Monday, January 30, 2012

time for a refill

Our cookie jar as been a bit sad lately. It held remnants of winter bark from Christmas and a dusting of confectioners sugar from the Chocolate Crackles I made weeks ago. Needless to say, this guy needed to be washed out.  It was time for a refill.
I decided to use up some Christmas M&Ms, so I threw them in this chocolate chip cookie recipe. I do have a killer recipe, but that's not what I wanted to share today. I have a few little tips for you to help your cookies look delicious and picture perfect.

Tip #1: Use a cookie scoop.

You'll have consistency in size and baking time.

Tip #2: Save some candies 
and chocolate chips for the top.

Gently press 3 or 4 little additions onto each cookie.
When these guys bake, what you've added will space out.
(I also like this tip because then the recipient of this cookie knows what's in it.)

Tip #3: When edges start to brown 
and middle is not completely set, remove from oven.

The cookies will continue to bake on the sheet. 
An extra five minutes on the cookie sheet allows the middles to settle. 
They will stay chewy in your cookie jar.

Tip #4: After five minutes, 
let cookies completely cool on cooling racks. 

Now, let's compare... don't the cookies on the left look a little sad? 
What about the decked out cookies on the right? Yeah, that's what I thought. 

It's cold out; that's reason enough for me 
to turn on the oven and bake some cookies.  
Bake up some love today <3

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

hostess with the mostess

This past weekend, my husband and I traveled to Saratoga Springs, NY for the NOFA-NY Winter Conference. It was a great weekend full of workshops and reunions. Almost all of the interns/farmers from the vegetable farm that we worked with this past season were there! It was nice to catch up and see how our lives off the farm are going. Some of the workshops I went to were: Baking with Local Grains, No-Till Vegetables, Small Farms are Real Farms, Sausages at Home, and Quality Eggs with Pasture Raised Hens. I'm excited to practice some of these methods and values in the future.
Another great part of the weekend was staying with some good friends. We were at their wedding this past summer and they live only fifteen minutes from where the conference was. Even though we weren't an inconvenience to host, I wanted to give a little something as a thank you.
Last week, I found this pattern, crocheted it, and paired it with one of my favorite New York wines. The bag is made with Sugar 'n Cream yarn using a J hook.

The bag does stretch a little when being used, but with the half double crochet stitch used throughout, the bag keeps its shape pretty well. I have been trying to give handmade gifts as much as I can because I think they are extremely thoughtful. Knowing that the person who made it, took the time and had the other person in mind. 
Even the littlest handmade gift or card holds a great amount of love. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

window dressing part three

We have been in our apartment for almost four months. Just until recently our windows have been bare. During the day, I have been keeping house; dishes, cleaning, laundry and occasionally watching Downton Abbey and crocheting. My husband had been asking me to sew some curtains for our living room. Both windows are 70" x 55"- that's a good amount of fabric! Thankfully, my Mom had some fabric that she let me use.  I'm not exactly sure the type of fabric, but they look like silk. Ooo!
The pattern for these curtains is nothing special, but they do make our living room more homey.



 I'm so glad that all our windows had blinds, so we did have some privacy before.
Now I get to work on projects I want to do ...and my list is getting long. This could be bad.
Have a warm & cozy weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

first comes love, then comes marriage

I've been letterpress printing for a little over a year on my own, so I've only had a few commissions sent my way. The most recent has been for my sister and brother-in-law who just had a beautiful baby girl in December. They asked me to make them some thank you cards. Of course!!
For one of their baby showers, I printed the invitations using an old fashioned baby buggy image and they thought it would be fitting to use the same image on the thank yous.

Metal type on the left, wood type on the right. 

I love using wood type and other odd type in the studio and I was given some freedom on how I composed the type. As soon as I found this smaller font in wood type, I thought it would be perfect! Of course, I sent a picture to my client (that's so fun to say!) and asked if she liked this form. She did. I asked if she'd like to see any other type, maybe something smaller and she agreed. I set three lines of "thank you!" in various fonts. She liked two of them, so I printed the rest of the cards in the other fonts.

Hot off the press!

The next and last thing to be done to the cards is printing my logo on the back center of the cards. Which I plan to do tomorrow.
I didn't purchase the paper, my sister did. They are from packages of Strathmore pre-folded stamping cards with envelopes. 

If you would like anything hand printed, by yours truly, leave me a comment. I can also print a proof of an idea that you have to see what it would be like on paper. I'm always up for more experience on the press. 

