20 December 2011

Traffic Jam

If you've been to Utah, you know what I'm talking about when I say that road construction is widely accepted as part of the scenery. Even though I don't live there anymore, those stop signs and arrows still seem to have seeped into my quilting.

Traffic Jam is a beginner-level pattern that includes comprehensive instructions and diagrams. It's available in my shop in paper or PDF format.
*giveaway is closed* 
For a limited time, I'm giving away three of these patterns (winners randomly selected from the comment pool).  I'll announce the winners after the New Year holiday when I've returned from vacation! Just tell me about your favorite Christmas present of all time. Mine is the year I got my "Easy Bake Oven" and my love for baking has never ceased!

15 December 2011

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

It's time to do some more holiday baking. These cookies are one of my favorites of all time.  Believe it or not, the recipe is from a grocery store from many years ago when I was a kid.  My mom and I were both flabbergasted when we saw how few ingredients were required to make them.  See for yourself!
  • One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 C. peanut butter
  • 2 C. Bisquick original baking mix
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • sugar
  • 36 Hershey kisses
Heat the oven to 375ºF. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, Bisquick, and vanilla extract.  Stir together well with a wooden spoon.
Shape dough into 1 1/4" balls and roll in sugar until coated evenly.
Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes. They will look more noticeably "crinkled."
Press an unwrapped chocolate kiss into the center of the cookie.
Let them cool for 8 to 10 minutes.
This is my go-to recipe for any occasion requiring mass cookie baking. They always end up looking flawless, and I love how they stay soft for several days. It's quite simple really.
peanut butter + chocolate = mmmmmmmm

12 December 2011

The Perfect {Gingerbread} Man

Goodness gracious.  I love everything about gingerbread cookies.  They're fun to make and decorate (especially with other people).  They fill my house with the best aroma ever.  They're soft. They're tasty.  Finally, their presence means that Christmas is almost here!  Wahoo!
  • 1/3 C. shortening (I make half of it butter)
  • 1 C. brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/2 C. dark molasses
  • 2/3 C. cold water
  • 6 C. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 
Roll out the dough 1/2" thick onto a heavily floured surface. I like to lay down parchment paper for easy clean up. I might have gone a little overboard with the flour.
Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out cookies. They need not necessarily be associated with Christmas or winter.

Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. This is what happens when you go overboard with the flour, ha ha!
For the frosting: Combine 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 cup of softened butter.
Add a couple of tablespoons of orange juice to thin the frosting.  Keep adding powdered sugar and orange juice as needed to reach a good consistency to pipe onto the cookies. (Frosting below is still too runny!)
Fill in a frosting bag using a #4 round tip and go crazy!!! Everything looks good in gingerbread form! Let the cookies sit for several hours so the frosting can dry.
I have it on good authority that Santa is a big fan of the cowboy boots!!!

07 December 2011

Lovely Layered Hearts {Tree Skirt}

I have a little confession.
Since I got married eight years ago, I have never ever had a Christmas tree-skirt. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit this!  It's a travesty! Well I decided to give this wretched "tradition" the boot with a totally easy tree skirt made from felt and scraps.
I started out with 1 yard of white felt.
Then, I made a crude protractor by tying one end of a string to a pencil. I held the other end of the string down in the center of the felt and moved the pencil end around to create a perfect(ish) circle.  (Sorry for the lack of pictures involving the protractor...apparently I don't have enough arms.)
Next, I centered a CD and traced around it with a pen. I took a ruler and drew a straight line connecting the outside edge to the center ring.
I cut along the drawn line to the center and removed the center completely. This is the basic tree skirt body.  Now onto embellishment!
I decided to make lovely layered hearts using a variety of red, green, and grey materials. Each lovely heart is comprised of three layers: one small heart within a medium heart within a large heart.  I rounded up flannel, felt, and fabric scraps and created a heart shape template that includes both fat and skinny layered hearts.
I used that template to trace lots of small, medium, and large hearts onto my materials. After I cut them all out, I started layering! Once I had all of the hearts in their sets, I used Therm O Web's Super Stik Permanent Glue to glue the small heart to the medium heart, and the medium to the large. Oh and I should mention that this glue washes out which makes it the perfect tool for applique since there is no added bulk!
Once all heart layers are glued together, arrange them onto the tree skirt body.
I glued the layered hearts to the tree skirt using more of the glue stick. (You can add a few pins to keep it doubly secure.)
Stitch all layers in place either by machine or hand. (I absolutely adore the look of decorative stitches with embroidery thread, so that's what I did.) 
Finally, you will want to "finish" the edges of the tree skirt.  You could do something as simple as a blanket stitch! I added large ball fringe right on top and sewed it in place using a zigzag stitch. Giant ric rac could be cute also!
Can I just say how much I love these projects that involve decorative stitching by hand?! I sat back in my comfy couch and watched Olive stomp around to the musical masterpieces of Yo Gabba Gabba. 
Oh yeah. I should probably mention something about closures.  You probably noticed (and could be annoyed) that I didn't create any to connect the end pieces. Frankly, I felt that the ball fringe trim gave it a nice finished look and didn't need it. You could certainly add covered buttons and loops to connect them if you would like!
No presents are allowed to cover up my tree skirt! Okay, okay, I admit that I had to move them to higher ground because of little Miss Freddy Krueger.  I guess it's a win-win situation!
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02 December 2011

Three Trees

Christmas is coming which means it's time to cuddle up and read one of my favorite Christmas stories,  The Tale of Three Trees.  It's a wonderful story about three trees who all have giant dreams but discover that God has very different plans for them. (If you're unfamiliar with the story, you can read it here.) 
I love the story so much that I wanted to incorporate it into my holiday decorating.  Without further ado, a new pattern is born:
The ten-page PDF pattern download includes detailed instructions, pictures, and diagrams to make a festive pillow and table runner. The finished pillow cover fits a 12 x 16" pillow; the finished size of the table runner is 17 x 37".
Click here to download the pattern  
I thought it was a great use of some of those lovely leftover Ruby fabric scraps! This fabric collection has the best greens I have ever seen.  Truly.
Well, it's time for me to get going on the next project!  Christmas is going to be here soon!
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