Buy me THIS: Crazy Fun with Miniatures

OK, this is another Make me THIS. I have a friend at work who has so many tchotchkes on her desk that I threaten her with turning them into a diorama. They do occasionally end up in odd juxtapositions. So this year I am not buying her something that will just be the wrong color or style. I am making her that diorama!

You can put the diorama in sideways little boxes, or specially made diorama boxes. Stats and Michaels have that kind of thing as well as cute little figurines. Of course, you can also use those strange plastic toys we seem to amass in drawers everywhere. You can make them winter-themed, or Hannukah themed, or any other winter holiday (Festivus!).

Then let’s take this idea a little further — homemade snowglobes! Yes! For those, use anything inside that is waterproof. You can buy precious little jars to serve as globes, but the perfect jars for these are either baby food jars (no kids? Make carrot cake!) and those squarish artichoke heart jars. I will even include recipes later so you can eat the insides up all year and save the jars for Christmas 2012. One guy on Instructables  suggests urine collection jars. That’s one way to scare your doctor, “There seem to be some specks in your specimen, and..a tiny reindeer.”

Instructables is helpful, but believe it or not I learned how to make them from Martha Stewart.

What You Will Need:

Lots of little jars with tight-fitting lids

A sheet of fine sandpaper

Waterproof clear-drying epoxy and/or Crazyglue

Distilled Water

Glitter and/or snow

Glycerine (drug stores, cake supples and craft stores carry it)

Extra Credit:

Oil-based enamel paint to paint lids holiday colors



 Paint the lids if you like and set aside to dry.

Roughly sand the inside of the lid.

Attach toys to the lid with epoxy. Let dry.

Fill the jars with water, leaving a little room at the top for displacement (shaking!!!).

Add a pinch of glitter and a dash of glycerin. The glycerin slows the glitter down, but too much will make it clump up, so be stingy with the glycerin.

Apply a light coat of epoxy on the threads inside the lid.

Gently, but firmly, screw the lid on, being careful of the figurine and toys.

(Other sources recommend filling the jar exclusively with mineral oil. But I trust Martha. Plus, things could get very slippery at the craft table).

If you are paranoid about spills, epoxy the ouside of the lid and cover with a pretty ribbon.

 Whatever you do, lock up the cats!


 Eat Your way to Lots of Jars

This recipe is from I have never made it, but it is tempting, because grating all of those carrots can be a real bitch.

Pat’s Award Winning Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

3 (4 ounce) jars carrot baby food

1/2 cup grated carrot

1 cup flaked coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture. Stir in chopped pecans, Baby food carrots, grated carrots and coconut. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.


This next recipe is mine, adapted from an advertisement for canned tomatoes.

Spaghettini with Oregon Artichoke Sauce

2 jars marinated artichoke hearts

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion

1 medium zucchini

1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce

1 (14-oz) can chopped, peeled tomatioes

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons each: basil, oregano

1 teaspoon each: garlic, white sugar

1/2 teaspoon each: fennel seed, red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon each: thyme, pepper

1 pound spaghettini, cooked according to package instructions


In a medium saucepan, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, wine, spices and sugar. Turn to a simmer.

Drain marinade from artichoke hearts into a large skillet. Saute mushrooms in the marinade. When cooked, add mushrooms to tomato sauce.

Chop onion and zucchini, and saute them in remaining marinade. add olive oil if needed. When cooked, add everything to the tomato sauce.

Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the pasta according to package directions. Serve with Parmesan for the kids so they don’t get finicky about green things in their spaghetti.

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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