Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gaining...

Been baking a lot lately...

Being around this many sweets is having an effect on me.

I realize there shouldn't be a correlation between these kinds of cupcakes
and the kind that add serious calories to your diet.

These cupcakes shouldn't be capable of spoiling your appetite
for less caloric, more nutritious items.

Nevertheless...

Tell that to my bathroom scale.




These (and more) cupcakes are cooling in my Etsy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wow...

This has been a very good week. Why, you ask? This week three rock star lady bloggers featured my work on their blogs. Seriously. I know. I was as shocked as you are. You could have knocked me over with a proverbial feather.

First Rosie, from Fabric Shopper Online, highlighted the pillows I made last week. I remember when Rosie first commented on my blog about a year and a half ago. I was so honored that someone of Rosie's "blogger status" would leave a comment on one of my posts. I even called my daughter to tell her about it! Rosie really is an amazing lady and loves fabric almost as much as I do. Go check out her blog, Fabric Shopper Online, to learn more about new fabric collections, where to buy them, and fun sewing projects!

Then on Tuesday, to my surprise, my pillows were featured as a "Frugalicious Friday Feature" on Finding Fabulous! I'm sure most of you read this blog on a daily basis. It's one of my favorites. I especially love the Frugalicious Friday Posts, however, each one of Jane's DIY and craft posts are worth serious contemplation. I'm learning a lot. For example, here's a post from this week that I loved. Makes me want to hit all the Goodwill stores in the area and stock up on chairs!

Finally, today I received a text message from my daughter-in-law. It said, "Did you see that "Be Different Act Normal" highlighted your cupcake totes?" My jaw dropped. To the floor. Then I squealed. Loudly. I love this blog. Check out this pinata that is featured today. It's gorgeous. It was inspired by a camellia. (The "creative pinata wagon" obviously passed me by because the pinatas I've made over the years have been inspired by pigs, Santa, and mice.) I bookmarked this post because I want to create a pillow with this flowery feel. This blog is pure inspiration. Love it!

Anyway, I'm very appreciative of these kind ladies that featured my work this week. Not only is it wonderful to know that your projects are appreciated in some way, but these features translate to tangible sales in my Etsy shop. Ergo -- I owe you, ladies. Thank you so much!


Thankful Thursday...

It's been awhile since I've done a "Thankful Thursday" posts. Need to get back on the bandwagon...

What moved me this week?

This week I sold a cupcake tote to a woman named Sarah. She requested that I mail the tote to her niece. Sarah also asked that I include this note. "Happy Birthday C---! Even though we are far apart, we think of you often, and we love you so much! Love..." Such simple words, but they had an effect upon me when I read them. What a fortunate little girl to have an aunt who cares enough to remember her birthday and demonstrate her love so sweetly. Simple words, simply said have the power to move.

What surprised me this week?
I love Pottery Barn, but I rarely buy anything there. I've found in most cases if I wait a month or two that other, less expensive, stores will have a look alike item at less than half the price. However, every once and awhile I find a little something that catches my eye and holds it. PB has for sale a set of seven keys that prices each key under $3 a piece. That's a pretty sweet little surprise. Running through my mind is about a hundred ways to use them in my home...

What inspired me this week?
I've been thinking a lot about "accomplishing goals" and "achieving dreams" lately. Watching the Olympics probably has a lot to do with this stream of thought. Certainly the athletes and their stories are captivating and inspiring, but there is another who has inspired me even more. When my husband was 18 years old, he started the necessary preparations to gain a private pilot's license. He acquired enough hours at that time to solo, but in spite of his desire to do so, he was never able to finish the hours required to obtain his license. College, work, seven children, a demanding wife and a home mortgage booted that aspiration right out the door for a good long time. In May he began flying again, and last Monday he received his license. His patience and persistence in achieving this life-long dream motivates me to follow my own dreams. After receiving his license that day we were talking, and he mentioned that he was especially glad he met this goal in the "right order." He was referring to the fact that he had put the goal of pursing his pilot's license on hold for 30 years, so he could persist at the more important goal of spending time with and taking care of our family. His love and care for me and our children inspires me.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Been baking...

Yesterday I fired up the oven in the morning and didn't turn it off until late last night. I baked all day long and by the end of the day, here's what I had to show for myself...

...a half dozen cupcakes in assorted delicious flavors -- lime, cherry, strawberry, and sherbert! These little cupcake totes look good enough to eat!

With Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd better bake up a couple of batches of my Lil' Girl Cupcake Totes.

Last year they became very popular during Easter time because the Easter bunny used them as Easter baskets for many a little girl!

They make a cute basket! Just put a little "grass" in the bottom and then fill with plastic eggs, jelly beans and a chocolate bunny or two!

Then when the jelly beans & chocolate bunnies are a distant memory, your lil' girl will still have a purse for all her valuables...

It doesn't matter what your age, we women need a special place for a little change and some lip gloss!


These "cupcakes" are on display in my Etsy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Artisan Bread

I've baked my share of bread in my life, but I've never found such a simple and simply delicious bread recipe. Seriously, you've got to try this crusty on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside loaf! This bread has a unique rustic taste and texture. I made three small loaves yesterday and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator to bake later in the week. We used one loaf today with a little butter and homemade jam for breakfast and paired it with cheese for grilled sandwiches for lunch. The other two loaves I used as bread bowls for dinner tonight.

It's easy to have fresh bread whenever you want it with this recipe. To start, just mix the dough and let it sit for two hours. No kneading required. Then shape and bake a loaf, and refrigerate the rest to use over the next couple weeks. You heard me right -- weeks! When you want fresh-baked crusty bread, take some dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rest and rise for about 40 minutes, then bake. Your house will smell like a bakery, and your family and friends will love you for it. Seriously, it's the easiest bread recipe in the world! Here's the recipe...


