Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Look What Came in the Mail Today!

Look what I got today when I checked my mail(okay so it came last night, but I forgot to check as I am rather absent minded)! These are some swatches of fabrics I designed on spoonflower.com and they came out even better than I imagined they would. :D I have a few more coming later this week, including a pattern I made with hammerhead sharks that I am very excited about. Have any of you ever made fabrics at Spoonflower? It is definitely an obsession of mine at the moment and I spend lots of time making my own patterns, looking at stuff other people have made and trying to decide what to do with any samples and orders I get.

That brings me to another question for you all: What do I do with these lovely fabric samples? Coasters? Pot holders? Itty bitty zippered pouches? Each square is 8"x8" so the projects need to be small, or I could piece them into quilty projects as well. Let me know what you think! This coffee fabric on the right is actually an entry I have in next week's coffee themed fabrics contest on spoonflower. I have a feeling that one will be tough, as I have browsed through a lot of other coffee themed fabrics and there is some seriously adorable stuff, including some Kawaii prints that are just awesome.

Speaking of contests, this is a color variation on my blue and red Roller Derby fabric that is in the current fabric contest at Spoonflower. I'm starting to wish I had entered this color combo instead, c'est la vie! If you haven't voted or even visited Spoonflower before, I highly recommend it. Voting on this contest ends Wednesday I believe, so gets your votes in now! Again, lots of great designs to choose from.

Also, all of my fabric designs that you see here and a few others are available here for purchase through Spoonflower. (This wasn't in my original post, but I have since had several requests and had a palm to the forehead moment that I hadn't shared the info with you all--my apologies!)

Finally, I will be having my first book review on the site coming up later this week, or this weekend. I recently purchased Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop and it is about the most adorable baking book I have ever seen! I am trying out a few of the recipes to share with you all, but so far I love it. The recipes are easy to follow, the book has lots of great information, and the book itself is lovely and every page has beautiful scalloped edges that I just love. It is published by Chronicle Books, and I have been a fan of theirs for quite awhile. They always find cute little ways to make their books stand out, such as these scalloped pages, and special bindings and whatnot on other books that really add to their appeal.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Almond Joy Cookies!

I've got another sweet treat for you all today, and it can be done a couple different ways, both delicious! I adapted together a couple cookie recipes, and added some yummy mix-ins to get these chewy cookies with the chocolate, coconut and almond goodness of an Almond Joy candy bar! If you have a nut allergy, don't worry, you could easily leave out the almonds and have your own Mounds flavored treat instead. Actually, you can easily adapt this recipe to just about any cookie flavor you want, don't let me influence you too much :)

To make these scrumptious cookies you will need:

2 sticks Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
¾ cups Brown Sugar
¼ cups White Sugar
3.4 ounces-a 4 serving size box of Jello Coconut Cream Instant Pudding Mix*
2 whole Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2-¼ cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 pinch Salt
1 cup Bittersweet chocolate chunks
½ cup Unsweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut pieces
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with some parchment paper, or a Silpat Baking Liner. Set these aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

On medium speed, beat in the pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract.

On low speed, mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Be careful to mix only until combined (do not over mix!).

Stir in the chocolate chunks, coconut and almonds (I happened to have some Almond Joy Pieces candies, so I threw those in for good measure with my other mix ins).

Use a measuring tablespoon or cookie scoop to scoop out the cookie dough onto the lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just turning golden and the centers are just set.

Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, before cooling completely on cooling racks. Enjoy!

* You can easily substitute Vanilla or French Vanilla pudding into this recipe, or use any flavor you like and any mix ins you prefer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roller Derby Fabric!

I apologize for the delay in posts, but I have been super busy this past week (as I'm sure you all have been as well!) I finally got off my lazy butt and designed some more fabrics on Spoonflower.com (as I have been meaning to do for quite awhile now). This one is for their current Roller Derby fabric contest, there are lots of great designs so feel free to go here and cast your votes for your favorites (even if it doesn't happen to be my design. I got some of this one in the mail last week and it looks pretty good. I have some swatches of different color combos, that I may or may not like better than this one in the mail so I hope to see them soon. I also did some coffee fabrics for next week's contest. They have lots of great design contests coming up, so I am sure you will see more fabrics from me soon, and feel free to join in the fun and design some of your own!

I will also be back to posting more regularly (I hope) in the next couple of weeks as I have many projects nearing completion. As long as I can get my photos taken and uploaded in a timely fashion the next couple weeks are just overflowing with new goodies, and I got a couple books in the mail this week that I am dying to look through and share with you!

