DIY Velvet Play-Dough

Tubs of colorful molding clays and doughs are definitely one of those things for a busy mom to keep in her arsenal of craft supplies. They keep children entertained, plus they are a terrific multi-sensory way for a child to play, learn and refine their motor skills. These hot summer days, while fun and action-packed, can certainly seem to linger on. If the kids are getting bored or you’re looking for something to do with them on a rainy day, this homemade play-dough is a great craft activity to do together.

 

DIY Velvet Play-Dough
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 4 Tsp. cream of tartar
  • Food coloring
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except the food coloring in a non-stick pot.
  2. Over low heat, cook the mixture, stirring well to incorporate.
  3. As the mixture cooks, it will begin to solidify and get lumpy.
  4. Continue to move the mixture around the pot, preferably with a silicone spoon.
  5. The mixture will begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. Gently smooth out any lumps.
  6. When it appears to be solidified, turn off the heat and begin to add the food coloring. If you prefer to make more than one color, take some of the dough out of the pot, place in a bowl and add the coloring. You want to add the coloring while the dough is still hot.
  7. Work with coloring into the dough using the spoon. Then knead with your hands.
  8. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.
  9. Store in an airtight container so it stays moist. Have fun!

 

 

 

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Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil

Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil, called Spaghetti Aglio Et Olio in Italian, is a light, simple pasta dish with big flavor. With just a few ingredients, it’s perfect for an easy, yet comforting, dinner (and it tastes great reheated the next day for lunch!). In Italy, it’s traditional to eat spaghetti with garlic and oil after midnight, usually after a night out on the town. My great grandmother always made this dish on New Year’s Eve; as soon as the clock struck midnight and the Times Square ball dropped, she started boiling the water for the pasta. It’s the perfect family-style pasta dish — mangia!

 

Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. of egg spaghetti (or any type of spaghetti that you prefer)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, sliced and roughly chopped
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ Tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Good quality olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of a saute pan, plus extra for finishing the pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Boil the water for the spaghetti; cook until al dente.
  2. While the spaghetti is cooking, pour the olive oil in the saute pan. I used a 3.5 quart saute pan for this dish.
  3. Heat the oil over low heat and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes to the oil and garlic. Continue to saute.
  5. Season the oil mixture with a good pinch of kosher salt; add in the parsley, stir and shut the flame.
  6. Instead of draining the pasta and discarding the water, use tongs to lift the pasta from the pot and add it to the hot oil in the saute pan. You want the pasta to be wet, but not soaked with the hot cooking water. This will help the pasta to stay loose.
  7. Toss in the saute pan so that the pasta is coated with the garlic and oil mixture. If it seems too dry, add small amounts of the cooking water.
  8. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add in a few good size handfuls of grated cheese. Toss well.
  9. Serve immediately!

 

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Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad

The Crafty Hostess: MakeThe heat and humidity of the summer season begs for a cool, refreshing salad to get you through the day. I love this one because it combines salty, sweet and bright flavors into one dish, making it perfect for lunch, dinner, even brunch. It’s a summer feast for the eyes that’s bursting with vibrant colors and textures. And like most of the recipes that I share with you, it feeds a crowd and is simple to put together. Beat the heat with this ‘cool’ summer sizzler!

watermelon_feta salad

Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Seedless watermelon, about 4 lbs.
  • About 2 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 2 English cucumbers, sliced with the skin left on
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn
Instructions
  1. Remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into 3-inch wedges.
  2. In a large, shallow serving bowl, gently toss the watermelon, tomato and cucumber slices.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar over the mixture.
  4. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and mint leaves.
  5. Serve immediately.

 

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Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella & Burrata Salad

There’s nothing quite like a salad of fresh mozzarella and ripe, summer tomatoes. Add in creamy dollops of burrata cheese and some Italian basil, and well… it’s absolutely divine! Quick, easy and oh-so-fresh; this is definitely one to make before we call a wrap on summer!

mozzarella_burrata_tomato

Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella & Burrata Salad
 
Ingredients
  • Heirloom tomatoes of varying colors and sizes, about 5 or 6
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (not too thick, not too thin)
  • Fresh burrata cheese (you can usually find this in specialty grocery stores or Italian foods stores)
  • Whole basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crusty bread for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. On a medium platter, arrange the slices of heirloom tomatoes. I like to alternate the colors and sizes on the plate.
  2. Drizzle the tomato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. On top of the tomatoes, add the slices of fresh mozzarella.
  4. Next, using a teaspoon, add dollops of the burrata in between the slices of mozzarella.
  5. Drizzle the entire dish with more olive oil and a healthy drizzle of white balsamic vinegar.
  6. Finally, scatter the basil leaves on top.
  7. Serve immediately.

