Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just Felt Desserts

Here's the book I sat down to craft with...

Here's the book I ended up crafting with...

Dessert anyone?

These are all the supplies it took.  The book is great, but you can do them without, too.  Math this morning, anyone??

The petit fours are wood blocks from the craft store, covered in felt that I cut in a cross shape -- trace your cube to make a template that will strategically cover all six sides.

The foundation for the pie is a strip of cardstock, with tabs running along the top, bottom & one short side.  They're notched at folding joints and all along the shortest side to create a curve for the "crust edge" of your pie.  Make your pie form from your template by folding it to form a triangle.  Tape the tab down.  Using your pie form as a guide, cut 4 pieces of felt: one to wrap around the pie (the color of your filling), one for the bottom (crust-colored), one for the top, and one for the edge crust that's taller than your pie, trimmed with pinking shears.  The meringue and whipped topping... a little trickier.  Here's my template.  Another excellent geometry exercise.  Cut it from felt and gather the tips, securing with a needle and thread.

I love that this fulfilled a need I had to create something, to be absorbed in something new, AND they make sweet homemade toys for my children.  I hadn't planned any of it -- but there you go!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Little Craft with a Purpose

How about sewing some little napkins to jazz up lunch?  (Or breakfast. Or dinner.)

1.  Cut some squares, making length and width 1/2 inch bigger to accommodate folding over & finishing the edges.
2.  Fold & press 1/4 inch on each side with an iron.
3.  Repeat -- so that the raw edge of the fabric is no longer showing. (You've just folded it over twice - no biggie.)
4.  Zip around the perimeter of the napkin with your sewing machine to sew in place the finishing job you just did with the iron.  Use a reverse stitch at the beginning and the end, so that it will hold up to lots of washing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Today, our morning included a lot of bowls...

While Sela wet-felted little balls to fit into acorn caps (nature's cutest little bowls), Linus occupied himself with other bowls.

(We made some of these tops.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stained Glass Cookies

These cookies looked difficult -- but they really weren't!
Make them during a play date for more fun 
(& something for kids to do between steps)

1 cup colored hard candies (Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
star cookies cutters in 2 sizes

1- Put candies into sealable plastic bags, cover with a towel & break them into small bits with a hammer.  Set aside.
2- Cover a baking sheet with foil & spray it with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
3- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4- Combine butter, sugar, vanilla.  Beat egg and add.  Beat in flour.
5- Sprinkle flour on your work surface & roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
6- Cut out cookies using larger star cookie cutter & transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
7- Cut out smaller stars from the cookies on the pan.
8- Bake the cookies for 5 minutes, remove them from the oven & put candy bits into the centers.
Bake for another 5 minutes.
9- Let the cookies stand until completely cool, about 30 minutes.

from American Girl magazine, November/December 2007

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Christmas is over, but it's still winter!
And, there are still some Christmas baubles in stores, at greatly reduced prices -- will you be out and about this weekend to pick up a couple?
Or, you probably have something just-perfect around your house.

How to Make a Swirling Snowstorm
1.  Find a (used) jar with lid and cute-something that fits nicely inside.
2.  Test the jar and lid to make sure they are water-tight.
3.  Glue your cute-something to the inside of the lid with a water resistant glue & let it dry. (Our "tool drawer" had a variety of good options.)
4.  Fill 1/3 of the jar with glycerine (available at Rite Aid, CVS, any pharmacy).
5.  Add some glitter -- you don't need a whole lot (we discovered this the hard way...).  Stir.
6.  Fill with water.  You want to have as little air as possible in your snowglobe, so experiment with putting the lid/figure on and off as you add water.
7.  Put glue on the inside edge of your lid and screw it onto the jar.
7.  Add a decorative ribbon or edging to the lid.

made with the help of Dawn and Jane Bull

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Hero in YOU

We're listening to a CD that we really enjoy. And we're listening to it a lot.
It's Ellis Paul's Hero in You -- it's got a fantastic title track (mama-approved message & a catchy beat) and the rest of the tracks highlight various heroes, from Rachel Carson to Augustus Jackson.

So, naturally, we stopped by the biography section at the library to gather an armload.  (Of course, we couldn't stick just to the CD's heroes.  I was more than a little pleased to see Sela delight in all the possibilities and ask to get extras! I love biographies, too.)

And, even better, Ellis Paul will be here this week!  Live!  Two shows!  If you're not sure where to get tickets, call me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Sweet Start

Make a sweet start of your 2013! 
It's not too late!
I wished someone "Happy New Year" when I passed her in the pool parking lot today, and Sela said, "Mom!  It's not New Year's Day anymore!"
Well, I say the beginning of a whole year can last a pretty long time...

holy moly! raspberry jam roly-poly

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling
10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) butter, frozen
2/3 cup ice water
5 Tbsp jam of your choice
1 Tbsp whole milk for brushing

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt & sugar.
Grate butter into flour mixture & use your hands to lightly toss together.  If the butter starts to soften, pop the mixture into the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the butter to harden.
Stir enough ice water into the mixture to form a "soft, shaggy dough" (I love that description!) that can be squished into a loose ball.  If it's too dry, add more ice water 1 Tbsp at a time.
Transfer the dough to a lightly covered surface and knead 5 or 6 turns -- don't melt the butter.  Do you know why?
Roll the dough quickly into a rectangle approximately 9 x 13 inches.
Spread the jam over the surface of the rectangle, leaving a one inch border on each side.
Roll up the pastry, seal the seam with a little water and pinch the ends to keep the jam from seeping out.
Place your pastry, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet.  Brush lightly with milk & sprinkle (liberally!) with sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool briefly and slice into 6 portions with a serrated knife.

Given to me by a friend who clearly knows me well, this is just one of the recipes from this cookbook that we'll be digging into in 2013.  Sweet start, sweet year.  I hope you'll come over and share some with us!

"Why is butter frozen?" author, Jill O'Connor writes.
Here's her answer:
"Grating the butter is an easy way to ensure that small, even pieces of butter are distributed throughout the dough.  When the pastry bakes, these little pieces of hard butter will melt, forming air pockets that make the pastry light, crisp and flaky."  SO easy!  Great advice for pies, too!