Tag Archives: Holiday

Tutorial: Hipster Gingerbread Man Felt Ornament

Hipster Gingerbread Man Felt ornament

Last year, after I made my little lobster ornament, I was revved up to come up with other felt ornament ideas. I adore gingerbread men, but what twist could I make on a traditional theme? OMG, I gotta make a hipster gingerbread man ornament!

In New York City (or any major U.S metropolitan area, I’d imagine), if you work in a creative field or venture to an of-the-moment restaurant or bar, you’ll invariably run into a subculture—that of the hipster.  For me, it’s easier to describe the fashion of a hipster guy than a hipster girl. Usually, the guys have large, black plastic glasses, bushy beards, slouchy knit hat, plaid flannel shirt and skinny dark jeans rolled at the ankle. It’s grunge for the 2010s.

What’s great about this project is that aside from the body and the beard, you can use whatever fabric scraps you have lying around. Also, if you have a small 2-foot tree like I do, the ornament doesn’t look too big—he’s only 6-1/2” inches tall.

Hipster Gingerbread Man Felt Ornament

Finished size: Approximately 4-3/4” x 6-1/2”

Supplies

  • Brown felt
  • Dark brown embroidery floss
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Fabric scraps for shirt and vest
  • Denim
  • Thread to match fabric
  • Curly doll hair (kind find this in craft stores)
  • Black cardstock
  • 5/8” hole punch
  • 3/8” hole punch
  • Piece of silk ribbon

Click on the link for the free PDF of the Hipster Gingerbread Felt Ornament pattern.

Directions

1. Print and cut out the hipster gingerbread ornament pattern. Fold brown felt in half and pin the gingerbread body pattern to felt. Cut fabric. Do the same for the shirt, vest and pants.

2. Pin the gingerbread body pieces together and using 2-ply of the dark brown embroidery floss, sew the edges together using a blanket stitch. Leave a small opening between the arms and legs and gently stuff the ornament with the fiberfill. Sew the hole closed.
3. Sew the side seams of the denim pants with right sides together. Turn the pants right side out and put on the gingerbread man. Cuff the pants.
4. Pin the two shirt pieces to the gingerbread ornament and hand-stitch the shirt together as close as possible. You will need the shirt to hug the gingerbread man so that it won’t appear bulky under the vest. Fold sleeves under.
5. With right sides together, sew each vest front to the vest back. Turn right side out and put it on the ornament.

6. For the beard, cut a small length of the curly doll hair. Bunch it together wrap a piece of thread around it to keep in contained. Then sew to the bottom of the gingerbread face.
7. Use the hole punches on the card stock to create the glasses. Cut out a small, narrow strip of paper for the bridge and attach to the glasses with either craft glue or tape. Attach the glasses to the gingerbread face with a small bead of craft glue.

Oh no, Mr Bill! That lobster is about to eat the hipster gingerbread man!

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Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Cherry Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

It’s that time of year again and it’s time to make cookies! This year I’m attending a friend’s cookie swap party. And this friend is a professionally trained baker. No pressure or anything!

I came across this cookie recipe in Self magazine’s December issue. The photography drew me in (my cookies in no way look like the magazine photos!) and then I read the recipe and I was sold.  It’s the perfect blend of salty and sweet. And it’s very easy to make—perfect for a cookie swap!

Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Adapted from Self magazine, December 2013

Yields 40 cookies

Ingredients

  •  2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup pistachios, shelled and finely chopped

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Separately, using a standing mixer, combine butter, sugar and olive oil until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add flour mixture in small batches. Stir in chocolate and cherries.

 

Divide dough in half and roll into two logs, about 2” by 8” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spread chopped pistachios on a cutting board and roll the chilled cookie dough. If the nuts do not stick to the dough, press the nuts into the dough.  Cut each log into 20 cookies and spread evenly the cookies sheets. If there is any left over chopped nuts, sprinkle them on the cookies. Gently press the cookies so they are flat and round. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool.

If you are making these cookies as gifts, I typed out the name of the cookies and printed them on 65# card stock. If you would like to print them out, you can download my PDF here. Then, using a 1.5″ circle punch, I punched out the tags and used a hole punch at the top. I ran out of ribbon so I used some yarn I had on hand for a rustic touch.

Once you and your friends taste these cookies, you will die and go to heaven. Happy Holidays!

