Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You might remember that in my Sweet Potato Casserole post I promised to share a couple of my other favourite recipes for this time of year. Tonight it's the completely delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake! My husband loves pumpkin pie but I can't stand it so this cake is a really great compromise for us. The recipe is from the Kraft Canada website and it's actually supposed to be a Halloween dessert that you draw a chocolate spiderweb on.  But if you just drizzle the chocolate instead of making it a pattern then it's a perfect dessert to serve for Thanksgiving dinner. The recipe is fairly easy, as far as baked cheesecakes go, the only drawback is that you will need a spring form pan. I got mine at Home Sense for $14.99 so it's not really that expensive an investment.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1-1/4 cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 pkg. (250g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 can (29 oz/822g) pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 tsp. oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix baking crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and cornstarch; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until centre is almost set; cool slightly. Spread with sour cream. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim of pan.

Place chocolate and oil in small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM 1 minute; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

This is a photo of the last time I made the recipe. I did it for Halloween so it has the spiderweb on it. It was a really big hit!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Framed Fabric

As many of you know, my husband and I moved into a brand new home this past May. Our builder recommended that we wait to paint until our one year new home warranty was over and we agreed it was a good idea. The side effect of this is that every day I stare at very white and mostly empty walls. We do have some photographs and art hung downstairs but our bedroom is completely bare. I've been watching out for an easy and inexpensive project I can undertake to decorate and I think I've found it: framed fabric! The only real cost is the frame and the piece of fabric. Since there are tons of colour and pattern choices to choose from fabric can suit any decor. The best part is, it's also easy and inexpensive to change out the fabric when you get tired of it.

There are a few ways you can choose to hang fabric. The first is to put a piece of fabric in a frame just as you would a photograph. There's a full tutorial available over at Lula Louise but the concept is pretty simple.  I think that getting the fabric perfectly ironed would be the trickiest part. You can do a series of frames with coordinating fabric. I love this idea for hanging a series from Budget Wise Home. So pretty!

The next idea, found on The Purl Bee, is to put your fabric into embroidery hoops and then hang them. I'm fairly certain you can find embroidery hoops quite cheaply; you might even find them in second hand stores if you really wanted to go thrifty. The photo below, also courtesy of The Purl Bee, shows how interesting a collage of different sized hoops with various patterns could be. I can't see that really fitting with my style but two or three could definitely work!

The last idea I want to share for hanging fabric is to pull it over a stretched canvas. You can purchase canvases at your local craft or art supply store. Then all you need is a staple gun to secure the fabric and you're pretty much done. Full instructions can be found on the Real Simple website (I love that magazine!).

So there you have it. Cheap and easy DIYs that leave you with beautiful wall art. I'm officially inspired and I hope you are too!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Toddler Crafts

This is something entirely new for this blog as I don't yet have any children but I do know some mommys looking for crafts to do with their little ones so I did some googling and some brainstorming and came up with a few ideas.

First, let your little one help you decorate the house for fall with a hand print wreath! All you have to do is trace his or her hand onto various pieces of fall coloured construction paper. Then you cut the hand print leaves out and have your child help you glue or tape them together into a circle. Voila, a fabulous fall wreath! You can let your child colour on the leaves before you attach them or they can cover it with stickers. The end result could look something like this. You could also easily adapt this for Christmas, just switch out the colours.

Second, there's pudding paint! Not for the faint of heart as it can be really messy but also really fun. Simply mix food colouring into little containers of vanilla pudding, cover up anything you don't want pudding smeared on, put down some paper and let your little one go to town. They can use brushes or you can just let them paint with their hands. You needn' t worry about anything getting into little mouths and pudding washes out of hair pretty easily :)

Last, I think paper plate masks make for a fun and really cute craft. Cut eye and mouth holes into a paper plate and then let your child colour anything they like onto it. I know toddlers like stickers and they can use those for this project as well. If they want their mask to be an animal then you can help them by attaching ears or whiskers. When they're finished either attach a string so they can wear the mask or a glue a Popsicle stick to the bottom so they can hold the mask to their face. You can search "paper plate mask" in Google Images and get all kinds of cute results to inspire you.

