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Baking and crafts and yarn, oh my! December 23, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, food, kidlet, knitting.
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Mmm cookies

Yummy. It took a little doing to figure out the right proportion of flour + dough so that it didn’t stick to the mold, yet didn’t immediately fall out, either. I used a standard Springerle recipe, except instead of anise oil I substituted 3-4 tbs of vanilla extract. It damn near killed my mixer as it calls for nine cups of flour, in addition to the other ingredients – the dough gets very stiff toward the end so I had to take the bowl off and finish mixing it by hand. Ooof. Love my mixer. You’re supposed to let them age but I can attest that they taste good 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, a day later, two days later…they’re awesome with milk, dense yet sort of fluffy, if a cookie can be such a thing.

Paper garland

This is kind of a dark photo but Kerry wanted to see what I made with kidlet and I was testing out the A mode on my camera. I need more practice.

Paper garland

This was fun – we made a paper garland out of some acrylic yarn and punched out shapes – you can recycle greeting cards for this purpose, or, in our case I grabbed four random sheets of scrapbooking paper to try it out. It was a good project to do with kidlet, I punched out two sizes of each shape and he had fun gluing them together. Thank you, Martha!

Paper treat cones

Another Martha project – these are ornaments to be are hung on the tree and treats are put inside the cone. I figure we’ll bring a bunch to my MIL’s and hang them on her tree.

I am not at all ashamed to admit that I love Martha Stewart. I realize that she doesn’t possibly come up with all the cool stuff in her magazines and her website, but still, it’s the kind of organization and “everything-just-so” that a Virgo like me drools over. If only I were half as put together. She’s the modern day June Cleaver.

Therefore I must tell you all about the Martha Stewart website. If you’re not familiar with it, go NOW and get yourself an account. Why? Because everything that is published in her magazines is on the site for free and you can bookmark things in your “collections” which is so amazingly useful! I have Firefox bookmarks but they’re not organized at all and half of them have sketchy descriptors so I don’t even know what they’re for any more. The MS website is just so slick and pretty and I’ve been clicking around saving recipes and craft ideas and I LOVE IT. LOVE.

Like OMG Puffy Maine Pancakes LOVE.

Ironstone Fun

I’m working on some last-last minute scarves for xmas due to finding some gorgeous super bulky yarn called Ironstone Fun for a steal at WEBS (Kemma, take note) – $3.99 a skein, marked down from $12.99. I got three skeins of three colors each. My idea is to make a scarf/hat/mittens out of each color, but we’ll see how far I get. I could always make a mess of scarves. It will hopefully knit up very quickly.

Speaking of xmas prep, things are moving along pretty well, all told. I finished the Springerle cookies and Michael was a HUGE help in getting a good chunk of gifts wrapped tonight, as well as putting the kids’ photo into some photo ornaments I picked up.

Ginger spice cookies

I moved on to ginger spice cookies – oh mah gah, y’all, these might seriously have unseated Snickerdoodles as my Favorite Cookie, Ever. I really love simple cookies with few ingredients that are easy to make, yet so irresistible. The only PITA with this recipe was chopping up candied ginger – it sticks to the knife – but oh WOW these cookies are good. I’ve really had to steel myself not to eat them all and instead save them for gifts.

Well, I think that’s plenty of blah blah blah for one day.

In Progress December 21, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in food.
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Springerle cookies

Springerle cookies

Fabric and cookie mold fun December 17, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, food, sewing.
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Fabric!

Oh, fabric. How I lurve thee. I’m going to start sewing some skirts for myself as the ones I own are quite tattered and I haven’t seen anything I like in the stores. I’ve become a big fan of Amy Butler fabric, it’s just all so damned happy. I’ve also got a couple of vintage repros in there too for good measure.

In other exciting crafty news!

Cookie mold project

This is a cookie mold. Traditionally used to make Springerle cookies, but can also be used with clay to make other fun things, in this case xmas ornaments I plan to paint and give as gifts. I can’t take credit for this one, it’s all Martha.

(Excuse my bad photos – I just slapped everything out on the dining room table which is why I’m using one of kidlet’s placemats as a backdrop.)

I decided to start simple and just got the one mold, though it has three motifs which appeals to the thrifty part of me. I got the mold from House on the Hill and it’s very nice. My only gripe with it is that it’s cast resin and has a brown finish applied to it, presumably to make it look like wood. Frankly it smells weird and I would have been just as happy if they hadn’t added the finish at all. I’d like to make actual cookies with it (they included a recipe booklet, yay!) but think I’ll have to wash it a number of times first.

