Thursday, December 31, 2009

Carrot Cookies..

It's that time of the month again..
Flavor of the Month has been so much fun to do!!
This month is "Cookies".
While I have many cookie recipes that are my "favorite", I thought I would share one of my childhood favorites, and try to get my kidlets into them too.

Orange Carrot Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla (I tried Almond extract in them and mmm..  yummy!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked, mashed carrot

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add the egg and mix well.  Add in the dry ingredients, vanilla, and carrot, finish mixing.
Place by teaspoon fulls (I use my smallest scooper) on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

Then comes the icing..

4 tablespoons butter (or margarine) softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
zest from half an orange
pinch of salt
powdered sugar

Mix all and add powdered sugar until it reaches a thick, but not too runny consistency.
Ice the cookies while still warm.

Now, I LOVE and ADORE carrots..  I have my entire life.  I have given them credit for my great eyesight..  until my late twenties when I had to get reading glasses..
These cookies were a favorite of mine when I was little and I still love them now!  My kids like carrots.  Especially with dip.  But this is not the same thing..  they gave me some interesting looks while making them, so I knew it would be fun getting them to just try them out.  Merrill even gave them a whirl, he was the one giving the weirdest looks by far.  He said they were "okay"..  and he doesn't like much of anything.  In fact, I am still trying to figure out why he likes me! ;)

A little force was necessary on the part of the kiddos trying them out....  :D

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On to the fun stuff..

Off of the "have to" list for a while, and on to the "want to" list.
That is my kind of fun!
Here's a few things I have finally gotten around to doing..  they have been waiting for only a couple of months...

Monday, December 28, 2009

We've been making this and making that.....

Had a sleepover with the cousins last night.
3 of the 4 have new American Girl dolls, so we made girl and doll PJ pants.
Matching PJ pants.
(I will have to share the pattern when I finish tweaking it..)

I also taught Lynnie-lou to crochet tonight!!!
It is so satisfying that these things are being handed-down..  it's even nicer that SHE asked me to show her how.

She was sad to leave it for bedtime, but it was a must..  she was so tired today FOR SOME REASON... ;)
I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a fun day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reminders in Vinyl..

Our house this time of the year called for a couple of new signs, reminders if you will..

Traditions: Spritz Cookies (AKA Press Cookies)

So the licorice caramels are very yummy..  especially if you enjoy black licorice.
Lessons I learned:
Use licorice oil or Anise oil.
I used Anise extract.  Not the same thing.
I used the WHOLE BOTTLE to get the right flavor.
Did I mention they are yummy?
We have been doing a lot of baking this last week.
- Cupcakes
- Mints
- Dipped pretzle rods
- Fudge (that didn't turn out..  there is a difference between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed.  I buy more of one, and love it so much, I think it should go in EVERYTHING!!  Not in fudge though..  no, no. no.)
- Caramels
- Licorice caramels
- Sugar cookies
- Spritz

Spritz are my fondest childhood memory..  and that is what we call them, some people call them "press cookies" but I like Spritz..  sounds more festive. ;)
I remember my mom making them, every year.  She stored them in the largest Tupperware bowl known to man and it wasn't the fake Tupperware, it was the real stuff here people..  the kind that had the little circle on the lid with the notch cut out, I think to put it on a beaded chain?
We used the ginormous bowl as a booster seat as well.
She made them in red, yellow, and green, decorated them with red hots, and I thoroughly enjoyed eating the dough.
I still do.
There is something that having your own children does to you, especially around the holidays.  I am usually on a mission to learn how to do something just the way my mom did when I was small.  That is what happened  the year I had Lynn.
That was also the year Merrill got me my cookie press for Christmas.
Love that guy!
I bet I could have gotten another dozen or so cookies if I could just keep my hands out of that bowl!
It is an easy recipe, I use my Wilton cookie press to extrude them in the fun shapes.


1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of Almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs Almond extract, and the flour, and mix until it forms a dough.  Chill in the fridge until ready to use.  You can either roll in waxed paper, then slice and bake on a cookie sheet, or you can use a cookie press.

Red hots to embellish make them that much cuter and yummy!

Bake at 300 for 6-8 minutes

I love these things..  but I love pretty much anything with Almond extract in it.
My StazOn ink smells like Almond extract..  I get hungry for Spritz while I scrap sometimes for SOME reason. ;)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

RE: Pillowcase Dresses

I have received a couple of questions in the past week about these pillow case dresses..  one from a newly out-of-the-closet blogstalker.  HI CAMI! ;)
So for those questions, here's the original post, re-posted.  Now at the bottom, it says, "Let me know if you have any questions or need any help!"..  and I am serious..  I will help.

