Holidays


All right. Let me be candid. My inspiration sometimes comes late in the game. So here I am, just a couple days from Valentine’s day, and I don’t have a gift. Are you in the same boat? Good news: Here’s a beautiful, easy and quick craft you can make in just a few minutes.

I Love You Candle -- The Tamara Blog

Are you familiar with water slide decals? They were kind of a mysterious thing in my childhood, and I loved them. Today the decals come in custom-printable paper, so you can make your own beautiful designs!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this customized candle

  • Glass Candle, 6 to 8oz. size
  • Water Slide Decal Paper — for laser or Inkjet printers (I used inkjet)
  • Polyurethane Spray Sealer (Minwax, Krylon)
  • Scissors
  • Glass of Water
  • Paper Towel

Water slide decal paper can be found in art supply stores (my Blick store carries it), some craft stores, and of course, online. If you don’t have any, I recommend buying some right now, and having it on hand for future projects!

I’ve created a single sheet with 9 decals on it, in 3 colors, you can download it here: Heart Love Candle Decals. (In the pic “je t’aime” is misspelled. It’s correct on the printout!)

Decal Sheet-- The Tamara Blog

Thanks to the Graphic’s Fairy for the hearts!

Print according to your decal paper’s instructions. Mine is for inkjet printers, and the instructions state to print with “best” resolution and selecting “glossy photo” paper. Once printed, spray two coats of spray sealer over the printed page. (This prevents the ink from running once you place the decal in water.) Allow the sealer to dry completely between coats, usually 20 to 30 minutes.

By the way, I didn’t count the waiting-do-dry time in the project, figuring you could be reading a book or something else during this time. 😉

 

Cutting Decal

Trimmed Decal

Cut the image from the sheet, and trim close to printing.

Immerse the decal in a cup of water for 45 to 60 seconds.

 

Into Wter

Decal in water

Decal comes off paper

After 45 seconds or so, the decal will start to slip away from the backing paper. At this point, carefully remove the decal and paper, and slide the decal onto the candle glass.

Decal and paper

Onto Glass

Smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles with your fingers.

Using a dry paper towel, dab away any excess water, checking again for pesky bubbles. Smooth with fingers if necessary.

Look carefully for bubbles

Allow to dry for half an hour or so, and your gift is ready to give. No stress, just an easy, beautiful and personal Valentine!

Love Candle P1080211

If you would like to construct your own word designs, the link for the Graphic’s Fairy will give you the hearts. The font I use is “Academy Entraved LET.”

I have two lovely friends who have fantastic candle companies… check them out! The candle in my pics is from Gwendolyn Mary.

Gwendolyn Mary Candles and Andrea Schroder Candles

And finally, if you’re looking for a great Valentine’s Day food gift, check out my Chocolate Truffle Spoons. They’re so good! (If I do say so myself.)

Truffle spoon on rose

Happy Valentine’s Day! xxoo

 

5 minute microwaved potato chips The Tamara Blog

I recently had family show up unexpectedly and I had nothing but a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge. While that’s a fine greeting, I needed a quick snack to add. I glanced in the pantry and spotted a potato. Presto! Potato chips and Prosecco. We have a snack!

Beautiful Gold Leafed Flutes DIY

I know what you’re thinking: This is not your ordinary pairing. But these ain’t no store-bought crisps! And as good as they are, they’re also great for game-day gatherings.

These chips are fast and, I’m telling you, FaH-bulous! Crunchy, easy, & YOU control all the ingredients. They’re not fried, so less fat, and because they’re made in batches, you have an easy way to control portion size. Crave just a few chips? Make some fresh in 5 minutes. And you won’t be tempted to eat the whole bag, like with store bought ones.

Microwave Potato Chips

  • 1 large Russet Potato
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper (optional)

Wash the potato and cut very thin, 1/8” or less. I like them 1/16″ and use a hand slicer or mandoline, but a sharp knife will also work.

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Place sliced potatoes in a single layer on a piece of parchment paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and brush the oil to cover each slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (if using.)

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Place sheet in microwave, and cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes. Watch the chips, and remove when the desired amount of brownness is achieved. Parchment paper can be reused for several batches.

