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November 27, 2014

mini pumpkin cheesecakes

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm writing this post a day ahead of time because tomorrow I will be busy doubly stuffing my face. That's right - I've got two Thanksgiving meals to attend. It's going to be all about strategy to ensure that I do not injure myself. I'm looking forward to spending the day with family. My mom is the only one who still lives close by, so the three of us are going to enjoy a quiet, intimate meal together. Heather's family, on the other hand, is gigantic. Babies, children, dogs, & a dozen or so adults make for energetic get-togethers with lots of playful yelling & laughter. The contrasting gatherings are always a riot. 
For Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, I'm bringing these teensy tiny pumpkin cheesecakes with a graham cracker crust. This recipe is almost the same as the last cheesecake I made, only instead of sour cream I used canned pumpkin. My friend (the same one who let me in on the caramel sauce secret) related this genius idea to me last year & it was a huge success. This year I decided to miniaturize them (with the fleeting hope of some portion control). 

Ingredients

Crust 
  • 3 cups crushed graham crackers (I used a food processor to crumble mine)
  • 3/4 cups (12 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 2/3 cups sugar 
  • Cupcake liners 
  • Two muffin tins (3x4)
Filling
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree 
  • Whipped cream (for topping)
Directions

To make the graham cracker crust, preheat oven to 350° F (this is the same temperature you will bake the cheesecakes at if you want to leave the oven on). Mix the graham cracker crumbs & the sugar in a bowl. Then combine with the melted butter. 

Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners. Spoon the graham cracker mixture into the liners & press along the bottom to form the crust. 

Bake for 7 minutes, & set aside. 

To make the filling, preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix together the cream cheese & sugar. using a mixer or by hand (arm workout!). Mix until the cream cheese is completely blended. 

Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, & salt. Mix in the pumpkin puree until mixture is completely blended. 

Spoon the filling into your graham cracker crusts. Do not overfill. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The cheesecakes are done when they jiggle & have slightly browned. Insert a knife or toothpick in the center of the cheesecakes to test doneness. Let them cool before removing from the muffin tins. When the cheesecakes have cooled, set in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving (I prefer mine to sit in the fridge for 12 hours before eating). Serve with whipped topping. 
Happy eating, everyone! Don't forget to ponder what you're thankful for this year. For me it's my health, my happy home, my girlfriend, & of course, you guys. 

xoxo, 
-m.e.

November 25, 2014

gift giving // for the cook



Is it too early to start Christmas shopping? I don't think so. If you do, scroll on to the next blog in your feed. I won't be offended. If you're like me & you've been prepping since the summer, then read on! I've (miraculously) finished almost all of my gift-getting, but the ideas are still bubbling in my brain. Maybe the chef in your life would appreciate one of these as a present. The cook in our house (hint: it's not me) says she'd like one of each.

  1. // Apron Cooking Guide (the guide is upside-down for chef-readability!)
  2. // Fox and the Houndstooth Oven Mitt 
  3. // Teal Damask Crock-Pot, 4.5 Quart 
  4. // Acacia Wood Recipe Box  
  5. // Mason Jar Measuring Cups (WANT)
  6. // The Portlandia Cookbook: Cook Like a Local (ALSO WANT)

xoxo, 
-m.e.


// This is not a sponsored post, Amazon is an affiliate sponsor of WeCanMakeAnything. All images belong to their respective companies. //


Related // Get crafty with your gift-giving by making an oven mitt

November 21, 2014

links i love // THXGVNG NOMZ



With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it's time to start planning. The menu is complete (as seen above) - now it's just a matter of execution. I'm about to go make my grocery list right now before the store runs out of potatoes. 

This year's menu is fairly tame & closely follows the typical American holiday meal plan. This has not always been true in my family's past. Every once in a while my mom would want to mix things up & we'd have themed Thanksgivings. One year we tried to put chocolate in every single dish! The dessert dishes were obviously no obstacle, but I distinctly remember a weird chocolate chili soup making the cut. It was fun, but there are just some vegetables that do not pair well with cocoa. There was another year where we tried to put cranberries in everything, even raw ones (which, lesson learned, is not a good idea. Raw cranberries are super tart). Nowadays Thanksgiving is more potluck-style, so we've been keeping things traditional. 

This week's links are food-based in case you're still finishing out your menu plan. Also might I add that it is excruciating trying to find tasty recipes on an empty stomach. Would not recommend. 