The clay I used is called Paperclay and isn’t actually clay at all – it’s non-toxic and smells like Elmer’s white glue so I’m guessing it’s just glue and paper. You can find a number of recipes online to make your own. I bought a package at the craft store and then found the Creative Paperclay website where I got a variety of their products to try out for a lot cheaper. For my inaugural endeavor I used the Creative Paperclay.

I just grabbed a ball of it, mashed it a bit with my hands, then smooshed it into the mold. I covered the whole thing and made it a somewhat even thickness on the back. To flatten the back I turned the mold over and pressed the back into the placemat, though if I wanted to be even more of a perfectionist I could have used a rolling pin.

Then, I turned it over and carefully pried the clay off. You can use a mold release spray to make this process easier but I’d like to use the mold to make cookies so opted not to get it as it would render the mold unsuitable for food use. The paperclay itself is non-toxic.

Cookie mold project

I cut out my designs using a round fluted cookie cutter. The paperclay did a nice job picking up the small details in the mold.

Cookie mold project

If I had some eyelet screws on hand I could have screwed them into the shapes before setting them out to dry, but alas I didn’t have anything handy this time around. Maybe next time. I lay them out on a piece of parchment paper to dry overnight.

Cookie mold project

Once they’re dry I’ll sand down the crumblies at the edges and then paint them with acrylic paint. The molding portion of this project was so quick and easy – ten minutes, tops. I did notice that the second time the clay stuck a teensy little bit in the mold so I cleaned it with warm water and a toothbrush, then set it out to dry. Since I’m not using mold release I think two castings is the maximum between cleanings.

I was thinking of making the ornaments and also making cookies and packaging them both together as a gift. What do you think?

This would really be a fantastic project to do with kids – the clay is light, easy to use, and not at all messy (though I personally had a squicky moment when it dried on my hands, I have tactile issues with things like that), making the molds is fun, and painting them is something a kid would love to do. I looked on the Creative Paperclay website and found more project ideas – they even describe how to make your own simple molds using rubber stamps and foam sheets. Too cool!

Now I want to go around my house finding things to mold the paperclay onto! I also want to try out the other two varieties I got to see how they come out, and I picked up some good old Das (remember that from middle school art class?) at the craft store which is a lot heavier but would make a more substantial piece. I also saw 25# boxes of clay for fifteen bucks…tempting! I need to find some rubber gloves if I’m going to continue messing with clay, however. Eugh.

Spinning, cat, socks December 17, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in kidlet, knitting, spinning.
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Spun some Shetland top and navajo plied it.

Shetland top

Munchie

Finished kidlet’s socks. He loved them so much he immediately wore them to school.

Kidlet's socks

Kidlet's socks

Kidlet's socks

My Ravelry project page: Socks for The Boy
Pattern: Child’s Sock Pattern by Lucy H. Lee (Ravelry link) | (non-Ravelry link)
Yarn: Regia Color 4-Ply, color #4737 (Ravelry link) | (non-Ravelry link)

The socks are knit toe-up so the heel is just a flap with a gusset, only the stitches are being picked up along an extended sole instead of the heel. It’s wicked easy and looks nice. Kidlet’s feet are bigger than the pattern allows for so I came up with some modifications as I went. They’re listed on my Ravelry project page but in case you’re not able to make it there here they are:

1. I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On for the toe because it’s awesome and I love it.

2. From the toe I increased to 44 stitches total instead of 40.

3. I started the heel flap at 4″ as instructed, but then because my son’s feet were bigger than I remembered and too big for a 6″ sole I went to 8″ before starting the heel shaping.

4. This made the heel gusset larger so I picked up 16 stitches instead of 14 for a total of 64 stitches – it worked out to picking up every other row along the flap.

5. I then decreased back to my original 44 sts for the cuff.

6. I used the Elizabeth Zimmerman Sewn Cast-Off which made a nice stretchy cuff.

I got them to match as kidlet didn’t want tall socks, and the height he specified just happened to end the first sock right before the pattern repeat for the skein, so it really was serendipity. I may even have enough of the skein left to make a wee little pair for Margaret :)

Judy’s Magic Cast-On is so totally worth learning if you knit socks. It makes a perfect, beautiful toe that requires no seaming. I hate seaming. You can even knit your loose end into the first row so you won’t even need to run it in – just snip it when you’re done! Couldn’t be simpler. The cast-off is extremely easy, too, and worth it as I always tend to pull too tightly.

I chose this pattern as I was looking for an easy, basic sock pattern in childrens’ sizes that used fingering weight yarn. This was deceptively difficult as there are tons of wee baby socks made from fingering yarn, or childrens’ socks made from sport or worsted weight yarn. Perhaps if I ever became a knitwear designer I could find a niche in the 4-to-11 year old sock arena.

O Tree December 15, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in kidlet.
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O tree