Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School!

Pin It Everyone around here is headed back to school, so to celebrate the season I made these cute little school bus hairbows.  They are for sale for $5 in my shop (just one clip for $3).   Click on the picture below for the listing

Notice my new hairbow cards?  Check back later this week and I'll show you how I made them. 

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Secrets of a Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Honestly I don't know if I have a favorite dessert.  There are so many that I absolutely love.  But far and away my favorite thing to bake is chocolate chip cookies.  These are one of the first things I learned to cook when I was probably in junior high, and I baked and perfected them until I could make them perfectly every time.  I thought I'd share with you my secrets to making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. 

Where to start?  I'm a fan of the Nestle Toll House recipe.  I chose this recipe because it was on the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and once I had them I knew it was perfect, well.... almost.  There is one thing wrong with this recipe.  For years I had cookies that looked like flat, crunchy wafers with little bumps where the chocolate chips were.  While the taste was still good, I preferred having doughy cookies. 

My solution was to add either more flour or some oatmeal (if you like oatmeal in your chocolate chip cookies).  I usually add about a half cup of one or the other. 

The next problem I had was my cookies baking evenly.  Often they'd end up burnt on the bottom and uncooked on the top.  This solution is all about the tools.

Air bake cookie sheets are a must-have in any kitchen.  Air bake cookie sheets have two layers of metal with a space between them for air.  I use these almost exclusively over regular cookie sheets because they bake more evenly.  You NEED to have these to make the perfect cookie.

As far as other details of baking, it depends a little.  I have the most success cooking on the third rack down in my oven.  Here is a picture of the cookies when they were ready.
The tray below was placed two racks down for the same amount of time, and as you can see, they were not anywhere near done. 
After I moved them up to the higher rack and added about 4 minutes of cooking time, they were perfect.  I wish I could tell you all exactly how long to cook these, but it does kind of depend on your oven.  I usually end up cooking mine for about 12 minutes.

I really hope these secrets will help you to perfect your own chocolate chip cookies.  Don't get discouraged if they don't come out perfectly the first time.  Like I said, it took me a while.  The good news is, chocolate chip cookies are kind of like pizza- it's hard to get them completely wrong.  Even if they're a little overcooked, they still taste good crumbled on top of ice cream, right?  Good luck, and let me know how it goes.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

FREE Printable Thank You Cards

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As a special way of saying "Thank You" to all my blog followers, I have a free printable for you!  Everyone loves freebies, right?  I wanted to make a simple "Thank You" card to enclose with my Etsy orders, and I thought it came out so cute that I wanted to share it with you, so that you could print your own at home.  I used My Memories Suite and my favorite Dreamlike Magic Designs free digital scrapbooking packs to design the bunting, then imported the jpg to Microsoft Word and added the greeting.  To download the Microsoft Word file, click here.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Polka Dot & Striped Banner

Pin It I wanted to share a new item I added to my Etsy shop.  I've been selling mostly custom party hats and banners, but I've enjoyed making some other things as well. 

Here is a new banner I just added.  These were actually some of the first banner fabrics I had picked out when I started my Etsy shop, but I hadn't gotten around to making it until recently.  I thought this would be adorable in a baby boy's room. 

Interested in one?  You can click here to go to the listing.  Don't forget to use the code BLOGGER10 for 10% off your order!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Shabby Chic Party Hats

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Those of you who have been following my blog know that I generally like bright/colorful and modern/fun.  Well, I was so excited when I got an order in my Etsy shop for shabby chic party hats.  This would be something new for me.  I had wanted to learn to make fabric flowers for a while, and this was the perfect opportunity.  I really enjoyed making these and I absolutely love the way they turned out.  Hmm... this may have converted me.  I might have to throw a shabby chic tea party or something for my daughter. 

If you would like one (or more!) of these hats, I have two different listings up to create custom hats.  They won't match these exactly since these were for a custom order, but I can definitely make something similar in colors/looks that you enjoy. 

Go here if you are interested in one shabby chic party hat.

Go here if you are interested in a collection of shabby chic party hats

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vinyl Bin Labels using the Cricut

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Would you believe I have owned a cricut now for almost 3 years and I have never cut vinyl with it until now?  To be completely honest with you, the only thing I've cut with the cricut has been paper.  Isn't that sad?  So the other day I was making glitter ornaments with my neighbors (early Christmas crafting) and I wanted to cut some vinyl snowflakes and monograms that they could use to decorate their ornaments.  So I picked up a roll of white vinyl at AC Moore with a coupon and tried cutting it with my E2.  It was ridiculously easy!  So I placed an order with Expressions Vinyl the other day (which is MUCH cheaper than buying Cricut Vinyl in the store, even with a coupon- $1.89 instead of over $9- crazy right?!) and they have so many different colors, types, and patterns of vinyl.  I can't wait to make more vinyl projects!

In the meantime, I tried to think of another use for the white vinyl I'd already purchased.  I decided I would finally make some labels for my daughter's toy bins.  She is 2 1/2 now and to be honest, we don't really make her pick up her toys.  A lot of the time, we leave them lying around as a trap for potential burglars.  Just kidding.  But we knew this was something we had to get on.  My daughter is very easy going and loves helping with stuff, so we knew if we just had a hook, she'd really enjoy doing this as well.

So this evening I used Cricut Craft Room (and the Basics font that everyone can use free online) to make some simple labels.  I exported them and you can download them here and adapt for your needs, if you'd like.  My daughter loves the cricut, so I let her sit on my lap watching it while it cut, then we peeled off the excess vinyl together (little circles ended up on her arms) then she helped me rub them onto the bins.  When I showed her how they were going to be used, she was ecstatic.  We made a big pile of toys which she happily sorted as if it was some kind of puzzle she was solving.  It was ridiculously cute, and reinforced that we should have done this a long time ago.  Let's hope picking up the toys goes as well tomorrow. 

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