 

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Summer Cherry Bread with Amaretto & Almonds

BakeIn my house, we like our cherries sweet and crisp. We like to hear that slight crunch from biting into a ripe, but firm, summer cherry. So when the bowl of cherries begins to get a tad bit too soft for us, I pit and soak them in one of my favorite Italian liquors, Disaronno Amaretto. It’s absolutely divine served over ice cream or a piece of pound cake. Although sometimes, I’ll bake them into a tasty bread brimming with slivered almonds. A warm slice of this sweet bread is the perfect breakfast treat or afternoon snack with a cup of coffee.

cherry bread

 

Summer Cherry Bread with Amaretto & Almonds
 
Ingredients
  • 1- 1½ cups cherries, pitted and sliced into quarters
  • ¼ cup Disaronno Amaretto
  • 1⅔ cup flour
  • ½ cup slivered almonds (plus extra for the top of the bread)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon extra fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Handful of shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Combine cherries and Amaretto in a bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, almonds, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the sugar, coconut oil and eggs until light and fluffy.
  5. Mixing by hand, blend in the flour mixture a little at a time.
  6. Gently stir in the cherries and Amaretto.
  7. Spray a glass loaf pan with vegetable oil.
  8. Pour batter into loaf pan; sprinkle extra almonds on top.
  9. Bake at 350º for about one hour or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 20 minutes, then invert onto a rack or board. Slice and serve warm.

 

 

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White Pizza with Zucchini & Thyme

The Crafty Hostess: MakeDuring the summer months when veggies are at their peak, I try to add them to just about every dish that I make. Browsing the local farmers markets delivers culinary inspiration that’s a dream come true for a foodie like me. Last week, I found “8-Ball Zucchini,” which is basically a round, softball-size squash with a short stem, fewer seeds and a slightly sweeter flavor than regular zucchini. I bought a few of them, some of which I sliced into thick rounds and grilled on the BBQ with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I used the third one to add color, texture and a summer flair to traditional white pizza. The results? Summer on a pizza!

white pizza with zucchini

White Pizza with Zucchini & Thyme
 
Ingredients
  • 1 8-ball squash, sliced into thin rounds (rinse well and leave skin on)
  • 1 ball of pizza dough at room temperature
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the zucchini; slice into thin rounds. If you can't find 8-ball zucchini, regular zucchini sliced into rounds will work just fine.
  3. Drizzle olive oil onto bottom of round pizza pan; press the room temperature pizza dough into the pan. Drizzle the top with olive oil.
  4. Arrange the slices of zucchini, alternating with the sliced mozzarella.
  5. Place teaspoon-sized dollops of the ricotta in and around the mozzarella/zucchini.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the pizza with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper; drizzle with a little bit more olive oil.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the bottom and top of the pizza id golden brown and no longer doughy.
  8. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board; allow to sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.

 

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Apple-Dill Chicken Salad

The Crafty Hostess: MakeDuring my college days, I worked part-time in a little, local place called Yogi’s Café. It was a cute place to sit and have cappuccino and dessert, an ice cream sundae, or even a gourmet sandwich or pasta dish. The food was fresh, the money was great and the people were fun to work with. This chicken salad was one of their most popular items on the sandwich menu; I’ve been thinking about it for years (the café has since closed its doors) and decided to recreate its flavors. It’s perfect for lunch or brunch; sandwich it in between fresh bread or a pita pocket, scoop it on top of a green salad or serve it as an appetizer piled on a cracker. This recipe is a great way to use leftover chicken and also works perfectly with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, too. However you choose to eat it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

apple dill chicken salad

Apple-Dill Chicken Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ chicken breasts plus 1 chicken leg or thigh (I like the combination of white and dark meat, but feel free to use what you like; remove the skin from the chicken and dice into small pieces.)
  • ½ Gala apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 2-3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped finely
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Hellmann's mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the diced chicken, chopped apple and chopped dill.
  2. Add the vinegar, mayo, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Stir well to combine.
  4. Taste a small amount for seasoning. If necessary, add more salt or pepper.
  5. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

 

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Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant

The Crafty Hostess: MakeLast week, I spent time poking around my local farmers market. If you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to get to one before the summer is over. It’s such a feast for the eyes; vibrant colors and a variety of textures that are not only visually appealing, but pleasing to the palate, too. As I browsed through the weekly selection of fresh fruits and veggies, I gathered inspiration for farm-to-table fare that my family would enjoy. This trip, I found a dainty eggplant called Fairy Tale. This petite vegetable is sweet with tender skin and very few seeds. For a simple side dish or appetizer, just season with salt, pepper and olive oil and grill whole until lightly charred!

fairy tale eggplant 2

fairy tale eggplant

Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant
 
Ingredients
  • Fairy Tale eggplants, left whole with stems attached
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash the eggplant under cold water; pat dry.
  2. Leave the stems on; cut the eggplant down the center to butterfly it.
  3. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Grill on both sides, until lightly charred.
  5. Remove from the grill and if desired, drizzle with a little more olive oil and a sprinkling of more salt.

