Thursday, December 31, 2009
Do you have any creative resolutions for 2010? I'd love to hear about them.
Until my next post, I hope you all have a very happy New Year's Eve and ring in 2010 in style!
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wondering what you can do with all those pictures you've taken every Christmas morning? She's got your answer. Take a look and check for step-by-step directions here.
Until my next post, go be creative. :)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I started off with all the best intentions of making a delicious and beautiful red velvet cake for Christmas dinner. And then, I realized I didn't have buttermilk.
Ten minutes of phone calls and some internet searching reveals I can 1) add vinegar to sweet milk or 2) drive to my grandmother's for some buttermilk. So I drive to my grandmother's.
I get home, start pulling out other ingredients and... I don't have vegetable oil. I can 1) drive back to my grandmother's house for vegetable oil or 2) find a substitute.
Twenty minutes of phone calls to grandparents later, I'm using butter instead of vegetable oil. I think it's a perfectly good substitute. (And it ends up making the cake absolutely delicious!)
Finally, we're making a cake.
Preparations go well. Cake mixes well. Cake bakes well. Cake even comes out of the pans relatively well.
Making the cream cheese icing goes well, minus the powdered sugar that made a nice layer of sweet white dust all over the counter and near-by appliances. Icing the cake goes well. And then I have left-over icing...
So what's a girl to do? Green icing of course! Because green icing is perfect for the red velvet cake with white cream cheese frosting.
I added half a bottle of green food color to the left-over icing, and then I spread it out in thin strips on the top of the cake. I ran across the top of the icing with a toothpick in multiple directions to make the marble look (well, at least try).
My brother's exact words: "What is that on top?! I'm not eating it!"
And then he ate it... and loved every bite of it. :)
Just goes to show you -- you shouldn't judge a cake by its icing.
She Loves Red Velvet Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 one-ounce bottle of red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure racks are in the middle of the oven, and spray three eight-inch round cake pans or two nine-inch pans. Flour cake pans and shake out any excess.
SIFT flour. Measure two cups after flour is sifted. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa in small bowl. Set aside for later.
CREAM sugar and butter, adding sugar gradually to butter. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add red food coloring and mix.
COMBINE buttermilk and soda in a two-cup liquid measuring cup. Stir well. (Combination will expand, so it's important to use a larger cup to prevent overflow.)
ADD buttermilk/soda mixture alternately with dry ingredients. Mix well. Add vinegar and vanilla to cake batter and mix gently.
DIVIDE batter evenly among the pans. Place cake in oven. Be sure pans to do not touch. Air needs to circulate around the pans for even baking.
BAKE for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn cooled cake onto wire racks. (I put parchment paper down on wire racks to prevent the cake from sticking.) Allow cake to cool completely and then frost.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 pound (one box) confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
PLACE stick of butter in small bowl on mixer and beat gently.
DIVIDE cream cheese into three parts, and gradually add to butter. Mix well, but do not over beat.
ADD sugar to the butter/cream cheese mixture gradually. Add vanilla frosting. Mix gently.
What kind of cutting job is that? I have no idea... It was just that good.
Monday, December 28, 2009
My brother and I made Santa some cookies this year. We're going to start a tradition of trying new recipes for Santa every year, and this year we started with a great cookie! For the peanut butter and chocolate lovers out there, this is a delightful cookie. Let me know what you think if you try it.
Santa's Peanut Butter & Chocolate Drops Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter*
1 bag chocolate and peanut butter morsels (11 ounces)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
*I like more PB, so it's really what you like. It's just for taste.
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add peanut butter and gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels (and nuts if you're using them).
DROP by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I use parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.)
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 4 minutes; move to wire racks to cool completely. (I also put parchment paper or wax paper on my cooling racks so cookies don't stick or fall through.)
I'm showing off at DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land.
And Simply Sweet Home.
Friday, December 25, 2009
May you always believe. Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas!
Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
And you're also not going to believe this... to get this look, I used an old calendar. I loved an old calendar (from Snow & Graham), and I just didn't want to toss it. So I found a remarkable use: gift wrap!
