Christmas tamales

For the past several years Brandon and I have created our own tradition of making tamales on (or around) Christmas. Making tamales requires just a little bit of pre-planning (supply buying and day-of timing) and are fairly easy.

We use this recipe from Pepper Fool, of course with our own tweaks:

For the tamales:

  • 1/2 eight-ounce package dried corn husks
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegetable shortening
  • 1 pound (2 cups) fresh masa
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 oz purchased salsa verde (We use the LaVictoria Thick’n Chunky Salsa Verde)
  • Shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (about 2-3 cups)

Toppings:

  • Cilantro
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Onions
  • Whatever else you want!

Prepare corn husks:

Soak the husks in water till pliable. Make sure they are fully submerged. If using room temperature water, they made need to soak for a few hours.  To speed this up, you can put them in simmering water for 10 minutes and then let them continue soaking while the water cools. 

To make the dough:

Beat the vegetable shortening in a mixer until very light, for about a minute. Add 1/2 pound (1 cup) fresh masa to shortening. Beat until well blended. Continue beating, adding alternately the remaining 1/2 pound masa and the broth, adding only enough broth to give consistency of medium thick cake batter. Then sprinkle in the baking powder and salt. Beat 1 minute more.

To form the tamales:

Remove husks from water when they have softened. Pat husks dry. Tear extra husks into 1/4 inch wide, 7 inch long strips one for each tamale. Take one that is at least 6 inches across on wider end and 6-7 inches long. Lay out this corn husk with tapering end toward you.

Tamale making begins

Tamale making begins

Spread a couple of tablespoons of dough mixture into a square, leaving at least a 1.5 inch border on side toward you and 3/4 inch border along other sides. Add chicken, cheese and salsa. (Along with whatever else you decide to add!)

Filling the tamales

Filling the tamales

Pick up two long sides of corn husk and bring them together, overlapping one over the other.

Fold up the bottom section of husk tightly right up to the filling line. Leave top open. Secure it in place by loosely tying one of strips of husk (or some baking twine) around tamale base.

Wrap up the tamales

Wrap up the tamales

Repeat with remaining husks and dough mixture.

Stand tamales on the folded bottom in prepared steamer, being sure they are not packed too closely in steamer they need to expand.

Cover with layer of leftover husks. Check carefully that all the water doesn’t boil away, adding boiling water when necessary. Cover with lid and steam for 1 hour.

Unwrap the tamales, discard the husks and serve with additional salsa on the side.

Our tamale feast

Our tamale feast

Yield: 4-6 servings

 

Yarn ball Christmas ornaments

With Christmas in only 10 days (!!!) I’m excited to share a Christmas ornament that is so easy, so cute and so perfect for anyone who knits or crochets or has a love of yarn. As I type this, my mind is going crazy with ideas about how to make this more cat-centric, it could even be a gift for the crazy cat ladies in your life too. (No judgment, I’ve been a proud crazy cat lady for 10+ years!)  I made four of these last year, and found the idea on Pinterest. (I love Pinterest!)

Yarn ball ornaments

Yarn ball ornaments

First, gather your supplies. A trip to Michael’s or JoAnn’s Crafts will set you up perfectly for this for pretty cheap. Depending on the value of coupons, this could be less than $5 total!

All the supplies you'll need for the yarn ball ornaments

All the supplies you’ll need for the yarn ball ornaments

  • A skein of the yarn of your choice (Yes, I looked up what that was called!)
  • A package of the ornaments you want to cover
  • Wood beads
  • Skewers (any size 6” or longer)
  • Super glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors

For the needles

  1. Select pairs of wood beads that are similar colors.
  2. Cut sets of skewers (if necessary) in similar lengths
  3. Apply super glue to the inside of the wood bead. You could probably also use hot glue, but the hot glue might get everywhere. If you do use super glue, be very careful about applying the glue and having it unknowingly seep drip through the beads and onto your fingers. It glues very securely and very quickly! (Yes, I speak from experience!)
  4. Hold the end of the skewer flush with the outside of the wood bead, to make it look like a knitting needle.

 

Yarn ball ornament "needles"

Yarn ball ornament “needles”

For the yarn balls

  1. Start the yarn ball by taking the gold or silver “topper” off of the ornament. (It’ll be returned once the yarn has been applied)
  2. Take a piece of tape and tape the end of the yarn onto the ornament.
  3. Start wrapping the yarn around the ornament. And keep wrapping…and wrapping…and wrapping…and wrapping… But seriously, switch up the direction from time to time and wrap the ornament until all of the glass is covered and it looks like a ball of yarn.
  4. When you’re nearing the end, simply cut the yarn and tuck it into a previously-wrapped section.
  5. Put the topper back on, lace the “needle” through the yarn and your finished product is ready!
First thing first. Starting the ornament.

