Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy End of 2011!! Sam's Cookie Swap Cookbook

Can’t believe this year is already over!  It went by so fast for me, and the end got so very busy!!  I didn’t do a lot for Christmas this year because of well, life… but I did manage to host a small Cookie Swap for some close family and friends!  For once I actually managed to not hold a camera to my face, and didn’t take a single picture during the swap, a good thing for me this year to just chat it up with people I don’t always get to see that often.  We talked, ate, drank and at the end, exchanged the cookies we all made.  We each ended up with an assortment of 13 kinds of cookies, and they were all delish!!  Here are the recipes so you can feel free to enjoy them yourself!!  *BONUS* My Mom’s home-made cider recipe follows at the bottom, we went through a full 2 gallons at the party, if that is any indication to how good it is. J 

My contribution: Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt
Courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod
Check out their whole website for more great recipes!!
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soft caramel, rolled into little balls (I used just your regular old square wrapped caramels, she suggests using Peter’s Caramel)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF; line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly coated with cooking spray. I used Silpats! Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Wrap the chocolate dough around the caramel balls. Place balls on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Sammantha’s Contribution: Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Courtesy of
Recipe (actual cookies):
Yield: 4 Dozen Cookies
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon red food coloring paste
Parchment paper
Peppermint Frosting (Recipe follows)

Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy duty electric stand mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended, scraping bowl as needed.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Roll 1 portion of dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle on a piece of lightly floured plastic wrap.
Knead food color paste into remaining portion of dough while wearing rubber gloves.  Roll tinted dough into a rectangle as directed in Step 3.  Invert untinted dough onto tinted dough; peel off plastic wrap. Cut dough in half lengthwise, forming 2 (12x4inch) rectangles.  Roll up each rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting at 1 long side, using bottom piece of plastic wrap as a guide.  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 4 hours or up to 1 month.
Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut ends off each dough log, and discard.  Cut dough into ¼ inch thick pieces, and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350F for 6 to 7 minutes or until puffed and set; cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Remove to wire racks and cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Place Peppermint Frosting in a heavy-duty ziplock freezer bag.  Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole.  Pipe about 2 tsp frosting onto half of cookies.  Top with remaining cookies, gently pressing to form a sandwich.

Recipe (Peppermint Frosting):
Yield: Makes 1 ¾ cups
¼ cup butter, softened
1 (3oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.  Increase speed to medium, and gradually add milk and peppermint extract, beating until smooth.

Susan’s Contribution: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies with Mint
Courtesy of Paula Deen
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1 (8oz) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
2/3 cup crème de mint (andes) mint chocolate bits
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Beat in the egg.  Then beat in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the cake mix.  Mix in mint bits.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls.  Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioners’ sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake 12 minutes.  The cookies will remain soft and “gooey” Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Maryfe’s Contribution: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 60 cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Gail’s Contribution (yes, My Mom): Roll out Cookies Decorated
Recipe edited in by Gail -- I found it!
White Rolled Cookies for Decorating
Note: this dough is fairly bland and not too sweet. It is meant to balance the sweetness of frosting and candy decorations. Cookies are not fragile.

Cream together:
1/2 c. margarine, butter
1 c. sugar
Add and beat well:
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift together and combine into wet mixture:
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt

Optional: form into a 1” thick saucer-sized patty; chill for 30 minutes to 2 days wrapped tightly in plastic. Dough can be frozen; let come to almost room temp before using.

If dough has been chilled, remove from frig and gently work dough patty with fingers to loosen up the butter. Unwrap.  Place dough patty on a well floured surface; sprinkle top with flour and then rub off. Pick up patty, reflour surface, place it down upside down. Flour and rub off this side. Gently roll out dough from the center outward with a floured rolling pin. Prevent edges tearing by frequently pressing them inward and mending small tears. If dough seems to be sticking, lift edges and reflour surface underneath. Roll to the approximate thickness of an uncooked Kraft macaroni noodle, about 1/8”. J don’t get too technical! If thicker, your cookies will be cakier and take longer to bake. If thinner, your cookies will be crisper and bake more quickly.

Cut cookies with cookie cutters, flouring cutter after each cut. Place 1”-2” apart on an ungreased, cool cookie sheet – they will not spread. If cookie does not lift out with cutter, wait until all are cut, remove scrap dough, and lift cookies with spatula. Scraps, with excess flour brushed off, can be re-rolled once. These cookies will be tougher and drier.

