Easy Crafts for a Summer Afternoon

Today is do-anything-yourself maven Martha Stewart’s birthday. She’s 71.
We had a party for her at the house but of course she wasn’t able to come, being occupied with numerous projects and always on call for emergencies with her company, which is so far reaching and ever present it is not merely about “media”, but “Omnimedia.”

You can make something useful out of these!

Since Martha always enters our house through the black box in the corner, I ran down to the basement looking for raw material and fashioned a festive TV frame in her honor using discarded cereal boxes, pine cones, twine, golf balls, crafter’s clay, shoelaces, clothing scraps, dog hair, beach toys, sun-bleached chicken bones, pocket games, VCR tapes, Elmer’s Glue and lots and lots of glitter. I would show you a picture of the finished product but in the terrible mess that was left behind I seem to have misplaced the camera. And my phone.

Also, I haven’t see the dog for a few hours.

But Martha is an inspiration, whether she’s throwing a fabulous party, making a delightful memory book, or trading on insider information. You also have to give her credit for not letting a stint in the hoosegow break her, even though small people like me keep bringing it up. We also tend to point to unflattering articles that make her out to be some sort of irrational control freak. Some folks are so gauche.

Still, things haven’t gone so well of late. The company has lost money in nine of the last ten years, and stock values have fallen off 21% in the past year. But with some push pins, rubber bands and a little bit of adhesive tape, you can make those slumping shares look perky and fresh!

And speaking of simple things done quickly and well, musing about Martha and exploiting all those tired stereotypes about her craftiness has made it possible for me to put together this lovely, lovely blog in just a few short minutes on a beautiful summer afternoon!

How absolutley charming!

What do you make from scratch?

85 thoughts on “Easy Crafts for a Summer Afternoon”

    1. i think the ferris wheel should be in the background. i vote daily on the lap top and the phone. 2×2 = mini sota donut in the kemps hall of fame. i think they ought to picture ba on a stick

      Like

        1. Update… if you don’t add the APP to your Facebook, it doesn’t limit you. If you’ve already accepted the APP, go to App Center and edit then delete it. Then you can vote again.

          Like

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I’m a scratch kinda gal and I learned life that way so I have a list, as follows:

    Life itself
    Canned tomatoes
    Bread
    Biscuits
    Pancakes
    Smoothies
    Jam-wild grape is my favorite. Raspberry is not far behind. This year I tried raspberry/hot pepper–delish!
    Raspberry liqueur
    Composted soil

    Like

  2. poor martha, i remember having the conversatio with a friend after martha had been caught and was on her way to trial. how could she do that was his question? what would you do if you got a phone call on thursday telling you you 100,000 shares of stock that were worth 50 dollars each today would be worth 15 dollars on monday? she was just too dumb to figure out how to do it sneakily. im sure this is done all the time but with people less public figure sensitive than martha.
    make from scratch…. you do become an expert the second time you make something, its that first time thats the killer. pizza is the most recent item. made a double double batch the other night and i think 1/2 of one pizza is left. its nice to be appreciated. i will be making the lp shelving units out of plywood this fall for the lp collection i will transition from work to home in the coming weeks. card game bachelor party last night was a good time. groom to be won 20 bucks so all was well. foodies like this group will be so made form scratch based that the list should be good. wedding prep today. should be fun. ill check back.

    Like

  3. Mulligatawny Soup
    3 quarts chicken stock
    1 c lentils
    1/4 c mild vegetable oil
    2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless
    1 bay leaf
    2 medium carrots, sliced
    1 large onion, diced
    2 ribs celery, diced
    1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
    2 tsp each ginger root, ground cumin seeds, coriander & curry powder
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    2 tbsp all-purpose flour
    4 c hot, cooked rice

    In a medium-sized soup pot, bring 2 quarts of stock to a boil; add lentils; return to the boil; turn down heat to medium-low and simmer covered until lentils are soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat; add the chicken pieces and brown lightly on all sides. Transfer chicken to a heavy soup pot. Pour the remaining quart of soup stock over them and bring to a boil; turn down the heat to medium-low, add the bay leaf and carrots; simmer, covered. In the oil used to sauté the chicken, sauté the onion until it is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery and apple. When they are soft, stir in the spices and cook on medium-low heat until the spices are fragrant, about another 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and smooth it in. Gradually stir in 1 c of the stock dipped from the simmer chicken-stock pot. Stir to smooth the flour and spices into the stock, scraping the skillet. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Pour this spicy blend over the chicken. By now the lentils should be done. Add them to the chicken pot. Continue cooking over low heat, covered, until chicken is very tender, about an hour. Correct seasonings. Serve over rice.

