Saturday, December 27, 2014

From the Kitchen :: Mall Pretzels

We've been having a LOT of fun in the kitchen this year for our holiday break and today's adventure was trying to replicate those sweet, buttery, delicious pretzels you get at the mall. My child has become addicted to them, which I don't mind but I can't stand the mall. Especially with holiday crowds, the crazy drivers, the sick people..shudder. So we needed to figure this out.
Pinterest to the rescue!

I used this recipe from the Midget Momma blog and it was good EXCEPT it calls for 4 1/2 C flour and I used 2 extra cups (6 1/2 C total) to get it to be a dough instead of a batter. But other than that I followed her recipe and they turned out GREAT.

Success! Without the mall! DOUBLE WIN!
And my kid though they were awesome so I pretty much feel like super mom :-)

One last thing - those two plates in that picture above are two of the FOUR that we filled, so consider yourself warned, you will have a LOT of pretzel bites from this recipe. Not necessarily a problem. We also melted mozzarella on top of one batch, amazing.

Hope your holidays were great and you're enjoying this last bit of 2014.
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mini Quilt Monday Amy Butler Edition and Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Another Monday, another mini! So this week I decided to try Maureen Cracknell's awesome Herringbone Quilt but I micro-sized it. I feel like I make so many things either bigger or smaller, not sure what that says about me but I like to think it keeps things interesting around here ;-)

Maureen wrote a wonderful tutorial on her blog right here. I used her method and just changed the sizes, which I'm happy to share with you. I included a few process photos here so you get the idea but Maureen's are way prettier!

This mini took 15"x18" of batting, sub-cut into strips 2.5"x18". I used a pile of Amy Butler scraps, one fat quarter for the backing and two 2.5"xWOF strips for the binding.

Mark the angles on each strip of batting. I used the 45 degree angle but you do whatever you like. I think NOT marking them and making a wonky one would be fantastic too. Oh and one made of just solids and and and...sorry, distracted!

The way you start is with one strip right side UP along the pencil line you marked and another strip right side DOWN along the same line. Sew along with 1/4" seam allowance. Press open. Keep adding strips the same way, all right sides DOWN - the first strip is the only one that you lay on there right side up.

When you have all the batting covered flip it over and trim off the edges. That's it! Seriously easy-peasy.

 You then join your strips and press the seam allowances open. I felt that I had enough going on that I wanted to keep the quilting simple so I just quilted along the side of each strip, which also joined it to the backing. Done! 

This finished at 12"x18" and I couldn't be happier with it. 

So today is the day all the sewing world rejoices and the heavens part and the angels sing because it's Sew Mama Sew GIVEAWAY DAY!! Whoohoo! I love it and I'm giving away this mini as part of the fun. 

All you have to do is leave me a comment (if you're a no reply blogger please make sure you leave an email too) I'd love to know what fun holiday projects you're sewing as gifts this year! And gifts for yourself totally count ;-)

If you'd like to follow me here or on Bloglovin or IG I'd be thrilled but it's not required. Giveaway is open until Friday at midnight EST, winner announced Saturday.

As always, a HUGE thank you for taking the time to stop by and Happy Giveaway Day!

UPDATE: Thanks so much for playing along and all the comments! Mr. RNG picked #41,

This is beautiful, Darcy! So far I've made a couple of pillows and a kindle cover. There's another kindle cover on the list, lots of two-zipped pouched and gift bags....thanks for the chance to win. I'd love to add this to my mini wall!
I'll be emailing you for your address and getting your mini right in the mail to you!! :-)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Finish It Up Friday :: Kindle Cover

Happy Friday! I have the sweetest little project to share this week and if you know someone getting an eReader or an iPad it would make a great companion gift. I prefer reading the old-fashioned way but when you travel with a small person and you realize how much accompanying stuff goes in your bag anything you can simplify is good. So Santa kindly gave me a Kindle Paperwhite to travel with this year and I immediately whipped up a cover for it. 

I used this tutorial from Anne Kelle and I'll direct you there for the instructions BUT I wanted to share the modifications I used. I started with the "penelope" version. I used a 1/4" seam allowance throughout - same as the tutorial.

This is a great scrap project and it was perfect for some long-hoarded Melody Miller scraps.
2 pieces each for cover, lining and fusible fleece each 8.5"x6.5" I fuse the fleece to the lining fabrics not the exterior, that way it doesn't change the look or feel of the fabric that shows.

Here's my big switch (which isn't that big but anyway) I lined my pocket and made it a big shorter. I'm only planning on putting the charging cord in there and I liked it shorter to show off the exterior fabric.

 Cut exterior, lining and decor bond (1 each) 6.25"x 6.5" Fuse the decor bond to the pocket lining fabric. Place pocket and lining RIGHT SIDES together and stitch along one of the 6.5" sides. Turn inside out, iron and topstitch. Voila! Lined pocket.

One other tip - I use skinny hairbands for the elastic loop and I stitch them down first and then snip the edges off. 

I sewed the exterior, pocket and lining together exactly the same as the tutorial and used a vintage button from my button stash (yes, I have a button stash, it just happened) on each. They feel like just the right amount of protection without being too bulky and the button/loop closure seems way easier than a zipper for something this small.

I was so happy with the way these turned out and they took loner to cut out and interface than sew together. Tutorial on Anne Kelle blog also has iPad measurements!

OK, so now on to the Kindle Unlimited feature - anyone using it? Like it? Hate it? I got the 6 month trial because it was so inexpensive but I feel like I've already looked for a LOT of fiction that isn't included so I'm not sure whether I'll ultimately keep it. Love to hear anyone else's experience!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Baking :: Coffee Star Cookies

It's that time of the year when my thoughts turn to baking and cookies are at the top of the list. In case you're always on the lookout for new yummy recipes like I am I thought I'd share a few cookie recipes this month. Have one to share? I'd love for you to leave a link in the comments!

These are the Sparkling Coffee Stars found in this year's edition of America's Test Kitchen Best Ever Christmas cookies.

A few tips and then the recipe:

- The recipe calls for using parchment paper to bake on, do NOT think you can substitute silpats and get the same result. My first batch baked on silpats spread way more than the next batch that I baked on parchment paper.
- The 1 Tablespoon of espresso powder actually gave these a fairly mild coffee flavor - if you really love coffee you may want to add more.
- The re-rolled scraps spread way more than the initial rolling, even with chilling the scraps before I cut them. They still taste great they just spread more and didn't look at pretty.
- I also tried a few cookies with a larger cutter than the 2" one specified in the recipe (mine was about 3.5"), the smaller cookies definitely spread less and baked faster. I'd do all with smaller cutter next time.

Coffee Star Cookies

16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder

Cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then add:

2 C flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

cream together until just mixed, then separate into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Bake cookies on parchment lined sheets for 18 - 22 minutes. Cool on pan for 5 minutes and then finish cooling on racks.

For Topping:
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C white chocolate chips
1/4 C coarse sanding sugar

Melt chocolates in separate bowls at 50% power at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Drizzle cookies with chocolate and sprinkle with sugar (I used gold sanding sugar - extra festive ;-). Let chocolate set for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes about 48 2" cookies.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Mini Quilt Monday :: Feeling Festive

I know it's Cyber Monday but I'm planning on doing more sewing than shopping today and I have a couple little mini quilts that are perfect for the season if you're feeling like a little holiday sewing too. We got a little festive over the weekend at the prompting of one VERY excited-for-the-season 5 year old. She also had an opinion about exactly what needed to go where this year which ;-)

I made these last year using the Sugar Plum Forest Mini Quilts pattern from Quilts by Emily - you can find this pattern in her Craftsy store right here or in her Etsy shop here.

Both of these are perfect for scraps and I'm thinking about making one in greens and grays to keep up in January too - I always like to switch to something wintery after the holidays and I think this might work perfectly. I also like to get a little more contrast between the trees and the background next time. I added a little hand stitching around the star to get it to stand out a bit more. 
This one finishes at about 12"x16".

This is the smaller of the two patterns included and finishes at around 9"x14" - super quick to whip up and such a sweet decoration.

Hope you have a good week, whether shopping or sewing! 

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