  • Potato & Green Garlic Quiche // Vegetarian & gluten-free for those who want to pass on the bird. 
  • Brie Mashed Potatoes // True story - this recipe is the bomb. It's graced our table for many a past holiday. 
  • Mini Pumpkin Pies // It's like a pie cupcake! I'm baking a cheesecake version of this recipe. 
  • Pecan Cheesecake Pie // Why can't we just celebrate Thanksforservingnothingbutpiegiving?
  • Seitan Roast // Do you guys like seitan? I've never ventured into that cooking realm. Mostly because I'm horrible in the kitchen, but also because my brother makes a mean wheat gluten roast. I leave that part of the vegetarian holiday feast to him.
  • Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte // A lot of recipes out there for versions of this Starbucks delicacy seem super complicated. This seems like one I could make while in my post-Thanksgiving food coma. 
  • 24 Perfect Thanksgiving Recipes for Two // Ideal for your little family. 

xoxo, 
-m.e.

Related // The holidays are all about PIE

November 20, 2014

out & about // doing

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Watching // Because I've been keeping my hands busy with an array of craft projects, there's been a lot of "background watching" going on. Background watching is when you put on a TV show but really only watch it halfway. The key to a good background show is that it has to be either light on the plot or something that you've already seen before. As such I'm watching a mixture of House Hunters (which is like 11% plot) & The Office (for the 18th time).

Listening // Have you ever felt peace that also feels like sadness? Like a calm moment saturated with despondence? That's how I've been feeling about this song by Buffy Sainte-Marie. 

Doing // There's so much to be done in preparation for the holidays. I'm looking forward to every bit of it: the baking, the decorating, the crafting, the movie-watching, etc. This year I really tried to get all of my shopping done early so I could focus on the more enjoyable aspects of the holidays & not be stressed out & rushing around. I'm happy to report that I've successfully finished all my shopping as of yesterday! I've set for myself a personal best.

Feeling // During my time off work I forced myself to come to some realizations. Recently I had been feeling as though everything was happening too quickly around me & I wasn't making conscious decisions about my everyday life. I wasn't grabbing hold of what was happening to me, I was just letting things happen at me. So a few days into my time off I decided to determine what made me happy. Things like "staying busy" & "working with my hands" popped up on my list, but none of these things seemed definitive enough. Now that I'm back at work & I'm trying to implement my ideals of happy living into my regular life,  I realize that I can boil down my list into one word: doing. Doing is what makes me happy. Doing things with others, doing  projects, doing housework, doing what needs to be done... Doing (to me) means taking charge & actually doing it for myself rather than waiting for someone else to get it done. Doing means taking action, taking responsibility. Right now it's still a bunch of gobbledygook in my head, but as time goes on hopefully I'll be able to describe it more readably than I have just now. 

Loving // This quote from Taylor Swift. Don't judge me, but these are some wise words to live by. 


xoxo,
- m.e.


P.s. I updated the cross-stitch tutorial. It now comes complete with a pattern for making your very own "I Woke Up Like This" piece of artwork.


Related // With the holidays coming up, here's my take on stress. 

November 19, 2014

pom-pom flowers



The pom-poms are back for an encore! After making a load of poms the other day I started brain-storming ways to use them. Heather said the yellow ones looked an awful lot like dandelions. Jackpot! With some twigs & wire I was able to make a sunny bouquet of "flowers" to add to our fireplace mantel. The keyword here is sunny. It's been so cold & gloomy down here in the sunshine state lately. 




To turn your pom-poms into flowers, you'll need some wire & some sticks. I gathered these twigs from my front yard, but any kind of stem will do. You could also use a longer piece of wire & extend that out for the stem. 

Follow the pom-pom tutorial, & when you get to step 5 (tying the string around the middle), wrap a piece of wire around the middle before you remove the cardboard circles. Remove the cardboard, then wrap the wire around the end of your twig. Trim your pom-pom down to give it a fuller, fuzzier look. 




I like the look of the yellow flower because it sort of looks like a real flower. I also think they'd look good in some oranges & browns for autumn. Also, did you notice the etched glass bottle I put them in? Totally a test run for this tutorial

xoxo,
-m.e.


Related // More DIY flowers here & here

November 17, 2014

thanksgiving iphone wallpapers

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? It really has crept up on me this year. There's so much cooking & baking to look forward to, I can't believe I let this holiday slip my mind. In an effort to get into the spirit of turkey day, I've got a few iPhone wallpapers to share with you. It's nice having a reminder of thankfulness every time I check my text messages. Bonus: they're gluten-free & vegan-friendly! 
To use these wallpapers, get on your phone & click the links below to open the wallpaper you want to use. Then press down on the image until you're prompted to save it. Save & set as wallpaper! 
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is thinking about all that I'm thankful for. I know lots of families do this, but every year as we're sitting at the table stuffing our faces, we list all the things we're grateful for & focus our conversations on the positive things in our lives. It's nice to share & reflect.

xoxo, 
-m.e.

