Monday, July 25, 2011

More Postcards and Energy Drink Jewelry

Hi all. It's been a low key weekend for me. My kids are gone this week so I'm taking it easy and enjoying not cooking or driving anyone all over creation. The dogs are following me around wondering where everyone else is and just staring at me all the time. Poor guys!

Spent most of the days making some additional postcards for my order that I'm bring in to the shop at Winter Park tomorrow: Earth Inspired Living. Here are a couple extra that I made that ended up in my etsy shop.

The ladybug postcard was cut from one of my daughter, Fiona's, t-shirts. So cute it was on her when she was 2 (sigh) -- and it makes a pretty cute postcard too.

Here's another postcard I made today. This one is cut from a t shirt donated to the cause from my lovely sister, Helga. It features some Texas bluebonnet flowers and is a little more grown up in theme.

Once I got those out of the way, I used up the very last two energy pop tops that I had to make a matching pair of earrings to go with the necklaces I made last week. They are long and dangly and, being made out of aluminum, extremely light weight. Fun!

(I'm also pretty proud of the picture itself. I think it looks pretty professional, if I do say so myself.)

Now...I need a new supply of multicolor energy drink tops. Anyone got a stash that they're willing to donate?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Energy Drink Jewelry know I save all sorts of odds and ends that catch my eye, right? I've posted previously about my quilts that featured (among other things) fortune cookie fortunes, vintage buttons, snaps, hook and eyes, rubber o-rings... well, the list goes on and on (just wait for my bread twist-tie piece!)

Well, I had these energy drink pop tops*--I really love their iconic shape and their cool metallic colors. I wanted to make some jewelry out of them and finally came up with this design employing an aluminum chain and some wire wrapped links and beads.

I got to have a lot of fun picking out the bead combinations that went with each top keeping up the rainbow vibe. An added bonus is the nice little jingly sound this necklace makes at every movement. I think I'll make another one, too!

Clearly this is a recycled craft, so OF COURSE its for sale in my new etsy shop! See Rainbow energy drink pop top necklace for more details!

* and, no, I don't drink them--they are vile and I can't get past the smell of them, thank you. But my sixteen year old son does like them very much and has graciously collected them for me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The notorious penis cookies

Well, it was a fun and productive day in the kitchen and so I thought I'd share it with you. Hope you all get as big a kick out of it as me and my daughter did. :)

So the other day my daughter came home from the mall with a penis cookie cutter! (from Spencer's of course) Well! I mean! Sigh. So, ok, I got on board. A perfect opportunity for some mother daughter bonding! So I decided to whip up a batch of my mother's butter cookies. These have been a favorite in our family from way back. Of course, usually I make these as Christmas cookies but, hey, you know, you can roll out any shape, right? Right? And they're still good, no matter what!

My mom got this recipe out of the local newspaper maybe 50 years ago, more or less. They're simple and good and full of butter. Yum!

Mom's Butter Cookies

1 cup room temp butter
1 cup sugar (I usually use 1/2 cup of white and 1/2 cup of brown sugar)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/14 cups sifted AP flour
extra egg yolk or two for glaze and sprinkles if desired

Cream butter, gradually add sugar. Blend in egg, salt and vanilla extract, beating well. Gradually add in flour, mixing well. If making thumb print cookies, form into small balls and mash down with your thumb on un-greased cookie sheet. If making cookie cutter shapes, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Take quarter of the dough out at a time (put the rest of the dough back in the fridge while you're working) and roll out to an even thickness 1/4 inch thick or so. You will need a fair amount of flour to keep this buttery dough from sticking. Keeping this dough chilled and well floured is the key to successful rolling out. As you cut out the shapes, place the snippets in a pile and save for the last batch.

Here's our first sheet of penis cookies!

HA ha. We snickered a lot the whole time. Too funny. Now for the decorations. I like to put a glaze on prior to baking for some shininess and to help various sprinkles adhere. Usually I use an egg yolk mixed with a little water or milk. Left as is, it makes a nice yellow color (duh) which is great for Christmas stars. Add a drop or two of food color and you can go red or green or whatever. Fiona wanted some chocolate glaze so I added a teaspoon of cocoa and two of powdered sugar and mixed really well to one of my yolks. Then we got out our collection of sprinkles...

And Fiona went to town with various combinations of all of the above!

After some thoughtful decorating we ended up with this lovely first batch. They are now ready to go into the 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes; there should be light golden brown edges (and bottoms) to the cookies. No brown on the top, please, that makes them a little too crispy.

And here they are out of the oven! Let them cool on the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove them with a spatula and let cool on a rack.

I hope you enjoy this recipe--let me know if you make it! No matter what the shape.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Maps + Butterflies + Envelopes

I took the day off work today--my day job that is! But I did work all day on finishing up a bunch of crafts, taking pictures of them and uploading them to my new etsy store. So what was I up to to with all of those maps and butterflies???

Vintage map butterfly note cards, of course!