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Christmas Cookies, Part 2: Peanut Butter-Butterscotch

Welcome to Christmas Cookies, Part 2! I decided for the other batch of Christmas cookies, that I would bake a peanut butter recipe. Peanut butter cookies are verrrry popular with my family. And these cookies are simply divine. When my husband sampled one, I swear his eyes rolled into the back of his head! They are very easy to make–especially compared to the sugar cookies with royal icing. It’s also a great recipe to make with your kids. I remember being as young as 8-years old and making them for my Brownie troupe. They were good then and they are amazing now.

This recipe is a tad different in that it also has butterscotch morsels, which give an added richness and decadence to the cookies. Yum!

Peanut Butter-Butterscotch Cookies

Adapted from All You, August 2009

Yields about 2-1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups chunky peanut butter (not “all natural”)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 11-oz. package butterscotch morsels

Directions

In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Separately, using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment set on medium, beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Next, slowly add the sugar and mix until well-blended. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Once thoroughly mixed, add the flour mixture and butterscotch morsels.

Remove batter from bowl and form into a large flat disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Carefully using your hands, roll dough into little balls, about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Place balls about 2″ apart on the cookie sheet. Then, carefully press a fork into the dough and create a criss-cross pattern (see above). Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with any leftover dough.

These cookies are so good, they could have been used in that “Got Milk” ad from the 90’s. Do you remember it? Oh, I loved it! Let me refresh your memory below.

So, pour a big glass of milk, put on some elastic-waisted yoga pants and dig in!

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Christmas Cookies, Part 1: Sugar Lemon

This year, my husband, parents and I are traveling up to Boston to celebrate the holidays with my sister. Soooo excited! We haven’t been all together for the holidays in at least two years. Maybe we’ll have a viewing of White Christmas?

Or playing “Here We Come A-Caroling” multiple times? I sure hope so! By the way, I only just discovered the 1965 Ray Coniff Christmas Special. It’s just so epicly awesome in a campy way. Like, Lawrence Welk awesome. See below…

My husband and I can’t come empty-handed, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to make Christmas cookies and try out royal icing. Last year, when I made the Star Wars gingerbread cookies, I stayed far away from royal icing. But now that I’ve attempted macarons and fondant, I’ve been feeling a little more adventurous.

I’ll be honest–I should have researched a little more before attempting the icing. The icing turned out a little dull instead of shiny. But, they do taste really good! I will definitely try this again.

Sugar Lemon Cookies

adapted from All You, December 2006

Yields 4-5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons, finely grated lemon zest

Directions

In a stand mixer on medium, combine butter and sugar until fluffy. Next, add vanilla, baking soda and salt. After that has been mixed in, add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Switch to a low-speed and add the flour and lemon zest. You may need to scrape the sides a couple of times.

Divide the dough into two flat discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to two days.

After dough has been chilled, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured cutting board, roll dough to about 1/8″-1/4″ thick. Chill any dough that is not being used. Using various cookie cutters, cut our shapes and transfer cookies to the cookie sheet. See any familiar shapes below? Hee hee!

Once the cookie sheets are filled with cookies, chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake cookies for about 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies. You may want to rotate the cookie sheets halfway through. When the cookies have turned slightly golden, remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack.  Continue process until all of the cookies have been baked.

For the royal icing, I relied on a couple of baking bloggers for their expertise–most notably Sugar Belle and Bee in Our Bonnet. They have a wealth of knowledge and lots of experience–definitely check them out.

Royal Icing

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (like Wilton’s, which you can find at most craft stores)
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of warm water

Directions

Using the whisk attachment on the stand mixer, combine the meringue powder, sugar and cream of tartar. Once combined, add water and vanilla extract (or whatever flavoring you choose). Mix on medium for about 5-6 minutes, until the icing has the consistency of pudding. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula if any sugar is sticking. Then, switch the setting to high and mix for 3-4 more minutes. At this point you should start to see stiff peaks forming. When you turn the mixer off, the icing should be so stiff, that it doesn’t come off the whisk (see below).

Next, plan out which cookies should be be iced which color. For my cookies, I planned on using green, blue, red and white icing. I’ll defer to Sweet Sugar Belle for her great tutorial on how to color the royal icing. Like her, I also used a Pyrex measuring cup to color my icing.