    Like

    1. That sounds quite tasty. I want to try that once the weather cools off enough for me to want to eat soup again.

      Like

    2. Yum. You’re making me wish it was fall. I think I have made something very similar to this in a cast iron dutch oven.

      Like

    3. Edith and Krista: this soup is fabulous, and it is substantial enough that you can serve it as the main course. Get a good coarse baguette of bread, plenty of wine and this is a meal that pleases.

      Like

      1. I’m sure it is substantial enough for a main course, Steve. The other day supper’s main course was a green bean salad with basil-walnut vinagrette. Lemon-thyme biscuits rounded out the meal. The next night it was zucchine & cauliflower with peanut sauce and yellow beets with lemon sauce on the side (and half a leftover biscuit). Your soup sounds a great deal heartier than that!

        Like

  4. Zucchini cake must be made from scratch. I alos prefer my scratch brownie recipe to anything I have found in a box. Chocolate mousse, ditto (my recipe does not have any cream so it is dark and rich). Julekage and krumkake do not even exist as box mixes, which is fine by me – I like using Grandma’s recipe for the latter (she did not make the former, so that comes from a St Olaf cookbook as I recall…).

    I did not build Daughter’s swing set from scratch, that had a kit for the hardware at least – but the clubhouse and bar-for-hanging-upside-down that got added are of my own devising, so I suppose those are “from scratch” too. :)

    Like

    1. I have zucchini, but no recipe for zucchini cake (whine, whimper…) Could you post your recipe for a zucchini Bundt, please?

      Like

      1. Handily, I posted it a while back on Facebook so you don’t need to wait for me to get home to my recipe book…as a tip, I use mini chocolate chips and don’t mix them into the batter right away. I put them in a bowl and sprinkle them with cinnamon to cover them a bit, then fold those into the batter once it is in the Bundt (kind of like how you use a knife to mix the flavors together for a marble cake).

        Mom Bliss’ Zucchini Cake
        3 c flour
        3 c sugar
        1 tsp soda
        1 1/4 tsp salt
        1 tsp cinnamon (I add more)
        3 c grated zucchini
        1 c nuts (I swap these out for chocolate chips)
        1 c oil
        4 eggs

        Mix the whole works together and pour into a greased & floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out to continue cooling.

        Like

        1. I have learned to shred up as much zucchini as I can get my hands on, then I put it in the freezer in 3 cup measurements (it freezes nicely in ziploc bags) – since this is Daughter’s favorite cake, it’s nice to have a supply on hand year ’round.

          Like

  5. Good morning. I am a do it your self type of person. I don’t have all of skills that my Dad had which he used to do all of the work involved in designing and building a house for our family. I can do many kinds of home repair and, as many of you know, I do a lot of vegetable gardening. A don’t grow all of the vegetables that we eat, but I think more than half of the vegetables we eat come from our garden. I freeze and can some of my vegetables and also store home grown squash, garlic, onions and a few other things in the basement for winter use.

    I don’t seem to have much time left for craft projects, such as those that Martha does. In the past I did make some macramé items and a few other crafted things. I guess Martha is also more advanced than I am at cooking, but I can make some food items from scratch. Of course, no one is as advanced as Martha, our at least not as advance as the image of her we see in the black box.

    Like

  6. Morning all. I’ll have to admit to being a Martha Stewart fan; self-made women always get a bonus in my book. (And I firmly believe that is MS had been male, her stock dealings would not have raised any eyebrows. This doesn’t mean that I condone the actions, just that I actually admire that she gave it up and said “I’ll take my lumps” which is more than more white collar baddies.)

    I actually own one share of MS stock – given to me by a girlfriend many years ago. Unfortunately the dividend on one lone share is worth less than the stamp that they use to send me the check every year!

    My list of “from scratch” is way too long, so I’m going to just list a few:
    Ukrainian eggs
    Peanut Butter White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies (my signature cookies)
    Baked Potato Soup (the #1 favorite soup at our house)
    Reuben Puffs (the appetizer that goes the fastest at every party of mine)
    Cards (birthday, anniversary, holidays, sympathy… you name it)
    Scrapbook pages
    Jams (strawberry, raspberry and blueberry most years)

    Better stop…. I could do this all day!!!

