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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apples! Apples! Apples!


How do you get 60 apples in one afternoon? Go apple picking!

Living in the Hudson Valley means theres lots and lots of apple orchards all over.  We decided to go to the closest one, Masker Orchard.  I also like it because it's close to my maiden name, Mader ;) 

And It has spectacular views, like this! 

So now that you have apples... of course, you're gonna make pie! We did! ....and turnovers, and an apple crumb bake, and we still had over half of the apples left. 


And after....

I didn't get a picture of the pie, wasn't fast enough... 
There's only so many apples you could eat... and after all that peeling, coring, and chopping from making the desserts, I wanted to do something easy with the rest. I've been seeing a lot of recipes for slow cooker apple butter so I decided to try some myself! I love my crockpot.

You still have to core 'em and cut 'em, but for apple butter you don't need to peel the skins! There's extra nutrients in the skins so it's a win-win for my lazyness. 

Surprisingly, no butter in apple butter.  Which is awesome, I can eat it without feeling like a lard ass! All you need is apples, brown sugar (light or dark, doesn't matter), apple juice/cider/or water, cinnamon, and nutmeg (optional, but I love nutmeg).  

I did 12 apples, half a cup of Masker's apple cider (you can use water or apple juice, but I wanted mine to be flavorful and deep in color), a quarter cup of light brown sugar, two tablespoons of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. I put it on high for four and a half hours and mixed it every once in a while to make sure nothing was sticking to the pot.  After that I used my stick blender for a while to mash everything up. I cracked the lid to let out some of the moisture and let it thicken up a bit. At this point in the cooking process it looked like apple sauce and smelled like a million Yankee candles. You can totally stop here or take some out to have cinnamon apple sauce, but I kept going with my batch. I wanted it to get to peanut butter consistancy and smoothness. I let it cook with the lid open for two more hours. I cannot even explain how awesome my house smelled. I didn't notice it because I was standing in it for some time, but then I took my dog outside and came back in and really smelled it all!  Soooo amazing! I used the stick blender one last time to smooth it out perfectly and then it was done! 

It made so much apple butter! I've been globbing it on my toast each morning, it's a wonderful way to start your autumn days. 

As they say at Masker Orchard, Live Apply!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Skywalker Boots

The internet is one of the best craft tools around. Some days I think to myself, "Hmm, I wonder how to crochet a heart..." A few clicks on google later and ...bam! Crochet heart. 

"Hmm, I wonder how to crochet a flower..." 

"What about an owl...?"

It usually works for a lot of things I search.  But of course, the one time I need to find a free pattern for booties, I can't find one in the right size. I ended up making up my own based on a pattern I found for a larger size bootie.  I found this Toddler Double Soul Moccasins Pattern pattern for toddlers and kids, they are about 6.5" in length. The kid I'm making the booties for is barely 12 months old, and his foot measured 5 inches.  So here's the pattern if you need to make one for your little one! 

I made the pattern almost exactly like the one in the link above, but smaller. I also changed the shaft of the bootie a little, I wanted my booties to look wrapped, like Luke Skywalker's boots in Star Wars. My stitches are in US terms.  And I use the typical pattern short hand.

For example, SC # means to crochet one 'single crochet' in the next number stitches. And # SC means to crochet # 'single crochet' in next stitch. Please let me know if you have any questions, this is my first time writing a pattern...

Stitches used: 
SC Single Crochet
DC Double Crochet
HDC Half Double Crochet 
sl st Slip Stitch
ch Chain
SC2TOG Single Crochet two stitches together 
DC#TOG Double Crochet # of stitches together 

Worsted weight yarn, Size G6 hook (4.00 mm)

In sole color (I used Red Heart Coco Bean), slipstitch, chain 13.
Round 1: 2 SC in 2nd loop from hook, SC 5, HDC, DC 4, 7 DC in last chain, working opposite side of starting chain DC 4, HDC, SC 5, 2 SC in last chain, sl st to first stitch
Round 2: ch 1, SC, 2 SC, SC 9, (HDC, 2HDC) x4, HDC, SC 10, 2 SC, SC, sl st join to first sc
Round 3: ch 1, 2 SC, SC, 2 SC, SC 11, HDC, SC 11, 2 SC, SC, 2 SC, sl st join to first sc
Round 4: ch 2, 2 DC, 2 DC, HDC 14, (DC, 2 DC) x3, (2 DC, DC) x3, HDC 14, 2 DC, 2 DC, sl st join to first DC

If you are doing the contrasting side double sole, fasten off. Make another sole in boot color and continue the pattern below...

