Tuesday, May 31, 2011

By the Batch - Coconut Macaroons

This week's cookie, Coconut Macaroons, have been at the top of my husband's wish list ever since I bought Martha Stewart's Cookies. I'd been selfishly putting off making them since I'm not really a coconut fan but decided that a cookie I don't really like is a cookie that I won't eat and a whole whack of fat and calories that I won't ingest!


3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Using your hands, mix well, completely combining ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Dampen hands with cold water. Use 1 1/2 tablespoons to form mounds; place on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.

 Bake until golden brown, 16 to 17 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

According to Sarah Christopher:
These cookies don't look like much but Chris insists that they are delicious. I like that they required hardly anything in the way of ingredients and they came together quickly without having to use a mixer. If you like coconut then this is definitely one to try. Chris has already made me promise to make this recipe again!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Que Sera Sera Printable

Just a quick post tonight to share a lovely free printable I stumbled across recently. Nicole over at Making It Lovely designed this print for her daughter's bedroom using lyrics from the classic Doris Day song "Que Sera, Sera".

Isn't it pretty? And a great sentiment for a little girl's room. If you like it as much as I do then you're in luck because Nicole is giving it away for free! You can download it here.

I have to admit that part of the reason that I've always loved this song is because when I was a little girl I thought the lyrics were "Que Sarah, Sarah" ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Good Day for Mail

No party post this week because I've been too busy tonight opening packages. It was a good day for mail!

A while back I won a HomeSav giveaway from Wendy at Desire to Decorate and I used my credit to get a Smartek steamer. I waited a month and it finally arrived today. I have been steaming all my clothes tonight - I even did the living room drapes. I'm in love.

And another package arrived for me today. Did you happen to see the Box Sale happening over at the Sassafras blog? They were selling mystery boxes packed full of stuff for only $50 with shipping included. I had to pay $63 for it to ship to Canada but it was totally worth it. The box is stuffed with all kinds of awesome stuff and I can't wait to start crafting! I'll take pictures of everything I got and share it with you so you know to jump on the sale next year ;)

Don't you just love great mail?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gorgeous Yarn Wreaths

If you're a regular reader then you know I'm into wreaths. I've shared mine here, here, here and here. But I have to say that nothing I've ever made comes close to the beautiful creations of Agnes Blum of Knock Knocking. Each of her yarn wrapped wreaths are so original and unique and they make me want to replace the one on my front door as soon as possible! Just take a look at a sampling of some of Agnes' work...


You can buy these lovely creations on Knock Knocking's Esty shop or check out Agnes' blog for inspiration and even a tutorial so you can try your hand at your own unique wreath. I can't wait to make my next one!

Monday, May 23, 2011

By the Batch - Chocolate Thumbprints

It's been quite a few weeks but I finally got reacquainted with my Martha Stewart Cookies book today - got to love not having to go to the office on a Monday! I didn't feel like making a trip to the grocery store so I picked Chocolate Thumbprints because I already had all the ingredients on hand.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium high.

Roll dough by teaspoonfuls into balls, and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press thumb into tops of cookies to make indentations. Return to oven, and bake until light brown on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Combine chocolate, 4 tablespoons butter, and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.

According to Sarah:
These cookies were really easy to make and came together very quickly with few ingredients. The only really time consuming part was rolling all the little balls - the recipe yields over 4 dozen cookies. The one strange part about the recipe is that it calls for sticking your thumb into the cookies after they've been in the oven for ten minutes. Maybe I'm a wuss but I tried it and it hurt! After about half a dozen cookies I switched to making the imprints with a 1/2 teaspoon. But burning my thumb a bit was well worth it since these cookies are really good. They are basically shortbread filled with chocolate and how can you go wrong with that? :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Baby Card

I feel like lately all I'm showing you is cards but it seems like there's been a lot of occasions where I've needed to make one! The nice thing about cards is that, depending on the complexity and how much time I spend hemming and hawing, I can complete most of them in under an hour. So even when I feel too busy for crafts I can almost always find time for a homemade card. This week our good friends had their second child and, of course, I had to make a card!

