Monday, December 29, 2014

Cluster Stitch Baby Blanket with Pom Pom Edging

I've been working on this baby blanket for awhile and finally had the free time to finish it up.  I started out wanting to knit something cute, but crocheting is a bit easier for me and I don't have to concentrate so hard on not making mistakes or slipping a stitch.  So I found a pattern for a cluster stitch on Pinterest (links are at the bottom of this post).  When I finished it up, I wanted a different sort of border, so I found this pom pom border that looked amazing.  

Here is the end result!

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The color is bright - not your traditional baby blanket, but maybe it'll be the one that is used for a trip to the park or the grocery store without the fear of getting it dirty.  Or maybe it'll be the blanket that the baby will love because the pom poms are just fun to handle!  Either way, it was made with love (and three skeins of yarn)!

Cluster stitch pattern is from and can be found here.

Pom pom border is from and can be found here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Oreo Cheesecake Cookie Dough Bars

I'm not a good "bar" maker.  My last attempt could have been featured on the Pinterest Fail page.  Big time fail.  Sweetened condensed milk and I do not get along.  Well, that and I substituted M&Ms for bite sized York peppermint patties - that may have had something to do with it.  Anyway, I decided to try again because it's Christmas Eve and I wanted something that will surprise my son-in-law, the resident chocolate expert.

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I must admit, these are yummy!  I'm not a bar fan in another respect - I don't like to eat them.  Too much going on in one piece of dessert.  But, I like these!  Maybe it's the crispy chocolate chip cookie dough on the top... maybe it's the Oreo crust... I can't decide.  Maybe I should have another one....

If you're planning to make these, give yourself a little time. There are three steps - the crust, the cookie dough, and the cheesecake filling.  It took me about an hour (I took a little break to run to the store in between steps for something I forgot so I could finish the recipe).  This recipe comes from Two Peas & Their Pod and the link can be found here.

Well worth the effort!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Can you believe it?  It's that time of year again!  I swear, days have just flown by!  I'm getting ready to host our family Christmas Eve dinner (all six of us!) and wanted to have some yummy treats handy.  In addition to the Spritz pressed cookies and the David's Dollops, I decided to try something different.  If you know me, you know cinnamon rolls are my weakness.  Just search "cinnamon rolls" on this blog or on my Pinterest page, and you will see that I'm a tad addicted!  Well, I found this recipe from the Cooking Channel and it is amazing!!  You can find the recipe here.

I was at work one day and my son-in-law sent me a link to some sugary sweet dessert recipes.  This was one of them.  I've made it several times, and I must admit, you have to practice a bit to get the right swirl thickness.  In the end though, it really doesn't matter how thick or thin the swirls are (I'm not a Cooking Channel cook, so it's never going to look like their picture!) just know that they are delicious! 

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The recipe calls for some orange zest (my orange trees are still producing fruit!) which gives these treats a little bit of a zing!  The glaze is made with Karo syrup and powdered sugar - something I've never used before.  Great with a cup of coffee for dessert (or even in the morning!) I think you'll enjoy these cookies!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Crafty Wrapping

Inspired by the latest edition of Real Simple magazine, I decided to do some of my holiday wrapping a bit differently this year.  

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I hit Home Depot, Walmart, Michaels and Hobby Lobby for some supplies.  Initially I thought I'd try to find some white and gold baker's twine, but that just wasn't in the cards.  So, I settled for second best!  Here's what I found:

From Home Depot, I purchased jute, household twine and twisted mason line (I remember using that mason line when we poured the foundation for our addition to our old house).  It comes in fluorescent colors too!  I also purchased brass washers, nuts and "compression sleeves".  I thought they'd look nice attached to the twine.

From Walmart, I purchased a huge roll of brown Kraft paper and some raffia ribbon.  The combination of string and ribbon might look nice!

From Michael's I purchased crochet cotton!  Red and green!  Cheaper than baker's twine too!!  Using a coupon made it an even better deal!

From Hobby Lobby I purchased gold bells (they had lots of colors but I went for the least expensive) and manilla tags.

