Noodles Aren’t Just for Swimming.

Headboard FinishedWhen my son was little, (well, littler) we decided to buy him a bunk bed. I don’t know why. I am still trying to remember the reason. Anyway, his bunk bed has a metal frame. Because of this, his bed is surrounded in pillows so that we won’t wind up at the emergency room with a cracked skull.

Headboard UnderneathNow that he is getting bigger, he is running out of room in the bed and the pillows have to go. I knew that I wanted to make a headboard and footboard of some kind. During the Christmas sales, I purchased some fleece fabric the color of his room. It only took me 5 months to finally get around to making something. I knew that I needed it to be super padded, like the padding that you put around a football goal post or basketball goal. That was the thought process, anyway. I decided that a swimming noodle would be perfect. I measured the bed, fabric, extra fabric to fold over on the edge. After I did the math, I cut the noodle length. Then I cut it lengthwise, to the center, all the way across to accommodate for the metal bar.  I was torn between sewing on snaps or hooks & eyes to the fabric to hold it together. I went with hooks & eyes. When I was finished sewing them all on, I put the fabric on the footboard to see how it looks (before I started sewing the headboard). It looked good, but then my brain said, “You idiot. You could have saved all that time and just used big safety pins.” So, I listened to myself and did just that on the headboard. Oh well, you sew and you learn. By the way, the kids are having fun dueling with the leftover noodle pieces. Enjoy.

Hopefully, Foxes Do Not Snore.

Unfortunately, there is such a thing called allergies. My husband has had them all his life. Because of them, he will rub his eyes while he is asleep. He’s been sleeping with a t-shirt over his eyes, but I have decided that this will no longer do.  Since I am on my sewing kick. I got the idea to make him a sleep mask.

Fox MaskI dug through the “old shirts that can be potential dust rags” box and I found an orange cotton shirt that had a sharpie stain on it. I could have done a simple sleep mask, but that just wouldn’t be me. While I was searching for sleep mask tutorials and ideas, I saw a cute fox mask. Bingo. He wanted a narrow sleep mask. So, I found a pattern on Google, copied it into a program on my computer, stretched it, and then printed it out. I used that as a template and added ears. I found a white undershirt and used it for the face. After I sewed all the facial features, I put all the layers together, inserted elastic, and sewed it all together. Also, I added a strip of fabric to go around the back of the head for comfort. Overall, I think I did pretty good, since I made it all from scratch. I keep on saying, all you need is a little imagination. I am going to imagine that this fox does not snore and everyone will sleep well. Enjoy.

Sew Sorry, But…Can You Please Remove Your Shoes?

Sorry for the bad pun and for not posting any cookie pictures lately. Until the Mario cookies, this month, I hadn’t made any since Christmas. I have been having fun sewing. I bought myself another sewing machine, after my old one was about to drive me to throw it out the window.

House Shoes FeetHere is a little background on this project:
I needed to steam clean the carpets in the house.  We took all the furniture out of the living room and moved it into other rooms. It is amazing how noticeable dirty carpet is when you have moved everything out. After I steam cleaned the carpets, I decided that if I am going to make the carpet last, I will have to enforce a “no shoes inside” policy. It’s going very well so far. The kids are my carpet police. They are doing a great job, too.

Shoe CoverSo…if you are going to have this kind of rule in your house, then you have to have shoe covers (for when you have your shoes laced up and you forgot your keys on the counter) or house slippers (so you don’t have to wear socks or hurt yourself when you step on a Lego) . I made both. I did a TON of Google image searching. Finally, I found a couple of websites that I really liked. The shoe covers were pretty easy to make. For the ones in the picture, I used some material that I have had for about 20 years. A few suggestions, if you are going to make them. 1) When measuring, make sure you are using the bulkiest shoe you have. I used my husband’s Timberland boots, that way they would fit his shoes and mine. If you have kids, make them for the biggest shoe, the other kid(s) will make it work and eventually grow into them. 2) If you are using material that is difficult to feed elastic through, leave two holes when sewing the seam. Feed the elastic halfway, pull it through, and then finish feeding it back to the starting point. Then sew up both holes. 3) For the bottom to be flat, as you can see in the picture. I sewed a 2″ perpendicular line on both corners in the inside. Like the bottom of a purse or shopping bag. 4) If you plan on using something other than an old vinyl tablecloth, think about the weather in your area. If it rains a lot, you don’t want to use material that water will soak straight through. Then, what’s the point of making the covers?

