Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crocheted Shamrock Wreath

I was recently taught how to make crocheted hearts by a friend of mine. I was hooked! (how punny... get it??) Started whipping those things out like it was nothing. While I was there, She gave us a pattern to make shamrocks too! I was so excited to get started. I made a crocheted garland with my new hearts and it looked super cute put up with my Valentine's day decor. So then I moved on to learning and conquering the shamrocks. I don't usually decorate for St. Patrick's day itself, but go straight to Easter and Spring stuff. I thought I would give the Irish holiday a turn. Starting small this year. Just a few little things on my mantel and some green flowers in my flower vase. No biggie. What I thought was still missing was something for my front door. I used a Styrofoam wreath form that I wrapped in white yarn, then criss-crossed hunter green yarn around the wreath. Next I painted a rectangular wood piece with chalkboard paint. I further embellished with some green buttons that I found in my jar o' buttons and called it good. I am liking the simplicity of it. Yes, definitely feeling the green love...

If you would like a pretty good picture tutorial of how to make the shamrocks yourself, go here. Though it is not exactly the same as the pattern I used, it looks easy enough even for beginning crocheters.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Soft and Tender Frosted Sugar Cookies

When I was growing up, it was a tradition to have rolled and cut out sugar cookies (that were frosted with homemade buttercream frosting) at Christmas and Valentine's day. I looked so forward to those things. My Grandma made them. My Aunt made them. My Mom made them. Oh man! They are like a kiss from Heaven! (Or some other flowery description.) Anyway, childhood flew by and I got married and suddenly I had the opportunity to supply myself and my new husband with our own sugar cookies. Awesome!! Ok, so, at first, though, not so awesome. I failed several times. It drove me crazy! Turns out there is a special secret that goes into them. Turns out it was a simple thing. You have to treat the dough with tender loving care. I mean, literally put love into them. Yes, that is the trick. Think happy thoughts and don't roll the dough too much. It toughens it. Just like people, they need to be treated kindly and sprinkled with extra sweetness. See, there ya go. These cookies hold the secret to a sweet life.

Soft and Tender Sugar Cookies (Jen's family recipe)
makes about 3 dozen

1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups flour (plus some extra for dusting)

Cream the sugar and shortening together, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add the water and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the salt, baking powder, and flour, slowly stir to combine. Continue to beat gently until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into thirds. Lightly flour your rolling surface and roll dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch even thickness. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut your shapes out of the rolled dough. (Save your dough scraps and add them to your next 1/3 of the dough.) Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for 1-2 minutes then remove cookies from sheet to cool on a cooling rack. When completely cooled, frost with your choice of buttercream frosting and decorate to your choosing.

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. These cookies are better the next day. I kid you not. They absorb moisture and become even more like Heaven. Trust me. Save a couple for the next day. You will thank me...

Here is the buttercream recipe that I use. Pretty standard, I think.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar (1 lb box)
6 tablespoons milk

In a mixer bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Combine in mixer. Drizzle in the milk while stirring, adding a little at a time until the frosting is at the desired consistency. Frost your cookies and eat them. The end.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood Clothespin Doll

I have been eyeballing these adorable clothespin dolls on Pinterest for such a long time, stocking up on the bits and pieces but I finally couldn't take it anymore! Marched myself (and my loving husband) to the craft store and purchased the remaining supplies necessary to make some of my own! Another thing that prompted me was the fact that my daughter is having a Red Riding Hood themed birthday party in a month and a half and I needed some kind of cute little table decorations. These would be the sweetest little take away goodies for her guests! This is my first attempt, mind you but I plan to keep going. These are so easy to put together and the possibilities are limitless! I would eventually love to make some for the holidays and seasons as I get better at it. There are some tutorials out there on the internet, but I found I didn't even really need one. Once you have all the supplies you need, you are already there! Paint the parts to please you, embellish as desired, and voila! The stinking cutest little dolls ever. I will say that I wish I had sealed the project with some sort of sealer. I think that would have added to the durability of it. Well, something to fix for next time.

Kid's Class Valentine's Day Exchanges

I like to plan ahead for things if I can and so I started brainstorming and searching for ideas for little Valentine's day goodies shortly after Christmas. Found a super cute idea for a yarn project where you use regular yarn to make the cutest little "love bugs." I thought that would be a perfect idea for my daughter's class. So, I purchased the supplies and they had been sitting on my craft table since New Years.
Finally found some time so I got busy. I made 36 of my little love bugs, added heart punched antennae attached with chenille stems and then attached them with a dab of hot glue to the end of some Valentine's themed pencils. .

My daughter and I also had fun naming each one. I figured, since I was printing the tags myself anyway, might as well switch it up a little! We used names that we keep  hearing a lot lately. You know, names from popular shows like, Honey Boo Boo and all the Disney princesses... Couldn't resist! ;-)

 Then we used a scalloped circle punch to take "bites" out of the sides of the tags. (Because bugs bite things. Get it?) Haha. So, I am thinking these are the cutest bugs I have seen in a long time!

Next I moved on to my youngest son's class exchange. He ordered "nothing fancy or girly." He is 8, after all... I had found some little heart mazes at Dollar Tree. 9 to a pack!! Super cheap!! Love that. I simply printed out the saying onto sturdy Stampin'Up cardstock and then attached a Tootsie pop to the back. (Son is a MAJOR lollipop fan!) And guess what?? He approved! In fact, he loves them and declared them "perfect!" Hooray!! He made my day. I am excited for them to be handed out. Looking through their cute little Valentine's day card holders when they get home from school, is one of my favorite Valentine's day traditions. I have strawberry milk and heart shaped pancakes on the menu for breakfast  for my 4 kiddos and hubby, along with their traditional card/candy/stuffed animal gifts. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
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