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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Kitchen Sink Blondies

Friday night. Dinner is devoured. Dishes are done... and I'm itching for something sweet.

I decided to surprise the hubby with blondies. Chocolate chip cookies are probably his #1 favorite dessert that could only ever be topped by blondies.  But in order for me to fully enjoy them, we would have to include toffee. Fair is fair, right?  So I started collecting ingredients and decided to basically throw in all of the add-ins I could find. Thus, the kitchen sink blondies were created.  Chocolate chips, heath bar, peanut butter chips, walnuts... enjoy!

Kitchen Sink Blondies
Recipe modified from AllRecipes
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2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c heath bar bits
1/2 c peanut butter chips
1 c chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Then, gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in desired add-ins (chocolate chips, heath bar, peanut butter chips, walnuts).
4. Spread batter into greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Holiday Stocking

Alright, I'm breaking the unspoken rule that September is way too early to be planning for Christmas already, but... I finally finished a craft I've been working on since last November! I know, that's a long time, and I can't even blame things like a baby for it. It was just a really slow project.

The project in question was a holiday stocking for my little man. A cross-stitch stocking. For some reason, I thought it would go a lot faster than it did. But it was so detailed and intricate... Ultimately, I love how it turned out. But I would never do it again. Or at least, I said I wouldn't. Until the same day that I uttered those words, a friend gave me a gift of another stocking kit.  Same company, but luckily, this one is just needlepoint and not cross-stitch. I've actually already started on it and made some progress.

I have a hand-made stocking that my grandmother made for me when I was a child. I've always loved having my own, custom stocking, and wanted to do one for Ian as well. My husband is excited that I got another kit so that he can have his own. Maybe I could even finish his in time for this holiday season? No promises - I'm still working on his Halloween costume so he'll be lucky if he gets that in time!

If you are feeling brave (or a lot faster than I am at cross-stitch), here's the link to the kit on Amazon.  It includes everything you need to make the stocking. I added a velvet back because I didn't like the felt that the kit provided, but aside from that, everything was included.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Sorry for the housekeeping post, but Bloglovin' wants me to 'claim' my blog by including this link. So here you go! If you weren't already following me on Bloglovin'... especially with the change over from Google's Reader, then now is a great time to start! :)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Craft Space

I've had so many blog entries in my head for the last couple of weeks but haven't found the time to put them to 'paper.'  I had the pictures all ready and everything though - I just needed a few minutes to myself.

I finally feel like my craft room is in the proper state for me to... well... craft! This also serves as my home office.  Luckily, I can work from home a fair amount of the time. The sad part is I often end up looking longingly at my craft table.  I do find that it keeps me in a crafty state of mind.

This space is definitely more craft centric than my last one.  You may remember, but my craft room served as a practice space for my Irish dancing, and then later as a guest bedroom.  This new space has my trust craft table (Ikea). I downsized on my fabric stash before the move. I felt like I was hoarding a lot of scraps and pieces that I just wouldn't use.  So I donated a lot of them. Now I just have two cubbies of fabric, and one shelf on my bookcase... though it's slowly creeping up to the filled state as I get back into sewing.  I have one full cubby of embroidery magazine. I love my cross-stitch, but just have so many projects that I want to get to! One day I'll get to them all! (Right??)

The rest of the space is sewing gadets and notions... ribbons, various cutting tools, threads, etc.

My bookshelves hold an assortment of craft books, work books, and a good two shelves each of sewing patterns and yarns. The important stuff.

And with all of this, I've finally started sewing again! Little things - mainly baby crafts. But I've been getting caught up on all of my favorite blogs, finding out who the new, independent sewing pattern designers are, drooling over patterns that I couldn't possibly make in the next two months but want to start hoarding already... ya know, the usual.

So I'll share a few that I've found, but do you have any exciting sewing/blogging finds that you want to share?

Deer & Doe
Saltspring from Sewaholic
Zinnia and Hawthorne from Colette (yup, I bit the bullet and ordered them)
Papercut Watson Jacket... I WANT this so bad
Sew Charleston... new blog find

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Normally I wouldn't post a 'work in progress' but if you want to make an awesome homemade gift for the holidays, now is the time to get started on this one.

I stumbled across these tutorials last year, way too late to get on the homemade vanilla extract train for gifts. I swore I would do it this year and (much to my surprise) I remembered.  This is ridiculously easy to do and only requires a little advance planning.

Here's what you do...

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Recipe from various tutorials throughout the web. I did my own variation based on memory.
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Vodka - as much as you want to make. I purchased two big bottles
Vanilla beans, whole
Bottles to transfer the vanilla extract to once complete
Funnel to help with the transferring process
Optional: Cheesecloth or filter for funnel

1. Divide up your vanilla beans for your bottles. I used approx 3 whole beans for the large bottle of vodka. I don't think you need to do much more than that. I used two for the smaller bottle and just cut them in half.

2. Slice through the center of the vanilla bean to help 'free' the inside vanilla paste from the beans. Place beans in the bottles. Seal bottles.
3. Store bottles in a cool, dark place. Shake them around every week or so. The vanilla extract will be ready in approx. 3 months.  Once it's ready, transfer the vanilla into your bottles. Seal, label, and gift!

You'll find that it doesn't take long before the vodka starts taking on an amber color. Just keep it stored, shaking it from time to time, and soon you'll be ready to divvy up your unique gift.

You can find vanilla beans all over the web! Some quick searches led me to Beanilla, Ebay, and Amazon.  I went with the latter because I was going to be buying a few additional supplies there.  I also picked up a glass bottle to store some of the excess vodka - and to make my own bottle.  But the bottles that I will distribute as gifts will probably be the amber Boston round bottles.  I will post an update to this entry in a few months when I get ready to assemble the vanilla, but I wanted to let you all join in the fun if you decide to make these as a holiday gift!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Bread Pudding

We had family over this past weekend. Ian's grandpa and auntie got to hang out with him. They hadn't seen him since he was six weeks old. Now at almost six months, they were amazed by how big he was and how much more 'aware' and engaged he could be.

We are hoping to see them more now that we're on the same coast, but in the meantime, we had to show them some of the sites around our new home.  We took them to the local farmer's market which is attended by the most incredible French bakery, La Farm.  We picked up a loaf of their fresh bread to last us through the weekend.  Unfortunately for them, they didn't get to finish the loaf as we were out and about so often that whenever we got home, we would be stuffed with things like Carolina BBQ, or other local treats. Fortunately for me, I was left with a day old, crusty bread. I knew exactly what to make with it.

Gooey bread pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Recipe modified from Allrecipes.com
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1 loaf crusty french bread, day old
4 eggs
4 c milk (whole is preferred but I use 1% because I have it in the house)
1/4 c (half a stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1 c raisins (I hate raisins in my baked goods so I omitted this)

1. Cut bread into cubes. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix and then add to the large bowl of liquids.  Stir until combined then add bread to bowl.  Press down so the majority is covered.  Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes so liquid mixture will absorb into bread.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Pour bread mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for approx 1 hour, until bread pudding looks set.
6. Let cool slightly before serving. Best served warm.

Fresh from the oven

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