There are some who are interested, and I will personally teach (I taught two yesterday...) how to make a darling Pillow Case Dress. But here are the instructions for those who like to self-teach.
I am not taking credit for this much loved, often used pattern/idea, just sharing the tips I found useful...
45 inch wide fabric; the yardage depends on how long you want it to be. I suggest measuring the intended wearer, from shoulder to where you want it to fall, and add 2 inches (or more if you want to lengthen later, or plan on doing a wide hem) . Make sure that your print will look good the way it will be cut off the bolt. You don't want a print with a cute scalloped edge cut incorrectly, so the scallop ends up on the side of your dress, or vertical stripes end up horizontal stripes... in that case, you would want a yard and a third. Peyton's dress I cut at 16 inches.
thread to match your fabric
trim(s), 1 1/3 yards (trim is always optional :)...)
ribbon, I would suggest at least 2 yards
bias tape, at least 1/2 inch wide, but I prefer to make my own, it's easier to work with
Or you can use a pillow case, cutting off the top, sealed edge... and you can skip to step 4.

sewing machine
scissors (a rotary cutter and mat are very helpful too.)
straight pins
device with which to measure...

Here goes!

Step 1: Cut the selvage off the side of your fabric. Measure and cut your fabric to fit you darling girl. Do an overcast stitch along all four sides of your fabric. You don't have to do this step, but I prefer to, as I am a perfectionist, and Grandma would do it that way... I also hate it when a project unravels when it is washed because the raw edges are exposed... I wished I would have done an overcast stitch on Lynn's Halloween costume...
Step 2: If you are attaching trim, as in a ruffle, pin it and sew it now. If you are hemming it, pin it and sew it now. If you are attaching any other kind of trim, pin it and sew it now. Trust me. I learned the hard way...
Sew it...
Step 3: After you have sewed and hemmed, sew the sides, which ever two sides that don't have trim or aren't hemmed, right sides together. I use my presser foot as my classic guide, I don't really measure seams... I just used the edge of my presser foot.
While it is still inside out, press open the seam that you just sewed.
Step 4: Turn the dress-to-be right side out, make sure that the seam you just pressed, is in the center and back. Cut a "J" shaped arm hole (should measure 5 inches, from top of "J" to the bottom) on the folds of the fabric, this should make a "U" shaped cut piece. I like to save these, sometimes I use them to make pockets :). Overcast stitch on those fresh cut areas, if you'd like.
Step 5: Now is the time to make bias tape, if you wish or to attach your pre-made bias tape.
I like to make mine by cutting a strip of fabric 12 inches (for this project) by 2 inches. I press it, not quite in half, so there is just a little lip on one side.
Step 6: Pin the right side of the bias tape to the wrong side of the arm hole. This picture shows double fold bias tape, that works too. That kind just sandwiches the fabric between the two folds of the bias tape. If using double fold, you need not follow the next step.
Step 7: Flip the bias tape over to the right side of the fabric, press and pin..
Step 8: Sew with a straight stitch, to attach the bias tape to the top side of your fabric. You want to sew as close to the edge as you can.
Step 9: At the top of the dress, fold down a quarter of an inch, and press.
Turn down an additional inch, press and pin.
Step 10: Straight stitch again, as close to the edge so you catch both folds, all along to make a pocket for your ties. (Repeat for the other side.)
Step 11: Cut your ribbon, and seal the edges so it won't fray... cut it so it extends about six inches past the top of each arm.Step 12: I like to use Grandma's crow hook, but you can use what ever works best for you, to feed your ribbon through the little sleeves. Make sure they are pulled evenly so there is equal amounts of ribbon on both sides.
Step 13: Tack your ribbon ties, and both layers of fabric with a quick "x" stitch. Tie it in a square knot. This helps so your ribbons won't come out in the wash, and when you ties it on you cutie, one side's bow won't be obviously larger than the other side's...
Let me know if you have any questions or need any help!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mary's Caramels..

I have been making more than digital headers these days..  are you as happy as I am that I FINALLY got my header updated? ;)
There is a woman who lives in the neighborhood where I grew up who made some of the yummiest caramels I have EVER tasted, and she also makes THE BEST pecan roll.  She still puts an extra one on my parents plate, just for me! :D
As I was planning my list of treats to make this year, caramels were on there as usual..  but I wanted HERS.  Thankfully, I have a collection of ward cookbooks that is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.  It helps when you are engaged more than the boring old "just once" and your future MIL gives you one from their ward for Christmas. ;)  I found a recipe for "Licorice Caramels" in the one she gave me.
Mary's recipe is really easy:

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Karyo syrup
1/2 pound butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk (you can lick the can clean if you are like me!)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla.  Stir well on low heat until dissolved.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Cook to a good, firm ball.  Boiling time is about 15 minutes.  Add vanilla.  Pour into a buttered pan.  Let cool.  Cut into squares and wrap.