If anyone tries any of these ideas with their little ones I hope you'll share the results!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Planter

You might remember that I posted a while back about some ideas for outdoor fall decor. Well today I decided that the flowers in the planter on our front porch had seen better days and that it was time to repurpose the box into a planter fit for fall!

I pulled out all the flowers and greenery on the surface of the planter but I didn't worry much about the roots or the soil because I needed something to build on top of anyway. We'd been to Walmart today where I'd purchased a package of 10 fabric fall leaves for $1.50 as well as a garland of fall leaves and berries for $5.00. I lined the planter with the loose leaves, leaving them hanging over the edges. Then I put my pumpkins and gourds from last Sunday into the planter, taking care to make sure that there was something holding down each of the leaves (don't want to lose them when the wind picks up!). Lastly, I wrapped the garland all around the outside of the planter.

I'm pleased with the result but unfortunately, our porch is rather high so you can't really see much besides the leaves and pumpkins when you're down on the lawn or driving past. I took the picture below standing in the middle of the yard. I still think it looks nice but I'm disappointed that so much of it is wasted. I think my next purchase will be an urn that I can put down at the bottom of our front steps so that people can see all of the contents. In the meantime, the planter is still pretty even when you can only see the leaves. And it gives our porch a colourful touch of fall!

Just a note, I likely won't be posting tomorrow. We're going down to see the Jays vs. the Yankees and it'll probably be a late night. But I'll be back on Tuesday so be sure to visit then :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I've been talking about it since my post on September 9 but today I finally made Challah! I will admit that I cheated a bit and used the bread maker instead of doing it all by hand. Because of this it came out like a regular loaf and isn't in the traditional braid. It is also missing the egg wash that you put on the dough after you braid it. As such, it's a pretty mild version of Challah. Perfect for someone who's not sure if they'd like a sweet egg bread or not. 

The recipe I used was from a website called Diana's Desserts. There were a few ingredient options but this is the version that I made. I added the ingredients in the order listed below but be warned, if you plan to try this, check your bread maker manual for the recommended order of adding ingredients. I baked mine on the Regular Bread setting and I set the Crust to Regular as well. It came out nice and crusty on the outside but soft on the inside.

3/4 cup warm water
1 large egg
3 tablespoons margarine
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

I was actually pleasantly surprised that mine turned out because I made a pretty silly mistake. I added all the ingredients and even had the bread maker turned on when I realized that I forgot to add the mixing paddle! I had to pour all of my ingredients into a bowl so I could attach the paddle and then I dumped everything back in the bread maker. Of course the yeast had totally mixed with the water (a big no no) and I was afraid that it wouldn't rise properly. Not so! The bread maker worked it's magic and Chris and I were both extremely pleased with the results.

I would definitely make this recipe again, especially if we were having guests who had never tried Challah before. I think for Chris and I, I will be looking for a recipe with a bit of of a distinctive taste, or next time I might just use the bread maker to mix the dough and then follow the traditional way of making Challah with the braiding and egg wash.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

Can you believe that it's already September 23? I'm really having a hard time believing the calendar these days; I just don't know where the month of September has gone! But here we are on our way to October which means, for those of us in Canada, it's almost time for Thanksgiving! This year Thanksgiving is on October 11. I'm not sure what Chris and I are doing or if we'll be having a big turkey dinner anywhere but I do know that, no matter where we end up, I'll be making Sweet Potato Casserole.

