Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A More "Sophisticated" Gift for a More Sophisticated Gal

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I hope you all had a blessed Christmas!
And now that the gift giving has dwindled, I am free to share with you some of the handmade gifts that I made for family and friends.
And, hey, the 12 days of Christmas has just begun, so I'm not too late, right? right.

Let me begin by introducing you to my niece, Ruby.
Some things about her: she is beautiful and awesome and smart. She was born with a full head of dark, silky hair, which is even more impressive to me now that I have a 10 month old who has only a few Alphalpha-like sprigs of hair on the rear of his dome... and that's being generous.

She is now almost 10 (how did THAT happen???), and being the oldest of not only 4 children in her immediate family, is also the oldest of her generation in the extended family.
Therefore, I am sure, she is constantly surrounded by toys, cloths, and such that are below her maturity level.

Because of this, it was no surprise to me that, when I received her Christmas list this year, it consisted of:
nail polish
books (God love her)
and my personal favorite... "more sophisticated clothing"
Who can blame her? I can't.
I did, however, have to think long and hard about what to make for her for Christmas.
So far, I haven't had to make anything for a preteen.
I was stumped.
Luckily, I wasn't stumped for long thanks to a chance meeting with a fabulous black Friday deal.
I had planned on buying some extra white towels at Kmart on black Friday.
They were on sale for 1.50... So cutting them up and using the terry fabric for something else was my plan.
However, when I got to the towel aisle, only aquamarine was left.
What to do? What to do?
Ah Ha! I had some scraps of white terry left over from another project. Not enough to really do anything with.. except make a little initial.
And this is how my preteen-friendly monogramed towels were born.
Step One:
Get yourself some towels. I was able to get 2 washcloths, 2 hand towels, and 2 bath towels for about 9 bucks! WHAT A STEAL!
Step Two:
Grab your heat n bond and trace, free hand, cricut, whatever your initials. I got away with freehanding this lowercase "r" because I chose a simple font, and mostly because I'm lazy and didn't want to add another step. You could also do symbols or whathaveyou. This project was so simple that I was thinking of doing some hooded towels with a boat or whale for Ben... but I digress.

Note: you want your initial to be a mirror image so you can iron it onto the back of your accent terry cloth.
Here's my accent terry cloth. I chose white for a classic, "sophisticated" look. :)
Step Three:
Iron on your heat n bond. Get it good with the iron so it sticks dispite the texture.
Step Four:
Cut it out!
I mean, seriously.
This is so simple, I feel silly making a tutorial.
Step Five:
Find the midde of your towel.
You might want to mark it with a fabric marker. You're going to line up that mark with the middle of your initial(s) and then iron on.
 Again, get it good with the iron so it sticks.
Step Six:
Serge or zigzag around the edges to keep that thing in place.
That's it!
Repeat on other towels of the set.
I had to snap a few shots on the towel rod in my guest bathroom. They turned out great if I do say so myself. And probably took me an hour for the whole project. I paired them with some tween body wash and accessories. Hopefully she liked them.  I know I liked that when I was her age, and I felt soooo much older. ha.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pardon My Progress

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Soooo... I haven't posted anything in awhile,
And I would like to give excuse by sharing a quote from the wise, Jodi, at Sew Fearless,

"Christmas: when crafts blogs go silent."

I have been ITCHING to share some photos of the crafts that have been keeping me so busy...
but it will have to wait until after Christmas...
I'm buried under fabric in my studio right now. January will definitely be the month of cleaning and organizing that space, as well as replenishing my stash for my Etsy shop.

But for now: CHRISTMAS, and I am having SO MUCH FUN making gifts for everyone.

I can't give anything away to the recipients just yet, though, so you're left with vague close ups of crafting supplies.

Not to worry (I know you were). All will be revealed in due time, and I promise to get some cool tutorials up.

Some of the gifts turned out great, and I am PSYCHED about it.
Others, I guess I'll have to secretly post to Craft Fail. :)

In the meantime, here's something that will change your life for the better:
My mom's (grandmothers?) pecan tart recipe, a bite sized taste of my sweet home, Georgia,
which, by the way, is the leading domestic source of pecans. Eat that, Texas.

but I digress...

Here's the recipe. It's simple. It's awesome. Enjoy.

Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter and 1 package (3 oz.) of cream cheese, softened. Add 2 cups of sifted flour. Using mini muffin pans, shape 1 tsp. of dough into each cup and press into the sides, making a little cup shape. Flute the edges with a fork if you're feeling ambitious... I was not.

In a bowl mix together 3/4 C. brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 2/3 C. pecans.
Put a tiny bit of filling in each dough cup (it will rise a little).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 250 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove to a rack to cool.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Putting up Pumpkins

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No joke, the farmers market has about 20 million different kinds of pumpkins right now...
okay. maybe that's a teeny bit of an exaggeration,
but there's a lot.

My husband will eat ANYTHING pumpkin,
so I've been roasting them and using the puree in just about everything.

