of my dogs Serge and Tasha.  You don't have to have any artistic ability to handle this project either.  The 12x12 canvas size made it easy to print the photos off on my printer without having to manipulate the size beyond what an 8.5x11 piece of paper can handle.  You can of course make these any size you like.
Choose your canvas - these are 12x12"
Prepare your supplies.
When you choose your photo, you are looking for a good profile, not detail.  If you are doing a pet, a side shot is best.  A straight on shot will not show well.  The good news is, you can print out pictures on plain paper, turn them backwards, hold them up to the light and get a good idea of how the shape will translate.  You can trace the outline with a sharpie marker to make it easier to see, as well.

When you figure out which picture to use, cut it out with an Exacto knife if you have one.  You want to preserve as much detail of the outline as possible.  Then place your cut-out on your canvas and trace lightly around with pencil.  Do not make dark lines because they will show through your paint.  If you want your subject to face the other direction, flip your picture over before tracing.

I find it's easier to paint in the background first, but in this case I wanted to do one color at a time.  I did only two colors for both paintings and wanted to flip the background and subject colors from one to the other.

I worked with acrylic paint because it is water soluble and dries fast.  You only really need three brush sizes for most any project of this nature - one flat about 3/4 of an inch wide, another flat about 1/4 of an inch wide, and a small pointed round brush for detail.  I used the flat brushes only for these paintings.  Don't worry about full coverage, because you will put on a second coat after the first one dries.
Do the background first and get right up to your lines.  As you can see, I did one background first and one dog first because I wanted to use one color at a time.
Let your picture dry before starting the second color, so you don't get any mixing and blurring of your lines.                  This is after the first coat with both colors.
This is after the second coat of both colors.  See that light spot in the top left corner?  That area didn't want to take the paint very well, so I waited a couple of days for it to dry really really well, and then went over it again.
And here they are finished!
Don't worry about being perfect, just have fun.  Be sure to paint around the edges unless you are going to frame your picture.  This is called a Gallery Wrap.  Bet you didn't know how chic it was to be too cheap to buy a frame, did you?  I hope you have fun doing your very own Silhouette Painting!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Making a Name for Myself

Remember yesterday when I said I've been obsessed with covering canvas with fabric?  I finished my name plaque yesterday while I had the staple gun out.

 This was the project I bought the fabrics for. These are 12x12 canvases that I bought at Michael's on sale.  They came in a 7-pack.  I'll show you what I did with the other two on Monday.  I covered all of the canvases using the technique I detailed in yesterday's post, then used Mod Podge to attach the letters.  After those had thoroughly dried, I used Mod Podge and the staple gun to attach the ribbon on the back.  This project is fairly heavy, so I used a hanger that screws into the wood of the top canvas.

We have a short last name, so this size canvas worked for us.  For a longer name, you can use blocks of foam or pieces of wood to cover and use smaller letters.  I'm making another small one using foam and scrapbook paper.  I'll let you know how it turns out when I finish it.  I always have something unfinished that needs to get done!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Make Your Own Artwork Without Any Talent!

I've been fairly obsessed lately with covering canvases with pretty fabric and making my own artwork the easy way.  I thought it would be selfish for me to keep this to myself, so today I made another piece and remembered to take some photos to share.  The one pictured above was made a few months ago and hangs in my entryway.  I love it.

To start with you can use an ugly canvas painting from a thrift store, discount shop, or something you have already around the house that you just don't care that much for anymore.
Yeah, what was I thinking when I bought this?
So, I picked up some fabric for some other projects and had a piece left over that was just the right size to cover my canvas.  Working on a flat, clean surface, place your fabric face side down and make sure you don't have any wrinkles.  Place your canvas face down on top of the fabric.  Take one side, pull over the side, and with a staple gun tack the fabric down.
The fabric I'm working with.

My hubby has lots of tools and this may be my favorite.  It's pneumatic staple gun that runs off an air compressor, but if you don't have one of these, don't worry, a regular hand operated staple gun works just as well.
We don't like it when Mom makes loud noises.  We retreated to safety.

First side tacked over.
Next do the side opposite the one you started on.  This will make it easier to turn your corners.  I've tried to show how I do the corners in the next picture, but you can use any technique that works for you.  I try to do it like I'm wrapping a box.

Do all four corners and you are done.  Ready to hang!
From trash to treasure in about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Don't Put Mustard In Your Deviled Eggs!

With Easter Sunday this weekend, we are in entering into prime deviled egg season.  Potlucks, picnics and family feasts are the delicious stomping grounds for the little devils, but you don't have to save them for a special occasion.  But please don't ruin them by putting mustard in them.  Or any other weird ingredients for that matter.

Deviled eggs are perfect in their simplicity.  You don't have to mess around with them.  No pickles.  No relish.  No caviar.  Ew.  Here are the ingredients for the perfect deviled egg: eggs, Duke's mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and salt.  That's it.  I know what I'm talking about.  People ask, nay DEMAND, that I bring my deviled eggs to parties and family gatherings.  If more than one egg recipe is in attendance, mine always get scarfed up first.  There are sad faces when they are gone.

Now, I don't have a specific recipe that I follow other than knowing what ingredients to use, but I'll give you some measurements as a guide.  I also have to give credit to my Mom, who taught me how to make these.  I make them the same way she taste.  The thing is, the proportions of ingredients depends on how many eggs you are making.  I just know when they are right when they taste right.

The first thing you have to do is hard-boil your eggs.  This can be tricky in and of itself.  I learned how to avoid the dreaded green ring years ago.  The secret is to stop the cooking process by putting the eggs in an ice bath immediately after draining the boiling water.  The secret to cooking them perfectly in the first place is this little egg shaped thingy that goes in the water and turns all the way purple when they are done.