Bake at 375 degrees until edges just begin to turn color. Cool 5 min on pan; remove to cooling rack gently using a spatula.  It is best to bake similar-sized cookies on the same sheet, or put smaller cookies in the center of sheet. Check for doneness every 2 minutes starting at 5 min for small cookies, 8 min for hand-sized cookies. It all depends on your butter/margarine, exact oven temp, thickness of dough, and size of cookie.

Before baking, cookies can be sprinkled with colored sugars; press in lightly.

After baking and cooling, decorate with your favorite frosting and edible decorations.
Easy frosting to color: 1 c. butter, 1 lb box powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbsp water; mix until it all comes together then blend in enough more water to make it easily spreadable or to use in frosting bag with round and star tips. Color with gel or paste food coloring (green, red-no-taste, blue, yellow, and white are good at Christmas). Decorations: all kinds of sprinkles and colored sugar, mini chocolate chips, red hots, snips of dried fruit or fruit roll ups, crushed peppermint candy,  string licorice, Wilton Fondant Writers, Wilton Cookie Icing, colored gel icing although this does remain sticky… use your imagination!

Randal’s Contribution: Creamy Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Yield: 24-36 Bars
Crust -
8 graham crackers (calls for 8 medium sized butter or chocolate chip cookies)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Chocolate Layers -
2 1/2 cups (15 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Filling -
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co. Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Wonderful - can be found at QFC & Whole Foods)
1/2 cup salted peanut butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions :
Preheat oven to 325 F
In a food processor or blender process the graham crackers until finely chopped, then add melted butter and mix together completely. Press crumb mixture into a 8 x 8 inch metal baking pan and bake 10-12 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over slightly simmering water, or microwave the chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted. Pour half the melted chocolate into the pan and smooth chocolate over crust. Place pan in refrigerator. Keep remaining chocolate warm.
To prepare the peanut butter filling, blend peanut butter and softened butter together until smooth, using a food processor or electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar and then add vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth. Spread peanut butter filling over chilled chocolate pan. Finish by pouring remaining warm chocolate over filling until smooth. Chill in refrigerator one hour or until firm. Then cut into bars and serve.


Becca’s Contribution: Peanut Blossom Cookies
Yield: About 36 Cookies
1/2 cup butter (or margarine or shortening)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
extra sugar
36 chocolate kisses (more or less, depeding on if you make cookies larger or smaller)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and peanut butter until
fluffy. Add sugars, beat well. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir together dry
ingredients and add well to mixture. Roll into small 1" balls, literally walnut size. Roll in sugar.
Bake 8 minutes. Immediately press a
chocolate kiss down into center of each cookie. Return to oven for 2-5 min to finish baking cookie. Cool on wire rack.
Tip: at the holidays, add a bit of colored sugar to the sugar you roll the dough in.

Jennifer and Meagan’s Contribution (1of2): Almond Roca Bars
Yield: 1 pan to cut into bars
1 cup softened butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 package chocolate chips
Slivered almonds (opt)

Cream butter, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla
Add flour and salt
Pat mixture into jelly roll pan
Bake for 15 minutes at 350F
Sprinkle choc chips and put back in oven until shiny – spread with spatula
Top with almonds if desired

Holly’s Contribution: Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread
Yield: 1 8x8 pan
1 ½ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup butter
1 tsp lavender
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons honey
1 tsp salt
½ tsp flake sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix all ingredients except sea salt until smooth
Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper leaving a 3inch overhang on each side.  Spray with Pam.
Dock dough with a fork
Bake 35-40 minutes
Sprinkle sea salt over top

Jennifer and Meagan’s Contribution (2of2): Jam Jumbles
Yield: 1 9x13 pan
1 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup flour
3 cups oatmeal
½ teaspoon baking soda
10-14oz jam

Stir together butter, brown sugar, and oatmeal
Add flour and baking soda
Reserve 1 cup of mixture and pat rest into 9x13 pan
Spread jam onto mixture leaving ½ inch around edges
Top with rest of mixture
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes

Dani’s Contribution: Peppermint Meltaways
Yield: 3 ½ dozen
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, extract and food coloring if desired; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Dani’s Variation: (If I remember correctly) Cookies became crumbly, so she mixed with some frosting and formed balls, and then drizzled with the peppermint frosting. 

