Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Only Apron of 2009

How did I let that happen?  In 365 days I could manage to make just one apron?  I feel such shame.  My New Year's resolution:  make more aprons in 2010!  Last year's resolution to floss my teeth more regularly went very well, so I have high hopes for this one.  Let's move away from the subject of my dental hygiene because I understand how that might gross some people out.  I made my niece, Noelle, a new apron for Christmas because she outgrew the cherry apron I made for her a couple of years ago.

I found these cute birds and polka dots at one of the few fabric shops in my area.  If they had a website I'd link them here, but alas, they do not.  If you're ever in Chehalis, WA be sure to check out Sister's Fabric.  It's right downtown and since downtown consists of three, possibly four blocks, you won't have a hard time finding it.  I'm pretty sure Noelle likes these perfect birds as much as I do.

Just for good measure, I'll leave you with one more photo of the apron.  C'mon!  It's the only apron I made all year - and aprons are my favorite thing to make - so I may have overdone it just a tad with all the photos.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Made Some Peppermint Bark. Arf! Arf!

I made it a couple of weeks ago, actually.  We had quite a collection of broken candy canes from the local Santa Parade that we attended at the beginning of December.  Note to self:  if you're ever in a parade, be sure to throw candy that doesn't shatter when it hits the pavement.  

When I stumbled across this recipe for peppermint bark from Ellen over at The Long Thread I knew it'd be a perfect application for our parade candy canes.  She also shared some "Wishing you a sweet holiday" labels for readers to download and print.  So, I did just that and put together a delightful Christmas gift for Susannah's preschool teacher. 

The bark was very simple to make.  We made half of the recipe and it was enough to fill one 12oz. tea tin and one 24oz. tea tin (with a handful left over for us to munch on).  We lined the tins with parchment paper and kept the bark refrigerated until we were ready to deliver it. 

I also came across this peppermint label while perusing Lime Gardenias.  I used it on the back to cover up some of the evidence that these used to be tea tins. 

I printed the labels onto white cardstock and cut them out.  I used a spray-on adhesive on the backs of the lables and they attached very securely to the tins.  I also used some craft glue to add a finishing touch to the lids.

Overall, a nice, sweet holiday gift for teachers or neighbors, etc.  I'm also kickin' around the idea of making some for Valentine's day with the leftover candycanes we'll have after we take the tree down.  Perhaps a bit of red food coloring would make them a pepto-pink color suitable for February 14th?  We'll see!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

One of These Things is Not Like the Others...

If you're familiar with old school Sesame Street, you're probably humming the tune to this little educational ditty right now and trying to remember the rest of the lyrics.  Sorry, I can't help you because I don't know the rest of the words and I don't have time to Google that inquiry.  I'm just trying to squeeze in one last post before all the Christmas festivities start! 

So, did you figure out which of these things just doesn't belong?  I didn't do it on purpose, but I made Susannah's stocking "backwards" compared to the others!  Ooops!  A fairly easy thing to remedy if you have extra iron-on letters, which I don't.  So, this year at least, it'll be marching to it's own drummer.  I guess I could claim that I did it on purpose to make her stocking stand out more and grab Santa's attention.  Anyhoo, with the stockings hung on the coat rack with care I now need to find a temporary home for all this outerwear:

Just some food left to prepare and then some Santa's helper work left to do after a certain someone is tucked into bed - and Christmas will be in full swing!  I wish you all safe and merry and stress-free Christmas celebrations!  That said, I'll leave you with some more photos of my stocking handiwork. 

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something New, Something Blue

Whew!  I finished this embroidered wedding gift just in time for the reception on Saturday. 

This was created from a Jenny B. Harris embroidery design.  If you're into embroidery (or just cute, fun blogs) I'd highly recommend exploring her Allsorts blog.  Anyhoo, this is my most involved embroidery attempt and my first piece of framed embroidery.  I sewed a fabric border around it and placed some batting between it and the back of the picture frame.  It looks quite handsome all framed and finished.  Now for some closeups and reminder to comment on my December 1st post for a chance to win that little rodent down there.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giveaway Day...Almost

Okay, so it's not technically December 2nd yet, but the deadline of 9AM EST translates to way-too-early-for-blogging in PST so I'm getting my giveaway post done a bit early.  What is this Giveaway Day I keep yammering about?  It's organized by Sew Mama Sew and it goes a little somethin' like this:  folks with blogs or shops list a giveaway item in their Dec. 2nd post and all commenters on that post have a chance to win said item.   You can find a comprehensive list of all participants at Sew Mama Sew.  Before I get into more details, let me show you what I have up for grabs for one lucky commenter.

