A Little Something for a Teacher

When I saw this turquoise art caddy, with a wooden handle, I had to have it.
It was all I could do not to keep it for my own craft room.
But I needed a quick teacher gift and I could imagine how perfect this would be on a teacher's desk.
So I filled the left side with misc. school supplies (they can never have enough, right)?
And I filled the right side with yummy holiday cookies.
A mix of practical and yummy.  Simple and cute.
And the most important part is the note on front that tells them how much I appreciate them.
teacher caddy

Now what should I get for the piano and ballet teachers???

I'm off to do some more shopping!

Happy Turkey Day!

I hope your day is filled with lots of yummy turkey!

And to those of you who are crazy enough (like my sister and I) to go out shopping tomorrow,
happy shopping day!

What's for dinner, Mom?

The dreaded question, heard from all 5 children at 5:07 pm like clockwork and the one that can't talk just starts fussing.

Really, I have to feed you all again? Didn't we just do that, like 4 hours ago?

I have been needing some serious help in the dinner/cooking anything besides grilled cheese department for some time.

I could blame soccer season.
Or that after his long commute it's too late for hubby to bring takeout.
Or that I'm only depressed whenever I call Ashleigh and hear what she's having for dinner. Proscuitto wrapped asparagus. Homemade soup in homemade breadbowls. She's killing me. (No, secretly I steal her recipes all the time... but not the proscuitto wrapped asparagus. My kids would think an alien Mom had taken over our house)
But, it's pretty much just a slump and I need motivation.

So, in addition to Ashleigh's great recipes, I have been enjoing a blog called Our Best Bites. They have great pictures, great step by step instructions, tons of personality and every recipe I've tried has been a hit. Last week I made this pumpkin cheesecake. It was the very first cheesecake I've made and it was yummy. I may or may not have made it again two days later.


I plan on making every recipe on their site, and then buying their cookbook when it comes out. That should take me through March. So, please, I beg of you, tell me what your dinnertime motivation is. 'Cause if I have grilled cheese again, I may have a mutiny on my hands.

Cheese and Crackers for Grown-Ups

I have a great appetizer idea for your holiday meals... cheese and crackers!

No, not lunchables style.  I'm talking about big kid cheese and crackers.

This little plate of goodness is one of my family's favorites.  My dad is probably the biggest fan!  Sometimes he buys me the ingredients and asks me to make it for him.  "Gladly," I say, because I keep a little for myself!
cheese and crackers

Grab yourself some parmesan and asiago cheese.  I used a little less than a half a pound, each.

Now, you can do this a little faster in a food processor and it looks a little more rustic with big and small chunks, but on this occasion I diced it all in small chunks.
diced cheese

Then I diced 2 jalapenos, and one red chili, seeds removed.  I'm a little wimpy in the heat department, but if you want more heat leave the seeds in, or add one more red chili to even the score.  Also I minced 2 large cloves of garlic.

After all of this is dumped into a mixing bowl, I added some more flava!  On this occasion, it minced some fresh sage, thyme and italian parsley.  (About a teaspoon of each).  Also add plenty of fresh cracked black pepper, to taste.  And maybe a dash of salt, but not much.  These cheeses are pretty salty in and of themselves.

Next, add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  These fancy schmancy olive oils are from our local farmers market.  I used the jalepeno and rosemary flavored ones and it added some nice flavor.  I might have been just as excited about the cute little bottles as the flavor.  Really though, it will be tasty-fabulous with your basic e.v.o.o.
olive oil

Now grab yourself some "big kid" crackers.
Okay, I'll admit they're good on ritz and wheat thins too.

This will make plenty, so don't be shy.  Load up those crackers!
cheese and crackers 3

It's kind of hard to imagine how these flavors go together, but I'll vouch for it, they go together perfectly!
If you have some left after you feed your holiday guests, put some on top of your omelette in the morning.  Soooo good.  Or toss it in your pasta dish.  Or bake it onto some slices of baguette.  I'm pretty sure that cheese makes everything better.  Enjoy!

I've been loafing!

It's amazing the length I'll go to to entertain myself! :)

But, really, I can only bust out so many cute things.

I don't make a new batch of cookies everyday like some people I can't keep up with who shall remain nameless.

But, I did make some Amish Friendship Bread as gifts for people. Since it requires the recipe to go along with it, I printed it on cardstock and wrapped the recipe around the loaf. Add some fall leaves and a tag and that's about as cute as it gets around here.


I got these tins at the grocery store and they are the perfect size for gift giving. (They are not the perfect size for everyone in my family to have 2 pieces and if I don't hurry, the kids will beat me to all of the pieces). If your recipe says it will make two large loaves it will make 3 of this size. They come with a clear top so everyone can be impressed with the cinnamon crumbly goodness on the top of the loaf.