Diane’s Contribution (1of2): Pizzelle
Courtesy of her Grandma, Dominica DiCecco
Yield: 6 dozen
6 eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons crushed anise seed

With a large standing mixer, beat eggs and sugar; add oil and mix well.  Combine flour and baking powder.  Add to egg mixture.  Add anise seed.
Drop teaspoons of batter onto a hot pizzelle iron.  Each takes 30-40 seconds.  You may need to grease the iron occasionally.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Diane’s Contribution (2of2): Date Meringue Cookies
Courtesy of her Mother, Julie Norris
Yield: 4 dozen
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates (I cut them with scissors)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add salt and cream of tartar to egg whites.  Beat to a stiff foam.  Sift sugar and flour together.  Add to egg whites one tablespoon at a time.  Continue beating until stiff, about 5 minutes.  Fold in nuts, dates, and vanilla.  Drop teaspoons of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  The parchment is a must as these will stick to a bare pan.  Do not grease the parchment.
Bake 300F for 24-30 minutes.  Watch closely and don’t let them get brown, except on the edges.  Cool slightly on the pans before removing.

OK!!  I thought I was cookied out, but after re-reading all these recipes there might be some more in my near future after all!  And of course to go with them, My Mom’s cider recipe:

2 qts apple cider
1/4 c. brown sugar
6" total cinnamon stick
20 cloves
15 allspice berries
scant 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Bring all to a light boil, reduce heat and keep just under a simmer for at least an hour. Spices can be placed in a tea ball or spice bag if desired. Chill and reheat leftovers

Hope these recipes fulfill any 2011 cookie dreams you might have had, I know they certainly made my last couple of weeks delicious!

Happy New Year, and stay tuned, because Mom and I have a plan 2Create in full and SHARE it with you more frequently!!


Monday, December 12, 2011

We 2 are still being creative. Really. {Gail}

We're being SO creative that we have SO many projects going on that we aren't really... well, finishing stuff! OK, maybe a few things -- Sam got her awesome purple crocheted blanket finished; I did another hat and fixed an old one (knit, crochet baby hats for her prop box).

I made a gift basket for a charity auction and got crafty with a couple of tags and a recipe folder, but it went out of the house unphotographed! Dang!

One of my resolutions for the New Year -- yes, I'm making them already! -- is to participate in TAST: Take A Stitch Tuesday.   TAST 2012 Challenge home page  I am a wanna-be Crazy Quilter and although I already know how to do normal embroidery, doing it on Crazy Quilting involves other considerations. Can't wait to get started!

Another resolution for myself is to master sewing knits. I just avoid it as much as possible now, but that's because I don't know all the secrets to make it easy. Not sure how creative I'll be; sounds like my 2 daughters have huge wardrobe expectations from my knit-sewing-skills-to-be! I'll be a knit clothing factory, no creativity at all. ;)  We'll see.

3 weeks until the New Year! What will YOU be creating in 2012?

Friday, September 30, 2011

What are you going to be for Halloween? {Gail}

You may think we haven't been being creative, but here is what has been going on behind the scenes the last few weeks.  Mom decided to enter a costume sewing contest, and I became the costumee.  We put our heads together and came up with... Punk Little Red Riding Hood.  (More on this project to come soon!)

See Pattern Review for Bodice here.

See Pattern Review for Cape here.

See Pattern Review for Tutu here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

International Crochet Day!

So if you didn’t know already, I’m a fairly new yarn enthusiast.  Meaning I’ve only completed 1.5 crochet projects, but I already own a giant container’s worth of various yarns!  The full completed project is a hat I just made a few days ago which is what this post is about!  J

I was itching to do some creating and only had one evening available.  As my scrapbooking bench was a mess and I did not feel like spending half the evening cleaning it first I opted for a yarn project.  I could have worked on my blanket project (featured in previous posts), but I really wanted to learn to make some hats so I can get going on some props for kids and babies and the upcoming Christmas season.  (I’m planning ahead on some Christmas Mini-Shoots for my business, Snapdragon Studios Photography).  I had also been eyeing some crochet patterns from an etsy shop, Just Be Happy.  The hats are adorable, and from her facebook page she seems like the nicest lady, so I knew if I had any problems I could probably send her an email and she would help me out!  Plus, I know she is local to my area, and I know over the internet that doesn’t really matter, but as a new business in the area I would like to form some connections. 