Last year I volunteered to bring a sweet potato casserole to our big family dinner but I'd never made one before. I bake but I don't cook at all so I was a little nervous about it. I decided the best thing was just to to google a recipe and give it a go. I found a recipe on the Southern Food page of and I am so glad I did. Not only was it super easy to make but it was a HIT! People were super enthusiastic about it and there was not a speck of it left when dinner was over. Chris has made me promise that I'll be making it again this year. Since it's not too early to start planning, I'm sharing the recipe today. This way when your host asks you to bring something, you can volunteer Sweet Potato Casserole with confidence :)

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.
Serves 6 to 8. 

Stay tuned because before Thanksgiving hits I'm going to share my favourite Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe and the incredibly delicious Oats and Honey Granola Pie!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's that time of year when everything suddenly becomes pumpkin flavored. My husband is thrilled because he loves pumpkin pie and I get excited about the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. They are delicious and I could easily drink one a day. However, as I'm sure you know, Starbucks isn't exactly cheap and my wallet just doesn't allow for daily visits. So what to do? Well that's easy, all you need is a recipe that lets you make them at home!

  • 3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla-flavored syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 ounces espresso (1-2 shots)  
  1. In a small saucepan, stir pumpkin puree into milk.
  2. Add vanilla syrup and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Heat gently, continuing to stirring occasionally just until steaming and foam begins to appear.
  4. Pour pumpkin flavored milk into a tall mug and pour espresso over.
  5. Top with whip cream and a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
  6. If you like it slightly sweeter; add a bit of vanilla flavored coffee cream.
Perfect for a crisp fall day and at a fraction of the cost of Starbucks. It doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Napkin Flowers

Life has been very busy lately and I missed posting yesterday. My apologies to anyone who noticed! I'm back tonight with a quick and easy project, napkin flowers!

I've seen this idea done before but the tutorial I used tonight was from Made, a cool blog with lots of great ideas and tutorials. You can find the full instructions here but essentially all you need to make one flower is four large napkins, one smaller napkin in a contrasting colour, a piece of string and some scissors.

Here is what my finished product looks like (thanks to my hand model husband!). This was my second attempt and it looks much better than my first. I can only assume that my third will be even better. As you can see in the picture, the flowers turn out pretty large. Made suggests hanging them on the wall which would be really cute in a little girl's room. I also think these would make really pretty gift toppers in place of a bow and then your recipient could display it somewhere in her home.

I paid $2 for each package of napkins that I bought (so $4 total) and that left me with 100 napkins. So this project is not only easy but really inexpensive. The colour combinations are endless and these would look really cool made with patterned napkins as well. I think I'm going to make myself a whole bouquet of them for our guest room!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Today was a beautifully sunny day and, as luck would have it, my husband and I both had the day off  work! 

We started the morning with a trip to Roadshow's 400 Antiques Mall, one of Canada's largest antique malls that just happens to be right here in Innisfil. Chris and I can spend hours wandering through all the booths. I love the jewelry and glassware and he gravitates towards the military paraphernalia. We generally tend to be window shoppers since all the best stuff is pretty expensive but today I decided to splurge a bit when I found this beautiful blue teardrop pitcher. It's called a teardrop pitcher because of the shape of the design and it catches the light in a really neat way. I have it set on the side table in our living room where the sun will hit it in the afternoons. It's empty at the moment but I think it would look fantastic with flowers in it.

When we finished at the antiques mall it was on to a little roadside stand that Chris had discovered where they are selling gourds and pumpkins of all sizes. We picked up quite a collection. The pumpkins are currently lining our front porch and the gourds are my dining table centrepiece. When our flowers die outside I'll be using the gourds to create the fall planters that I previously wrote about.

When we arrived home I was excited to see that the flowers have all starting blooming on my pot of fall mums. The pot sits at the bottom of our front steps and really adds some colour to our front yard.

