Saturday, November 28, 2009

Even More Thankfulness!

So I know that Thanksgiving was two days ago, but I'm still thankful for a lot of things! The condo is clean! The hubby and I are going to see Fantastic Mr. Fox today! I got to spend a few days with my parents (which only happens about three times a year thanks to me moving 1,000 miles away)!

My parents drove out to visit us for Thanksgiving this year and we celebrated the holiday at my in-laws' home. When we weren't eating loads of turkey and pie, I took my parents to see some sights and eat some food that they hadn't seen/eaten before in New York and New Jersey. Our first stop was the Intrepid Museum. We had a lot of fun having our pictures taken on stuff:


We even convinced my dad to join in on the fun:


We had a lot of fun exploring other places and eating lots of good food (John's Pizzeria, anyone?), but the fun had to come to an end. My parents left early this morning to start the drive back to the Midwest. I'll miss them, but I will look forward to visiting them next year over Easter!

And that brings me to one of the Christmas presents that I gave my parents. The other day I posted a link to another blog that featured some really cute homemade Christmas ornaments. But today, I'm featuring some different ornaments — that I made, thanks to inspiration from a Vera Bradley catalog.

First you need some cookie cutters. I have to say, finding a bunch of holiday-themed cookie cutters that you can buy individually was REALLY hard, especially because I was looking for snowmen cookie cutters. (My parents' Christmas tree is strictly snowmen ornaments.) Most stores and online retail sites sold big sets of cookie cutters that only featured one snowman cookie cutter, if that, and I wasn't about to buy multiple sets just so I could get more than one snowman cookie cutter. But if you aren't particular about the shapes of the ornaments, a set like this one from Crate and Barrel might work or Target and a variety of other stores sell holiday-themed sets as well.

I ended up buying my cookie cutters from a Kansas City, Missouri store that specializes in cookie cutters! The online store is called Off the Beaten Path and sells a variety of shapes and sizes, including snowmen. I was really pleased with the prices of the individual cookie cutters and shipping, as well as the shipping time. I ordered my cookie cutters on a Tuesday and received them that Friday. The company also emailed me a tracking number so that I would know where my package was along the way. (Although USPS hasn't exactly been on the ball lately with its package tracking.)

Aside from cookie cutters, you'll also need some string or yarn, Elmer's glue, toothpicks (optional), and photos. Now, you can try this with regular photos, but the Vera Bradley catalog's instructions said photocopies. I think this is because regular paper will adhere better to the cookie cutter than photo paper. I just printed out my photos (3x5 size, but it might differ depending on the size of your cookie cutter) on regular printer paper.

Okay, let's get started!
1. Lay out some newspaper on your workspace so that you don't get glue everywhere. (You'll notice in my photos a lack of newspaper. I'm dangerous like that!)

2. Once you have your photo printed, lay the cookie cutter on top of the photo and trace around the cookie cutter. Then, cut out the photo.

3. Tie the string or yarn around the top of the cookie cutter so that it will be ready to hang once you have adhered the photo to it.


4. Using a toothpick (I opted not to do this because I found it was easier not to), spread a thin line of Elmer's glue around the edge of the photo. Then place the cookie cutter on top, press down a bit, and wait for it to dry.

5. Then, voila! You have a cute cookie cutter ornament with a fun picture inside!



Tip: Because printer paper is a little flimsy, I reinforced mine by gluing some white cardstock to the back of the photo. Just trace the cookie cutter onto the cardstock, cut out, and glue. I probably could have avoided this step if I had just printed my picture onto white cardstock in the first place, so maybe that is something to keep in mind as you embark on this crafty endeavor!

And remember, these ornaments don't have to look perfect. Any imperfections only make them more endearing and the recipient will simply appreciate the time and effort you put into making the gift.

Stay crafty!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are all enjoying your Turkey Day. We have good ole Abe Lincoln to thank for giving us this day to eat lots of good food with (hopefully) enjoyable people, watch giant balloons and football, and not go to work!

In honor of the holiday, the founder of Ideas for Scrapbookers posted a "thankful" challenge on Scrapbook.com. Here is the layout I submitted:

These are pictures of me and my husband and some friends at Medieval Times a few months ago. I want to do a similar layout using the pictures I took at Early Thanksgiving two weekends ago with some other friends, but I haven't gotten those pictures printed yet. Here are a few shots from that fun night:


We played a game called The Game of Things and it was hysterical!




We also ate a lot of really yummy food.




Happiness!

One of the many things I'm thankful for this year (aside from the sour milk smell in our bedroom closet going away) is friends! My husband and I have a lot of good friends out here who enjoy just hanging out, playing some board games, and eating freakishly huge sandwiches. The thing that I love the most is just how funny and witty everybody is! At Early Thanksgiving, there were moments when tears streamed down my face because I was laughing so hard. I love to laugh and so I love being around my funny friends. The only bad thing is that nobody lives down the street from us. Everyone lives anywhere between 10 minutes to two hours away! So it's often hard to get together with them on a whim. But the distance just makes it all the more special when we do get together with everybody.

What are you thankful for?

Stay crafty!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My favorite holiday cookies

Has anyone else noticed the holiday coffee cup sleeves from Starbucks? I just love them!



Why do I have so many of these coffee cup sleeves? Well, I'm going to be making something with them. Oh, how I wish I could share with you now, but you'll just have to wait and see! I'm so excited about this, but it's still a little early and I don't want to spoil the surprise for some people. (Just so you know, I did not drink tons of coffee to get all of these sleeves. Some of them were extras that I picked up along with the one that came with my drink—loving the Peppermint Mocha and Caramel Brulee Latte—and some of them came from my co-workers who have been kind enough to give me their cup sleeves and not tell me how my request for coffee cup sleeves was totally weird.)

