Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Food Craft: Thin Mints

I'm feeling a little under the weather today (my voice is completely gone) so I have a super easy food craft for you all. Who doesn't like thin mints? These are a super easy "cheater" version with no cookie making required!

To make these yummy little Thin Mints at home you will need:

Ritz crackers
1 (12 oz) bag of chocolate chips (I use dark or a mix of dark and milk chocolate)
1 Tablespoon oil (I use coconut oil, you could use butter or margarine as well)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

In a microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate chips and oil together in the microwave. I generally use 30 second intervals and stir well after each. It has never taken me more than 1 minute 30 seconds to get my chips all melted.

Next, add in your peppermint extract. Stir well to combine. Then start dipping your Ritz crackers*, tap off excess chocolate and set them onto a parchment lined cookie tray to set up. I stick mine in the refrigerator so they set faster (because I need my Thin Mints now!). Store in a zip top plastic bag at room temp (or in the fridge if you prefer them cold). Enjoy!

*My husband often uses chopsticks or straws when dipping his crackers to avoid messy fingers. Small tongs would also be great.

I love sweet and salty treats, so to me these are even better than the real Thin Mints!

Also, this is my 200th post! Thanks for reading everyone!

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art Journaling: Supplies

I know a lot of people who list journaling as something they'd like to do. Sometimes it is even a New Year's resolution. These same people usually talk, at length of how they started out pretty well, but eventually puttered out. Maybe "dear diary" journal writing just isn't your style! With one successful series behind me (on embroidery techniques) I have decided that March will be the month of the art journal! There will be lots of other projects too, but for those of you interested in journaling, and specifically art journaling: get ready for some awesome ideas, tips and tricks to make this a successful year (or month at least) in keeping a journal.

I have compiled this little list of supplies that you may want so you can follow along in March with all the great journal ideas I have for you!

To start, you will need the journal itself. I typically opt for some sort of sketchbook. To make it something I use more regularly, a small size that can fit easily into any bag, purse, etc is key for me. I also like my journals to have a coiled wire binding. This way, I can fold the whole thing open and lay it flat on a table, hands free, if I paste in a recipe or project idea I want to look at while crafting/baking etc. later on. Don't limit yourself though, If you want to paste your ideas into an old book (I'm a fan of science type journals: botanical survey books can be great!) feel free. The beauty of an art journal is you can be as free with it as you like! Just have some kind of book. You can even hole punch paper and use loose binder rings to fasten it together as you go (great if you like using varieties of paper for different media--you can insert watercolor paper just as easily as graph paper or copy paper).

Next, and especially if you have had trouble sticking to any kind of journaling in the past, find supplies that make you WANT to journal. I found these great woodless colored pencils the other day and I can't wait to use them!

I also typically have gel pens in several colors around the house, I love the way they feel in my hand when I write, so I want to write a lot! I also recommend making yourself a decorative (as well as protective) book cover. I like to use felt or other fabrics, in bright colors. Keep your journal where you will see it and the bright color will draw your eye and remind you to pick it up and write! SO pick out a fabric, felt or decorative paper you would like to see on your cover (you can also recycle the cover of an old hardcover book from a flea market if you'd like).

Have a large stack of magazines you have been meaning to get rid of, but you just can't bring yourself to do it because you know there was something in there you had to keep? Well, flip through them, tear out the things you wanted to keep and save them aside. We'll be adding these to your journal in several fun ways :)

Pick out at least one art or craft supply that you have never used before but would like to try. I purchased some stickers and my first roll of Washi tape the other day at collage and plan on using some of the tape to embellish pages throughout my journal. This is a great time to get a sample set of oil pastels, paints, stamps, stencils, etc and try them out!

Have a variety of papers to incorporate. I always get scrap book paper and cardstock when I find it on sale. Often, I have so much I don't know what to do with it: Embellish pages in your journal, make envelopes to add to pages as pockets, cut out fun shapes and more!

Some optional supplies you may want:

graph paper (especially handy for quilters/embroidery buffs)
various glues
pencil sharpener
binder clips (make some fancy ones like these!)
paper punches (edge and corner punches can make your finished journal look extra cute with decorative edges)
Ribbon (decorate pages or use it as a bookmark)
ink pads
paint brushes
Buttons, velcro, etc to make a closure on your cover (there will be tutorials on this stuff later)
needles and thread (you can sew paper too!)

Gather up your supplies and get ready for some fun! Tutorials start on March 1st!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Latest Crafty Haul

I'm not trying to make you all jealous, but check out the awesome goodies I managed to score during the Grand Opening celebration of the new Sellwood location of Collage here in Portland! I love that we have so many local art and craft supply stores here, and I try to patronize as many of them as I can as often as I can!