House Shoes SWThe house slippers were very tedious because I added more steps to her pattern. A lot of cutting, pinning and sewing, but I was glad I made adjustments. A few tips…1) I suggest making the patterns out of thick paper (A paper bag or cereal box). I made two patterns, one for the vinyl and the other for the fabric and batting, (which I made only a 1/4″ bigger. She suggests sewing 1/2″ and then cutting off excess, but I hate to waste material and time.) 2) I cut out 3 pieces of fabric (she only has 2). I cut out the main print, one bottom piece (which does show a little, so make sure it matches main fabric print), and a generic middle piece (won’t be seen, unless your main fabric is white/see through). So, when you layer the pieces to sew (starting at top to bottom)…the main fabric with right side facing down… then right side of the bottom matching piece facing up… batting… and then generic piece. The reason I added a generic piece is because my machine does not grip batting very well. When you turn the material after sewing, the generic piece will end up on the inside, facing the wrong side of main fabric. (see picture) House Shoes Batting 3) Never pin vinyl! The holes will never disappear. I used snap hair clips.

I wear mine all the time and so does my daughter. My son, not so much. I may have to alter the “fabric between the toe” design for him and just have a thick strap across the foot. Maybe, if I am feeling adventurous on the next pair…LOL

Steering Wheel CoverP.S. I used some of the leftover Star Wars material and made a steering wheel cover. I never realized how much a cover helps with the hot sun. I am really going to love it this summer! Enjoy.

It’s a me…Mario.

For everything in life, it seems like a two weeks notice is the standard heads-up. As soon as you are given the notice, you should act right away. Don’t wait until the “date”. So, you are probably wondering what all that means. I am going to fill you in on the details.

Mario PlateA good friend of mine asked me to make Mario (of Nintendo’s Super Mario fame) cookies for her son’s birthday party. She texted me a good month in advance. I told her that I would research it and let her know. I had never done Mario cookies, so I wanted to make sure that I would be able make some. So, a couple of weeks goes by and she calls me to see how everything is going. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to make Mario himself, but had no problem with stars, mushrooms, etc. She said that would be fine, but…the party date was moved up and in less than a week. Of course, I replied that I would still do them.

Mario GroupI thought of all the icing colors that I would need yellow, red, green, white, and black. I made Stars, Mushrooms, question mark blocks, and Yoshi eggs. The cookie cutters were pretty easy to come by and I only had to custom work for the mushrooms. I used a star cutter for the Invincibility Star.  For the Mushroom, I popped out a circle and cut off an angle.  The “?” Block is just a square, and Yoshi’s Egg was made using an Easter egg cutter I had.  I cut and baked all the cookies the night before. I woke up early and started icing. I started with the mushrooms and Yoshi eggs, since the first color was going to have to dry, before the second was added. Then, I iced the stars and question mark blocks. I made so many cookies that I ran out of yellow icing. It was ok, my kids used the extras to do cookie art. I added the second colors, question marks, and then the eyes.

I was torn on one thing:  The stars. To sparkle or not to sparkle? That was the first question. The answer…sparkle, of course. The second question was disco dust or gold luster dust? I decided that luster dust would be easier and less messy. Even though disco dust would have looked awesome. Maybe next time. I’m sure one of these years my son will want Mario cookies.

Even in a time crunch, everything turned out fine. The party was a hit and so were the cookies. Enjoy.