For this gift, I wrapped it in Kraft paper.  I used the green crochet cotton and wrapped it horizontally and vertically about 5 - 6 times, tied a small knot and cut off the ends.  I then did the same with the  raffia, but only went around once.  I then took the red crochet cotton and tied on several do-dads and wrapped it around once both directions.  I tied the tag on with a bow using the ends of the red strand.

Voila!  Fun and festive!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Moscow Mule Succulents

Wow, it's that time of year again!  No wreath-making for me this year - I kind of burned out on the whole frantic ornament searching, so it'll be a bit more low-key for 2014!

I made a trip to Bev-Mo this morning and found these beautiful copper mugs.  I know that Moscow Mules are all the rage now and I needed a gift for a friend who loves that beverage, so the mug would be the perfect gift.  I wanted something more than just a mug with a ribbon on it, so I thought that it would look great with succulents in it.  Problem was, I didn't want the succulents (and the accompanying dirt) to ruin the mug.  So, SOLO cup to the rescue!

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I went to Home Depot and bought a couple of tiny succulents.  (They can be split, so whatever you don't use, put in a pot and they will propagate nicely.  I still have some left over from the Succulent Pumpkin project that are doing great!)  

Cut slits in the SOLO cup so that it fits into the mug snugly.  This was a small cup, so it worked perfectly!

I didn't cut all the way to the bottom - I left 1/4 inch uncut so that if there's any water drainage, it won't go into the mug.

Add pebbles and potting soil or dirt.

Now, pull apart your succulents and plant them in the soil.  I used a spoon to push the soil around and make holes for the plants.  A few drops of water when done, and what a cute gift!!  (The ceramic planter behind the mug is filled with bits and pieces of succulents from other plantings or projects.  Don't throw any of those little buggers away!  Stick 'em in dirt and watch what happens!)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmasy Crafting

Wow!  It's been awhile!  Work has been so busy and sort of stressful, that I feel like I haven't had time to breathe.  It's sort of telling when the holidays looming ahead of me look like a cakewalk compared to daily life.  I can't complain - I love my job.  This time of year though has its challenges.  I'm thrilled to work with new folks and thrilled that our football team is going to playoffs and that there are daily challenges with students and lots of opportunities for professional growth but.... whew.  Time for a breather.

The other night I sat down and to de-stress I just started to design a chalkboard based on one I saw on the internet.  I loved the idea, but it was very winter/snow/cold inspired.  That doesn't always translate perfectly to So Cal.  I changed it up to match our holiday here - not so much snowmen and mittens, but family and traditions.

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I had an old framed picture that has hung in our bedroom for a VERY long time - mostly because we didn't really have anything to hang there and this print matched the paint.  I didn't like it anymore but was ambivalent about replacing it.  When this crafty moment took hold, that picture was perfect!  It's 36 x36 and had very heavy glass.

That gold frame had to go.  It didn't match anything.  So I pulled it all apart and started by chalkboard painting the glass and matte white painting the frame.

After that, it was just taking the original design and re-doing it on a 36x36 piece of paper using lots of lettering and pictures.  To me, that was relaxing - just turning on my favorite Pandora station and drawing and erasing (lots of erasing!!) until I got something I liked.  Using Google images gave me ideas too.  When the paper/pencil drawing is ready, use this technique to transfer it to the chalkboard: link here to the craft instructions page.

I painted the chalkboard using colored paint this time.  That was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the variety.

I would encourage you to try this technique and make some holiday decorations.  Big or small, it's a lot of fun and, if you find frames in a discount store, on sale, or on clearance, it's very inexpensive!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nutella Kit Kat Oreo Overloaded Nut and/or Choc Chip Brownies

Yes, you read that right.  Nutella... Kit Kats.... Oreos... Nuts... Chocolate Chips... in a brownie.

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Thank you to my son-in-law for being my dessert guinea pig - it's what keeps me experimenting with different recipes that I find on the internet.  Well, thank you to him AND his workplace buddies who seem to enjoy a chocolately treat now and then.  I guess my experiments have become quite popular, which is great!  It's always nice to have an audience!  With just my husband and me at home now, cooking up a batch of anything is too much.  When my daughter and son-in-law come over for dinner, a batch is still a lot.  So thank goodness for hungry architects!!