I'm not sure what all of these cute supplies are going to become, but all those cute stickers just made me smile! I definitely have two mega themes going on in this purchase: sea creatures and adorable stuff from Japan.

I super love this sheet of paper, I think I might Mod Podge some onto some cute storage tins? Maybe cover up an unsightly corkboard? I might also just sit here admiring it all day. You know, whatever works. I believe my new octopus stamp is going to be gracing some stationery here in the near future as well.

I'm sure some of these stickers will be finding their way to my little nieces in Wisconsin, and I have a mind to share the felt Kawaii kitty love with my Bestie in Atlanta.

Also, believe it or not, that washi tape you see pictured above is the first roll I've purchased. Ever. I'm afraid it won't be the last. Anyone have any particularly great projects they've done with washi tape? I'm seeking inspiration.

Anyone in Portland (or visiting in the near future), I'd highly recommend this shop. So so cute and in such a great neighborhood (not that the Alberta Street location isn't also in one of my fave neighborhoods here!). Plus, if you go to this location you can stop and have lunch or dinner at the super yummy Jade Teahouse (get a slice of Vietnamese wedding cake for me if you do!) right across the street!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Candy Colored Binder Clips

First off, I'd like to apologize for not having a food craft this Friday. I think my cooking skills got all used up on my special Valentine's Breakfast posts, but fear not I will be back with more yummy food for you next Friday.

In the meantime, I'd like to address my borderline unhealthy addiction to cute office supplies. In particular, binder clips. They are absolutely my favorite office supply. Regular paper clips, even in fancy shapes, just can't hold a candle to binder clips. So I decided to break out the Mod Podge and some paper and fabric scraps to pretty up some of my favorite office supply!

All you need to do is make sure you have clean binder clips, and then brush a think coat of Mod Podge onto your binder clip, place on your paper or fabric then seal with more Mod Podge. I'm thinking or painting my binder clip edges (the parts still in black) with some nail polish to make them even more awesome!

What do you think, should I keep these in a dish instead of candy? Do you have any serious obsessions with office supplies (I'm also a fan of colored staples and tiny notebooks)? Have you ever tried to make an office supply extra pretty? I'd love to hear all about it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Embroidered Line Drawings

With my mini series in embroidery behind us, I think it is time to start showing you some great ideas for creating your own embroidery masterpieces! Many embroidery patterns are nothing more than line drawings, so it's a great place to start if you want to try out some non traditional patterns. For this piece I chose a line drawing of a Pug puppy I found on Deviant Art by Lady Gryph.

If you happen to be good at line drawings, or have a friend that draws up a storm, that is a great way to get your very own original patterns! You can also take photographs and tracing paper and create line drawings if you aren't so artistically inclined. Simply trace around the edges of your subject matter, and any details you want to include. Keep in mind that you will be sewing it later, so less is more. You don't want so many lines that your picture is impossible to embroider, but you want enough details that people know what it is.

For this drawing, I used almost entirely backstitch to embroider my design, I just used a couple French Knots to make pupils.

I think I might turn this little guy into a quilt patch. I am going to be starting some quilting tutorials soon, as I plan on making a quilt for a new little niece or nephew I have on the way!

If any of you try out some line drawing embroidery I'd love to see it, just post it to The Craftinomicon Flickr Group!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Breakfast: French Toast

Here is another great Valentine's Breakfast idea: heart shaped French Toast. A heart shaped cookie cutter helps make these easy to do for anyone, even the kids can help.

To make this yummy French Toast you will need:

Bread of choice (I used French Bread)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
1 pinch cinnamon
heart shaped cookie cutter

Start by making your coating. Mix your eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Next, cut your hearts out of your bread. Dip each piece and place onto a hot skillet to cook, flip to cook both sides. Each side usually takes around a minute for me on a medium heat. Plate and top with whatever you like: fresh fruit, syrup, jam, powdered sugar, etc.

To avoid waste, sometimes I use the outer parts of my bread as french toast as well, put jam on my hearts and place them back inside like so:

If French Toast isn't quite your style, you can also use a cookie cutter to make yourself some biscuits, cut out bread for sandwiches, etc.

Valentine Breakfast: Scones

I'm bringing some extra food crafts this weekend in honor of Valentine's Day. I'll start off with this easy scone recipe. It makes some super yummy, tender scones and you can substitute in berries, dried fruits and more to make any flavor you like. Also, while a lot of scone recipes call for cutting in cold butter, these use melted butter and make a spoonable batter. Easy for you, yummy for the ones you love :)

To make these super yummy scones you will need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional--I really love cinnamon with chocolate)
1 pinch salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, you can use any chocolate fruit etc you like)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream

extra cinnamon and sugar to top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Pour in chocolate chips and toss around to coat them with the flour mixture (this will help keep them suspended in your scones).