First thing first. Starting the ornament.

Wrap, wrap, wrap.

Wrap, wrap, wrap.

More last-minute Christmas present ideas to come! Have a great rest of the week!

Michael’s 1st Halloween {2015}

Baby Michael was born just in time to celebrate his first Halloween in style!

I originally wanted him to be a Cookie Monster, but there weren’t costumes in the itty bitty size that I needed. (We did end up receiving a toddler-sized one as a gift, so be on the look out for our Cookie Monster next year!)

Late night breastfeeding is conducive to lots of Pinterest browsing and I found this adorable glow-in-the-dark skeleton outfit on sale. $8 for a costume? Done.

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

I also made this ghost onesie for Michael. (More on that in a future post; hopefully this week)

BOO! It's Michael!

BOO! It’s Michael!

You’ve also already seen Michael’s pumpkin bib. It was a gift and was perfect for Halloween and his six-week Facebook photos.

Michael's 6-week photo shoot

Michael’s six-week photo shoot

Finally, his Waldo outfit came together by happenstance. I was going through Michael’s outfits, saw the red and white striped onesie and his blue pants and voila! I added a red electrical tape stripe to his hat from the hospital, along with a yarn puff. The only item I needed to purchase were pipe cleaners for his glasses. $1 total. Cheapest– and cutest– costume yet!

Where's Waldo... er... Michael!? I found him!

Where’s Waldo… er… Michael!? I found him!

Look at those specs!

Look at those specs!

Which costume is your favorite? I like them all!

We tried putting Michael in an actual pumpkin too, something I’ve always wanted to do with a baby, and it was an extreme failure. We were all laughing as much as my sister was. Everyone except Michael. Maybe next year?

This looks so easy on Pinterest...

This looks so easy on Pinterest…

 

Halloween preparations on Megan’s Island {2015}

2013-10-31-Halloween1

Man, this baby vacation is flying by and I’m not doing nearly the amount of fun festive crafting and blogging that I had hoped I would be! I had grand plans of decking the house (and the kid) out for Halloween, but I’m nowhere close. Alas, he’s worth it — and I followed through on decking him out!

Michael & Beary Goldberg: best friends!

Michael & Beary Goldberg: best friends!

BOO! It's Michael!

BOO! It’s Michael!

First things first, I found a bottle of wine for Halloween: the 2013 Dearly Beloved Forever Red. There are many bottles out there and this one matches Michael’s skeleton costume the best, so I had to have it. Plus the price was right at under $10.

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

I’ve seen lots of Halloween-y wines at QFC and Trader Joe’s, and here are some wine-specific candy pairing ideas I found this year. If wine isn’t your thing, VinePair had some great Halloween Candy/alcohol pairings last year. Read my post here.

For a festive dinner, I’ve been scouring Pinterest during middle-of-the-night feedings and have settled on a “scary” lasagna. I opted for this “Cheesy Brussels sprout lasagna” with a scary face topping. I’m hoping it looks like this, but without the red sauce:

Scary lasagna!

Scary lasagna!

Last year we made a zombie meatloaf (this is awesome, delicious, gluten-free, and quick and easy, if you need an idea!).

Turkey meatloaf zombie

In 2013, we made squid ink pasta with “brain” sauce.

Spooky Halloween Pasta | Megan's Island Blog

For more Halloween ideas, check out my Pinterest “Halloween Inspirations” board. So many great ideas that you could even do on short notice for this year!

DIY clay animal busts

A few months ago I received a large rhino head by accident from Zulily. (It was supposed to be pair of raven bookends for my Dad’s birthday…)

Maddie isn't sure what to do with this surprise delivery

Maddie isn’t sure what to do with this surprise delivery

Of course I wanted to spray paint the head white and the horn gold and hang it in the nursery, but Brandon put the kibosh on it pretty quickly. (He likes the natural coloring of the rhino.) I’ve kept my eyes peeled for an additional rhino or other animal busts on my trips to Marshall’s and HomeGoods, but never found anything that I had to have.

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Etsy and stumbled across several great items, but they were all more than I wanted to spend, so I decided to make my own!

I looked everywhere for Crayola Model Magic, which apparently doesn’t exist anymore. So, after intense staffmember consultation and debate, I landed on DAS modeling clay from the University Bookstore. I also bought several unfinished plaques from JoAnn’s (similar to this one, the in-store selection is hit or miss and I lucked out).

