Wednesday, December 17, 2008

jingle bells, batman smells

I'm trying to stay focused and get through my list of Christmas gifts and projects, I really am. It's just soooo hard when I know there is so much wonderful going on out there in blogland and all those cool and shiny new projects are just a couple clicks away.

I mean had I been staying on task, how would I have ever found this? Okay? How could I even pretend to live a decent life of craft if I did not drop everything to make one of these for my little Batboy? Tell me how?

And please tell me how I even made it this far without ever having painted little battcheeks?

And Holy Wholesale Batman! Someone please tell me where I can buy these little wooden shapes by the hundreds (or at least dozens) so I can paint all the other characters floating around in my head. After the holidays of course.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

knick-knack, paddy whack

Homemade Dog Biscuits

2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. powdered milk
1 t. salt
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 egg
6 T. vegetable oil
8-10 T. water
2 small jars strained baby food (beef, chicken, lamb or liver)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and knead about 3 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

This recipe comes from my friend Lora, who likes to cut hers in the shape of dachshunds. While the thought of her little pooch scarfing down his fellow mutts without a care in the world cracks me up, the shapes make it a bit confusing for us hungry humans. The first time I saw a bag of these treats on her desk, I mistakingly thought they were cookies and had just about shoved one into my pie hole when she let me know they were dog biscuits. This didn't stop Little Scarlet however. She does not discriminate when it comes to biscuits of any kind and likes them all most as much as our friends' doggies do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

backity tack

Back Tack packages have been sent and received so I can finally show you what I got (it wasn't two turntables and a microphone) and what I made.

My swap partner, Beverly, knitted me this gorgeous neck wrap. I've never worn a one, but as soon as my friend Chris saw it, she was all like, "You'll be so addicted to it, you'll wear it all the time." She was right. I luuuurve it.

Bev also sent these lovely, sparkly cards and some yummy-smelling orange clove soap that I keep having to hide from the rest of the fam. I can't decide if they're bathing with it or trying to eat it. Oh, and there was a box of chocolate truffles...which lasted about a day. And I can't blame that on my family.

And she made this fab tree from sequins and sewing pins. It looks right at home on the mantle...with the Queen of Diamonds my son insists is now part of our Christmas decor.

Thanks Beverly, everything is wonderful!

Now, what I made. Beverly is an earring-wearing writer who loves ginger and has three dogs. Okay, she's really much more fab and complex than that, but these are the things that I chose to work with.

I made her two pairs of earrings for a little holiday sparkle. The ginger cracks in the earlier post were baked especially for Bev, and were made twice because someone ate so many that I didn't have enough for my package. I couldn't send cookies without sending a little sumpin' sumpin' for her doggies, so we baked them some treats as well.

My favorite part was making the ornaments. The Scrabble ornaments were a take on the bracelets I made last year; they look lovely on the tree and I'll be making more. The idea for the house ornaments came from a past issue of Christmas Ideas magazine (I think). The small houses with big print made me think of big Alice with her arms and legs poking out of the house, so I used a page from the book to cover one of the ornaments.

A huge thanks to the girls who work so hard to put Back Tack together! I think I speak for all of us when I say we love it and great job!!! (just don't make us wait so long for the next one, kay?)

Monday, December 08, 2008

happy, happy birthday baby

Bake one chocolate cake in two pans and a bowl. Ice with Swiss meringue buttercream.

Pipe on some large stars.

Dot liberally with gumdrops.

Add eight candles.

Get one very happy little girl.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

ginger cracks

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. shortening
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1 t. vanilla extract
2/3 c. chopped crystallized ginger
extra granulated sugar for rolling balls of cookie dough

Sift the first eight ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and shortening for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Blend in the egg, molasses, and vanilla; scraping down the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating until flour is absorbed. Blend in the crystallized ginger. The dough will be sticky.

Place dough in freezer for thirty minutes or refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours, or just stick it outside for a bit if it's blue-ass cold (you can wrap it in plastic wrap for this, but I just cover my mixer bowl with a plate).

Preheat oven to 375°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place granulated sugar in a bowl. Spoon rounded tablespoons of dough and form into balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place them 3 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Leave about 1 1/2 to 2 inches between balls, as they will spread and flatten as they bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until set. Let cookies stand on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove them to racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Baking by Flavor.

Monday, December 01, 2008

countdown to Christmas

Crank up the Christmas tunes, fire up the oven and drink up some eggnog! The holiday happenings are in full swing! All my favorite blogs are sharing gifts, advent calendars, cards, ornaments, food and traditions.

I have lots to share too, so stick around for recipes, ornaments to make and a giveaway!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

cranberry pancakes and black trees

I hope everyone had a warm, family-filled and yummy Thanksgiving! In an effort to bid fall adios and welcome the Christmas season, I'd planned on giving you my recipe for cranberry cornmeal pancakes, but I lost it before I could get a chance to post it.

Generally, when I feel like trying something new, I either start with a basic recipe and add whatever I think sounds good, or I find several different recipes and pick and choose what I think will work. Then I write down what I used, so if it turns out well I can recreate it and share. I have a hard time keeping up with all the little papers of my life, so I try to post my recipes somewhere before I have a chance to lose them.

If you do happen to see a piece of purple, Hannah Montana paper with a bunch of ingredients scribbled on it, it's mine. Maybe it's hanging out with my recipe for eggnog cake that I lost two years ago, or the chocolate cookie one that I lost last week.

I do have one last fall tidbit to share. I was in want of some autumnish pictures, but lacked the funds to plaster my foyer with these beauties, so I had the babes paint me some lovely fall trees.

They turned out great and I have a feeling they will be returning next year to add some fall color to the foyer. This project was featured by That Artist Woman at the Crafty Crow a while back. If you have kids (or even if you don't) and haven't been to the Crafty Crow, go there pronto. I love it for finding kid-friendly art and craft projects, as well as good book recommendations.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

horsin' around

There's nothing like being startled awake by what sounds like horses stampeding through your living room. What a relief to find it's only one horse and one little girl...herding "sheep".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

baker's dozen

As I'm sure you know, Christmas is just around the corner. While I'm planning to make all my gifts again this year,(save for a few special requests for the babes from Santa)I didn't wait until the very last minute to get started. I know, crazy. Don't fret though, while I have all the items ready to go, I'm sure I'll wait until the very last possible second to put everything together.

I've been toying with some new ornament designs for our tree and am very happy with the way they are turning out. I'll share them as soon as there's enough light to get a picture.

Claire over at Handmade Parade hosted a fantastic ornament swap. I haven't received my package yet, but thought I'd share what I made. Participants had to make twelve ornaments and we will be receiving twelve different ornaments in return. I used Betz White's instructions for these cute cupcake ornaments from Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts mag.

I only added bead "sprinkles" to one since I only had blue bugle beads and I didn't add ribbons, but I love how they turned out and will add sprinkles to any more that I make. Pastel-colored wool sweaters are hard to come by around here, so I used Easter egg dye on cream-colored sweaters to get those yummy pastels. These are fun and easy to make, but super-addictive, so plan on making a bunch. The magazine is on sale now and features lots of other cool ornaments and projects, including two that are on my 'make" list from Bella Dia