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Adventures in Kid Crafting

[As in “crafting with kids”, not making them]

A while back I had pinned this on Pinterest, thinking it would be a pretty good idea to do with Max. I ended up babysitting tonight, and figured that it would be just as good a craft to do with a three year old.

Let me remind everyone I have no kids. I live in a land of butterflies and rainbows where kids do what you think they should - in this case, paint. Carefully. Time and time again I pitch a craft idea to my mom for Max and she laughs at me. You would think I’d learn…

So I set out with the highest of hopes that I could make some fantastic egg carton bats with a three year old.

jaedyn

To be honest, it didn’t go as badly as it could have. Was he covered in paint? Sure. Was there just as much paint on my floor (despite my attempts to cover it) as on his cartons? Oh yea. I had to reel back my slight perfectionism to keep from “fixing” his bats. Kel called them “cow bats”.

cow bat

All in all they don’t look too shabby hanging from the living room ceiling fan…

hanging

hanging 2

..but I think I’ll probably go back to crafting solo from now on. :)

Amazeballs

Today was our first official chilly day of Autumn. Woot! Kel and I recovered from our hangovers and spent the morning at the Apple and Wine Festival in Altamont, which is really pretty awesome if fairs are your thing. Fairs happen to be our thing, so we enjoyed looking at the crafts and eating fresh cider donuts.

The best part of Autumn to me is the start of craft season. It’s like I hibernate all summer long, and then come back full force for fall/winter. I kicked my fall off right with a 2 season reversible runner for a cedar chest I found at an estate sale over the summer (best thing ever!). I haven’t really sewn anything since High School Home Ec. so I’m trying to pick it back up. The second best thing about Autumn is that it’s apple season, which means it’s baking season, which to me is awesome. A few days ago I stumbled across this recipe for Hot Cocoa Cookies. They look pretty delicious, so I decided it was worth a go. Sadly, I don’t have marshmallows so that was off the table. But when I think of Hot Chocolate, I think of Starbucks. Specifically, I think of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, which, if you’ve never had it is AMAZING. You should probably finish reading this, and then get into your car and get some immediately. You’ll thank me later, trust me.

Back to the cookies.

Kel is hit or miss with creative treats, so I decided to split the dough into three. I did one batch of normal cookies with nothing but powdered sugar on top. I did the second batch with cinnamon chips I had left over and wanted to use, and I did the third (and most exciting batch) salted caramel.

Amazeballs.

Cookies

I’m clearly the most excited about the salted caramel cookies, so I’m just going to talk about those. Not that the first two varieties aren’t great, just… they’re not salted caramel.

I figure there’s 2 types of people in this world. You either love salt, or you’re not a fan. I’m sure you can figure out which side I fall on. If someone came to me one day and said, “you should really cut back on sodium” I would probably not survive. I read an article once that talked about the difference between American baking and European baking being salt. When Americans make cookies or anything really, we add a small amount of salt. Apparently Europeans don’t. I have no desires to go to Europe. If you’re a fellow advocate of salty sweets, read on and bake these tasty cookies.

cookies 3

Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa Bites (aka Amazeballs):

You’ll need:

12 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 stick of butter

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. light brown sugar

1 1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Sea Salt and caramel sauce for topping

Directions:

Melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate together over low/med heat, stirring constantly until its smooth. Set to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat your eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Sift your remaining dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the chocolate to the egg/sugar mixture and beat. Slowly add flour mix. Mix, mix mix until happily combined and toss in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

Once your dough is sufficiently chilled, it should have the texture of fudge. I really hesitate to call these “cookies”, because in my mind they’re a little more like brownies in terms of texture. Anyways, scoop out teaspoons of dough and roll them into balls. Set on an ungreased cookie sheet. Take the bottom of a glass and flatten the tops a little. Either sprinkle or pat on some sea salt, as much as you like. Then take something smaller than your cookies (I used the handle of a spoon) to make a dent in the middle, like a volcano, and drop some caramel in there. Pop these in the oven for about 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees.

cookies 4

When they come out of the oven, the whole pan will be a gooey caramel mess. Unfortunately it’s a little tricky to get them off the pan in one piece. I’m not sure if greasing your pan would help, or maybe putting them in the fridge….? Not sure. You can see that my cookies didn’t stay as neat as the above picture when I tried to move them.

cookies 5

It’s ok. They’re equally as scrumptious in pieces. Enjoy!!! :)

Pork Chops, nom nom nom

I’ve never really been much of a cooker until I started dating Kel. In fact, he loves to remind me that when we met I could hardly master bacon, let alone a full-blown meal. But I think I’ve come quite a long way since then, between Kel and a new-found love for Food Network and I personally think I’ve surpassed him in skill. (He will, of course, disagree… but we all know who’s always right in the end!).