Go get one.  Now.  Thank me later.

Next, you have to peel your eggs.  This is where your recipe can go from deviled eggs to egg salad in no time flat.  Use eggs that are at least a week old.  The membrane clings more strongly to the shells of fresh laid eggs making them near impossible to cleanly peel.  If you are making eggs for the family and they don't care if they look like the surface of the moon, don't worry about it.  If presentation matters, make sure to use less fresh eggs.

I tap the egg all around on the inside of my sink, roll it a little to loosen the shell, and usually I can get the shell to come off in two large pieces.  

Sometimes I still get moon craters.  (The one time I wanted an egg to mess up, this is the best I could do.)

I always boil extra eggs to make up for casualties.  (The extra yolks get used in the recipe.)

Slice your eggs in half lengthwise and pop the yolks out into a bowl.  Place the whites on your egg platter.

If you don't have an egg platter just use a regular plate, but be warned that the little devils slide around.

Make some friends with your extra whites.

Once you have all the yolks in the bowl, mash them up with a fork until they are in pretty uniformly small bits.  The finer the particles, the smoother your filling will be.

Put in a little salt, and add your apple cider vinegar.  Mix to incorporate, then add the mayo a little at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Too much mayo and the filling will be too thin to hold a pretty peak.  I prefer mine to be a little stiffer but it's a personal preference.

Now taste the filling.  Does it need more tang?  Add a splash of vinegar at a time and mix well until you get the flavor you want.  Same for salt.  Once you get it to your taste, it's time to fill the eggs.

I have a decorator gun that I got at a yard sale many years ago that I use solely for piping deviled egg filling into the whites.  My Mom uses 2 spoons.  You can use a pastry bag and tip also.  I like my egg gun.  It's fun to use and my eggs turn out pretty.  Those extra yolks allow me to overfill each white for the perfect filling to white ratio.

Lastly, to paprika or not to paprika?  That is the question.  Personally I like the zen of mine unadorned. I won't judge if you want to put it on yours.  If you do want to use paprika, please remember that paprika is bright red.  Not brown.  Red.  Brown paprika is old and tasteless, and well, it's unattractive.  It's downright counterproductive to sprinkle it on your perfect eggs if you don't have good paprika.

Mustard though?  Just, no.

Simply Perfect Deviled Eggs
6 plus 3 eggs (for one dozen egg halves)
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Duke's mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Boil the eggs to hard cooked, then cool in an ice bath.  Peel the eggs, then cut each one in half lengthwise and put the yolks in a bowl.  Choose the best looking halves and place on an egg platter or plate.

Mash the yolks with a fork until finely crumbled, then add salt and vinegar.  Mix well.  Add mayonnaise a little at a time mixing well until desired consistency.  Taste and adjust vinegar and salt as needed.  Fill the egg halves with spoons, pastry bag or decorator gun.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thirty Minute Rolls

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love to create.  I don't have any one area of passion...most anything will do.  When I was little, I had Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, Lego blocks and an X-acto knife and wood-burning kit.  My sister played with Barbies.  I built her Dream House and sewed clothes for her.  I Easy Baked and polished rocks.  I wanted to build, design, fix (and sometimes tear apart and re-build) anything I could get my hands on.

When I was old enough to use the stove, Mom would let me cook dinner for the family.  I would get off the bus after school, let myself and my sister in the house, do my homework then get dinner ready and on the table when my Mom and Dad got home from work.  My first attempt at gravy was an unmitigated disaster, but most everything else I made turned out good.  Those early years really set the foundation for my independence.  I'm not afraid to tackle any recipe, no matter how complex, but I'll admit, I'm a sucker for easy and delicious.

Yeast breads were my only real culinary nemesis until last week.  I found a yeast roll recipe on Pinterest that proclaimed you could have tasty risen rolls in only 30 minutes.  That had to be tested.  The recipe is here at Your Home Based Mom, that she reprinted from Real Mom Kitchen.  You don't have to be a mom to love these rolls though.  I made a couple of tweaks from her recipe and I really liked the results.  They are also husband approved.

30 Minute Rolls
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water
1/3 cup oil (plus more for your hands later)
2 packets Active Dry Yeast (not Rapid Rise)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups bread flour (all purpose will also work but the results may not be as good)

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

In your mixer bowl, combine the warm water, oil, yeast, and sugar.  Whisk lightly and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Using the dough hook on your mixer, mix in the salt, egg, and flour.  Knead it with the hook until it's well incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth.  This only takes a few minutes.

Grease a 9x13" baking pan with Pam, then form the dough into 12 roughly equal sized balls and place them evenly in the pan.  Oiling your hands will help greatly with the handling of the dough.  Allow the rolls to rest for 10 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  I found that it took about 15 minutes in my oven to start getting some color on them.

Please note: these are not light and airy.  They are dense and heavy.  But so delicious!  We had leftovers and I popped them in freezer bags hoping they would reheat like the frozen Sister Schubert rolls we've become addicted to.  I was pleasantly surprised that they were even better reheated in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes than they were fresh from the oven.  And you don't have to thaw them!  Sister Schubert has been replaced at our house, even though they take slightly longer than 30 minutes per batch.

I'm following Weight Watchers and these rolls as I made them are 6PP each.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Welcome to Mouse Couture

I'm so happy you decided to sneak on over.  I've been wanting to start a blog for a while now, and I've been inspired by Pinterest to give it a try.  Sharing things I love is something I take very seriously.  Normally I just harangue my friends until they try whatever fantasmic thing I've discovered recently.  Hopefully I'll be able to inspire you to give a few new things a try as well.  It'll be mostly recipes and crafts.  No bungee jumping: I pinky swear.