Essential Tools for Baking

This is the 2nd part in the series that I am doing on essential tools for...fill in the blank.
Part 1 Sewing,

Today I would like to share with you all what I think are essential tools to bake with. These are the tools that I would really not how to cook/bake without them. That also includes baking.

A good cookie baking sheet. These pans are not just for baking cookies, I toast bread, make brownies or thinner cakes, or bars, or making shake and bake pork chops or chicken, or insert whatever else requires a nice shallow large baking pan. I have the larger size and then also one that is half the size. They all get used a ton.
Notice how the edges of the pan are are browned but the pan still works great. It is definitely worth spending the extra dollars to get a GOOD pan to bake on

A Bosch. This is like a glorified kitchen aid with a blender and food processor. It works great. I use it to make bread dough, cookie dough, mashed potatoes and many other things. The blender we use for making salsa, milk shakes, smoothies. The food processor/chopper we use to shred bricks of cheese, shred and slice veggies, make hash browns.

There is also an attachment a food chopper that goes where the blender does. I don't have this part but I would love to. Instead I have this little machine and it only cost $10 at Walmart. We use it almost everyday. Seriously. To mash crackers, chop garlic and onions, mash cookies. Seriously I thought this machine would die within the first year of use and I did not know if we would actually use it much, but 3 years later this little thing is still chugging along.

Of course you need a variety of sized mixing bowls. I like to have a couple glass ones to use in the microwave and then also some plastic ones so the little ones can help without worry of breaking my nice bowls.
Then like I told you all a while ago, that these cookies scoopers are the best thing ever invented. They make baking cookies so simple and they always turn out great and perfect. Mine came from pampered chef but I have seen them around town at other stores too.
I think I have gone through one blender for every year I have been married. It always seems to be my hubby burning them up. We do use them a ton for making cake from a box, fluffing egg whites, making frosting, and whipping cream.
A whisk is always a good tool to have around. Especially if all the beaters to the hand mixer are dirty then I default to this little tool. There are many times that I don't really have to beat something to death but I need to mix up all those little crumbs that never seem to mix in very well and this solves that problem
Inevitably I use a rubber spatula when I am baking. I use them while I am mixing in the bosch to scrape down the sides sometimes and to scrape cake mix into the pan.

A rolling pin is really nice to use instead of a drinking cup. At least that is what I used to use to roll out my dough.
These are just a few of the tools that I find essential to my success in baking. Do you use any of these tools? What are your essential tools for baking? Do you use other tools to do the same job?

Rice Pudding

image borrowed from here

I love rice pudding. My family often refers to it as Maggot Stew. I really don't care. It is just so good.

This is my family's recipe. My grandma has used this recipe, my mom has used this recipe, and now I use this recipe:

Rice Pudding
1/2 cup rice
1 quart milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c sugar

Mix all together in a oven safe bowl. Milk tends to boil over if there is not enough room in the bowl to hold it all in so make sure to use an overly large bowl for this. If you are still worried about it boiling over then just place it on a cooking sheet to make cleanup a bit easier if it does boil over. Bake at 275 for 3 hours

I am not really a fan of it hot, but man it tastes good chilled. This last batch that I made I hid all of it from my family so that I could savor it over a few days. I just barely finished it off and now I am definitely going to be making me another special batch

Raggy Quilt Valence and Curtains

I have written a pattern for rag quilt curtains and a valence. I am looking for at least one person to test the pattern out for me. Please email me if you are interested boblyns at yahoo dot com...or if you would like me to make you a set of curtains without knowing exactly how they are going to turn out please email me :)

Essential Tools for Sewing

We all have our favorite sewing tools. Here are the ones that are most important to me:
  1. My sewing machine. It was a Christmas gift from my parents a few years back. It is a Bernina 1008. It is the perfect machine for me. It is very basic. Not computerized, but man its a workhorse.
2. A really good pair of scissors. Mine are Gingher. My hubby and kids know that if you cut something other than fabric with these I might just come unglued. They are definitely expensive scissors but they are worth every penny.
3. Rotary Cutter. I have a fiskars version. I change my blade about once a month, but I cut yards, and yards of fabric also.
4. A cutting mat. The first one I bought was a package deal with my rotary cutter and ruler from fiskars. It worked great. It was 18 x 24 maybe? Well it worked great until there were ravines from me cutting in the same spot many times. Then I set my iron on the board not thinking anything of it but it warped it bad. So finally I broke down with my hubbys help and bought a much larger, self healing, reversible, cutting mat. It is 24 x 36 ish and looks like this:I love it. It works great for what I do. I use my cutting board everyday almost.