Heaven In A Bag

Heaven In A BagI found this recipe back in 2009 and have been making it ever since. I usually made it and brought it to work, but I didn’t want everyone sticking their hands in the fudge, so I would wrap a couple of pieces in a bag. It first started off being called ….(come closer and let me whisper in your ear…crack), but when my kids started talking and going to school, it was time to change the name. I mentioned this at work and said that we have to come up with a better name. Nothing like having a co-worker yell across the store…”Hey, do you have any crack left?” Hence the name change to “heaven in a bag”. Heaven it was…it is so rich that two pieces in the bag was enough. Some of the guys liked it so much they were licking every morsel out of the bag…just like they do to an empty bowl of ice cream. We are going to change subjects now, because, you do not want me to start talking about that bad habit.

Let’s talk about some tips & tricks. Basically, we are altering the instructions. First, I take a piece of parchment paper and line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan. I use clothes pins to hold the parchment to the side of the pan. Second, have your Oreos already chopped up. I have two bowls. One, is chopped up fine to go inside and the other bowl is coarse to sprinkle on top. Also, I add an extra 1/2 cup of Oreos to both bowls. I love Oreos, but that’s just me. Third, after you have the butter/sugar mixture finally (because I cook on medium heat) come to a boil, I stir in the chips and let them melt a little bit, before I turn off the stove. I add the marshmallow crème and vanilla, stir, and then pour in the finely chopped Oreos. Fourth, I pour everything into the already lined pan and add the coarsely chopped Oreos on top. Now, with clean hands, I pat the Oreos down a little, so they will stay put when I cut the fudge. Finally, the most important tip I can give you…DO NOT LICK or USE YOUR FINGERS to SCRAPE OFF THE EXCESS FUDGE INTO THE PAN!!! IT WAS JUST BOILING! If you must scrape every bit off the spatula, use a butter knife. Then you can let the spatula and butter knife cool off, before you start taste testing. Now, I know that I just wrote “finally”, but I still have a few side notes. I put the fudge pan on top of an ice pack to get it to cool off faster, so I can put it in the fridge to chill. After the fudge has chilled (seems like an eternity), you lift the parchment paper out of the pan and your fudge should be rock hard. I will now tell you my trick to cut this wonderful deliciousness…a pizza cutter. I just cut lines about 1 inch apart, long ways. Then I cut again perpendicularly to make squares. Because this stuff is hard to cut through, my lines are never straight. My husband doesn’t mind. I give him all the ugly broken pieces. They still taste the same. P.S. My husband says that the fudge does taste better after it has been refrigerated. He should know. He’s been eating all the broken pieces for over 5 years now…lol.

Cookies_Cream FudgeSo, how did I get it red? Well…I’ve been planning this post for a year now. Last year, I made some fudge. It turned out perfect, but we had eaten it all before I thought to take pictures. I knew then, I had to make Valentine’s Day fudge this year, but I had to wait until this past holiday to purchase Christmas Oreos again. You know, the ones with the red centers. I bought one package as soon as they started selling them this year and then bought a “few” more after Christmas when they were 75% off. The package said they are best by April. Maybe, I will make more fudge in the spring. When Nabisco makes the yellow Springtime Oreos. Heavenly!…Enjoy.

The SWEET Smell of Roses.

Roses are pink.

This cake was great.

It’s almost a crime how much sugar we ate.

Pink Rose CakeSo, what do you give your mother-in-law for her birthday? You bake her a chocolate cake, of course! I asked my husband if his mother was going to have a cake and offered to make one. I had in mind to try my hand at another ombre cake, with layers of aqua or purple, and this time covered in roses, until a little birdie told me that she wanted a chocolate cake. I quickly had to change my mindset. What was I going to do now? I Googled chocolate cakes and roses and found this lovely cake. I have never done a cake like this… but have no fear, I had my 1M tip near…(corny, I know)

Let’s take a minute and talk about tips & tricks. I knew that I was going to need to use two different piping tips. The large Wilton 1M tip for the roses on top and Wilton’s #18 tip for the rosettes around the base of the cake. Because both of these tips were going to require different size couplers, I was going to have to use two different pastry bags. I was not going to move icing back and forth, so I used the saran wrap method. I learned it several years ago from this blog. Also, when I was watching some YouTube videos on making different types of flowers, I noticed everyone had their favorite way to put icing in a pastry bag. I am showing you what I use. A Pilsner beer glass. Who knew that drinking beer on a business trip would turn out to benefit me later in life…LOL. I like this glass because, as you can see, the tip does not hit the bottom when I am using the large coupler, nor does it tip over. Overall, this glass has been a win-win!