I wrapped the gift in white tissue paper, cut out segments of the calendar with a circle cutter and taped them down. Then I used brown scrapbook paper to cut the recipient's initials. I have to admit, L and H were really easy to cut out. I wouldn't have done an S. Haha! Too hard. But stickers would work too!
Now that the wrapping is all done, will it hurt too much to watch people open their gifts? Nah...
Easy peasy to make.
Step 1: Print photos out or use photos and trim to include the gift's recipient, or in this case, me and the gift's recipient.
Step 2: Trim the photo. Here, I backed mine with black scrapbooking paper. It made the photo more sturdy but also looks nice.
Step 3: I wrapped the gift and then took a strip of white wrapping paper around the center.. You could also use white ribbon. And with double-sided tape, I taped the picture to the present.
You could arrange a few on the present or do just the one. It's all up to you, and it'll all look great.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I printed up a few things they can cash in... I'll be paying for sushi dinner, renting a movie, baking a cake, watching a football game and being quiet (hehe). They're not really gift cards; they're too specific. But they're redeemable for when the time's right. Oh -- and they're fun to make!
I made the coupons the exact same way I made my service coupons... because, really, they're the exact same, right?
For the Tabi style...
I packed the gift in a pre-decorated box, cut out circles with my circle cutters and used Thickers (thick stickers. get it?) to spell her name. Cute, if I do say so myself. You could arrange the circles in any way you like. Keep in mind longer names need lots of space. I tried to get "Kenneth" on a box, and it was running off the sides.
For the William style...
I wrapped the gift in white wrapping paper. Then, I took red yarn and wrapped it around the top a few times.
For the William part, I printed his name from the printer and then cut each letter out with a circle cutter. I then cut more circles from scrapbooking paper and taped them to one another. I punched holes in the top and stranded them through (in "William" order of course) onto the package. Shorter names would be more visible, but I really liked how this looks.
I'd love to see some of your ideas too!
Here's how I did it.
For the red one - Step 1: Wrap your gift as usual and then wrap matching yarn around it in whatever style you want. Get some ideas here from Martha.
Step 2: Trace the letter you need, in this case an N, on scrapbooking paper. Cut it out and glue it to cardstock. Then cut it out again. The cardstock keeps the letter from curling.
Step 3: Tie it onto the package, and you're done!
For the brown package - Step 1: Wrap the gift, and then use white ribbon or white wrapping paper to create a ban around the package.
Step 2: Trace and cut out whatever letter you need. You could also do a whole name if you wanted. Then tape or glue the letter to the package.
Have you done any fun wrapping this year? I'd love to hear about it!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Step 1: I found these wooden letters (2 for 99 cents) at Hobby Lobby. I had some basic red acrylic paint in a box at home from art projects past, so I bought some Martha Stewart fine glitter to match. I painted the letter red with a few coats of paint on all sides.
Step 2: When the paint was all dry, I slathered on school glue and covered it in glitter. When it was dry, I shook it off to check for spots where the glitter didn't cover. Then I put just a bit more glue and glitter to cover that up.
Step 3: I used Christmas crinkle paper to fill the box and stuffed the gift down in it. Then I took wrapping paper -- I'm all about using wrapping paper for lots of different things -- and wrapped it around the box, taping it on bottom.
Step 4: Hot glue or tape the letter on top. And you're done. You could add ribbon or yarn to the handle, tie on a tag or stick stickers on it. The recipient can keep the letter in addition to the gift!
Wrap your own gift in electrical tape. Here's how...
1) Wrap a gift in any plain paper. If I could do mine again, I would have put a light green or brown craft paper instead of white. The white electrical tape doesn't really show up, but live and learn.
2) Make a design with the tape in any way you like. I chose to do a lattice work since I'm obsessed with lattice work now that I figured it out.
3) Tape or hot glue an ornament to the top, and there you have my take on colored masking tape wrapping!
Not too bad, really. :)