Feel like I’m rambling already soo…
1. Bought Patterns. 
2. Looked at patterns. 
3. Got confused by crochet pattern lingo.  (I’m still a crochet newbie remember?!)
4. Emailed Mom she would have to help me interpret pattern and teach me how to start a hat. 
5. Was impatient and didn’t want to go watch tv with hubby. 
6. Opened up google and youtube and taught myself.
7.  Completed the hat minus trim and braids that night. 
8.  Finishing touches the next evening. 
9. Emailed Mom completed hat picture before she even looked at original email! 
10. Tadah!

A couple of notes, and then pictures to follow.

I watched a lot of videos but the two links below are the ones I found most helpful.  The other videos done by these two people also seem to be some of the most instructive and easy to follow out there.

Also, something I’m working on getting better at… size!  My stitches are even, but I think I stitched this hat too tight.  I was following the pattern for the 12-36 months, but ended up with a hat that is the size of 3-6 months.  So I either need to work on looser stitches or I might try using one size bigger of a crochet hook.  It still turned out really cute I think, and pretty well for a first attempt… check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Checking my gauge/stitch size so the hat would come out right… measured correctly to what it should have been, but I think I was so focused on doing a stitch I hadn’t done before that the size wasn’t accurate to what it would be once I was comfortable with it. 

Made Magic Circle and completed first ring.

About 6 rows in, and starting to look pretty even stitch-wise.  Using a paper clip as a stitch marker, because actual stich markers were buried in scrapbook bench mess.  J

12 rows done!  I was so excited at this point because it was actually starting to look like a hat!  I kept interrupting hubby from tv and exclaiming… “look at what I can do now!!”

End of night one… stuffed animals make the best models, lol.  Can’t wait until I have a client that fits my first ever made crochet hat!

Finished green single crochet around the edges and tied the braids!  Success!
 After deciphering crochet lingo, the pattern directions were great!  Straightforward, multiple sizes included, and great pictures for reference!  I've since bought a few more patterns and can't wait to try them (probably going to try another as soon as I finish posting this)!  If you are interested and if you are reading this today... It is International Crochet Day, and Just Be Happy is offering a 15 percent discount on already made hats and her patterns with the coupon code "CROCHETISCOOL" today only!

As she always says, Happy Crocheting!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Completed Crochet Cocoon {Gail}

I finished something! Those who know me realize that I start far more projects than I finish, so this is noteworthy. I mentioned the crocheted "cocoon" I was making for Samantha to take newborn photos with, and now it's finished. First a photo of the base of the cocoon, or pod, when it was partway done:

... about 60% of the way done,
 including all the (relatively speaking) hard parts.

The finished pod -- we had no newborn handy, so this is Samantha's best option to show the filled cocoon. Goofy (Pluto?) sure looks happy in there.

The finished cocoon -- a newborn will feel nicely swaddled
while looking all egg-snuggled getting her picture taken.

The merino wool blend is so plush, smooth, and cuddly feeling -- babies are going to love it in there! This is Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere which also includes some nylon. And let's not forget that this yarn is Superwash treated, making it completely machine washable with no risk of felting. Hurray for modern technology! Details of the pattern and yarn are two blog-entries below and/or you can see my project notes at Don't get too hungry scrolling through all those ice cream pictures LOL!

Happy stitching!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Birthday Deliciousness!

Sunday was my baby brother’s 19th birthday!  19?!  In another year my parents will no longer have any teenagers!  Mom, do you feel free yet?  Anyway, Sunday… we got together to celebrate of course!  Last week I found this delicious looking dessert and emailed my Mom about getting together to make it, Robert’s birthday was perfect timing!  I found this recipe through the Rachael Ray emails I get a few times a week.  Usually I take a quick look and drop them in my ‘Food’ outlook folder so I can search for recipes later when I need them.  This one just screamed at me that I needed to make it now!  Mocha Ice Cream Cupcakes… yummmmmm.  Here is the link to the recipe…

Did I mention how much my family is addicted to coffee and chocolate?  This recipe just seemed perfect for us, and especially for an occasion that we would all be together (minus sister who is away at college).  Because my mom and I bake/cook a lot we did use some of our experiences to tweak the recipe as we went and I’ll explain below with the pictures!  Enjoy!

We started taking pictures when we were most of the way through making the cupcakes.  We were dealing with ice cream so we had to work fast! 