So unless you have a secret family recipe, give it out along with a loaf of your favorite bread. Perfect, easy and yummy gift.

And for those "Christmas Vacation" fans, "That's the gift that keeps on giving"

I'm linking up to Be Different..Act Normal.

Handprint Turkey Cookies

I'm pretty much in love with these!
How perfect are they as a "place card" at the kids' table?
Yep, I'm sealing the deal.  These are a must!
place setting

There's just something about handprint turkeys that are irresistibly darling.
They always have character.  Some have ginormous gobblers, some have feathers that look like porcupine quills and still- they are cute enough to put in a frame and cry over!

Here's the how to:

Step 1-Have your child trace their hand on cardstock.  If you have different sized hands in your house, it's fun to make different sizes.
Step 2- Cut them out.  Are you glad that you still don't need a turkey cookie cutter?
Step 3- Roll out your sugar cookie dough, place the guide on top and cut it out with a knife.
Step 4- Carefully transfer to baking sheet.  I love the sil-pat non-stick pan liners.  It makes them so easy to remove.  If there are any rough edges, just pat them down.
Step 5- Bake, let cool, then carefully transfer.  Try not to have any finger casualties.  Also, make royal icing.  Here is my royal icing recipe.
Step 6-  I couldn't decide if I wanted them outlined in brown or black, so I tried both.  The icing for the outline, feet, gobbler and name should be thicker than the fill icing.
Step 7-  Fill with the thinner frosting.  Just add a touch more water to the thick stuff you made.
Step 8- Pop the bubbles with a toothpick right away when it's still really wet.
Step 9- Now make some feet and gobblers (I don't know what those things are called) on a piece of parchment.  After they are dry (several hours) they will come right off.
Step 10-  After your fill frosting has set up a tiny bit, add feathers.  I didn't want them to fall in and get swallowed up, but you don't want it to be so dry that it cracks when you push these on.  I found these cute chocolate covered sunflower seeds at my cake decorating store.  You could use frosting or other candies too.
sunflower seeds
Step 11- Write the name, add an eye and glue your dried gobbler on with a dot of frosting.
Step 12- With dots of frosting, put the legs on last.  I learned the hard way they they are fragile and if you try to do other decorating after you put them on, your hand might break them.

So that concludes our 12 step program!  Ha!

handprint cookies

I just put another batch of dough in the fridge to chill.  I could just bake and decorate all day if I could ignore my responsibilities.  I think I need a 12 step program for getting myself to fold the laundry.

Linking up to Tatertots and Jello!

Turkey Cookies-With Heart

Aren't these little turkeys the cutest?
The best thing about them is, you get four cookies for the price of one!
The second best thing is, you don't need to have a turkey cookie cutter to make these turkeys!
heart turkeys

It all started when my daughter wanted to make a turkey craft.  She wanted feathers, but I told her we were fresh out of feathers.  I can only store so much crafty crapola!  Then she told me, "Mom!  I forgot that you can make turkeys out of hearts!"  Then she set out to prove it and proudly brought me this.

So this inspiration from my 7 year old gave me an idea for a family night activity.
I'm always into mood for a new cookie, so I mixed some royal icing, and armed myself with squeezie bottles.

I made some small heart and circle cookies. Then we frosted away.
instruction 1

The question in my cookie brain is always, "to outline, or not to outline..."  I never can decide.
instruction 2

Here's the outlined-Tom and the plain-Tom.  I still can't decide.

After these were totally dry, I used a few more dabs of royal icing to glue Tom's head on.

Here's the finished outlined-Tom!
outlined heart turkey

The kids had a blast.  They gobbled them up!  (Yes, I'm cheesy.  This is true.)

So grab your Valentine cookie cutter and make some Thanksgiving cookies.

And now for some fun news!  Our little old pumpkin popcorn balls have been featured in an ezine (online magazine).  It is called the DIY Life, put out by the great people at thediyclub.com!
It is beautifully put together and truly inspirational.  It is full of ideas, recipes, and decorating for the holidays, I'm just thrilled to be a part of it.  Go on over to thediyclub.com and find it on their homepage.  

I'm linking up to Today's Creative Blog and Blue Cricket Design.

Pennant Banner

Pennant Banners are hip and happenin' so I jumped on the bandwagon.
I thought this dressed up my window just as well as curtains or a valance would have.
It adds a little something to the shutters, draws the eye up and breaks up the wall a little.

I wouldn't have gotten this done in time for the contest deadline, if Kathryn hadn't swooped in and helped me whip it out. Thank goodness for sisters who support your perfectionism, even when rolling their eyes. Just kidding, she was happy to help.

