Friday, February 28, 2014

Brown Baggin' It

Easy, Inexpensive Giftwrap Idea

Today is one of those days. I want to hide. I saw a quote on Facebook this morning and it sums up my day pretty well (this may not be exactly how it was worded) "I don't want to be a grown up, I just want to hide in my blanket fort and color."

I woke up feeling ill. I had some injections in my neck on Tuesday and today I seem to have flu-like symptoms and tiredness. I could not rest in bed because we had a contractor coming to sand some sheet rock upstairs that he has been working on for a couple of days. So I decided to sit at the table and do something quiet while sipping some hot tea.

Last night I ran to Joanne Fabrics to grab some needles for my serger. That's all I needed and that's all I went in there for but that's not all I left with. Joanne's was having a clearance sale on Martha Stewart paper punches and it was a mother of all sales.

This set was marked down to $14.97 but.....

this set was marked down to $4.97!! I asked the sales clerk if this was correct and she said yes! Apparently they are downsizing their paper craft section of the store.

I don't do scrapbooking but I do enjoy making my own gift tags, giftbags, etc so today I decided to play with the punches to see what they can do. I have one other set that I used on Christmas tags so I am happy to add to my collection at a fraction of the price!

I started by punching the tops of some kraft lunch bags. (I love using kraft paper for wrapping gifts and these lunch bags have lots of creative uses in crafting and gift wrapping)

The $4.97 bargain punch does this to a 6" square of paper.

A 4" square will yield this pretty little design.

These paper cut outs look cute added to the front of these paper bags. Here they are embellished with kraft flower cutouts.

Add a cute tag with some bakers twine or ribbon....

If you don't want to cut out a tag, you can get prepackaged tags at Joanne's or Michael's. These were in the little dollar bins and each package came with the twine that you see pictured.

Here's a purple and lavender gift bag set with a coordinating tag. I am really enjoying seeing some springy colors considering all we've seen for the past few months is WHITE! More snow is in the forecast for Monday too!

Here is some yellow. How did I make this design? Well, it didn't turn out right because it got jammed so I just cut the wrinkled part off and made a coordinating tag.

Here's a gift bag in a pretty shade of aqua. 

Add a bright splash of color with some aqua and orange tissue, then make a coordinating tag.

The yellow and green are my favorites!

There! That was fun, it took my mind off other things for a while and I have a stash of gift bags ready to use. These are great for food gift items, small gifts or as party bags. 

Now back to that blanket fort....... 

I used to love building blanket forts when I was a kid but if I was to build one right now, it would have to be made out of comfy patchwork quilts. There would also have to be little white twinkly lights hanging inside and some overstuffed floor cushions and of course a little table at just the right height to have tea!.....and that's where you'll find my patchwork quilt fort...with my box of jumbo Crayola crayons!

Linking up with:

The Charm of Home's Home Sweet Home #159

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Forever Winter

I think I've had my fill of snow....


and shades of white and gray,

I've hoped to miss a storm or two,

and wished the cold away....

But then it falls so lovely white 

and blankets trees and ground,

......can't help but be in awe of winter's beauty

all around.

We have snow in the forecast all week: snow squalls, snow showers, snow flurries.....temperatures are once again falling into the single digits. So I am talking myself into just enjoying the beauty of it!
I am also warning all of my friends and relatives in Florida that they may soon have someone standing at their front door:  ME! Don't worry, I travel light and I'm pretty low maintenance! See you soon!

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn."
Hal Borland

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Little Black (Skating) Dress

I absolutely love it when I find a pattern that inspires me to do it all again. That is exactly what JALIE pattern #2790 did for me! 

I have intended to make my daughter a black skating dress for a while and last weekend we were anticipating more snow and I had a very bad case of cabin fever. (aka the fuel) Adding that fuel to the a President's Sale at Joanne Fabrics (aka the fire), created an explosion of fabric, thread and antique buttons with rhinestone centers in my dining room as I set up both my sewing machine and my serger on one end of my dining room table.