Make a small well in the middle of your flour and pour in your cream and melted butter. Stir until all ingredients come together, batter will resemble a very thick pancake batter.

Using a large dough scoop or spoon, scoop scones onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar mixture if desired. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until slightly golden on top. Makes 10-12 scones.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Food Craft: Granola Bars

I'm a little obsessed with these granola bars. They are really yummy and packed with flavor. I came across the original recipe from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts and had to dabble with it to get my own favorites involved.

To make my version of these tasty granola bars you will need:

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup natural almond butter
1/3 cup honey (I used blackberry honey)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats, not quick oats

To start, melt your oil, almond butter and honey together in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add in the dark chocolate chips and stir until melted.

Remove from heat and add in your remaining ingredients. Stir until everything is evenly coated and well combined.

Pour into a small baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper (my dish was 9"x7"). I tried some of these in a dish that had just been greased, and while they do come out, it is much harder to get them out of the pan looking nice. I'd definitely go for the parchment paper.

Place in refrigerator to set and store them there. They get a little gooey at room temperature, delicious but messy.

Enjoy! I have plans to try some with marshmallows and graham crackers as mix ins for S'mores granola bars soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Calming Brown Sugar Scrub

Rather than all things hearty and pink, I thought I'd give you all an easy Valentine's gift that can be quickly and cheaply be whipped up for all of your friends! This brown sugar facial scrub requires only a couple ingredients, and can be customized with any scent you enjoy.

To make this batch of sugar scrub you will need:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oil or oils of choice (I used flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba, avocado and more can be used.)
4 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops tea tree essential oil

These scrubs are incredibly easy to make, just dump all of the above ingredients into a bowl, mix well and put into a lidded container of choice. I often use tiny mason jars, but if you don't want to have glass in your bathroom, plastic containers can be found that are also very cute.

If you have a hard time finding essential oils or a variety of the oils I have listed above, I have been known to order from Elements Bath and Body from tie to time. They have a flax seed oil I love that is much cheaper than what you will find in a grocery store as it is meant for soaps and cosmetic uses, not food grade.

If you have never used sugar scrub before, get ready for some super soft smooth feeling skin. I love every one I have ever made, and my sensitive skin usually gets dried out no matter what product I use. Just take a small scoop and add a few drops of water, then rub between your hands before applying to your face so it spreads evenly.

February Giveaway! (WINNER ANNOUNCED)

Those of you who read my newsletter already know that I was planning a giveaway for early February, and here it is! I have been steadily writing on this blog for just over a year now, and thought it would be nice to celebrate my blog birthday, Valentine's Day and being crafty in general all at once!

Being that everyone has different crafty endeavors, I have decided that the winner will get to CHOOSE their prize from a list I have compiled. So here are your choices:

1) $25 gift card to JoAnn Fabrics - get yourself whatever crafty supplies you may need!

2) $25 gift card to Chronicle Books - get inspired by some of the most beautifully made books around, they also have some neat kits and stationery. Plus, if cooking is more your thing, they have some amazing cookbooks!

3) Don't feel like getting a gift card? Let me know what kind of crafts you are most interested in and I will go on a mini $25 shopping spree for you and select some great products to send right to your door! Maybe you want to learn embroidery after my recent tutorials, maybe you are a scrap booking genius, just let me know!

Now, how to enter?

Leave a comment on this post letting me know which prize you'd most like and why! If you choose option 3, include what kind of crafts you most like so I can get appropriate items for you. Make sure your email is included so I can reach you if you are the winner!

If you follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter, leave an extra comment on this post saying so for an extra chance to win.

This giveaway is open Internationally, please allow extra time for delivery outside the U.S.

Giveaway entries must be received no later than 12 pm (noon) PST on 2/14/2012.

Giveaway sponsored by me, myself and I. I am not endorsed by JoAnn or Chronicle Books, I just shop there when the mood strikes. All prizes are purchased by me.

Thank you very much to all who entered! A winner has been chosen and it is #4, Ali!

Congratulations, Ali! I will be emailing you for shipping information.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rain Cloud Brooch Pattern

I was looking through some of my old projects the other day and decided that this little guy really didn't get the love he deserved. Sure, it's a rain cloud, but it's a cute little rain cloud, right? These are super easy to make, can be customized with lots of different things, and if you don't like hand sewing, just bust out the glue gun!