Round 5: Stitch both soles together, carefully keeping them straight, using SC. ~58 stitches
Round 6: HDC in each stitch all around, should end with 58 stitches in total, decrease or add where ever if you need to
Round 7: DC in each all around, 58 stitches

Round 8: ch1, SC 21, SC2TOG, HDC, DC2TOG x5, HDC, SC2TOG, SC 21, sl st join to first
Round 9: ch 1, SC 17, SC2TOG, DC2TOG, DC3TOG, DC2TOG, DC, DC 2, DC2TOG, SC2TOG, SC 17, sl st join to first st
Round 10: SC 13, SC2TOG, DC2TOG, DC, DC3TOG, DC, DC2TOG x2, SC2TOG, SC 13, sl st join to first st
Round 11: SC 6, SC2TOG, HDC, DC2TOG, DC, (DC2TOG, DC) x4, DC2TOG, HDC, SC2TOG, SC 6

That's it for the shoe part, the next part of the boot is just 5 rows of double crochet.  I slightly modified the boot shaft from what I saw in the tutorial I looked at when creating my pattern.  I did 5 rows of double crochet then one last row of single crochet in a lighter beige color for some contrast.  I think I get the Luke Skywalker effect with these boots, the texture of the stitches help it looked wrapped.  I'm pretty happy with how they came out!  I hope you enjoyed the pattern.  Here's some fashion photos of the booties, I got inspired... 

AND you could fold down the booties for a different look!

...for those fashionista babies

Thanks for checking out my first pattern!  I hope you have as much fun making yours as I did! 

Stay tuned for more pictures of the Star Wars twins costumes updates! 

~The Craftmeister

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy October

Beautiful autumn sunset over the mountain behind my house

It's juuuuust barely October and I have been thinking about Halloween for weeks!! ...Okay, maybe months... I love love love   Halloween!  This Halloween I'm making some costumes for some very adorable twins, and they're going as a pretty badass set of famous twins, Luke and Leia from Star Wars!

The twins are barely a year old so the costumes have to be sized down from the originals in the movies (just a bit).  Leia's dress I figured would be easy enough, and Luke's Jedi tunic can be a re-purposed Karate Gi.  However, no karate gi is made for an eleven month old, so I'm making it from scratch.  I haven't made too many things with my sewing machine, so it's been a fun challenge. 

I've crocheted a hairpiece hat for Leia's buns, and it came out really cool looking! 
It's a single crochet hat with two very long braids wrapped in a coil.  Very easy, and warm too just in case it's chilly Halloween night.  Here's the Leia hat prototype (the real one is bigger and a darker brown).

Speaking of hats.... Check out these candy corn hats my sister Heidi ordered for some of the kids in our family.  I crocheted a total of six hats, and I had a ton of fun doing so.   I followed the tutorial on The Worsted Crochet Blog (seen here:  The only difference is I didn't make ear flaps and I did one extra row of yellow. We had the kids try them on ...and hilarity ensued. Trying to get three kids under three to sit still for a cute picture was really difficult, so I just took a ton of pictures.  I took so many, my phone made a mini video of all the pictures, I love the result! Its almost as crazy as being there in real life!

Thanks Google+! ... said no one ever. Except for me. This one time. 

Hats! Hats! Hats!!  Here's another hat I made! It came out totally differently that what I was expecting.  I followed the pattern exactly, but I think I was stitching too tight and using too thick yarn.  I think it came out kind of cute looking anyway, so I kept going the way I was going and added a scalloped edge to it for more fun.  It's really warm!  And it's a piece I can totally keep for myself!
Back to Halloween...

Now that I have a huge dining room table, I figured it would be fun to make a cool Halloween table setting.  My table is a nice dark wood so I wanted to use a table runner instead of a table cloth. Why cover up that beautiful wood?!  I haven't gotten around to making a long table runner just yet, so I decided to do three small centerpieces in a row as a table runner.  I used three round multi colored straw placemats that had autumn colors like crimson, gold, amber, and brown (only $2 each). 

