Friday, July 25, 2014

Trail Mix Cookies

makes about 65 cookies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup unsulfured molasses
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz pkg) chocolate chips
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup cranraisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°
Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a bowl and set aside
Beat butter, molasses, sugar, until creamy
Add eggs mixing well
Gradually mix in dry ingredients
Stir in chips, oats, raisins, cranraisins, walnuts

Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet
Bake about 15 minutes or until firm
Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes
Remove to wire racks to cool completely

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Upcycled Rug

My daughter recently repainted her room and her purple area rug no longer went with the new look. Instead of tossing a perfectly good rug that had no wear I decided to try to change the color with dye. This rug was perfect for dying - cotton rug with no rubber backing. I had seen pictures at The Rit Studio of dyers using Rit Color Remover to take the color out of clothing before dying. Normally I wouldn't have bothered. Going from purple to navy blue isn't that far of a stretch color wise but I wanted to see if this Color Remover would work.

Since you always start with clean, wet fabric step one was to wash the rug. Then it was time to use Rit Color Remover. While the rug was still dry I had tried to weigh it but my digital scale was being stupid. Four boxes seemed like a good number to start with. I tried to use the Color Remover in my front loaded but something went wrong. Probably user error. My washer emptied most of the Color Remover before the cycle started.

Well that's not right.
I rinsed the rug and then washed it again to get what remover there was out. The next morning I went back to the craft store for 4 more boxes of Color Remover. I was working under a deadline. Hubby was turning off the water when he got home from work to finish a plumbing project. This time I used my trusty utility sink in the laundry room. I dumped the 4 packets in the tub with lots of hot water and stirred. Then I added the wet rug. I swished it around off and on for about 30 minutes.

That's more like it.
There was no real way for me to wring out the rug so I just tossed it in the washer and turned on a rinse cycle. Then washed the rug with soap to get the remover out. I washed out the utility sink. Then filled it up with 4 bottles of Navy Blue Rit Dye and about 3 cups of salt. Added the wet rug and swished again for about 30 minutes.

The dye bath looked a little purple-ish but I wasn't worried.
I drained the utility tub out and filled up back up with plain water and let the rug soak while Hubby did his plumbing thing. One hour later he had the water back on and I could continue. I threw the rug into the washer to rinse the dye off. Then again with soap to get all the extra dye out. Usually I hang the rug over the back fence to dry but we were having heavy thunderstorms that night. Three dryer cycles later it was finally dry.

Looks great.

Before and After

Important Note - Make sure your gloves are longer than the dye bath is deep.

Hey look! I'm a Smurf.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

4th of July Pinwheel Cookies

I made these cookies for the first time 2 days before our huge 4th of July party. Probably not the best time to try a new recipe but I like to live dangerously. I was going to make striped cookies but didn't have a clear idea. After searching around on Google I saw pinwheels cookies. So I thought I'd give them a try.

I don't mind getting ideas from a Google search but I like to use a reliable source for my recipes. I found a good basic recipe on Wilton's website. The first time I made these for the party I was rushing and made two mistakes. I added baking soda instead of baking powder and I added too much almond extract. No big deal though, they still tasted great. When I made the cookies this week, I went back to the baking powder but doubled the almond extract that the recipe called for, cause yum!

4th of July Pinwheel Cookies
makes about 100 cookies

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
blue food coloring
red food coloring

Combine flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl and set aside
Beat butter, sugar, vanilla & almond extracts until creamy
Add egg mixing well
Gradually mix in dry ingredients
Divide dough into 3 balls
Return one ball to the mixer and add blue food coloring
Mix well until you have the desired color
Set aside the blue dough and wash mixing bowl and beaters
Place another portion of the dough to the bowl and add red food coloring
Mix well until you have the desired color
Taking each colored ball of dough in turn roll flat approximately 1/8 inch thick

Rolling the dough in between 2 pieces of parchment paper makes it a little easier. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°
Take dough out of the refrigerator and lay one on top of the other.

Roll all 3 layers long ways being careful not to tear the dough.

Cut the log into 3 or 4 sections. Working with one section at a time gently elongate the section with your hands. The first time I made the cookies I really tried to make them round. The second time I went for square. Square was much easier, I didn't have to play with the dough as much. Gently stretch the "dough log" to a size you are happy with. It is easier to roll the dough back up in the parchment paper to stretch and roll it. As you can see I stretched the above section quite a bit to get the size I wanted. Make sure you return the sections you are not using to the refrigerator.

Start slicing the log, the pieces should be about ¼ inch thick. I kept the section I was slicing off of in the refrigerator in between baking times.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes
Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes
Remove to wire racks to cool completely

This is the double batch I made for our party. The colors weren't very intense. These were as round as I could get them.

Here's the second batch I made this week. The colors are more intense and not so faded looking.

* Note* I used colors from Wilton's 12 Icing Colors Set. Since I had used up all my red for another baking project, I mixed rose and burgundy. The first batch was too much rose making the cookies look more pink and kind of faded. The second batch I increased the burgundy making the cookies look kind of purpley-red. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Graphic 45 By the Sea Bird House

A few weeks ago for Mother's Day I made a Treasure Box for my Mom using Grapic 45 By the Sea paper collection. I wanted to make a companion piece for my Dad for Father's Day. That was my whole plan which wasn't much. Since I was winging it, I didn't take pictures. So sorry no step by step tutorial.