    Like

    1. Ukranian eggs? Like pysanky? Those are so intricate and beautiful. I have some pretty patterns for chip-carving wooden eggs, which I would love to make a basketful of, if I could just remember to practice my carving and get past the basic three-corner chip.

      Like

      1. Yes, pysanky. Went to a community ed class years and years ago and found I really enjoyed it. I make holiday ornaments every year – usually about 45!

        Like

  7. Morning-
    Martha is like my friend Paul. He can take an old bucket, and some string and grass and make a lovely ‘receiving can’ to hold candles after an event. I’ve seen him do it multiple times. He designs the set for the Christmas concerts at the college and he makes “CHRISTMAS” (with a big sweeping arm motion).
    I take the same stuff and end up with a mess.
    It’s just a wonder….

    Like

    1. I have a closet full of string, ribbon, paper towel rolls, baby wipe containers, pieces of fabric and empty juice containers – last night I made some centerpieces (for our neighborhood block party next week) from empty soup cans! In fact, people often bring me stuff that “I might be able to use”.

      Like

  8. Foodwise, I’ll try making anything once, but the most notable has been our own Lefse.
    Juice our own apples and sometimes brew our Hassssssssing Orchards Apple Mead.
    Have made ratatouille with all veggies from our garden.
    Used to sew some of my own clothing… now it’s just mending and altering.
    Make fairy houses with Lola (young neighbor) from anything found in the yard.
    Will keep thinking.

    Like

    1. Ooh, fairy houses! Having a young neighbor to help make magical fairy houses is the best, especially if you don’t have a youngster of your own.

      Like

      1. We have a spot under our pine tree that is the designated spot for building fairy houses – it works nicely as it is nestled in with some ferns and has a little stone path leading to it (the stones are actually so I can get to the bird feeder without crushing plants). Potential building materials we find in the yard and on walks gather there until we need them for houses.

        Like

    2. I enjoyed drinking some of the Hasssssing Orchards Apple Mead at a book club meeting. It was good!

      Like

  9. Most of the food I make is from scratch so I won’t list all of them. But here’s a few:

    Lemon Curd
    Limeade (a splash of rum makes it extra good), nothing like it on a hot day
    Pizza (with semolina crust)
    Chocolate Mousse Cake (good birthday cake for chocolate lovers)
    Cookies (too many favorites to name here, well, how about Chocolate Fudge Amaretto Cookies with Dried Cherries and Daquari Chocolate Chip, which are coconut-chocolate chip cookies with lime zest)

    Someday I would like to make my own:

    Yogurt
    Bread (I used to do this all the time, but have gotten away from it, I made a really good fresh herb bread and whole-wheat-millet bread)

    Like

  10. Well, it being Friday, you know what I am going to say-Scones in the morning and Pizza for supper (except I am thrown off by the s&h being at camp this week, so scones will have to wait until he is hoe tomorrow morning.

    Like Sherillee, I have been the recipient of “things I could perhaps use someday”, but enough is enough. Ours is a wee small house, and choices must be made between storing such things and actually having enough space to do that kind of work.

    Most food here is made from scratch, although I have yet to take on tofu and cheese. I once said I would never make my own fillo dough, but there are days when I wonder if saying “I’ll never” has condemned me to giving it a try.

    Hoping to tackle some vegetarian sushi soon.

    I’ve never been good at crafty, but I do hope to someday have my head far enough above water to consult Martha on holiday decorating ideas.

    Like

    1. I think you can safely leave fillo dough off your bucket list. Same goes for croissants – the aggravation factor is way too high!! (sadly I am speaking from experience…..)

      Like

      1. I’ve done the croissants-as far as I know, making my own is the only way to get whole wheat croissants filled with ratatouille-haven’t done that in a long time, may have to while eggplant can still be had at the Farmer’s Market (I have no luck growing that).

        My problem is, fillo is the one thing I have actually SAID I will never make, so now I kinda feel like I must….