My plan for the afternoon was to make Challah but we decided to have my parents over for dinner and I just didn't have the four hours required to make it. Instead I used a bread maker to make the Basic White recipe in the instruction manual. This was my first time ever using a bread maker and, at first, it totally felt like cheating. I really felt like all that kneading and waiting for things to rise made the bread better but I might be a convert since the bread maker process is just so easy: just throw the ingredients in, press start and wait for bread! I still think the "made from scratch by hand" stuff is superior but I will definitely be using the bread maker again. I even found a bread maker Challah recipe! In any case, the Basic White was a big hit at dinner and I am really looking forward to my sandwich for tomorrow's lunch.

All in all, a fabulous day. Hope you had a great weekend too :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Cleaning

Today wasn't an exciting day but it was one I've been looking forward to for a while. It was my "fall cleaning" day and my house got the scrubbing treatment from top to bottom. I don't enjoy cleaning but I definitely love a clean house. And to make this clean house even better I dug through all the boxes in our basement to find my fall decorations! My favourites are my candy apple bowl (purchased from Hallmark a few years ago) and my pumpkin dish (a gift from Mom).

And even better, my wonderful husband came home from an assignment today with a vase full of beautiful fall flowers. They look fantastic on our coffee table (though I took this picture in our bathroom window since the light was so much better!).

I apologize because all that cleaning didn't leave time for baking or crafting but I wanted to post anyway. Tomorrow's plan involves visiting the antiques mall and finally tackling the Challah I was supposed to make last weekend. I'll be sure to post the results of both :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun Halloween Finds

I was killing time at my local Winners tonight and found myself in their home decor section. I was really excited to see that they had a ton of really great autumn and Halloween stuff. I fell in love with a gorgeous set of pumpkin shaped serving dishes in fall colours, a great big bowl that stood on witches feet and some sparkly decorative balls in black and purple. Had my budget been unlimited I would have bought many items but as that's not the case I knew I had to choose just one thing to purchase.

And here it is, my new ghost cookie jar!

Isn't he cute?? And only $16.99! I'm just sad that it's too early to display him. After all, Halloween is still a month and a half away. That hasn't stopped me from thinking about the fun Halloween cookies that I will fill him with when the time comes. So far I'm either thinking it'll be Chocolate Shortbread or Bats and Cobwebs (both courtesy of Martha Stewart). Maybe I'll just have to bake some of both!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grocery Bag Gift Wrap

Reusable grocery bags have replaced plastic grocery bags for the most part but I suspect that many of you are like me and still have a tangle of bags you keep in the basement somewhere because you're pretty sure you'll use them some day. Well that day has come. I found a great use for them on Creature Comforts: pom pom gift toppers!

I never would have thought this was a good idea but when I saw the picture I realized that it's actually really cute. Plus, they seem pretty easy to make. The full instructions can be found here. My dad's birthday is coming up at the end of the month and I just might try one of these to put on his present. I'll be sure to post a picture!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

See Sarah Sew

There are two things I've always wished I was able to do but every time I try to learn I give up in frustration. The first is playing the guitar. I'm pretty musical and can play several instruments but the guitar totally alludes me. The second is sewing. My big confession is that I can't even manage to sew a button back on. My mom has showed me how on several occasions but the lesson never sticks. I don't even know how to turn on a sewing machine!

That's all about to change. I have signed up for sewing lessons through the Sewing page on and I am committed to actually figuring this thing out. There are 12 lessons that are sent to you via email and they start off super simple and progress to things like belt loops and hems. I don't think this is going to be easy but I am committing here to really put some effort into it. I'll share my progress here along the way and you can either celebrate with me or laugh at my total and utter sewing failures. It definitely remains to be seen!

My goal is to pick up enough sewing skills to be able to make cute Christmas ornaments to give away with this year's Christmas cookies. These ones from Paper and String are adorable and will be my inspiration.

I'll report back on my progress soon. Until then, wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

As you may remember from my previous post, I attempted to make Nanaimo Bars for the very first time last weekend. I am very excited to report that they were a great success. My husband went so far as to say they were the best he's ever had!

