Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Screen Printing: Coasters

For our Christmas gifts to neighbors this year, I wanted to screen print something. I'm always looking for an excuse to produce something in mass quantities so I can make good use of a screen. I came up with four Christmas designs for the screen and decided to print them on coasters. I also found little bags to print on and then put the coasters in the bag and attached them to a bottle of sparkling cider. I made tags that had the same designs on them.

There is something so satisfying about removing the screen and seeing the printed result.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Matchbox Garland Advent

My second advent creation this year was a re-creation of a matchbox advent I saw on Etsy. Instead of covering the matchboxes with scrapbook paper and wrapping paper, I used vintage Christmas images and added numbers in Photoshop. Then I used mod podge to attach them. The front of the matchboxes has the numbers and each day you turn one over and they slowly spell out "Merry Christmas!"

After a trial garland with buttons that turned out to be too small and making one as a gift and one for myself, I ended up sewing 75 buttons. I'm done sewing buttons for a while.

The kids love pulling out candy each day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Muffin Tin Advent

If you've ever been to my house at Christmas time, you would know that I'm a little obsessed with advent calendars. As a kid, we did a lot of different things to count down the days to Christmas...advent calendar, burned down candles each night, paper chain with daily activities, etc. and I always loved the excitement that built throughout the month. Perhaps that inspired my love of advents.

I have an ever growing list of advent calendars that I have seen on different design blogs that I want to create. In November I made two different advents. Here is my version of the mini muffin tin advent.

I used vintage images and backgrounds to create the round magnets that cover up the holes. I created everything in Photoshop and then printed them on magnet paper.

Hiding inside each hole is a bottle cap magnet with a number:

I always like visual reminders of the countdown so each day you remove a number and place it on the outside:

Then bake some mini muffins!

I made one for each of my siblings. Now I just need to make one for myself...

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I have been trying out new recipes involving pumpkin to celebrate Fall. Here are a few favorites:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies:

(Recipe found at MarthaStewart.com)

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies:

These were so good eaten warm right out of the oven. And equally good the next day. Perfect mix of pumpkin and chocolate.
(Recipe found at MarthaStewart.com)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting:

(These were soooo yummy. Especially good warm with a cup of cocoa.)

Pumpkin Cinnammon Rolls

(recipe found on GoodLife Eats)


Roll Dough:
1/4 cup warm water (not hot, about 110 degrees)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups (approximately) All-Purpose Flour
1 1 /4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 stick butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 cups powdered sugar


In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Let rest for 5 minutes before stirring. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour (all purpose), a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Start with about 1 1/2 cups and increase if necessary. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl, set aside. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 slices. In order to cut down on drag, it helps to rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices. Place slices in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan (or in two 8 or 9 inch round cake or pie pans). Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20-30 minutes.

While rolls bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice to a small food processor. Blend until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed and desired consistency is reached. (I used 2 cups powdered sugar)

Frost warm rolls with the cream cheese frosting and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal:

These were quick to make and an unbelievably delicious way to start the day. Pumpkin pie has a little whipped cream on top, so why not this oatmeal?

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
(Recipe found at GoodLife Eats)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats, not quick cook
  • 1 Tbs whole flax seeds, optional
  • 2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk


  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tsp butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4 individual sized ramekins. Set aside.

Combine the oats through salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk. Whisk thoroughly. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oats. Stir until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between 4 individual sized ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.). Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the topping: chopped pecans, butter, and brown sugar. After the oatmeal has baked for 10 minutes, remove and divide topping mixture evenly between the ramekins. Bake and additional 7 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with a splash of milk and raisins, if desired.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peach Pie

We inherited a huge box of delicious fresh peaches. The first order of business was making this deliciously amazing peach pie. Even after making a pie and devouring a dozen peaches, we're still left with a lot. Peach freezer jam and peach cobbler are up next.

Before being thrown into the oven:

Peach Pie with Almond-Pecan Streusel

Pastry crust for 1 (9-inch) single-crust pie
5 cups peeled, sliced peaches (5 or 6 large peaches)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finley chopped pecans
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 425.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pie crust.
In a large bowl, combine sliced peaches, sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg.
Allow to stand 15 minutes.
Lightly brush uncooked pie shell with a thin layer of egg white to moisture-proof the pie crust.
Stir lemon juice and almond extract into peach mixture; spoon mixture into pie shell.
Mix brown sugar with flour.
Cut in butter until crumbly.
Stir in nuts.
Sprinkle mixture over peaches
Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400 and bake 35 minutes more.
To prevent overbrowning of rim of crust, cover edges with strips of foil. Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Teacher Gift

As part of a gift to my daughter's preschool teachers, we made these personalized soap labels. They were very easy and fast. The original idea I saw used a silhouette of the child and had their name on it. Instead, I had my daughter draw pictures. I printed the labels, had her draw something on each one, and then had it photocopied onto transparency paper. We cut them out and slipped them inside the soap bottles. The transparency paper just kind of sticks to the inside. I suppose you could also make clear labels to stick on the outside, but the transparency photocopy only cost $1. We did soap and hand sanitizer.

You can find a free template and instructions for this project here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Last Saturday we went to Homestead Farm in Maryland for some strawberry picking. The strawberries were SO delicious and we unintentionally picked over 10 pounds. It turns out that our family has no problem using up 10 pounds of strawberries in a few days.

