Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I built a small village

My friend Kirsty at Four Happy Violets invited me to join her little house ornament swap. Each participant will create a little house ornament to send to their swap partner using the wonderful tutorial and pattern created by Kim at Retro Mama blog. 
I had such a good time making my little ornament house for my swap partner that I ended up making three...and there is a good chance I'll make more.

Each house is a bit different, using little bits and bobs of left over trim, fabric scraps and felt.
After completing these three I thought of more ways to change up this little ornaments to make them a bit more unique, yet staying with the basic pattern.
The background stitching in black just outside of the door and windows which gives them depth and a sense of perspective. 
And the little house numbers...are they sweet?  Did you figure out immediately what I used?  Yep!  You guessed it.  The numbers are from the salvage edge of fabric giving the color dye match.  It's generally a piece of fabric you'd toss out but what cute house numbers they make.

These little ornaments will look sweet hanging from the Christmas tree, a door knob or even as a shelf or bowl display.

I think I'll make up some more houses just for fun.

Until next time,


Monday, January 30, 2012

House Mouse and Friends Blog Hop

I'm very excited to be a part of House Mouse and Friends Monday Challenge blog's FIRST BLOG-HOP of 2012! 

Our wonderful Teamie, Christine, is hosting this Blog-Hop Challenge and she wants to see you creating LOVE THEMED projects with MORE than one HEART.  It's the perfect challenge and just in time for Valentine's Day.

For my sample card I used the darling Happy Hopper stamp titled A Stitch in Time and colored it with copic markers.   I added some machine blanket stitching to the edges of the BoBunny designer background paper and some soft lace from my sewing stash.  Then just added a few heart shaped punchouts, a heart shaped slide and heart ribbons.  See how fun this challenge is? 


Just because I love my blog-o-sphere visitors SO MUCH I decided to offer some blog candy of my own.  Would you like to win this stamp and some gem bling?  All  you have to do is leave me a comment with telling me what your favorite House Mouse, Happy Hopper or Gruffies stamp is along with an email address so I can contact you if I draw your name.  You have until February 12th at 11 p.m. (EST) to leave me your comment and I'll then use the random number to draw a lucky winner for my own blog candy winner.

So be sure to start the Blog Hop by going directly to House Mouse and Friends Monday Challenge blog hop and see ALL of the fabulous prizes being offered by our wonderful and very generous sponsors. And then you'll want to visit each of the design team's blog.  Many of the DT members are offering prizes so be sure to visit them all.  Then, create a project for this challenge that follows the *LOVE Theme, includes more than one heart*. Remember you must use a House-Mouse, Gruffies or, Happy Hoppers image. Enter your project into this challenge by linking it with Linkitz . When posting to your blogs and galleries, please link your projects back to this blog. You may enter as many times as you'd like, as long as your projects are all NEW creations. You MUST also Become a *Follower* of our Mousie BLOG to be eligible for prizes.

If you've been hopping along on this LOVE THEME blog hop, you should have just come from Heather's Blog

From my blog you'll next want to hop on over to
Kate's Blog

So be sure to begin the blog hop at House Mouse and Friends Monday Challenge Blog and see all of the fabulous prizes and begin the hop.  We have some very generous and wonderful sponsors of the hop as well!  Just look!

We are proudly being sponsored by.... 
The Official, House-Mouse Designs site
  One WINNER will get a $25.00 Electronic Gift Certificate to the official HMD store.

Joanna Sheen

Joanna Sheen will award this UM Gruffies Rubber Stamp Set to One Winner!!!

Pink Gem Designs 
 Winner will receive 3 Digi Images of winner's choice

Die Cut Dreams
 Winner will receive a fab selection of shaped cards & stands

priscillastyles- A $10 Gift Certificate (good for Digi's only)

 Thank you Sponsors for your great generosity!

Your beloved Mousey Design team Family also have this *Love* themed PRIZE that includes Five New Stamps and 50+ Love themed Charms! So FUN!!!

WOW!  Isn't this fun?!  We all hope you'll start "Hoppin'" and join in with the fun on this blog hop challenge.

