Eggs-cellent!

With Easter coming up this weekend, I’ve been seeing eggs and egg projects fly through my reader at an incredible pace!  Personally, I LOVE me some eggs: decorated, deviled, scrambled, baked in a pie (or a quiche, as it were).  Here are some fabulous options for your Easter or any egg-requiring celebration!

First of all make sure your hard boiled eggs – whether for coloring or deviling – are intact and delicious!  Alton Brown, the man I consider a guru for everything food, says the following in an interview:

“I put however many eggs I want to cook into a pot of cold water. I bring it to a boil, I cover the pan, I remove the pan from the heat, and I wait eight minutes. Peel immediately under cold running water. That will give you a slightly soft yolk. If you want a really hard yolk, go with twelve minutes.”

DON’T ASK, JUST DO IT.

Source: edbiado.blogspot.com

The good old classic Easter egg coloring event.  Create your own egg dyes using vinegar and food coloring, or grab one of the myriad packages of dye, many of which include glitter, wax for blocking colors, stickers, etc!  Fun for kids, but still fun for adults, too!

Source: sublimestitching.com/forostyukinna

These totally incredible cross-stitched eggs have been all over the blogosphere, they’re that amazing!

Source: myrecipes.com

My personal favorite, the deviled egg!  This recipe is a classic, but there are literally thousands of variations!  Like extra pickles?  Why not!  Need to add a little extra spice?  Go for it!

What’s your favorite eggy creation?

Anytime freebie craft: fabric cards

Finding myself with a little extra time over the break, but no money, I decide to take the path less traveled this year regarding our holiday cards to friends and family.  I pulled out my collection of scraps, ribbons, baubles, and Wonder Under, and proceeded to make a collection of hand crafted Christmas Cards!

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The fabric set for my sister’s family.

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Starting on Nick’s family’s card.

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Wonder Under-ing a base fabric.

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Fabric and decorative supplies.

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Several finished cards.

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The inside of one card.

This is a very individual endeavor!  Feel free to use any resource or technique you like best; I focused mostly on the fancy stitches on my new sewing machine and strengthening fabric with Wonder Under.  I used several techniques for messages.  In some cards I simply used double sided tape to secure a paper message.  In others, I sewed in a pocket or corner catches.  Any of these options make these cards totally reusable!

Everyone seemed to love their unique gifts!  What were some of your successful holiday projects?

NOMday: Apple Tart

One of my gift requests for this holiday was a food processor.  I’m an inefficient chef at best, and anything that will make my construction easier and more consistent is a friend to me!  I received a Cuisinart from my parents and tried it out immediately upon my arrival home yesterday!  Here was my result!

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This is my darling apple tart!  The apple slices were done in the processor with the slicing blade, and the pastry dough was made in the processor also!  Both ingredients were included in the recipes in the instruction manual, but they’re pretty basic.  The dough consisted of a little flour, salt, sugar, butter, and water.  The apple filling involved nothing more than the apples themselves and a little brown sugar and cinnamon!  It was a nice little treat!  Also pictured is my new silicon cookie sheet; this was instrumental in creating the 4 dozen cookies we brought to dinner!

How’s your holiday cooking going?

Happy Holidays!

My Christmas consisted of snow crab legs, cookies, and a lot of tissues as I inherited Nick’s cold, but it was delightful nonetheless.  I enjoyed the company of my family and the special delight of my nephew in his gifts.  I was also gifted a special present that I requested – a food processor!  More on this tomorrow for NOMday!

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My 30th birthday approaches quickly, and I can’t wait to reach that goal!  Happy Holidays and safety in your travels and pleasures.

A Costumed Christmas

My five-year-old nephew is on a serious cowboy kick lately, and I was asked by my mother (his grandma!) to make a ‘real cowboy vest’ as a gift.  However, as I am completely tapped out on funds by this point (thanks student teaching =p), I wanted to see if I could manage to fanangle this out of nothing and air.  And maybe spit.image

I raided the fabric stash and got really lucky finding a great faux leather pillow cover (from the pillow project earlier this summer) that provided JUST enough base material for this mini-sized vest.  I copied and shrank a vintage vest pattern that I’ve been saving for making Sarah from Labyrinth, and I had all the supplies I needed, already on hand!  No worries there!

Because the leather-like material was such good quality, I decided to do a really authentic look and lapped seams instead of doing a regular seam.  I stitched each one twice for durability as well as for a more authentic rustic look.  That made construction really easy and really attractive.  Finally, I top stitched all around the outside and the sleeve openings of the vest for a finishing touch.

I’m delighted with the finished product, and I hope my nephew will be as well!  This is a sturdy little garment that should last for years… at least until he outgrows it!

What’s your favorite handmade Christmas costume?

A copper Christmas

Copper is one of my favorite materials, both as a jeweler and a decorator.  It’s warm, glowing, and rosy, and can compliment so many palettes, from equally warm colors to bringing a sparkle to cooler choices (give me a copper and amethyst necklace any day!).  Gold and silver are the traditional Christmas metals, but what about this versatile color?  Let’s see what’s out there!

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Adorable copper cookie cutter from Sur La Table.  Talk about multitasking; make a few tree cookies and then hang this little guy on the real tree!

