Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mad For Plaid

Just a quick post to show off for you some roses I made for a friends fundraiser last night, so she could give them to some sponsors. The theme was "Mad for Plaid" and I had the good fortune of finding several different plaid patterned scrapbook papers. Now I am convinced that these roses look amazing no matter what pattern your paper has.

Why didn't nature come up with plaid roses? Beautiful!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

As promised, here are the cupcakes I made for the beloved husband's birthday this year. They were super yum!

To make some for the special people in your life you will need:

* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (if you don't have buttermilk, you can pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a liquid cup measure and fill it the rest of the way with milk, let sit 10 minutes)
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (if you don't have coffee you can just use 1 cup of boiling water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners, or grease well and flour (really though, go with liners).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. I made some mini cupcakes as well, and they baked for about 18 minutes.

*Note: this makes a very runny batter, don't be alarmed.

Top them with some of my yummy Peppermint Buttercream and you have a great little snack :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peppermint Buttercream

Sunday was the husband's birthday. I always let him pick what he would like his birthday treat to be, and this year he decided he wanted chocolate cupcakes. Not just any chocolate cupcakes though, cupcakes with peppermint buttercream frosting. He's very particular like that. Don't worry, the cupcake recipe is coming soon as well, but to tide you over here is the recipe for my Peppermint Buttercream Icing!


2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Peppermint extract
3-5 drops green food coloring (optional)

Start by creaming together your butter and one cup of powdered sugar. Next, add in your flavorings and green food coloring, stir to combine. Now, add more powdered sugar and mix well until you reach your desired spreading consistency. I think I ended up using 3 cups for a very spreadable smooth icing, if filling a cake you may want to add a bit more powdered sugar so it is firmer.

I liked this buttercream so much, I challenged myself to use it to fill some macarons as well! They didn't turn out as well as I wanted them too overall (our rainy weather left my poor macarons a little chewier than they should have been). Don't they look yummy regardless though?

I used the recipe I found at Serious Eats for my macarons. Let me know if you have more success :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

5 Things I Love This Week

Hey everyone! Long time no see! Well, not THAT long, but I have definitely been a little too busy to keep up with the blog the way I'd like lately. For starters, the husband and I are going to be moving into a new apartment the start of April and I have been busy planning for that (the actual packing and execution is something I am trying not to freak out too much about just yet). Also, the hus has a birthday coming up so I am planning on making him some treats for that- fear not, you'll get the recipes. All of this planning and running about has given me very little time to make my crafty projects and photograph them all for you, so try to stay patient with me, you will be rewarded. In the meantime, enjoy some of the things that I've been loving on all week!

1) My friend Melissa's blog. She and her husband are friends of ours from our days back in Indiana and I love getting to catch up with her and her family (and yummy recipes!) from all these miles away. It doesn't hurt that she is a huge Pinterest addict like me, I think we repin half each others boards. :)

2)The Hunger Games. I'm not going to lie, I really tried to avoid getting sucked into this phenomenon, but I ended up reading all three books in the trilogy this week in 3 days. I'm now looking forward to the upcoming movie, and enjoyed swooning over this Hunger Games craft roundup on Craft Magazine this week.

3) St. Patrick's Day. Well, and pretty much all things green in general. I'm planning on having two food craft posts this week, providing one doesn't end up in epic failure. I was looking through some of my old recipes today and found my Pistachio Fudge and Mint Brownies. Both would make great St. Patty's Day treats, don't you think?

4) All things grey and yellow. Best color combo ever. Well, right now anyway, I've been a fan for awhile, but right now I'm obsessed.

5) All of you! Thanks for your comments, emails and coming back to read all about my crafty adventures!

What are you all loving right now?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Art Journaling: Adding Pockets

While not at all necessary, at some point you might find yourself wishing your art journal had a pocket or two. There are tons of different ways to do this, and as with everything else in art journaling: none of them are wrong! One of the easiest ways to add a pocket, in my opinion, is to sew two pages together.

Start by cutting one page a little shorter than the other. This isn't really necessary, but I like being able to more easily get things out of my pockets, so having the front of the pocket shorter than the back helps.

Next, decide how you will join your pages together. Glue and tape will also work, but I decided to go with a sewn pocket. To make it easier to stitch together, I used a small hole punch to pre-punch holes. I could have sewn without pre-punching as well, but this helps to not tear my pages and weaken the pocket.