If you missed my original post using this JALIE skating dress pattern, you may see it here:

I purchased black stretch velvet on sale at Joanne's for $8.99 yard. It had a very shimmery gold and silver glitter effect. As soon as I saw the fabric, I knew I had to make a skating dress from it!

I thought that this dress would go together so easily after having such good luck with the first dress. I omitted some details such as the sash that ties in the back, the floral embellishment and the crystals, though I may add some crystals to the front later on.

It did take much less time overall but the lining fabric and the back of the stretch glitter velvet were so slippery that I had a difficult time sewing the skirt onto the top because there were so many slippery layers. The top layer (velvet) kept slipping out of the seam. I should have sewn the bottom of the pieces together with a zig-zag stitch instead of a loose basting stitch before assembling. I will not skip that VERY IMPORTANT STEP again!

I am pleased with the results and it will actually be worn in a show this week.

The dress will be worn with a gold scarf. 

Here is a closer look at the buttons which were a perfect touch to this simple, black dress--I could not get a clear photo of the button. In the center of the button is a large, sparkly rhinestone which is difficult to see in this picture. 

This will be a good basic skating dress, much like the all occasion, little black dress we like to have hanging in our closets. Again, the photos really do not do it justice. The light and the flash appear to react with the glitter on the dress and despite the many times I tried to take a better photo, it just did not happen. 

I really enjoyed making this dress with the exception of sewing the waist seam. I like the challenge of trying to make the same pattern look completely different. With all of the beautiful costume stretch fabrics available online, (and now even Joanne's has a large selection) there are endless possibilities!
What fun!

UPDATE:  2/21/2014

Wearing the dress for an outdoor performance! Chilly!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Valentine in a Cup

As Promised!
(Black Forest Torte/Trifle in a Cup)

Today's post is a promise kept. Earlier in the month I posted a similar photo and said that I would be back to show you how to make these delightful little Valentine cups. Well, I am a woman of my word!

So, begin with any devil's food cake. (homemade or mix) Prepare as directed BUT add 1 tsp almond extract. Cool completely or overnight.

Then you will need approx 1 1/2 cartons of whipping cream, 1 8oz cream cheese--softened (I use 1/3 less fat), 1 C confectioner's sugar and 1 1/2 tsp almond extract. Whip the cream, cream cheese, sugar and almond extract until firm peaks form. Set aside.

Open 2 cans of lite cherry pie filling.

Optional: For garnish you can make semi-sweet chocolate hearts or XO's to place on top. If you wish to do this, melt some baker's chocolate with a little butter in a small pan on the stove. I then pour the melted chocolate into a plastic "squirt" bottle and pipe the chocolate onto wax paper covered cardboard. Once firm, they can be used as a garnish. See below.

Begin by putting a spoonful of cherry pie filing in bottom of plastic cup.

Place a dollop of whip cream mixture on top of cherry pie filling.

Next add a layer of small bite-sized pieces of devil's food cake.

Then begin another layer of cream, then pie filling, etc until cup is full.....

You will end up with cups that look like this! YUMMY!


Now for the pretty little chocolate toppers that I told you about....

These were not perfect as I did them in a bit of a hurry and while watching the Olympics. I put them out on my front porch (in the cold) to harden before peeling them off the wax paper.


Crazy Heart!

Yesterday I made 1/2 dozen of these and took them to my daughter in college. These are tied up with a Valentine's Day inspired napkins and a pink plastic spoons!

They would also look very festive on a Valentine's Day party table,
wouldn't they?

I use this recipe at Christmas time and use a trifle dish to prepare it in. It has become a family regular and favorite over the years. I have taken to many events and pot lucks as well and I can tell you that everyone loves it. I have seen grown men lick the dish clean with their fingers! 
This is just a fun way to present it and a sweet way to say I love you!