Here is my cloud pattern if you don't feel like drawing out your own:

The final measurements of my cloud, when stuffed are about 2.5" wide and 1.5" tall.

To make your own cute little rain cloud brooch, cut out 2 of your cloud pattern from the felt color of your choice and sew or glue them together on the edges, filling with a little batting or a cotton ball so it's squishy and soft. I used silver jewelry chain to make my "rain" and added a little blue glass bead to one of my chains. I used a little hot glue to secure the chains in place on the inside of my felt cloud pieces.

Then, I hand stitched a pin back to the back of my cloud to secure it. You could use hot glue, or some other kind of glue if you'd prefer, but not many glues work well for both fabric and metal, so you may find it loosens over time and needs to be glued back on at some point. A few stitches really help make a permanent connection, and most pin backs you will find in the craft stores have a few holes in them to make sewing them onto fabrics pretty easy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Food Craft: Mac N Cheese

Few things are better in the cold rainy weather than creamy, bubbly Mac N Cheese. Even though our weather here has turned surprisingly sunny (albeit still a bit chilly) I had a craving for this tasty treat and decided to set about making an amazing batch. While I did bake it to finish this off, I stand behind the opinion that this cheese sauce would be fantastic for a non baked Mac N Cheese as well. Even further, I'd recommend this cheese sauce as a fondue, or even mixed with chili or salsa at your Super Bowl party on Sunday!

To make this scrumptious Mac N Cheese you will need:

16 oz pasta of choice (I like to use something fancy like Fusili or Radiatore)
2 Tablespoons Butter, plus more for ramekins
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup Whole Milk
2 cups grated Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup grated Fontina
1 oz. Cream Cheese
1 teaspoon Tapatio Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Grana Padano cheese (or other hard cheese), grated

To start, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add a generous amount of kosher salt. Add pasta and cook as package directs.

Butter 6 ramekins.

While the noodles are cooking, heat butter over medium low heat. Add flour and stir constantly for a minute. Increase the heat to med-high and pour in the milk and cream. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and add in cream cheese, cheddar and fontina. Once the cheese has melted, add the hot sauce, mustard, nutmeg (this is my super secret ingredient -not anymore!- but it really does make a tasty difference!) and season with salt and pepper. Add the drained noodles to the cheese sauce, stir and evenly distribute the mac and cheese into prepared ramekins. Grate fresh Grana Padano over top and bake (on a sheet tray) in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

To make this dish a little more affordable, I always buy my cheese in blocks and grate it myself. Also, if you are going to try out my super secret nutmeg, do yourself a favor and grate your own whole nutmeg with a microplane, the pre-ground stuff just isn't the same.

Recipe inspired by Simply Scratch

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Styled Mag

The new issue of Styled mag is out! If you have never seen this great online magazine before, I took the liberty of embedding this issue for you all to enjoy. They do amazing work as far as layout and design of the magazine, not to mention great content throughout. I highly recommend checking out previous issues, all are available online for you to flip through at your leisure!

Embroidery How To: Couching

Today is my final embroidery tutorial, and as previously mentioned it is on couching. Couching is basically using one thread the sew another thread into place, so to do it you will need two lengths of thread.

I start, as usual, by drawing my pattern onto my fabric. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, and I haven't really done any Valentine's projects yet (How is it February already?) I decided to go with this little heart.

Next, you will need a length of thread long enough to go all the way around your pattern. Thread your needle, tie a knot in the end and pull it through wherever you would like to start your pattern. I'm starting at the bottom of my heart.

Then, thread your second needle, knot the end and pull it through slightly ahead of where you started your first. This thread is going to be used to sew your first thread into place along your pattern lines. I try to space my stitches with this second thread as evenly as possible. To go around curves, you may need to make your stitches a bit more closely together to keep a smooth curve.

Simply pull your needle up through your fabric, then sew it back through with your first thread ending up wrapped neatly by your second.

Continue on, spacing your stitches as evenly as possible. If you come to a space in your pattern that has a sharp angle, like the top of my heart, make sure that you place a holding stitch on that point. Couching makes it very easy to do embroidery in a single line that can make very tight turns because of the anchoring stitches that hold your actual line in place.

Once finished, you will sew your original thread back to the back of your fabric at your ending point, and tie it off. I generally tie the ends of my first and second threads together into a knot on the back. Voila! Your finished heart!

For those who are curious, the back of your project will look a bit like this:

I hope you enjoyed my mini series on embroidery! This month will be filled with lots of new projects like more paper flowers, some cute crafts for babies, a couple more Valentine's and much more!