I used an embroidery floss rather than thread to make a sturdier connection. Just weave it through the holes, and knot off both ends.

The finished pocket. If you like the look of the thread wrapping around the outside of the pages rather than being in straight stitches, feel free! There is no wrong way to make your art journal.

I decided to cover the back of my stitches with washi tape. It gives the back of my pocket a nice border and covers my knots and stitches. You would never know the front of the page had a pocket sewn in.

Another great pocket method is gluing envelopes onto your pages. You could use the tutorials I have here or here to try making your own, or simply buy envelopes in any color or style you like and glue them on to your pages. I sometimes add a photo corner onto my envelope to help hold it shut, or you could make a button closure like I do in my gift card envelope tutorial.

If you aren't quite sure what you would put in your pockets, here is a list of things that I have filled mine up with in the past:

Recipe cards, or recipe pages torn from magazines
Paint chips
Leaves and pressed flowers
fabric scraps
needle and thread
paper with quotes on it
or maybe one of my favorite little extras: Stickers

I got these little beauties from a Sanrio store several years ago. I think the Little Red Riding Hood theme is what draw me to them, I just love it.

What are you going to fill your pockets with?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Crostini with Fig Mousse

First off, I'm kind of flattering myself by calling this a mousse, let's all let me dream that I am that talented in the culinary arts for a moment. Worry not, this is still a tasty treat, and one that is great for those short on time (and kitchen talent!). It's also very low on ingredients, so it's great to whip up as an appetizer for a group.

To make these crostini you will need:

8oz. cream cheese (you could also use another soft cheese like chevre or mascarpone, but I had cream cheese on hand)
1/2 cup dried figs (I used black mission figs, you can add more or less depending on your taste)
1 baguette
bacon (optional)

In a food processor, combine your cream cheese and figs into a lovely "mousse". My cream cheese was at room temperature to make the blending easier. I have a beast of a food processor, so I didn't cut up my figs at all before adding them, if you know your food processor has trouble chopping up dried fruits, you may want to precut your figs.

I like to refrigerate my fig spread overnight to let the flavors mix in, but you could go ahead and spread this right out of the food processor if you like. Just cut your baguette into thin slices, toast in your oven (I put mine in along side some bacon*) then spread your fig and cheese mousse on top and enjoy!

*I cooked my bacon (sliced thick) on a cooling rack, on top of a jelly roll pan (to collect the drippings) for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. I put my bread in on the same rack for the last 5 minutes the bacon was cooking. I made this for 2 people so I only used 2 strips of bacon and half my baguette. Now we have leftovers for another day :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Art Journaling: Easy Felt Cover

I'm starting out easy in my Art Journaling tutorial series, as I've been out of commission with a really bad cold. This felt cover is a cheap and easy option for covering a sketchbook to use as your journal. I like this on any sketchbook with a wire binding because it keeps the binding covered so it doesn't snag on things when you put it in a purse or backpack to carry around with you, but still allows you to open your book all the way so it can lay flat on a table. Here is a very rudimentary diagram for you to check out:

Essentially, you just need one long rectangle of fabric (in my case, felt). You will fold on the dashed lines to create pockets for the sketchbooks original front and back cover to be inserted into (just sew along the top and bottom after you fold and voila-pockets!). You could also use 3 separate pieces of fabric, a main body and two separate pieces to sew on to create the pockets, just make sure you leave room for your seam allowances. Since everyone might have a different sized sketchbook, just make sure you measure the dimensions of your sketchbook (don't go by what the cover tells you-my 6"x6" sketchbook was actually a tad larger when I measured). Add enough extra for your seam allowances (I leave my raw edges on the outside since I use felt, so my seams are only 1/4", yours may be 1/2" or anywhere in between).

To be a little fancier, I decided to use 4 shades of blue and sew them together to get my rectangle. This gives me an ombre effect on my cover going from lightest to darkest.

Once you sew up your felt, you simply slide your front and back covers into the pockets you created. I made my pocket flaps about 4" wide so they cover up a large portion of the original covers, and ensure they stay on my cover.

Here is my cover, all sewn, slipped on and opened up. I kept this pretty straight forward. If you wanted, you could add a closure like a strap with velcro or a snap. I will probably make a much more detailed tutorial once I'm feeling 100% over this cold I have with tons of variations on what you can add to it.

If you are real lucky, like me, when you go to open your sketchbook and start measuring to make your cover, you will find a cute little note like this from your husband that has been sitting inside for a week. :)