Chocolate ButtercreamCrumb coating a cake, in my opinion, is the part I hate the most. Nothing like having it nice and smoothed and then the icing decides that it likes the spatula more than sticking to the cake. Then you have to get it to smooth back down without completely tearing the cake apart. (Just think of it like that piece of hair that you can’t get to lay down, no matter how much gel/hairspray you use. No matter what you do! Finally, you just say forget it and decide that it is “say something hat day”.) So…enough about the crumb coat. Next is putting on the top layer of chocolate icing (see above pic). Easy peasy. Only takes smoothing and turning the cake and smoothing and turning while smoothing. You get the idea. After that, pipe on some roses and your done…until you look at the sink and surrounding area. Clean-up…Arrgh.

Pink Rose Cake InsideLater that day, I picked the kids up from school and telling them of the “fun” I had icing the cake. I told my daughter that the icing was made with 4 sticks of butter and 8 cups of powdered sugar. She asked, “Are you sure it’s safe to eat this cake?” Enjoy.

Hang Your Favorite Ornament On The Tree.

Marbled OrnamentsThese were on my list of cookie ideas that I had last year, but they didn’t make the cut. So, this year they were a must have. I love blue ornaments. We even have them on our tree.

Oddly enough, I don’t own any ornament cookie cutters, and because of this I had to make my own. These were super easy and icing them was fun. I got to do marbling. I flooded the cookie, piped a few lines and drug a toothpick through the wet icing to make a cute design. Once the blue icing was dry, I piped out a bit of icing on the top and added silver sprinkles.

Have A Sweet Holiday TopperThe bag toppers were the most tedious part of the whole cookie process. Design the toppers in Photoshop (done by my husband), print the toppers, cut the toppers, fold and hole punch the toppers, attach hand punched holly leaves and rhinestones, and tie on a ribbon. Needless to say, it took me two days to do 150 toppers. The next time I have to make toppers, I will definitely do them as soon as I know they will be part of the cookie order! Have A Sweet Holiday! Enjoy.

A Christmas Tree Found In The Snow.

Brushed Christmas TreesI had other cookie design ideas, but when I saw this one, I decided to give it a try. I had a rectangle cookie cutter, but I wanted it to be fluted. I had a fluted rectangle cookie cutter, but it was way too big. What was I going to do? What anyone with a little imagination would do…I grabbed my Pampered Chef potato crinkle cutter. I need the cookies to be a certain size. So, I took a piece of wax paper and folded it into a 2 inch strip. Worked like a charm.

I needed stars for the tops of the trees. I took some yellow icing and piped it out into star transfers and then sprinkled them with some disco dust while they were still wet. Let them dry overnight and then peeled them off. Transfers need to be one of the first things you do, before you start icing the cookies, since it takes a day for them to dry.

I chose white as the background for these cookies. I figured that it would look like snow. I was up until 4am with the gingerbread men and flooding white icing onto these cookies. The next day was crunch time, since the base coat was now dry. Time to brush on the trees. I still need a lot of practice with embroidery brushing, but for my first time, it wasn’t too too bad. The tree reminded me of the ones in the movies, where the family goes into the forest to find the perfect tree and finds a big huge one. Only to remember that they have to drag it all the way back to the car. After I brushed on a few trees, I noticed they needed a little something. So, I attached some red sprinkles before the green icing started to dry. It wouldn’t be a Christmas tree without a few ornaments and a star on top. Enjoy.

Gingerbread Man…I Think Not. Let’s Make Him Chocolate!

Gingerbread MenIt’s that time of year again…to make Christmas Cookie Treat Bags for my brother, that is. What cookies will I make this year? My brother wanted chocolate and regular sugar cookies again.