Here's a set of four that I made out of vintage National Geographic maps. They are a larger size and have matching butterflies and envelopes. I also made some of these in a smaller size using white or cream card stock for the cards.

Looking through my stash I saw that I had some lovely translucent vellum envelopes left over from a Christmas card project from years ago so I snagged those for this set. I just love the see-through aspect. So pretty and unexpected.

Of course you remember my business envelopes from a couple of posts ago, too, right? You saw them in their nude, ungummed state.
I have since glued down their sides and. . . wait for it . . . applied a lickable gum adhesive on the flap so you can seal it like a real envelope: Crafter's Companion Envelope Gum 2 Fl Oz CCEG1; 3 Items/Order  How cool is that?

I tried it out and licked one closed--yup, it really works!

So obviously I've been busy as a beaver and now I formally invite you to check out my new etsy shop: Think of it as a digital open house! Here's a smattering of the items I uploaded:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paper Butterflies

When last I posted it was all about vintage maps and envelopes. And I have been working furiously to make lots and lots of them in the intervening week. But I was also becoming fascinated with butterflies and their iconic shape. With a little web surfing I realized that a lot of butterfly art is actually kind of crappy--not like a real butterfly at all. Proportion of upper and lower wings and angles are key. Its not so simple to draw a realistic butterfly, it turns out, so I resorted to my trusty Audobon Butterfly field guide, National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Butterflies Of North America (National Audubon Society Pocket Guides) and even a real Morpho butterfly I had under glass.  (Here's a link if you're interested in getting your own iridescent blue Morpho; the frame will be different from mine, but its the same famous South American beauty: Mounted Blue Morpho Butterfly - Displayed in Framed Acrylic Case 7" x 7" x 2" ) Of course, in order to get both halves of my butterfly templates symmetrical I simply did the fold-in-half trick that we all learned in grade school when it was time to cut out hearts for Valentine's day. :)

Those resources did the trick, and, as you can see, I cut out several pleasing and biologically accurate butterfly shapes (after a couple of false starts). I wanted them oversized compared to real butterflies, but still clearly recognizable and not stylized at all. I wanted to evoke a real butterfly collection, like the one seen here in this nice pic by Mike Beauregard on Wikimedia

I think the initial thing you perceive is the variety of all of the different shapes. Then all of the colors. I plan on playing with both of those parameters in my ultimate application.

Soooooo... then came the big question: Now that I got'em, what do I do with these handsome butterfly templates?? Hmmm.  Well, I did what I always do when I'm trying to work out a design issue: I stuck them up on a blank wall so I could look at them from across the room and live with them for a few days.

Here they are in a row. Not bad.

And here they are grouped more tightly. I like them both ways, actually. After this picture, I made 3 additional ones and pasted those up so that I had a 3 x 3 square grouping. Very nice.

Well that's all for tonight.

Next post: maps + butterflies + envelopes = ????


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Vintage map envelopes

Its been a busy week and its all about making fun stuff for my new etsy store: LizzieLuvs2Recycle. So here's the latest: envelopes made out of vintage atlas maps. It was a shot in the dark as far as a recycling project and it turned out much better than expected. Fun, easy and I really love the results.

I looked for an envelope template on-line but couldn't find one that I liked (they were all odd sizes for various greeting cards and I wanted a standard business envelope). So after sitting there stumped for a while I did the whole "headslap; duh" thing and grabbed an envelope from my desk, deconstructed it and used it to make a cardboard template. Luckily, I had an old atlas in the car that was crying out to be repurposed and...Voila!

After a crafty evening tracing and cutting out the envelopes, I had this growing stack. It was very satisfying picking the prettiest maps and arranging my template for maximum interest. They already look cool, don't they??

I had this annoying long floppy ruler made out of thin plastic that turned out to be the perfect tool to act as a guide for the folds. Side flaps first...

Then the bottom flap. Looking good!

Then the top. I can't wait to use one myself!

Of course once I started cutting up the atlas, I kinda had to cut the whole thing! So now I have lots of envelopes. I ordered some glue/gum online to gum the sides down and leave a wetable gum on the flap so that it can be sealed. Hopefully it gets here fast--I'm really anxious to finish these babies and get them uploaded for sale!

 The fronts are so pretty and colorful. I will likely use an address label to give a nice white area in the center.

I can't wait to make some more fun stuff out of maps. I just bought a bunch of old National Geographic maps from eBay for some even bigger maps.

Death by Chocolate

OK--finally here's the post on those ridiculous chocolate cookies.
Do not make these cookies unless you're really serious. I mean, really. Don't say I didn't warn you. They are stupidly rich and overwhelmingly chocolate-y. If you are brave enough, here's the recipe. I got this recipe from my wanderings on the internet--it looked Ok so I copied it down. I see from my printout that this recipe is adapted (by whom, I did not record, sorry!) from Brown Eyed Baker (Google her blog--you should find her, I think). She calls them Chocolate Espresso Cookies, but my kids named them Death By Chocolate. I think that name fits much, much better. And, yeah, I've adapted it somewhat too. After all, that's what happens to recipes, isn't it? Sometimes my internet recipes don't work out (the "best muffin recipe ever" I tried recently comes to mind; what a disappointment that was) but this one is a keeper for the permanent file. When cooled, they retain a lovely velvety, yet completely baked center that just melts in your mouth. And then there's all that chocolate accentuated by the espresso.

