Stars, Stripes and Sailboats

Let me start by saying that it wasn’t my intention to spend my afternoon crafting, but sometimes impromptu crafting just happens and it is so much fun. And, believe you me, I ended up having more fun that one person should have on a rainy afternoon!

I was looking for some pictures on my computer when I ran across this picture:

IMG_4547

This was the window display of a paper store we walked by, and my heart skipped a beat or two when I saw this. I took this picture and then went into the shop to find out more about these absolutely adorable sailboats. I learned that all of these sailboats were made out of wrapping paper from a simple origami pattern. My favorite design was the polka dot paper at the bottom of the rows, so I ended up buying some of that paper, and left the shop thinking that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was look up how to make an origami sailboat.

Fast forward 2 years. I still have the wrapping paper, and I have bookmarked a pattern for a sailboat, but nothing more. Well…..I really can’t explain all that happened in the next 2 hours–all I know is that this picture sparked an idea, and the results of that idea were totally unexpected and totally awesome.

I began by making a sample sailboat from the pattern I had found. I started out with a 5″ square piece of wrapping paper, and ended up with a sailboat that was 3 1/2″ wide. I thought that was too small, so after some additional experimenting, I settled on a 7″ square piece of paper which gave me a sailboat that was 5″ wide. So it’s important to keep in mind that the end design will be smaller than the initial size paper square you start out with.

In what seemed like only a matter of minutes, I had four sailboats

IMG_6646

You could easily end up with a whole fleet of these babies in a matter of a few hours; it’s that quick and easy! I love the contrast of the white sails against the navy paper, and the pattern gives directions on how to accomplish this. The sailboats in the window display don’t have the contrast, so my best guess is that 2 squares of paper were adhered back to back before folding.

This is the point where things got interesting. I now have 4 sweet, navy and white polka dot sailboats; what am I going to do with them? The number 4 ended up being the key to the end result–I thought about all of the things I would need 4 of something for, and one of the first things that came to mind was table settings. And the rest goes something like this:

IMG_6648

I put one of the sailboats on a plate to check for size, and what hit me wasn’t anything to do with the size of the sailboat, but the fact that I had some major work to do to dress up this plate. Talk about boring! This was a situation! I definitely liked the size of the sailboat in comparison to the inner portion of the plate, but I needed to add something that added color and height, so that the sailboat would have some presence and take center stage.

One of the other pictures I ran across before all of this crafting began was of the rosettes I made to decorate the outside of my hand pie envelopes several years ago:

IMG_4401_2

I had a “eureka” moment, and decided to make some rosettes for the sailboats to sit on. I’ve never made large rosettes before, but I decided there was no time like the present and dove right in. The width of the inner portion of my plate is 7″, so I started with 7″ squares of paper. I cut 3 squares for each rosette. I accordion folded, or fan folded, each square in 1″ increments and then folded each strip in half and taped it together:

IMG_6647 (1)

From there I taped all three sections together, and when you attach the last two parts together, you get a rosette:

IMG_6649 (1)

IMG_6657

I topped each rosette with a starburst circle to cover up the middle, and now was the moment of truth–were these rosettes going to transform the plates from “why bother” to “wow”?

IMG_6651_1

Oh I think so, hand’s down! At this point I am kind of in shock! Decorating my table for the Fourth of July was the furthest thing from my mind 2 hours ago, and yet now I am staring at the sweetest; most charming table decorations ever! These decorations combine both the nautical and patriotic themes in a way that I never would have imagined, and I couldn’t wait to see what the table looked like with all four places set!

And so, that is the tale of how I went from a picture of a window display

IMG_4547

to a table display

IMG_6654_1

all in 2 hours on a rainy afternoon. I was so excited with the end result that I couldn’t wait to show you. I did add some tiny star table scatter, which I know is impractical, but it looks good. Sometimes impractical is worth it!

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

“Mobile App”

I hope you are enjoying your area’s Fourth of July festivities, as well as some time with  family and friends. This is the third and final post for “Barbecue Week” here on my blog, and  I have an idea for a healthy appetizer. I have also created a to-go box to serve it in; hence the title “Mobile App”!