I cut out the letters and flowers with my Silhouette. The font is Pupcat and the flowers are from the disc that came with the Silhouette. I love the sweet little carriage sticker and how all the colours came together really nicely. Sometimes my elements just don't want to get together on the front of a card but this time everything came together really easily.

Chris and I went to meet little Brooklyn tonight and she is absolutely adorable. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a hard time giving her back when it was time to leave. I hope her Mommy doesn't mind that I plan to drop by to visit again quite soon ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Party Perfect - Bridal Shower Inspiration

My cousin is getting married this July and last weekend I attended her bridal shower. Her girls did a great job of throwing the party and it got me thinking about other shower diy ideas I've stashed away. From invitations to decor to favours - there's tons of great bridal shower inspiration out there for things you can make yourself.

First I'll show you the card that I made for the bride. I bought the "Oh Happy Day" shape for my Silhouette because I love the pretty script. The little layered bird sticker is a leftover from Valentine's Day that perfectly matched the papers I chose to use.

How pretty is this wedding dress shower invite made from cardstock and a doily? So simple to make but really effective! Click over to Zakka Life to see the how to.

I love this unique idea for bridal shower decor - it's a wedding cake centrepiece made from Styrofoam, wrapping paper and ribbon. The instructions at Crafts 'n Coffee promise that if you can wrap a present you can make this cake. I like it so much that I kind of want to make one for my kitchen table ;)

Last, I'm so in love with this idea for bridal shower favours. The woman who made them scoured flea markets looking for vintage tea cups that she wrote messages on with gold pen. So pretty! Be sure to check out 100 Layer Cake for other great ideas from this same shower.

Looking at all these great ideas I really wish I was someone's Maid of Honour. Hopefully someone else can use this inspiration for a shower they're planning in the coming months - we're coming up fast on wedding season!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Get Excited & Make Things

Lately I've found myself in a creative slump. I haven't had many crafty ideas and, instead of having a ton of things to post about, I'm racking my brain a lot of nights for something to share with you. It's partly to do with my busier than before schedule but I also think it has to do with lack of inspiration from upcoming special occasions. Easter and Mother's Day are over and everything Spring is already in place. Father's Day is coming up next month but I don't exactly decorate the house for that one! So what's a girl to do when she's run out of ideas? Look for some inspiration of course! And when I came across this variation of the Keep Calm & Carry On posters I knew I'd found what I needed.

Via Moleitau

It's a simple sentiment but it's one that I need to be reminded of when I find myself in a slump like this - I get a real kick out of making stuff! I do get excited when I come up with an idea for something new or I use someone else's tutorial to create something beautiful. Crafting and baking shouldn't be chores because they are things I love to do. Starting this weekend I'm going to remember that as I make all kinds of new and interesting things to show you in the coming weeks - and I hope you're still with me!

If you need the same reminder I do then head on over to The Blah Blah Blahg where you can download the free printable in 5 more colours.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Celebrating Mom

As you all know, yesterday was Mother's Day so I wanted to show you how I celebrated my Mom and my Nana this year.

First, I made my Mom a card. I cut the "Mom' and the heart out with my Silhouette. The sticker and the flower tag are from K & Company.

Next I painted coffee cans and potted beautiful pink and yellow dalias in them for my Nana. This is a really cute and easy way to reuse cans. You can leave them plain, paint designs or write on them with markers like I did.

We gave my Mom a lilac tree. Since I couldn't really wrap it I just tied on a big bow and then made a sign using my Silhouette (seriously, I love that thing!). I can't wait to visit my parents' house later in the spring when the tree starts to bloom - I love the smell of lilacs!

I hope all you moms had a special day of your own!

Party Perfect - DIY Birthday Cards

If you're a regular reader of the blog then you know I'm a big fan of DIY cards. By making your own cards you can get exactly the sentiment you want while saving a lot of money. I can't believe it when I turn a card over in a store to see that it costs almost $5! The other benefit of making my own cards is that the recipients really seem to appreciate that effort and thought that went into creating something just for them.