Until next time...


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I tied one on...

...a new apron, that is, and baked some Rolled Oat Cookies. Actually, this is a new apron I made for someone else, but I did tie one of my old aprons on a baked my Grandma Long's rolled oat cookies today.

I love this apron pattern with its angled pockets, bodice and hem. It isn't a fussy apron and stitched together quickly.
The pockets are nice and deep and I added the buttons as embellishment, though they are not functional, meaning they are stitched to the outside of the pocket. I love buttons whether they are meant to be functional or not.
I think this fabric is really sweet. I bought it years ago and purchased quite a bit. I'm not sure what I thought I was going to do with but last summer I made a number of tote bags with it and still had plenty left over for this apron.

And I did make my Grandma Long's Rolled Oat Cookies this afternoon. When I was a little girl I spent many weekends with my Grandma and Grandpa. In the summer, when I'd mow their lawn, Grandma always went straight to her kitchen and made up a batch of her rolled oat cookies. It was the best "payment" for helping out with chores. Grandma always lightly stewed her raisins before adding them to the batter and then, with the raisin stewing liquid, she'd add that as part of the liquid ingredients to the batter. And of course, she added a hint of cinnamon too. She'd laugh that her cookies never turned out the same each time she made them but I'd insist that they always were THE BEST ever! And they were! Today I substituted dried cranberries and white chocolate chips for the raisins and made them giant sized. The mister will have a giant cookie every day this week in his lunchbox.

I learned something today about rolled oats. I always like to look up origins of things (like yesterday's post about Graham crackers and graham flour.) Anyway, I learned thatrolled oats were first produced in 1877 by The Quaker Mill Company and are known for their distinctive cardboard canister with its red, white and blue label. By 1884 the Quaker Mill Company began selling their product, calling it "Quaker Oats". Incidentally, Quaker Oats is said to have been not only the first packaged food in America but also the first product to be mass marketed in the United States.

And speaking about Oatmeal Cookies. The first oatmeal cookie recipes contained just one half cup of oatmeal. The recipes that we see today, that are loaded with oats, are adaptations of a recipe first developed by The Quaker Oats Company during the Second World War. That recipe also used vegetable shortening instead of butter, which was in short supply. So if you see recipes today calling for shortening you now know where that originated. Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/OatmealCookies.html#ixzz1kDbvkaDA

So there is a little history less today too.
Hope you are having a restful Sunday.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Graham Crackers for Valentine S'mores

There are a few edible items that I generally think about as only available from the grocery store: things like marshmallows, graham crackers, jello, peanut butter...you know; the common childhood memories of yummy goodness but not ordinarily homemade. But my mind works in strange ways and I thought, Why not make them at home? Last year for Valentine's day treats I made homemade marshmallows in three different flavors. You can find my blog post how to make marshmallows tutorial HERE.

The other day as the Mister was making a S'more in the micro-wave (too cold here for bonfires) using a homemade marshmallow I said to myself, "Self! Why don't you give making Graham Crackers a try." (Because that's how my mind works.) So I set about searching for a recipe as to how to make Graham crackers.
And I found several recipes! Just look at my crispy heartshaped graham crackers topped with pink heart shaped homemade marshmallows, topped with chocolate (heart shaped ofcourse!).
Now what's more fun than heart shaped S'mores for your sweetheart?

Back to making graham crackers. In my search I discovered that whole wheat graham flour is not very easy to come by. The graham cracker was developed in 1829 in Bound Brook, New Jersey by a Presbyterian Minister by the name of Sylvester Graham. The real and true graham cracker is made with a combination Graham Flour which is a combination of whole wheat and white flour and coarse-ground wheat bran and germ. So it is an actual flour you might find at your whole foods shop in the various flour bins. That is, if you live in the U.S. Actual Graham Flour is difficult to find outside of the U.S.A. But one can make substitutions and still come out with a fine Graham Cracker. Here is how I made my HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKERS:

Gather your ingredients. They aren't unusual (other than Graham Flour) and you probably have them in your pantry.