This is a pull back of what we were using.  Jumbo muffin pans were a must to fit all the layers.  You started with a sugar cone and butter crust.  Then the recipe called for toasted whole almonds that you toasted and then chopped.  We toasted pre sliced almonds and chopped them slightly.  Then you drizzle chocolate over the chopped almonds in the bottom of the crust.  Next layer coffee ice cream, then chopped chocolate covered espresso beans.  Here is another small change we made.  Instead of buying chocolate covered espresso beans which are expensive.  My Dad coarsely ground some espresso beans from home, and then we melted dark chocolate and made a sort of espresso brittle.  After it set up in the freezer we chopped it up and used it!  Very simple, and way more cost effective!

After the first espresso bean layer you repeat.  Coffee ice cream, chopped almonds, coffee ice cream, espresso brittle.  Then you stick them in the freezer to set up!! 

After they freeze for a while we whipped up some fresh whipped cream, grated some chocolate and garnished!  Tip for getting them out of the pan….  Hot water soaked kitchen towel underneath pan, and then use plastic knife to get around edges a little bit.  They released very easily like that!

My Grandma serving up the frozen treats!


Brother Robert awaiting dessert!

Tried to get a picture of the layers, but the ice cream kind of surrounded all of them.  You can see the almonds and chocolate in the bottom, and the flecks of espresso brittle throughout!  These were definitely a great birthday treat after some delicious bbq dinner!  And as always, a great way to create with the family!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Simple Details

In one week (if all goes well) you get me back to posting more often!!  Yay, because that means not only do I get to be more creative, but it means my house is officially re-sided!!  Thank goodness, because I’d like to enjoy just a bit of this warmer weather.  J  Speaking of warmer weather, I did actually get to go to a wedding reception potluck type of thing this weekend at our family cabin!  My creative contribution was the card that represented the present that came from my husband and I, my in-laws, and Aaron’s grandma and Aunt.  Because the house has taken over our lives, I only had an hour right before we left to both coach Aaron through making the pasta salad we were bringing and make the card.  You will probably be able to tell that the pictures I took are in the car on the way there!

The front of the card.  The little squares are stamped with 'love' stamps.

Details on the front: brads that matched the paper and added a hint of LOVE.  :)

Inside of the card, mimics the front just on the opposite side.
The part of the card that tells them we got them their Lime green pots and pans, and some Le Crueset pans.  I added those pictures on the green paper background once we got to the beach!  Used some stencils for the lettering.

Inside details.  All 6 of us signed in the 2 blank boxes.  And I stamped and wrote the bottom little message.  Also, if you hadn't noticed before you can see that I inked all the black edges of the card with some silver chalk ink that went well with the silver and black patterned accent paper.

This picture probably doesn't show it very well, but it is the back of the envelope I made. I used some of accent paper from the card just on the back of the envelope to give it a little pop, cover up some mismatched seams, and make the envelope a little sturdier.  I used my scoring board to make the envelope of course!
A fairly simple card, with some little details that brought it all together.  Hope you enjoyed it!  And see you again soon, I hope!!!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Quilting, 2projects {Gail}

I'm taking a quilting class with my friend K. It lasts for a year, and we meet once a month to get our free fabric and block instructions, then we are to come to the next class with the previous month's block stitched up. K and I decided we would cut and stitch our blocks together, making this class a great way to make sure we get together for a couple hours at least twice a month!

Well, I am very very VERY allergic to cats, and she has a house cat so I cannot even go into her house. While the weather is nice, we are doing our quilting sessions on her patio! It is wonderful to sit outside under a shade cover, birds singing, windchimes chiming, summer breeze breezing, and sew! The breeze does tend to blow around small pieces of fabric, so one must beware of that.

Here's the quilt block we made for this month. The class is based on cutting and piecing using template sets from Marti Michell. I really like the colors in this quilt. Overall, it will look more navy/white, with yellow and lt blue showing more than the green. I may just make some green substitutions. I wonder if the quilting police would come get me? ;)

Quilt Block #1 for class.
More progress on the Coffee wallhanging Word mosaic block below. See previous post for the first on this. I connected the two portions. I need to make it wider, but first I need to determine how much wider to fit with the other major sections of the wallhanging I have completed. You'll get to see those soon!