Death By Chocolate Cookies
yields ca. 3 dozen

16 oz. bittersweet* chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp espresso powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 or 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally, until all chocolate and butter is melted and smooth. Here's my chocolate to start with:
And here's what it looks like when its all melted and lovely. While that's melting, combine the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and espresso powder. Slowly beat the chocolate and butter into the egg mixture until well combined. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until a smooth batter forms. Stir in chocolate chips.

The batter will be pretty runny/goopy. Drop by tablespoons of batter on to the parchment lined cookie sheet. You can see mine there to the left. And, yes, the parchment is necessary. You can get some somewhere in the vicinity of the wax paper and aluminum foil in your local grocery story. At least, that's where my local store keeps it.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes then remove to a cooling rack with a spatula. You can eat them warm for the most intense chocolate fix. Or let them cool and mellow if you are more faint of heart. Either way, pour yourself a BIG glass of milk, sit down and take it slow. One cookie to start, maybe a second.

* Both times I made this recipe I did not have the full 16 oz. of bittersweet chocolate. As my google search told me, you can substitute semisweet and unsweetened chocolate. You will lose some depth of chocolate flavor but its doable. Of course, if you substitute to all unsweetened chocolate, your cookies will not be sweet enough so balance some semi sweet in there too. This last time I had 12 oz of bittersweet (you can see the 3  4 oz. bars of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate) 2 oz of Baker's unsweetened chocolate and 2 oz Baker's semi-sweetened chocolate.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fourth of July Trivets!

And I'm still cutting up T-shirts and making stuff. I love it! So much fun. The only not fun part is the amount of time it takes to do the actual cutting.  I have to figure out a way around that.

So here are my latest two creations: a pair of red, white and blue trivets for the Fourth of July barbecue.  And you can see I'm really ready with my hamburger salt and pepper shakers (a recent ebay purchase--aren't they adorable?)

Aren't they fun? I seem to be getting the hang of making them so that they'll lay flat. At this size, anyway.

Here's a close up of the stitches. I really don't know the name of the stitches since I'm not a big crocheter and have never learned to follow crochet directions.  But I'm being neat and consistent so I figure that counts as much here as it does in knitting.

That's all for today.  I haven't forgotten about the Death By Chocolate cookies--don't worry! I did just buy all the necessary ingredients and hopefully I'll bake and post about those tomorrow.

Also coming up soon: a knitted T-shirt trivet for those rectangular casserole dishes.

By the way. If you really loooove these trivets, you can buy them! I have opened a new on-line store at etsy for my recycled goods. I figured that they just didn't fit in with my textile art store so it was time. You can see these happy trivets and some of my other recycled crafts at . Keep checking back as I am adding new items almost daily as I get going!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Project # 2

Remember how I said that I was working on a couple of fun things at the same time*? Well, here's the second one. A friend of mine is pregnant with her second child and I decided that second babies deserved some nice things too--not just hand-me downs! The mat knitting got me itchy to start another knitting project so here it is. A classical take on the ever popular baby blanket. Isn't it cute?? And you would not believe how soft and cuddly this yarn is--absolutely scrumptious!
Here's a close-up of the stitches. I've used this pattern before for a baby blanket years ago. Its called the feather and fan pattern. And despite what it looks like, it is soooo easy. Only 4, count'em 4, rows in the pattern and only one of those rows is a counted pattern row. Believe me, it doesn't get much easier than that.
Here it is:
cast on a multiple of 18 st.
row 1: (RS) Knit
row 2: Purl
row 3: *(K2tog)3X, (YO, K1)6X, (K2tog)3X*, repeat from *
row 4: Knit

In a fine yarn the pattern looks a lot more lacy and delicate--all of those YO's, don't you know. But I'm knitting this in a bulky weight yarn: Bernat Baby Blanket Yarn as seen here. So I'm using size 8 needles. The combination of those two means that this is knitting up FAST! This stuff is awesome--so soft and it knits up fast (being bulky and all). And its machine washable and dryable; a must with all baby items.

I'm having such fun--I haven't knitted anything in ages and my fingers are thanking me! By the way, I got the pattern for the blanket out of my very favorite knitting pattern source book of all time: A treasury of knitting patterns by Barbara Walker. There are countless knitting pattern books out there (and I have quite a few) but none of them match up to Barbara Walker's books. She actually published 4 treasuries and they are classics. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

* can you tell I've had the week off??

Next up: "Death by chocolate" cookies. Not for the faint of heart--serious chocolate addicts only. :)