We had two birthdays in the family last week and, of course, I made cards. The first was for a girl so I went for cute with the smile card and the sun sticker with the birthday hat added on. I really love the striped paper on this one - it's the last scrap of a 12x12 piece that I've been rationing out about two years because I like it so much!

The second card was for a guy. I always find cards for men harder to make because you can't do cute and you can't do pretty. I went for vintage elements on green graph paper. I cut the Happy Birthday tag out with my Silhouette and then outlined the whole thing in black marker to make it stand out. The final touch was the arrive definition sticker. I underlined "The day of victory has arrived" because I thought it made a nice birthday sentiment.

I've been singing the praises of homemade cards for a while but I'd like to know - do you make your own too?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Magnetic Calendar - May

Life has become so hectic over the last month or so. My job now requires me to make 4 hour round trips on both Mondays and Tuesdays which makes for really long days that I don't feel like crafting at the end of! Half of that 4 hour trip is by train so I've taken a part-time job walking a colleague's dog to cover the fare. I do that at lunch when I used to post here which means I now have to craft and post at night. You may have noticed that I've fallen a bit off of my regular Monday-Friday schedule and I wanted you all to know it's not for lack of trying! I'm hoping to rediscover my life/work/blog balance soon. All that being said, I now present you with May's magnetic calendar, 5 days late! Click on any of the pictures to see bigger versions with more detail.

Since April showers bring May flowers I decided to use flowers and buttons this month. I was inspired by all the flowers I just planted in my front garden to use a lot of purple, pink and green. Here are some closeups of some of the details. I glued buttons on some squares and replaced other squares entirely with flower stickers or bottle caps with flowers and buttons inside. You'll notice that we have a couple of family birthdays this month and there's a special heart square for Mother's Day.

I cut all of the numbers out of scrapbooking paper using my Silhouette. The buttons are from Stampin' Up, the flower stickers are K & Company and the stickers in the bottle caps are from Sassafras. If you're inspired to make your own calendar you can check out my previous months here and here.

I hope May is a great month for everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Party Perfect - Hallmark Outlet Store

This post is for my readers in the Toronto area, or further if you're willing to do a little driving for some great deals. The Hallmark Outlet Store in North York is only open three days each month - the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and we'd been planning to go since before Christmas but never remembered when the end of the month came around again. So after missing the March dates we marked it in the calendar and finally made it at the end of April.

I wish I had taken pictures while at the store to give you a better sense but it was really crowded and kind of overwhelming. It is truly a warehouse outlet, just cement walls and cardboard boxes but who needs fancy displays when the prices are this good?! I bought everything pictured below for $10 plus tax.

Gift bags for $1, stickers for $0.25, rolls of wrapping paper for $1 - I was in gift wrapping heaven! I loaded up my arms until I couldn't carry any more without really keeping track of what my purchases were adding up to. Luckily when you're finished shopping, a store employee adds up all of your purchases for you and lets you know the total before you head to the cash register. I think the guy that counted my stuff used some kind of super special discount math because there is no way that he charged me the actual prices for all of my stuff. I think the name of the game is to blow out all their extra stock by any means necessary.

I will definitely be returning. I think the key is to plan your trip for after a specific holiday. They had Halloween and Christmas stuff but there was definitely a lot more in the way of Easter and St. Patrick's Day decorations with those holidays having just passed.

Have you ever been? Are you itching to go now? The store is located at 501 Consumers Rd and you can call 416-492-1300  for their hours. Happy saving!

P.S. For some reason half of my pictures decided to flip upside down and refuse to be turned. Sorry about that!

Monday, May 2, 2011

By the Batch - Gardening Edition

So the truth is that I didn't bake at all this weekend because I spent my time outside in the sun planting flowers in our front garden instead. I planted a lot of bulbs that won't come up until later in the summer so I added some pansies and violas to give us some colour while we wait. I'm so happy with the results and I can't wait for everything to bloom!

For those of you not interested in gardening, I do have some baking inspiration for you - floral cookies that are easy enough that you can make them without having a ton of artistic talent.


Here's hoping that April showers are bringing May flowers to you!