Friday, May 26, 2017

DIY: Mushroom Pancake Art

Google "pancake art" & be prepared to be amazed. And mezmerized. No, seriously, time will mysteriously fly by as you gaze, like one entranced, at the soothing videos of these foodie artists doing their creative thing. I am so intrigued by this art form!
And, yesterday, on the first day of summer break, I thought I'd spend some extra time over the hot griddle to cook up some fun. I am a lover of all things fungi, so I thought I'd give a go at some mushroom flapjacks.
I have not done any research on this topic of "pancake art". I just grabbed my batter & went for it. 

I don't have any of those fancy squeeze bottles with multiple sized tips like the pancake art pros do. But I have a bowl & a spoon. And that'll do just fine for what we're cooking up today. You'll also need: a hot griddle, cooking spray, paper towels, cookie cutter(s), your favorite pancake batter, food coloring, a spatula, & maybe a book for photo reference (or other media for picture inspiration). 

First, heat up your griddle. And while it's warming up, mix up your batter. I divided my batter into two bowls. One bowl of batter I left as is. The other bowl I colored with blue food coloring. Make it as dark or as light as you want, & use as many colors as you want.

To make things super easy on myself, I used a metal cookie cutter. This is so much less intimidating. (And cooking spray is your best friend.) Before you set your metal cookie cutter onto your hot griddle, you are going to spray the inside of  the cookie cutter with non-stick cooking spray. Spraying a paper towel first, & then wiping it on the inside of the cookie cutter works well, as does spraying your {clean & freshly washed} finger & wiping it around the inside. Each time you use your cookie cutter, you'll want to wipe it clean & respray.

Next, you'll use the regular pancake batter &, with your spoon, sprinkle dots for the mushroom top + fill in the stem. 

Now you'll use the other color to fill in the top of the mushroom. 

Let that set until the underside has cooked. (The edges will start to appear dry. That's a good hint it's done.) Carefully --it will be hot!-- use a paper towel or pot holder to lift the cookie cutter off.

Flip your mushroom pancake over to finish cooking. And that's it!

After I played around with the cookie cutter for a while, I was ready to branch out on my own.
Now, your creations don't have to be perfect. Mine were definitely not. My girls ate the pancakes no matter what they looked like. The pretty ones taste the same as the ugly ones. 
I decided to use just one color of batter, & let the cooking times change the color of the batter for me: The batter that goes on first will cook longer, so remember that. Anything that you want to be "shaded" or set apart, or darker, will need to be drizzled on first.

So, firstly, I created a stem + the little underside fringes + the polka dots on top. I let those cook for several minutes. You'll start to see them turn brown on the edges. You'll want these things to be the darkest.

Then, I filled in the little area where the underside fringe was. I let that cook for a couple more minutes.

And, finally, I filled in the top of the mushroom with a curved shape. Cook that until it's not soupy anymore & flip it over.

The more I played, the better I got. I whipped up the pink ones yesterday, & gave a second attempt with the blue pancakes today.
The girls were pretty impressed. Pazely, 12, said, "Five stars!" I'm not sure if her scale was from 1 to 10? But I'm gonna pretend it was from 1 to 5.

So, have some fun, try something new, & get ready to make a happy, pancakey mess!

Some of you have asked if I'll be doing anything on the blog this summer...

Summer is the most amazing, freeing time to wander, explore & create. Summer invigorates me! It's when I find all these random, unstructured, unoccupied moments to get creative. Although I won't be involved with anything as detailed as my past Summer Fun Diary Series or even last year's Summer School, I will be sure to share with you any interesting tidbits I find myself getting involved in.

To keep the girls & I from falling into too much of a lazy rut this summer, I have printed out copies of these "Summer Rules" I spied on Thirty Handmade Days blog. I changed the list up a little to make room for daily "Devotions/Quiet Time with Jesus". I plan on following these same rules too ---the girls were giddy about that!
I'm hoping to do a lot of adventuring here in Alaska this summer, in my own little neighborhood. I hope to have lots of fun, try new things, experience as much as I can in this new world of mine.

To catch me in real-time, be sure to follow me on Instagram!
And for a peek into my journey in Alaska, follow my other blog Nikki from Nikiski.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Finally, the Fairy Garden!

Hello out there! Let me blow the dust off this 'ol blog & put some new happy on here!
In case you've wondered where I've been, & you're not following me on social media, & you're not subscribed to my new blog called Nikki from Nikiski, I'll tell you in one word exactly where I've been: Alaska. The fam & I moved up one week before Christmas to pastor at a church in Nikiski, on the Kenai Peninsula. And we are loving it here! 
I am busy, busy, busy, which takes me away from a lot of the fun little craftty projects I used to do, & obviously this blog. I'm {slowly} learning to divide my days into ministry days or home improvement days or Nikki days, etc. And that's helping. I am trying to intentionally pause, every once in a while, to do something fun, something that brings a smile to my face.
And this Fairy Garden project is JUST that!
If you recall, the girls & I (who will be done with school in a week & a half!!) created a bunch of items for a non-existent fairy garden last summer, during our Summer School series. We had every intention of construction beginning on our fairy neighborhood during summer break. But that didn't happen.
{Almost} one year later...
I finally gathered up a couple containers this week & decided it was time to begin building.

