Friday, April 30, 2010

Gift Certificate Giveaway!

I have some really exciting news. CSN Stores contacted me about reviewing some of their products or giving away a gift certificate to their stores for one of you. After all the love you've poured out to me over the last few months I couldn't be selfish, so one commenter on my blog will win a SIXTY DOLLAR GIFT CERTIFICATE to any of their 200+ websites.  CSN stores is like an online mall and  you can find everything from bar furniture to briefcases, cookware to cribs - they seriously rock!

Here's some of my fave things:

Isn't this just the swankiest Mini Home Bar? Makes me want to throw a cocktail party and wear my new little black dress. Maybe I will.

Modern Furnishings make me all swoony:

At Racks and Stands they have a great selection of... well, racks and stands *grin*. I love the sideboards and pot racks especially.


And my personal favorite is  where I desperately want these dishes

and this pitcher

Love those yummy bright colors! A girl can't have too much happy-hued serving ware, right?

Thanks for taking this virtual shopping trip with me. Ready to win the sixty dollar gift card? What you need to do is:

1. Check out CSN Stores and leave a comment telling me something you'd like to have (or you think I'd like - that works too.)
2. Post about this giveaway on your blog (linking back here of course) - I bet your friends would love to win the GC :-)
3. Follow my blog (or subscribe in Google Reader. Just let me know in the comments)
4. Tell me what you like to read about on this blog, what tutorials you'd love to see, what I can do to make Made By Nicole a super-fun part of your day.
5. Post about this giveaway on Twitter. For example: 
" RT @nikimaki - Win $60 GC for clothing, housewares, decor & more. Go to MadeByNicole to find out how: Please RT"

Did you see that? You get up to ** five chances ** to win! Please do me a favor and leave a separate comment for each of these - it makes tallying up the entries a lot easier. Easy is good :-)

One winner will be chosen on Mother's Day, Sunday May 9th at 9:00 PM using I'll post the winner on Monday.

Technorati Tags: free , giveaway

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nanaimo Bars: Canadian Dessert Specialty

My husband loves Nanaimo bars. When I make these, I could ask for jewelry and he won't even bat an eye. These really need a naughtier name than Nanaimo Bars - like maybe Passion Pucks (to keep the Canadian theme going) or Sex Squared. Seriously, they're that good.

Heralded as  "a BC Specialty" or,  "Canada's Favorite Confection", Nanaimo Bars are a little slice of home.  Some cretins  people on the East Coast call them "New York Special" but never in my presence. Canada has few unique native dishes and tagging this with an American moniker just will not do. (Don't flame me, I'm just telling it how it is.)

 This recipe is easy enough, but it is a little time consuming as you need to chill each of the layers. One bite though and the effort will be forgotten.

Bottom Layer (Crust):

1/2 C (1 stick) softened butter (Use softened butter so you can keep the heat low and reduce the risk of cooking the egg before it's mixed in.)
1/4 C white sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp  vanilla
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1 C coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)

 In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder:

 and then gradually whisk in egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, graham crumbs and coconut:


Press the mixture evenly into buttered or sprayed 9x9 pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

FILLING (middle layer) :

1/4 C softened butter
2 - 3 TBL milk or cream
2 TBL vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C powdered sugar

In your electric mixer cream the butter.  Beat in the remaining ingredients.

 If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).


4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (chips work fine, use more if you like a thicker top layer)
1 TBL butter (scale up if using more chocolate)

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. If the chocolate seems too stiff, add a touch more butter.

Spread chocolate over the filling and refrigerate. Be careful here, if the chocolate is too hot or you haven't chilled the filling enough you'll get greasy pools of unappetizing yuck. The best way to do this is to spread a spoon full at a time and be careful not to reach down into the custard layer with your spatula. If you look carefully at the bottom right corner you can see where I let a glob of warm chocolate sit too long and the filling surfaced.

Chill until chocolate has set. These bars slice best at room temperature, but taste best a little cold from the fridge. I'm usually willing to forgo perfect squares in the name of luscious texture, but if appearance is important, let these warm up a bit before cutting.

Other Options:  Add mint, peanut butter or coffee flavor to the filling. Just pick one though - Mint, Peanut butter, Coffee Nanaimo Bars would be unpleasant :-)  If using mint, omit coconut.

Linked to:
Join us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!

Technorati tags: recipe, dessert

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recycled Storage Solution: Tall Paper Holder

Hey everyone, welcome to the Bombshell Stamps  blog hop. The theme is 'Pretty in Pink' and we are making projects that are pink, spring themed or 80's style. 

 I've been making a lot of home made paper lately and finding a safe place to put it has been a real challenge. This idea was born from that need. It would also work great for wrapping paper storage or even a few umbrellas.

You'll need some large cans - these are gigantic apple sauce cans from Costco - duct tape and something to cover the cans with. The rest is up to you.

Cut the bottom from one of the cans and tape the cans together. Don't worry too much about wrinkles, they won't show too much.