Despite all my food shortcomings, there’s one food tid-bit I did pick up as a child - my Dad’s “sauce”. I say “sauce” because this is really an all-purpose flavour-er. He used it as wing sauce, I’ve since adapted it as a sauce/marinade. The beauty of it is that it’s never ever the same. I like to affectionately call it “Fridge Sauce”, and it frustrates Kelly because, no matter how eclectic it looks to begin with, it ALWAYS tastes fantastic.

Tonight I’m using it to marinade pork chops, which I plan to pester Kelly into grilling tomorrow night for dinner. Yum!

yum

From left to right we have (essentially everything I could grab): Honey, Frank’s Red Hot, Liquid Smoke, 1 soy sauce packet, spicy brown mustard, minced garlic, Sweet Baby Ray’s honey BBQ sauce, sweet red chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder. Not shown: Olive oil and rice vinegar. 

I can’t tell you the proportions I used because I’m a “shake of this, pinch of that” kind of gal. However, I can tell you that it’s largely worsheshire sauce, follwed by a generous squeeze of BBQ and the whole soy sauce packet. After about a spoonful of garlic, it’s fairly small amounts of everything else, going easy on the hot sauce and especially the liquid smoke. That stuff really only needs like 3 drops. In fact, I would have skipped it all together if I were sure Kel would be grilling… but I’m not. Just crossing my fingers…

Stir it all up, and voila! Simply scrumptious marinade! I add a little olive oil and vinegar to tenderize it. I hate chewy pork chops… You won’t even taste it because rice vinegar is very mild. In the end, you have a sweet and tangy sauce with a slight bite of heat. Mmmmmm…

mmm

We’ll leave these bad boys to soak overnight in the fridge. Yummmm! Can’t wait!! :)

I’ve obviously rubbed off on my youngest brother. Today:

"EMILY!!! I GOT THREE STARS!!!" [Angry Birds… just another similiarity between us]

"Oh, awsome job, Max! Yay you!"

"*high five* I’m just good at it, that’s all."

Yep… no self-esteem issues here.

"Soon"

Apparently for me, “soon” seems to be a word I struggle with. As I make (yet another) bloggie comeback, I realize that so many of my posts end with things like “more soon!”.

This is obviously a lie.

I have really good intentions, but then I forget! Epic blogging fail. But I’m back (for the fourth or so time), and I have topic today that I think we can all relate to - public bathrooms.

I just returned from a trip to the mall with some friends, failing, as can be expected, at not spending money. In case you’re curious, I am now the proud owner of a lime green leopard print top (tomorrow’s club shirt). Apparently the 80’s are making a comeback. Anyways, I of course get Starbucks and so inevitably I have to pee. This is the ONLY time I will ever say I wish I were a man. Mall restrooms rank right up there in the top 5 worst restrooms to use. Men have no problems, you guys can just stand where ever and point. Us ladies have to hover.

It’s a feat of balance, leg strength and contortion-ism, because I’m convinced that men designed every public restroom I’ve ever been in. I dare you, you men out there, stand up, lean forward, squat, then try and reach for something to your left and behind you without falling backwards. The same person who thought this up is the same warped mind that invented the game Twister. Now… try doing that on your toes, as if you were in heels. I swear, after a night out I wake up the next morning feeling like I spent the night at the gym.

Now you would think… if all you really had to do was grab it and point, at least you’d be able to hit inside a bowl that’s just shy of a foot wide and just as long tall (for the sake of science I measured my toilet bowl). Ladies have an excuse, we’re shooting blind, but at least men are facing the right way.. You can even watch and get everything lined up! So what’s the problem gentlemen?? If you’ve ever been out, and the line for the ladies room is SO LONG that you’re just like “f it, I’ll use the men’s room” you know exactly what I mean.

Being that I was just distracted by popcorn, I can’t really think of a way to wrap up this rant, aside from saying step it up guys. And should any of you find yourselves in a position to design a restroom, please please please put the toilet paper on the inside of the stall door.

Thanks!! :)

Here Comes the [Over-Excited] Bride

Weddings are stressful. Kudos to you, wedding planners of the world, for daily doing what I find exceptionally frustrating.