First up, 24 jars of delicious strawberry jam:

We needed something yummy to try it out on, so I made my favorite biscuits:

Then it was time for strawberry desserts. This was my first attempt at making a tart. I don't know why it took me so long to get a tart pan:

My friend Sarah introduced me to this delicious and quite easy strawberry tart recipe. I used an 11 inch tart pan and the recipe called for a 9 inch, but I think it turned out okay.

Strawberry Tart

1 1/4 cups flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup red currant jelly

Crust: Preheat oven to 350*. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form. Transfer dough to a 9” round tart pan with a removable bottom. With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10-15 minutes. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 20-25 min, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan. (Note: The crust really hardens up after cooling, so be sure to not overbake. It will get really hard. It tastes like a shortbread cookie crust.)

Filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan). Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese (alternate cut strawberry side with each circle). In a small saucepan, heat jelly on med-low until liquefied. Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan at least 1 hour (and up to 6 hours); remove from pan just before serving.

And finally, Strawberry Brown Butter Bars. YUM! The recipe was originally made with cherries, but strawberries were so delicious. You can find the recipe here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blueberries and Lemon

I'm sure the few people that actually look at this blog lost interest long ago. Spring came and I abandoned a lot of crafting and baking and blog updating for adventures outside. But here is an attempt at returning.

I made some desserts for a baby shower a few weeks ago that turned out really yummy.

I saw these cobblers baked in jars at Not Martha and thought they would be really fun to try. I pretty much followed her directions, but I couldn't find the wide mouth jars. Mine were the same size, just skinnier and taller and they seemed to work just fine. I made my own labels to fit in with a girl baby shower.

Here they are right out of the oven. They smelled so good:

There is something really cute and satisfying about individual little jars of desserts:

(They are extra good with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream dropped inside when you're ready to eat.)

The directions for making the cobbler in jars can be found here.

(Next up...I'm going to make cupcakes in a jar.)

I thought not everyone would like blueberries so I also made some lemon cupcakes. I was really happy with this recipe that I found through Stephmodo. The combination of the cupcake and the frosting was perfect. Definitely try this recipe if you like lemon. I didn't attempt the candied lemon peel, but maybe next time. A simple raspberry on top did the trick.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is Here!

It's not quite spring, but close enough. Spring in D.C. is one of my favorite things. A few of our favorite activities are coming up.

The Smithsonian Kite Festival is happening on Saturday, March 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washington Monument. The atmosphere here is always so carefree and fun...how can you not be happy while flying a kite? There is an actual competition, but many people just show up to fly their own kites for fun. Click here for more information.

And of course, the Cherry Blossom Festival. For a complete list of all of the events, click here. Last year, we really enjoyed attending the fireworks at the end of the festival. This year, they are at the beginning of the festival on Saturday, April 3 at the Southwest Waterfront. We watched them from Hains Point and there were hardly any people there. It's a great display.

Another great place to see blossoms is the National Arboretum.

Printing with handmade stamps

A little while back, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail from a fabulously crafty friend of mine. It was this book:

I love trying out various printing methods and this book has some fantastic ideas. I recently attempted some handmade rubber stamps. I'm having fun experimenting with the whole process and I'm excited to try some other printing projects soon. I have a plan to screen print a new duvet cover for our bed, although I'm a bit intimidated by the prospects of printing on something so large.

Here are the results of my attempts with the rubber stamps. I carved two different stamps and printed a few bags and some stationery:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine Cupcake Pops

Okay. This will be the last Valentine-related post. Due to our snow week, Valentine's Day festivities have really been extended. School parties aren't even being held until this week. So we spent the end of our snow week making Valentines for Amelia's teachers.

We already had supplies laying around that were left over from our Christmas cake pops, and luckily Valentine's Day uses red and white too. We added a little pink and some heart sprinkles. We looked around the house for something to put them in and found these flower pots, which inspired our flower card and message.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cake

I wanted a chocolate dessert for Valentine's Day but wanted to keep it really simple. I went with these delicious molten chocolate cakes which are very easy to make. Love that chocolate center.

Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes
from Bon Appetit


12 teaspoons plus 5 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon all purpose flour


Generously butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups. Sprinkle inside of each dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. (I used cooking spray and cocoa powder and it worked wonderfully. The cakes didn't stick at all.)

Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, egg yolks, and remaining 5 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about 8 minutes. Fold 1/3 of warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture, then fold in remaining chocolate. Fold in flour. Divide batter among soufflé dishes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place soufflé dishes on baking sheet. Bake cakes uncovered until edges are puffed and slightly cracked but center 1 inch of each moves slightly when dishes are shaken gently, about 13 minutes.

Invert cakes onto a serving dish or eat right out of the soufflé dish. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I heart you.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

2 c. flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract; mix until incorporated.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentines: Part 2

We're on Day 6 of being snowed in. Yesterday we finished up our cards.

There is a free printable card to use with the heart crayons at The Long Thread which you can download here. But we wanted to do our own thing and Amelia wanted to use a colorful peacock so I made this card:

I thought it would be fun to include a picture that the kids could color with their new crayon so I used Photoshop to remove all the color from the peacock and included a black and white version on the back of the card.

Then we attached the hearts to the front using foam dots:

Instead of using envelopes, I found some clear bags and we packaged them up:

Inspired by some fun owl pencils found at the dollar section in Target, we also made some owl cards for friends:

You can find a template for the owls, along with many others, at Family Fun.