        Like

  11. I’m not a gifted cook by any means, but I keep myself fed with simple stuff like stirfrys, soups, hummus, olive tapenade, whole wheat bread, and pizza on homemade crusts. My job on the holidays is to make the vegan dessert–last year’s mint chocolate cream pie would have been fine if I hadn’t accidentally bought peppermint-spearmint flavoring instead of pure peppermint :-( . With my homeskills guru, I’ve canned plain tomatoes, salsa, pickle relish, beets, dilly beans and orange marmalade. Needlework isn’t really “from scratch”, since you buy all the components, so I won’t count my embroidery, but I’ve sewn a few lap quilts and some simple clothing, also with my guru. Once the weather cools off a bit and I can bear to look at yarn again, I will finish my first knitted project (a scarf, natch, and one that’s LONG ENOUGH!). This year the garden seems to be a wash, thanks to the bunnies, but last year I was able to grow as many tomatoes as I could eat and a fair amount of yellow wax beans. I’m also no great shakes at magic, but I’ve had a few successes–protection spells in particular seem to work for me. I have a long list of other things I’d like to learn, from candlemaking to Indian cookery to woodworking–now if only I had the money, the energy and the time to learn to do everything I’m interested in AND polish the skills I’ve already started to acquire!

    Like

    1. I know what you mean about finding time and money to do things. I am retired and do have a little money, but I still need to be careful with the money so I can’t do all that I would like to do. I should have enough time since I’m retired, but I always seem to be short on that.

      Like

    2. Tapenade
      ¼ c drained capers
      ¼ c olive oil
      2 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
      1 tbsp lemon juice
      1 tbsp minced garlic
      2 tsp anchovy paste
      1 3 ½ oz can tuna packed in oil, drained
      1 2 ½ oz bottle Spanish pitted olives, drained
      1 2 ¼ oz can sliced ripe olives, drained
      ½ c sliced scallions

      Combine capers, olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste and tuna in food processor. Buzz until just blended. Add olives and scallions and pulse just until combined; mixture should be a little chunky. Refrigerate

      Like

      1. Oooh, fancy! And not vegetarian, alas. Me, I just mash up some kalamata olives, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and plenty of garlic until it looks and tastes right. Pizza Luce makes a delicious tapenade with sundried tomatoes, which would be really expensive to reproduce at home but is a great treat if you’re out with a group of garlic lovers.

        Like

  12. My list of made of from scratch is also long, it’s simply a way of life, so I’ll confine my list to some things that haven’t been mentioned yet. Pesto! And more pesto! Yikes, it’s so good with so many things. Truffles, though I’ll admit that my first, and so far only attempt last year, got a bit carried away. I mean, how many truffles can you eat? But, I didn’t get a single complaint from the people I gave them to as gifts, so we’ll see how it goes this year. I also make my own Christmas and other seasonal wreaths and centerpieces. I’m off to the American Swedish Institute, catch you all later.

    Like

    1. I decided to try pesto in my next morning smoothie. It will be Greek yogurt, basil pesto, kale, sprouts and a fruit (but I’m not sure yet what fruit).

      Like

    2. Oh, I forgot pesto. I do that, too (as I’m sure other baboons do). So good, especially when you have no energy to cook: cook up some spaghetti, drain, stir in pesto, and sprinkle with grated parmesan and some chopped tomato – that makes a good supper, even if Martha would jazz it up more. Good cooking is all about good ingredients, and simple cooking can be very good indeed. This year I want to expand from plain basil and lemon-basil pesto to cilantro pesto and some other things. I made garlic scape pesto earlier this summer and have a good supply in my freezer.

      And the answer to your question about truffles – how many truffles can you eat? Lots and lots! I’m sure you could find many willing baboons to help you eat them if you can’t eat them…(although I admit my neighbor once gave me some “homemade truffles” that I hated…turns out they were Oreo truffles and tasted like they were made of nothing but oreo crumbs – not my idea of a real truffle). I have not made truffles unless you count leftover ganache that’s in the frig, but I did help my truffle-making friend come up with some ideas for new flavors last fall.

      Like

        1. Oh yes, and the little green seed thingy (probably not the correct botanical term for it) left when the petals are gone, makes a very nice capers-like pickle.

          Like

    3. OT – Just wanted to alert everyone to an absolutely fabulous tapestry exhibit at the American Swedish Institute. These gigantic weavings are truly stunning unlike any weavings you have ever seen before. Highly recommend that anyone interested in textile arts see this exhibit. Admission is $7.00, ($6.00 for seniors). The exhibit will be there until early October.