Maybe it’s just us. Scratch that, if we’re being serious, it’s totally just me. My Barbies were having fairy-tale princess weddings with Barry’s G.I. Joes and nobody stopped to tell me that was impractical. Now that I’m getting married, I’m floored by the obscene prices of things. I’m not one to shy away from a good craft project (have you seen my cake toppers??) and there’s certainly no shame in thrift shopping for centerpiece vases, but there’s just some things you have to actually pay some serious money for that I never took into account with my Barbies. (I’m looking at you $4,000 photographers. You know who you are.)

First let me apologize for getting wildly excited and creating a website that outlined numerous details and then suddenly changing them. Due to varying factors/reasons, we’re no longer having the wedding where we originally planned and are now looking into other places. Once we get a venue/date nailed down, I’ll change the website.

Finding/choosing a venue is probably the single most stressful part of the planning process. Finding a venue that is both unique and affordable is literally driving me crazy. This week has been the tour week, and after seeing two of the three candidates on our list, we’re both pretty much in love with (of course) the most expensive one. In all honesty, it really is a beautiful space and there is SO much that my little artsy-minded brain can think of to do. Even Kelly is excited about it. Expect a big reveal next week when we’ve viewed our last place and made a decision!

In the meantime, engagement so far has literally been a whirlwind of advice, Etsy browsing and bridal show hopping. I sincerely appreciate all of the advice and ideas people have had. I plan to (hopefully) set up a Pinterest page so people can be even MORE involved. Planning on doing most of the little details ourselves can be a bit overwhelming, but I think that it will be nice to get some fresh ideas that I might be missing. But until then, check out these super cute little guys I made to sit on boutonnieres and bouquets! Love them!!

Lady Bugs

More to follow soon! :)

Blockading for Beginners

Oh Occupy Wall Street, I heart you.

Seems OWS is expecting a bit of trouble from NYC tomorrow as Mayor Bloomberg plans to “clean the park” - aka kick them out.

"Hell no, we won’t go" says OWS, and is encouraging everyone to come along and hope to not get dragged away with them. In fact, they’re even distributing pamphlets (and .pdf if you’re techy!) telling you how to hold your ground when the police come to move you. You can see such a .pdf here.

I have to admit when I saw the cover I thought this was a shopped 1960s edition of Good Housekeeping, but upon skimming the first chapter, I now feel much more confident should I ever find myself needing to not be moved against and/or incriminated.

Crafty, crafty crafty…

So I know last night I said I was going to make a particular ribbon wreath that used loops of ribbon, but I made a mistake. That’s actually the kind of wreath I’m hoping to make for Mom over the weekend (I expect it to be very time consuming). In all actuality I made a wreath looking similar to this only better (in my opinion). I’m even going to tell you how you can do it, too. The best part about making this wreath is that it’s cheap (in total I paid $8.50 at Michael’s Craft Store) and it’s so difficult to screw up because I personally think it looks better a little messy.It’s also a semi-quick craft, took me a little over an hour and a half.

I started with those old clothes I mentioned in some classic fall colours. Side note, while at the craft store, I was instantly mad at myself for not choosing a more Halloween theme because the colours are brighter and funky. If you’ve got the time, make one for every holiday! Back on track to those clothes. I chose an avocado green from some thermal shorts, a whispy patterned tan/cream/brown fabric from an old blouse (it was so pretty back in the day I really hated to cut it up), chocolate brown from another thin fabric shirt, and a red/cream patterned fabric from an old heavy curtain. If you’re going the old clothes route, think about the fabric you’re choosing. Heavy fabric will hold its “bow” shape, thin fabric will dangle like spanish moss. I also bought additional ribbon – a silver/copper fall pattern wide ribbon (wired), 2 medium width yellow/orange/brown ribbons in different patterns (wired), 2 spools of extra thin (non-wired) in bright yellow and holly red, and 1 yard (non-wired, off the spool) twilight blue for a pop of colour to break up the scheme.