Pumpkin granola with pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin risotto (one of my personal favorites).
Pumpkin curry (one of my husbands favorites).

and in honor of my brother's birthday...
pumpkin pie.
Specifically, my mom's recipe which was, most likely, my grandmother's recipe before that.
*Recipe below*

Most people will tell you that canned pumpkin puree tastes the same as cooking and pureeing it yourself, so it's not worth the time and effort.

This is probably true.
but it's easy,
it's DEFINITELY cheaper,
and even if it's just in my head, I prefer it.

Not to mention my lesser but more honorable intentions of supporting local farmers.
I just roasted the cleaned pumpkins at 375 degrees and then pureed. Simple.
Note: if you place them upside down on a cookie sheet, they don't get that crusty, less than desireable skin on the top.
I use the same process for butternut squash
(and pretty much all squash for that matter).

After that, you can freeze the puree in freezer-safe bags or containers.
To be honest, we've been going through it so quickly, I've not freezed any yet this year.

This past Saturday, I asked the professionals at the market which pumpkins they suggested for cooking... and ended up bringing this thing home...
It's called a peanut pumpkin
(or "punkin" as my farmer friend pronounced it)

named for its peanut shell-like exterior...
So we're going to give it a shot.
Worse case scenario: it doesn't taste as great, but looks really cool.
And I'm alright with that.

And without further ado...

Pumpkin Pie

1 3/4 C pumpkin puree (if you cook it down a bit to reduce the liquid, the pie sets up a little bit better)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
vanilla (I'm always pretty liberal with the vanilla :)
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 C milk (warm, but not scalded)
a shot of bourbon if you wish

Mix ingredients and fill your choice of crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 300 degrees for 45 minutes, or until middle of pie is "just a tiny bit wobbly"

This is for a 9" pie plate.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Calendar- Part FINISHED!

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I'm in love! I'm in love! and I don't care who knows it!
With my Jesse Tree Advent Calendar.
And better still is that I finished it [not before the beginning of Advent but] before the 1st!

If you've missed the details on the ornaments, check them out...

Days 1-12
click here

Days 13-24
click here

For the pockets, I embroidered the numbers on light blue squares.
This took quite a bit of time, but I think it was worth it.

Then, I backed the blue squares with more white felt.
I wasn't planning on this step, but it turned out much better, so I'm pleased with it.

phew... 24 squares later...

I spaced the squares on my red felt for the banner

Note: I got mine from the remnant pile at the fabric store.You need a good amount of it, and the felt by the yard is usually nice and thick, so I'm hoping that it will wear well.

I pinned them all in place, double-checked that I had them in numerical order since my brain has turned to much, and sewed the left, bottom, and right to make a pocket.

Next, I placed my ornaments on some green felt and cut ouf the tree around them.

I marked spots for my bottons and sewed those on....

I found a scrap of brown felt for the trunk...

Then pinned the trunk and the tree on the banner in place.

I hand-sewed them on with matching threads.
I sewed the edges (about a 1/2 inch seam allowance) on the left, right and bottom,
and sewed the top, leaving an inch so I could put the dowel through.
The dowel was the only thing that I didn't have on hand, but it was 99 cents so I didn't feel so badly about it.
I sawed off one end to shorten it to the right length, drilled a hole in each side and threaded matching ribbon through, and done!

Put my ornaments inside...

and it's finished!

Now, we're just waiting for tomorrow to begin the countdown!

But for a sneak peek...

I'm pretty psyched.

If anyone would like my exact dimensions for the banner or some templates for the ornaments, I would be happy to provide them

(with the condition that it probably won't happen until I get more Christmas presents finished)

Just leave me a comment below, and I can post them for you. :)
Happy Advent, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advent Calendar- Part Two

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As promised...
here are the ornaments for days 13-24 of my
Jesse Tree Advent Calendar.

If you missed days 1-12,

Day 13: Solomon
1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28

Day 14: Joseph
Matthew 1:18-25

Day 15: Mary
Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38

Day 16: John the Baptist
Mark 1:1-8

On December 17th, the Church begins the "O" Antiphons. The following ornaments are based off of these antiphons from the Liturgy of the Hours.

Day 17: Jesus is Wisdom
Sirach 24:2; Wisdom 8:1

Day 18: Jesus is Lord
Exodus 3:2; 20:1

Day 19: Jesus is Flower of Jesse
Isaiah 11:1-3

Day 20: Jesus is Key of David
Isaiah 22:22

Day 21: Jesus is Radiant Dawn
Psalm 19:6-7

Day 22: Jesus is King of the Gentiles
Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20

Day 23: Jesus is Emmanuel
Isaiah 7:14; 33:22

Day 24: Jesus is Light of the World
John 1:1-14

So it's crunch time! I'm getting the pockets embroidered right now for the ornaments to live in before their time comes... phew. slowly but surely...

14.5 down, 9.5 to go!

Tune in next week for a post on the whole shebang.
I'm pretty excited about getting the calendar portion together.
Let's just hope it's finished by December 1st!