EEK!  Perhaps it's just because I am his creator, but I think this little mouse is darn cute!  An 8 inch wooden hoop is the frame for this mixture of ecofelt applique and embroidery.  It hangs right on a tack or nail and also looks nice suspended from a strand of ribbon. 

The nitty gritty details:  I will ship internationally and the winner will be chosen randomly. This giveaway will be open until December 6th.  After that, I'll post who the lucky winner is and have this little mouse in the mail by December 12th. 

Now, leave a comment on this post and then scurry over to Sew Mama Sew where you can browse a list of participating blogs and shops and check out what they're giving away today!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Half-Pint Pies are Cute!

They make great favors for a housewarming party, too!  After they're assembled they reside in your freezer until you have a hankerin' for pie - or until you send them home with party guests.  I took some "before" pictures of the frozen pies before I gave them all away:

They can be baked right in the jar (after the lids have been removed, of course) and then either popped out onto a plate or eaten right from the jar.  

The tutorial for these single serving pies in jars (I renamed them half-pint pies) can be found at the Our Best Bites blog.  It's a great one with lots of helpful photos. 

After making a few I started getting more creative with the top crusts and the fillings.  I think the lattice top is my favorite.  It's so cute!  I don't usually use that adjective in my pie-talk, but the tinyness of it really does make it cute.  As for the filling, I think you could use any pie or dessert recipe you already have and just scale it down.  I chose apple crisp and cherry pie.  Don't tell anyone, but I used a canned filling from the grocery store for the cherry pies.  If you want the recipes I used for the crust or the apple crisps, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

If you're giving them as gifts, it's nice to pack them in something because the glass is super cold and hard to hold on to.  I went with brown lunch bags and fancied them up a bit with some ribbon and some labels.

I highly recommend that you give these cuties a try.  I'm already thinking about what kind of fillings I can try next!

So, here are the recipes I used:

Pie Crust (enough for 4 half-pint pies)
1 1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening (I used butter-flavored)
3 T cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut in shortening until pea-sized chunks form and sides of bowl come clean.
Sprinkle with water 1 T at a time, tossing with a fork after each addition.

Apples for Apple Pie Filling or Apple Crisp Filling (enough for 4 half-pint pies, plus some extra to snack on)
3 large apples
1/4 c. sugar
3 T flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt

Slice and peel the apples.  Cut them into chunks or thinner slices. 
Combine remaining ingredients.  Add the apples and toss until the slices are well-coated.
Spoon into jars.

Crumb Topping for Crisps (enough for 4-6 half-pint pies)
1/4 + 1/8 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 1/2 T butter, softened

Mix everything except the butter together in a bowl.  Cut in the butter until well mixed.  If the topping is your favorite part of a crisp, sprinkle a spoonful on the bottom of the jar before you add the filling.

Use 3 or 4 more spoonfuls (some will spill onto the counter, so this isn't an exact measurement) to top off the crisp and kinda pack it down over the fruit.  You can use a cookie cutter to stamp a little design in the topping if you'd like.

Bake Times
Apple crisps:  375 for 30-35 minutes
Cherry pies:  375 for 50-60 minutes

I Was Featured Pretty Packages Party

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

House Warming Party Invitations

That's what I'll be doing next Tuesday, along with the help of my two other sisters and my mom.  My sister Jennie and her two kids moved in to their brand new house in September and it's high time they had a housewarming party to showcase their accomplishement - it took a year to construct and they (my sister, mainly) helped out with much of the labor. 

So, in between blowing my nose and caring for my ailing child (we're both really close to being totally healthy again) I've been designing and assembling these housewarming/open house invitations.


The boxes are unpacked,
The curtains hung with care,
But Jennifer's kitchen
Is still pretty bare.
(she doesn't even have a cookie sheet!)


Now I need to corral my co-hosts and decide what kind of snacks we're going to serve.  I'm also working on some party favors for the visitors to take home and enjoy later.  Stay tuned for more housewarming posts to come in the near future!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Tute for a Hoot!

While searching for this recipe I discovered that it was invented by Natalie Riggin of Olympia, WA (not far from where I live) and it won her Pilsbury Bake-Off accolades in 1956!  Here's where I learned that little tidbit and what follows is the recipe with a couple of tutorial photos for the owl cookies we made this Halloween.

