Happy Birthday, America! 



1. American flag art made out of baseballs: I found this art (pictured above) at a Red Robin restaurant in Virginia.  Unfortunately, it was made especially for the restaurant chain, but that by no means discourages me from trying to replicate it for my house in the future!  I saw this video that shows how to make something similar, but I think I'd rather have the balls remain whole.  So how much do 260 baseballs cost?  It looks like this monster would be 60+ inches wide by 40+ inches tall.  'Merica!  Now I need to think just where I could put this in my house...



2. Homemade Ice Cream:
I've made two batches of ice cream over the past two weeks - raspberry & cream and peanut butter cup.  Both used the same vanilla custard base and added the flavor of choice right before churning.  Here's the recipe I used with my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker...

2 1/8 cups whole milk
2 1/8 cups heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used Mexican Vanilla Extract)

1. Freeze ice cream maker canister overnight
2. Combine whole milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan, bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  (If you want a pure vanilla ice cream, add the seeds of a vanilla bean and the bean itself to the milk/cream mixture. You will want to remove the bean after the simmer time).  Stir occasionally to keep film from forming on the top.
3.  Combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a standing mixer and beat on a medium speed until the mixture is thick, smooth, and a pale yellow color.  You can also do this in a bowl with a hand mixer.
4. Turn the mixer to a slow speed, measure out 1 cup of the hot milk and add to the egg mixture slow and steady to temper the eggs.  Too fast and the eggs will cook - not a pleasant taste in ice cream!
5. When complete, add the egg and milk mixture into the remaining milk mixture, stirring to combine.
6. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
7. Transfer to a bowl, stir in vanilla extract, and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the top of the custard.  Chill completely in the refrigerator.
8. Pour chilled custard into the ice cream maker canister, set up the machine with the paddle and lid, and turn on.  After about 30 minutes, the ice cream should look like a soft serve consistency - also known as yummy taste test time.  Transfer into a storage container and freeze for a harder consistency.

3. Patriotic Rice Krispie Treats:  What's better than a plate of gooey, sticky marshmallow and cereal square goodness colored with red and blue food dye?
4. Bakerella's Snow Cone Cupcakes:  I've posted them before, and I'm going to do it again because I'm just smitten with them!  Plus, it's reminding me to find the time in the near future to try this myself.  The colored sparking sugar is in my pantry just waiting to be opened!
 5. I Only Run in Red, White, and Blue T-Shirt:  Raw Threads has the softest t-shirts I've found, made from organic cotton, viscose from bamboo, and elastane.  Don't think you need to limit yourself to buying this just for running, it's amazing any time!

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