I used a recipe from the Joy of Baking website that I selected because they seemed like truly authentic Nanaimo Bars. No plain cookie crumb bottoms on these babies! Here's the spread of ingredients used for just the bottom layer. You can click on almost any of my pictures to see a larger version.

Time for a confession...I totally messed up on the bottom layer. I'm still not sure how it happened but instead of using half a cup of butter, I decided the recipe said to put in a whole cup. You're supposed to cook the butter, cocoa and sugar until it thickens and this is supposed to take 1-2 minutes. Well I cooked mine for nearly 10 minutes and nothing happened. It was then I realized I had doubled the butter. Oops! At this point I wondered if I should even keep going with the recipe but happily a lot of the extra butter came to the surface when I pressed the finished mixture into the pan and I was able to soak most of it up. So my bottom layer might not taste exactly like it's supposed to but I'm not too worried since it still turned out delicious.

For the second layer one of the key ingredients was custard powder. I'll admit that I googled custard powder because I wasn't really sure what it was or if I'd even be able to find it at my local grocery store. The recipe says you can substitute vanilla pudding powder so that was my plan but, to my surprise, my local Sobey's does indeed sell authentic Bird's Custard Powder just like you'd get in the UK. I decided to spend the extra to buy the custard powder instead of the pudding and I'm so glad I did. The middle layer turned out creamy and delicious but without that overwhelming sweetness that you so often find in Nanaimo Bars. Needless to say, I was happy with the decision to spend the $5 and, now that I've got the can, I've been checking out other recipes I can make using custard powder.

No need to bore you with any details about the top layer. It was just melted chocolate and butter. I will say that I highly recommend chopping up your chocolate into fairly small pieces before you melt it. It yields a better consistency and it helps prevent burning. Also, don't let anyone tell you that you need a double boiler to melt chocolate. All I do is balance a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. As long as the bowl isn't touching the water then you're good to go. I call it my ghetto double boiler!

I wrote before that I doubted my bars would live up to the picture accompanying the recipe but I surprised myself. Here's the picture from the website next to my picture. You be the judge!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something for Nothing - Cookie Gifting

If, like me, you bake so much that your husband insists that he cannot possibly eat everything on his own (wuss!) then you might be looking for clever ways to give your baking away. I hate to give baking in Tupperware or similar because then you run the risk of not getting your containers back (and they are expensive) or having your recipient feel like they need to refill the container with something of their own making before they can return it (my mom says you should never return a container empty!). The two ideas I want to share tonight are inexpensive to make, super cute and they both start with free downloads!

The first are these adorable milk carton cookie boxes. Start by downloading the template from The Sweet Occasion. Then simply print it on white cardstock and assemble. If you want to share your recipe they also have a download for a recipe template that looks like a report card. They suggest using these as wedding favours but I think they would be perfect for a kids birthday party or a low key celebration at home.

If you want to go even simpler then there are these paper bag templates from Mushy. Once again, simply download the template and then print on the paper of your choice. I think this brown paper looks fantastic and they totally remind me of brown bag lunches I used to take to school as a kid. Once you've printed you can assemble the bags in any way you like (i.e. staple, sew, whatever) and then fill them with cookies. If you wanted, you could even cut out the templates and glue them on to paper bags you purchase already assembled.

Let's be honest, I don't think very many people would say no to a gift a cookies but these methods of presentation would make them even harder to resist!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


As you might remember from my previous post, I had some big baking plans for this weekend. My intention was to make Snickerdoodles, Nanaimo Bars and Challah. As it turns out I finished 2 for 3 because my back gave out on me and I woke up this morning struggling to get out of bed. But no mind, Challah will wait for next weekend and I had great success with the other two recipes. First up, Snickerdoodles!

I used a recipe from chef Michael Smith. Snickerdoodles are a pretty basic cookie made mostly of sugar and butter and then rolled in a mix of cinnamon and sugar. I actually splurged this weekend and bought actual butter since I was going to the grocery store specifically to buy baking ingredients. The cookies don't really taste very different from any other Snickerdoodles I've made so I'm not sure if butter really made a difference or not. In any event, these cookies are really good!