I went to Jo-Ann's and bought a birdhouse that kind of had a light house look to it and flat sides to decorate. First I painted two coats of Folk Art Chalky paint in Antique Mustard. Next I Mod Podged paper on the sides. Adding the paper on the front of the bird house was a little tricky to work out. With the hole and the peg it was difficult to line up the paper right. I fooled around with a few pieces of plain scrap paper but couldn't get it just right. I tried using hole punches but nothing would line up right. I was getting really frustrated. Finally one night in bed (I usually do my best thinking when I'm suppose to be sleeping) I realized if I cut the paper in half vertically I could line up everything better. Phew! It still took a few tries but eventually I got it all lined up, mostly.

Look close, you can't tell that the paper was cut in half. I save every scrap of this paper. It's so beautiful I don't want to waste any plus you just never know what you may be inspired to use. Using scraps from the side pieces I cut angle pieces and used the reverse side around the base of the house. Some jute twine around the peg hides the fact that I didn't cut the circle exact. I hot glued a few shells from a walk on the beach last summer.

At first I had painted the entire house yellow but decided to change the roof to Americana Williamsburg Blue that almost matches the paper. I hated to cut a whole sheet for the roof but really liked the little anchors. Some jute twine wrapped around the top along with a few sea shells.

Here are both pieces together. I love how they complement each other and my parents home.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer "Wreath" Tutorial

I love having seasonal decorations around the house. While Christmas & Halloween are big in our home, I also like to change things up in between Spring & Summer. As much as I love my Spring Wreath I wanted to do something a little different for Summer. After playing around on Pinterest for awhile I decided to walk around my favorite craft store, Jo-Ann's to get more inspiration.

I found this awesome frame-thingy. It reminded me of screen door.

I decided on lilac chalky paint for the color. First step was to tape off around the chalk board. I painted two coats on each side. I have to say it would have been easier to paint if I could have popped the chicken wire out. Instead I used a small detail brush and took my time.

I knew I wanted seed packets to attach to the screen. I couldn't find the look I was hoping for at my local home improvement center. A quick google search under "antique seed packets" got me there. I printed them on regular computer paper from my inkjet printer, nothing fancy here. The size for each is roughly size 4" by 6". Using some thin, scrap, cardboard I inked the edges to give them a finished look. Using Mod Podge I attached the "seed packets" to the card stock. After letting them dry for an hour or so, I sealed them with more Mod Podge on top.

 The cloths pin was "stained" with some Rit Dye I happen to have.

I knew I wanted flowers but had a hard time finding a flat pot or container. After searching my craft room for something else I could use, I stumbled upon my stash of plastic containers. I save these cause you just never know when you might need to store paint, sand, mod podge, glitter or whatever.

Once the container was cut in half length ways, I used craft glue to attach a sturdy piece of scrap cardboard to the back.

Using hot glue I carefully covered the container in jute twine. I just used a little glue to hold the twine in place. Of course it was once this was done was when I am I going to attach this to the screen. I carefully made 4 holes through the back of the container and fished craft wire through the container and in between the twine. I cut a small piece of floral foam and added some silk roses I had from another project.

Once I tried to attached the container to the screen I realized the wire wasn't going to be sturdy enough. As you can see I wrapped a small piece of jute twine around the container and tied it tightly in the back.

I had purchased children's garden gloves and garden tools to attach to the screen too. However, they were too heavy and I couldn't get them attached to the screen the way I liked.

I really like the chalk board at the top. It will be perfect to leave messages for our guests when we are in the back yard.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Graphic 45 By the Sea Treasure Box

When Graphic 45 came out with By the Sea paper collection, I fell in love. I knew I wanted to make something for my parents using this beautiful collection. Ten years ago my parents retired to a small barrier island in New Jersey called Brigantine. I thought By the Sea would fit in perfectly with their decor. I chose to make a small treasure box for my Mom for Mother's Day.

Graphic 45 papers are not available at major craft stores. I found a collection of By the Sea tags at a small scrapbooking store near Lancaster, PA. I ordered the papers from At Joann's I found a cute set of boxes and picked the middle size for this project. The other two are going into my craft stash for a future project.

Like most of my projects I didn't have a clear plan. I decided not to paint the box and just to use the plain brown paper as a background. I used matte Mod Podge to adhere the paper to the box and lid.

The nice thing about Graphic 45 is that their papers are two-sided. So for the inside of the lid I used one side of the papers for the lid and the other for the sides.

For the inside of the box itself I used the same paper as the inside of the lid and added a tag in the corner. I also "fussy" cut a seashell out. "Fussy" cut means to target a specific area on a paper or fabric and cut out just that area. I had cut the bottom paper a little too small so I edged around with some jute twine that I had with hot glue.

Back to the lid - I cut the paper to show this cool fish. I also used the other side of the paper (not shown here) to the edges of the lid box. I gently coated the lid with Mod Podge to seal the paper and to protect the surface. While it was drying I made a tag with some navy blue scrap paper I had and a seashell I had collected in Brigantine. More "fussy" cutting and twine finish off the tag. The tag itself and the individual pieces were also Mod Podged for protection. To attach the tag I used a few glue dots. Glue dots are one of the best inventions around.

For the outside of the box I used the same paper as the lid and Mod Podged it down. I added a tag and some more seashells. Using Mod Podge I used craft sand the same way you would add glitter to a project.

This was my first time using Graphic 45 papers and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and weight of their papers. I very happy with the way this projected turned out. My Mom loved her gift.

I have plenty of paper left. I am currently working on something for my Dad for Father's Day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

makes about 100 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 ¼ cups peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°
Combine flour, baking soda, salt in a bowl and set aside
Beat butter, peanut butter, sugars, vanilla until creamy
Add eggs mixing well
Gradually mix in dry ingredients

Roll into balls, place on baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a fork (dip fork in flour to prevent sticking)
Bake about 9 minutes or until firm
Cool on backing sheets for a few minutes
Remove to wire racks to cool completely

Slightly adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook