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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking back at 2011...

Before I look to 2012, I want to take a peek at what I did in 2011 and check in on the New Year's resolutions I set back then.   A condensed refresher:

1. A minimum of one garment per month.
2. Try more advanced sewing techniques.
3. Work on my yarn stash.
4. Finish off some cross stitch patterns.
5. Make some cross stitch patterns.

Now, did I meet them?

In 2011, I made:
* 16 dresses
* 5 skirts
* 6 tops
* 3 jackets
* 2 pairs of pants (one was pajama pants)
* 2 Halloween costumes
* 1 comforter

I didn't complete any sewing projects in the months of November or May.  In November, I was pretty busy prepping for my dance competition and undergoing surgery, and in May we travelled a little bit and I had just completed the Spring challenge - so I think I was a little done with the sewing machine for a while.  But I did average far more than the one item per month, so I'm going to consider that 'checked' off.    More details on my 2012 goals later, but I do hope not to take any whole months off from completing garments this time.

I made our Halloween costumes this year.  Little Bo Peep and her lost sheep.

I also tried quite a few more advanced sewing techniques and think that I definitely met my second goal.  For one thing, I now love buttons! I remember that task used to terrify me, and I refused to buy the beignet skirt from Colette because of it.  But making her Ceylon dress definitely encouraged me to learn buttons the right way and now button holes and attaching buttons are a breeze.  Though it also helps that I upgraded my sewing machine in 2011.  I went from el cheap-o to my fancy pants new machine (still affordable and not necessarily top of the line) and also took some classes that helped explain how to do the advanced techniques on it.  Oh and invisible zippers? Well if you haven't seen my Celebration dress yet, check it out, because I do think that qualifies as an awesome invisible zipper installation.

One of my favorite dresses from this year. I love Colette patterns! I made this during Self-Stitched September. My first time participating in this type of challenge.
I did a bit of knitting and crochet that made a small dent in my stash, but I don't always post those completed projects on here.  I did buy a little bit of yarn this year, but nothing that made an impact of my stash.  I just need to keep at it and not buy yarn until I have at least one bin empty (I have about 4 fabric bins of yarn).

I also finished off 3 cross stitch patterns and only have one or two of my larger old ones still in progress.  I've tried to keep those projects manageable and not start any new ones until I can complete the ones I already started.

I also tried other types of embroidery techniques.
I did make a few patterns for cross stitch but I haven't made them up yet.  I think this goal is just going to continue on through 2012.

Lastly, let's not forget about Sweet Treats Saturday.  I posted a recipe every Saturday in 2011!  I also created an Archive page so that you can easily browse the different treats by category.  I try to update it at least bi-weekly with the new posts that go up.  Hopefully that has been a helpful resource.

One of the most popular Sweet Treats recipes that I posted this year.   Coconut sheep cupcakes.
All in all, it was a good, crafty year!  I feel much more confident in my sewing skills and now look forward to trying new techniques and designs.  I'm excited for what 2012 has to offer!

So what about you? What was your biggest accomplishment for 2011?  Wishing you the best for the New Year!

Sweet Treats Saturday: Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

As the holidays wind down, there's still time for one more seasonal treat.  I love cheesecake but never think to make it.  I have a couple of tried and true recipes that I love, but am always looking for a new one to try.  Well, this version fit the bill.  I love eggnog during the holidays, but I'm alone on this one in my house.  Luckily, the hubby declared these 'delicious!' even though he isn't a fan of the drink.  

I prefer to make cheesecake the night before so it has plenty of time to chill.  This treat is so easy, and you don't need a springform pan.  I've saved this to my holiday baking repertoire as it was such a hit, but as long as eggnog is on the grocery store shelves, you can enjoy this treat!

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes approx 18 bars

12 graham crackers, finely ground (1½ cups of crumbs)
¾ cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¾ cup eggnog
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for dusting
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan, then line with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and the melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

3. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar and beat for an additional couple of minutes, until smooth. Add the eggs and yolk, eggnog, brandy and vanilla and beat again until completely combined and smooth. Finally, beat in the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix until smooth.

4. Pour the filling over the crust. Set the pan in a larger pan (a 9×13-inch works for this), and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the water bath, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

5. Cut into 1½x3-inch bars. Lightly dust the tops of the bars with freshly grated nutmeg just before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: If you don’t wish to use the brandy, you can simply omit it... but I recommend leaving it in.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Owl Mittens

A late post on some knit mittens that I made for Christmas.  I had originally started these last year (oops) but having just given up on socks, decided that mittens would be just as daunting.  I was mainly intimidated by the separate thumb space.  Once I got going, these were pretty easy to figure out.


I think the size of the gloves ran pretty small (it's the Give a Hoot pattern on Ravelry), but my friend has petite hands so I wasn't too worried.  I finished the first glove in just a couple of hours, but got antsy with the second one (what I was afraid of... second sock syndrome!) so it was stashed away for a couple of weeks.  Luckily I woke up at an ungodly hour on Christmas morning and was able to finish it before the rest of the house was awake.

As cute as they are, doing separate thumbs... well, I'd rather do fingerless gloves.  Call me lazy, but it's so much easier.  I'm going to save my small knitting for toys.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celebration Dress

This dress almost didn't happen.  I originally made another dress as part of the Sew Weekly Celebration challenge, but I hated it. I guess you have to accept that if you're making your clothes, every once in a while you're going to have a flop.  I may revisit it at a later date but for now, it's hanging at the back of the closet.

Anyways, I thought I could move on, but the challenge was looming over my head.  It was the last one of 2011. I could totally do this.  I spent the beginning of the week cleaning out my sewing room, and revisiting my stashed fabric and patterns.  I found three yards of a green silk shantung that I bought over a year ago and matched it up with Butterick 6582.  It seemed like the perfect party dress.

I made the dress up in a day.  I broke my 'no buying for the rest of 2011' just to get a zipper, but aside from that, I already had the fabric and the pattern.

I used Colette's sewing handbook instructions on putting in the invisible zipper, and I have to say that I love how it turned out.  Every time I look through that book, I find more useful information.  I'm looking forward to making up one of the book patterns soon, but until then, I think I may make Peony or Jasmine blouse next.

Fabric: 3 yards of green silk shatung bought at a discount fabric warehouse
Pattern: Butterick 6582; vintage reprint
Notions: Invisible zipper

Anyways, back to Butterick 6582.  I went with version A, but had enough fabric left that I can make the shoulder bows later.  Instead, I ended up finding a brooch from my collection that matched the green perfectly.  Voila! A party dress in time for the New Year!  We usually stay pretty low key for New Year, but we are going to the theatre and this dress will be perfect for a night on the town.

My cat surveying the land, in the background.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Anything But Elementary Cape

When Sew Weekly called last week's theme as 'Free For All,' I took it literally.  I had three garments complete for the theme, the final being this cape, which also counts towards the most difficult project that I completed this year.  This makes it perfect for my final garment show and tell of 2011!

Don't get me wrong - it was fun to make - but it had a higher level of difficulty in techniques and took me the longest of all of my projects this year (actual time spent working on it, that is).  Part of that may have been from the increase in my skills and knowing that I really needed to finish everything off properly.  Not only that, but I took a considerable amount of time reading and rereading the directions to make sure I assembled the pattern properly.

The best part of this jacket? Everything I used I had on hand.  I had already purchased the fabric back in October or November.  Stashbusting feels soooo good!  I had the pattern, thread, notions (buttons galore) and lots of bias tape.  I used readymade bias tape instead of the lining tape that they suggested.  I barely like making my own bias tape as it is, unless it's from a nice cotton, but to make it from a lining satin sounded like torture.  So I used black bias tape for the main details but red for the hemming because I like the sneak peek that you get of it every once in a while.

Fabric: Gray wool suiting
Pattern: McCalls 6446
Notions: 11 buttons (the pattern called for 7 and my hood variation used 4 more), lots of bias tape

The pattern with the hood or no hood option. Notice the large neckline on the latter.
The one variation that I made to the jacket was to make a detatchable hood.  The pattern comes with details for a hooded or unhooded jacket, but they do not give instructions on a hood pocket or anything.  The instructions were also vague for assembling the hood directly to the jacket.  They made sense but I didn't like the technique they used with their facing.  Ultimately, I liked the option to remove it.  So I made the hood separately and attached a row of buttons to the facing.  Under the collar of my jacket are the corresponding buttonholes so that I can remove the hood completely.

There's one feature that I'm not crazy about with this jacket but you only really see it with the hood off.  The neckline is extremely wide - almost boatneck like.  It's fine for looks but not really practical for chilly days.  Once the hood is attached, it's okay, but I have a feeling that the hood is just going to stay on in the winter.

Also, the jacket is not lined.  Luckily our weather is pretty mild but I could see this being more of a spring jacket in colder climates.  Though you could probably just as easy line it.  Well, maybe not just as easy... there were a ton of pattern pieces for this puppy!

My favorite parts?  I love the finishing of the armholes and the angle of the pockets.  Assembling both was no fun until I really comprehended the directions, but I just kept reading it and practicing what it was asking until I made sure that I had it right.

Overall, the jacket took about four full days to make.  This means 4-6 hours of cutting, sewing, etc, each day.  I maybe spent less time on day 3 (I was frustrated at the directions by that point), but it was a very satisfying project.

The hubby never knows what to say with some of my items.  He swears he likes it, but when he first saw it he said
Hubby: 'ooooh, that's very you.  No one else will have that.'
Me: 'Umm, what does that mean?'
Hubby: 'Well, it looks very European.'
Me: 'How so?'
Hubby, awkwardly trying to back out of this situation: 'Umm I don't know, but it's very nice! I like it!'

Fine, I won't make him squirm.  Day 2, he seemed to like it even more (the compliments seemed less strained... maybe he worked on them in his sleep?).  Anyways, keep in mind this is the guy who always tells me 'that's a cute dress!' when I'm wearing a skirt.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and wishing you a safe and happy New Year!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Bread Pudding

With holiday dinners comes leftovers... lots and lots of leftovers. I always have so much bread and rolls left that the hubby likes to hint (over and over) that they would work great in the form of bread pudding.  It's so simple to make and just requires basic ingredients.  I am not a fan of raisins in my baking, so I swapped them out for pecans. You can do either - I think the crunch and flavor of the pecans was perfect with the texture of the bread pudding.

Bread Pudding
Recipe from Allrecipes.com

6 slices of day old bread or the equivalent in rolls
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or raisins)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter an 8" square baking dish.
2. Tear bread into small pieces and place in baking pan.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Sprinkle with pecans (or raisins).
3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour over bread and press down to cover completely so the bread can soak up the liquid.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.  Let cool slightly before serving (it's best served warm).

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

About Time! Pants

In the past year (slightly over) that I've been making garments, I haven't been brave enough to try pants.  When Colette released the Clover pattern, I knew I was going to have to try it.  But once again, the task seemed pretty daunting.  So I watched as they posted their tutorials on fitting issues, etc, and finally, made the purchase of some stretch (2%) denim.  I couldn't find a suitable 'muslin' fabric, so silly me... I decided to use regular cotton, non-stretch, muslin.  That's where the trouble began.

Clover pants and my Sencha blouse
I made the cotton muslin and it fit perfect in the legs but really tight over the bum and hips.  I wasn't sure how much of a difference this would make in the stretch denim so I sized up one size when I cut my fabric.  I started to assemble the pant and apparently wasn't paying attention; I accidently sew'd the outer edge first. Ugh.  Well, I might as well try to see how they're fitting at this point.  Oh... ginormous.  Sigh.  So out came the seam ripper, and an hour later (because yes, I had already done my felled seams at that point) I was back to my uncut pieces.  I re-matched up the pattern and cut it down to the original size that I had cut the muslin to.

I was pleasantly surprised with the fit moving forward.  The legs were a little wide so I took them in slightly.  I was too nervous to take them in too much but they were comfortable and the rest of the fit seemed great.

I'm really happy with how they came out.  They're definitely just going to be the first pair I make - I'd like to make another - this time with the appropriate muslin - and really get the legs to fit just right.  Just a little more form-fitted.

This would actually be a fast project if it weren't for my silly mistakes in the beginning.  I think once I make the muslin to fit, I'll have a great base to make several pairs.  Oh, and next time I'll do the pockets.  I just didn't want to add that to the fact that I was already nervous about my pants-making skills.  I really liked the flat-felled seams.  I used the tutorial provided on Colette's blog.  I had always been concerned that home-made pants wouldn't be as 'secure' as store-bought, and now I know the secret.

Fabric: Stretch denim
Pattern: Colette Clover
Notions: 9" invisible zipper and a hook and eye closure

Monday, December 19, 2011

Remnant Skirt

Before I could really start planning my crafting resolutions for 2012, I had to start working on the stash I had accumulated in 2011.  I have quite a bit of fabric from planned projects that I never got around to - as well as extra fabric from completed projects.  Normally, I only buy the amount requested for each project, but sometimes just from the way I lay out my pieces, I end up with so much extra!  This was the case with my summer plaid dress from June.  I had quite a bit of the plaid suiting leftover... just enough to make a skirt from a pattern in my stash.  I love when I don't have to buy anything new for my sewing projects!

I was hoping to make a new Colette blouse to go along with this, but as part of my stash busting, I refuse to go to the fabric store until I make a dent in some of the fabric on my shelves!  I had some navy blue bias tape in my stash, so I used that to finish off the edges.  It's hidden to the eye, but I love the way it looks.

Fabric: Leftover plaid suiting
Pattern: Vogue 8640  Just the skirt
Notions: One brown 9" invisible zipper and navy blue bias tape - both from my stash

This pattern was a breeze to make and is going to be perfect for my work wardrobe.  A lot of times, I don't feel that my dresses can really be worn into the office, so it's nice to have some 'suit' type items that I made myself.

I think I'll have another garment completed this week, but this one meets the Sew Weekly challenge of 'free for all' (aka, make whatever you want!).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Cheese-It Toffee Bark or Poor Man's Toffee

Ok, if you made it past the post title, you've gotta keep reading! I swear, don't judge me by this recipe name.  When I first saw this recipe on Vanilla Sugar Blog, I was intrigued. So much so that I knew I had to make it for my dance class' holiday party.  They would be open-minded to it, right?

The recipe is super easy, super fast to put together, and only has 5 ingredients, the majority of which you probably have.  I just had to go out to get the jumbo cheese-its, though the regular size would work if you can't find them.  I also had to get milk chocolate chips, as I usually work with semi-sweet and darker.

Cheese-It Toffee Bark
Recipe from Vanilla Sugar Blog

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup, packed light brown sugar
2 bags of 11.05 ounces of milk chocolate chips
Approx ½ box of the Big-size Cheez-It’s, depending on your pan size (use the big ones, as they cover more room)
1 cup of crushed toasted pecans (or walnuts or whatever you crave)


1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Or just use a non-stick jelly roll pan. I recommend the latter, as it makes it very easy to remove the toffee.
3. Lay a flat layer of Cheez-It crackers out on the foil. Cover any gaps with additional cheese-its.  It's ok if it's not completely flat.

Just out of the oven.
4. In a saucepan, melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Do not mix! Just pour, and fill in any gaps with a spatula.
5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 5-8 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. Turn off oven, then take out of oven and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then sprinkle on the chocolate chips. But tray back in oven to help the chips melt a bit. When chips are melted a bit (about a minute in the oven), spread them into an even layer like you would frosting a cake. After done spreading the chocolate, sprinkle on the chopped nuts or whatever else you want to add.

Spread the soft chocolate until all of the cheese-its and caramel are covered
Sprinkle the nuts, then let cool.
6. Let cool and/or refrigerate until hardened. Once cooled and firm, then break into pieces.  Bag or transfer to an air-tight container.

I refrigerated mine overnight which made it the perfect consistency to break into pieces.  The squares of the cheese-its make this really easy too as they generally want to break at seam points.

And the response?  Everyone loved it!  The fact that it was made from cheese-its made them even more intrigued.  Everyone was fascinated by the fact that it was toffee, with just a hint of the saltiness from the cheese. And now I have to get this post out for the numerous recipe requests that I received!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No pattern sewing: Plaid Circle Skirt

This week at the Sew Weekly, they went patternless! As I'm just now back in the sewing room since my surgery, I thought I'd join back in with the Sew Weekly challenges, and finally complete the Circle Skirt tutorial provided by Casey at Elegant Musings.  Two birds, one stone.

Fabric: Plaid wool blend from JoAnn's.  It was on sale and I bought about 5 yards.  I still have some extra so I can possibly make another garment with the leftovers.
Pattern: None! Ha! I used the tutorial from Casey's Elegant Musings
Notions: 9" zipper and a button from my collection.

I had intended to participate in Casey's Circle Skirt Sewalong back when it was happening (September - October), but I was participating in Self-Stitched September and was honestly intimidated by the whole 'drafting-my-own-pattern-using-math' concept... even though the math was minimal.  So I just kept putting it off.  Every time I went to pick it back up, I would find some reason to work on another project instead.  Until I was 1. antsy from not being able to sew, and 2. saw that the Sew Weekly challenge was going to be drafting your own garment, without a pattern.  Ok, ok, no avoiding it now.

As usual, with something that I think is going to be a hassle, it turned out to be ridiculously easy.  My main problem is that I never want to use muslin to make a draft.  This time, I had to in order to not mess up my yards and yards of fabric.  So I actually drafted my 'pattern' onto Swedish tracing paper.  Once I saw that the instructions totally worked, I was full steam ahead.  I took the measurements that Casey requested, and decided to make the length of the initial skirt (pre-hemming) 28" from my waist.  I knew I was aiming long but I figured I could always cut away if it was too much.  I ended up keeping the length as is, though I may shorten it at a later date.  I really like the length so far, but just below the knee might be more enticing when the weather starts to heat up again.

Even better? I saved the small 'pattern' that I made, wrote out the extra measurements - including skirt length, waistband length - and saved it with my pattern collection so that I could make it again.  Now, I can make another circle skirt any time I want.

The only problem with full circle skirts? They require tons of fabric.  But the result? I love how flow-y it is and the way it hangs.  It makes it extra fun to twirl.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies

I love dark chocolate. Big time. The hubby on the other hand... semi-sweet is as much as he prefers to enjoy.  When I saw Bakerella's post on her Dark Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies, I was ready to go out and hunt down the new Hershey's dark chocolate chips.  Well the hubby should consider himself lucky, because I hate going to the grocery store and found every reason not too.  Including the excuse of having a jumbo bag of semi-sweet chips on hand.  So I made (very) minor modifications and whipped up the recipe.

I have to say that the result was probably similar.  She made a comment about being alone while you take them out of the oven so that you don't embarrass yourself.  Well how about not even waiting for them to cool before removing them from the pan? I was so eager to try them that I broke a few by not having patience.  Seriously, just give them a couple of minutes alone on the pan before you start removing them.  Then you don't have to pick up crumbles from the cooling rack or kitchen counter.  Not that I did that of course.  Just sayin'

Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies
Recipe from Bakerella

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped pecans, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, soda and salt using a wire whisk and set aside.
3. In another bowl, cream butter, sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix until combined.
5. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped pecans (unless you prefer to roll the cookies in pecans them as Bakerella did.  If so, mix in the chocolate chips and wait until the next step before adding the pecans).
6.  Roll cookie dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. I used a small ice cream scoop instead as I had already incorporated the pecans into the batter.  If you do roll them into balls, you can then roll them in the chopped pecans.

7. Place on parchment paper or Silpat covered baking sheet.
8. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes (just enough to set), then place cookies on cookie rack to cool.  Makes about 30 2-inch cookies.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pajama Party

As I hoped, I was actually able to spend some time in my craft room this weekend.  I only had some minor touches to do to complete the pants.  Basically finalizing the length and the final hem.  And I promise they will get plenty of use! I'm trying to make an effort to not sit around in my pjs all day, but I am still spending a large amount of my time in them.  It's just so much more comfortable while I'm still healing.  

I still plan on making the top - I have the pieces already cut out and ready to assemble. Now it's really just a matter of getting myself in front of the machine to put it all together.  

Fabric: Lisette cotton print from JoAnn's. It was on sale, so it was the only way I could justify the purchase. I love the print, but full price was just too much.
Pattern: McCall's 5992, from stash.  I made these once as shorts. I like them far better as pants, and the fit is great.
Notions: Just elastic. I didn't do the drawstring option.