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Yield: 50 to 60 chips.

Take a bite, microwaved potato chips

Tips: try other flavors – garlic or seasoned salt, , or even vinegar or flavored olive oil. Go crazy!

5 Minute Microwaved Potato Chips

Click here for printable recipe for Microwave Potato Chips

Here are some of my other snacks that may be of interest for game-day gatherings.

Kale Chips

Baked Salami “Chips”

Salty Sweet Popcorn

Toffee Pretzels

Enjoy!

I first made these somewhere around 2010, before the big Kale craze. You may have heard of them before, but with it being kale season as well as the end of football season, I thought you might want to revisit the now-classic: Kale Chips.

Since this video was first shot, kale has had quite a revival. My buddy Bo Muller-Moore has become a small-business champion, and even Trader Joe’s is selling kale chips in a bag.

Trust me, make them yourself. You’ll love them.

Oh, how I love the autumn. It’s my favorite time of year, and not just because of all the eating and drinking. Though you might not believe it, even here in sunny Southern California the leaves change and the weather gets crisp.

Stitched Place Card -- The Tamara Blog

I have a “thing” for leaves. Friends call them “my motif.” Some people love hearts, some suns or fleurs de lis… I love leaves. They’re natural, beautiful, readily available and ephemeral.

I have been tutoring a young girl in sewing the past few weeks, and came up with this idea after my first class with her. I had her sewing on paper to practice, and realized that the results were pretty versatile and well suited for paper crafting.

Stitche Place Card

So for this easy craft, I combined leaves and paper. Here is all you need to make these lovely place cards!

Score and fold cards, if necessary.

Scored cards

Punch or cut leaf shapes from patterned paper. I use between 3 and 5 leaves per card.

Leaf cut outs

Use a glue stick to lightly stick the leaves to the card. Take care not to use a large amount of glue, as it will gum up the needle.

Sew cards

Once all the cards are glued, sew to secure leaves.

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Using a swirly stitch pattern suggests wind-swept leaves.

Stitched place cards

Hand write names or print on computer, cut out and glue onto cards.

Cute Stitched Place Cards, The Tamara Blog

Stitched Cards

Leif's card

Stitching on Paper

The Tamara Blog -- Stitched Placecards

Think of the possibilities for all types of cards… perhaps a Christmas gift follow-up is called for? Stay tuned, and have happy holidays!

 

 

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The Best Blueberry Pie Ever

I have a super cute 2-year-old nephew who absolutely is obsessed with blueberries. (Or as he pronounces them, bloo-bewwies.) He would, and has, eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this summer, when we were all visiting my family in berry-land, I thought it might be fun to take Mr. Super Cute to the local berry picking patch for a treat.

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We arrived and he started going to town on the bushes, shoveling ripe as well as unripe blueberries in his mouth by the handful. It was a proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store afternoon.

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After about 30 minutes of picking, we had as much as we could carry, and headed back to the house to see our haul. Nearly every year I make jam while in the San Juan Islands berry-country, but this year I wanted to do something different. I hadn’t had pie in a long time, so Blueberry Pie it was!

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I must say, this pie turned out to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The crust so tender and flaky, and the filling… divine. Probably because of the pickers! We had the pie for dessert that night, unfortunately for Nephew, it was after he had gone to bed.

The next day, Sister, Nephew and I were driving home, so Mom had us take the remaining pie with us. “Car Pie,” we named it. Mom packed up the pie in a bag, adding utensils and bowls, so whenever we wanted it, the Car Pie would be ready.

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We headed south and stopped in Seattle for a little detour on the big Ferris wheel there on the pier.

20140711_113340Gorgeous day, great view and a fun adventure.

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Before we got back in the car, Sister and I decided that we needed drinks to accompany our tasty treat. We kept telling Nephew that we were going to have Car Pie in a few minutes. He had no idea what that was, but we assured him it would be wonderful.

Sister, holding Nephew, approached the nearest restaurant… a crab-shack sort of take-out spot. We walked up, the guy behind the counter asked, “What can I get you?” Nephew declared, “Car Pie Please!”

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We about wet our pants as we laughed and told the counter-guy we wanted iced teas and milk. Still laughing, we went back to the car and served up the pie.