Winter is the perfect time to stay in and work on projects or a reason to turn on the oven and bake. Do something you love today!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

granny squares under my nightstand

Almost three years ago, my Mother-in-Law taught me how to crochet. The first thing she showed me to make was a granny square. It was Summer time and what else was there to do? -- try to crochet a whole bunch of granny squares to make an afghan! Yes, a very ambitious first project! Where is the afghan? Well... until recently, it was in a box in the form of individual granny squares under my nightstand.
Something that I tend to do is start a project, maybe get a good portion of it done and then see something new.  I drop that old project like it's hot and pick up the next cuter, more fun project. I want to get better about finishing what I start. I hope this blog will help me with that.
After sorting and counting, I found that I have forty-eight grannies that are ready for assembly. I also found one large granny in the box... not sure about that one.

Trying to collect my required coffee. 

My sorted piles.

Color scheme? As you can see, there isn't one. A granny square afghan doesn't have to coordinate. I just picked all the yarn that I had and started hooking. I used a variety of patterns, all of which have come from a book my sister-in-law gave me, Illustrated Patchwork Crochet by Bella Scharf. It's an oldie, but a goodie printed in 1976. 
Forty-eight granny squares aren't going to give me the afghan I've been dreaming of, so that means I need to make at least another forty-eight squares. Challenge? No- I'll think of it as a goal; something that I can work on and actually finish. 
Maybe there's something you can finally finish this year? Or maybe something you've wanted to make that you have all the supplies for, but have been putting off? 
Let's power through, get out those boxes of projects out from under the nightstand and get them done!

Monday, January 9, 2012

give it a whirl

Over the Holidays, I spent a bit of time at my parents' house. There is always something to do there; one thing being- looking at magazines. My Mom is the person who keeps all home and cooking magazines in business. She has probably over ten subscriptions! One of my favorites is Country Living magazine. I love old, rustic homes and all the quirky, cute touches. As I was perusing through one issue, I noticed a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread on the counter of one of the kitchens. I was intrigued by this particular loaf however because it was different; it was double swirl bread.

This picture is from the magazine's website, so it's a little hard to see the swirls.
I've made cinnamon swirl bread, but not like this! I couldn't help myself. I had to give it a whirl. Let me take you through the process...

Dissolving the yeast.

Adding the flour.

Let the kneading begin.

(Action shot)

After the first rising.

Starting to form the loaves. I made two: one with a double swirl and  other with one swirl.

Rolling in the first side.

Rolling up the second side.
(In order for the middle to not break open at the top,  pinch the two rolls together to seal.)

In mid roll of the second loaf.

I put our oven on warm and let these guys do their second rise inside.

Afer the second rise- time to bake!

All done!

Cooling rack time.
(Single swirl on the left, double on the right.)

I broke the rule- I couldn't wait to have a piece!
You can't see the swirl yet...

SUCCESS!! The double swirl completed.

I made french toast with this loaf yesterday. It was a-mazing! The trick to using homemade bread for french toast is, you can't soak the bread very long or it will fall apart. The crumb is usually bigger than that of store bought bread, so it doesn't take long for the egg mixture to absorb. 

I hope that this inspires you to give cinnamon swirl bread a whirl and maybe gets you a little hungry for a snack. Plus, who doesn't love the smell of bread filling  the whole house?

Friday, January 6, 2012

three gifts for three sisters

I trust everyone had a splendid Christmas holiday filled with family, friends and delicious food. I was fortunate enough to have my entire family together, including spouses and kids! It was nothing less than wonderful; running around with my nephews and cuddling with my new little niece.
This year I wanted to make presents for my sisters. They didn't really have lists asking for things they would like, so I just found some patterns and started crocheting. Because I was at my in laws for Christmas, we weren't having our family Christmas until the next Friday, so I lucked out and had plenty of time to work on these three little projects.
This is a Bernat pattern; I thought it was cute.
These are some gold buttons that I found in a jar at my Mother in Law's.
This is a pattern from the latest issue of Crochet! Magazine.
It fit pretty well.

I'd been looking for a cute cloche hat pattern.

I hope to frequent here more often to share what I've been up to. I don't want to say that is one of my New Year's Resolutions because I read that only 12% of people stick to what they say... well this is probably closer to happening than my daily workouts. (I am 5/5 for workouts this week, so who knows?)
Here's to a even more creative & crafty New Year!