Step one: In a food processor or blender place your dry ingredients of whole wheat flour, graham flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and pulse a few time to mix the dry ingredients.

Step two: Cut cold butter into 1/4 cubes and add to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal.

Step three: Add the wet ingredients (all of the remaining ingredients) and process until the dough forms a ball (about a minute).
Step four: Now you are ready to turn out the dough onto plastic wrap and press into a 1/2 thick dough disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if you've got other stuff to do now. The dough can wait.
Step five: Once thoroughly chilled, remove the dough from the frig and roll out between two layers of parchment paper. Roll until the dough is 1/8 inch thick.
Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and remove the top layer of parchment paper. Now you can cut your graham crackers into traditional square shapes or, as I've done, using a metal cookie cutter cut the dough into heart shapes.
Using a fork, poke holes in all of the crackers on top of the dough. Then pop the sheet into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. And VOILA! I made heart shaped graham crackers!
Here is my graham cracker recipe. I tweeked the ones I found and came up with my own recipe, but you can always look up graham cracker recipes online for recipes from true chefs and bakers.

Graham Crackers Recipe:
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of Graham Flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and chilled
1/4 dark molasses
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a food processor and pulse a few times until dry ingredients are combined. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Next, add the molasses, honey, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball. Press the ball into a 1/2 inch thick disc shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or overnight if you prefer.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap the chilled dough and place it between to sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough out until it is 1/8th inch thick. Slide the rolled out dough and parchment paper onto baking sheet and remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough into squares (approximately 2" squares for traditional graham crackers) or using a cookie cutter cut into the shape you desire (I made hearts). Poke holes in the top of each cracker with a fork all the way through the dough. Place baking sheet into the oven on the center rack and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the crackers just begin to turn brown. Remove crackers from the oven and set the sheet on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cool you can break the crackers into individual crackers on the scored lines you made.

If you don't eat the crackers all up they will save in an airtight container for up to two weeks. But what's the chance of your yummy homemade crackers go uneaten for two weeks, eh? *wink*

Now that you know how to make homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows for your homemade S'mores, you need to make your chocolate hearts. For mine, I took a package of Wilton Candy Melts and melted them in the top of a double boiler.

Then, I poured the melted chocolate onto a parchment paper lined 8" X 9" baking pan and let it get cool and firm. Then, to get the same sized heart shapes as the marshmallows with a warmed metal cookie cutter I cut the chocolate into heart shapes.

Note: I didn't have a heart shaped candy mold to use so the cookie cutter method was all I had at my disposal. I highly recommend using an actual candy mold if you have one. It would be MUCH easier to do. Ha ha...I live and I learn.

I whipped up a new batch of marshmallows. This year I added pink food coloring to the batter to make pink marshmallows. Last year I left them white. Either way is fine.

And here is my very own, 100% homemade version of Valentine S'mores.

Next to do is to package them up for Valentine gift giving so I'll post the packages in a blogpost soon once I figure out how I want to package them.

I really hope you'll let me know if you give these a try. I had a blast making these the past couple of days. And now...I've got to go and help The Mister get marshmallow out of his beard.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Penny Black Poppies Sympathy

Sympathy cards are difficult for every cardmaker, I think. I also think that handmade sympathy cards express heartfelt thoughts and prayers. For this card I used a lovely Penny Black stamp simply titled "Poppies." Usually when I think of Penny Black stamps I think of the darling and whimsical hedgehogs and critters but there are many gorgeous floral images as well and this is one I particularly like. This week on Penny Black Saturday Challenge blog the theme is "Anything Goes" and this afforded me the opportunity to use this beautiful Penny Black floral stamp.
Using a Martha Stewart butterfly punch I created layered butterflies with red cardstock and vellum with pearl bodies.