Have any of you read or seen any great books lately, crafty or otherwise?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Easy Bruschetta

It's time for another easy entertaining food craft, with ingredients out of the garden! I love Summer if only for it's abundance of tomatoes (and the basil is in full swing now as well)! This recipe is great if you lack time and have to make an appetizer for a big group. You can even prepare your topping ahead of time and allow it to set overnight if needed.
Also, while I once again made my French Bread from scratch, don't feel bad about going to the local grocery store bakery or another bakery around town and grabbing a ready made loaf of bread, or baguette (or two or three).

For this version of bruschetta you will need:

1 loaf French bread, or Baguette
1 pint cherry heirloom tomatoes
2-3 oz. Chevre (you can substitute your favorite cheese, or leave it altogether)
4 leaves fresh Basil
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled
salt and pepper to taste

Start by slicing your bread into pieces about 1 inch thick, and arranging them on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-4 minutes on the top rack of your oven, until golden brown.

While your bread is toasting, slice up your cherry tomatoes and basil and toss them in a bowl with your oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. To cut up my basil, i generally roll the leaves up together and slice through to make long strips.

Once the bread is out of the oven, rub each piece with your garlic clove (you now have some yummy garlic bread--try not to eat it just yet).

Top each slice with a spoonful of your tomato mixture. Break up your goat cheese and sprinkle some onto each slice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Geek Out! Craft Roundup

Okay, I was going to do another Harry Potter specific craft post today, but I don't want to beat you all over the head with it anymore. Solution: Post a bunch of wonderful projects that others have made while geeking out over some of their favorite things. I hope you enjoy! First up, I stumbled upon this Etsy shop with Amigurimi patterns for the whole Star Wars gang! I am not much for doing anything strictly by a pattern, and have lots of trouble counting crochet stitches and whatnot, so sadly I doubt I'll ever try making any of these, but if you are much better at paying attention have at it!

Next, if you like Adult Swim on cartoon network you might be familiar with The Venture Brothers, a personal favorite of mine. I found this awesome dot painting on Craftster!

Into Biology? These lichen inspired embroidery hoop projects are super cute and would fit into any decor!

What roundup would be complete without a fun food craft?  I found this adorable little Hello Kitty gingerbread house for you all to enjoy!  Check it out here!

See, I managed to do the whole post without a single Harry Potter craft.  You're welcome  :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Deathly Hallows Brown Sugar Shortbread

For our Harry Potter edition of Friday Food Craft we have some super yummy Shortbread cookies made to look like the Deathly Hallows symbol (the triangle represents the cloak, the circle is the stone and the line is the wand). I chose to cut out my cookies into triangle shapes and then press in the circle and line with the back of a knife, and a bottle cap (washed, of course). You could just as easily cut out circle or squares and draw on a symbol with some frosting or chocolate. Yum!

To make these cookies (with or without Harry Potter theme) you will need:

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

That's it! You could probably add some lemon zest or the inside of a vanilla bean if you are feeling a little fancy, but these are tasty on their own, and the brown sugar rather than white sugar gives them a little added something.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just use a hand mixer and a bowl of your choosing) whip together your butter and brown sugar. Then, slowly add in your flour until incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, this doesn't take more than 30 seconds to a minute. Roll out your dough to about 1/3" thick, and cut out using your desired shape cookie cutter.

I have been known to roll my dough into a log shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it when I'm not making fancy cookies. Then all you have to do is take the log out of the refrigerator, cut off discs about 1/3" thick and place them on a cookie sheet, and you can keep re-wrapping it to only make a few cookies at a time!

Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake these in your 300 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden.

Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

As with all shortbread, you can eat them plain, give them a sweet frosting glaze, or sandwich them together with some chocolate or caramel! This is really a quick and delicious recipe, one of my favorites!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Dark (book)Mark

Back with another Harry Potter themed craft today. This one is easy and inexpensive, and you can get as detailed as you like with it! Since Harry Potter is first and foremost a character from a book, not a movie, I decided to make a bookmark that you could use while reading the books (as I do time and again and am reminded how inferior the movies really are).

I decided to make my bookmark out of "The Dark Mark" from the movies, and I did a Google image search to find and print out the graphic so I could trace around it with an Xacto knife to make my pattern. You can cut out as much of the detail as you like, or just do a simple silhouette of the general shape to make your own bookmark. I made mine out of some dark green pearlized card stock. I definitely recommend card stock, as it is nice and sturdy, and comes in a variety of colors and finishes.

You could also put your card stock straight into the printer and print your image onto that and cut around the outside to make a bookmark with greater detail and less time commitment! I only recommend this on lighter colored paper, of course, and you may want to laminate your final bookmark so the ink doesn't rub off onto your book or fingers. You could cover it with contact paper, but that doesn't yield the same quality.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Make your own Bath Salts

With Wedding season well upon us, I thought I'd share a quick and inexpensive idea that could be used as a wedding favor (or even centerpiece) at a wedding. These bath salts are easily customizable, can be put in any sort of packaging you like and the materials are easy to find and don't break the bank! (No weddings in your future? These would be great party favors at almost any occasion, and the packaging you choose really changes the whole effect!)

