Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Measure Cookies

I found this awesome recipe on Busy Bee Kids and thought I just had to try that with dollar store items!

Here's what you'll need...

•Cake mix (any will work)
•½ cup butter (1 stick)
•1 egg

Here's how to make them...

1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients.

2. Roll into balls (about a tsp full) and place on a greased (or parchment lined) baking sheet.

3. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Yields 2-21/2 dozen

-Let cookies cool on the pan before moving them to a cooling rack, they are fragile
-It's easiest to mix the batter and form the balls with your hands
-Space out the cookies a bit on your cookie sheets or they will fuse together
-Wash hand between mixing the batter and forming the balls or the dough will stick to your fingers
-When mixed properly, the dough will be like crumbled brownie

This recipe reminds me of the Yogurt Cake Recipe that my hubby taught me. What's great about both recipes is that you don't have to have any measuring cups or spoons. Very handy if you're traveling, especially out of the country where the measurements are different. Also great for kids and college students. Both recipes are extremely adaptable. Try these variations below:

Cookie Variations:

-Yellow cake mix balls rolled in sugar
-Yellow cake mix and liquid or paste food coloring to make pink or green cookies
-Chocolate cake mix and chocolate or butterscotch chips
-Chocolate cake mix balls with white chocolate chip topped with crushed pepper mint candies
-Rainbow chip cake mix makes pretty cookies
-Lemon cake mix with poppy seeds
-Spice cake balls rolled in sugar

Cake Variations:

-Line pan with pineapple slices add cake mix, turn upside down after baking and drizzle with caramel
-Chocolate drink powder mix in with Nutella frosting
-Lemon juice and grated rind mix in with powder sugar and water glaze
-Chocolate chip or M&M mix ins
-Grated carrot and chopped walnut mix in with cream cheese and sugar frosting
-Use brown sugar instead of white and add all spice with a powder sugar and water glaze
-Shredded coconut and pineapple mix in with white frosting sprinkled with more coconut

Can you think of any other combinations?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Frames Frames Frames!

I have a new found love for dollar store and thrift store frames. After moving to Uptown Minneapolis and living in these beautiful old homes, I decided that regular art work wouldn't do and that the wall need to be covered in collections of unique frames that compliment the style of the home.

I've always been intrigued by 'Cabinets of Curiosities' and thought I'd put together one of my own using sentimental items that I had stored up, and that were traveling back and forth with me from the US to France, but who never left their box because I didn't know what to do with them!

I'm always telling my mother-in-law (a bit of a pack rat) that "if it's worth having, then it's worth displaying". So in trying to live up to my own advice, I got out all my old buttons, work name tags and cards (I have had many small jobs), keychains from various vacations and events, foreign stamps and money I collected, and jewelry and displayed them as best I could. Here's what I came up with:

I flanked either side of a window with a collection of frames. (Lost the photo of the other side, sorry.)

To make the necklace holder, I removed the glass of a picture frame and wrapped it in green satin and then replaced it in the frame. Then I took the eye screws from a dollar store picture hanging kit and placed them all along the top of the frame and one on each side. Then I simply hung necklaces on each hook.

I used a thrift store frame and some scrapbook paper to mount this joke money that I probably bought at t,he dollar store around Christmas time.

I used butterfly images that I found on Flickr and printed them out. Then I glues the front images to the back images back to back, bent the wings back slightly and attached them to a dollar store mirror with a small roll of clear tape. Martha Stewart has some great butterfly clip art right now. If there are no butterfly images with the undersides, simply glue two fronts together back to back. Because the butterflies are on a mirror, the back side will show a little so you don't want to leave them blank.

These two shadow box frames, with the glass panes removed, house trinkets from my Grandma and Grandpa, now deceased. I used different papers for the backgrounds. For Grandma, the blue paper with french words on it that came with the frame, and for Grandpa, a part of one of his fishing maps. I used hot glue and tape to secure all the pieces in place, being careful so that I could remove items later if I wanted too.

This dollar store frame has simply a piece of brown grocery bag inside decorated with a symmetrical arrangement of stamps from around the world. You could do the same with all US stamps of different themes.

This is my somewhat shameful but mostly awesome collection of work and volunteer badges. Yes, I've done it all and I'm proud of it! I placed scrapbook paper behind the glass and then taped two lengths of ribbon horizontally across the front of the glass, taping it securely behind the glass. Then I simply hung or pinned the tags to the ribbons.

For this collection of buttons, I wrapped the glass of a picture frame with two layers of T-shirt material, taping the back, and replaced it in the frame. Then I pinned buttons to the fabric. A similar idea can be used for dangly earrings. Just remove the glass entirely and replace it with a piece of mesh screen or plastic needle point mesh. Glue in place with hot glue and hang earrings in the holes.

Another cool thrift store frame that had an alcohol ad inside. I replace it with scrapbook paper and scotch taped coins inside. The bills are attached with Ticky Tack.

For this hanging arrangement, I took a pack of dollar store cup hooks and, using a lot of elbow grease, screwed them inside a thrift store wooden tray. Then I attached a picture frame hanger on the back to be able to hang it vertically. I filled mine with keychains I had collected but you can use this set up for lots of things like rings or bracelets or any other trinkets that can be hung. Make sure you space your hooks to accommodate the length of the items you plan to hang.

Here's that same group of frames at our new apartment in another arrangement.

Here's another use of dollar store frames. This time it's for Halloween. I bought four antique photo frames with images inside that change from vintage to haunted as you move in front of them. The Dollar Tree had these but I saw them for more than a dollar at Target and other places too. They were light weight plastic frames so I took wide brown satin ribbon and taped then to the back of the ribbon. I topped the ribbons with a hand formed bows and then just taped the whole thing to the wall. One on each side of our entry mirror.

They looked so pretty that even though Halloween is over, I think I'll look for frames of the same size and reprint some old family photos to have them up all year long. I'll attach the frames to the walls more permanently this time because tape only holds for so long.

Above the TV, we made another cabinet of curiosities using vintage specimen prints, images from anatomy books and the butterflies from the first arrangement. All these frames came from the Dollar Tree. The large shell print is another Martha Stewart find.

The small butterfly was already framed at the Dollar Tree and I didn't modify it at all.

Finally, The frames above were both thrift store finds, the large print and the two long ones were the kind that have a mat inside to hold four different photos. The images came from a three part poster that one of my husband's Christmas gifts was wrapped in last year. The poster was so cool that we saved it in the back of the closet forever. We trimmed the images to fit the frames and hung them all together as on collection. Very proud of this one as I only used items that we already had sitting around the house!

I'm so pleased at how awesome our house looks, and at a fraction of the cost of buying ready made art would have been!

Have you done similar? I'd love to see your ideas!