I had quite a few ideas roughly sketched out for the chocolate ones.  Ultimately, I chose a gingerbread man. The whole time I was making these, the movie Shrek came popping into my head. “Not my gumdrop buttons!” I was going insane for days…lol. Speaking of gumdrop buttons, I had to put a heart somewhere in the cookie designs and this was an excellent choice. A man needs a heart, not some silly gumdrop buttons. Right?

Before I cut out the dough, I got out my cookie cutters and laid them on top of the treat bag to see how and if the cookies would fit. They were too big. Someone was going to have to go. I didn’t own a smaller gingerbread man cookie cutter, so I made my own. He fit perfectly. Now, I tried to make the icing a nice brown color, but I couldn’t get it a dark enough shade. The cookie was a dark chocolate color, so I was hoping it would be able bring out the color of the brown. At the end, I still was not satisfied. But am I ever? I was planning on making heart transfers and then attaching them to the man, but I got lucky and found some heart sprinkles. That took a couple of hours off of my time.

At 4 in the morning, I was finally finished flooding the base coat of the men and attaching their hearts. Now, it was time to go to bed. I’ll let them dry, wake up in 3 hours to take the kids to school and then do some more decorating. At the end, when putting on the finishing touches to all the cookies, I added the eyes, mouth and arm/leg clothes markings to the men. Done…Now, if they could only walk themselves into the bags. Enjoy.

Roll Tide vs. War Eagle

Alabama_Auburn_FootballsSEC Football fans and Alabama residents will know what I mean when I say it is time once again for “The Iron Bowl” – the annual meeting of The University of Alabama and Auburn University on the college gridiron – on November 30th. Also, it’s time for my daughter to bring “Friday Snack” to school for her class. I’ve been thinking about these cookies since school started. When she was assigned this week to bring treats, the theme became a no-brainer.  I asked her teacher to give me a head count of who liked Alabama vs. Auburn. (The score was Alabama 14 vs. Auburn 8). Now, let the cookie making begin…

Alabama_Auburn_transfersI only have one thing to say about royal icing. Make it ahead of time. Getting the color to develop and be the perfect shade can take a few days. Well, it does for me anyway. Now, once I had the perfect shade of red, blue and orange it was time to start piping the transfers. Transfers are awesome!…but they are back killers too. Standing in one spot piping out 70 AU’s and 100 A’s takes a toll on you. After I finished with the transfers, I had to post on my FB…”These kids better LOVE these cookies. My back is killing me”…LOL

When you Google Alabama/Auburn cookies you get a lot of plain round cookies or a bunch of brown footballs. I wanted to do something unusual. So, I decided to do stenciled football cookies. For Auburn, whose mascot is a tiger, I wanted to stencil tiger stripes onto the footballs, but I couldn’t find the right stencil. So, I decided to do chevron instead. It’s super popular right now. Why not? Recently, I purchased a hounds-tooth stencil. Since I live in Alabama, I think it will come in handy. And it did for these cookies.

Alabama_Auburn_treat bagsI had to change my recipe for the icing and cookies. There are a few kids in my daughter’s class who have nut allergies, so I omitted the almond extract. “They taste good”, said my resident taste tester/husband. I made the cookies Wednesday night, so they would be cool to ice on Thursday morning. After I iced all the cookies and let them dry, I got out my airbrush machine. I had only used it a couple of times, so I still haven’t mastered it. I will say, I now have a typed out list of things to do before and after using it – like covering the whole area, because the color mists everywhere. And YES, I am a list maker and proud of it. After I airbrushed the cookies, attached the transfers and bagged up the cookies, I was done. Not really. I forgot to add… taking pictures for blog.

Also, in this post I am going to do something else unusual. I am going to talking about sewing. After the kids’ birthdays this summer, I took a break from making cookies. I rediscovered an old hobby…sewing. I have gone crazy over sewing…at least that is what my husband thinks. I have been buying supplies and a new sewing machine (Amazon had an offer I couldn’t refuse). My husband has been asking me when am I going to actually make something with all this stuff. So, I made a skirt. It has French seams, pockets, a double stitched hem and a label in the back with my logo and care instructions. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Alabama_SkirtNow, I won’t tell you who my husband and kids root for, but I think the skirt for my daughter says it all. Enjoy.