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Nephew was very serious as he experienced his first taste of Car Pie, and in the end it was a huge hit. Even now, after nearly every meal, he still asks for Car Pie. I’m a happy Auntie! Click here for the Car Pie, I mean, Blueberry Pie Recipe.

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To make the flowered crust, I used these cutters:

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Click here for my Blueberry Pie Recipe. Update: You can always use frozen blueberries in this pie. Same measurements, just pop in frozen for fresh.

The Best Blueberry Pie, the Tamara Blog

Happy end of summer! It’s been a wonderful one!

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This is a special occasion breakfast treat, perfect for Father’s day.

Candied Bacon Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

I should note here that the irony of taking bacon, something considered not good for your heart and shaping it into a heart, is not lost on me. But my  justification for this recipe is that the heart shape could represent how you feel for the person to whom you’re giving the bacon. In my case it represents one thing and one thing only – how I feel about bacon itself. I just love it! Sorry, all you vegetarians, I know your pain. I used to be one, but the bacon beckoned.

This Candied Bacon is a favorite for fancy brunches, but I often make it as an hors d’oeuvre. (When serving as an appetizer, I just make simple strips.) It’s crispy and crunchy and sweet and salty and a little bit spicy. Just a bite or two satisfies all your food cravings. It’s beautiful for a party, and equally welcome for a breakfast-in-bed special treat. A word of caution: be sure to make plenty. I’ve never had leftovers… darnit!

Make ahead and serve at room temperature or serve warm.

Candied Bacon Hearts (click for printable recipe)

  • 1 package thick-cut bacon
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Place a rack over a foil-covered pan with sides (not a cookie sheet).

To make hearts, cut bacon in half lengthwise, then crosswise. Each heart will require one half a piece of bacon.

Working on a piece of paper towel, and one heart at a time, season bacon with pepper, then sprinkle with a light layer of brown sugar.

Sugared bacon in process
Move bacon to the prepared rack. Place the bottom short edges of two bacon strips on the pan, overlapping to form the bottom point of the heart.Sugared bacon in progress

Overlap bacon edges

 

Next, fold over the top ends, twisting each once to create the top loop of the heart. When forming the heart, alternate bacon ends. Gently press the intersection of the four ends together. Sprinkle on more sugar, if desired.

Bacon hearts on rack

(If making as simple strips, lay the strips on the rack, pepper, and sprinkle with a layer of brown sugar.)

Place in oven and bake 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of bacon. Remove when crispy.

Candied Bacon Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Serve immediately, or set aside to cool. Can be made one day in advance, and reheated before serving. They’re tastiest when served warm or at room temperature.

TIPS: Clean-up from this recipe can be a mess if you don’t use the rack-and-foil method. If, by chance, you don’t have a rack & pan combo that will work, try this kitchen hack: Take a sheet of heavy-duty foil, twice the size of your sheet pan. Fold the foil in ½” accordion pleats. Spread out over a foil-covered sheet pan. Lay bacon perpendicular across the foil ridges to lift it from the pan bottom. Once the bacon is done cooking… simply toss all the foil in the trash.

Fabio Vivianni Loves my Candied Bacon!
If making this bacon as an hors d’oeuvre, it’s probably best to serve in simple strips (like the ones chef Fabio Vivianni is holding in the pic above), as the heart halves sometimes separate. And that just won’t do!

Enjoy this decadent treat – your loved ones surely will!

 

 

 

Caption Beautiful sweet and salty toffee pretzels.

 Beautiful sweet and salty toffee pretzels.

Ah yes, there is a holiday for everything. And April 26th is, at it turns out, National Pretzel Day here in the US.

By far, my favorite way to eat pretzels is dipped in toffee. I posted this recipe a few years back, but here it is again. It’s worth a revisit. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of my Toffee Pretzels Recipe.

DSCF7003 Tamara's Toffee Pretzels


I do love a good soft pretzel, and have made them at home (key: look for a recipe that uses baking soda, like this one). They’re really worth the effort.

DSCF6583 Pretzels Cooling

DSCF6589 Brown Pretzels

I hope you have a delightful and carbo-licious Happy Pretzel Day!

 

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