I set a small centerpiece on each; a large sugar skull I got from Home Goods, a bouquet of spooky purple and black roses with sparkly spiders from the dollar store (YES! The $1 Store!), and a cool collection of four candles in interesting holders.  Paired all that with orange place mats (great for all of the fall/harvest season, not just Halloween) and I have a cool Halloween table! 
The Halloween wine glasses were a gift from my sister, they really complete the table spooking - I mean table setting

You know that Christmas song The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?  That is totally a fall song... totally.  Autumn is the BEST time of year!  

Stay Spooky!
~The Craftmeister 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tomato Basil Parmesean Soup

It's no secret that we love Rao's in this house.  Their pasta sauces are some of the yummiest I've ever tasted!  My favorites include Vodka Sauce, their new Four Cheese Sauce, Arrabiata, Garden Vegtable, Tomato Basil, Garlice sauce, Marinara (AND Sensitive Marinara).... Basically all of them!  

This past month, Tomato Basil has been my favorite favorite.  The flavor of the month if you will. 

A while back, I had found a recipe for Tomato Basil Parmesan soup.  If you've read my blog before, you know that I love making soups in the crockpot - I HAD to try it!  The original recipe called for canned tomatoes and dried basil as the main ingridients.  Honestly.... I wasn't impressed.  Fresh ingridients can make all the difference in how a soup tastes.  But the basil I had purchased from the farmers market wilted, so I couldn't use that. I had two bottles of Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce on hand and I decided to try it out.  After all, Rao's uses fresh ingridients in their sauce, and I already know it tastes good!  So, another Craftmeister cooking experiment....

And what a successful experiment it was!  

Here's what you need:

2 jars Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce
4 cups chicken broth
~2 cups of celery 
~2 cups of carrots
~2 cups onion
1 tablespoon oregano
1 bay leaf
3/4 stick of butter
2/3 cups flour 
2 2/3 cups half n half 
1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste 
1 teaspoon dried basil 

Chop the carrots, celery and onions.  Put them in a food processor to dice them very tiny.  Add the Tomato Basil sauce to the slow cooker.  Stir in chicken broth, veggies, bay leaf, and oregano.  Cook on low for 6 hours. 30 before done time melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the flour.  Add this to the crockpot and mix it in.  Warm the half n half and stir it in with the Parmesan cheese. Stir it all in. The soup will look more orange than tomato red.  Sprinkle in dried basil and add salt and pepper.  Serve hot with grilled cheese sandwiches. 

And there's bacon in those grilled cheeses, double yumm :) 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Captain's Quarters - Adjusting The Sails

Painting a room can be so rejuvenating. There's nothing like covering up the old dingy color that I really didn't like with a nice, smooth, rich color that I absolutely love.  Let's take a brief look back at the yucky before pictures, shall we? 

The colors I picked were specially matched to the colors I had in mind.  The grey was called Milestone, and the blue was Award Blue.  For the white paint, I chose a white called Swan Wing. I figured white is a pretty basic color, so I chose that one based on the name.  I always see swans in Greenwood Lake, and anything that makes me think of the lake is perfect for my nautically themed bathroom.  

Are you ready for the after pictures??  

Pink ceiling, dried white. And no crack!

.... But the transformation is not complete!  Stay tuned to see how I transformed lots of my old bathroom accessories to match the new theme. 

Stay crafty! 

~The Craftmeister

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Zoomer


My kitty cats love their Friskies.  In the evening for dinner, they both split a Friskies can.  I usually purchase the boxes of cans, and there's always this puzzle thing on the back of the box.  I've never really looked at it, until yesterday.   Enter: The Zoomer

I figured, why not?  I'm just going to throw it out anyway.  So I grabbed my scizors and I cut The Zoomer out according to the instructions.  I had to use an exacto knife to cut out the windows, but otherwise it was not hard to do.  

Folding the thing was not easy because it wasn't perforated at all.  I made the folds using my countertop to keep it flat and straight. But it's small, so it came together quickly.   The cardboard was stiff enough that it didn't get destroyed while folding and figuring out which tab goes where, but soft enough to maneuver it.

The box suggest to fill the toy with Friskies kibble, but we use very small kibble for Gordo's lack of teeth.  But I did have some treats on hand from their Easter baskets, so I filled it with that.

The verdict?  They loved it!  They liked knocking it around and getting the treats out of it.  Here's a video of Puffin's reaction to the toy

Shortly after Puffin was done with the toy, I found Gordo on top of the china cabinet with the toy next to him keeping a look out for toy thieves.

