Monday, March 14, 2011

So I'm Still Around (and I made sugar cookies)

Sorry, I disappeared for a couple of weeks.  We've started homeschooling the oldest and we're starting a business at the same time, so life has gotten a bit crazy.  Like really crazy.  Something had to give and since the blog is not the business and takes quite a bit of time it gave first. 

I won't be posting quite as regularly in the future.  I do hope I can still get in a couple of posts a week, like Monday and Fridays, but I can't guarantee anything.  Please do follow me (button to the right) or put me in your reader or just check back once a week.   I have some fun projects I'm working on and hope to get them up soon.  Like a kite.  yeah.  You may be as tired of green St. Patrick's Day crafts as I am.  March means kites around here.  And I'm making one.  It's been a fun project so far. 

But this weekend's project was piggie cookies:

as you can see, I'm not the greatest cookie decorator in the world.  We did have fun with them.  My youngest decided we needed a piggie party to celebrate our new piggie banks that are actually shaped like pigs.   We made cookies together for our "party."   I used 4 inch rounds for the heads and 2 inch rounds for the noses. The eyes are upside down chocolate chips, the ears are watermelon flavored Starbursts rolled out and cut, and the nose is tropical punch Starbursts shaped into long pointy ovals.   They are frosted with cream cheese frosting so they taste quite a bit better than they look.  

Here's my very, very favorite sugar cookie recipe.  It's tangy, buttery, and it stays soft and chewy.  Perfection.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

1 c sugar
1 c butter
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 c flour

Combine everything but the flour until well mixed.   Add the flour and mix until just combined.  Divide into thirds and shape into discs.   Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.   Let rest for 5-10 minutes before rolling out.   Roll out into 1/4 inch thickness, cut, and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10  minutes or until the edges are just light brown.

Remember to bake same sized cookies together, so if you are doing some large and some small cookies you will want to bake them on separate pans.   Small cookies need less time than big ones and keeping them separate means you don't have to compromise on whether to over bake the little ones or under bake the big ones. 

By the way, Happy Pi Day!   If you are looking for a pie recipe to make for your family today you can always try my favorite apple pie.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chrysanthemum Mirror

 Isn't it cute?   I love the texture and dimension of this new mirror.  It took me about an hour of hands on time to put together if that. 

I started with a 14" circle cut out of thin plywood.  You'll notice that the circle isn't perfect.  In fact, it's kind of badly done, but that doesn't matter because I'm covering the whole thing with rose petals.

I painted it red with basic acrylic paint.  Let that dry, and then traced three circles in graduated size on the wood.   (Luckily for me I had a platter, plate, and salad plate from a dish set that were just perfect for this.  If your dinner ware isn't quite so perfect you can make a compass by tying a string to a pencil.)
 For my rose petals, I bought the box of Wilton brand petals in the "wedding craft" section of my craft store.  These had organdy petals and silks so I was able to add even more texture and interest to my project.

I sorted the petals, pulling out the ones that were the best shape.  Some from the box were flat or were stamped crooked and didn't look great.  Then I glued the petals down to my plywood starting at the outside ring of petals.  The edge of the plywood is completely covered with the rose petals.  The bottoms of the petals did not line up perfectly with the penciled in rings on the plywood, but that didn't matter.  I just used the rings as a reference and eyeballed where the petals should go.   The organdy petals were glued on over a silk petal in random places.
 I continued around the mirror making four rings of rose petals.
 Then I glued down an 8" round mirror.  I used lots and lots of glue.  You can use either the hot glue like I did or a mirror mastic from the hardware store.  If your mirror is small and lightweight the hot glue will hold just fine. I had this custom cut for me at a local glass store.  It took them about 15 minutes to cut it for me and I got exactly what I wanted.  Totally worth it.
 This is a sawtooth picture hanger.   You can buy a package with several in it at the hardware store for a couple of dollars.   I already had these on hand.
 I just hammered the picture hanger into the back of the mirror a couple of inches from the edge.
 Put a picture nail in the wall and hung up my new decorative mirror.   The bright red rose petals look great with my red couch and red accents I have in the room.  I've got a small silk rose topiary on my piano, so the flower theme is already working for me. 
Cost wise, this is a very inexpensive project.  If you have to buy your plywood and paint, it will probably end up costing about $20 to make.  I had the plywood, paint, and picture hanger on hand, the mirror cost me $6, and the rose petals I bought for $7.50 (using a 40% off coupon.)  I have about half of the rose petals left so I could have made a much larger mirror without having to buy another box of the petals.   This size is about as big as I could make with the left over plywood I had.

It was fun to get out the glue gun again.  I'll have to do that more often. 

(by the way, yes I did immediately go back in the living room and straighten my lamp shade just as soon as I got my post up.  Please forgive my lackadaisical home decor.)