November 14, 2014

links i love // thanksgiving

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My vacation trickled off into the better part of this week, & I was sad to see it go. I think a break is just what I needed - time to reset, reevaluate, & relax. My mindset of late has been all Christmas. What I need to do, what I need to buy, who I need to get gifts for... I have really put Thanksgiving on the back burner this year. Fortunately I still have two weeks to get my mind (& stomach) ready. 

I've never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving. As a vegetarian, the jokes about how gross tofurkey is get old fast. As a liberal, I think the origins of the holiday are a bit weird to celebrate. & as a crafter/crazy person - get out of the way, Thanksgiving!  GIVE ME CHRISTMAS. However, some of the traditions are really lovely. It's good to be reminded of all we have to be thankful for. There's something warm & friendly about the hours of cooking & baking that go into it. Getting together with family can be enriching. Plus there's pie, so ... 

Top links this week are all about Thanksgiving, but I can't even think about food yet. I think I need to go on a juice cleanse or something first. 


xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Get ready for holiday baking by making some homemade vanilla extract

November 12, 2014

pom-poms



You guys, I had way too much fun making these pom-poms. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all of them. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. They’re just so colorful & happy! I’m envisioning sewing these on hats, making green & red pom-poms for Christmas, or even an entire rug sewn from these fuzzy things. 




I have lots of small, mismatches balls of yarn. It’s the curse of the crafter - you buy a skein of yarn for a project & you never end up using all of it. There’s always a few feet left over. Pom-poms are a great way to use up all those leftovers. They don't take too much yarn, & you can make one in a couple of minutes!


You'll need:

  • Leftover yarn
  • Scissors (you'll want a sharp pair)
  • Cardboard (a cereal box will do)
  • A pen or pencil
  • Pom-pom template 





Step 1 // Print out the template, & trace twice onto a piece of cardboard. Cut them out (make sure you cut the opening slit).




Step 2 // Line up the cardboard circles on top of each other. Begin wrapping the yarn around the two circles.




Step 3 // Wrap the yarn around the entirety of the circles. I'm making the 1.75 inch pom-pom, so I wrapped it about 175 times. The more you wrap, the fuller your pom-pom will be. Snip your yarn. Then cut a piece of yarn that is about 4-5 inches long (we'll use it in a second).




Step 4 // With a good pair of scissors, cut along the wrapped yarn in-between the two circles. I found that holding the circles at the opening slit helped keep everything in place as I cut. 




Step 5 // Take your 4-5 inch piece of yarn & tie it in-between the two circles. Double knot it, & make sure it's tight! Carefully remove your circle templates. 




Step 6 // Trim up your pom-pom with scissors. If you leave the yarn you tied in the middle, you've got yourself a nice loop to hang your pom-pom from! Otherwise just snip it off. Done!




Right now my pom-poms are gleefully existing as a garland. Leave me a comment if you have any other fun ideas for what to do with pom-poms!

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Make a quick baby blanket from yarn (then make pink pom-poms!).

November 10, 2014

craft room tour



Oh, hello there! Want to take a tour?

Back when Heather & I were looking for a place to live, we decided we wanted an extra space for all our creative endeavors. We were lucky enough to find this place with a whole spare room! This space is where we make & shoot all the tutorials you see on the blog. This is where the magic happens! Unless the lighting is bad, then we move the whole mess to the other side of the house. But generally speaking, this room = magic. This space also doubles as a storage room, which is much less photogenic, so we'll just pretend I didn't mention that part. Okay, let's go!




Side note: This is the cleanest the space has ever been. Usually there's four or five projects happening at the same time, mostly strewn out all over the floor. I don't want to give you any ideas that I'm constantly working in tidy conditions, because that's just not the case. It's mostly chaos in this part of our home. That's the point of having a craft room, right? It's a space that can house the many stages of the creative process. In this shot you can see my "TO DO" board, which reminds me of stuff that needs to get done. For instance, I still need to make a second oven mitt (don't judge me). 




I love the craft room because it is generally the most organized room of the house. Maybe a little too organized. Sometimes I get crazy with the label-maker. I know I've mentioned how much I love tiny things, so obviously there's a whole shelf dedicated to that. 