After you have dyed your icing the desired color and removed any bubbles, fill a pastry bag with the icing and use a #2-#4 round tip. Carefully outline each of your cookies. If you do not want the outline to stand out, directly proceed to the next step. Otherwise, wait until the outlines have dried before filling.

Add water to the dyed icing, a teaspoon at a time, and mix. You do not want this to be runny. Bee in Our Bonnet has great tips on this. If I had done more research before starting to ice the cookies, I would have bought some squirt bottles from the craft store. I ended up spooning icing on the cookies and spreading the icing to the edges using a toothpick. I don’t recommend this, though. The squirt bottle would have been more precise. This part of the icing process is called “flooding.”

I won’t lie— the entire process is very time-consuming! The drying time takes a long time as well. Most of my cookies dried overnight, but some were still a little sticky–especially if the icing was a little too thick.

My end result wasn’t exactly what I desired, but practice does make perfect. Next time, I’ll research how to make them dry shinier. Oh, and I’ll take my time icing them. You really can’t rush through it. After the second dozen, I was getting tired! There are some really great royal icing ideas out there–I’m inspired!

Stay tuned for Christmas Cookies, Part 2.

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Anthropologie-Inspired Felt Lobster Ornament

The Stitcherati lobster ornament

This year is the first year my husband and I have a Christmas tree for the holidays. Granted, it’s practically a little Charlie Brown tree, but it’s an upgrade from the Christmas poinsettia from last year. Can’t really decorate that!

Being the crafty sort, I wanted to make some ornaments. And not an ornament that looks like a pipe cleaner attached to a paper cup (ahem, little sister dear) either. So, while shopping in Anthropologie recently, I was inspired by the most adorable lobster ornament. A lobster! I could soooo make that!

Spangled Sea Lobster ornament from Anthropologie

Since then, I’ve been working on a pattern and mapping out the mechanics of putting it together. So, without further adieu, below are directions for you very own Christmas crustacean. Oh, and while you’re crafting your ‘lil lobster, might as well listen to the B52’s “Rock Lobster.”

‘Lil Rock Lobster Ornament

Finished size: Approximately 5″ x 9-1/2″ (body)

 Supplies

  • 9″ x 12″ felt
  • Sequins in various colors
  • Seed beads
  • Bead wire
  • Embroidery floss to match felt (I used red DMC 321)
  • Embroidery floss in various colors (I used blue DMC 995 and gold DMC S676)
  • Embroidery hoop and needle
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Scissors
  • Round nose pliers
  • Side cutter pliers
  • Piece of silk ribbon

Click on the link for the free PDF of the“Lil Rock Lobster Pattern.

Directions

1. Print and cut out the lobster ornament pattern. Fold the 9″ x 12″ felt in half and pin the pattern to the felt. Leaving about a 1/4″ clearance around the pattern, trace the pattern with a pen.

2. Unfold the felt and embellish away! I found it was much easier to embellish the ornament before I cut it out. That way, I could use an embroidery hoop to keep the felt taut. Also, I highly recommend Jenny Hart’s book, Embroidered Effects, for embroidery inspiration. For this project, I used 3-ply and used the herringbone, star, fern and running stitches. Also, while you are embroidering and sewing on sequins, be mindful to keep some clearance from the edge (see below).

 3. Using the side cutter, cut two lengths of bead wire, about 6″ each. These will be for the antennae. Also, I realized after I made it, the lobster ornament is not anatomically correct. You’ll need to cut out 8 legs, not 4– oops! Each leg should be about 3″.

4. Then, using the round nose pliers, grip one end of the wire for the antenna and create a small loop with the wire. This will keep the seed beads from falling off the wire. Do this for the other antenna and the legs. Then, string on the beads and when finished, use the round nose pliers to make another small loop at the other end.

5. Fold the felt in half again and pin together. Then cut out the lobster pattern along the pen lines. Also cut out two tails. Keep the two body pieces pinned (wrong sides together) and sandwich the lobster tail in between. To secure the tail to the body, hand sew the tail to the back body piece so the stitching won’t appear in the front. Then, map out where to place the beads for the eyes, antennae and legs. Also, cut out a small piece of silk ribbon for the loop of the ornament. Then, like the tail, sew and secure the bead wire and loop to the inside of the back body piece. For the beads for the eyes, sew to the front body piece.