They are really easy to put together. Michael Smith instructs you to mix the ingredients with a stand mixer but my husband was out and my stand mixer is too heavy for me to carry up from the basement. So instead I just used a fork and mixed by hand. I know this makes them less fluffy and a little more dense than if I used a mixer but I prefer a denser cookie anyway and I don't think these suffered at all from being mixed by hand. Once you have all the ingredients together you just roll the dough into balls and then roll them through the cinnamon and sugar mixture. The recipe says to place them two inches apart and I think I put them a little too close together since they spread a lot which left me somewhat square cookies. Circle or square, they still taste awesome and I can't wait to take some into work tomorrow for all the ladies to try!

Tomorrow night I'll be writing about Nanaimo Bars so make sure you check back!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Plant Life

I was at the grocery store today and I couldn't resist picking up an African Violet. I remember my mom having African Violets in the house when I was younger which is probably why they feel kind of retro to me. The flowers on the one I bought are a bright purple and they add a really nice hit of colour to the side table in our living room. The best part is that African Violets are supposed to be pretty easy to care for which is a good thing since I don't exactly have a green thumb when it comes to indoor plants. This one cost only $1.99!

The African Violet joins our little kitchen garden that contains Chris' herbs (originally courtesy of Auntie Nina and used almost daily in dinner) and our Shamrock that grew from a clipping that my mom gave me from a plant I originally bought for her on St. Patrick's day a few years ago. And I'm pleased to report that our outdoor planter is still going strong and had a bunch of gorgeous pink flowers open on it just today  The only drawback to blooming outdoor flowers is that it looks like I'll still have some waiting to do before I can redesign the front porch for fall!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Displaying Wedding Pictures

My husband and I will have been married for three months as of this weekend and I still haven't gotten around to printing and displaying any of our wedding pictures. I'm so happy with how our photos turn out and I'll really like to put some up in the house so I've been looking for ideas of how to display them.

I really love the idea of a picture ledge as we could incorporate artifacts from the wedding day in addition to framed pictures. I saved quite a few things that are currently living in a box in our spare room closet and it would be nice to have them on display.

The ledges pictured here are from the blog Frugal Home Ideas and they are completely DIY. The author has posted instructions but they seem to require a handy husband which is something I'm somewhat lacking (and I can say that because I know he doesn't read this!).  I think I would probably go the Ikea route. Depending on the length you want, you can purchase their Ribba ledges for as low as $8.99! I've also been inspired by Shannon's picture ledge post over at What's Up Whimsy. I love how, in addition to what's on her ledges, she also hung smaller pictures on the wall.

If I don't go the picture ledge route I'd like to try a collage of pictures on the wall. I've contemplated this idea in the past but I would be so incredibly particular about the layout that I feel I would never be truly happy with it. Not to mention I would drive Chris crazy in the process of hanging everything! But then I found this idea from Martha Stewart (of course!). It's really ingenious in its simplicity. Simply mark a line on the wall with painter's tape and then hang all the pictures either above or below it. As long as your frames are all different sizes then you still end up with the eclectic collage feel but there's no need to stress over placement and symmetry.

The last thing I wanted to share with you tonight is this completely cute idea for displaying pictures, again from Martha Stewart's website. You'd either need to print your pictures really small or cut details out of larger pictures but then essentially all you do is glue them inside bottle caps and then glue either a magnet or a thumb tack on the back of each cap. And voila! Awesome fridge art or a really cool way to dress up a bulletin board at work. I like that I could display pictures at the office without screaming to everyone that walks by "Hey, look at my pictures!". Martha has sealed hers with clear resin but considering I'd be making them out of beer bottle caps I'm not too worried about them lasting forever.