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • chocolate chips
  • whole cashews and/or almonds
Beat brown sugar and butter 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and egg.  Beat in flour, powder and salt until dough forms.  Place 1 cup of dough in a small bowl and stir in melted chocolate and baking soda.

On a piece of plastic wrap, press half of the light-colored dough into a 10" x 4" strip.
Shape half of the chocolate dough into a roll 10" long (kind of like a giant tootsie roll) and lay it on top of the light dough.

Roll the light dough up around the chocolate dough. 

Wrap up this log in plastic wrap.  Now repeat this process for the remaining dough.  You'll end up with two plastic-wrapped logs that need to be refrigerated for 1 hour.  After an hour, working with one log at a time, unwrap it and cut it into 1/4" slices (about 22 pieces total).


Select two pieces that are similar in size and pinch an ear shape into each one.

Place the two eye pieces, touching, on a cookie sheet.  Use a butterknife to make a couple of indentations on each ear.

Now, lay a chocolate chip in the center of each brown eye spot.  Then press a nut of your choice into the center of the face and that's it!

Bake a sheet of owl cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  I found that mine needed the full 10, but ovens vary, so there ya go.  I think I ended up with a total of 22 cookies.  The chocolate chips take a couple of hours to set/harden, so keep that in mind.

I hope you get a chance to try these.  They're really simple and four-year-olds can help with the nut and chocolate chip placement.  Happy hooting!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Corn Muffins Jar Mix

Christmas is right around the corner and I have so many people on my list that are difficult to shop for and would appreciate a homemade gift much more than a random, generic, trinket-like gift.  I think they'll also make nice holiday gifts for my neighbors instead of the traditional plate of cookies.  Anyhow, here's a short and simple tutorial for assembling a cornbread or corn muffin jar mix.  The recipe is from the side of Albers corn meal box, by the way.

Jar Mix for Sweet Corn Muffins

Gently dump 1 1/2 c. of flour into the jar.  It's best to use a 1/4 measuring cup so you can fit it down into the jar when you dump it, thus avoiding getting a bunch of unsightly flour "splashed" up on the sides of the jar.  If this does happen, use a pastry brush to gently sweep it off. 

Give the jar a little shimmy or tap it down on the counter a few times to get the flour settled and even across the bottom of the jar.

Gently dump 1 T of baking powder and 1/2 t. of salt on top of the flour.  Give the jar a little tap again.

Gently dump 1/2 c. of yellow corn meal into the jar next and give that a little shimmy, too.  You have to be careful not to over-shimmy because that'll disturb all your layers.

One last gente dump of 2/3 c. of sugar and another tap-tap-tap and you're almost done!

There should be just enough space left in the jar for you to place 18 (or so) regular-sized muffin papers.

Gently affix the lid and the screwband.  You can also decorate the lid.  For this bumblebee lid I stamped the design on a piece of yellow fabric, cut it out and then stitched it (with 2 strands of black embroidery floss) to the yellow gingham fabric.  The rest of the steps can be found in my tutorial for scrappy jar lids.


The last step is to affix a tag or label.  Be sure to include the date, what the mix is for, and these directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove muffin papers from the jar and place them in muffin tins. 

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 large eggs (lightly beaten), 1 1/4 c. milk, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, and 3 T melted butter.

  • Add the contents of the jar and mix until just blended.

  • Pour batter into 18-20 muffin papers, about 2/3 full.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes.

  • Corn bread variation:  pour batter into 8" square, greased pan.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.
This jar mix is going in a small gift basket that I'm working on as a Christmas present for Susannah's preschool teacher.  I'm going to include some locally-harvested honey from the farmer's market and that's probably it because I want to keep it modest and simple.  There are so many things you could add if you wanted to make it a larger, more extravagant gift.  Consider a muffin tin, napkins or towels that coordinate with the jar lid, nice wooden spoons, a wooden honey drizzler, or a honey pot...the possibilities are endless!

Also, to fill the extra space after you've added the ingredients to the jar, consider some more decorative muffin papers or even individually-wrapped candy.  I also thought of goingt to KFC and swiping some honey packets to stuff in there, but that might be a bit tacky depending on who you're giving the gitft to.  Anything that is easy for the recipient to remove before dumping the contents can be added to that portion of the jar instead of the muffin papers.

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