6. Once everything is attached, hand sew the front and back body pieces together. I used 2-ply of red embroidery floss that matched the felt and used a decorative blanket stitch to attach the body pieces together. After the claws has been sewn together, lightly start to stuff with the polyester fiberfill. Before the lobster is completely sewn together, leave about a 1″ opening and stuff the rest of the ornament. Then sew the gap together.

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Handmade Holiday Ideas

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Image via Flickr.

Is anyone else completely surprised that next week is Thanksgiving? I don’t know where my head as been, but I had falsely thought that it was two weeks away. Nope. That means that starting now, there are just 6 weeks left in the holiday season. I am so not prepared…

If you’re like me, and have not really given thought to any holiday-related projects, below is a roundup of some crafty ideas for some holiday inspiration.

1. These felt ornaments remind of spending Christmas in Arizona and decorating the tree with vintage Mexican tin ornaments. The McCall’s pattern is currently on sale for $2.99 on their website.

 

2. Serve dinner party guests with these double knitted pot holders from Heather Zoppetti. She has a free download pattern on Ravelry.

 

4. Of course you can’t go wrong with Martha for holiday inspiration! Try her tutorial for this gorgeous wood flower wreath.

3. Planning a holiday party? Why not make these festive gold caviar coasters from Whimseybox for your guests to rest their glasses.

 

5.  Keep your teapot warm with this adorable knitted sheep carousel tea cozy — brought to you by Kate Davies of the owl sweater fame.

 

6. While you’re knitting your tea cozy, why not make a cup of this mouth-watering Nutella Hot Chocolate from The Hungry Housewife? Yum!

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Star Wars Gingerbread Cookies

Star Wars gingerbread cutters and cookies

The other day I was seriously jonesing for some gingerbread cookies. I was so excited that I had all the ingredients already, but all I was missing was a gingerbread man cookie cutter. Surprisingly the baking aisle at my local supermarket didn’t have a single cookie cutter of any shape. Weird. So I checked out Williams-Sonoma yesterday and they have something even better than a gingerbread man cookie cutter…..they have Star Wars themed cookie cutters. Awesome!!

Here’s the thing…My husband is probably the freakiest die-hard Star Wars fan on the planet. I love the movies too (only the original three), but he takes it to a whole other level. The quotes…the stats…the theory that chapters 1,2 and 3 are better than 4, 5, and 6 (blasphemy!).

So let’s just say that the cookies were a huge hit. Today, I made another batch to bring to our extended family for Christmas Day.

Also, the recipe was so easy and yummy. I used this gingerbread cookie recipe that I found on the Joy of Baking blog, skipping the frosting:

Star Wars Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 3 dozen Star Wars cookies

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices.Separately, with an electric stand mixer combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Next add the egg and then the molasses. (Tip from Joy of Baking: spray the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the molasses from sticking to the cup.) Then, slowly in 1/2 cup increments, add the flour mixture.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling-pin. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness and firmly press the edges of the Star Wars cookie cutter into the dough. Then press the spring-loaded stamp into the dough to carve out the details.

Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven when the cookies are firm. Keep cookies on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. You can also ice the cookies with a recipe that is included with the cookie cutters, but I found that the cookies looked great without icing.

Weight Watchers PointPlus Value: 5 points (serving size: 2 cookies)

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My Very Midtown Christmas Cards Have Arrived!

Radio City holiday card

About a week and a half ago I started taking pictures of the Christmas decorations around Midtown Manhattan on my way to work. My original plan was to post a series of photos called “A Very Midtown Christmas.” Then I thought, wait– I could turn two of the photos into Christmas cards!

Since January, I’ve been taking graphic design classes and this would be a good way to keep up with my new Photoshop and Illustrator skills. I had such a great time with this project! I did most of the work in Illustrator — playing around with Live Trace and some of the color palettes (especially with the Nutcracker card).

Nutcracker holiday card

Next up, I had no idea where to get the cards printed. I ended up going to Mpix.com . If you click on Cards and then select DIY, you can upload a jpeg of anything you created and make a flat or folded card. Super easy and reasonably priced. I also chose a glossy finish on the outside of the cards.

Couldn’t be happier with how these cards came out. Now I have two pieces for my portfolio!

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