So I guess there's no excuse for not having my pictures up somewhere. Maybe now I'll be inspired enough to actually take them to a store for printing ;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Weekend Plans

It's been a really busy week and I haven't had any time for crafting or baking. To be honest, even if I did have time I wouldn't have found the energy. I'm really looking forward to a weekend of uninterrupted do whatever I want time! So excited in fact that I've already got three recipes lined up to try. So here's my plan for the weekend...

First up is an attempt at Challah. My husband, Chris, has a Jewish background on his father's side and he grew up in North York so he knows from Challah! Since I've been with him I've developed a real love for it too but I've never been brave enough to try making my own (I can't imagine braiding dough is super easy). I went searching for a recipe that claimed to be "easy" and I think I've found one on the Canadian House & Home website. I'm going to make this recipe and I'll be sure to post the results which I'm sure will look nothing like this picture! 

Next up is Nanaimo Bars! Again, something I absolutely love but have never tried myself. My Mom and Nana both make really tasty versions of these but, instead of their recipe, I'm going to try this one from Joy of Baking. Again, I'm doubting mine will live up to the picture but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Chris is wishing for cookies so I've decided that my third recipe this weekend will be Snickerdoodles. Chris and I both love Michael Smith and his show Chef at Home. Chris has one of his cookbooks that he uses all the time and the recipes are amazing. So I visited his website for this cookie recipe that he often makes on his show. I'm thinking it'll be pretty hard to mess these cookies so I'll probably save them for Sunday afternoon after I've struggled through Challah and Nanaimo Bars!

Three recipes might be a tall order but I've got high hopes for myself and I can't wait to get started. Friday night, hurry up and get here!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gift Wrap in Action

So now a confession. My first gift wrap post was really just a substitute for what I really wanted to post: actual presents that I wrapped last night! We had a bridal shower dinner for my lovely friend Daphne tonight but it was a surprise so I couldn't post the pictures in case she happened to be reading. So instead I went searching for gift wrap inspiration (still a useful post!). But now, going completely against the spirit of the thrifty ideas I showed you yesterday, here's what a trip to Hallmark, a few curse words and a lot of "Honey, can I borrow your finger for a second?" will get you.
(I really wish I was more skilled with a camera as these pictures don't really do everything justice)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gift Wrap

I am a total geek for a nicely wrapped present. I'm talking the kind so pretty you hate to even unwrap them. The only thing about really pretty presents is that I find myself spending a lot of money to create them. Paper, ribbon and toppers all add up really quickly, especially when you're like me and don't want to use the same stuff twice in case people recognize it (OK that might just be me on my own!). So lately I've been on the hunt for gift wrapping ideas that are friendly on the wallet but are still really nice to look at.

This first idea is from d.Sharp. She has used a vintage house number but you could cut out your own numbers and letters or use chipboard like the kind in my post about I wrote about in a previous post. I like the "4U" message but you could use the person's initials too.

Following in the theme of letters is this idea from Bugs and Fishes (a super cute blog!). She's just printed the alphabet and cut out all the letters to use as templates. Then she traces them on different coloured papers and writes messages on her presents. You can use these letters to spell the recipient's name in place of a tag or you can write a message. So easy and practically free!

Also from Bugs and Fishes is the idea of using brooches instead of bows to decorate your presents. They are really a part of the gift and brighten up even the plainest of paper. She even has a tutorial on her blog for making this felt heart brooch.

The last two ideas are from Heather Bullard's beautiful blog. The first is using maps to wrap your gifts. This is something I never would have thought of but now that I see it done I think it looks amazing. We always pick up maps on our travels and it would be so neat to wrap gifts for my husband in maps of places we've been together.

Heather's other great idea is to wrap gifts in old sewing patterns. You can usually get these really cheap from places like Value Village or you could go really vintage and look at antique markets. Her bow is made from patterns as well (she links to a how-to video in her post) and then she's clothes pinned buttons on the front. So simple yet so beautiful.

I'm officially inspired and can't wait to try out some of these ideas. Hope you are too!