On our last homemade pizza/movie night we were talking about Nutella.  None of us had ever tried it although it seems to be THE popular ingredient these days.  So, knowing that whatever recipe I found that had Nutella, it also had to include chocolate.  The "Nutella Kit Kat Oreo Overload Brownies" recipe from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody was perfect.  The "nuts" or "choc chip" addition to her recipe came from the brownie mixes I used (of course I had to add more than what was in the mix!)

I made a double batch and it was pretty easy.  Pretty tasty too from the initial reviews!  The recipe is posted on my recipe page here.  The original blog post is here.  Peabody's pictures are amazing - and irresistible!  There's gotta be some occasion in the near future to make something delicious, right??

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pan Cinnamon Rolls - Seriously!!

I wish I could take credit for making this yummy morning treat, but my husband is the bread guy and anything that uses yeast and has to rise is his expertise.  So, for this recipe, I got to enjoy it - I didn't have to bake it!

I found the recipe on Pinterest when I was searching Cinnamon Rolls (one of my most favorite things in the whole world!)  Click on the picture below for the link to the recipe from Heather's French Press!

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On the plate, it looks like just your average breakfast treat, but the process is amazing!!  It is made in a cast iron skillet!  The dough even has cinnamon in it!  For a first time effort, this looks pretty good (not as symmetrical as on the website but hey!)  It's about 1/4 of what you see here when it's put in the pan but when it rises, it fills it!

Bake it in the skillet, and add the frosting.  Amazing!!  Thanks hon!! Yum!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Three Layer Cake and Cupcakes

Update:  Another birthday that same week!  Another batch of cupcakes only this time with blue frosting and Candy Melt seashells (just buy the inexpensive mold and melt the melts!)

Quick easy birthday cake!!  Don't let the layers scare ya!!

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You need:

Three 6 inch cake pans

Bamboo skewers to put through the layers to hold them together

Parchment paper for the bottom of the pans

Sprinkles (of course!)

Fave cake mix

Ingredients for the Buttercream Frosting found on the Recipe page


Baker's twine

Print out for flags or wash tape (I love the little chalkboard flags.  You can find the free printable link here.)

For the cake, mix ingredients as directed.  Divide equally as possible into three pans with parchment on the bottoms  (it makes it soooo easy to pop the layers out!!)  Decrease the baking time by a minute or two, and check frequently with toothpick to ensure cake is done.  While cooling, make your buttercream frosting.  I made a half recipe extra just in case.

Put a big glob of frosting on the first layer and spread to the edges (don't skimp - use enough to secure the second layer).  Do the same with the second and third layers.  Put a couple of skewers through all three layers to hold the cake upright.  Put a thin (crumb) coat on the entire cake and refrigerate.  It will make it easier to frost if the frosting is a bit hard.

Frost the entire cake and add sprinkles as needed.  I pressed some into the sides of the cake.

For the banner, I printed up the letters, folded and glued them to the twine.  Using two skewers as "posts", I attached the twine to the skewers and added to the top of the cake. You can use scissors to cut the skewers into the length you want.

I used skewers again to decorate these cupcakes.  I used MS Word to make the toppers (circles with a daisy clipart).  I used a cake mix and the buttercream frosting with the 1M Wilton tip.  Tying little green bows made it look like leaves.  It's amazing how something as simple as a little topper can make cupcakes much more fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Done in a Jiffy Baby Blanket

One of my husband's colleagues just had a baby.  He asked that I make a baby blanket as a gift for him and his wife.  I went on (a very cool site) and found this easy pattern.  It reminded me of a baby blanket that I had received when my daughter was born (and which I still have, tucked away in a closet somewhere).  Those handmade gifts are sometimes the most used and cherished.

You can find the link here.  

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I added four tassels to the corners because I like tassels!  Plus they're easy!  I just wrapped yarn around a paperback book 50 times.  Cut the yarn and then tie it together at the halfway point.  Wrap a second piece of yarn around the entire "bundle" three times and tie.  Trim the ends.  Tie it to the corner and use a yarn needle to thread the ends down through the center of the tassel.  Cut the ends to even them out.

Ta da!!