Here's a view of the garden so far. I'm telling you, this is an addictive activity. Expansions are inevitable. If you let them, these fairies will put you in the poorhouse. For reals. 
I rounded up some logs from around my yard to create little vignettes on either side of some stairs leading up to our front door. That one log covered in moss spoke to me the most. It practically yelled out to me in the wood pile. And I was like, "How long have you been sitting there? You are gorgeous. Come here, you pretty little thing." *gasp* I love me some moss. And it's, like, real moss. Not that craft store moss. 
Oh! And those flowers? It is spring, but I have YET to see any flowers growing here in Alaska. I decided I needed some color therapy, so I made a beeline for a nearby garden center. Doing happy dances down the flowered aisles. And probably causing concern in any customers in my vicinity. 
The flowers still need to be potted. I don't know where my pots are. Maybe still packed away? Did I get rid of them before I moved? I don't know. I DO know I'm afraid the neighborhood bunnies (& maybe the moose) will eat all the flowers. Hopefully the fairies have installed a good security system.

This first Fairy garden was made from a shallow drawer I've had lying around for YEARS. I once used it as a hanging shelf in Zoey's room when she was a baby. She's 14 now. 
I found an awesome square flat of sedum at Home Depot that I cut into thin strips & lined around the border of this fairy garden, like a hedge. 
(And, by the way, this post is super duper packed with pics. Like, overload. If your computer hasn't crashed by now, give yourself a high-5.)

The fairy house was made with a tin can + clay. The roof was made with foil covered in plaster paper-mache strips, then painted. Clay vines & leaves were added last.

The fairy garden guard dog was a gift. The mushrooms are from a craft store.

This sweet little guy was made by Pazely last year in 6th grade at school. It was glazed & fired.

The bistro set was purchased at Beaver Bark in Richland, WA, as were the tiny grey pebbles marking the walkway & courtyard. I lined these light grey pebbles with slightly bigger pebbles gathered from my yard. The clay book & cupcake were handmade by me. 

The tiny hedgie & hedgehog house were handmade by Pazely & I. I'm pretty sure I found the idea for the house online. There are OODLES of fairy garden tutorials online. From garden plans to DIY accessories. We used clay in a lot of our crafty projects. Clay goes a long way! 

That tire swing tho! Cutest ever. It was our first purchase toward the fairy garden. So long ago. From Beaver Bark, in Richland WA.
And those heart rocks were here at the house when we arrived. They fit in perfectly!

A twine nest (twine dipped in Mod Podge & then twisted into a nest shape) + itty bitty clay eggs.

 The base of our second Fairy Garden is a plastic rectangular container I purchased from Home Depot. It was actually the final missing piece that sparked yesterday's decision to get this thing going. We still need to complete this garden. We think maybe a picnic table in the center? Or something else garden-y? We'll be on the lookout...

 This tiny fairy house is my favorite. It's a small mason jar covered in clay. The roof comes on & off. I kept the lid, shaped a dome roof out of foil over it, covered the foil in clay, & baked it in the oven. I added a giant battery-operated tea light inside. It flickers & it is MAGIC!
Here's a quick 15-second video of the light in action while I was outside this morning listening to the birds & the quiet, enjoying some fresh air...

Early morning sounds from the Fairy Garden

 We've got bunnies in the basil. I LOVE how my fairy garden is also my herb garden.

 We HAD to purchase the green hose for our "garden" theme. I think we got it at a craft store. Also, when shopping for accessories, don't forget about the dollhouse sections at craft & hobby stores.
The watering can was from Beaver Bark, in Richland WA. The clay pots were a gift. And, look! More birdie eggs!

 Clay owl, handmade. The girls & I found a tutorial online for the acorn birdhouses. Drilling through acorns ain't no joke. Be ready to almost say cuss words. Almost.

We had tons of fun sculpting veggies for our garden. We've got potatoes, carrots, eggplant, pumpkins & lettuce. 
Because ALL the things grow at ALL the same time in fairy land!
We spread out some sand on top of the potting soil to designate our vegetable garden area, & lined it with pebbles collected from the yard.

The hanging birdhouse was a gift. So sunny & yellow! And a great addition in helping to create different levels of height throughout our garden.

I think this is pretty much my favorite spot in the fairy gardens. It sits on the opposite side of the stairs as the other fairy houses just shown. This fairy door (store-bought) is nestled among some logs. You might not notice it at first glance. I made a walkway with twigs, & planted some more of that sedum on either side of the door.
So, that's it! For ALL the pictures of our fairy garden, click HERE to view our Fairy Garden Flickr album. There are even a few tour videos in there, saved from my Instagram Stories for you to take a peek at!
I hope this inspired you to get started on your own little fairy garden!