Enjoy the weekend everybody! 
~The Craftmeister

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Captain's Quarters - Repairing the Hull

Ahoy!  Are you ready for the most dramatic, dynamic, and aquatic part of the sorta-master-bathroom makeover?!

A hull in a nautical setting is the watertight body of a ship; so in this bathroom makeover, the hull is the large watertight body of the tub.  I've mentioned in my previous post that I really don't care for the look of tub surrounds.  But that's what we have and I love having a tub, especially with the dog and the possibility of kids someday.  It's just... soo ugly.  It would be too expensive to replace the whole thing right now, so instead my husband and I (mostly my husband) gave it a facelift!  I found the inspiration and tutorial online, Dan did the heavy duty stuff and we together we put it together.  

We followed the design and instructions from  Her starting tub was almost the same as ours, and the steps seemed pretty clear.  I like that she did this facade without damaging the tub.  More than likely, we'll replace the tub before we move out of the house, but it's nice to know that if I change my mind in a few years (HA!) I can take it off and you'd never know it was there.

That's my husband!  Prepping the work area.

Basically we built a frame for the front if the tub and covered it with beadboard wainscoting and MDF moldings (a plastic, waterproof, rot proof version of the classic wood moldings).  On the top edge of the tub we placed a board made from PVC to finish off the built-in look.  We also added MDF boards on the side of the tub going up the wall to further anchor it in place.  

While building it I was wondering if it would hold okay, if it would shift or move in the years to come. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to lean on the new top if the tub. If I have to stand on the edge of the tub to change the shower curtain, or to clean, will it move and all fall apart?  How well will it stand the test of time? The dramatic, dynamic, aquatic project was becoming enigmatic.  

But after we were done and it dried I discovered that I totally could stand on the ledge if I needed to.  It's not something I'm going to do everyday, but it's good to know that if I have to lean over the tub I can do so without worry.  And after reading comments in the blog where I found the tutorial, I've found that the tub is standing their test of time just fine.  They've had it installed for over a year, and the original author has daughters and large dogs that she bathes in the tub.  

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and it matches so much better with the rest of the bathroom now!

Ain't she a beauty?

The drain stop in the tub wasn't working properly, it would always drain out.  So we couldn't take baths and it made bathing Henrik a project and a half (we basically have to shower the dog).  Dan did some research and found that the type of drain stops that have the lever one flips up and down don't last as well as other ones.  So we decided that the old fashioned drain stop would work well for us.  When he replaced the drain piece, I was surprised at what it looked like when it came out! 

But take a look at it all shiney and new!  A great improvement! 

Now to make the tub fill, we PUSH the button on the drain to plug it
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to christen the new hull with some suds and aromatherapy.....

~The Craftmeister

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Captain's Quarters - Pink Sky

"Pink sky in morning, sailors take warning.
 Pink sky at night, sailor's delight."

Remember that old saying? Well, sailors would panic than rejoice with my not-really-a-master-bathroom-but-I'm-calling-it-that-anyway master-bathroom makeover.

That's a mouthful. 

The ceiling is the first step in the redo of the master bath, but it took longer than my husband and I originally thought.  We figured we'd just slap a coat or two of ceiling paint on it and be done.  But then we noticed a pretty long crack where the slope of the ceiling meets the top flat ceiling (kinda like in an attic).  Rather than just spackle it just to have it come back in a month or so, we repaired it for real.  I'm so glad that I learned how to do this, because it will come in handy when we redo other rooms in the house. 

Complicated ceiling facelift = blogpost! ;) 

First we cleaned out the crack, removed any loose pieces but we were careful not to make it larger than it was.  This was harder than it sounds. Afterwards it looked worse than when we started, but we soon repaired it with heavy duty spackle.  We used DAP Crack Shot brand.  

Then we used fiberglass netting to cover the seam where the crack existed.  We used that instead of drywall joint tape because it should hold better.  It reminded me of paper mâché; use the spackle as glue to hold it to the ceiling.  It was a pain in the butt, but after we got a groove going it got easier.  After that dried Dan sanded and we added another coat of spackle to cover parts where you could still see the net.  

It's very hard to take pics upwards while on a ladder, but I just had to get a picture of it for the blog!  Your welcome, readers

After that dried, Dan sanded again. Now you'd never know there was a crack there at all!  Well... besides the different ceiling color on the seam and the hand and palm prints all over the ceiling.... 
But we're painting, so it's okay to have a mess there. I feel much better painting knowing that the crack shouldn't come back on the ceiling.  :-)

Now to paint!  

