Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chocolate nests

Ben is my little shopping buddy; he goes with me to run errands on the weekends most of the time.  Our last stop in most stores is the seasonal aisle to check out the new, festive stuff.  So Easter projects are on our minds for our weekend crafts and we decided to start with these chocolate nests. 

I've seen these made with shredded wheat cereal or chow mein noodles and chocolate, but anytime I see chow mein noodles as a component in anything, I default to Fiber One cereal.  There is a Weight Watchers recipe for chocolate haystacks that uses the cereal instead of chow mein noodles...nobody ever notices the difference and it least has some redeeming nutritional quality.

These are super simple and don't take much time to put together.  Ben was able to do all of the work himself, which matters a lot to him.
We put one cup of chocolate chips in a glass bowl and microwaved that for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until melted.  Then we added in a cup of the Fiber One. There is nothing exact about this "recipe"--we added a little more cereal at a time and stirred it in until the it was coated but there wasn't a ton of chocolate left in the bottom of the bowl. 

Then we put a couple of spoonfuls of the chocolate/cereal mixture into cupcake liners to give them a basic nest shape and left them to cool.  Reese's eggs and jelly beans added the final touch and they were done.  See?  Easy.  And totally adjustable...this made about 12 nests, but we could have just as easily made a smaller batch so I didn't have to figure out where to store the extras.  (I put each of the leftovers into a plastic sandwich bag and popped them in the freezer--they have held up fine.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Silver stick jewelry

I say it every winter:  The cold weather makes it difficult to spend much time at my workbench in the garage.  So jewelry projects have been reduced to prep work at my desk inside to make my work at the soldering station as short as possible, or items that don't have any "hot" connections.

I made this set made with what I refer to as silver "sticks"; the necklace has several 14 gauge sterling silver sticks hanging from a greek leather cord (it's a long necklace, measuring just under 29 inches in its entirety and hanging about 16 inches measuring from the back of the neck) and the earrings each have three 20 gauge sterling sticks.  

I used a steel bench block and a planishing hammer to create a very smooth, flat surface on each piece of silver.  All of the individual pieces create great movement and the planished surfaces reflect the light really nicely...maybe being forced to work away from the soldering station isn't such a bad thing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Side trip: valentine crayons

This technique is not new; Ben and I have been talking about trying it out to make his crayon odds and ends useful for a long time.  But I kept explaining to him that if we used a pan for making the crayons, we couldn't use it ever again for food products.  This conversation took place no less than seven times.  I've read about using cupcake tins with liners and that might be ok, but I just didn't want to run the risk of getting any of the crayon wax on my bakeware. 

On our last trip to Target we stopped in the $1 section and saw some heart shaped silicon ice trays and I knew it was our chance.

We finally got out that bin of crayons and unwrapped them all, then tossed them into the trays. 

We baked them in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes (maybe it was longer...I didn't really time it, just kept checking on them until they were melted) then let them cool and popped them out. 

We packaged them up in individual bags and I cut decorative edging on cardstock for Ben to use for the header tags.  He stamped each one and stapled them onto the individual bags to take to school next week.  Valentines: done.