I have been following The Pioneer Woman–Ree Drummond–for a long time. Having grown up in western Nebraska, I felt an instant connection to this woman who lives on a ranch in Oklahoma. I own all of her cookbooks, and, in fact, I stood in line at the Tattered Cover Book Store in downtown Denver, CO to have her sign my copy of her first cookbook.

signed cookbook_1.jpg

I think her recipe for Watermelon Pico De Gallo makes one of the best summer appetizers around, and what’s not to love–it’s colorful, refreshing, and healthy to boot. Just look how vibrant all of the ingredients look together:

pico de gallo ingredients_1.jpg

It’s a labor of love, for sure, as it takes some extra time and effort to dice everything up, but you will not be disappointed with the end result. People appreciate having a healthy option, and you can’t get more guilt-free than this–especially when you serve it with vegetable tortilla chips!

pico de gallo stirred_1.jpg

Doesn’t this look incredible? The best part is, it tastes as good as it looks! It’s cool and crunchy, and the sweetness of the watermelon balances out the flavor of all of the peppers.

The hard work is done; the pico de gallo is ready. Now let’s talk about serving it.  This is an appetizer that works well when it’s served in individual portions, so that people can just “grab and go”. Let me show you two ideas I have:

treat cups alone_1.jpg

I found these treat cups at my local dollar store, and I filled each one of them with the pico de gallo. This would be an easy way to allow guests to take the appetizer to anywhere in the backyard, but there’s no place for the chips. They would have to go on a separate plate.

So I challenged myself to design a box that could hold both the treat cup and the chips, similar to the boxes your food comes in at sporting events.

treat liners_1.jpg

treat liner patterns_1.jpg

I found these treat liners at Michaels this week at 50% off, and I used the gingham and stars patterns to line the inside of my simple box design. I started with a 12″ x 9″ inch piece of paper, scored each side at 2 1/2″, and put the box together.

beginning of box_1.jpg

assembled treat boxes_1.jpg

There isn’t anything complicated or fancy about the boxes, but the treat liners make the boxes food safe and they are the perfect size to hold both the pico de gallo and some chips. Now this appetizer truly is portable and mobile, and guests can take it anywhere they want to be.

filled treat boxes_1.jpg

Mission accomplished! After I had taken all of the pictures, my husband and I each took a box and enjoyed our “mobile app” out on the deck with a glass of wine. The box helped brace the cup as you tried to get some pico de gallo onto a chip, which is an added bonus!

Thanks for joining me for “Barbecue Week”–I’ve enjoyed sharing my ideas and designs with you. Have a happy Fourth of July tomorrow, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

P.S. Did you happen to notice the watermelon towel in some of my pictures? My nephew’s wife, Jodi Kostelnik, made it. She creates and screen prints food-themed designs onto hand towels, onesies, tote bags, etc., and the watermelon print is one of her newest additions to her shop. Visit her website here and enjoy looking at all of her clever designs and gift items.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Pies and Diaper Folds

Welcome back to Part II of “Barbecue Week”! It’s Friday, and the long Fourth of July weekend is about to begin. I can’t believe that tomorrow is July 1st–where did June go?!

In keeping with the focus on barbecues, today I have a fun dessert idea that would be perfect to serve at or take to a cook-out–hand pies. Sweet, round, fruit-filled miniature pies. The concept is brilliant, and I can’t think of anything more American, or better suited for a Fourth of July barbecue than hand pies. They require no cutting or serving; guests can just grab them and eat them on the go.

My vision was to make both strawberry and blueberry filled hand pies with star cut -outs in the middle of the top crusts to carry out the Fourth of July theme. I had picked up this recipe card at Stonewall Kitchen recently, which I thought would be perfect for the blueberry hand pies.

Stonewall recipe card.jpg

After a little more research, I found a strawberry hand pie recipe that I liked, so all that was left was for me to put on my apron and get to work. I will share the links for both recipes at the end of this post.

Hand pie crust_1.jpg

Both recipes provided instructions on how to make hand-made crusts, but I used prepared pie crusts instead.  I wanted my hand pies to be round, although they can be made in all kinds of shapes–half moon, triangular, rectangular, etc. I did make each of the fillings, and the blueberry filling consisted of both blueberry-rhubarb jam and a cream cheese mixture.