      Like

  13. I was conspicuously inept at taxidermy when I was a kid. I learned that fish are really hard to do right, but that with mammals you can make mistakes that you later fix up with repairs that don’t show under the hair.

    My most remarkable make-from-scratch project was making a daughter. I had help from my erstwife, of course, but I’d add that her “help” wasn’t always positive. Because this was my own project, I know where I made mistakes whose repairs I hid under the hair . . . but overall I couldn’t be more proud of how well the project turned out. :)

    Like

    1. Steve, I was thinking of my own project along those lines, then I remembered poor Pip from Great Expectations who was “brought up by hand”. Can you really hide some of those repairs under the hair? Good to know.

      Like

  14. I can cook most basic things like soups, sauces, pesto, jams and breads. I’m best at baking but I really shouldn’t practice that skill too often.

    I’ve done a little carving using my grandfather’s carving tools and some basswood that was given to me. I make my own wash cloths, towels, winter scarves and hats and I’m learning to make little purses. I don’t make the yarn though, so I can’t really say that it’s all from scratch. I can, if necessary, make my own music.

    Rock Bend is made from scratch with ingredients from hundreds, if not thousands, of loving, happy volunteers. :) And it’s easy on your wallet.

    Like

  15. You all have so many good things listed!! I cook but most things are not very fancy. However, I have an pretty-good chocolate cake and some “Rocky Road Fudge Bars” from a Pillsbury cookbook, and many types of fudge in the winter. I used to make bread, but I am not patient enough any more.
    I love Krista’s comment about how she doesn’t make the yarn. That would eliminate most of my other “what-I-think-of-as-from-scratch” activities, but I might list them anyway. I knit and crochet many things, and right now, just to see if I can, I am knitting a sock. I plan to knit another if I finish this one so that I will have a pair. I have also knit many mittens and scarves and one pair of gloves. I have made quilts and small quilty things, and sewed some of my own and my daughter’s clothes (when they were younger), but mostly I patch jeans for the farm husband. I don’t really do crafts – those are different.

    Like

    1. Vicky, I have lots of socks that are missing a mate, so let me know if you decide not to knit the second sock; perhaps I can help you out. As I understand it, socks that don’t match are in vogue at the moment.

      Like

      1. This is an odd-enough sock that just might work as long as the “lone sock” has some color other than black! The body is sort of pink stripes and the heel is purple – the toe will be, too – so just about anything interesting might go with it. I’ve thought about making the body of the second one purple with the heel and toe pink stripes. That might be fun.

        Like

  16. OT – anybody going to the Powderhorn Art Fair this weekend? I’m planning to go on Sunday and wouldn’t mind some company. Betsy Bowen will be there.

    Like

    1. I’m undecided about whether to go to that or to Red House Records’ Barnfest. Leaning toward Barnfest at the moment.

      Like

    2. There’s an outside chance I’ll be there with Sister et al. – if so may see you there. I have a friend from Winona whose booth is #39, glass jewelry and fiber art…

      Like

      1. The weather is predicted to be fine on Sunday – especially if you’re weary of the hot weather we’ve had for the past several weeks. High in the mid 70s and sunny. I will be sure to stop at booth 39, BiR.

        Like

  17. I make about everything from scratch. Hello! Just arrived in Fargo from Luverne via Pine Ridge. Boy, has it been hot. Lots of stories. It has all been good.

    Like

  18. I’ve been intending to try a recipe for jewelweed salve – the jewelweed is about four feet high by this time of year. Basically you cook it with olive oil and a little beeswax.

    I like caramel corn made from scratch. Popped on the stove, not microwaved, and the caramel cooked from brown sugar and butter. Mmmmmm.

    Like

        1. Could have used that last night. In my enthusiasm for pulling the many weeds in my gardens, I grabbed a nettle with my bare hand. Ouch!

          Like

  19. off to a day od follow up on on of my big made form scratch projects. duaghters wedding today. fun day yesterday getting everything ready to go. outdoor affair at 4 with photos at 130 or so, so keep your rainmaker vibes working for her. looks like the predicted weather will be good with the after wedding shindig about right. thanks for all the well wishes yesterday. too busy to get to the response. even forgot we had relatives coming in. its nice to have someone tell you what you eed to do differently with you life and your family. we dont do a lot of fish so relatives are really the only things that stink after 3 days.
    i love barnfest. enjoy. why would they schedule that against uptown? dorks!

    Like

Comments are closed.