Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pear Gingerbread

If there's one new dessert you want to try this holiday, it should be this one! Oh my is it delicious! (And that's coming from someone who doesn't generally like gingerbread.)

I don't have the prettiest pictures of it, but I do have a pretty simple recipe. I got the recipe from a coworker a few years ago, and just got around to making it last Christmas Eve. It was a hit with everyone!

Pear Gingerbread
Bring the following ingredients to a boil, then pour into the bottom of a 9x13 pan:
     6-7 c.   pears
     1 1/2 c.   water
     1/2 c.   sugar
     1/4 c.   nutmeg
Mix the following together:
     2 1/2 c.   flour
     1/2 c.   sugar
     1 1/2 tsp.   cinnamon
     1 1/2 tsp.   ginger - dry
     1 1/2 tsp.   baking soda
     1/2 tsp.   cloves - ground
Mix the above set with the below set and then pour over the fruit:
     1 c.   molasses
     1 c.   water
     1/2 c.   oil
     1   egg
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

Caramel Sauce
Boil the following ingredients together, stirring until caramel brown:
     1/3 c.   sugar
     3 TBSP   butter
     2 TBSP   water
Slowly add about 1 cup cream to hot sugar/butter mixture until desired consistency.
Pour the sauce over the gingerbread and enjoy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Baby Blanket

Oh! I'm very excited to finally be able to share this one! 

I made a baby blanket for a friend last month and I finally gave it to her. I've been waiting to post it, just in case; I didn't want her to see it ahead of time. She's due in January with her first - a baby boy - and she picked out a little deer nursery theme with these colors.
After opening the blanket, she was in awe that the colors were a perfect match. But of course they were - I looked up the crib set and matched it purposely. :)

This is the first "quilt" I have ever attempted. It wasn't anything too crazy - I cut blocks of the different colors to get the stripes around the sides and did all brown for the back. This one is about a 30 inch square.

And to go with it, I also made a little blanket about 16 sq. in.
I love the colors in this one! (So far, these two prints are the only ones I've seen with deer on it.)
My friend also loved the fox on it because she said that they got the baby a little snuggle-buddy (the stuffed animal with a blanket attached) that is a fox!

I think that these blankets turned out perfectly for her new nursery. I can't wait to see pictures when she finally has it all set up!
And, of course, I can't wait to meet the little guy :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Candy Christmas Tree

So, I told you all about the candy wreaths I like to make, but this year I decided to try something even easier - candy Christmas trees. Buy the styrofoam cones from your craft store and use sewing/floral pins to secure candy pieces. I thought it would be super easy, fun, and cute! I found the awesome star ornaments to use as a tree topper at Target.

A "sweet" holiday decoration!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Tree Pillows

I got the idea for this craft when I saw a similar pillow in a Ten Thousand Villages store. I decided to make one for my sister (who had asked for pillows for Christmas to go with her new couch) and one for myself.
Here's a little picture tutorial on how to make your own Christmas Tree Pillow!

  First, pick out some fabric. I chose to use different green holiday fabrics for the trees with a plain red background, but pick out your favorite tree fabrics even if they are  "painted pink" the way Lucy van Pelt prefers. I also bought a black with white snowflake print that I thought would make a neat background.
Then start cutting out triangles. Try different sizes to create a visual depth for a forest, or try skinny and fat ones; it all depends on what size your pillow is. In the picture to the right, the blue squares are 1in.; I wanted my trees tall and skinny to fit on my long pillows.
Once you have enough trees for your pillow, cut out and apply Heat'n'Bond to the backs on the fabric to create an easy application of the trees to the background. Arrange the trees on the background and start ironing on the bottom layer first. I laid the trees out before peeling off the paper backs, then ironed each tree individually. However, you could try peeling off all the papers and ironing it all at one time. Also, I would recommend you take a picture of your layout before you start ironing, just in case you need to go back to it for a reference. (Maybe you get distracted from ironing with my blog and your kids or pets go over and move things around on you... or maybe I'm just a little o.c.d.)
After all the trees are ironed on, I reinforced them by sewing along the edges. I thought that this would keep the trees on better through multiple washings, while the edges could fray a little and add some nice texture.