She cut as I ran them through the machine.
A guide and a rotary cutter made for quick work.
The fabric was folded at the top, making these double-sided when they were done.
banner 1

I sewed (with clear thread) a v-shape and left some space at the top to thread the ribbon through.
I trimmed them with pinking shears when done.
banner 2
Since these were relatively small, so I didn't use interfacing. But if you are doing them much bigger, I would use fusible interfacing inside to make them hold their shape without curling up.

Kass taped the end of the ribbon to a skewer to thread the flags through
banner 3

I knew I wanted a big chunky sun on the wall to represent my "you are my sunshine" theme.

I drew what I thought I wanted on a piece of butcher paper and cut it out. Then I put it up on the wall to see if I liked the size and shape in relation to the room. I wanted it a little bigger than this, so I'm glad I tested it out.
sun 1

I bought cheap old (1/2") particle board and the hubs cut it out with a jig-saw.
sun 2
I wanted it to come off the wall, sorta like a "pop-dot" on a piece of scrapbook paper. So he used a 8" square of 1" thick pine and screwed that into a stud. Then we attached the sun to that, countersinking the screws. I filled the hole with putty and painted over that little spot. I'm going to do a cloud on the other wall in her room. I just love the bright and simple look of this sun!

So that is all the play by plays on how I re-did this room...... SO FAR.

Last but not least, you must go see the final three in Crafting with the Stars!
They came up with 3 great Christmas projects that I know you will find inspiring!

Accent Pillows

You ready for the fun pillows?

I'll start with the massive flower pillow.

I originally started out wanting to cover the whole pillow with lots of flowers that were the size of the pink center.
flower 1

But while experimenting, I just kept going around and decided to just connect all of my fabric strips.
The fabric was 4" wide. Folded in half and ironed, it was 2". I just sewed continuously and used all of the scraps that would work. I was just going to cut off whatever I didn't need at the end.
I zig-zaged the raw edge to control fraying.
flower 2

I ended up using all 10 yards of my 2" fabric. My pleats were deep and there was some serious yardage in there. I'm sure you could make it as full or sparse as you wanted.
flower 11

I was using a 16x16" pillow form, so I cut the white fabric a 16 3/4" square.
In the center of that fabric, I traced a circle with my mixer bowl.
flower 3

I used that as a guide as I pleated, ironed and pinned around it.
flower 4

I went in one full circle, then sewed it with 1/4" seam allowance, taking the pins out as I went.
As soon as that was secure I pinned another full circle about 1/2" in. I tried to hide all of the seams (where the different fabrics connected) inside a pleat.
flower 5

I did this until I had several inches of my fabric left to finish. At this point, it was too thick and awkward to sew with my machine so I hand stitched the rest. I tried to tuck in the ends and make it look somewhat like a rosette.
flower 6

I've explained the envelope back in previous posts, but here are some pictures.
I cut two pieces that would overlap. They each had one side hemmed.
flower 7

Then I sewed one side on, right on top of the front of the pillow.
flower 8

Then I sew the other on. You can tell how much they overlap.
flower 9

when you turn it inside out and put the pillow in, it is neat and tidy like this:
flower 10

For my "(sun)shine" pillow, I started on the computer and printed out the letters in the font I wanted. I cut them out.
shine 1

I used an applique bond to keep the letters in place while I sewed.
I ironed the adhesive to the fabric, then traced the letters (backwards) onto my fabric.
shine 2

I cut the letters out again, peeled off the adhesive then ironed them on.
shine 3

Then I machine stitched, very slowly around the letters. It isn't perfect, but you have to look close to see the mistakes. This was the first time I had tried to machine applique. I'm here to tell you it's not as scary as I thought. Totally do-able!

shine 5

I attached the ruffle and back as I have explained in this post.

Last, but not least, I wanted to add a little texture.
With sunshine, there are often a few clouds...

This was a quick, last minute thing. Kass cut the cloud shapes and used the same applique adhesive to put on the white clouds. I bunched and pinned it with no rhyme or reason, just trying to tuck the edges under. Then I sewed around the cloud and tacked it down in several places.
cloud 1

You've made it to the end of the pillows! Thanks for bearing with me.
I'm so tired of posting these pillows, I don't even know how I sewed all 7 in 5 days?
To be honest, it almost killed me! I was sooooooo tired all week. The bags under my eyes told the story of my late nights. I was determined not to make my family suffer because I did this contest. I dug to the depths of my soul to be patient with my kids, as tired as I was. They did suffer through their fair share of fast food, during Crafting With the Stars, but I think I was still a decent mom! ("No other success can compensate for failure in the home" was echoing in my head)! It was all a learning experience. I'm happy with the result and happy I challenged myself! I'm excited to see the final round of the contest unfold tomorrow!
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