I'm paranoid about rough edges so I covered the top rim with tape so it was smooth and safe.

Tape the inside seam to cover any rough edges as well. This works best with several short pieces of tape instead of one long one. Where you start opening a can, there can be a rough snag; hit it gently with a hammer and it will lie flat under the tape.

Cover with fabric or scrapbook paper. I used linen and attached it with spray adhesive. I tucked the top edge down into the can and secured it. 

Embellish however you prefer, taking care to disguise the seam. 

I used butterflies from Bombshell Stamps Butterfly Queen Set, flowers made from paper towels (tutorial here) and miscellaneous embellishments left over from other projects.

Be sure to stop by the other Bombshell's blogs:


Technorati tags: recycle, craft, storage, decor, flowers, paper

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garage Sale Decor

We have been garage sale crazy this year. A hard part of our Dave Ramsey: Total Money Makeover budgeting is that there really isn't spare cash for running off to the furniture store or to Target when I want to dress up the house or replace worn items.

Our whiteboard in the kitchen has completely given out on us so I've been on the look out for a new one, or a cork board that didn't cost a fortune. We went to a garage sale where at the end of day, everything was priced at fifty cents. I found a frame and a banged up cork board, handed over my dollar bill and came home to craft.

I've seen covered cork boards all over the place, but never with instructions. I think people assume it's too obvious to explain but I wasn't sure where to start - staples? Glue? Red Line tape?

First my husband cut down the cork to fit inside the frame:

Then I sprayed the cork with spray adhesive, applied fabric and smoothed out the wrinkles.

To simplify dealing with the excess fabric on the back, I taped the edges down:

I used my hot glue gun to tack down the corners, placed the cork in the frame and then ran a bead of glue around the seam (at the back) to make sure it was secure. 


This is part of  my April Stash-busting as I was able to use some of the beautiful fabric I own.

I have some really exciting news for all of you sweet people who read my blog. Stay tuned :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Homemade Translucent Paper Tutorial

When you think of making paper usually a blender, pulp and a mess from here to Halifax comes to mind. This approach skips over all that unpleasantness and gets right to the fun part. If you can rip, cut and glue then you can do this. To start you'll need a roll of paper towels and some dying supplies.

This is a really fun project to do with kids - middle schoolers especially, but craft inclined wee ones would get a kick out of it too. Teens and adults can take this simple idea to amazing levels.

I have Glimmer Mist on hand as well as Re-inkers and Mini- Misters, but this would work just as well with bowls of food-colored water; the result will be more pastel though. Spray the ink onto your paper towels; I do this in the sink and then use paper towels to swipe the sink clean producing a neat tie-dye effect.  Let them dry completely. When you are done you should have something like this:

Grab some paper napkins with interesting designs ( Paper Napkin Art Kit  from Gauche Alchemy is a great source) and select a few napkins that would look nice with your dyed paper towels. Most napkins are two-ply so you need to separate them before using.

Mix One Part White Glue with Four Parts Water in a plastic cup.

Stir to mix and then brush glue solution over a sheet of Freezer Paper cut to the size you'd like your finished paper to be.

Step One:
Separate the layers of dyed paper towel, cut or rip into strips and apply to freezer paper.

Step Two:
Continuing adding paper towel and napkin pieces in a pleasing arrangement. Overlap a little so your paper won't have holes.

Here's the finished product, I added printed script tissue paper (script), napkins (polka dots and flourishes) and paper towel (solid parts).

You can cut out flowers, imbedding their image, following the same process:

Allow to dry thoroughly, overnight is best, and peel off the freezer paper. The back side will be shiny from the glue - it looks pretty cool too. It's really important to wait until it's completely dry. I started peeking and ripped a section.

These papers are translucent enough that they are easy to trace through and would look marvelous in a window project. Here is one using dress-making pattern paper (my Gauche Alchemy parcel came wrapped in it) and the others showing how the light spills through:

Wondering what to do with it?
I liked the look of the paper so much I added an image to the open, lighter areas using the gel medium transparency transfer method and  made an art piece.

1. Take a piece of wood and cover it with Mod Podge.

2. Apply paper to gluey surface.

3. Ease paper around the edges of the wood, glueing as you go.

4. Make nice corners - gift wrap style is easiest for me, but Dowhatchalike :-) (CLICK AND DANCE)

5. Seal it down with a spoon, brayer or bone folder.

6. The back should look something like this. I decided glue is easier than scissors and trimming.

7. Add textural and visual interest with embellishments, use Mod Podge to attach them.

8. Fill solid areas with dots using Punchinella as a stencil, stamping through it. Also darken and distress edges with charcoal or chestnut ink.

Close Ups:

Thanks for sticking with this tutorial to the end. If you are wondering what to do with all your excess dyed paper towels, please check out my paper towel flowers wreath tutorial.

*Originally posted at Gauche Alchemy