Segment 1 and 2 of Word mosaic block, combined.
Happy creating this week! Let us know what you are up to in the comments.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coffee Obsession Quilt: Coffee Words Block {Gail}

I guess I am on a sewing kick! Knitting, crocheting, my planned papercrafting online class -- not happening, just not interested. So today I worked a bit on this quilting project I started back in May and haven't done much since. It will be a wallhanging with a strong coffee theme (get it?), and done in my own quilting style I call Obsession Quilting. You get to be obsessed with searching out theme fabric, and you obsess over the fussy cutting and patching together of the pieces. The photos below will show you what I am talking about.

I have been putting off working on the block made up of coffee words from the various fabrics. I have snipped out pieces with words I particularly wanted to include -- representing almost one example of every word on every fabric, plus a few strips from some strippy fabrics. I started the segment below knowing I wanted this "Gail waking up wanting coffee" portion: a couple stacked Get Me My Coffee pieces (light blue, center left), a strip of 3 Coffee words (you know, a desperate "coffee coffee coffee" plea!) The Wake Up and Smell The Coffee piece seemed appropriate (just to the right of the Get pieces), as did the Latte pieced in above, since I have a latte every morning. My children can tell you how sacred my morning lattes are! 

First segment of pieced Coffee Words, in progress.

I had to choose something from my snips to expand the center portion toward the right, so that the Coffee Coffee Coffee strip could be stitched down to protect it during future handling. The picture of the coffee bags are all labeled with their varieties, so they are allowed in this word block. Of course I couldn't find anything that was exactly the right size, but it worked pretty well height-wise. The ends of some of these seams don't extend all the way to the edges of the fabric, so I can fill in with more pieces easier, when I am ready.

The dark tan Latte and Espresso, sitting loose just below, will be sewn onto the bottom of Coffee Coffee Coffee strip, then I have a little word/picture to go to their right. You might notice the seam between Latte and Espresso -- this was actually one piece of fabric, but I shortened it to just the right length. At quilting time, I plan on making a scribble-stitched frame around each word with thread matching the lighter gold color. I really love that fabric -- it looks as if it has been dyed with coffee!

Segment 2 started with the Nature's Best panel, and I decided to go with coffee variety names around this. The Arabica Blend piece just above it is an altered block -- there was actually a picture of something above those words, but I cut off the top of the "frame" and stitched it back on just above the words. The seam is hiding very well, don't you think? (Click on the picture, you can see it larger size.) 
I had to get tricky with the coffee canisters: that fabric had been printed with the fabric off-grain so when I washed it, the canisters got all slanted! I stretched it back to its original off-grain so the canisters looked normal, spritzed it with Niagara Sizing, and ironed it dry! This stabilizes the weave for a while, as long as you don't handle it too much. Its frame is not drawn as a true rectangle, so I stitched using the canisters' lines as my straight-grain lines and left its surrounding fabric showing quite a bit.
Segment 2, coffee variety names.
I need to look for more examples in the fabrics.
Placing this segment by the Coffee Bags side of Segment 1 will help!
 Had a bit of trouble with the Mocha Java piece on the lower left -- pre-snipping these pieces is a crapshoot. You want to conserve your fabric, but leave enough space around the words for seam allowances. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I almost lost: one of those seams has like 3 threads as a SA. Must plan some stabilizing surface quilting in that area! The seam for whatever I attach to the lower edge of that area will ride exactly along the bottom of the letters. Maybe I'll use a snip from the same fabric and it won't look so "oops"-y! I filled and enlarged the segment with a couple of strips, which I will trim to length only when I have to.

Below is a picture of the back of Segment 1. I have a lot of trimming to do, but this type of piecing is not done by sewing a set distance away from the matched edges of the pieces. It's almost like a grid-based Crazy Quilt, except you are choosing your seam lines with far more care and accuracy. I press almost everything to one side, but you can see where I had to switch sides in one area. You can do this so that it is almost invisible on the front (bulkiness considerations) if you press the center portion of the seam open.

Backside of Segment 1, about 4" x 5"
Now that you can see the actual stitches, do you have an idea of the overall scale of these pieces? The framed area of the Get Me My Coffee piece is about 3/4" x 1 1/2", about the size of the first two joints on your index finger. :)

Here are the rest of my precut Coffee Words. I think this will be a fun block in my wallhanging!

I LOOOOVE coffee and fabric and quilting; this is a gratifying project!