I did a decorative stitch on the hem
I finished one of my crochet projects so I'll be posting that soon, aside from that I'm still working on my blanket and I'm working on some knit gloves.  I've been doing a little bit of baking, but I know it'll ramp up as we get closer to some holiday parties.  I'm looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen (with the hubby's help for any heavy lifting), just to feel like I can do some of my normal activities.  One thing that has been awesome from this recovery is my diet - probably because I'm not able to bake as much as I normally do.  Oh well, I just need to exercise restraint when I'm back in the kitchen.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Holiday Gift Tutorials

December is here and so is gift-giving season! I've been spending quite a bit of time on the web, looking up crafty ideas and filling up my Pinterest boards.  I compiled some of my favorite gift tutorials.

Ok, and I snuck in my pecans, because they are one of my favorite gifts to make this time of year.

What are some of your favorite crafty gifts?  Feel free to add a link in the comments.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Salted Chocolate Chip Blondies

My husband has been asking for me to remake the brown butter toffee blondies that I made around this time last year.  This recipe was a way for me to still try a new recipe, but also curb his taste-buds.  I love making blondies because they always require the most basic ingredients.  The one item that I don't normally stock in my pantry, but did happen to have on hand, were the butterscotch chips.  You could omit them and replace with more chocolate chips, or even use peanut butter chips (hubby's suggestion).

Salted Chocolate Chip Blondies
Recipe from Mountain Mama Cooks

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
14 tbsp butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1 tbsp sea salt

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 in baking dish.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Heat the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until butter is dark goldon brown and has a nutty aroma, approx. 1 to 3 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from heat and transfer butter to large heatproof bowl.  Add both sugars and vanilla to bowl, and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.
5. Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
6. Press batter into baking dish.  Sprinkle with sea salt. I used just under the 1 tbsp as it was a considerable amount.  Bake bars for 20 to 25 minutes, taking care not to overcook or they will be dry.  Transfer bars to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Yarn Therapy

I'm feeling energized today and eager to get things back to normal! I'm definitely still on the road to recovery.  I'm spending most of my time propped up on the couch, where I'm crocheting or knitting like crazy, while watching endless amounts of tv (my daytime tv has consisted of a whole lot of What Not To Wear and Restaurant Impossible).  It can definitely get tedious, and I do get really antsy... I'm so used to be out an about!  But I'm looking forward to being able to drive again soon, if anything just so I can get out of the house!

I still can't stand or walk for long periods of time without getting winded or starting to feel a little uncomfortable. And by long period of time I mean: I went to the grocery store with the hubby and instantly came home to take a nap.  But I am starting to do a bit of my normal activities like baking, but only when the hubby is around to handle heavy/awkward baking gear or taking things out of the oven.  I don't want to risk it.

I am excited to get back into the sewing room! I had a pair of pajama pants that I started before surgery, that I think I'll finally be able to hem this weekend.  I don't think I'll be ready for full fledged sewing projects yet, as all of that bending and maneuvering to cut out and assemble patterns might still be uncomfortable, but I'm feeling more up for it every day.

Standard view: working on the blanket, two kitties keeping me company

Due to all of this couch time, I am making awesome progress on my Seeing Stars blanket.  I'm almost halfway done, and got caught up to weaving the ends in.  Now I have a system where I make a few of the hexagons, weave the ends in, and plot out my next few color rounds.

I was running low on yarn (having finished my first ball of each) so I ordered the final amount to complete the project.  My friend recommended FabulousYarn.com and they were rockstars! They got the yarn to me ridiculously fast, and it was beautifully packaged and ready to go.  I now have all of the supplies to hopefully finish the blanket off before Christmas.

The yarn color assortment from Spud and Chloe

The only problem with crocheting all day, is that it can really get repetitive.  In order to change things up, I've also started working on some knit Christmas gifts.  I can't believe it's December already, but I think I can crank out a few items to round out my Christmas shopping.

Well readers, it feels so good to be back online and able to actually report progress on projects, with more on the way.  Thank you for your well wishes! I'll keep you updated with more completed project posts and sweet treats.
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