The sculpting reminded me of my childhood and high school art classes and I really enjoyed it. Some of the ideas came from my head, while some came from the internet. I sculpted the busts around foil balls (so they were lighter when hung) and followed the instructions and let them air dry for several weeks. (Mainly out of laziness.)

Once they were dry I spray painted them a glossy white and Brandon used leftover stain to make the plaques a uniform color. I used ample hot glue to adhere the busts to the plaques– and voila! they were beautiful! I originally tried to adhere them with super glue and that didn’t work out. Hot glue was the way to go.

My clay animal busts

My clay animal busts

To finish off the projects, I hot glued a “D” hook on each plaque.

Hanging the busts

Hanging the busts

Here they are in relation to the nursery wall. I’m really pleased with how the nursery turned out. And look at that little two-week old Michael! He’s grown so much since then!

Michael and his friends, showing off his clay animal busts. (Sort of)

Michael and his friends, showing off his clay animal busts. (Sort of)

Happy crafting!

 

 

It’s football time!

‘Tis the season to get ready for football season! I’ve been gearing up on Pinterest and have compiled some of my football favorites here for you. We even went to a preseason faceoff between our hometown Seattle Seahawks and Brandon’s beloved Denver Broncos. (The Broncos won~ Go Broncos!) Baby-dependent, Brandon will be heading to the first home Husky game of the season on Saturday. I’ll be at home cooking something delicious. Maybe these ‘chos? {Better yet: pineapple and pork are supposed to induce labor!}

Since the season is long and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to share our tailgate and game day eats, I’m focusing on football crafts today. Specifically, AstroTurf crafts.

I had a lot of fun with AstroTurf last year, with my debut on Q13’s morning show.

Looked good on TV!

Looked good on TV!

I made koozies, coasters, platters, wine tags, “wreaths,” and more. {Full blog post and tutorial here} But those were so 2014.

Beer koozies

Beer koozies

AstroTurf platters: works with any size tile!

AstroTurf platters: works with any size tile!

AstroTurf wine tags

AstroTurf wine tags

One of my most favorite crafts to date: An AstroTurf W!

One of my most favorite crafts to date: An AstroTurf W!

For the 2015-16 season, I’ve purchased a new roll of AstroTurf rug and found some new ideas:

An upgrade on my coaster idea: circles!

An upgrade on my coaster idea: circles!

This AstroTurf table is pretty amazing

This AstroTurf table is pretty amazing

An AstroTurf bulletin board

An AstroTurf bulletin board

I have several ideas swirling in my mind right now, and potentially a couple more weeks of free time to act upon them, so check back for my new 2015 AstroTurf ideas! Happy football season to you! Go Huskies, Broncos and Seahawks!

{2015} S’more Day

Guess what today is? NATIONAL S’MORE DAY!

Mallow Bits

Mallow Bits

This kid has given me an incredible sweet tooth and that sweet tooth has a sweet spot for s’mores. I’ve always been interested in the combination of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker but it’s been kicked up a notch the past few months.

If the weather cooperates, I’ll be making {another} batch of s’more chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you’ll join me?

It’s quite easy: take your favorite chocolate chip cookie –or any cookie really — recipe (some suggestions here), add some of mini marshmallows or these “Mallow Bits” I found at Target, some crumbled graham crackers, and voila! S’MORE COOKIES.

The s'more cookies I made for a potluck last week.

The s’more cookies I made for a potluck last week.

Here are some other ways you can celebrate:

Want to celebrate with others? 
Celebrate S’Mores Day at Theo Chocolate, taking place on August 10 and 11 from noon to 5 p.m. at their factory in Fremont. Delicious homemade marshmallows and graham crackers combined with tasty Theo Chocolate makes for a very special treat.

Best part? $1 of every s’more goes to Food Lifeline and stopping hunger in Western Washington.

S'mores for TWO days at Theo!

S’mores for TWO days at Theo!

Want to celebrate with yourself? I have some ideas for you:
S’more bark
A triple chocolate s'more bark, perhaps?  

A triple chocolate s’more bark, perhaps?

S’more pizza

I love pizza. S'more + pizza = Sounds amazing!  

I love pizza. S’more + pizza = Sounds amazing!

S’more lasagna 

S'more lasagna? Yes, please.

S’more lasagna? Yes, please.

And some recipes for the full year? Thanks, Country Living! 

S'more recipes for the whole year... 

S’more recipes for the whole year…

I hope you have a very enjoyable s’more day! I know I will!