There's a lot of weird stuff from my college years still hanging around this room. I kept some of my figures from the stop-motion clips I made  in the past as a reminder to keep making art. They all just kind of hang out on this shelf & silently judge me for not spending my time more artistically.  




Here's a few shots of my attempts at organization. There are so many odd & random supplies in this room that it's tough to keep up with it all, but I think I've finally got a system. 

My all-time favorite part of my crafting space is my Kenmore sewing machine. It used to belong to my grandmother. If memory serves correct, she only used it a handful of times. Like, maybe two. So it works pretty well now. I'm so spoiled with this machine - I don't know what I'll do when it finally bites the dust. 




I hope you've enjoyed the tour. If I get the sudden urge to clean, maybe I'll show you some other fun aspects of our home. Maybe.

xoxo,
-m.e.


Related // More art appreciation

November 7, 2014

links i love // diy gift ideas


Follow @wecanmakeanything on Instagram for more pics!

Have you had a nice week? I don't want to be braggy, but I HAVE. I've been on a stay-cation this whole week, which basically means I've caught up on everything on my to-do list, made some art, & enjoyed some serious relaxation time. It's been nice. I needed to take some time off because my PTO bank was getting out of control. We don't really travel anymore since we're seriously trying to save money, so there's been no reason to take any time off. Since the holidays are coming up & I won't be able to take time off until January, I decided to go ahead & cash in on my vacation days. Hooray for lazy productive vacation days!

I'm sad to see Halloween come & go so quickly, but now is not the time to get down. This is a serious time. The time of the year where we pull out all the stops & furiously craft until December 24th. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just like the challenge (& inevitable stress) of trying to make every gift by hand. If you're like me & enjoy losing sleep over a completely handmade holiday, here are some DIY gift ideas. 


xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // I swear this year I'm prepared

November 5, 2014

100th post!



Guess what gang? This is the 100th post on We Can Make Anything! Couldn't do it without 'cha! Honestly, you all are so sweet for exploring the tutorials & reading all of the awkward stuff I have to say. Your comments, questions, & love really brighten my days.

Speaking of me writing awkwardly, Confessions of a Refashionista was so kind as to give us a shout-out on her blog! Thanks Sheri! We're totally smitten with you on this side of the pond. Go check out her blog - it will totally change the way you think about fashion.

In the spirit of anniversaries, I wanted to share some of my favorite tutorials over the past 100 posts. Ah, the memories! Click through the icons to visit (or revisit!) some badass creations.







Thank you, dear readers, for being here. It means a lot. Stay tuned for more crafting fun! I mean, Christmas is right around the corner, so we've got a lot of work to do.

xoxo,
-m.e. & Heather


Related // Our very first tutorial

November 3, 2014

how-to // tailor a sleeve (blazer edition)



Heather & I have a wedding to attend this month. Like, a fancy wedding. Like the kind of wedding you can't wear jeans to (much to my dismay). Heather's been looking for a nice blazer to wear, but she kept running into the same issue - the sleeves were too long! Luckily for Heather, taking in the sleeves of a blazer is pretty simple. Plus it's done by hand, so no sewing machine needed!




If you are in the market for a blazer or jacket but can't find the right fit, here's a tip: If it fits in the shoulders, you can tailor the rest. Shoulders are the hardest part to readjust, but a blazer can easily be tightened on the sides or shortened in the sleeves. This blazer fit well in the shoulders & chest, so we only had to adjust the sleeves. Sleeves are more easily tailored when they have a "fake" cuff (as in, the sleeve does not actually unbutton). If you're shortening a "real" cuff, you will have to stitch the opening shut, turning it into a "fake" cuff. 




Step 1 // Remove the buttons on the cuff with a seam-ripper. 
Step 2 // Fold the cuff inside of the sleeve so that it sits at the desired length (keep in mind if you are tailoring a men's blazer the sleeve will sit higher than on typical jackets. The sleeve should sit 1/4 inch higher than the cuff of a long-sleeved dress shirt). Pin in place.
Step 3 // Do the same for the other sleeve, making sure that the lengths are even. 




Step 4 // Carefully turn your sleeves inside out. With a whip stitch, sew the old edge of the cuff in place. ONLY SEW INTO THE LINING. Do not sew all the way through to the right side of the fabric. 
Step 5 // Remove the pins & check the length. If the length is even on both sides, iron the cuff flat. 
Step 6 // Reattach the decorative buttons. 




I'll try & remember to take a picture the day of the wedding, because Heather's outfit looks sharp. Seriously, that girl has a way with style that I am admittedly envious of. 

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Replace a zipper on a jacket.
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