Blueberry filling_1.jpgStrawberry filling_1.jpg

The blueberry fillings were pretty liquidy–how’s that for a technical cooking term! Because I didn’t want all of the filling to escape out the star-shaped hole, I followed the recipe exactly and just cut a slit in the middle of the top crusts. The strawberry filling, on the other hand, was very congealed, so I did use the star cookie cutter on those top crusts.

Here’s what my pies looked like just out of the oven:

Blueberry out of oven_1.jpg

the blueberry,

Strawberry out of oven_1.jpg

and the strawberry. Look how sweet my little pies look with the star cut-out. In the end, I could have used the star cut-out on the blueberry pies, as the filling didn’t seep out of the slits at all.

While the pies were cooling, I started working on a packaging idea, which is where the diaper fold comes in. The diaper fold has been around for a long, long time and when all of the folding is done, you end up with a pouch. The best part about the diaper fold is that you only need a square piece of paper; no special tools or adhesive is needed. Just a square piece of paper.

Let me show you:

Paper square_1.jpg

I chose to use parchment paper, as it is food-safe and I really like how crisp and white it is. After some trial and error, I determined that I needed to start out with a 9 1/2″ square in order to fit the hand pies.

Start by folding the paper corner to corner to form a triangle:

First step_1.jpg

Second step_1.jpg

Next, fold one of the bottom corners over to the other side, making sure that you have a straight line across the middle of the triangle.

Third step_1.jpg

Repeat with the other bottom corner.

Fold down flap_1.jpg

Fold down the top flap, and you’re done. The flap keeps everything closed together–as I said, no adhesive is needed.

Diaper fold pouch_1.jpg

Here’s what the pouch looks like inside. This is going to be a perfect for the hand pies! Now it’s time to dress these pouches up–I can’t serve my cute hand pies in plain white pouches!

Rosettes_1.jpg

I ended up making some paper rosettes and decorating them with layers of stars. The rosettes reminded me of the buntings you see everywhere, and they also mirror the round shape of the pies. My plan was to tie some baker’s twine around each of the pouches, and then tie the rosettes onto the twine.

Tied baker's twine_1.jpg

I didn’t like how this looked, however, so I went back to the drawing board. I ended up making double baker’s twine bows and I tied the rosettes to the bows.

 

Pouches decorated_1.jpg

Pouches on tray_1.jpg

And there you have it–really cute, food-safe diaper fold pouches for my sweet, round, fruit-filled miniature pies! Wouldn’t you just love to serve or take these cutie pies to a get-together?! Better yet, wouldn’t you just love to sink your teeth into one of these cutie pies?!

Speaking of taste, I know you’re dying to see the inside of the pies, and I’m not going to disappoint you:Blueberry on plate_1.jpg

Blueberry close-up_1.jpg

It’s hard to see in the close-up picture of the blueberry pie, but the two different fillings really didn’t mix together during the baking. If I were to make these again, I would add the cream cheese filling first, and put the blueberry-rhubarb jam on top, so that the blueberry filling showed through the star cut-out. And, how did it taste, you ask? It’s not bad–you definitely need the cream cheese mixture, as it tones down the tartness of the jam. I don’t think I would make the recipe again, however. I think I’d be happier with a blueberry filling similar to the strawberry one.

Now on to the strawberry:

Strawberry on plate_1.jpg

Strawberry close-up_1.jpg

The strawberry pie gets my vote, hands down! This is exactly what I wanted–a round hand pie with a star cut-out in the middle of the top crust. The filling was congealed enough that it didn’t ooze out during baking, nor did it ooze out when you broke it in half. And the taste–simply divine! I would definitely make this recipe again–the filling isn’t complicated to make, and the whole process goes pretty quickly if you use prepared pie crusts.

Before I go, I just have one more thing to show you:

Pouch as silverware holder_1.jpg

Look how cute this diaper fold pouch is as a silverware holder! I’m telling you, these pouches couldn’t be any easier to make, and they are so versatile. The sky is the limit!

Here are the recipe links:

http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/jam-filled-hand-pies-R2219.html

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/strawberry-hand-pies/

That’s it for today, and I’ll look forward to seeing you again on Monday for Part III of “Barbecue Week”. Enjoy your weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-