Friday, December 5, 2008

Hand: "Tea Time" Shadowbox

This is something I've actually been holding onto for a long time, since late July, to be exact.

It's a shadowbox I made for my Mama's birthday in August, but upon completing it I deemed it far too fragile to ship. So, I held onto it until I could give it to her in person...which wasn't until she and Dad came up to visit for Thanksgiving.

She truly loved it, which I'm so happy about!

I cut the little table out of craft felt, and detailed it with backstiches. The flowers are from a lace trim, which I carefully cut out, and sewed on with seed beads in the center.

The tea set is a trio of pewter buttons I found in a shop on Haight Street, and were the inspiration for the whole project.

The background is layered craft paper and vellum.

The mat was a lucky find, since it matches the buttons so well!

I've mentioned previously how much my Mama and I love going to tea, so this was my little way of always being able to give her a tea party, even when I'm far away (awwww...).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mouth: Frog and Toad's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

How many of you remember the Frog and Toad books, by Arnold Lobel? They used to be some of my favorites as a child, and to this day I see much of myself in those little amphibians (especially Toad).

There was one story, called "Cookies," where Toad brings over a bunch of cookies for Frog, and they're so good they can't stop eating them. Thus begins the morality tale of willpower vs. gluttony, ending when Frog finally has to give the cookies away to th birds so they'll stop snacking.

That's how I felt about these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies I whipped up Monday afternoon, I couldn't stop popping them into my mouth! Especially all warm, spicy, and gooey from the oven...

...I think I need to find some birds to share these with!

I came across the inspiration for this recipe when I was looking for something to do with the last cup of fresh pumpkin puree I had leftover from my Thanksgiving pie.

Usually, I'm good about sticking to recipes as I find them, but this time I felt a little adventurous. Throwing caution to the wind, I modified here and there, and the end result is simply delicious! I hope you give it a try!

Frog & Toad's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree*
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream (or milk)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine pumpkin puree, sugars, vegetable oil and egg in mixer.
3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
4. Dissolve the baking soda with the cream or milk, and add to pumpkin mix along with vanilla.
5. Gradually add flour mix to pumpkin mixture. If the dough is too wet (as pumpkin purees vary from pumpkin to pumpkin), add spoonfuls of additional flour until dough is firm and holds together (rather than running like batter).
6. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts with a wooden spoon.
7. Drop dough by spoonful onto lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 degress for 12-14 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are firm.
8. Pour a glass of milk of your choice, and enjoy them fresh from the oven!

*Note: I'm sure canned pumpkin will work as well, you just may need to reduce the flour to 2 cups.

If you want to make your own fresh pumpkin puree, you can find all sorts of recipes all over the 'net, or you can use the recipe I used from ReadyMade magazine here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hand: Having a Hoot

"Hoot?" Get it? 'cause this post has owls...oh nevermind.

More fun with Annie Oakleaves patterns, only these come in a form of a test pattern that I volunteered to help stitch.

This one is the biggest of all the owls:

This one is my not-so-secret favorite:

This one I call "Tweaky," 'cause really, look at those eyes:

He looks like he's been awake for three days straight! In a cute way.

I'm hoping to stitch these onto some nice, rich, mustard colored napkins I picked up, in a patch sort of way. 'cause really, what dinner table doesn't need some owls to spice it up?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hand: Hello December

Though it usually fills me with a vague sense of terror, I'm actually glad it's December this time around. Maybe it's just because it's been such a bear of a semester for my husband the Professor (which I always get to share in at home), and December heralds the end of the insanity. Maybe I'm actually looking forward to the holidays, with the making of gifts, and thus avoiding the shop-and-gift-fair battles that come with the season. Maybe it's as simple as being excited to see both sets of families (his and mine) in the span of one month, plus the added bonus of two weeks off work.

To celebrate this new found joy of the month, I've decked out my blog layout in an appropriately "wintry" theme, though:
  1. I know it's still Autumn for 20 more days.
  2. I live in the Bay Area. The last time it snowed here was 2005. And that was a freak occurrence.
But that doesn't matter. I hope you check it out and enjoy!

I think I was partially inspired by one of the latest stitching projects I completed, this cute little snowman from a free Annie Oakleaves pattern.

I'm seriously hooked to her patterns, they're so simple and so sweet, I can't help but feel cheerful whenever I work on one. You can download this pattern from her Flickr.

I've already bought a matching fabric to make a little wall hanging with him, so hopefully I'll have pictures to share soon!

Another reason I love the snowman is that it reminds me of one of my favorite B-movies Cannibal! The Musical, which was Trey Parker and Matt Stone's first film, pre-South Park. It's hilarious, sufficiently gory, and filled with ridiculous musical numbers such as "Let's Build a Snowman!" A warning, Not work or kid-safe, as there is language and a bit of gore at the end. But then again, what holiday video would be complete without it?