Now the front of the pillow is ready!
Add whatever style back you like and you're all set.

  For the smaller pillow (the one pictured at the top), I put a zipper up the side and found some fun pom-pom trim to go around the pillow case. And I had a Christmas present for my sister -

For my pillow, I used white ribbon all the way around and, rather than try my luck with another zipper, I left the middle of the back open to fit the pillow into.

So now do you feel ready to make your own? If you do make one, share a picture with me; I'd love to see it!
I have a bit of extra fabric that I'm thinking about sewing into a Christmas quilt... maybe for next year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Wreath

Every December, I like to cut down a real evergreen tree for Christmas. It's a family tradition from my childhood; although, I remember there being a lot more snow than we have lately.

This year, I wanted to try my skill at making a wreath from the boughs cut off the bottom of the tree. I had a pretty full bag of cinnamon pine cones (that I bought last year and have since lost their scent) that I knew I wanted to incorporate; as well as some burlap ribbon. I found the flat wreath base that I wanted at Michael's - I was surprised my JoAnn's doesn't carry this item, only fat foam ones. I wanted the flat wooden one so that I could glue the pine cones on, rather than try to use floral wire or pins. I did use floral wire to hold the boughs on.
It didn't turn out quite as I had pictured, but it's pretty close. I just switched out my fall wreath and I'm ready for the holidays; or at least my front door is.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Candy Wreaths

I remember making these candy wreaths as a kid. 

I think my Mom found the idea and instructions in a magazine and just loved it. I love it too! Several years went by with this craft forgotten, until a few years ago when I saw the instructions in magazine (familiar story...).

And I have made a few every year since!

These candy wreaths make a wonderful holiday gift. I made the one at the very top and center for my boyfriend's family a couple years ago and took it as a gift at Thanksgiving. In fact, his mom liked it so much, she told the grandkids they weren't allowed to eat it. Three years later, it's still hanging up un-touched!

Actually, they're great gifts outside the holidays too. I made this one for my sister when she started teaching in a new classroom. The students and other teachers loved it!

For the base of the wreath, you can buy metal rings at JoAnn stores for under a couple dollars, depending on the size, but even a small one uses a lot of candy. Or you can dig through your parents' closets for some old wire hangers; which is what I was doing until I couldn't find anymore. If you use the hangers, you have to take them apart and create your own circle. The whole hanger will make a pretty large wreath, but not quite large enough to make two smaller ones. I definitely think the metal rings are easier and sturdier; and they aren't that expensive. Although, using the wire hangers I was able to make some awesome candy canes.

Once you've got your base, you'll need lots of candy. I have often bought what I thought would be enough, only to have to go back out for more. I always buy the wrapped candy that twists open on both ends. Then I use floral wire to wrap around one end of a piece of candy and onto the ring (or hanger).

There are several different tutorials on how to make these. I just did a Google search for "candy wreath tutorial" and found three different ways to tie on the candy. Mine is a little different still, but I may be trying out the other ways to see what's easiest.
I have always used floral wire without cutting it til the end. I start by wrapping the floral wire around the ring several times, overlapping itself so that it doesn't just pull off. Then I wrap the wire around one end of the candy wrapper three times; it tends to unwrap itself a little as you go.
I continue wrapping the wire around candy about an inch apart until I have about a foot of wire and candy; any more than that and it usually starts to tangle or is just harder to manage. Take that section and wrap it around the ring, pushing it together to make a nice full wreath.
Keep adding candy and wrapping until it's nice and full. Then wrap the floral wire back over some of the candy to secure it again.
I usually make my own bows with ribbon, but in the picture to the right I used a pre-made bow with a gift tag and added some tiny ornaments around the wreath.

And if you don't have anywhere to hang a wreath, they also make a great candle wreath!

If these aren't already a part of your gifting traditions, now is the perfect time to start.
Happy crafting and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!