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Other-than-green Christmas trees are all the rage this year, so how about this glittering copper beauty (best buy at Amazon.com).  It’s also prelit, saving you precious holiday time.

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These punched copper gingerbread men (running, of course) from Etsy seller tinworks are a staple from my own childhood as well!  I recall creating these as a very young child, and my own still grace my tree to this day.  DiY with some copper sheeting and nails, or pick these up from tinworks!

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Even though Hanukkah is over for this season, the menorah is a delightful decoration in copper as well!  This lovely woven metal version is available from Traditions Jewish Gifts. What glitter and glow are you enjoying this holiday season?

I’m dreaming…

…of a pink Christmas!  Maybe a little girl you know is insisting on a princess theme… or maybe you just love pink!  Check out this inspiration for a pink Christmas theme!

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Sources: Lacy paper snowflake tutorial at How About Orange.  Pink “Dream” Bird at Fancy This!  Pink Glass High Heels at Trendy Tree.

Oh, and why not a few pink decorations for yourself, like this pink ostrich feather bangle?  And of course don’t forget your pink tree and all kinds of pink flowers!  Pink it up this Christmas!  Why not?

Favorite Holiday Decorations from the Blogosphere!

There are so many gorgeous decorations out there… I expect I’ll be spending a lot of time in the next few weeks sharing some of my favorite finds!  Many of these will be DiY and very inexpensive – or at least have the potential – because of course we need to go a little easy on our wallets!  Enjoy!

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I LOVE this simple, elegant, informal willow and eucalyptus wreath from Seahorse.  Unfortunately, it’s a UK product, so hard to get to the US in time, but why not do up this one yourself?

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Hello?  How about the old classic, paper cut-out snowflakes?  Make bunches and bunches of them for this intense, festive statement!  And the cost?  Pretty much free!

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These absolutely charming ornaments are something I know I’d love to give or receive.  Using metal stamps (like the ones I use to create my wordspell pieces), you can share messages and wishes on antique silverware.  No time for that?  Pick these up from the Hammermann shop at Etsy!

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Advent calendars are one of those charming and oh-so-easy touches that I often sit here going, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  I love this effortless, timeless example from Rachel!

What’s your favorite frugal project this holiday?

NOMday Holiday Edition!

One of my absolute favorite things about the holidays is the FOOD.  I have a wealth of delightful memories of huge family gatherings (I have six and seven aunts and uncles on BOTH sides of my family… I don’t even have a count of my cousins anymore!) filled with games, gift exchanges, and wonderful foods.

imageEgg nog is one of my favorite holiday treats.  I’m partial to my mother’s recipe, which to me is smoother and lighter than the store bought version.  It’s also SUPER EASY to make, with just 5 ingredients (plus some nutmeg!).

Holiday Egg Nog

2/3 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
8 cups milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
nutmeg to taste

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set whites aside in the refrigerator.  Mix the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large pan until smooth.  Add milk to yolk mixture slowly, stirring or whisking constantly.  Heat slowly!  Once heated, set aside to cool.  Make meringue with egg whites and 6 tablespoons of sugar, if desired.  Serve with a dollop of meringue and a sprinkle of nutmeg!  WARNING: the meringue is made with raw egg whites, prepare at your own risk!

I remember with delight how my mother used to set the pan of egg nog outside in the snow to cool, when there was no room in the refrigerator.  How wonderful it was to poke my head out into the cool winter night to bring the cool pan back inside and then enjoy the cold egg nog!

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

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Beg, borrow, and steal!

It’s a mantra we use as teachers that really applies to good teaching strategies that we can learn from others and then use… but I think it has good applications for crafters, too!  I’m taking a few cues this holiday season for my décor from fellow blogs!

imageFirst, I just arrived home from a trip to my local Family Dollar!  Fellow frugalese blog Dollar Store Crafts is constantly touting the benefits of shopping at this super-discounted location, and for once-a-year decorating it can save a lot of money!

I’d started out with a classic gold and silver theme, and then while taking a walk down the floral aisle, I caught sight of the fruits and veggies pictured to the left, and I had a brilliant idea!  A fruit-filled and fluttery tree filled with faux fruit and birds of all colors and sizes.  I also added in the element of white flowers to fill in the lacking spaces in my somewhat sparse (and secondhand) tree.  I’ll also include some of my keepsake ornaments that were handed down from my parents.

imageThe other project I’m looking forward to is this silvery, lighted branch that was posted over at Remodelista.  I love the simplicity and natural flavor of this simple-to-create project.  It seems to go along the lines of the outdoorsy, natural feeling I’m pursuing this season (apparently!).  I’m thinking about giving this one a home on the mantle above the fireplace… it would make a nice foil to some stockings hung by the chimney with care!  I could also go dark green or brown to follow the accents of the red camellia branch curtains in the living room.  So many possibilities!

I like that both of these are not limited to the winter holidays.  A lighted branch is a lovely accent any time of the year, and faux fruit can be a great part of everyday décor or specifically for Thanksgiving.

I admit…  I’m a fan of the winter holiday season!  I love all of it, the decorating, the parties, the lights, and just the overall feeling of wonder and delight.  Oh, and did I mention winter vacation?  Gotta love it!

What fun projects are you finding in the blogosphere this season?