Now I will let you know, I gave up on candy thermometers about 14 candy thermometers ago.  I use the old "cold water test" and it has never failed me.  If you aren't familiar with the "cold water test", here's how she works:
Take a measuring cup (I prefer my metal ones) put a few ice cubes in it, and fill the rest of the way with cold water.  When your candy is getting close to being at the desired point, drizzle some into the cup, let it take it's shape and you'll know if it's done.

 I also employ my pizza cutter a lot..  it works fantastic for cutting the caramels.

I actually remembered one thing not on my list while on my daily trek to a store...  Anise extract.  I did forget more envelopes and holiday stamps (what are CHRISTMAS cards with a Forever stamp?)..  I will be attempting Licorice Caramels..  I will let you know how it works!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mmmmmm... Eclairs.

I made these beauties for the ward party on Saturday..

I was in a mood I tell ya...
Apparently, they didn't last.  I have to make more and drop them on the appropriate doorsteps. :)
I used this recipe, but instead of spreading, I used my small cookie scooper, dropped them on a greased cookie sheet, baked for 20 minutes at 400, let them cool, and filled them using my gi-hugant piping bag and tip.  I frosted some with my favorite chocolate icing, but left some plain..  well, except for the dusting of powdered sugar, that is.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Traditions: Rolls

This month's theme for "Flavor of the Month" (okay last month theme really..) was "Traditions".  I was all ready and very excited for this theme, and my computer was not.
Windows Vista is not my friend, and never was, really.
Now that I am back up and running, here is my contribution, a day late. :)
It is only the best roll recipe EVER!!  It has become a tradition of sorts..  if it weren't already, I would certainly make them one.

Over Night Rolls

Heat, then cool 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of butter or margarine.  In a separate, small bowl (I use my Pyrex measuring cup) mix 1 tablespoon of yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Moisten with a little warm water (like 1/4 cup) to activate the yeast.
In a large bowl, beat 3 eggs, then add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Add the mil mixture, yeast, and 4 cups of flour.  Stir well.
No need to knead.
Cover and let rise overnight.
Next morning, divide the dough.  Roll into two circles on a floured board and cut the circles into 16 triangles (much like a pizza).  Brush with melted butter or margarine and roll into a crescent shape.
Let rise 4-5 hours and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

It might seem like quite a bit of time to some, but well worth it!
I have memories of the smell of this dough filling the house on Sundays, tantalizing my taste buds during church..  I am so glad my kiddos enjoy them just as much now as I do.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I {heart} brackets

With my craft room in working order again, I have gotten to some long awaited projects..
My magnet board in the kitchen just needed a little "something"..
So I added a "P".
But then the "P" needed a little something too..
That is where the {brackets} came in.

But did you know, that with all the fun wood cut-outs that are out there, there are NO BRACKETS?!  What an atrocity, I know.
I took my Alphalicious Font cartridge and new Cricut Expression, cut out some brackets at 7 and 1/4 inches, traced them onto some scrap wood, and went to visit my scroll saw.
I love that thing..
After some sanding, and a quick coat of spray paint, I ran the paper brackets through my Xyron (with permanent adhesive, of course..) and adhered them to the black brackets.
A little more sanding, some cute trim tied to one, and PERFECT!!

I guess the only thing I would be missing is a calendar for the year 2009..
But I have made it this far in the year..  why bother? ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The craft room is done!!

The craft room is finally finished.
So I will show you the results, and then announce the winners.

As you can see, I did go with a neutral color for the walls.  Neutrals (greys, whites, and browns) are the easiest to work with when you want to change things up quickly and inexpensively.  I also left this colors on the walls of my old bedroom and really loved it, wanted to take it with me..  so I did!
I dreamed of many accent colors but settled on the blue I already had going on and red (which I have been loving lately as well..) black and white always round things out.
Funny thing is, that when I was fantasizing about the two unfinished rooms in the basement becoming one BIG room, that would be all mine, my dream was pale yellow walls with the same accent colors..  Ally would have had it.. ;)  Your birthday gift has been un-earthed and will be on it's way to Georgia soon girl! 
So the winners are:
Brooke, because she hit the accent colors spot on.  Could it be because I was gushing about some pictures over at Julie Parker's blog?

And MANY of you suggested various shades of brown so there was a drawing on that one..
Christie got it.

Congrats ladies...