 

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Toilet Tissue Flower Holders

CreateMy friend and neighbor, Allison, shared this adorable craft with me. These sweet little flower holders are a pretty way to embellish something that sits in every bathroom — toilet tissue! In many newer bathrooms, homeowners opt to use a free-standing toilet tissue holder on the floor rather than mounting a holder into the wall.  This simple and affordable craft is a good way to add visual interest to the boring white toilet tissue rolls that are sitting on the holder. And, it’s fun to color code the holders to coordinate with your bathroom color scheme. Read on for more clever ways to display these pretty holders and for the how-to!

toilet paper flowers

 

Here are some other great ways to put this cute creation to use:

  • Bridal shower bathroom basket
  • New home bathroom basket gift
  • Selling your home? Add a pretty little touch to the bathrooms for potential home buyers to see.
  • Company coming? Set a few of these in the guest bathroom!

 

Materials needed:

  • Green twine
  • Flowers of your choice, preferably on a clip (Michaels, AC Moore or any craft store carry these)

 

How to:

  1. Wrap the twine around the toilet tissue roll twice.
  2. Clip the flower in the center of the twine. If the flower does not have a clip, either tie the twine around the flower of very carefully add a drop of hot glue to adhere it to the twine.
  3. Make a tower or stack them!

 

 

 

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Upcycled DIY Birdhouse

CreateIt’s summer, and that means lots of time spent outside! My three kids just love to be outdoors; running, swinging, playing, jumping in rain puddles on the driveway, even watching the birds, squirrels and chipmunks frolic in our yard. We get such a vibrant assortment of birds in our garden, it’s like a rainbow of color every morning — Blue jay, Cardinal, Hummingbird, American Goldfinch — the kids watch them fly through the yard and land on the birdfeeder hanging in our maple tree. The birds get to enjoy the warm summer weather and I get to enjoy my morning coffee while watching the kids play and listening to the birds chirp!

When International Delight approached me and other bloggers about forming a social collaboration this year, I immediately knew that one of my projects would be to create a birdhouse. I know, you’re probably thinking “what does coffee creamer have to do with birdhouses”? Well, in a previous post, I wrote about the upcycling trend and shared my DIY succulent garden, which I created using an empty International Delight coffee creamer bottle. Now, I’ve used the empty bottle to create a birdhouse to add to my garden of summer delight. Read on to learn how to create one of your own — and don’t forget to follow International Delight on Pinterest to see more summer ID moments!

birdhouse 2

birdhouse 1

 

Materials needed:

  • Empty International Delight coffee creamer bottle, 32-ounce size
  • 1 8-inch wood dowel, 1/8-inch in diameter
  • Scissors
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Spray paint in three different colors (I used Rustoleum brand for interior/exterior use on wood, metal, plastic)
  • Jute twine
  • Wood letter, 1 1/2-inch size (I used an “A” for our last name; this gives it a personal touch!)
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Handheld razor saw
  • Hot glue / glue gun

 

How to:

  1. Remove the blue cap from the empty bottle; set aside.
  2. Remove the colored label/packaging around bottle; discard.
  3. On the flat side of the bottle (the side without the indented ribs), use your ruler to make a straight line across the top of the flat, rounded section.
  4. Using a sharp scissor or, cut along the shape of the flat section. This will be the opening of the birdhouse. Cut away or smooth out any rough pieces of the plastic.
  5. In a well-ventilated area like an open garage, or outside, spray the bottle with the body color that you’ve chosen (I used Fire Orange).
  6. Using the trim color that you’ve chosen, spray paint the blue cap (I used Hunt Club Green). Allow to dry completely.
  7. Next, you’ll need to spray paint the wood letter. I suggest a third color, in this case, I thought white would be a nice contrast to the bright orange and dark green. Allow to dry completely.
  8. Using a sharp knife, very carefully make an “X” in the center of the cap. This will be where you insert the jute twine from which to hang the birdhouse.
  9. Spray paint a wood dowel the same color as the wood initial/letter. About 1-inch to 1 1/2-inches from the bottom of the birdhouse opening, make a hole through both the front and back of the bottle for the dowel to sit. The dowel will be the perch for the bird to sit on. Insert the dowel through the front of the birdhouse, into the opening in the back. Push it through so there’s an even amount of dowel on both sides.
  10. Using a hot glue gun, glue the letter onto the front of the bottle, centered in between the top of the cap and the top of the birdhouse opening. Allow to dry.
  11. Open bottle cap and insert both ends of the twine through the larger pour spout, up through the top of the cap. Needle nose pliers will help you grab the ends of the twine and pull it through. The length of the twine will depend on where you’ll be hanging the birdhouse and how long you want it to be. Working with jute is not easy because it tends to fray easily. To ensure that the ends don’t fray, wet them with water and twist them tightly.
  12. Tie a tight knot under the cap so the twine does not come through the top of the cap. Close the cap. Tie another knot with the two ends of the twine. This will be how you’ll hang your birdhouse. Ensure that the knots are secured tightly so the house won’t fall out of the tree!
  13. Finally, using the hot glue gun, secure a strip of the jute twine around the opening of the birdhouse. This is an optional step, but it gives an extra decorative touch to the project and ties in nicely with the twine used to hang the house.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

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