Artisan Bread in Five Minutes

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
cornmeal

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be soft. Loosely cover. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and lumpy bottom. Put rounded dough on cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest and rise 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place an oven proof dish with about 1+ cup water on the bottom rack in your oven. (This will ensure a crispy crust.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

4. After the dough has risen, dust top of dough with a little flour, slash top with serrated knife three times. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes.

Tip: To keep the "crusty-like" crust on the bread, don't wrap it or put it in a tightly sealed container after baking.

Yield: about 4 loaves

Enjoy!

These photos are from the bread I made with this recipe.
Above is the bread bowl we had for dinner...
Cheesy Potato Leek Soup w/ tons of veggies & chicken!



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pillow II...

If ever I loved a pillow, it would be this one. I think I could marry it. I'm about ready to get down on one knee and propose. My husband should be very worried. I do believe this pillow is my favorite of all time. I finished it last night, and this is what I woke up to this morning. Hello sunshine...

Again, this is the inspiration child of a post at Jesse Kate Designs. This time I was a dutiful student and I followed the instructions and dimensions exactly. I love how it turned out. Such an easy pillow to make, but so beautiful...

I'm in love with these flowers. They make anything look spectacular. I'm thinking of hot gluing one onto my face.

Again a little ruffley goodness on the back of the pillow.

The ruffle hides the opening where one can slip in a pillow form...

This pillow fits the chair I'm putting it on perfectly. This chair is one of the "well-loved" items in our home. ("Well-loved" is a nice way of saying it looks like heck, but it's got sentimental value so it stays.) It was bought about 32 years ago when my husband and I were expecting our first child. We've rocked many a screaming and contented baby in that chair. You should hear it creak when it rocks. It's a miracle any child can fall asleep while being rocked with all that racket! Lots of good memories in that chair...

This pillow resides close to the pillow I made yesterday. This is the room I've been painting the last couple of days. I used the same paint that I used in the basement on the accent wall and put it beneath the chair rail in this room. I was really surprised how different the "aqua" paint looked in this room -- it turned a soft, baby blue here. I finally figured out that the creamy paint above it brought out the blue in the paint. In the basement bedroom this paint is next to a stark white, which brought out the aqua color in it. Again I bought these bed linens at Marshall's. Comforter: $39; Shams: $12. I'm in love with that store.

Back to the business at hand. Yes indeed, I'm going to make one of these and plant it right on my forehead. (Go to my sidebar to find the tutorial on how to make these delicious flowers!)



Linked to:
"Get Your Craft On Thursday" at Life as Lori
"Strut Your Stuff Thursday" at Somewhat Simple
"Transformation Thursday" at The Shabby Chic Cottage
"Frugalicious Friday" at Finding Fabulous
"Creative Cats" at Poppies at Play

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pillow...

I'm in the painting mode these days. It seems like whenever I get a paintbrush in my hand, it doesn't come out until all the rooms in my house have had a make-over. (That's a slight exaggeration.) My husband tells our friends that we have lost square footage in our home since we moved in because I have painted the walls so many times. He may be right. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing like a freshly painted room. And, as I keep reminding my husband, paint is cheap! A bucket of paint and you can change the whole look of a room.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was going to tell you about a pillow I made today. In between applications of paint, I made a pillow. I was totally inspired by these pillows at Jesse Kate Designs. Aren't they beautiful? I should have followed the instructions she included, but that would have been a first for me and would have made it far too easy. Instead I changed the dimensions a bit and added a couple more flowers. I think I like her dimensions better. Live and learn.

I've made flowers like this for my wristlets, but this time I used a chiffon fabric. The transparency of the petals remind me of poppies. Love them.

The floral fabric on the left {in the photo above} and the "art deco" fabric in the middle I bought a few weeks ago for a wristlet, but I decided to use them for this pillow instead. In fact I just ordered about 5 more yards, from Fresh Squeezed Fabrics, of the floral to make some draperies for the bedroom I started repainting today. This pillow will be in that room as well.

Instead of using burlap, like the pillow that inspired me, I used a natural colored muslin. I love the look of burlap, but the scratchy, fiberish feel of it drives me nutty. I think I'm allergic to the stuff. I love the look of this natural muslin. I used it on the front and back of the pillow.

Did you notice the little ruffle on the back of the pillow? It's strange when you like the back of the pillow as much as the front, but the back of this one has a lot of appeal for me. I love ruffles, but, as you might know, I often use a ruffle to hide something and this is no exception.

This ruffle hides the opening on the back of the pillow. I always try to incorporate an opening to my pillows so the cover can be laundered. Then I make a pillow and insert it in the cover. I use velcro for the closure.

I do love this little number.
Thank you Kris for sharing your idea with all of us!



FYI: Fabric selection, clockwise from top left

Deco Fans in blue, Dolce, by Tanya Whelan
Green & White Swirl @ Hobby Lobby
Marilyn in blue, Dolce, by Tanya Whelan
Natural muslin @ Hobby Lobby


Linked to:
Visit thecsiproject.com
"Get Your Craft On Thursday" at Life as Lori
"Strut Your Stuff Thursday" at Somewhat Simple
"Transformation Thursday" at The Shabby Chic Cottage
"Frugalicious Friday" at Finding Fabulous
"Creative Cats" at Poppies at Play

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy New Year...

Here's one of my grandsons
wishing you a
HAPPY Chinese New Year!

We're still trying to figure out those blond extensions
(connected to the hat).
Judging from the second photo (above)
someone else is wondering
about them too!

Cutest little tiger cub I've ever seen...
(the one on the left...)