Card Recipe:
Stamps: Penny Black (Poppies) and Papertrey Ink (sentiment)
Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black and image watercolored with Tombow markers
Designer Paper: Autumn Leaves "Pretty Poppies" Mat Stack, card base and images are on Fabriano Aquarello watercolor paper (MY FAVORITE!), red cardstock is from Stampin' Up!
Accessories: Martha Stewart Eyelet border punch and butterfly punch, Nestibilities oval and scalloped oval dies, Tombow markers and tiny white half pearls

I have some Valentine surprises in the works that I hope to be able to post very soon that perhaps you might like to try too. So until later....


Monday, January 16, 2012

All Black and White House Mouse and Friends Challenge # 111

Are you ready for a new House Mouse and Friends Monday Challenge? If so, you'll want to head on over to House Mouse and Friends Monday Challenge Blog for challenge #111 for the "ALL BLACK AND WHITE ONLY" Challenge.Sounds simple, eh? Well, technically it is but let me tell you how hard it was not to add color to the cute little mousie. Not wanting to buck the rules on my first challenge with the DT I managed to keep my card all black and white, though I admit to using my copic markers just a wee bit on the mouse using cool grey tones.
And...I tried out my brand new-to-me lacey oval die from Cheery Lynn Designs. I've been seeing so many new intriquite die cuts on cards lately and I just had to try one out. It is a bit trickier running these delicate die patterns through the cuttlebug but the end product is lovely, I think.

I used some black Stickles glitter and on top of the stickles used clear Glossy Accents dimensional glaze on the ink bottle for a real life ink jar effect.

Card Recipe:
Stamps: Stampabilities "Amanda Writes" and Papertrey Inc "hello" sentiment
Ink: Versafine Black and clear embossing powder. Copic Markers
Designer Paper: Making Memories "Sabrina"
Embellishments: Cherry Lynn Designs cutting dye, Prima Flowers, Miscellaneous black buttons and machine stitching

Be sure to hop on over and join in on today's House Mouse and Friends Monday challenge #111. As always, there are super prizes to be won and gorgeous sample cards for inspiration from the amazing House Mouse and Friends design team.

Also, I wanted to tell you to Mark your calendars for January 30th. It's the day of our very first BLOG-HOP of 2012 !! You will want to join in the FUN and play along on that special challenge too because it will be FULL of excitement and really GREAT PRIZES!!

Until next time,


Friday, January 13, 2012

One stamp - three ways

Day #4 of the CAS online cardmaking class covered some very interesting ideas for using one stamp in a variety of ways and still create clean and simple cards.

I decided to use a Serendipity Stamps set and use the tennis shoes three different. My first card I used a layout from Day #1 lesson and a very old but loved sentiment stamp from JustJohanna stamps that says You have a certain je ne sais quoi. I have a very limited French vocabulary but this is one sentiment that I just love and it suites so many occasions so I thought I'd play it out on this tennis shoe card. I colored the shoes with copic markers except for the center tennis shoe on which I used some paper piecing to match the sidestrip background.
For my second card I used the friends synonyms words stamp from the set and stamped it over and over in versamark and embossed with white detail embossing powder to create the background. Then I simply stamped the shoes on a scratch piece of cardstock in versamark and embossed it in white detail embossing powder and colored the strings with white gel pen. To make the shoes pop a bit I cut them out and mounted them on foam tape, then added grosgrain ribbon bows to the corners. Voila! Card #2 complete! (Oh my...French written twice in one post. I am about at my limit now.)
Card #3 is a really BRIGHT card even though it is on black cardstock. I stamped only a portion of the tennis shoe stamp one a piece of cardstock and then embossed it with the fushia embossing powder. I rarely use this EP and now that I see how bright and fun it is on black cardstock I may have to use it more often. I tied some bright green grosgrain ribbon around that piece of cardstock and mounted it to the cardbase. Then I stamped Friends Forever from the Serendipity Tennis Shoe set in versamark and embossed in white. The card was kind of flat looking so I colored the shoe strings in white gel pen and added faux stitching with the gel pen too. (WHAT?! Faux...French three times in one post! That really is about the extent I know now!)

This is the Serendipity Stamp set I used and made three different cards keeping them CAS.

Time to go outside and help the Mister shovel snow. We got hit really hard here in Eastern Ontario.

Until next time,