However, I do have something that I can share with you — this recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I found this recipe on the food blog YumSugar last year and when I made it, I knew it had to become one of my must-bake holiday recipes! The cookies don't have the same texture as regular cookies (I think it's because of the pumpkin) so don't be alarmed if your cookies taste and feel almost spongy. That's how they should taste and feel, as well as tasting delicious! This is a great recipe if you are a fan of pumpkin-flavored things and/or are going to a holiday party and want to bring something different from the standard pumpkin pie. I baked a batch for my book club this month and they were a hit!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of ground ginger
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
15 oz can of pumpkin
1-2 cups of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. Set aside.
3. Beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar together in large bowl.
4. Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
5. Add egg and beat well.
6. Gradually (in 3 steps) beat in flour mixture.
7. Stir in chocolate chips.
8. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets.
9. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for two minutes on baking sheet.
10. Move to wire rack to cool completely.


Don't they look divine? Yum!

Well, that's all I've got for you today. Have a great weekend and stay crafty!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Get Gifting!

Hello again! I don't know about you, but I've already started my Christmas shopping. I sort of had to because this year my husband and I are spending Christmas with his parents, and because his parents and my parents live in two different states, this means that I won't get to see my parents at all for Christmas. So my husband and I will be exchanging presents with my parents when they come to visit us over Thanksgiving. And that's next week already!

If you're like me and need to buy presents early, or if you're just in the beginning stages of looking for some nifty gift ideas, then read on! (And stay tuned to this blog in the coming days/weeks for more cool ideas!)

So, this is not anything crafty and you can't buy it or make it for a friend, parent, etc., but it is gift-related! JCPenney and The Salvation Army teamed up this year for an online giving tree where you can sign up to "adopt an angel" and buy Christmas presents for someone in need. Just go here to sign up and pick a child, teenager, or senior citizen to help out this holiday season. (If you order your gifts through JCPenney.com, you get free shipping!) What I really like about this giving tree collaboration is that you can choose to help someone right in your community by typing in your zip code! How awesome is that? I had a lot of fun shopping for my 4-year-old girl. I swear, I could have bought her everything in the store if I'd been able to, but alas, I do have a budget to follow. Anyway, I urge you to sign up and "adopt an angel". It will really make someone's Christmas brighter, perhaps even yours!

Now onto a crafty gift! A few weeks ago, a fellow scrapbooker over at Scrapbook.com posted a picture of some really cute ornaments — that she made! And now you can too because she's posted instructions on her new craft-focused blog. (I just love that there are so many of us getting crafty out there in blogland!) Go take a look and check out some of the other crafty things she's done. And if you're an avid scrapbooker like me, this is a great blog for getting some scrapbook inspiration! I'll be subscribing to her blog on my Google Reader! Know of any other cool blogs worthy of a Google Reader subscription?

Stay crafty, everybody!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Get crafty with me!

Welcome to my blog! For those of you who may have followed me from my days at LiveJournal, it's so good to see you again. For any newbies, hello and I'm glad you're here.

I wanted to start a blog that had more of a theme and because most of my free time is spent cooking, scrapbooking, and doing crafts, I thought that a blog about those three things (and more!) would be perfect. On this blog I'll be sharing with you really cool ideas for easy-to-do craft projects and paper creations, recipes, and other do-it-yourself projects. I hope this blog serves as an inspiration to aspiring DIYers out there, and I can't wait to be inspired by things that you guys do, as well!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching, I've already gotten started on making my holiday decorations, as well as some very cool and inexpensive homemade gifts. The first project I worked on was a Christmas wreath inspired by those cute yarn ball wreaths that you might have seen in Starbucks last year (can't wait to see what they do this year!). Well, a fellow blogger decided to make her own yarn ball wreath last year and posted instructions on her blog. I was completely inspired to try my hand at this myself, so a few weeks ago, I broke out the hot glue gun and the supplies I had purchased after Christmas last year (everything was on sale!), laid some newspaper on the floor and got started!

First, if you don't have a hot glue gun and glue sticks, go out and buy some! I got mine at Michael's. (I get everything at Michael's and they frequently give you coupons with your receipt so you can go back and get something else really fabulous for 40% or 20% off!) While you're there, go to the floral section and pick up a wire wreath form. Michael's offered two sizes and I picked the larger size because it looked more like a regular wreath size.

You are also going to need styrofoam balls. You can use varying sizes or all the same size. I used 10 of the same size styrofoam balls.

At Walmart, I picked up two packages of yarn - red and white. I like those colors together for Christmas, but you can do red and green or green and white or whatever combination you want!

The next supplies are what you might want to buy AFTER Christmas to take advantage of sales. That's what I did. I went to Walmart and bought two boxes of cheapo ornament balls in red and silver.

Alright, so let's get started:
1. Wrap the yarn over the styrofoam balls. A tip: you want the yarn to go in different directions so it looks yarn ball-esque. I sort of had trouble with this, but in the end, they don't have to look perfect. Tuck any loose ends under a strand of yarn already around the ball. Do this with both colors of yarn. Because I used 10 balls, 5 were red and 5 were white.



2. On a newspaper-covered surface, lay out the wire wreath form and begin to hot glue the yarn balls to it. Like this:3. Start gluing in the ornaments. I put mine on the inside of the wreath, on the top between the yarn balls, and on the outside between the yarn balls. Make sure you don't skimp on the hot glue. You want these suckers to stick on! The end result is something like this:




4. Hang and admire! Woo hoo! I'm using mine as a door wreath, but you can put yours inside if you want.

So that's that! If you have any questions, let me know! If you have other neat wreath ideas, I'd love to see/hear about them! Stay crafty, everybody!