When we purchased the paint at Home Depot, I went to the counter to get the special colors mixed while Dan grabbed the things we needed from the isle shelves (ceiling paint and supplies).  When we get home Dan told me that the ceiling paint he got was pink.  We joke around a lot so I figured he was messing with me.  But he assured me, seriously it's pink.  I've heard of accent ceilings before, but pink? Yuck!  After he had a good laugh, he explained that it's a special kind of ceiling paint that goes on pink while it's wet, and dries white.  It's especially helpful if you're painting white on white.   I've never seen anything like it and it was really fun to use....



...Except for the fact that it matched with the purple walls too much.  Talk about pastel in your face, yuck. I got some paint on my arm (inevitable) and when it was drying it was white on the outside, but still pink in the center.  It looked so freaky! Like a crazy flesh eating zombie virus was on my arm. Pictures didn't come out right, but trust me, it was freaky!  Soon enough it dried.  White.  And the bathroom is that much closer to becoming the master bathroom I know it can be! 

And I got the paint off my arm. 

More to come! 
~The Craftmeister

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Captain's Quarters - A Brainstorm

We've been in our house for almost three years and we haven't yet tackled the master bathroom.

Until now.

When I first saw this bathroom on the realty listing of the house, I laughed out loud.  It's not really a master bathroom, I just call it that because it's right outside the master bedroom. And despite it's ugly appearance it's quite large and has lots of potential. 

Potential that I'm going to uncover!  Well, not uncover. That sounds out of budget.  Potential that I'm going to makeover! 

It has lavender walls that have streaks of pale blue creeping through.  The light switch covers were a nice unfinished wood, but the previous owners decided it would look better painted a butter yellow.  The tile floor is actually really nice.  Large grey/blue tiles, and they're in pretty good shape.  So for this makeover, the floor can stay.

 The cabinets are in pretty good shape too, and I like the wainscoting inset.  Funny, I never liked wainscoting or wood paneling until I moved into the country.  Must be the mountain air....  I can clean the larger cabinets with Mr Clean's Magic Eraser, and the corner cabinet I'll have to paint.  The previous homeowners thought it would look good with the colors of the bathroom.  Nothing looks good with these colors, especially one cabinet with all three colors!

Notice more blue streaks over the toilet
The tub is a tub and shower surround.  Personally I hate the look of these things, I much prefer a tile wall and a tub. This one especially looks dated, and the drain plug doesn't stay up so we can't fill the tub.  No baths for us :( As much as I'd love to rip it out and put in a jetted tub and a tile wall, it's just not in the budget.  But I have a few ideas that I think may work to update it. 

This mirror came with the house, and I kinda like it. I say kinda because it's beautiful and ornate and in good shape, but the color is dingy. I think a little paint may go a long way and bring out the beauty in this ugly duckling.
It looks weird because I edited myself out, haha!

I'd like to adopt a more neutral color pallet for the make over.  Since the bathroom is so big I can put a darkish color on the walls and not feel too claustrophobic.  Our halls are already beige, so I decided to pick grey for the natural overall color for the walls in the bathroom.  Behind the sink I'm going to add a navy accent wall to hopefully bring out the blue in the tile. 

A nautical theme would really tie these colors together.  But I have to watch it, too much nautical stuff could start looking campy.  I've seen lots of kids bathrooms that have "Poop Deck" signs.  I admit, I chuckled when I first saw that, but it's not something I'd like to see everyday.   I want classy nautucal.  Adult nautical.  More cruise ship than pirate ship.  And then I came up with the perfect name for a mature nautical themed sort-of-master-bathroom... Captain's Quarters. 

The neutral pallet will make it easy to keep the nautical theme on the mature side.  I'm going to add a few nautical decorations in the room, and I'm looking forward to making a few things for it too.   I purchased anchor wall decals to put up the navy accent wall, I have twisted rope that I could wrap around my garbage can, I have lots and lots of sea glass from my trips to Veiques, and I could add a piece of driftwood as easy decor too!  There's lot of ideas flowing in my head!

I edited one of my pictures so I could have a visual to see how it'd all look.  I think that's a GREAT improvement, it'll look better once it's done for real! 
That's more like it!

If you haven't already, please follow me on Pinterest, you can see what sparks my ideas and have a Sneak peak at upcoming posts!

~The Craftmeister