First, for the bath salts themselves you will need:

Epsom Salts
Baking Soda (a natural moisturizer)
Essential Oil (for these I used Lavender, but you may choose any scent you enjoy--I generally use Peppermint if I'm making a foot soak)

When making a small batch for myself I use 1 cup of Epsom Salts, 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda and 2-3 drops of Essential Oil.

I generally prefer to leave mine white, but a drop or two of food coloring can be used to color the salts, or mica pigments can be found online or in soap making shops if you prefer a more natural way of coloring yours.

Next, a container will be needed to present and store your bath salts. What better way to celebrate you and your partners "great chemistry" than by using test tubes? I have places mine into a graduated cylinder so they don't go rolling all over the table. If you look online you will see that these can be purchased in large quantities very cheaply, and in many variations. I like the look of glass with corks, but you may find it more suitable to use plastic tubes with screw-on caps.

Rather than Test tubes, maybe you would want to place your bath salts in decorative mason jars. These could be different sizes as well, and make quite a nice table centerpiece, mixed with jars of flowers or candies.

I also know that M&M's makes personalized candies that would work with this as well. You can get them in your wedding colors, or with images on them! Test tubes would again be a great container, as they fill up rather quickly to keep the overall cost down, but still look great. Or fill larger containers so guests can nibble during the reception.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden + Croutons = Salad.

The sun is out in full force, and thanks to that we had lots of ripe tomatoes and lettuce this weekend for our first garden salads! Add in some croutons (insanely delicious) that my husband whipped up with the end from my French Bread from Friday and it was maybe the best salad I've had in a long time.

While this is more of an "OMG look what I ate this weekend!" post than a food craft, feel free to make some yummy croutons and enjoy a salad of your own. Here is how the husband whipped these up (if you made the french bread and have some that is day old, I really can't recommend using it to make these croutons enough).

You will need:

About 3 slices of french bread 1 1/2 inch thick (we used the last 5-6 inches of a loaf)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a saute pan on your stove top over medium/ medium high heat and cut up your bread into bite sized cubes. Add your butter and garlic to the pan, then once the butter is melted toss in your bread cubes and stir them around to get them evenly coated.

Saute your bread cubes about 5 minutes, or until they are a a delicious, buttery golden brown perfection. Add salt and pepper and place onto your salad, enjoy!

Quick Harry Potter Graphic Art

In my Harry Potter inspired crafting frenzy, I was messing around in Photoshop today and made this quick little graphic. It's a really simple thing to do, and could easily be made into something in other media, like paper, felt or even embroidery. In fact, You may see this again in another incarnation in the next week or so. I just thought it was super cute and must be shared immediately.

Also, it's the only thing that is totally done and ready to share, as in my excitement I have started many projects but not finished any of them (as I am known to do). It also makes a great desktop background, so feel free to use it-- I certainly won't mind.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Countdown to the Deathly Hallows

I've been holding back my excitement until now, but I am totally a Harry Potter nerd and I can't wait for the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to come out on the 15th. If you are a fan too, you will want to be sure to check back frequently this week as I have plans for many Potter themed projects, including a yummy Food Craft.

Fear not, for I also have some non-magic crafts in the works as well, and last but not least, I hope you all enjoy your July 4th weekend!

Buy Movie Tickets Online Now!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Food Craft: French Bread

I'm a sucker for freshly baked breads, almost nothing is better than the smell of bread right out of the oven. Usually once Summer strikes, I kind of stop baking, not wanting to make the apartment any hotter than necessary, but I can thank this year's belated arrival of Summer and unseasonably cool weather for allowing me to make this tasty treat. There are very few ingredients, most of which you likely have on hand just about any time. Also, if you have a stand mixer it's pretty low fuss. Use it for grilled sandwiches, garlic bread, serve along side soup or salad, toast some into croutons, you really can't go wrong with this simple yummy recipe.

You will need:

1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup very hot water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm water and the active dry yeast. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes while you measure out your other ingredients (I usually use a 2 cup glass measuring cup and mix all of my wet ingredients together and add them at once).

In your measuring cup, or another bowl, combine the hot water, oil, sugar and salt.

Measure out your flour. Place 1 1/2 cups into your yeast mixture, then add your wet ingredients on top and mix slowly with a dough hook.

Add the remaining flour and stir until the dough is smooth and all flour is incorporated.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Stir and let rest for 10 minutes again.

Repeat rest and stir process three more times (for a total of five times).

Turn out your dough onto a floured surface. Press out to a rectangle, roll up (like making cinnamon rolls) and place on a greased baking sheet.

Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

With a sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes across the top of your loaf. Brush with egg white (optional, but gives the bread a deeper brown crust and a little crispness).

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack immediately to avoid overcooking.