5. A cone thread stand. This thing is really great for using those large cone threads for your serger in the sewing machine. The cone thread is much more economical to use. You are not constantly changing out the thread because you ran out. Plus it costs a little bit more than the small things of thread.
I got mine at Joann's for $5-$10. You could use a coupon or buy it when they have their notions on sale for 50% off which happens fairly often. Definitely worth the money.

6. A small pair of scissors to cut thread. The scissors that I use came from my provo craft paper trimmer when I bought it. I actually have 2 pairs of scissors that are about the same size. One sits at my sewing machine and the other at my serger when I have it out.
7. Lots of extra sewing machine needles because I always break mine at the most inconvenient of times. I have had to call my hubby and ask him to stop by the store to get me more needles when he comes home from work. Then I wait very impatiently because it would be a waste for me to drive to town to just get needles when he will be coming home in a few hours.

8. Several extra bobbins. I think I have around 20 bobbins. When I am doing a bigger project before I thread my machine I wind up several bobbins of the same color. That way when my bobbin runs out of thread then I have some all ready to replace it without having to unthread my machine to wind another bobbin. Saves lots of time and frustration. If you don't have a bunch of bobbins already and think you might need some more make sure that they will fit your machine. My mom gave me some bobbins that did not fit my machine and many needles later I figured out it was the bobbin breaking my needles.

9. One of the best things I ever did when setting up my sewing table was to get a small set of drawers for next to my sewing machine with all the small essentials (like bobbins, needles, scissors, unpicker, ruler, calculator, etc). I got mine at walmart but I know lots of other stores that sell them to.
I am thinking I am going to get a set of drawers like this to sit next to my sewing machine for things like my regular cutting scissors, thread, velcro, elastic waistband, and all those other little sewing things that I need at the sewing machine.

10. A good place to store your fabric. I use those plastic drawers to store the fabrics that are less than 2 yards. I have 2 sets of them. For the fabrics that I buy by the bolt I keep on the bolt behind my couch, but I really need a bookcase to store them on so that I can see them. I have some fabrics that I keep forgetting about that are behind the couch.

If bolts would work well for you the fabric stores just throw away or recycle the cardboard pieces so just ask to take some home with you. I almost always leave the store with a couple of them. They are really handy for storing fabric on. It keeps it from getting wrinkled.

Do you have any tips or tools that are essential to you successfully sewing?

Gypsy Skirts for the Entire Family

Well almost the whole family...just not the hubby! I don't think he would like a skirt, but he did tell my oldest that mommy never makes him anything.

I found this fun fabric at Joann's in the clearance section. It ended up being around $2.00 a yard. I think I got 2 yards. So for 4 bucks I came away with 3 skirts. Mine and my oldest are wearing
I had to chase the baby around to get a photo of her skirt. I just can't stop calling her the baby...I don't want her to grow up so hopefully the more I call her a baby it will stick.
Her skirt had 3 different layers. It is really hard to see in this picture.
The older one has a basic skirt with an elastic waistband.
And mine of course is full length with an elastic waistband, but I did not want it very full. I like to make my skirts so that they are not full, but more fitted. The elastic waistband is easier to do than adding a zipper so I almost always elect to go that way.
And this is what most of our pictures turned out to be.

Beach Towel into Swimming Cover Ups and bath towel

I made these cover ups the first of last month but did not share with you all because of all the recipes that were being posted :) Now the first part of September may not be a good time to be making swimming cover ups, but planning sometimes is not my friend :)
I made these two adorable swimming cover ups (which I also use as their towels when they bath). They were made from one beach towel and here is how:
I measured my girls to the length that I wanted and then cut the towel. I used the part of the towel that is bound as the top of each of the cover ups.

Then I cut 2 pieces (only cut 1 if you are making 1 cover up) 2 inches wide and then cut those in half. Zig-zag stitch all the way around those straps. You could also cut the pieces 3 inches wide and then fold it over and sew it down. The zig-zag stitch was faster though. I knew it would fray but it will only fray to the stitch so after I washed them the first time I trimmed all the strings and now it looks fantastic.
Now figure out where you would like your button to secure the towel in place. Then sew a button hole and sew the button on. I wanted the button to be in the front center or front next to the strap. The button hole will need to be at one end of the towel and the button directly underneath where the button hole will be lined up to.
The button hole

Then sew the straps where you need them. This will make a halter or you could also sew the straps onto the back of the towel so it would be like a tank top. Then sew a piece of velcro onto the other end of the towel. If you don't sew something there then the inside end of the towel will keep falling off.