(Notice Merlot…“helping”…)

To start I hunted down a wire clothes hanger. This was difficult because wire hangers are ancient, and 98% of mine are plastic. You could buy a wire circle from the craft store, but I couldn’t find one (not that I actually asked someone, of course). I found a wire hanger with the cardboard at the bottom, and since I have zero experience in wire hangers, I didn’t realize the wire doesn’t go through the cardboard…there’s nothing there. Many minutes and sore fingers later I had some semblance of a circle going, but lesson learned, don’t go for the ones with cardboard. It doesn’t matter that the circle isn’t perfect or it has some bumps, bulky ribbon and trimming at the end will hide that. Next cut your ribbon into strips. The length should depend on the diameter of your ring. I did about 4” strips, but you could easily get away with 3”. I trimmed mine down quite a bit at the end. Snip, snip, snip into piles of colour until you have literally mounds of ribbon. Then start tying.

I tied my ribbon in order of width, largest to smallest, and set aside the blue ribbon and the super skinny yellow and red. These are my accent ribbons and I want them to be strategic so I’ll do them last. There’s really no right or wrong here -  you can do a pattern, or do sporadic like I did. If you’re choosing to do a pattern, you’d want to start at the top, tie your knots and continuously scrunch them towards the top until you’ve worked your way around. If you’re doing a random “pattern”, it should look a little more like mine. You’ll see I just randomly tied on bits of ribbon. Notice I’m NOT trimming or caring how disastrous and un-wreath-like it looks at this point.

When I’ve made it through my piles, I do a little scrunching and make sure there’s no holes I should fill. Then I take my accent colours and tie them wherever I think they should belong. For those of us who like a little more instruction, a good idea is to cut them into 4 even pieces. Tie the blue first (remember largest to smallest), one at each “point”, as if the wreath were a compass. Turn slightly and repeat with the yellow, then turn and repeat with the red. (If you’re working a smaller wreath, you might want to do three pieces instead). Now we’re finally done tying. Phew.

Time to make your wreath “bootiful” (as Max would say). I dovetailed my edges because I like the way it looks, but you can do angled edges or flat or whatever. This is also where I trim the length, which I did all in one step, but if you’re unsure you might want to do length first, then edging (if any). ALWAYS CUT LESS! It’s so much better to cut less, step back and realize you want it a little shorter, than to cut more and look back and have it be crooked or lopsided. Messy is good! Messy is your friend in this project! When you’re done trimming, hold it out and contemplate, then arrange your ribbons so some stick out in front, others at odd angles, etc. Once you’re pleased, tie a loop of ribbon at the top to hang with. I used some lace trim from that chocolate shirt, but in retrospect I wish I’d saved some of that blue ribbon.

Ta-laaa! (another Max-ism)

This would also look very cute if you spice it up with some embellishments. I’m looking for a cute little “Welcome” tag for mine, but little pumpkins would also look very nice.

**I should mention these aren’t my bright ideas (though I wish they were), so if you like this, show some love over at TheLongThread.com where I got this idea from. They have a far more elegant version over there that looks very nice, you can see it here.

Shortly I’ll be making a froofier variation for Mom done a little differently. Expect a post on that, and many more holiday crafts coming in the near future. Speaking of, save your ribbon scraps and snips from your ends!! I’m going to be making ornaments with them a little closer to Christmas and you’ll be wishing you had yours, too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Hello, Blog!

Ahhh Fall!

My favourite season. I love the colour of leaves as they change and I love the not-too-hot but not-too-cold weather. Most of all, I love that it’s the start of the Holiday Season, or as I like to think of it, the craft season. Ohh crafts, how I love you! If only I were rich and could stay at home all day surrounded by hot glue guns and buttons and glitter. But such is life. *sigh*

Thanks to my mom who has been crafting things for as long as I can remember (including painting my shoes in kindergarten and hand-making multiple Halloween costumes), I’ve got a few crafting bones in my body. Last year I gave nothing but home-made ornaments for Christmas, and the souvenirs from our vacation to North Carolina were even crafted (hand-painted shells I collected). The horrible thing about crafting is that it’s both expensive and cheap all at the same time. It lures you in with its crafty promises, then slams you with the price of ribbons and stickers and paint.

Jerks.

So when Irene totally destroyed Vermont (including the poor little mountain town I spend 3 years of college in) I rallied the boyfriend and suggested we clean house and donate some clothes and sheets and such to Goodwill. 5 bags later our apartment feels a little roomier and I was struck with a brilliant idea. I’ve salvaged some of the clothes for myself to cut into shreds for my first craft of the season - a ribbon wreath decked out in Autumn colours, perfect for our front door!! (I’ve got a whole other wreath lined up for Christmas). Thank goodness our front door is in an enclosed foyer, so I can do non-weatherproof things like this…

Wish me luck!! Pics to follow!

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